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Old 02-02-2016, 14:00   #31
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Re: which mppt controller

Companies are funny about "advance swaps". Some have reasons, I'm sure. Like if they fix yours & send it back, the "loaner" is now used goods, and sometimes that needs a special license to be sold.


But ages ago, I was sitting at my (tower) computer and something inside literally blew up. Scared the *t out of me. After I opened it up and went through it, there was a charred crater where something had been on the Intel memory board. (A whole 2 megabyte of expansion space!). I called Intel and told them it was still working and I needed it to earn my living, but I didn't think a charred crater was a good way to keep working.
And wouldn't you know, the rep said "No problem, if you'll give us a credit card number to secure the swap, we'll hot ship you a new card while you send that one back to us. Overnight. Our stuff isn't supposed to explode, we're sorry about that."
You know, that simple reach-out put them on my short list of vendors to stick with.


I've had several others (sometimes when prompted, true) do the same or similar. And others who "couldn't" expedite a repair even on the 3rd DOA arrival. You know which list THAT one got on.(G)


But recommending 8g wires and providing 14g connectors to put them into...that's just absurd.


Last year I ordered some ATO/ATC fuse holders from Littelfuse. A fairly respected old name. And they arrived with the wrong color wires (orange/vs/red) that were also one full gauge smaller than spec'd. So I called them, and overnight they got back to me "Gee, our supplier changed the wires and didn't tell us."


There's a reason why some companies literally can trace their roots back 1000 years (Benelli) and others don't make it past five. (sigh)


I'd have thought BlueSky was established well enough by now to do better by their customers. I guess that as Linear and TI map up more production of MPPT controllers that are thoroughly documented and available to all comers, performance like what you got will knock a few more off the preferred vendors list. Forever.
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Old 02-02-2016, 14:14   #32
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Re: which mppt controller

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This won't happen if they're the same model and both are set to the same absorption voltage.
Exactly. That's my setup and have had no issues.
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Old 02-02-2016, 14:39   #33
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Re: which mppt controller

I have installed two, 250 watt panels and used BlueSolar 75/15 controllers made by Victron. Simple, cheap (about a 100 bucks) and made by a well respected company. I use one for each panel to avoid shading issues. I haven't had any problems, they just do the job. I monitor them using a Watt Wizard meter. They seem to eek out every last amp from the panels. Another benefit is that the footprint is very small compared to other controllers...
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Old 02-02-2016, 15:09   #34
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Re: which mppt controller

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I have installed two, 250 watt panels and used BlueSolar 75/15 controllers made by Victron. Simple, cheap (about a 100 bucks) and made by a well respected company. I use one for each panel to avoid shading issues. I haven't had any problems, they just do the job. I monitor them using a Watt Wizard meter. They seem to eek out every last amp from the panels. Another benefit is that the footprint is very small compared to other controllers...
If you don't mind, can you tell us what your average output is for the 2 of them, and what was the highest output you've seen?

The OP is under the impression that he's going to get 24A out of a 285w panel, and I don't want him to be too disappointed when he doesn't get that much.
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Old 02-02-2016, 16:45   #35
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Re: which mppt controller

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If you don't mind, can you tell us what your average output is for the 2 of them, and what was the highest output you've seen?

The OP is under the impression that he's going to get 24A out of a 285w panel, and I don't want him to be too disappointed when he doesn't get that much.
24A ain't happening. Real world numbers are not going to come close to stated specs on the panels or controllers. Please keep in mind I'm no solar power guru, I just know what I see from my system. The biggest killers on my system are cloudy or overcast days and shadows. You can have a perfectly sunny day, but if you're anchored and the wind keeps the boat pointed in such a way as to shade the panels with shadows from the mast, boom, mainsheet or whatever, then you get little or no juice. It's a little frustrating at times.

Today, here at Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida, we had party a partly cloudy day with breaks of sun. The panels pumped in 60ah in about 7 and a half hours. I zero everything out everyday. The most I've seen here is 105ah in a day. The day was sunny, but the wind keep the panels shadowed in the morning until it shifted.

For the next five days I'll write down all the numbers every day. That should give a pretty good real world report. The biggest problem here in Boot Key has been the weird winter weather. Usually you get days and days of sun, but this year has been more clouds and rain then sun.
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Old 02-02-2016, 18:30   #36
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Re: which mppt controller

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24A ain't happening. Real world numbers are not going to come close to stated specs on the panels or controllers. Please keep in mind I'm no solar power guru, I just know what I see from my system. The biggest killers on my system are cloudy or overcast days and shadows. You can have a perfectly sunny day, but if you're anchored and the wind keeps the boat pointed in such a way as to shade the panels with shadows from the mast, boom, mainsheet or whatever, then you get little or no juice. It's a little frustrating at times.

Today, here at Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida, we had party a partly cloudy day with breaks of sun. The panels pumped in 60ah in about 7 and a half hours. I zero everything out everyday. The most I've seen here is 105ah in a day. The day was sunny, but the wind keep the panels shadowed in the morning until it shifted.

For the next five days I'll write down all the numbers every day. That should give a pretty good real world report. The biggest problem here in Boot Key has been the weird winter weather. Usually you get days and days of sun, but this year has been more clouds and rain then sun.

If you wouldn't mind, that would be really helpful!

I also see a lot less than stated output in the winter months, but I haven't kept any sort of log, I don't live in the trailers that my solar systems are mounted on.

I usually use 300w of panels per 20A of solar controller as a very loose rule of thumb (300w/15v = 20A) and I noticed you're a little over that (250w/15v = 16.67A) but as we both know, we never get full rated power out of the panels.

I did an experiment on my second trailer, installing 410w of panels on a 20A controller. This was an effort to see how cheap a solar system could be done. The panels were $150 ea, the controller was only $100. What I got was a lot more than expected current earlier in the day and later in the day, with the controller maxing out at 22A (+10%) in midday summer sun. Rather than installing only the one 205W panel, and getting half the output under low light conditions, I'm rather pleased with the results, although if the same company made a 30A controller for $100-150 I'd be even happier.
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Old 03-02-2016, 15:55   #37
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Re: which mppt controller

So, for todays total, here goes. The wind was out of the east so panels were shadowed until 12:30. After that it was partly cloudy and the wind did shift back and forth allowing full sun on the panels at various times throughout the day. The most amps I saw was 19.2. The panels outputted for 9 hours and produced 53ah's for the day. We consume approximately 200....
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Old 03-02-2016, 20:25   #38
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Re: which mppt controller

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You use a pair of combiners.

Quote:
Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
The OP is under the impression that he's going to get 24A out of a 285w panel, and I don't want him to be too disappointed when he doesn't get that much.
Socal, just to clarify, I am not expecting 24A, just that is the max. I was using that number so as not to undersize the controller.

If I understand this correctly, do you think a 20A controller is larger enough if I have 1 per panel? Do you not need any extra overhead?

Also , you mention a good quality controller with display for ~ $100, can you let me know which one.
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Old 04-02-2016, 16:39   #39
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Re: which mppt controller

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Originally Posted by Sid at SailAway View Post
So, for todays total, here goes. The wind was out of the east so panels were shadowed until 12:30. After that it was partly cloudy and the wind did shift back and forth allowing full sun on the panels at various times throughout the day. The most amps I saw was 19.2. The panels outputted for 9 hours and produced 53ah's for the day. We consume approximately 200....

So today's totals. Wind from the east again meaning shadows from the bimini. Wind never really shifted and the sky was partly cloudy. 33ah produced in eight hours. Not so good.

On these days I run the Honda 2000 for an hour in the morning and maybe an hour at night.
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Old 04-02-2016, 17:02   #40
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Re: which mppt controller

Sid, great info with these actual numbers.. BTW, sorry to go OT on my on thread, but where do you store your Honda while sailing? I assuming one of the cockpit lockers? And if so, did you make straps for it? Thanks.
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Old 04-02-2016, 22:31   #41
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Re: which mppt controller

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Socal, just to clarify, I am not expecting 24A, just that is the max. I was using that number so as not to undersize the controller.

If I understand this correctly, do you think a 20A controller is larger enough if I have 1 per panel? Do you not need any extra overhead?

Also , you mention a good quality controller with display for ~ $100, can you let me know which one.
Yes, I think a 20A controller is more than enough for those panels. I think you could hook 300 watt panels to a 20A controller and you probably wouldn't overload it. Take a look at Sid's numbers - those are real world numbers. Sailboats are usually prone to shading problems, unfortunately.

I did some testing yesterday with a 205w panel pointed right at the sun and the max. output was 178 watts. It was a bright sunny day, noon, not a cloud in the sky. If it was summer time, I might have seen as much as 200w out of the panel, but a normal panel mounted flat won't be pointed at the sun, so in reality, you probably won't even see that high of a percentage of rated output, especially on a sailboat with all of the potential shading.

I'm going to be doing some re-arranging of the 2 solar systems I now have. I'll be using 310 watts with a 20A controller (rec. max. of 300w of panels) and probably getting 12A - 14A in winter and 15 - 18A out of it in summer (peak numbers) with no shading.

The larger system will use 615 watts of solar panels with a 40A controller (rec. max. of 520w of panels) and the numbers should be about 23 - 27A in winter and 32 - 36A peak in summer.

In both cases, the solar panel wattages are slightly over the recommended numbers, but in the real world you just don't get full rated power.

The $100 controller I mentioned is the same Eco-worthy I mentioned in the other thread. I was using a 5 or 6 yr old Sharp 205 watt poly panel with an Isc of 7.91A, it measured 7.85A on my meter. When connected to a battery and a load it harvested 178 watts, excellent for this time of year. To compare that to the Tracer 40A I tested 5 minutes later, the Tracer managed to crank out 168 watts from the same exact panel and battery/load, after a much longer search for MPP. The Eco-worthy beats it hands down in terms of ease of use. It's fully programmable absorption and float in .1v increments, load can be set on a timer or based on dawn/dusk, higher absorption output voltages (15.5v) than most controllers, etc. It also locks onto MPP almost instantly and tracks changes very quickly with no overshoot, not to mention 10 watts more with the exact same panel and load.

On a boat with the potential for shading one or both panels, I think the one panel per controller is the best way to go to always maximize harvest.
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Old 04-02-2016, 22:41   #42
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Re: which mppt controller

Don't buy anything with a fan or it will have a limited and noisy life ! I have paid good money on 3 controllers all in parallel with 1280w of panels. Please note some controllers will accept up to 150voc so you save a lot on cable ! Never had an issue in 3 years and I never worry about power consumtion
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Old 04-02-2016, 22:53   #43
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Re: which mppt controller

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Please note some controllers will accept up to 150voc so you save a lot on cable !
Some MPPT controllers (e.g. Morningstar) accept up to 600V input. Most won't charge a battery bank with a nominal voltage above 48V though I have seen up to 60V.
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Old 05-02-2016, 00:26   #44
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Re: which mppt controller

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Some MPPT controllers (e.g. Morningstar) accept up to 600V input. Most won't charge a battery bank with a nominal voltage above 48V though I have seen up to 60V.
You might want to check if its W or V !
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Old 05-02-2016, 00:36   #45
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Re: which mppt controller

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You might want to check if its W or V !
I was skeptical as well, the highest I've ever seen was 150v PV input, however he's correct, it's a new model they have now that can take up to 600v PV input, even though it's still only a 60A controller.

It's targeted at those who have grid tied strings and want to switch over to a battery style off grid system. At over $1100 ea., I think I'll pass.
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