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Old 05-02-2016, 00:44   #46
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Re: which mppt controller

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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
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.
I stand corrected but not much use for the sailing comunity me thinks
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Old 05-02-2016, 08:30   #47
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Re: which mppt controller

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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.
I have a catamaran so the Honda sits forward on the port hull. This lessens the noise level in the salon. Also, I take a pool noodle and cut a 14 inch section from it. The I cut that section in half, lengthwise. I take those pieces and place them under the feet of the Honda. It's amazing how much more noise and vibration is absorbed this way. It makes the already quite Honda even more quite. When sailing, most of the time it still sits there on the bow. If we start taking spray then I move it to the cockpit. By the way, it sits outside rain or shine. The thing takes a beating and keeps on ticking. I change the oil and run a few ounces of Seafoam through it from time to time. It's the most reliable piece of equipment onboard...
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Old 05-02-2016, 15:27   #48
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Re: which mppt controller

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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.

Here's today's total. The wind was out of the NW all day, which meant no shading what so ever. However, it was overcast 90% of the day. Sheesh. The panels produced 60ah in 8 hours. I did see 15a at one point when the sun shone through a thin spot in the overcast.
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Old 06-02-2016, 14:25   #49
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Re: which mppt controller

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Here's today's total. The wind was out of the NW all day, which meant no shading what so ever. However, it was overcast 90% of the day. Sheesh. The panels produced 60ah in 8 hours. I did see 15a at one point when the sun shone through a thin spot in the overcast.

Today was almost a duplicate of yesterday. So, fourth day total is 60ah in eight hours. It rained off and on in the afternoon. I did see 25a for a while when the sun shone though with no clouds...
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Old 06-02-2016, 17:02   #50
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Re: which mppt controller

I use the super combi from rich electric .With a 80a rich electric solar controller.It communicates with the inverter with a coms cord and can be piggy banked all the way to 90 kva .The super combi is a amazing unit it can turn on gen sets and can be used as a ups and will charge the batteries from mains .The controler can take up to 150 volt circuits which is great .The supper combi is sold by jaycar in australia and are a well built unit
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Old 16-02-2016, 08:12   #51
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Re: which mppt controller

Ok, here's the latest update. We moved the boat from Marathon to Miami in order to work the boat show">Miami Boat Show. The move brought a little better weather with clearer skies. Still, the average day was 60AH input. The best day was 120Ah with a couple of 100Ah days thrown in there. To be honest, with 500 watts of solar I expected better. The Victron uses what they call a " Battery Life" algorithm and I'm beginning to wonder if I should use a different algorithm by changing the dipswitches. It could be the "Battery Life" algorithm is better suited for a stationary installation. I'll contact tech support this week to put forth the question.

The most important thing I've learned from this is that it doesn't matter how efficient your panels are or how exotic your controller is, if your panels are mounted in such a way as to experience a lot of shading, then you're going to be sorely disappointed in the output. I would go as far as to suggest saving your money on buying panels that promise and extra 1 or 2 percent efficiency and save your money on exotic controllers. Put that savings into mounting the panels in the best possible position to avoid shading. Even the shadow from a halyard or topping lift just kills output. That's one reason I have a controller for each panel...
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Old 16-02-2016, 08:49   #52
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Re: which mppt controller

Sid, It sounds like you have a good grip on what has to be diagnosed to find out what the real problem is.


If your panels are rated 500W, that's perhaps 22-35A depending on what voltage they were rated 500W at. If you got 120Ah, that's actually about six hours at full rate, which is all that panels average out to during a bright day, if a fixed mounting position. So you may actually be seeing "normal" once you consider the mounting and any shading.
The sun moves about 15 degrees per hour across the sky, and the panels will lose 10-15% of their output every hour if they are not also rotated to track the sun. That's part of why "a day" is typically only going to get you six hours of "full" output equivalent.
In order to beat that, you need to be around to need twisting the panels every hour or two, and to get the entirely outboard of any shadowing. A point that the admittedly expensive Solarstik makes, by putting the panels on a transom mount or outer deck mount, and getting them entirely clear of the boat. Pricey, but effective.
To eliminate any questions about the Victron and mysterious "battery life settings", I'd suggest just using an ammeter and voltmeter (separately, so you can't mix up the wires and blow fuses) and comparing the direct output from the panels, to the output from the controller.
I did that once for a tedious half day tracking Solarstik output versus panel position versus the BlueSky controller they used, and was surprised to find that the panels made their rated output all the time, very nicely. But the default BS controller output kept feeding the batteries something like 1/2 volt over whatever the existing voltage was, at maximum amperage. And then adjusting that every few minutes. Sounded new and odd to me, but I confirmed that with a battery maker, who said that's actually a more efficient way to charge (pushing max amps, up to a certain point, and ignoring conventional voltage based charging) batteries.
Every vendor has a better mousetrap [sic] the trick is to get them to share just what they are trying to do. And to get those panels clear of all shading.
The ratings (at least for panels) rarely lie. The subtleties of the setup and configuration details, can make or break the installation though. At least there aren't too many sharp objects involved in the learning curve.(G)
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Old 16-02-2016, 09:34   #53
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Re: which mppt controller

Yup. Thanks for your boat based experience guys! As a lot of people have said all along, the most critical issue is shading. Just a tiny bit of it will drop output by a large margin. Although the Sunpower panels are less prone to that effect due to their construction, they also suffer to a lesser degree, and they're hard to find.
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Old 16-02-2016, 09:39   #54
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Re: which mppt controller

Nigel Calder did a great test of solar panel shading in September 2012 Sail Magazine. I can't find it but my memory was that 5% shading would make a panel voltage too low to effectively charge batteries. Even a shadow from a backstay was a problem.

If anyone has a link to Calder's piece, I'd love to read it again.

Here's an unrelated video:

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Old 17-02-2016, 17:10   #55
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Re: which mppt controller

Thanks for that video Carlf! Really makes the point clear!
And thanks Socaldmax for your input. I bought a 20amp eco worthy mppt controller on your earlier recommendation. It is working really well with my 3 100 watt panels newly relocated to above dinghy davits.
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Old 17-02-2016, 18:46   #56
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Re: which mppt controller

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Thanks for that video Carlf! Really makes the point clear!
And thanks Socaldmax for your input. I bought a 20amp eco worthy mppt controller on your earlier recommendation. It is working really well with my 3 100 watt panels newly relocated to above dinghy davits.
That's great to hear! The easy to use menu, charging flexibility and nice display helped make it stand out to me, especially at that price!
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Old 25-02-2016, 08:20   #57
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Re: which mppt controller

I'm just getting into solar on board a sailboat, myself. Got a gift of a 50W panel and have it mounted. This is small for my requirements, but it is a start. I have two, 95amp AGM maintenance free batteries to charge and need a controller. I'm not about to argue that I would benefit from a MPPT controller, one that would handle an upgrade to 140W in the future. My controlling factor is price. Import duties are high on the island and so I'm limited to about $150.

Can someone recommend a good, rugged MPPT controller for about $150. I also have coveted the Gensun, but it's over $200 these days, (for AGM batteries). By the time I import one, it will be closer to $400!

Thanks all,
Bry
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Old 25-02-2016, 09:46   #58
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Re: which mppt controller

Bry-
You might try contacting genasun, or whoever makes a unit that fits your needs best, and explaining that your island has a 100% tariff which makes things very difficult. Perhaps if they can sell you a "demo" unit or other unit as "used" electronics or some other designation, you can get them in at a lower tariff rate.
Or if they sell you the case, separately from the contents, it might become "components" or "parts" that also qualify for a lower tariff?
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Old 26-02-2016, 16:02   #59
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Re: which mppt controller

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Originally Posted by bcripps View Post
I'm just getting into solar on board a sailboat, myself. Got a gift of a 50W panel and have it mounted. This is small for my requirements, but it is a start. I have two, 95amp AGM maintenance free batteries to charge and need a controller. I'm not about to argue that I would benefit from a MPPT controller, one that would handle an upgrade to 140W in the future. My controlling factor is price. Import duties are high on the island and so I'm limited to about $150.

Can someone recommend a good, rugged MPPT controller for about $150. I also have coveted the Gensun, but it's over $200 these days, (for AGM batteries). By the time I import one, it will be closer to $400!

Thanks all,
Bry
A Genasun GV10 retails for just $109...don't know where you got the $200. What island?
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Old 26-02-2016, 16:33   #60
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Re: which mppt controller

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Looking at
- 2 25A Blue sky controllers https://www.emarineinc.com/Blue-Sky-...Controller-12V
- 1 Magnum 100 A controller (overkill, but would allow me to expand to another panel)
- 1 Morningstar 60A controller
- 1 Victron controller.

Appreciate you input, and comments as well. Thanks
For what it is worth, here is my experience: when I built my solar panel array I went with Outback Flexmax 60 MPPT, based on their online reputation. Unit lasted less than two years in humid environment, corroded internally. Corrosion is not covered by warranty (which is 5 years). I may have made a mistake of buying their vented version, they make another version that is not vented, but I did not know about it. For replacement, I bought Morningstar MPPT 60. This unit is more efficient, does not use internal fan, tracks max point better, is easy to pair with another unit for when I add more solar panels, and I can monitor it remotely using any web browser (phone, tablet, PC). I also looked at Blue-Sky and liked it, but their warranty explicitly excluded use for high voltage arrays (as mine). But that was couple of years ago, it may have changed since.
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