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Old 08-06-2023, 02:49 AM   #1
Junior Member
 
Name: Will
Trailer: Scamp
Oregon
Posts: 22
Controller Recommendations for an odd setup?

I have a mix of 12V and 37 Foldable panels. Four 37V and Two 12V.

My inverter is 24V.

My battery choices are 12V LiFePo (2) that can get me the 24V for the inverter. I can always buy more.

After reading countless posts, and watching countless youtube videos, very few address the voltage that the panels provide. It's even hard to find that information in a lot of spec sheets on the 100's of branded, rebranded, Chinese clones, of MPPT chargers out there. The first controller I purchased was cheap and failed instantly. Despite the specifications matching what I have on hand for batteries and and panels.

After a good few days of research I figure I should just ask.

Can someone recommend a specific brand or model as of August 2023 that will take the input from many 37V foldable panels run in parallel and output 12 or 24 volts and charge either 12 or 24V LiFePo? I raise a question that's probably been answered many many times before, but with all the rebranding, copies, brand name changes... what was a great controller a year ago, likely has been rebranded and being sold with different hardware inside. They may look similar, but they are not. I opened the broken controller I received and the guts inside are nothing like the same one a friend bought and has has zero problems with. I see this with both name brand charge controllers and generic chinese copies.

I can find a charger what will take 40V panel inputs and the exact same specs as another. One can be $15 and the other $200. I'm willing to pay for something of higher quality, but it's hard to distinguish what as of today, is actually the same hardware inside of something sold 6 months to a year ago.

I'm trying to find a middle ground here. Not overkill and not a $15 chinese copy of something claiming to MPPT when it's clearly not and breaks on day one. On the flipside I also don't want to pay for something that's way more than I need.

Leaving some room up upscale more panels later is great. The bluetooth logging and tracking that I blew off as not really needed, now is a big consideration. No practical person is going to manually run out and test voltage points and current draw on a cheap solar setup to make sure it's working properly. What I metered was not even close to what the cheap controller was doing, before it completely died.

That being said, can anyone point at any specific brands and models that as of being sold today are reliable charge controllers?

Having bluetooth / logging ability seems like a necessary thing now. At least for the first few months to see that it's actually doing what the display says it's doing.

Thanks
-c
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Old 08-06-2023, 01:22 PM   #2
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Name: John
Trailer: Bigfoot 25 RQ
Ohio
Posts: 333
Quote:
Originally Posted by clavo View Post
I have a mix of 12V and 37 Foldable panels. Four 37V and Two 12V.

My inverter is 24V.

My battery choices are 12V LiFePo (2) that can get me the 24V for the inverter. I can always buy more.

After reading countless posts, and watching countless youtube videos, very few address the voltage that the panels provide. It's even hard to find that information in a lot of spec sheets on the 100's of branded, rebranded, Chinese clones, of MPPT chargers out there. The first controller I purchased was cheap and failed instantly. Despite the specifications matching what I have on hand for batteries and and panels.


6
After a good few days of research I figure I should just ask.

Can someone recommend a specific brand or model as of August 2023 that will take the input from many 37V foldable panels run in parallel and output 12 or 24 volts and charge either 12 or 24V LiFePo? I raise a question that's probably been answered many many times before, but with all the rebranding, copies, brand name changes... what was a great controller a year ago, likely has been rebranded and being sold with different hardware inside. They may look similar, but they are not. I opened the broken controller I received and the guts inside are nothing like the same one a friend bought and has has zero problems with. I see this with both name brand charge controllers and generic chinese copies.

I can find a charger what will take 40V panel inputs and the exact same specs as another. One can be $15 and the other $200. I'm willing to pay for something of higher quality, but it's hard to distinguish what as of today, is actually the same hardware inside of something sold 6 months to a year ago.

I'm trying to find a middle ground here. Not overkill and not a $15 chinese copy of something claiming to MPPT when it's clearly not and breaks on day one. On the flipside I also don't want to pay for something that's way more than I need.

Leaving some room up upscale more panels later is great. The bluetooth logging and tracking that I blew off as not really needed, now is a big consideration. No practical person is going to manually run out and test voltage points and current draw on a cheap solar setup to make sure it's working properly. What I metered was not even close to what the cheap controller was doing, before it completely died.

That being said, can anyone point at any specific brands and models that as of being sold today are reliable charge controllers?

Having bluetooth / logging ability seems like a necessary thing now. At least for the first few months to see that it's actually doing what the display says it's doing.

Thanks
-c
Look at a Victron 100/50
100 volts
50 amps

Make sure your combined voltage does not exceed 100 volts or you will fry it.
Which I expect what happened to the cheaply.
If you exceed that voltage you can deploy the panels in series/ parallel.

See Explorist Life YouTube or website to get a good understanding of the various configurations.
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Old 08-06-2023, 11:50 PM   #3
Junior Member
 
Name: Will
Trailer: Scamp
Oregon
Posts: 22
Thanks for the pointer. The panels were in parallel and everything was metered before attaching to the cheap one. It was only given 37V of panel power in, and had a 12V battery attached first, before the panels, as directed by the instructions. Still broke, or was just broken out of the box.

Will look at the Victron. Thx.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldwave View Post
Look at a Victron 100/50
100 volts
50 amps

Make sure your combined voltage does not exceed 100 volts or you will fry it.
Which I expect what happened to the cheaply.
If you exceed that voltage you can deploy the panels in series/ parallel.

See Explorist Life YouTube or website to get a good understanding of the various configurations.
clavo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2023, 12:22 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
Name: John
Trailer: Bigfoot 25 RQ
Ohio
Posts: 333
Quote:
Originally Posted by clavo View Post
Thanks for the pointer. The panels were in parallel and everything was metered before attaching to the cheap one. It was only given 37V of panel power in, and had a 12V battery attached first, before the panels, as directed by the instructions. Still broke, or was just broken out of the box.

Will look at the Victron. Thx.
It’s possible then you exceeded its amperage rating.
I have a 100/30 in my camper, only two panels 300 watts. I have room in the controller for a couple more. 100/50 would get you 50 amps. It will not output more than 50 amps but will not be damaged by more amps in. As I said it will fail if the volts exceed 100. Because of its design, you might consider the series parallel to get better efficiency. Be aware though that solar panels will put out more at lower temps.
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Old 08-07-2023, 02:48 AM   #5
Junior Member
 
Name: Will
Trailer: Scamp
Oregon
Posts: 22
I see your angle, but these are flexible camping style folding panels, although 37V, are at minimum a decade old. I can't conceive it exceeding the amperage rating. I can load them and test, but these are small foldable flexible panels. Someone surplussed them and cut off all the labels so I have no idea the make or model. I had to fish out the wires and solder on some connectors. They are the same footprint as my 12V 62W panels that are about 5 years old. My newer 12V/62W folding panels that have basically the exact same footprint and can barely charge the packs they were designed to in a full day's worth of light using the charge controller that were made for them (Iris Spaces surplus military setup). I can see why they were surplussed.

I only used 2 of the 37V ones, and they only were metered at 37V by themselves, and 37 connected in parallel. What went into the controller was 37V from very old panels.

I'd be excited to find out they generate anywhere near that amount of wattage to break a controller sold as "100A Solar Charge MPPT 12V/24V/50V Charge Controller Regulator with Dual USB"

I certainly can stick a load on them an do the math, but I'm pretty positive I'm going to be disappointed in the results.



Quote:
Originally Posted by oldwave View Post
It’s possible then you exceeded its amperage rating.
I have a 100/30 in my camper, only two panels 300 watts. I have room in the controller for a couple more. 100/50 would get you 50 amps. It will not output more than 50 amps but will not be damaged by more amps in. As I said it will fail if the volts exceed 100. Because of its design, you might consider the series parallel to get better efficiency. Be aware though that solar panels will put out more at lower temps.
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