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Old 03-13-2017, 01:50 PM   #1
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Default Which solar charge controller do you use?

Hi, I am in the planning stages of adding a solar set up to my 97 Roadtrek, hopefully this spring, I will be adding 2 x 100w renogy mono solar panels, but I am not sure on the controller, there are 20amp,30amp,( and even 40amp for a lot more money). I have been studying the topic, there are so many different brands, types, and models, not sure which one to go with, and it seems very important that I do not over charge my house battery system. are there controllers that have it built in to the system as to not over charge and hurt my electrical system, or will I need to add an on/off switch into the system? They offer 10AWG wiring, and 12AWG wiring, is one preferred over the other? And one last question, is it possible to run a line from the charge controller to the main battery in the engine compartment , to keep it topped up when were boondocking for long periods of time, it seems like a good idea, I just don't know if its a smart thing to do,or will I be causing more problems than solutions,,,, thanks,,,,,,
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Old 03-13-2017, 02:18 PM   #2
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If you are in the mood to tackle a TLDR, my husband has this thread on Air Forums that describes our process. A few of the thread participants are actually electrical engineers, and some of their insights are valuable. Plus, Lew Farber weighs in - he's perhaps the best-known high-end professional solar upfitter who works extensively within the constraints of limited Class B footprints.

However, we switched to lithium, and so it may not be a direct comparison to your situation (it sounds like you might be retaining conventional battery(ies)). The solar charge controller we chose was the ElectroDacus, launched on Kickstarter by a brilliant independent EE in Canada. The upside is that it's a remarkable product; the downside is that we don't know that it has ever been tested in a Class B operating capacity. We decided to roll the dice and take a chance on it in part because, right now, there are not many choices on the market if a DIY lithium conversion is involved. Some of the players will not sell to the public because of the potential consequences (chiefly fire) of screwing up a lithium conversion.
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Old 03-13-2017, 02:58 PM   #3
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For a "normal" type class b system of 100-300 watts on lead acid batteries, the two most popular controllers seem to be the Blue Sky Solar Boost models with the Pro Remote, and the Trimetric battery monitor with the added on solar controller from them (Bogart).

Both are programmable to get optimum settings and they run off of shunt for charge accuracy. We have our 300 watts on a Blue Sky 2512.

The Blue Sky is an MPPT controller and the Bogart is a PWM controller, so that may be a secondary consideration.

I have heard very few complaints on either of them.

I would stay away from any controller that does charging based on time only, with no shunt and amps charge control, as they can, and have, chronically overcharge already full batteries and damage them.

I am sure there are some other models out there that would also be good, but I have no history with them.

For wiring, bigger is always better for solar as voltage drop is not your friend.
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Old 03-13-2017, 03:35 PM   #4
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I run a Midnite MPPT controller "the Kid" , its programable for lithium. I have 4 100 watt panels which is about the max for this controller.
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Old 03-14-2017, 03:36 PM   #5
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Default Re: solar install

Do not even consider using 12AWG wire, is is too small and the voltage drop will kill most of the benefit. 10AWG is minimum, many recommend using 8 AWG, especially if the run is more than a few feet.
MPPT controllers are the most sophisticated, but are more expensive. Do not skimp on yhe controller or wire size. Considering the work involved, you want it right the first time.

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Old 03-14-2017, 03:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
The solar charge controller we chose was the ElectroDacus, launched on Kickstarter
I went to his kichstarter page, but can't see a way to order one of his controllers or even how to pledge for one.
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Old 03-14-2017, 04:16 PM   #7
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.

If you have room on the roof for more panels,
you will most likely add more panels in the future,
even if you don't think you will ever need them.

The simple fact is, the panel price will continue to drop,
at one point in the future,
because the additional panel cost is so cheap
it will be a no-brainer to add more panels.
So be prepared for it now,
both in wiring, and in the controller.
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Old 03-16-2017, 12:35 AM   #8
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Thanks for all your replies, as always , you guys are a great support, one quick last question for you, what gage of wire is best to use from the solar controller to the battery, I think it will be about a 6 foot run in length, thanks again,,,,
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Old 03-16-2017, 12:43 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peppster66 View Post
Thanks for all your replies, as always , you guys are a great support, one quick last question for you, what gage of wire is best to use from the solar controller to the battery, I think it will be about a 6 foot run in length, thanks again,,,,

There a website with a table of wire length vs wire gauge vs voltage.
I don't have the link on hand, but I am sure it is easy to locate by google.
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Old 03-16-2017, 01:04 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Michael4104 View Post
I went to his kichstarter page, but can't see a way to order one of his controllers or even how to pledge for one.
I believe the owner, whose name is Dacian Todea, creates them in batches. I say this because I'm remembering my husband mentioning to me that he had also committed to purchasing his next gen unit which might be out this summer. Dacian is extremely responsive to emails. electrodacus -at- gmail should elicit a prompt response to your questions if you email him.
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