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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
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  #1  
Old 02-16-2012
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Inexpensive MPPT Controller

Post Parameters -
  • Boat is a 1977 O' Day 25.
  • Sailing area is an inland lake.
  • Boat will be on a mooring.
  • Current capacity is one 105AH battery.
  • 9.9 HP electric start outboard.
  • Day sailing and weekending.
  • Electrical load is interior lighting, navigation lights, one fishfinder/depthsounder which is not really going to be used as this is a well known and marked lake.
  • Did I mention I sail on an inland lake?


I am planning on adding a 30 watt solar panel to my boat so I can keep things topped off and I want to use an MPPT controller of course. So anyone have any experience, good, bad, ugly as hell, with Instapark? I am trying to keep things relatively inexpensive right now and I found this one online for $57. Next off season is the plan to re-wire and then I will be adding a nicer unit, more capacity, larger solar, charging.... all that stuff.

Kind of just want to have good enough for this season right now as $$ is at a premium these days.

Thanks.
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Last edited by cb32863; 02-16-2012 at 03:02 PM. Reason: Added link... doh!
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  #2  
Old 02-19-2012
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Instapark controller

You better read the review on Amazon for the 10 amp MPPT. The unit destroyed the customer's battery. Thanks.
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Old 02-19-2012
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I wouldn't ever get a $50 MPPT charge controller from some no name brand. Its probably a PWM controller that someone is passing off as a MPPT.

I think the cheapest I've seen for a *true* MPPT charge controller is the one by Morningstar...the SS-MPPT-15L. Its about $230 bucks online. I'd PM Maine Sail and see if has an opinion on the matter as well...he wrote a great article on solar on another forum which has become required reading for anyone that wants to do solar.

The thing is, if you use normal flooded batteries and a small panel for trickle charging, do you really need a charge controller? Especially a MPPT charge controller? The natural rate of discharge of a flooded battery would probably keep a 30 watt panel busy with little to no overcharge risk ever. Just make sure there is a diode on there so that the panel doesn't drain the battery at night!
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Old 02-19-2012
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Seeing as how one can pick up a netbook computer for about 250 to 300 clams these days, I don't think that a $57 price tag on a charge controller should necessarily be a condemnation.
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Old 02-19-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowButSteady View Post
Seeing as how one can pick up a netbook computer for about 250 to 300 clams these days, I don't think that a $57 price tag on a charge controller should necessarily be a condemnation.
Suit yourself...but I call BS on this unit being true MPPT. Seems like the Amazon.com reviews agree with my position.

Most true MPPT controllers are in the ~$400-$500+ range. The Morningstar is a barebones unit that is verified by many installations and reviews in the community...and comes in at 1/2 the price of the mid-range controllers at ~$250.

Now this unit comes along for 10% of the price of most controllers. It smells fishy to me. Even netbooks are not 10% the price of mainline laptops.
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Last edited by night0wl; 02-19-2012 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 02-19-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by night0wl View Post
Suit yourself...but I call BS on this unit being true MPPT. Seems like the Amazon.com reviews agree with my position.

Most true MPPT controllers are in the ~$400-$500+ range. The Morningstar is a barebones unit that is verified by many installations and reviews in the community...and comes in at 1/2 the price of the mid-range controllers at ~$250.

Now this unit comes along for 10% of the price of most controllers. It smells fishy to me. Even netbooks are not 10% the price of mainline laptops.
I have no idea whether or not this controller is any good. I'm just pointing out that given the price of electronics these days a relatively simple piece of hardware like this could easily be built for a few bucks. I did a quick search and found several circuit diagrams for MPPT controllers. They contain nothing terribly exotic, just a few off the shelf ICs, as well as some resisters, diodes, and capacitors. I have little doubt that just about anyone with a modicum of electronics experience (even yours truly, IF I had the time and inclination) could cobble one together in a weekend, or so, for $20 or $30 -- and that's buying all the necessary bit and pieces retail at Fry's or somesuch. And I don't see why they couldn't be mass produced for a fraction of that price. The rest is just mark-up, advertising, and hype.
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Old 02-19-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowButSteady View Post
I have no idea whether or not this controller is any good. I'm just pointing out that given the price of electronics these days a relatively simple piece of hardware like this could easily be built for a few bucks. I did a quick search and found several circuit diagrams for MPPT controllers. They contain nothing terribly exotic, just a few off the shelf ICs, as well as some resisters, diodes, and capacitors. I have little doubt that just about anyone with a modicum of electronics experience (even yours truly, IF I had the time and inclination) could cobble one together in a weekend, or so, for $20 or $30 -- and that's buying all the necessary bit and pieces retail at Fry's or somesuch. And I don't see why they couldn't be mass produced for a fraction of that price. The rest is just mark-up, advertising, and hype.
Sounds like an opportunity for you to make a buck...go for it!

I on the other hand will pay $200 for a reputable company with tech support and a warranty to back up the product I'd put on my boat...one thats done the requisite testing and certification to ensure the product is relatively safe and also likely carries enough liability insurance in case of a situation where their product defect causes me to have a total hull loss (not my problem, but so my insurance can subrogate to theirs).
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Old 02-20-2012
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Before buying a MPPT controller for a 30w panel, you might want to read this:

Morningstar Corporation Ľ Tech Support

"There are indeed instances where a PWM
regulator is a better choice than MPPT and factors which will negate advantages the MPPT may provide.
The most obvious consideration is cost. MPPT controllers will cost more than their PWM counterparts.
When deciding on a controller, the extra cost of MPPT should be analyzed with respect to the following
factors..."

Last edited by mdbee; 02-20-2012 at 12:44 AM.
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Old 02-20-2012
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I think instapark just charges batteries, i.e. without using a 3-stage charging profile. You might want to confirm with them, what they use for bulk, acceptance, and float voltages IF they do proper charging.
Otherwise, I think Genasun is the least expensive company producing a "proper" MPPT product. And their tech support provides fast answers in clear English.
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Old 02-20-2012
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I am going with the Genasun control and Sunwize pannel as mainsail has installed some of them and they seem to work

I am using the small pannel install guide on his sight as it is the normal well though out guide
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