Join Date: Nov 2004
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Blue Sky 2000E let me down
I just installed a new Norcold refrigerator on my Gemini - powered by 195 watts of solar, a Blue Sky 2000E, and 200 Ah of AGM batteries.
After several unattended days of clowds, the voltage in the battery bank dropped below that required to run the Norcold. I expected the unit to turn off - but it didn't - the draw continued with no cold produced until the battery went to zero volts.
I'm trying to find a regulator to shut off the refrigerator when the voltage drops (see other post).
The Blue Sky 2000E solar controller made a minor problem much worse. The unit draws its operating power from the battery side of the controller. When the refrigerator discharged the battery bank, the unit shut down. When the bright sun returned, the unit did not restart - thus allowing the good PV power to just "fall on the floor."
This left me with a 0 volt battery bank, a useless set of photo cells, and no real way to get it going. I eventually jump started the solar controller and the system restarted, nearly recovering after 3 days of bright sunlight.
This is a very serious defect in the Blue Sky 2000E. Had the load been a bilge pump rather than a refrigerator, the boat would have been lost - even after the storm ended and the sunlight returned. Just as the USCG requires marine alternators to be self-excited, I expected the Blue Sky solar controller to restart when solar power was present - and to work as hard as it could to recover my battery bank.
I've had several e/mail exchanges with Richard Cullen of Blue Sky and he insists the unit is working as designed - I insist it is designed poorly and unsuitable for marine use.
My current plan is to take part of my solar panel "bank" and remove it from the solar controller - leaving it connected to the battery bank through a diode at all times. Hopefully, if this problem ever recurrs, the single solar cell will provide enough power to start the solar controller and then rechange the bank.
The Blue Sky 2000E is probably typical of solar controllers - and it does work the same as the other controllers in teh Blue Sky line -- all unacceptable for marine use in my opinion.