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post #1 of 19 Old 09-22-2016 Thread Starter
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Charge Controller Conundrum

Thinking on getting a charge controller to install now to maintain the flooded cells in my banks (2 Big deep cycle for the house side, 1 has gone bad already, and 2 automotive sized for starting the Perkins). I will of course be replacing these later but I would like to have something nice for the new batteries in place Before the investment. I'm studying on the LiFePO cells but at this point havenít convinced myself to bite that bullet so will probably go with 4-6 6 volt golf cart for the house for now.


The shore powered charger that came with my boat died last weekend so I'm thinking I should just get the charge controller for now and feed it with an automotive charger till I add solar probably 4-600 watts and wind/water gens later.


I'd like an MPPT that can be programed for two or three banks of different types of cells/batteries a remote display would be a plus, Low voltage cutoff might be nice as well.

Am I missing something?


Or maybe I'm better off with simpler single bank controllers for redundancy (2 is 1 - 1 is none) I suppose the only drawback would be wall space to mount them and which ones would get how much power from the varied power sources.


Speaking of that cant we just tie all the power sources to a main buss through diodes and feed the charge controller/s from that?



I see lots of brand names of charge controllers batted about in old threads but what are the ones to get today?


Can Y'all help me decide? I'd rather stay away from the L'cheapo chinese unreliable brands but don't need to break the bank with all the way top of the line either.



Also what are your favorite online sources for ordering things of this type.


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post #2 of 19 Old 09-24-2016
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Re: Charge Controller Conundrum

I do not know of a charge controller of any large capacity that has multiple outputs. To have a controller that has both multiple outputs and allows setting for multiple battery types you are basically asking for several complete controllers in one enclosure. You are asking for something that doesn't exist. Best to buy separate controllers.

Victron would be my choice for both affordability and easy adjustment of any parameter. They have MPPT controllers in all sizes and all offer the widest range of adjustments I have seen.

https://www.victronenergy.com/solar-charge-controllers

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post #3 of 19 Old 09-24-2016
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Re: Charge Controller Conundrum

Because the house batteries will likely be connected in a series parallel setup, it would be nearly impossible to utilize separate charging systems/controllers to do what you wish because the batteries will not be segregated. Essentially, the series/parallel system would look, electrically, like a single battery, thus a single controller is all that is required.

Now, it you wanted to segregate the start battery, this could be done because it's not connected to the house batteries unless you throw the main battery switch to all. In this instance, you could use a second controller connected to the solar panel that only connected to the start battery, and a second controller that connected to the house batteries, using a single feed from the solar panel.

The good news is that when the house batteries discharge, and are connected in a series/parallel rig, they tend to discharge at the same rate, therefore, charging, and overcharging is not usually a problem using a single controller.

Hope this helps,

Gary
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post #4 of 19 Old 09-24-2016
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Re: Charge Controller Conundrum

Salty,

Start with knowing your daily consumption and how long you want to be able to go between shore based or internal combustion based recharging events. A good system design is critical as is an understanding of DC systems. Read and continue to learn how these devices work & how they should be wired together before you go spending money.

The battery wiring and switching and charging are all part of the "foundation" that you build upon. Without a solid foundation the house falls down.

It seems you have two banks. Most boats do have two banks house & start and many boats have solar. For your configuration one solar controller is all that is necessary. The solar, alternator, shore charger, wind etc. will all feed the house bank and the start battery is fed, via the house bank, by a charge management devices such as an ACR/Combiner/Voltage Sensing Relay, an Echo type charger or a "battery to battery" charger. Diode isolators are a poor choice today especially with alternative energy systems.

You need to draw the foundation, which includes bank wiring, wire gauges, busbars, over current protection, always on load bus, switched load bus, battery switching and negative distribution bus etc. etc.. From here you can then move to charge sources and ultimately the rest of the DC system design.

There are plenty of good charge controllers out there, Morningstar, Genasun, Victron, Midnite, Blue Sky, Western etc. but you need the foundation laid out before you begin purchasing products.

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Last edited by Maine Sail; 09-24-2016 at 05:08 PM.
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Re: Charge Controller Conundrum

Mike-
I think you need to spend some hours reading up on charging systems and options before you throw bucks at a solution after the hit-and-miss of a web thread.

For instance, diode isolators are 1950's technology, there are good reasons not to use them anymore. Among other things, they'll screw up voltage sensing and regulation for many systems.

MPPT controllers work by sensing the "maximum power point" on solar panels, which have varying voltage and amperage as the sunlight falling on them changes. AC chargers have no such variation, they're pretty much fixed voltage chargers which want to "see" your batteries directly to implement a 1 (or 3- or 4-) stage charging profile. What would happen if you put them together? Damfino, never heard of it. It might be like a Laurel & Hardy movie, because neither one of them "matches" the other.

And the only way to anticipate these things and know what to question? Right, that's to read up on it, or else just buy one simple charger and rely on it. Plenty of good books online or at the chandlery, plenty of good web threads. Odds are they'll quickly pay for themselves.
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post #6 of 19 Old 10-01-2016 Thread Starter
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Re: Charge Controller Conundrum

I guess what I'm wanting is one good charge controller that will get it's power from multiple sources and maintain the batteries with a minimum of fuss.

I'm leaning towards using 4- 6v golf cart AGM batteries in series for 24v to run a refrigerator and the Metal 52AC wifi booster I put up on the mizzen mast, then I should be able to tap on for 6 12 or 18 volts as needed for other devices and have an Echo charger for the engine bank.

I'm guessing this type of setup would cause a need for balancing the batts more often even though the 6 and 18 volt loads would be small most of the time (think charging cell phones and laptops) the 12v loads would still be radios nav and auto pilot and the like.

So that leaves me with needing/wanting a 24v charge controller that has the ability to maintain and occasionally balance the bank while on the hook or under way that can receive its power from solar, wind, tow gen,engine alternator or a simple battery charger being powered by an on board generator or shore power.

Sounds complicated but I don't really think it is...... is it?

Kinda liking this one.

TrakMax 30L LCD MPPT 30A Solar Charge Controller Regulator 12 24 48 Volt

Or something like it.
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Re: Charge Controller Conundrum

You are asking for a product that doesn't exist. Besides if a product like that were to fail you would lose all charge sources at once. Better to have separate controllers.

Why 24 volt for refrigeration? Why 18 volts for anything?

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Re: Charge Controller Conundrum

Quote:
Originally Posted by mitiempo View Post
You are asking for a product that doesn't exist. Besides if a product like that were to fail you would lose all charge sources at once. Better to have separate controllers.

Why 24 volt for refrigeration? Why 18 volts for anything?
The compressors will run more efficiently on 24v, lots of laptops and some other electronics will run directly off of 18v instead of using a wall wort or 12v to 18v converter.
I figure if I like the single charge controller deal I would carry a spare just like the alternator.
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post #9 of 19 Old 10-02-2016
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Re: Charge Controller Conundrum

For whatever it's worth, laptops are usually 19 volts.

While I would acknowledge the slight power loss of converting 12 to 19 or charging phones via a 12v USB adapter, I think these are pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme. I wouldn't over think them.


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post #10 of 19 Old 10-02-2016
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Re: Charge Controller Conundrum

Just to back up to your short term issue. It doesn't seen to make much sense to buy an expensive solar controller and then feed it with a cheap automotive battery charger. Just replace your dead charger with a decent marine unit. Then begin the plans for the solar installation.

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