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OBIWAN_CANOLI

PWM to MPPT Upgrade

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As part of an overall system upgrade, and an anticipated change to Lithium batteries, I'm thinking it would be wise to upgrade to an MPPT Controller from the current Zamp Solar 30A PWM. Current solar is 3 - 160 W panels (480 W), 26.1A. I'm considering adding another 340W (2@170W), thus the need to upgrade the controller.

While I will also be installing a Victron 712 meter to more accurately display amp and volt readings, some have recommended I go with a Victron controller for the sake of consistency. My problem - if it even is one - is that there is no display on the controller itself (it's huge compared to what it will replace), as it is all via Bluetooth and a smartphone. Though I like the idea of Bluetooth, I'd planned to install the controller in place of the previous model, and it appears to be about 3X the size! Further, I prefer something with a display on the controller for convenience... but I suppose it's not absolutely necessary the unit have a display, seems to me it would also be convenient... 

Curious about others doing the same, and wondered what type/brand of controller others were using, and why...

Edited by OBIWAN_CANOLI

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It's important to consider not only the amp output of the solar charge controller, but the voltage it can handle as well.

Our solar panels are wired in a combination parallel/series. Putting them in series increases the voltage and reduces the required cable size for connecting the solar bank to the charge controller. We chose our solar charge controller so that it could handle the anticipated voltage after we add a few more panels. Always good to consider future expansion.

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Well, my MH is in the shop to have a new Victron 712 Voltmeter installed, along with a new Victron 100/50 Solar Controller. Lithium batteries (4 Battle Born 100Ah) should arrive by end of week. According to my service guy, we'll have to remove the battery tray to fit them in, but according to him, it's not necessary, leaves bunches of room for additional batteries (did he say up to 10 in all? He said it was a waste of good usable space!), and is easy to secure them from unwanted movement. All this is in preparation for anticipated dry camping which, fortuitously, is NOW planned for 2021 and beyond... 

I'm estimating my power needs at 30A, which includes some wiggle room for unanticipated energy needs, and it would seem I have enough solar capacity (480W on the roof, and one portable 120W) to handle my charging needs, but I'm still considering adding some wattage... Solar's pretty affordable per Watt, and I have plenty of room up top, but it's probably my ego driving this. More capacity could mean greater opportunities... naw... it's probably the ego thing... but if you have a different theory, I'd be obliged to hear it by bringing you fuel if you ever run out!

 

Edited by OBIWAN_CANOLI
Corrected spelling

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Get a controller with more capacity than you think you need now, both in terms of voltage and amperage. This will give you room to grow as things change in the coming years.

Would really be disappointing to decide to upgrade your panels in a couple of years when some newer/better/cheaper technology comes along, only to find out your controller is already at its capacity. Much cheaper to upsize now than wait till later.

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18 hours ago, richard5933 said:

Get a controller with more capacity than you think you need now, both in terms of voltage and amperage. This will give you room to grow as things change in the coming years.

Would really be disappointing to decide to upgrade your panels in a couple of years when some newer/better/cheaper technology comes along, only to find out your controller is already at its capacity. Much cheaper to upsize now than wait till later.

Thanks, Richard5933... learned this one early on. New controller will handle up to 100A, a target I'm certain I will never reach, unless I can find - and afford - a 100 foot RV!

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In answering this question I would visit Handybobsolar.com for your answer.  Me I think there are several better contollers out there than ZAMP . Let us know how you go.

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23 hours ago, RSBILLEDWARDS said:

In answering this question I would visit Handybobsolar.com for your answer.  Me I think there are several better contollers out there than ZAMP . Let us know how you go.

I've replaced my Zamp controller with a Victron

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On 8/20/2020 at 12:01 PM, OBIWAN_CANOLI said:

Though I like the idea of Bluetooth, I'd planned to install the controller in place of the previous model, and it appears to be about 3X the size! Further, I prefer something with a display on the controller for convenience... but I suppose it's not absolutely necessary the unit have a display, seems to me it would also be convenient... 

I have Victron and like the idea of using with my phone. I also wanted a coach mounted display. I bought a cheap tablet with bluetooth and, with a voltage reducer, mounted it in the living area. I also have bluetooth light and awning controls as well as information from my home built BMS for my lithium batteries. I can monitor everything from one unit. As an added bonus I can send data to my computer from the tablet. 

webTablet7805.jpg

webTablet7806.jpg

webBMS-data.jpg

Edited by somewhereinusa

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42 minutes ago, somewhereinusa said:

I have Victron and like the idea of using with my phone. I also wanted a coach mounted display. I bought a cheap tablet with bluetooth and, with a voltage reducer, mounted it in the living area. I also have bluetooth light and awning controls as well as information from my home built BMS for my lithium batteries. I can monitor everything from one unit. As an added bonus I can send data to my computer from the tablet.

Very nice setup! I added the screen to my Victron controller itself, but it's proven not that handy since I still have to go into the bay to use it. Generally I use my smartphone to view the display, but using a small tablet like this is brilliant. Now I'm thinking of doing something similar with an old one we have in the closet.

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