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So I got a new MPPT charge controller.

This one here: http://epsolarpv.com/en/index.php/Product/pro_content/id/157/am_id/136

Lots to read up on. Basically a PWN (pulse width modulation) charge controller takes the voltage and current from your solar array and uses 12 volts of it (cause thats what the battery accepts) and all the amps produced to charge it. Most panels though deliver a much higher voltage, 18volts or 20 volts. PWN controllers waste that extra voltage basically. Go read up on it but thats what its basically doing.

An MPPT (maximum power point tracking) controller takes the same panel and the same 18 or 20 volts, it still charges the battery with 12 to 14 of those volts and with a DC to DC converter it takes the extra voltage and turns it into amperage. This means its a much more efficient charge controller than a PWM.

In regard to this blog, thats kinda here nor there… So I currently have 15 watts of panels (5 solar panels at 3 watts a piece), in order to try out putting panels in series, I had to hook up only 4 so that I had two sets of evenly matched series strings.

In so doing I’m only using 12 watts of my panels, ie 4 of them. Its a sunny blue sky day to day, direct sun. what power is my 12 watts of panels putting out? 18 watts 😀  Love it!

And I can see the MPPT doing its thing too, as the 2 strings in parallel have a standing voltage of about 31 volts (way more than the battery can take of course). The MPPT kicks in though and converts the extra juice to amperage so the amps going into the battery are higher! Very cool to see all this in action.

Its a great learning experience figuring out all this stuff. Next project? Get my office off the grid by spending about 800 to get a couple panels, charge controller and some batteries. At which point I can pull out the breaker from the grid power panel and hook it up to my own solar power system. And after that, I’ll keep adding to it until the whole house is off grid 🙂

So fun this stuff is! And FREE electricity (ok, after the hardware is paid off, but hey, it starts as a hobby which we all waste money on anyways right?! Just with this one, it will start free up monthly bills for us!)

Stay tuned for a youtube review of the Tracer series charge controller,its very cool for the price.

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