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Seeking solar panel advice for "backup" battery

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  • #16
    Well - we are just as anxious to find out how it is going!

    Re - grounding and gfci - follow the local standards and obviously follow the standard amateur radio grounding guidelines not presented here, but best left to those forums.

    Are you having any issues with mppt controller noise? I've never tested a morningstar mppt with my own hf/vhf/uhf gear so I'm interested to find out if perhaps the lowly pwm controller might have been a better choice for this application.

    Have you gotten a taste for it so much that you are now switching from a backup / lights-out kind of application, to a cyclic daily routine operation? That happens!

    Let us know!


    • #17
      Hi guys here is the update:

      Short story: Install completed, powered on, charging battery as intended. All good.

      Long story:

      Well, went back and forth on the ground and GFCI and ended up NOT installing either. When I talked to the local company that sold me the gear they said to ground the MPPT controller. There is a newer version of the installation guide online that says to ground it and to use one of their (Morningstar) GFCI devices ($200). So I was all prepared to do just that even had an electrician lined up to install a ground rod near the installation, ready to purchase the GFCI. However my MPPT came with three ferrite chokes and the local company said they were strain relief so I phones Morningstar to ask about the ferrite chokes. They are for the remote temp sensor, remote display, and "ground". So while we were talking I asked about the ground requirements and Morningstar indicated that for my application a ground was not needed nor was the GFCI. Yeah. So I skipped those, completed the install, and switched it all on. That was yesterday (7/28) morning. Everything is working according to specifications and the MPPT is doing a nice job charging the battery. In the middle of the afternoon the display showed that I was getting 44v from the panel which if I read the spec correctly is very close to the 48Voc so I am happy with that.

      I used the "system" last night connected to my ham radio station and ran it for a few hours before switching back to AC power because the battery was down to 12.50v and I want to be cautious not to drain it too low.

      All in all a very easy install the hard part was learning what to do, what to buy for my application. Here is what I have:

      Mission MSE375SQ9S 375w panel to
      about 75' of 10ga PV wire to
      Blue Sea Series 187 Marine Circuit Breaker 25amp (switch on/off the PV array) to
      Morningstar ProStar PS-MPPT-25 controller (I like this a lot) to
      Blue Sea Series 187 Marine Circuit Breaker 25amp (switch on/off the battery) to
      Trojan TMX 12v deep cycle battery to
      RigRunner 12v power distribution panel to
      ham radio setup

      The MPPT and breakers are mounted on a piece of plywood screwed onto a couple studs in the space under the house where the furnace is (about 10' away).

      I did use the ferrite chokes and I have not noticed any RF interference from the MPPT or any of the solar equipment to my ham radio gear.

      Options for the MPPT that I purchased includes the "remote battery temperature sensor" and the "remote meter". I was expecting the remote meter to just emulate or show the same thing that is on the controller and it does not. Not sure why, that would be a no brainer to do that, however it has its own display parameters and is not as useful as the display that is on the controller itself however the controller is tucked away under the house and not easily accessible so I have the remote display. For now.

      In the near future I would like to install/create/buy something that will let me switch between my battery 12v power and the Alinco 12v power supply for my ham radio setup. Last night I was using the radio for a few hours and monitoring the battery and when the battery went down to 12.50v I had to physically turn off the radio, unplug the battery, and plug in the Alinco. Just a little pain as the distribution panel is mounted on the back of the desk. Would like something on the desk top that I can just flip a couple of switches or better yet some way to have that done automagically... if anyone has ideas on that.

      All in all very satisfied. Will be playing some more with it for sure and also looking to power some more things with the "free" energy (fan, lights, etc).

      Thank you to all those that chimed in with great advice and for this wonderful forum/source of knowledge. Best of luck to each of you on your own projects!