Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review: XCSOURCE Intelligent 30PWM Solar Controller

Run the other way!

The XCSOURCE Intelligent 30PWM Solar Controller at just $14.99 seemed like a cheap solution to replace my renogy solar controller that I fried.   Unfortunately, I was mistaken.    The solar charger arrived in a small box, with a sparse manual, straight from china (what isn't these days?).   I plugged it up, and was happy to see all the usual green lights.

I thought I was good to go, until I happened to glance at the volt meter hooked to my batteries, right as the sun was going down.   They were at 12.0 volts!   This is below 50% discharge (12.2) and way below what I would expect after the sun just went down.   My nephew was running my fantastic fan on high however, and maybe that was the culprit (combined with the refer).  So i shut it all down and waited for the next day.  

On the next day when i checked I discovered something very odd.  In full sun, the voltage was at 12.4, and the charge controller was blinking like it was in float charge (full or nearly full).   This is not the normal behavior, usually in bright sun the batteries are min. of 12.7 and almost always around 13.  Something was wrong.   I double checked the connections.

I would check the voltage later and it was up to 12.7, that was better, but then again when the sun went down, it dropped down to 12.2 fairly fast.  I thought maybe the batteries were going bad. so i charged them that night with shore power and battery charger and they charged up like they have in the past just fine.

Let the solar take over the next day and the same strange behaviors occurred.  

From what I can tell this charge controller doesn't seem to be charging the batteries enough, entering float charge seemingly at random.  I thought I could adjust this, but I could not find a way to do so.   I lost the manual and packaging, so no help there.  Whats worse is I couldn't return it without at least the packaging.  One for the junk pile i guess.

The Replacement for the replacement.
I decided that I have to bite the bullet here.   I could have gone a bit cheaper, but I was tired of dealing with this, and my food was in danger here, which costs me in the long run.   So i pulled out the ole credit card and upgraded to this Tracer mppt solar charge controller.  At least it claims it is a tracer, I am not sure, as it also had other branding from beijing when it arrived.  The manual certainly looked a little better translated than the last one.

Before I even opened the box I could tell the difference between this and the others.   It must weigh 20 times as much as the renogy or xcsource combined, with enormous heat sinks on the back.   I installed it yesterday evening, but the sun was low in the sky.  Even then it jumped my battery from 12.2 to 12.7 until the sun was gone (then it dropped back down, as not much charging time).  

I charged the batteries that night with shore power so i could run my refer, and today the mppt has my batteries in the sun charging with 14 volts.  This is a good sign!  Ill keep you posted on how this works out with a future review.  If it works out I might get the little computer accessory in the future so I can plug into it for cool information, like panel output.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Redoing the van conversion, getting back to my roots.

My first conversion was a bed across the back style, with a kitchen-esque counter running down one side, and the other having a desk. 

Given my height, I never liked that bed layout, and have since tried other layouts with more leg room, with the bed going along one side or the other.   But in the end, the wasted space is just too much for me.  

I want to fit everything I had in the van previously, PLUS what I need to do wood carving.   And do it in such a way that I still have a healthy bit of floor space after to use for sitting or totes for sell-able items for flea marketing etc.   Oh, and I want to be able to remove any part of the conversion, in case I need to for more cargo space.

Sounds crazy, but I am doing it, without spending any more money to boot. In fact I am already mostly there.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Death of a cheap solar charger, cheap replacement not great?

To be fair, i murdered it.   When moving my batteries, i switched the yeah, zapped it in like 1 second.   Fairwell cheap renogy kit controller.   I am basically broke, so i found a replacement for 14 bucks on amazon.   It seems to be working....sorta.   I noticed last night that my batteries were low,12.0

My nephew was running the vent fan but still, it was early in the night.  Today around 11, usually when batteries are nearly full and voltage is up around 13+ from panels chargjng, it was 12.4.   Odd, but there was some shade.   Checked at 3, no shade, and still 12.4 and the charger is blinking like its in float?!   Should be at least 12.7.   I know my batteries are not fried, because they were at 12.7 even after the panels were off it.

I dont think the float charge is set high enough on this controller, but i cannot locate the manual, I am not positove it came with one.  Couldnt find it online, pretty sure its a chinese product, so hoping someone out there knows how to adjust it, if it can be adjusted.  I posted on the amazon product page, hoping a buyer with manual woll help me out.

Unhooked my fridge to try to prevent dipping below 12.2 until i figure it out.