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  1. #1
    nimbusgb is online now Registered User
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    Default Multiple charge controllers

    Apart from the engine alternator some of us fit PV panels and/ or wind or towed generators.

    My setup includes an expensive solar panel charge controller an alternator and I have an alternator controller to shorten charge cycles, I removed the split charge diodes in favour of a VSR recently. If I fit a wind or towed device things get even more complicated.

    It struck me that if I start up the engine mid morning the solar panels are already kicking out 10 amps the multi stage solar controller is suddenly going to see a change in battery voltage and that will screw up its charge cycle. Similarly the alternator controller will see the PV output and wont kick out as much current as it could. Again if I fit another generator then it confuses the system even more. Of course the mains battery charger has it's own agenda too when I hook up the shore power.

    Is there a device that takes any number of 'charge sources' and combines them into a single charge controller? I was thinking of a black box that had two battery outputs and say 3 inputs for alternator, solar and wind/toed generators; it might have a mains connection too so the same box did it all. It could also act as an alternator controller to get the best out of the alternator.

    Only 1 3 or 4 stage charge controller would be needed and the input power could be combined and fed to the batteries in the most effective way.

    Does such a device exist?
    Last edited by nimbusgb; 23-08-10 at 09:49.
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  2. #2

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    Exactly the question to which I would also like an answer.

  3. #3
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    to my knowledge this is a gap in the market. However, you could probably find someone to custom build something for you.

    I spoke to these guys
    http://www.flexcharge.com/
    about custom building a wind and solar charger that could take inputs from my D400 wind turbine and a couple of hundred W of solar with MPPT, and the output with a 'smart' algorythm. It came out about 350 quids, which seemed an OK price for such a custom build, but I decided against it at the time, so can't comment on the product. They're based in the US but I can't see why they couldn't build you a system to the requirements you mention.

    Halcyon of this parish might have something to add here...

    good luck and let us know how you get on.
    http://sunflythesabre.wordpress.com/ - simply messing about in boats.

  4. #4
    whiteshythe's Avatar
    whiteshythe is offline Registered User
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    Hi Nimbusgb,
    At first glance combining all your charge regulator devices sounds like a good idea. There are already combined Wind and Solar controllers on the market, however they usually have an upper limit on the number of amps they can handle which maybe too low for your installation.
    I suspect that trying to integrate your shorepower (AC) system into your wind/solar (DC) system, plus your alternator charging system would prove to be a very expensive excercise.
    My real argument against your idea is; it would not charge your batteries any faster or better than you already achieve. Combining your charging devices through just one controller will not alter the amps going into your batteries. You cannot 'Force' a battery to increase its acceptance rate.
    You should also think about redundancy. I used to fly multi engined aircraft around the world, yet no one suggested (except the accountants) that we fly on just one big engine!
    Kind regards,

    Steve.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by whiteshythe View Post
    You should also think about redundancy. I used to fly multi engined aircraft around the world, yet no one suggested (except the accountants) that we fly on just one big engine!
    Kind regards,

    Steve.
    That's a very good point.

  6. #6
    nimbusgb is online now Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by whiteshythe View Post
    Hi Nimbusgb,
    At first glance combining all your charge regulator devices sounds like a good idea. There are already combined Wind and Solar controllers on the market, however they usually have an upper limit on the number of amps they can handle which maybe too low for your installation.
    I suspect that trying to integrate your shorepower (AC) system into your wind/solar (DC) system, plus your alternator charging system would prove to be a very expensive excercise.
    My real argument against your idea is; it would not charge your batteries any faster or better than you already achieve. Combining your charging devices through just one controller will not alter the amps going into your batteries. You cannot 'Force' a battery to increase its acceptance rate.
    You should also think about redundancy. I used to fly multi engined aircraft around the world, yet no one suggested (except the accountants) that we fly on just one big engine!
    Kind regards,

    Steve.
    All valid points but my angle is that if the alternator controller sees the voltage being output by the solar panels and visa versa then nothing is tempted to go into bulk mode and load up the batteries!
    Last edited by nimbusgb; 23-08-10 at 15:34.
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  7. #7
    pvb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nimbusgb View Post
    All valid points but my angle is that if the alternator controller see the voltage being output by the solar panels and visa versa then nothing is tempted to go into bulk mode and load up the batteries!
    Alternator controllers work by increasing the output voltage of the alternator until they sense a certain voltage (around 14.5v) at the battery terminals. This voltage is set to provide the maximum charging current into the battery without causing extreme gassing.

    If the battery is already at 14.5v, it's getting the biggest charge it can take, so connecting another charging source to it isn't going to push any more charge in.

    Your FOX-350 solar regulator switches off in normal operation when battery voltage reaches 14.1v, so it's unlikely to be feeding anything into the batteries during alternator charging.

  8. #8
    nimbusgb is online now Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by pvb View Post
    Alternator controllers work by increasing the output voltage of the alternator until they sense a certain voltage (around 14.5v) at the battery terminals. This voltage is set to provide the maximum charging current into the battery without causing extreme gassing.

    If the battery is already at 14.5v, it's getting the biggest charge it can take, so connecting another charging source to it isn't going to push any more charge in.

    Your FOX-350 solar regulator switches off in normal operation when battery voltage reaches 14.1v, so it's unlikely to be feeding anything into the batteries during alternator charging.
    Hmmm. looks like I'm trying to complicate my own life here

    Twas ever thus!
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    Sterlings take three separate inputs
    I'm more Teddybear than Werebear
    Beware the Grizzlybear

  10. #10
    pvb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobobolinsky View Post
    Sterlings take three separate inputs
    Which Sterling product are you talking about?

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