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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello,

I have single a 100w panel connected to a AllPowers 20A 12V PWM Solar Charge Controller (https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B06XWTKYDC).

I have a 12v (5x17ah Gel cell Total: 85ah) Battery pack.

I would like to be able to also charge off the alternator, can I use the Solar Charge Controller as a B2B charger? Only one supply source would be used as at a time. The van has the "large" alternator and dual battery currently.
 

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Hello,

I have single a 100w panel connected to a AllPowers 20A 12V PWM Solar Charge Controller (https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B06XWTKYDC).

I have a 12v (5x Gel cell 85ah) Battery pack.

I would like to be able to also charge off the alternator, can I use the Solar Charge Controller as a B2B charger? Only one supply source would be used as at a time. The van has the "large" alternator and dual battery currently.
No. If house battery is discharged then the amperage to the solar controller could exceed the PWM controller's rated input.
 

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There is a need for more videos like this... Orton are you up to it?

Off-grid Solar Myth Debunked and Explained
I am not smart enough on electrical to ever do a video. I did the video for the web site for the conversion because I thought that would be helpful for people to understand why some things were done as I did them.

I had called the Morningstar tech support and asked if I could power their 15 amp SunSaver MPPT solar controller from the vehicle 12 volt system. Same question as the OP. The tech explained why that can not be done. Just repeating what I was told.

I was also told that having multiple chargers on one battery was not a problem. Each charger reads the battery voltage and does what it is programmed to do based on the battery voltage. Your linked video says the same thing.
 

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I am not smart enough on electrical to ever do a video. I did the video for the web site for the conversion because I thought that would be helpful for people to understand why some things were done as I did them.

I had called the Morningstar tech support and asked if I could power their 15 amp SunSaver MPPT solar controller from the vehicle 12 volt system. Same question as the OP. The tech explained why that can not be done. Just repeating what I was told.

I was also told that having multiple chargers on one battery was not a problem. Each charger reads the battery voltage and does what it is programmed to do based on the battery voltage. Your linked video says the same thing.
If you also have a current shunt and good quality Hi-Z diff-amp input circuits on multiple current monitors/chargers, you can connect those multiple monitors to the same shunt.
So your chargers can also decide SOC based on current.
 

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In a different thread, Boboxx claimed to have bought a Victron AC-DC charger (If I’m not mistaken). So, maybe what he could do is front-end that Victron with an inverter. Effectively, he could have an Orton-esque DC-AC-DC charger arrangement.

Seeing as how you two have met (here, virtually), maybe Orton could advise on how small or cheap an inverter Boboxx could get by with...if “cheap” is a requirement. IIRC, the Victron is a 10a. The issue that popped into my mind with all this is, Boboxx stated he had 5 x 85ah batteries in his house bank, so it’s possible a 10a charger would be a bit undersized.

******EDIT: either I misread, or he edited original post it is 85 total ah, not 85 x 5******

His solar controller is a 20a, but he’ll never get 20a out of one 100w panel...more like 4-5 real world. Of course, solar or through the Victron (or possibly both simultaneously), every little bit helps.


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The problem with solar charge controllers is that they need to see a voltage close to 18V before they'll start charging a battery. They expect panels to output a much higher voltage than a 14v alternator. Otherwise, they do behave much like a B2B.



You could use a buck converter, or something similar to up the voltage before hitting the controller. I think a controller will only pull the amps its rated for, but I'd be careful experimenting. ;) It may need to shed a lot of heat. I'm only taking an educated guess here, I've never tried this myself.
 

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The problem with solar charge controllers is that they need to see a voltage close to 18V before they'll start charging a battery. They expect panels to output a much higher voltage than a 14v alternator. Otherwise, they do behave much like a B2B.



You could use a buck converter, or something similar to up the voltage before hitting the controller. I think a controller will only pull the amps its rated for, but I'd be careful experimenting. ;) It may need to shed a lot of heat. I'm only taking an educated guess here, I've never tried this myself.
My Blue Sea 3024 will certainly start charging at about 16V, possibly less. The spec sheet say 16.5-18.5V recommended panel voltage range for 12V panels.

 

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I think a controller will only pull the amps its rated for, but I'd be careful experimenting.
Not what the Morningstar tech told me. The Morningstar Sunsaver will limit the output to 15 amps but not the input.

The Sunsaver Operator's Manual gives a "Nominal" Max. input power of 300 watts at 12 volts and 400 watts at 24 volts.

If the house battery is discharged I suspect the input to the controller would exceed the input power rating.

Hopefully someone here can confirm or refute this.
 

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Try it out an let me know ;)
I have, as low as 16V. But not careful measurements. I haven't taken a look at what happens below that, or taken careful measurements of output current capability.

I do clearly remember one time in the morning, it was charging the battery at about 4A output (at the shunt) @ 16V panel shortly after the fridge shut off.
Probably was driving a bit more, because of other loads, like the fan on low.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ok scratch that! I was looking for a cheap and quick way to charge for this summer (trying to keep cost down), would the CTEK D250SA be the cheapest way?
 

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There is a CTEK D250SA right now on USA eBay for ~$225USD; that is a little less than the others I saw (plus, SA is the newer, supposedly upgraded version of the D250S). Still more than I paid. I didn’t check CA Ebay.

Check the thread re : Renogy 20A/40A 12V DC to DC On-Board Battery Chargers. Even less, since you already have a solar controller.

The CTEK will be MUCH easier to install, works pretty well, still, it’s only 20a. But, you could triple your solar panel capacity and probably still use it. But your batteries could use more. ***** EDIT: either I misread or Boboxx edited his original post, I thought he had 5x85ah batteries, but now looks like it is 85 total (5x17.5), so the CTEK would not be undersized***** Also, it is very automatic, and would balance between engine/alternator charging and solar. It could even charge the starter battery from solar if it ever managed to fully charge your house bank. But it prioritizes the house. Can be upgraded at significant cost with the Smartpass.

The Renogy is for hooking to the Ford battery only, no solar, and will be more difficult to install. For solar, you would still use your existing unit. But, a 40a is available, which might be a plus. Don’t ask me what’s involved to make it work, but there is a whole thread on it on these Ford Transit forums. And cheaper ($140??? USD)


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Discussion Starter #14
The solar controller was never meant to be permanent... I was just hoping to get by for this summer as it's a cheap PWM controller at 20$ I will keep a eye out for a CTEK D250SA as I'm trying to keep this as simple as possible. I just need to run a fridge (Domatic CFX75) for the weekend and a few other longer vacation here and there. The plan is just to pull out the panel when ever we are stationary.

The Victron Blue Smart IP65 Charger is rated for 30-100ah pack. I'm at 85ah so that would be sufficient.
 

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Oh, I thought you meant you had 5 batteries, at 85ah each, 425ah total.

CTEK is simple...simple and effective...if you aren’t trying to have 60 gigawatts of power.






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My Ctek D250SA handles both b2b charging and direct input from solar without an additional charge controller.
 

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You might try a 12V to 24 boost converter:
https://www.amazon.com/Cllena-Converter-Voltage-Regulator-Transformer/dp/B07PY1LVSW

EDIT: appears 24V input might be to high for your controller. Maybe try to find 12V to 18V boost converter.
https://www.amazon.com/DealMux-Converter-Regulator-Transformer-Waterproof/dp/B072SL12YX

You will want a current limiting device such as a fuse or breaker to make sure you don't exceed 20A.

We offer the Kisae DMT1250 ($275) which is also a combination alternator/solar controller. It can deliver up to 50A so would charger faster and be more suitable for a larger battery bank. They also make a 30A version: DMT1230. We have customers using them with 200+ Ah AGMs and LiFePO4 batteries. Appears to be a great product with very good technical support.

All the best,
Hein
DIYvan
 

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Hey Hein in your build you are using the CTEK with Smartpass instead of the Kisae. @ $275 and more output it seems the Kiase might be a better choise and save some $, if 30 amps would work?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Other then a higher amperage and lower cost what would be the advantage of the Kisae over the CTEK?
 
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