Friday, March 20, 2009

MPPT controller in!

After 3 months of procrastinating, I finally installed the new MPPT solar controller. It is fantastic! I had very little sunlight this afternoon (more rain coming this weekend!), but I had to charge up my electric bike. Batteries were down in the critical zone, 12.4V. As soon as I hooked up the new controller, within a few minutes it rescued my batteries back up to 12.6V! I can't wait to see how it does tomorrow.

The long delay was due to my trying to find the "right" way to terminate the huge #8 wire I'm using. The problem was that the new MPPT controller has screw posts, like a terminal block, not holes with screw-downs. And nobody seems to make screw lugs that'll fit #8 wire! The closest I can find are Kragen ones for #10 wire. I decided to blow off the right way and just do whatever worked, which meant prying open the #10 lugs, shoving the #8 wire in, and then clamping it down. Not the ideal solution, but it works.

I tried to solder the lugs on, for more security, but neither my battery-powered soldering iron nor my 110V iron could get the huge wire hot enough to melt solder. I guess that's why I chose that wire in the first place-- it won't get hot!

But I'm happy the thing is working now. Next step is to build the RS485 ModBus to USB interface I've been pulling together a schematic for, so I can get all the huge reams of data off of this controller and really study how my solar electrical system is working out.

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