Ever been really certain about one of your decisions and then had to, gulp, change your mind based on new information? The only thing worse than changing your mind, is living with a poor choice.
I’ve done my homework on MPPT solar controllers and decided to get one. In fact, due to lightning, my charge controller failed, and the need for the new controller grew urgent. In a previous article I selected what I thought would be the best, safest choice for this investment.
New information, New choice.
One reason I chose the Xantrex product was for the reliability of my Trace Engineering DR1224 inverters. These inverters are engineered, bullet proof, and very reliable. Trace Engineering was purchased sometime in the past 10 years and became Xantrex. It seemed a natural assumption that the engineering exelence would continue with the new company.
That all changed a friend in the wind/solar industry gave me an old military 28′ portable tower(pole). I quizzed him about MPPT solar controllers, and he didn’t like the Xantrex units because the setup was dificult for normal users. He suggested units from Outback systems, or Blue Sky. He thought Outback was the best and cautioned I’d pay a little extra for that.
He then told me the story of the Trace company transition to Xantrex. I verified this story with another industry insider. Apparently the new company owners didn’t want to continue developing some of the leading edge Trace technologies. Depending on your source, the principal engineers in the Trace team left, or were fired, but they formed their own company in the same town, Arlington WA, called Outback systems.
Purchasing solar equipment must be made with the long term in mind. So we purchased an 80 Amp charge controller to accommodate future solar array growth. The Outback FM 80 arrived yesterday. I feel good about this purchase.
So stay tuned as I document our experience with the MPPT charger and our fixed array of solar panels. Murphy has slipped in with a few cloudy and possibly rainy days that hamper measurements. I’m looking forward to a 20-30% increase in solar power capture from the increased efficiency.
Should your first solar controller be an MPPT? Are there disadvantages? Chime in below with your comments as we begin this new series!