Solar for Telecommunications Applications

Today’s telecom infrastructure is increasingly located remote, isolated areas—from mountain tops to desert regions— which are usually far from any electrical grid and rely on on-site power generation to operate. But between fuel and maintenance costs, generators are expensive to own and operate. For communications providers, the ultimate goal is to establish self-sustainable mobile networks with higher efficiency and profitability and remain competitive in a lower Average-Revenue-Per-User (ARPU) environment.

That’s why telecommunications providers—both wireless service providers as well as BTS tower operators– are turning to solar PV and PV/Hybrid (PV + a secondary energy source) power solutions to achieve their business objectives. Unlike generators and wind turbines, photo-voltaic (PV) solar has no moving parts—so consequently, no down time. And solar electric systems never need fueling or an overhaul. This type of system can be sized and installed as the primary source of power for a remote telecom site, and the hydro, wind and/or generator-based systems can supplement PV output should “days of autonomy” be insufficient for the installation’s powering needs.

As more of the telecommunications industry shifts to solar, Morningstar’s extensive line of solar controllers and accessories are more frequently found at the core of their systems. In such a system, the charge controller is both “heart and brains” of the outfit, controlling the PV/solar-generated electricity flowing from the panels, or modules, into batteries for storage as well as the DC output to power connected loads, maintaining both system operation and battery health.

In remotely powered telecommunications installations, what matters most is efficiency and reliability. Efficiency is paramount for systems that may need as much autonomy as possible to get through long stretches without sunlight or refueling. Morningstar’s proprietary TrakStar solar harvesting technology and fanless design make for inherently more efficient systems. And with over four million Morningstars installed in the field since 1993, there’s no brand in the solar industry that’s more proven or accepted in terms of reliability.

Select charge controller models have:

  • Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) technology to extract every bit of electricity possible from the solar source, by converting extra voltage into useful amperage. Morningstar MPPT controllers have industry-leading TrackStar technology on-board for that purpose
  • Industry-leading technical support from a US-based company
  • Easy system integration with generator control
  • Remote access and control
  • Selected models support industrial-standard networking, monitoring and communications protocols including MODBUS, MQTT and SNMP, when used with Morningstar’s Ethernet MeterBus Converter (EMC) accessory
  • Data logging to record charging/load Amp-hours and alarm/fault notifications
  • Full programming to enable a high-level of system customization
  • Built-in communications and diagnostics capabilities
  • Temperature charging protection and advanced charging algorithms to protect expensive storage batteries, both lead-acid and advanced types including lithium. Dead battery recovery feature helps reduce system down-time
  • Designed for trouble-free operation in extreme temperature and weather conditions. Epoxy-encapsulated circuit boards and 60C ambient temperature ratings to handle harsh environments including tropical, coastal and arid regions. Weatherized construction; no cooling fans to fail
  • Simple, out-of-the-box operation and easy installation
  • UL and IEC listing on most models; FCC Class B certification
  • Load and rectifier compatibility
  • Low noise operation
  • Safety features built-in, including alarm/fault notifications, mis-wiring protection, lightning protection
  • Parallel capable charge control
  • 48V (Positive Ground) system capability

How it works

During the day:

  1. Sunlight is converted into DC electricity in the solar modules or panels.
  2. The DC electricity from the panels flows into a charge controller, which both provides perfect battery charging and powers DC-operated loads.
  3. Smaller systems and systems with consistent sunlight (little shading or seasonal variation) usually feature PWM (pulse-width modulation) charge controllers, which are simple and reliable. Larger systems and systems where there is variation in sunlight due to seasonal changes or shading often use MPPT (maximum power point tracking) charge controllers, which are more complex but also are more effective at harvesting solar electricity.

During the night:

The solar charge controller keeps working—by preventing any “reverse current” flowing from the batteries to the PV modules, and (if equipped with load control) disconnect power to the loads if the battery voltage dips too far, which can quickly kill batteries.

How do I choose if I need MPPT or PWM-type solar controllers?

This is not a quality difference, but a function of prevalent solar conditions and location considerations.

  • Because MPPT (maximum power point tracking) controllers convert extra solar electricity voltage into useable electricity, they are ideal for areas where seasonal, weather and shading conditions cause wide variations in solar “harvesting.” Morningstar’s proprietary TrackStar™ MPPT technology is considered the industry’s performance standard. Because of their additional circuitry on-board, MPPT controllers are also more complex and expensive.
  • PWM (pulse-width modulation) controllers are the right choice for systems using 36 or 72-cell solar-panels in locations with consistent sunlight, minimal shading and no physical space limitations—such as at the top of light poles, for example. PWM controllers are simpler and cost effective as a result.

All Morningstar charge controllers, regardless of their technology or design, built to one industry-leading quality standard. They all have “over-spec’d” components, incorporate advanced electronic design and thermal engineering, and have no cooling fans to fail—unlike all the in-kind competition. Because of this, over four million Morningstars have been sold since 1993 and are the first choice for leading solar installers in mission-critical installations around the globe.

Solar for Telecommunications Applications

Solar for Telecommunications Applications

Watch the recorded webinar to see how Morningstar solar controllers are used in a variety of off-grid telecommunications applications throughout the world.

Telecommunications Primer

For 25 years Morningstar has been supplying solar charge controllers to regulate batteries in off-grid telecommunications projects throughout the world. Oftentimes solar power is used to complement diesel generator and wind power at these telecommunications sites. Morningstar’s low noise design and proven reliability under extreme temperature and environmental conditions, make it the preferred choice for systems that are often located in hard to access remote areas.
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Typical Telecommunications solar electricity applications

  • Remote towers and systems
  • Back-up systems
  • Repeater stations
  • Base transmission stations (BTS)
  • Two-way radio
  • Telephone exchanges
  • Rural telephony
  • VSATs
  • Satellite earth stations

Some of the information on this page is from third party sources because it may be relevant and helpful to certain audiences. Morningstar does not endorse and is not responsible for the content.