Morningstar has recently updated its online String Calculator. This powerful tool can assist you with proper sizing of the solar array for all of our MPPT and PWM solar controller models. Our recent update adds over 15,000 new solar modules including many of the newer 300W+ models. These 72 cell modules are perfect for use with any Morningstar MPPT controller or PWM solar controller that supports 24V batteries. The String Calculator provides a quick and easy way to determine the number of solar modules that can be configured in series and parallel based on battery, controller and temperature conditions associated with your system. The underlying database of module specifications is professionally managed and updated by the manufacturers themselves, ensuring a complete and accurate listing for the global market. In the off-chance that your particular module is not in our database, you can also choose to manually enter module specifications. To view a short video that will help you learn about how to best use the string calculator, click here.
Question: Can you use two 72 cell modules in series with a TriStar MPPT to charge a 48V battery system, or do you need three modules? Answer: Yes, unless the system is located in an exceptionally hot desert climate, or you are worried about voltage drop from a long wire run from the array to the controller. But as long as your voltage at max power (Vmp) is slightly higher than your target battery voltage, two 72 cell modules will serve you well. For a 48 volt nominal battery, your target battery voltage will likely be close to 60 volts depending on the battery brand. And two 72 cell modules should supply much more than 60 volts even in hot temperatures as long as you’re not in Death Valley or some similar extremely hot climate. We have received a number of questions about this over the years, where people thought they might need 3 modules, when it fact 2 modules would suffice.
Morningstar offers a Relay Driver (model # RD-1) which can be used for many of the same functions as an auxiliary (IN or OUT). Each RD-1 has 4 channels that can be used as inputs or outputs for Low Voltage Disconnect, Vent Fan, Alarm notifications, or Genstart. Output Channels can be turned on or off based on standalone relay driver values or information from other Morningstar devices on a MeterBus network such as: Thresholds (Voltage, Current, Temperature, % PWM Duty Cycle) Selected Alarms and/or Faults PC or MODBUS inputs over the RS-232 Serial data connection Advanced options allow users to use use the relay as a timer switch or to custom program delays.
Dip switch settings to configure battery charging, system voltage, and load/lighting parameters are included in the ProStar MPPT Operator’s Manual. But in the event that you don’t have a manual handy, you can also find these dip switch settings on the inside of the removable wire cover, and on the inside of the Wire Box accessory.
Most people are used to connecting to a computer in order to configure a controller’s charge settings. But with the ProStar MPPT™ controller, configurations can be changed in the field just by using the controller’s meter interface without the need to connect to a computer. The absorption, float, and equalization charge settings, as well as the load and lighting control settings, can all be changed via the scroll buttons on the meter display.
There have been a number of questions recently about whether Morningstar solar charge controllers can be used to charge lithium ion batteries in off-grid solar applications. Morningstar’s TriStar MPPT, TriStar (PWM), ProStar MPPT, ProStar (Gen3), SunSaver MPPT, and SunSaver DUO solar charge controllers support Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) and other battery technologies such as: Lead Acid (PbSO4): Sealed (VRLA, AGM, Gel) and Flooded Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion or LIB) Lithium Iron Phosphate (“LFP”, LiFePO4) Lithium Iron Magnesium Phosphate (LiFeMgPO4) Lithium Manganese Oxide (“LMO”, LiMn2O4) Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (“NMC”, LiNixMnyCozO2) Nickel–Cadmium (NiCd or NiCad) Nickel–Metal Hydride (NiMH or Ni–MH) Nickel–Iron (NiFe) Nickel–Zinc (NiZn) Aqueous Hybrid Ion (Aquion or AHI™) Flow or Redox Flow Battery Vanadium Redox (VRB) Zinc–Bromine (ZnBr2) Zinc–Cerium (Zn-Ce) All of the above-mentioned Morningstar controllers offer custom programming to create pre-configured plug and play settings that can be tailored for most types of batteries. For more information, please go to our Best Practices By Battery Chemistry page.
A question came in recently about whether the dip switch settings on Morningstar controllers can be changed while the controller is powered ON. The answer is: No, you should turn off the solar breaker and the battery breaker before you change the dip switch settings on the controller.
Although Morningstar MPPT controllers are capable of charging a lower voltage battery from a higher voltage battery, at this time, no information is available concerning the use of a TriStar MPPT 600V Controller to charge a 48V battery bank from the Tesla Powerwall. We recently contacted Tesla about this and we will update you with any new information when we receive it.
Since Morningstar controllers are passively cooled without any internal fans or moving parts, they are very reliable. Fans and other parts are subject to failure and replacement can be very problematic, especially for controllers installed in difficult to access, remote areas. But in addition to issues related to mechanical performance, and debris drawn into the controller by these fans, the noise they create can be irritating in residential applications. With passive cooling, you not only minimize the chance of defects, but you also benefit from the sound of silence.
If your Morningstar controller’s meter is displaying an alarm, it is helpful to consult the meter map for the particular controller you are using in order to access additional helpful information. The arrows on the map correspond to the arrow buttons on your meter, and the sequence that they need to be pressed in order to display the diagnosis. If you did not save the meter map that came with your controller, you can access it on the Morningstar Support site.