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Remote Power for Hazardous Locations

Location: Several locations on the East Coast of the United States
Year: 2019
Product: SunSaver SS-20L-12V
System size: 160W of solar and 108 Ah, 12V battery bank
Partners include: SunWize, Equipment & Controls [ECI]

Natural gas plays an increasingly important role in the U.S. energy portfolio. With its growth, safety remains a top priority for distribution and transmission utilities. Any issues must be detected and isolated quickly before there is any chance of failures that could lead to health or safety risks. For example, one of the largest fully-regulated utility companies in the United States serves approximately 3.5 million natural gas customers. It selected SunWize to design and build over 700 systems for monitoring low-pressure gas lines in several states across the East Coast, equipped with Class 1 Division 2 electrical components rated for use in hazardous locations (HazLoc). This network of systems allows the utility to greatly increase its monitoring and response capabilities for any abnormal pressure situations that may arise, allowing dangerous conditions to be identified and responded to much more quickly than previously.

The locations in which these systems were installed required components meeting UL/CSA Class 1 Division 2 certifications for areas where hazardous gases, vapors and liquids may accidentally exist, including hydrogen, propane, methane and gasolene. Naturally, SunWize selected the SunSaver as the solar charge controller due to its UL/CSA certification and field-proven reliability. Bussman fuses and fuse holders were used in place of circuit breakers to provide a cost-effective hazardous location-rated control panel. The systems also used one 160W rated Class 1 Division 2 solar module along with SunWize’s side-of-pole mount and C4 enclosure.


Case Study

Soluz Powers Honduras Amid Pandemic

Application: Rural Electrification
Location: Honduras
Year: 2020
Products: Morningstar Tristar MPPT  600V and EcoPulse controllers
Partners include: Soluz, Trojan Battery, Jinko Solar, Magnum Energy, Solectria

Honduras is a poor country in which 28% of the rural population doesn’t have access to the electrical grid. This leaves people vulnerable to the effects of climate change such as severe flooding.

Soluz has spent decades installing stand-alone solar systems for homeowners and businesses including solar-powered freezers to preserve food in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Soluz trusts Morningstar products for their reliability and customer service. Soluz president Richard Hansen even chose a Morningstar controller for his home system, which provided backup power after two catastrophic hurricanes that knocked out the utility grid for days.

Read the full case study here. 


Case Study

Renewable Energy Powers Research from Pole to Pole

Application: Rural Electrification
Location: Arctic and Antarctic
Year: Late 1990s to present day
Products: Various Morningstar charge controllers, SureSine inverter, Relay Driver, and meters
Partners include: Tracy Dahl, KiloVault, Sunwize Technologies, Polar Field Services

Tracy Dahl is passionate about developing sustainable solutions. When his mechanical expertise landed him a job as a snowmobile mechanic in the Antarctic in the mid-1990s, he saw an opportunity for renewable energy there as well.

For the past two decades, Dahl has worked alongside researchers in the Arctic and Antarctic to lead the transition from diesel generation to renewable power from pole to pole. He’s done a variety of wind and solar projects including systems with a single solar panel, charge controller and battery; vehicles with DC and AC power; chalets at research stations; and complex projects like large autonomous power and communication systems with remote-control monitoring that run lidar, radar and other research equipment.

No matter the application, Dahl says that Morningstar charge controllers are his go-to solution. In addition to their price point, they can withstand the difficult, condensing environments that often take out power electronics. He’s especially fond of the controllers’ maximum power point tracking (MPPT) capability.

“In a high-altitude, low-temperature environment with reflective snow cover, the MPPT  works incredibly well, providing about 20% to 25% more energy capture than PWM controllers,” he said. “The cold weather pushes the panel voltage way up, but that doesn’t mean anything unless you can turn it into amps through the MPPT. I have actually measured it out side by side and it’s astonishing how much better it works in these environments.”

Power for SCADA, RTU’s and Cathodic Protection at Oil & Gas Sites

Application: Oil & Gas
Location: South Texas
Year: 2014
Product: TriStar MPPT and SunSaver
System size: 800W array; 24 Volt Deka Solar gelled electrolyte lead acid batteries
Partner: Amereseco Solar

An off-grid application at the Eagle Ford Shale site in South Texas uses TriStar MPPT solar charge controllers to regulate battery charging to power SCADA equipment, RTU’s and cathodic protection.  For several decades, the Morningstar brand of products have been chosen by the world’s largest oil and gas companies in these applications, because of their reputation for reliability and strong customer support.


Case Study

Community Monitoring at Ground Zero Nuclear Test Sites

The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), formerly known as the Nevada Test Site, is located just 65 miles outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. It is a 1,360-square-mile area of land which, for 41 years, served as the literal “ground zero” for nuclear testing in the continental United States. From 1951-1992, 928 nuclear tests were conducted at the site, including 100 atmospheric tests.

Many of the atmospheric tests, as well as some of those conducted underground that lost containment, resulted in contamination of downwind areas off-site, exposing nearby communities to radioactive fallout, and causing significant concern and fear in the affected populations regarding the potential for adverse health effects.

Additionally, communities downgradient from the NNSS had concerns about the contamination of groundwater from underground testing at the site and its potential to affect public water sources in the future.

Solar at Canada’s Paterson Lake Telecom System Reduces Generator Use by 60%

Application: Telecom
Location: Paterson Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada
Year: 2015
Product: TriStar 600-Vdc charge controllers and ground-fault protectors
System size: 15.6 kW
Partners include: NorthwesTel, Howell-Mayhew Engineering, Action Electric, JA Solar

An off-grid telecom system at Paterson Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories traditionally relied on a diesel generator for electricity. Despite uneven slabs of rock, Howell Mayhew Engineering and Action Electric developed a 15-kW solar PV system to reduce generator use by 60%. Workers dropped off equipment from a helicopter because of no road access for 80 km. The installation uses black 260-W JA Solar modules and batteries for clean, reliable cost-effective solar electricity. The project also incorporated Morningstar 600-Vdc ground-fault protectors and charge controllers. Now, the system only requires the generator during the winter.

Photo courtesy of Howell-Mayhew Engineering

Telecommunications in Canada’s Northwest Territories

Application: Telecom
Wolverine Creek, Northwest Territories, Canada
Year: 2015
Product: TriStar 600-Vdc charge controllers and ground-fault protectors
System size: 15.6 kW of solar
Partners include: NorthwesTel, Howell-Mayhew Engineering, Action Electric, Conergy

Canada’s vast Northwest Territories encompass large areas of forests, lakes and tundra. Howell Mayhew Engineering developed a telecom PV system on the top of a mountain at Wolverine Creek near Great Bear Lake. The system included 60 Conergy 260-W multicrystalline-silicon modules and six Morningstar 600-Vdc ground-fault protectors and charge controllers.

Photo courtesy of Howell-Mayhew Engineering,

Cost-Saving Telecommunications in Weasel Lake

Application: Telecom
Location: Weasel Lake, Yukon, Canada
Year: 2015
Product: TriStar 600-Vdc charge controllers and ground-fault protectors
System size: 10 kW of solar PV
Partners include: NorthwesTel, Howell-Mayhew Engineering, Action Electric

A solar-powered telecom system on a mountaintop at Weasel Lake reduces reliance on diesel. The goal is to eliminate the use of generators for six summer months of the year. Using a generator only half of the year significantly reduces fuel and helicopter-transportation costs. High-voltage TriStar 600-Vdc charge controllers and ground-fault protectors allow wiring sub-arrays straight into the charge controllers without any combiner boxes, which lowers costs by reducing installation time on site.

Photo courtesy of Howell-Mayhew Engineering

Internet access changes lives in Kenya

Application: Telecom
Location: Kenya
Year: 2019
Product: TriStar MPPTr
Partners include: Mawingu Networks, Microsoft

Half of the world doesn’t have access to the internet, let alone cell service. To address this issue, Microsoft partnered with start-up Mawingu Networks to use TV waves to deliver affordable internet virtually anywhere. Internet cafes and other public hotspots in Kenya help increase communication and opportunity, changing people’s lives. For example, doctors from various clinics are able to hold weekly online meetings with the main hospital rather than traveling for days to meet in person. Such virtual connections have become even more essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The internet hotspots are driven by solar-powered main access points, the largest of which can service up to 1,000 people. Morningstar TriStars keep the access points operating reliably to ensure critical systems remain available.