Solar for Rural Electrification Applications

From comfortable off-grid living in the developed world to providing basic electrical services in the developing one, designers of systems of all sizes specify Morningstar components into their projects for the same reasons that oil & gas, telecommunications and other “mission critical” users do.

Their unmatched reliability and fault-tolerant design is a tremendous asset in remote rural situations, where installers and operators often have minimal training and replacements might be half a world away. Their fanless design and environmentally hardened, encapsulated electronics means they can operate for years, even decades, without missing a beat. Advanced charging technologies on-board preserve and protect the health of costly, difficult-to-replace batteries. And the solar maximizing performance provided by TrakStar technology and other efficiency innovations enables a Morningstar-equipped system to extract every bit of electricity possible out of renewable energy sources.

From the mountains of Peru to the South Pacific, in settlements ranging from tundra to desert to tropical conditions, Morningstar charge controllers, inverters and accessories have a 25-year+ lead in setting the standards for off-grid solar electric living. Why take chances on your next project by settling for anything less?

Profile of change: Tozzi Green project, Peru

In 2018 Morningstar undertook one of the most far-reaching projects in its history. In partnership with Tozzi Green, a leading Italian renewable electricity company, Morningstar designed, engineered and produced a “plug and play” energy system to deliver electricity to over 200,000 homes and 1 million people in rural Peru presently without it.The Tozzi DC Energy Box is simplicity itself for local installation: the owners connect a solar module or two, charge the built-in crystal-technology battery, and have a reliable, maintenance-free source of DC electricity to run essential lighting and communications needs. A larger version is providing power in over 3,000 community centers and schools in the same communities. The program is sponsored by the Peruvian government to aggressively address the issue of electrical poverty in that country,

As the largest off-grid residential solar project on the planet to date, the Tozzi Green collaboration represents a milestone in using solar to improve standards of living. It also demonstrates Morningstar’s capabilities in providing large-scale, customized solutions for rural electrification projects.

Select Morningstar 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
  • Full programming to enable a high-level of system customization. Faceplate mounted timer and test buttons allow for easy system/setting configuration for a variety of uses
  • Load and lighting control for easy integration in lighting systems. Dusk and Pre-dawn settings optimize usable lighting during high-use periods while minimizing power consumption during unoccupied periods.
  • Industry-leading technical support from a US-based company
  • Easy system integration with generator control
  • Standard serial and optional Ethernet capabilities
  • Remote access and control
  • 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
  • Safety features built-in, including alarm/fault notifications, mis-wiring protection, lightning protection
  • 24V and 48V (Positive Ground) system capability

How a Typical PV system works in Rural Electrification applications

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.

Typical Rural Electrification solar electricity applications

  • Small DC power systems for basic lighting and communications
  • Off-grid homes, cabins and resorts
  • Schools, clinics and community centers
  • Agricultural—water pumping, ventilation, electric fencing
  • Community lighting
  • Light commercial and small retail venues