What is a charge controller and when do I need to buy one?
A charge controller is an essential part of an isolated photovoltaic system. Its main role is to supply the correct voltage and current to charge the battery. A solar charge controller should also optimize the panel energy production. Solbian offers a wide range of solar charge controllers, including the latest versions which cut-off the charging current when the battery is fully charged and prevent malfunctions which could lead to damage over time. Many of our controllers also perform MPPT.
What is MPPT technology and why is it so important in mobility applications.
MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) is used to obtain the maximum possible power from one or more panels. It is particularly important when the solar irradiation is uneven or rapidly changing, as is often the case on boats or caravans. Using fast MPPT technology, the system is able to produce the maximum power at all times, increasing output by up to 30%.
Some Solbian panels have an output voltage of less than 10 V. How can I charge my 12 V battery?
In this case, it is necessary to use a STEP-UP, or boost, controller, to raise the voltage to the required level. We offer several STEP-UP controllers capable of charge 12, 24, 36 and even 48 V battery (lead and lithium), to allow the maximum freedom in choosing panel size, among standard or custom solutions.
Some controllers have a display. What information do they show?
The most important information is the battery’s state of charge, the instantaneous power, input and output current and total energy produced.
How many charge controllers do I need if I have two or more panels?
The best solution is “one panel – one controller”, in order to achieve the most efficient energy output under all conditions. Solbian will provide the necessary support to choose the best set-up. Here are some important points to consider:
With series connection the panel voltages sum up, while the current remains that of the single panel. This type of configuration however suffers very much from partial shading, since the current is determined by the panel in the worst shading condition.
Parallel connection is possible between identical panels, producing the same voltage. In this case, the total current is equal to the sum of the currents in all panels, while the voltage remains that of one panel. This configuration reduces the impact of partial shading, but the higher current can be a problem for the circuit. In any case, a single MPPT charge controller in a parallel panel configuration is less efficient than having a controller for each individual panel.
How do I make the electrical connections and what materials do I need?
In case of installation with the rear cables (Surface Mounting), it is necessary to splice electrical cables of suitable size (2.5 - 4 mm2 depending on the length) and insulate these junctions by means of a heat-shrinking sheath or by similar means. We also suggest fixing the cables with ties close to the output from the rear of the panels, to prevent sudden movements and tearing. In the case of panels with a Junction Box, compatible connectors and a cable to the charge controller are required (on request, Solbian supplies extension cables with connectors).
What is a Bypass diode?
Bypass diodes are used to reduce the problems caused by partial shading and to minimize the risk of cells overheating. They are usually placed inside the junction box. Moreover most of Solbian panels have redundant bypass diodes embedded inside the polymer laminate during production. This latest innovation provides customers with more energy and the safest package.
How do you make an installation using adhesive? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
The panels with double-sided tape are designed for permanent installations. This is a common solution on boats and has the advantages of having no visible wiring and making theft impossible. The panel can be removed using a thin steel wire, however the panel is likely to be damaged. Solbian can provide datasheets of suitable adhesives. To avoid damage, it is highly recommended to have a professional installer do this type of installation.
What is an installation with metal eyelets? How can I use them? What are LOXX snap fasteners?
Panels fitted with steel eyelets are designed for removable installations and have a junction box for the electrical connections. This solution is preferred by owners who do not want to drill holes through their boat. LOXX fasteners make the panels easier to fix and remove.
What is an installation with zip?
Designed for easy removal, panels with zips can be fastened onto textile supports, or to each other.
Can panels have custom fixation and size?
Sure! Solbian products are versatile and can be adapted to many different requirements. Our technical staff is available to advise on special requests and customized solutions.