Solar Charge Controllers with Blue Sky Energy – Pt. 2

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altE: We are here again with Jared and Stefano from Blue Sky Energy. And we are going to talk a little bit about their solar charge controllers, and how to decide which of the products is the right product for you.

So we’ve got both the Genasun and the Blue Sky, and we did talk about, in the previous video, how they are the same company now. And so, can you just give me an overview of some of the features of the products, and what ones are great for what?

Blue Sky: Yes, sure. For Genasun, it is very easy to select the right products for any application. I mean, all you need to know is the PV power from the panel and the battery voltage. And for the GV-Boost, that is a great product because of its unique performance characteristic. GV-Boost means boost, or increase the voltage, from a small PV panel, maybe 12 or 20V nominal voltage, or sometimes even less, with some just a few cells, for charging battery up to 36 or 48V. Which is different from most MPPT charge controllers, those can go from high to low, but very few go low to up. Instead of going down, what do we do, we step up the voltage. And I think an application like a golf cart, or drone, solar aircraft, where we don’t have enough room on the roof on the golf cart or on the drone for a big solar panel. But we still need to run, maybe keep them at 48V or 36V. So, this product is perfect because it can run small power for charging a battery up to 48V.

The amazing thing that the GV-Boost can do that with high efficiency. 98% Incredible! That’s also why, because all the Genasun charge controllers have a feature like great MPPT tracking that makes the product the fastest on the market. And we are talking about 15 times per second. That’s extremely fast. And I think applications where it’s important to capture as much power as possible from the panel. In condition where maybe we have a variable condition. For instance in a sailboat, maybe you have the sail that makes shade on the panel. Or leaves overhead that are moving across the panel. Or even, we deploy a lot of these in the Arctic, actually. In science research facilities where they are doing weather stations or instrument stations in environments, where you are getting a very low angle of light. So you are not getting a lot of light during the day, and you’ve got to maximize what you’re getting out of the panel. Like in the city like a parking meter system. Parking meter, things like that. Where maybe you are partially shaded by another building some part of the day. Things like that. Right.

altE: So these tend to be smaller and more dedicated one charge controller per solar panel? So even if you have variable shading across multiple solar panels, they are going to be managed separately. So you are not going to have shade from one affecting the other, because they are managed separately.

Blue Sky: Yes. A lot of our customers run a GV-10 on a sailboat with maybe 4 panels. And they’ll have 4 GV-10. Because at any given moment, depending on the pitch and the yaw of the boat, and where the sail is and where the boom is, each panel is going to be experiencing a very different profile from the sun. So each controller is going to maximize from that panel, and serve as much power as it possibly can. I mean these are optimized for that kind of installation. And they are set it and forget it. I mean there’s no buttons, there’s no moving parts. Everything is marine grade. And the Boost that we mentioned, that you profiled for the golf cart, does come in a fully waterproof potted version. And we mentioned earlier, I think not today, but a lot of times to our customers, but it’s a new thing, it doesn’t reflect on these samples but, they are FCC Certified now. So for customer who are running radios nearby, or short wave, and need as little interference as possible from their controllers, which can be quite loud, we realize. These have at least been cleared. They are not completely muffled, they are not dead silent, but they do pass the FCC noise tests.

altE: That’s good to know. We have a lot of ham guys. Hi guys!

Blue Sky: We have a lot of customers who use the GV-5, or even the GV-4, which is another smaller controller for those applications.

altE:  And now you said they are not configurable, so you would buy the correct one for your application? So you’ve got different battery voltages, and different battery types.

Blue Sky: Yes. Especially with lithium, we offer a few different flavors or varieties of settings for different, whether it’s lithium colbalt, or lithium iron phosphate. You know, 4 cell, 3 cell, many variables. But we do offer custom charge setting which comes in handy especially with the Boost, a Boost Lithium for instance, if you are running a larger lithium battery and want the Boost. Lithium is very different relative to lead acid batteries, so we do offer custom firmware that can run pretty much anything within a range, a pretty broad range.

altE: And so you’ve got the Boost that changes the voltage and then you’ve got the non-boost, that is just kind of 12 to 12V?

Blue Sky: And depending on the, 10 is for a 10A and 5 is for a 5A.

altE: And so the 10A is good for up to how many watts?

Blue Sky: 140W.

altE: Great. So then over to the Blue Sky.

Blue Sky: The Blue Sky, like in this case we have our 3000i, and we see it comes with or without the mounting box. That may be perfect also for installation like a flush mount. And in this case this is a charge controller up to 400W peak. And we have a display on-board. That makes it fully programmable. And also for lithium batteries. Because you can set all of the different parameters of this system. So voltage, DoD discharge of the battery, Threshold for Bulk, Absorption, 3-stage profile of the charge controller.

altE: And that can be configured right from there?

Blue Sky: Exactly. The 3000i and the 3024Dil are fully programmable from the face.

altE: And this is MPPT?

Blue Sky: Yes. We have exactly one controller that is not. The SC30 PWM. Which we actually love. Which has performed in, not our testing but customer’s testing, better than a lot of MPPTs on the market. So we love that product as well. And that’s exactly the same size as the 3000i, this is a little deeper, but if you have a SC30 now, and you want to upgrade, this’ll pop right into the same spot.

What the great thing is about these controllers is that they are all networkable. Up to 8 controllers. Master/slave configuration. And programmable and monitorable with the IPN-Pro remote. We hear a lot from customers these days that you want data. Everyone wants data, data is king right now. And we get it. We offer and have offered a very robust data capture and reporting network. It plays well with our Universal Communications Module, our UCM, which is essentially a server in a box, which you can set remotely. It’ll collect the data for you, and you can go collect it, or you can put that with an Ethernet connection and access it from the web. But it’s very customizable, very programmable. They are great for solar lighting, RVs, rural electrification, or where ever you need data from the system.

altE: And with up to 8 networked together, that’s a decent size array?

Blue Sky: And also for different charge controllers. I mean we can put in the same network the SB3000i, with our SB3024. or 2512 or 1524. You can pick and choose, depending on, maybe you have a network or a solar system that is growing over the years. And you’ve got some panels that are slightly different, or you’ve got panels in different positions, maybe some are a little larger than others, especially now. And you don’t want to scrap the whole thing and buy a whole new one. You can just add on and keep it going.

altE: And they’ll communicate with each other and there’s no one with a higher voltage confusing the other?

Blue Sky: No. Exactly. All the charge controllers works as one unique charge controller.

altE: So this is a terrific solution. Because these are very, very affordable, and so you are not going to break the bank by having to do multiple of them.

Blue Sky: And it could be a way, like we said about Genasun controlling different panels in different exposures. And all of that can be programmed with the Pro Remote, or the UCM. And we’ve got, if you are interested in the Pro Remote, we’ve got a very long, chaptered video on our website, blueskyenergy.com, about every single menu and feature of the Pro Remote, and all the different ways that you can customize and program.

 

About Author

Amy Beaudet
Amy Beaudet has been in the solar industry at the altE Store since 2007. She’s been a sales rep, an instructor, and an all around solar evangelist, sharing her passion for solar around the world. When not at work, she’s either sailing or skiing, depending on the season, but odds are good she’s still talking about solar on the boat or on the slopes.

4 Comments

  1. Russell Canady

    I was looking at the Solarworld 320W 24V panel and was looking to hook this up to a 24V battery bank. I was going to hook up 4 panels so I am guessing that I would have to connect these in parallel correct? Also what size midnight solar classic charge controller can I use that would allow for the above setup, and how many more panels could I add later. I watched your video on sizing the controller, but the volts and amps are throwing me off a bit. Yes I am a newbie.

    1. Amy Beaudet (Post author)

      If you use an MPPT charge controller that can take the higher voltage input and reduce it to the battery voltage, then you can do two parallel strings of two in series. This would give you higher voltage and lower amps from the panels to the charge controller, reducing voltage drop and allowing you to use smaller (and cheaper) wire. (320W x 4 panels)/ 24V battery bank equals 53A. A Midnite Classic 150 would do the trick, and allow room for a third string of 2 panels in the future if needed.You could use a Midnite PV3 combiner box to wire them in parallel.

  2. Greatkhally

    Can a charge controller be connected to a direct battery charger?

    1. Amy Beaudet (Post author)

      Do you mean an AC battery charger? If so, you can have a battery charger connected to the same battery bank as the solar charge controller. For example, if you have a generator, you may want to charge up the battery bank with the AC charger if you have had a stretch of bad weather and the solar couldn’t charge it up enough. There may be times when the two compete with each other, for example if the AC charger is charging the batteries, the solar charge controller may see that voltage as the battery being full, and not charge.

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