Choosing the right charge controller for your off-grid application
PES caught up with Brad Berwald, Morningstar Product Manager, to learn all about their new product designed for domestic, rural use. Another company in our industry who is experiencing growth and positive global reception of its products with more to come.
PES: We are pleased to welcome you back to PES Solar/PV. For the benefit of our new readers would you like to begin by explaining a little about the background of your organisation and how you currently serve the solar/PV industry?
Brad Berwald: Morningstar is a US based company. Since 1993, we have been designing and supplying high quality solar charge controllers, to regulate battery charging in off-grid systems, throughout the world. This includes remote telecommunications, oil & gas, lighting, traffic, railroad, surveillance, residential, and many other applications where grid connectivity is not economically viable and solar power is the best solution.
Over the years, we’ve experienced steady growth and now we offer over 50 product SKU’s including off-grid inverters and accessories that complement our solar charge controllers.
PES: We have been reading about your EcoPulse™ solar charge controller, could you explain to us what it is and how it works?
BB: The EcoPulse is our latest pulse width modulation (PWM) charge controller. It comes in 10, 20, and 30 amp metered and non-metered models to charge 12 or 24 volt battery systems. The device weighs less than half a kilogram and it is connected to the solar array, the battery, and the load – which could be a light, radio, medical monitoring device, or something else that requires electrical power generally in the 100 to 800 Watt range.
During the day, the controller accepts power from the solar array and delivers it to the load. Any excess power is delivered to the batteries. The controller regulates the current and voltage delivered to the batteries so they can maintain a near full state of charge without getting overcharged.
Then during the evening, when there is no sunlight, the controller utilizes reserve battery power which it delivers to the load. The EcoPulse has an adjustable load control function so it can disconnect the load if the load draws too much battery power and drains the battery down to an unacceptable voltage limit.
In a nutshell, the EcoPulse maintains batteries at a high state of charge which increases battery life. The EcoPulse could represent 5% of your off-grid system costs whereas batteries could represent 40% of initial costs and as much as 80% of the lifetime costs of your system. Compared to other controller brands, the EcoPulse increases battery life and provides peace of mind for consumers, as they are sure their systems will deliver reliable power throughout the day and night for many, many years.