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What is that assortment of components on the control board?

Charge Controller - Power Input

The most basic charge controller disconnects the array when the battery is fully charged and keeps the battery fully charged without damage. The charging regimen is different for each type of  battery. For example a charge controller designed for lead acid batteries should not be used with AGM or Li batteries unless the output is modifiable.

Selection criteria: 

Input current, Output current, Battery type, Battery voltage

Types: 

Series controllers stop the flow of current by opening the circuit between the battery and the PV array.

Shunt controllers divert the PV array current from the battery to a resistive load.

Solid State controllers provide more power and longer life to batteries

Features: Temperature compensation

       

 Pulse Width Modulation vs MPPT

Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) are smart DC to DC converters that optimize the match between the varying solar array output and the battery bank requirement. While theoretical gains of 50% in solar module output are possible the typical wattage gain using an MPPT is 10 15% vs. a PWM controller.

Links to our Controllers:

Midnite Solar

Xantrex

Outback

BlueSky

A controller should be sized 30% higher than the short circuit current of the solar array if the system is used in areas where the temperature can fall to 40-.

 

Safety Disconnects

 

A switch to disconnect one circuit from another, the safety disconnects is used to isolate power generation or storage equipment from conditions such as voltage spikes or surges and fire, to avoid potential damage to equipment.   It is electrical code that all connections with power will be protected by a fuse or breaker  An example is the solar charge controller which is attached both batteries and and PV output. The charge controller is therefore to be protected from both sources by a breaker.

 

Current requirement is for quick disconnects to all power. Fire departments cannot start pouring water on a building unless they are assured that all electrical  power shut off.

 

 

Stop Switch

 

Best used on wind turbines before a wind storm to prevent damage.  Basically a  switch to short circuit the output for servicing or to prevent overspeed conditions. A short circuit causes resistance acting like a brake to slow the wind generator rotation down enough to stop the blades by hand.  A Stop Switch also provides over-current protection, is usually installed on the controller board but can be installed anywhere between the wind generator and the batteries

 

Inverter

 

An Inverter converts direct current electricity (DC) to alternating current (AC), to operate appliances directly or to supply power to an electricity grid. Inverters have a continuous output rating and a surge capacity rating.  The latter rating is to support the inflood power surges when starting compressors such as fridges, freezers and electric motors such as well pumps.

Selection Criteria:

Battery Voltage (usually from 12V to 48V),  Output Watts required to support electrical loads.  [the combination of amperage TIMES voltage is Watts], Output Frequency (always 60Hz in North America), and 120 or 240V output.

Types:

Stand-alone inverters convert DC power stored in batteries to AC power as required.

Synchronous Inverters are used to convert the DC output to AC power to be connected to the utility grid.

Multifunction inverters that perform both functions.

 

 

 

Sub Types:

Square Wave inverters are the simplest and the least expensive type of inverter, but it produces the lowest quality of power.

Modified square wave output are an economical choice in power systems where waveform is not critical. Output is created in 4 steps per cycle. High efficiency and large surge capacity of these inverters makes them ideal for impedance loads (motor loads). Frequently incompatible with light dimmers, copiers and laser printers and variable speed tools to operate properly. The modified wave output may cause a buzz on audio and video equipment.

Sine Wave inverters produce utility-quality sine wave power form.

 

Inverter Safety

Some inverters do not have fusing on their DC input side and require a DC rated fuse or breaker, usually 30% greater than the inverter rating. All inverters should have a breaker protecting protecting output.

 

Battery Charger

 

You'll require a battery charger when nature isn't co-operative or when you use more energy than is stored.  Most quality inverters include a battery charger packaged within the inverter.  The battery charger is powered either by grid power or by a backup generator. Some inverters have the built-in ability to signal the generator to start when battery voltage is low or when more power than is available through the battery changer is called for.  Charging batteries properly requires administering the right amount of current at the right voltage. See our Batteries page  to learn more about charging and different types of batteries.

 

AC Distribution Panel

 

Also called the main panel, or breaker panel or load center and used to be called the fuse box before breakers became popular. Size (amperage rating) is determined by building code,


 

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Last modified: January 12, 2023