The Charge Controller

solar panels
Growing our system
The charge controller is a part of all solar or wind energy sytems. A charge controller is needed for your system. It is connected to your batteries and the panels. Our charge controller was mounted on our wall. Now it is downstairs in the cellar There are many different brands and types and it can get complicated. I am not the most knowledgeable person on this subject. I just know what we use and how it works. We have had all together three different ones. 

First Charge Controller
First Charge Controller
The charge controller does just what the name says. It controls how much of a charge that goes into your batteries. It will stop the charge coming in from whatever power source you are using when your batteries are at full charge. It would ruin them to be overcharged. In the beginning with only two lead acid batteries and one 55 watt solar panel using this small charge controller was fine. At that time we used to charge the batteries with a car parked next to the window. I remember being able to do this myself. Using jumper cables.

charge controller
Our Charge Controller
As our system grew we added a better type of charge controller. It is made by Xantrex, which was a good quality brand. We used it for many years and still in fact, have it. This one was able to be used as our system grew. My husband always planned on adding a wind turbine so he kept that in mind when purchasing our various components. Each component is costly so you want to make sure that what you buy will be able to be used as you build your system larger.

wind turbine
Wind Max
Once we had the wind turbine up we had to make sure our charge controller could handle all the extra power. It took us a long time to get the turbine up. I will be posting about that on a future blog post. Once we got it up we had to do something with all that extra power. That brings us to our present charge controller which is a diversion charge controller. It does not mean it cuts off from the charging source when the batteries are at full charge. It keeps charging but will direct that energy somewhere else. It has a built in heater that turns on to use the power up so it won't over charge the batteries. 

Diversion Controller
Diversion Controller
It was on our wall while the batteries were up here. Now they are downstairs in the battery room with the new the batteries. This controller will be hooked up to eventually sending the diversion load into our water heater that will heat the water instead of turning the heater part on. We have a brand new water heater and a pressurized water tank in the water room just waiting to be hooked up. I can't wait for that myself! That means that we will have running water in the house. I am promising myself that we will get it in this summer for sure. I have a brand new washing machine all hooked up and ready to wash.

This is the charge controller on the wall in the battery room. Right now only the diversion load one is hooked up. The other charge controller on the right is not hooked up but will be in the future. Each piece of equipment makes up your alternative energy system and is an important part of what powers your house. It is good when you build it yourself and even better when you do it as we have. Little by little as you can afford it. That way you have no debt to pay back from it. Gives you free power. The other thing is that when you are the one building it, you should understand your own system. Then if you have something go wrong with it you can fix it yourself. No calling someone else in to take care of your repairs. Actually when we had someone help with our system is when we had the most problems with it. Know your own system!

All Text and Photographs Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole

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