Here is where the optimization, or maximum power point tracking comes in. Assume your battery is low, at 12 volts. A MPPT takes that 17.6 volts at 7.4 amps and converts it down, so that what the battery gets is now 10.8 amps at 12 volts. Now you still have almost 130 watts, and everyone is happy.
Ideally, for 100% power conversion you would get around 11.3 amps at 11.5 volts, but you have to feed the battery a higher voltage to force the amps in. And this is a simplified explanation – in actual fact the output of the MPPT charge controller might vary continually to adjust for getting the maximum amps into the battery.
Above is a screen shot from the Maui Solar Software “PV-Design Pro” computer program (click on picture for full size image). If you look at the green line, you will see that it has a sharp peak at the upper right – that represents the maximum power point. What an MPPT controller does is “look” for that exact point, then does the voltage/current conversion to change it to exactly what the battery needs. In real life, that peak moves around continuously with changes in light conditions and weather.
A MPPT tracks the maximum power point, which is going to be different from the STC (Standard Test Conditions) rating under almost all situations. Under very cold conditions a 120 watt panel is actually capable of putting over 130+ watts because the power output goes up as panel temperature goes down – but if you don’t have some way of tracking that power point, you are going to lose it. On the other hand under very hot conditions, the power drops – you lose power as the temperature goes up. That is why you get less gain in summer.
MPPT’s are most effective under these conditions:
Winter, and/or cloudy or hazy days – when the extra power is needed the most.
Cold weather – solar panels work better at cold temperatures, but without a MPPT you are losing most of that. Cold weather is most likely in winter – the time when sun hours are low and you need the power to recharge batteries the most.
Low battery charge – the lower the state of charge in your battery, the more current a MPPT puts into them – another time when the extra power is needed the most. You can have both of these conditions at the same time.
Long wire runs – If you are charging a 12 volt battery, and your panels are 100 feet away, the voltage drop and power loss can be considerable unless you use very large wire. That can be very expensive. But if you have four 12 volt panels wired in series for 48 volts, the power loss is much less, and the controller will convert that high voltage to 12 volts at the battery. That also means that if you have a high voltage panel setup feeding the controller, you can use much smaller wire.
Solar Powered Water Pumping Solution
A solution to drought. Eliminate recurring expense on electricity or fuel to run a pump. 10 years warranty on solar panels, 2 years on MPPT Inverter, and 1 year for SS submersible pump.
A DIY installation. Simple. Easy. User friendly.
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