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Author Topic: Solar charge regulator for LiFePO4 battery?  (Read 2483 times)
KC8MWG
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« on: September 02, 2017, 07:25:42 AM »

Decided to take the plunge, and bought a Bioenno 15AH LiFePO4 battery to use with my Yaesu FT-817ND, both for "power outage" backup and for field use. I'd like to put together a portable solar charging setup to extend its usefulness "off the grid". Bioenno has a folding 80-watt solar panel that I am looking at. I already have a couple of 20 amp charge regulators similar to these:(http://www.ebay.com/itm/10A-12V-24V-Solar-Panel-Battery-Charger-Controller-Regulator-with-Indicator-LED-/131611342471?hash=item1ea4a5b687) that I had bought for another project that I ended up scrapping. Can these be used with my LiFePO4 battery, or do they require special charge regulators?
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K5UNX
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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2017, 09:24:53 AM »

I believe they require a charge controller for LiFePO4 batteries. Bioenno carries them, in fact they have one that's $49 that will do AGM as well as LiFePO4. I am also considering a setup like you are putting together.
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KC8MWG
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2017, 05:13:47 PM »

Since I will only have one 80-watt solar panel, and one 15AH 12V battery, do I need an MPPT charge controller? Or can I use a PWM controller? PWM controllers are MUCH less expensive than MPPT, and they also tend to be smaller in size as well.
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K5UNX
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2017, 06:05:20 AM »

So this is what I would think. If I already had a Bioenno battery which isn't cheap, and a solar panel, I would get the MPPT controller. They are more efficient and the price difference is what? $30-40 ?? But both will do the job.
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KM4DYX
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2017, 08:24:53 AM »

You don't need MPPT for this tiny set up, and you don't need an 80 W panel, either. Maybe think about a portable panel? Look at Powerfilm. They make good stuff.

73,
Al (fellow 817 owner)
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KC8MWG
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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2017, 12:08:58 PM »

You don't need MPPT for this tiny set up, and you don't need an 80 W panel, either. Maybe think about a portable panel? Look at Powerfilm. They make good stuff.

73,
Al (fellow 817 owner)
This is the panel I was looking at: https://www.bioennopower.com/collections/solar-controllers/products/80-watt-foldable-solar-panel-for-charging-power-packs-bsp-80
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K6CPO
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« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2017, 12:48:53 PM »

Decided to take the plunge, and bought a Bioenno 15AH LiFePO4 battery to use with my Yaesu FT-817ND, both for "power outage" backup and for field use. I'd like to put together a portable solar charging setup to extend its usefulness "off the grid". Bioenno has a folding 80-watt solar panel that I am looking at. I already have a couple of 20 amp charge regulators similar to these:(http://www.ebay.com/itm/10A-12V-24V-Solar-Panel-Battery-Charger-Controller-Regulator-with-Indicator-LED-/131611342471?hash=item1ea4a5b687) that I had bought for another project that I ended up scrapping. Can these be used with my LiFePO4 battery, or do they require special charge regulators?

Ask Bioenno.  They will give you an answer. 

My club has an existing solar panel setup for our two repeaters that makes them grid independent.  It's been in place for some time, but the batteries have reached the end of their life span. (They were used when we bought them years ago.)  We've ordered two 50Ah Bioenno batteries as replacements.  Before we placed the order, we sent them all the specs on our solar system and specifically asked them if we could continue to use our current charge controller.  They told us yes and we ordered the batteries. 
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W9IQ
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« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2017, 12:56:09 PM »

Quote
Since I will only have one 80-watt solar panel, and one 15AH 12V battery, do I need an MPPT charge controller? Or can I use a PWM controller? PWM controllers are MUCH less expensive than MPPT, and they also tend to be smaller in size as well.

To be technically correct, an MPPT controller is also a PWM controller - it simply contains more logic in order to maximixe the efficiency of the charge circuit.

If you don't care about efficiency and therefore are willing to forgo charging during early mornings, later evenings, and cloudy days, then a non MPPT charger will suffice. But if you are trying to squeeze efficiency from your solar system, then an MPPT charger is warranted.

- Glenn W9IQ
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- Glenn W9IQ

I never make a mistake. I thought I did once but I was wrong.
KM4DYX
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« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2017, 01:41:15 PM »


This is the panel I was looking at: https://www.bioennopower.com/collections/solar-controllers/products/80-watt-foldable-solar-panel-for-charging-power-packs-bsp-80
[/quote]

The Powerfilm panels are truly portable - like SOTA or RADAR portable. Let us know what you go with and what you think about it. I truly like to learn from other people's experience. It's a whole lot cheaper that way.

73,
Al
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K5UNX
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« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2017, 01:56:50 PM »


The Powerfilm panels are truly portable - like SOTA or RADAR portable. Let us know what you go with and what you think about it. I truly like to learn from other people's experience. It's a whole lot cheaper that way.

73,
Al
[/quote]

I would love a Powerful but man they are pricey. Just looked on Amazon and a 60w is $675. A 60w bioenno panel is $119. That's a huge difference. BUT yes the Powerfilm looks like it's a lot easier to transport.
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KC8MWG
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« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2017, 03:54:47 PM »

Price is definitely a factor. I have no plans to spend more on a roll-up solar panel than I did on my radio. I don't do SOTA ops anyway, so that degree of portability is not necessary. More than $800 for a 60 watt Powerfilm vs under $200 for an 80 watt foldable Bioenno panel makes the Bioenno the logical choice.

I was not aware of the efficiency factor in less than bright and sunny weather. Looks like the MPPT controller is the logical choice, then, for that. I may just have to buy the panel one time and the controller another time. Not going to actually NEED it until next summer anyway, since my camping season is pretty much over for the year.
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KM4DYX
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Posts: 62




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« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2017, 04:33:05 PM »


The Powerfilm panels are truly portable - like SOTA or RADAR portable. Let us know what you go with and what you think about it. I truly like to learn from other people's experience. It's a whole lot cheaper that way.

73,
Al

I would love a Powerful but man they are pricey. Just looked on Amazon and a 60w is $675. A 60w bioenno panel is $119. That's a huge difference. BUT yes the Powerfilm looks like it's a lot easier to transport.
[/quote]

60 watts is a lot of panel...mine is 28 and I could get away with half that to keep a QRP rig running all day (and into the night.) Sure, if you don't need the portability then look at Grape Solar, Renogy, what have you.

73,
Al
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KC2MMI
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« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2017, 03:46:31 PM »

Lithium batteries will "work" with a variety of charging routines. But a charger designed for them specifically will provide much longer life from that expensive battery. There are also still debates (every maker has something different to swear by) as to what voltage is "full" and how cycling them to a lower level will provide much longer battery life. Or not. It can sound like a setup line for "A rabbi, a priest, and an imam walk into a bar..."

But on the 80W solar panel? That would be putting out around 5 amps. Lithium batteries have an extremely high charge acceptance rate, so if you have "too much" panel, that may have the great side effect of giving you a full charge during the hour or three between overcasts and thunderstorms, instead of needing a full day with a smaller panel. Not such a bad thing.
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