The problem I’m having is converters seem to come in a few different variants:
dumb, like the ones that come in most RVs
smart three+ stage chargers that are not configurable (setpoints, duration)
galactically expensive but smart and configurable
The configurable part is important not only for tuning one’s lead-acid charging setup, but also allows you to play with other chemistries. I am thinking chiefly of LiFEP04 here.
My criteria for a converter system is:
configurable setpoints and durations
relatively low power so I would not trip a normal 15A residential AC breaker (solar will provide most of bulk charging anyhow) while running another 1000w of AC stuff. Small electric heater, for example.
About a year ago I saw this video but it didn’t click completely:
He used a 24v power supply and a Morningstar SunSaver MPPT 15A charge controller and was happy with the configurability.
[monkey see, monkey do
I picked up a 24v power supply off Amazon and scrounged up an old Genasun MPPT 5A controller I had stored in a box.
The GenaSun is happily pumping power into a marine battery I keep around for testing and running ham equipment.
The little controller is not configuable so I ordered a previous-generation Tracer 1210A from eBay.
I could have gotten a beefier one for for testing what I need was hands on a unit. The 10A controller with a current generation MT-50 meter/display was $80 shipped. I jumped on it. I figure I can use the meter with a bigger controller later. The 10A can be a backup then.
I’d like to say my main controller for solar duties would be the Morningstar TS-45 mppt but $450 is real money. If I like this older Tracer I’ll probably go with something the current Tracer 4215BN for just under $200. Accessories (like PC cables) are dirt cheap unlike the spendy Morningstar stuff.
I’ll review the Tracer when it gets in.