poor man’s converter

I’ve been trying to figure out a converter solution for my platform.  It would be used to charge the house batteries and run house 12v loads while hooked up to shore power.

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

  • affordable

  • 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:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeXHlhIr1hA]

He used a 24v power supply and a Morningstar SunSaver MPPT 15A charge controller and was happy with the configurability.

[4115fhvyd6l-_sy90_](https://boondockplan.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/4115fhvyd6l-_sy90_.jpg)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.

s-l225The 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.