Welcome to the fourth entry in October’s Medium Mod Contest. One Medium Mod will be published in every Email Alert in October. At the end of the month, we’ll hold a reader vote to determine October’s winner. Click here for information about the 2023 Mod Contest, including how to enter.
Charles Coushaine, Punta Gorda, Florida
Solar Charge Controller Upgrade
2022 Ford F-550
2012 Chalet DS 116-RB
We boondock quite a bit so living off our batteries is a must. Therefore, I upgraded my two Group 27 lead-acid batteries to three Group 27 AGM batteries. My 300 watts of solar power didn’t seem to be keeping them fully charged.
So, after talking to a solar power expert, he recommended that I change out my eight-year-old PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) solar charge controller for a newer Blue Sky Energy Solar Boost 3000i Charger with MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) technology that has up to 30 percent increase in charge current.
To start this modification, you first need to find the exact charging specifications of your batteries to determine the ‘Absorption Charge Voltage’ and the ‘Float Charge Voltage’ so you can accurately program the new charge controller.
Then, I covered the solar panels on the roof, unplugged the camper, and shut off the master power switch so that there was absolutely no power coming into the camper.
I then removed the old solar charge controller from the wall and carefully labeled both the solar and battery leads so that I could accurately hook them up later.
Now that the wires were labeled, I easily reattached them to the new controller and screwed it back into the wall using the same hole the old one came out of.
After uncovering the solar panels on the roof, I could then go through the programming mode to toggle all the settings to match my batteries. Once set, the controller immediately started to charge my batteries to their fullest extent and then went into Float Charge mode to keep them maintained.
So far, this mod has worked out fantastic! My batteries seem to be more charged than before, charging and recovering quicker. This gives us more power allowing us to use our 3000W inverter to run the toaster oven, hair dryer, and microwave while boondocking.
The following video shows the installation and programming of the new solar controller.
It took me four hours to complete this modification and cost me $240. In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is medium to hard.
Disclaimer: The modifications above are submitted by Truck Camper Magazine readers. It is your responsibility to make sure that any do-it-yourself modification project you undertake is safe, effective, and legal for your situation.
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