I have just joined the forum having come from “the dark side” as you guys call it. I was invited by Gerlach to join Energytalk after another forum gave me a harsh warning about “self promoting” my business. All I did was say that I bought a solar business….
Anyway, I am a big lover of solar and have an old school Microcare solar setup. I joined this forum to offer help to newbies and share my experiences over the years and also to learn something new.
It is great to be part of the club, do you guys have jackets?
I started with a Microcare MPPT. It’s still in a box in my garage.
The story of that unit is that back in 2015, I sent it off for repairs, as the memory on the PIC microcontroller was worn out. It came back and blew up almost immediately upon reinstallation. I gave up on it and replaced the solar charger with a Victron MPPT.
Now that turned out to be an excellent decision, because I studied the circuitry inside the unit and learned a lot about how MPPTs work.
I found the portion of the circuit that blew: It’s a DC-DC conversion stage that generates 15V above battery voltage to switch the N-channel MOSFET on the high side. There is a 27V Zener diode to clamp the voltage, and a small transformer to step it up. The transformer was melted and the Zener was shorted.
I replaced that whole stage and sort-of got it working again, but it would always reset the moment I go over 300W. I suspect the power supply is damaged… but I never got around to playing with it again.
So I have a soft spot for these controllers, even though these days I reckon they aren’t cheap enough to warrant taking them over the other blue controllers.
I started my solar journey with a brand new Microcare 40A. It was all I could afford back then, but it was amazing. I had it for a few years and then added a second 40A (used) These two went for years until I moved into a new house. Before getting to install the solar I got a very good deal on a new 60A. I decided to keep all three and had separate arrays facing East on the one 40A, North on the 60A and West on the other 40A. This worked well for me until I moved again. My new house (my current house) has only a North facing roof, so I got rid of all my different sized panels I acquired over the years and replaced them with 330W panels. While still busy installing the solar system a good deal came up on a 100A controller, which was a no-brainer. I then decided to sell off all the smaller controllers and stick to the big one. I’ve been running with this system for over a year now and am happy with its performance.
You see, I have always had Microcare, I have developed a love for their products and personally know the guys at Microcare too, so it also boils down to trust and loyalty. While I admit that they are not the best out there they will always be my go-to brand before looking at anything else.
The best… hmmmm it’s always relative, to you and your circumstances. To have peace of mind, we have to trust the people behind the product and trust the product too. The brand per se is not that important, how it works, how you like the interface etc counts for a lot as well. Sometimes it’s impossible to get your head around how something works or how a UI is structured. This is the main reason that I always download any available manuals an read them in full. This quickly makes up my mind, if I can understand the manual then it’s all good.
I also like to check the manuals if I am undecided. But the “read in full” does not describe me. Rather I look at the pictures. That shows the interface and options (and is faster than reading 1000 words )
If the pictures works for me, then I might look at the details of some of the features.
I’ve met them too, at solar shows. They make good stuff. I don’t know what happened back in 2015. They must have had a bad day or something. The MPPT came back with the LCD part not even bolted back properly to the bracket it sits on. Or it fell off in transit (but it was not in the box). I was already in two minds about repairing vs replacing, so that was just the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
Still, I had a lot of fun attempting to repair it, and I would probably succeed in doing so if I put more effort into it So I don’t really have negative feelings about it anymore.