In 2013, my husband, Rob and I decided to build a small, completely off grid cabin in rural South Western Lower Michigan. Why off grid? Fair question, I am an avid outdoors person, I love to camp, I also; fish, hunt, ice skate, ski, snowmobile, ride dirt bikes, and I was a Boy Scout Leader for 19 years... you get the idea... so I'm always concerned about how I'm affecting the environment, you know the whole idea of Leave No Trace, plus, let’s be honest, not having to pay the utility companies was quite alluring as well.
So we did what everyone does now days and went online to obtain the necessary materials for this project, no problem right? That's what we thought anyway... boy were we Wrong.
So we started shopping, we were able to find the Battery chemistry we wanted (Lithium Iron Phosphate)... no problem, the Inverters... no problem, Solar Panels... no problem, Charge Controller... ahhh... now we had a problem. The problem was that what was available did not meet our standards; they were either horribly inefficient, did not have MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking), the EMI noise (electromagnetic interference) was too high (Rob is a Ham Radio operator and this was really important to him), they were crazy expensive, or honestly... just plain garbage, or in some cases and worse yet... all of the above.
Rob, being an Electrical Engineer by trade, did what many engineers do when they can't find what they want... he decided to build a better mouse trap so to speak. So, he set out to design a charge controller that was: highly efficient, we do not use a cooling fan or heat sink because there is minimal loss of power. Low EMI or RFI (Radio Frequency Interference), cost effective and maybe most importantly that it have MPPT, or Maximum Power Point Tracking... Let's be honest, we're in Michigan one of the worst areas in the country to try to "do" solar power, so it was critically important that we be able to extract every last watt of power that the solar panels were capable of producing and that's exactly what a true MPPT controller like ours does.
We built our cabin, pictured left and now years later, the original iteration of the controller is still in operation there. We have made some improvements over the past few years, with our most current design including an LCD display that scrolls through 7 different readings that provide you with the information as to controller’s performance for your system. Two of our models - "Sol" and "Ra" have Buck-Boost capability to further increase performance in partial shading conditions to extract power where other competitors are not able to.
Our goal of trying to STAY GREEN became a reality and in the process it became an opportunity for us to open our own business together and offer what we feel is the best product on the market, all while still maintaining a reasonable price for others to be able to achieve the same goal that we had, of keeping the environment healthy for our kids and someday grand kids.
Rob and Dawn
Contact us at: DIYSolarForU@gmail.com