makerPower Solar: An Intelligent Solar Battery Charger and Power Supply for IoT Devices

Cabe Atwell
5 months ago

Dan Julio’s (danjuliodesigns) makerPower Solar (AKA MPPT Solar Charger) is an intelligent solar charger and power supply platform for IoT and embedded devices. The smart solar charger/power supply is capable of charging a 12V lead-acid battery utilizing a 36-cell 12V solar panel and produces 5V power output (up to 2A) for projects that use sensors or communication hardware. According to Julio, “Optimal charging is provided through a dynamic perturb-and-observe maximum power-point transfer converter (MPPT) and a 3-stage (BULK, ABSORPTION, FLOAT) charging algorithm.

The board includes a removable temperature sensor that provides temp compensation, and operation is plug-and-play, however additional information and configuration may be garnered via a digital interface, making it an ideal solution for internet connected devices. The idea of using lead-acid batteries is that they are much cheaper that Li-Po or Li-ion batteries, and can function in nearly any inclement weather and temperature ranges without failure.

As far as features are concerned, the makerPower Solar offers 12V operation using 25W to 35W (12V) solar panels, along with 7Ah to 18Ah AGM lead-acid batteries. It has 35W MPPT charging, charge temperature compensation (via temp sensor), 10W/5V power supply available through a USB port, low-battery shutdown/restart capability, and a digital interface (via I2C). There’s even a night-only mode that auto-enables the system at night, and a watchdog option that power-cycles the system if it hangs or crashes during regular operation.

On the software end, the makerPower Solar supports Arduino libraries and Linux Daemon for custom configurations, data logging, remote access, and auto-shutdown/watchdog support. Julio has also developed a dashboard application for remote monitoring and data analysis.

The makerPower Solar has launched on Crowd Supply, with price tag of $40 for a single board (although early birds can score one for $35), $75 for a dual-board bundle, and $130 for a complete system—consisting of a board, a wiring kit, and a 35W solar panel.

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