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  • Writer's pictureLuke

Victron SmartSolar

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

Engineered in the Netherlands, the Victron Smart Solar range is a winner!

victron smartsolar mppt charge controller

If you're after a quality charge controller to keep you off grid for longer, in Australia, we really are spoilt or choice. But what's the right option for you?

“The Victron SmartSolar range are packed full of features including Bluetooth connectivity, customizable charge profiles, real time monitoring of you solar system and more.”

Now before using this product, we had only ever run a 20A DC-DC charger and a cheap PWM solar controller that struggled to keep up off grid.

While we were building our camper trailer for quick getaways and small family adventures, we wanted to know that even if over a long weekend, the sun was hiding away, we could still run all of our accessories like a kettle, coffee machine, cordless battery chargers, laptop chargers and things.

So we decided to upgrade to lithium and build a charging system to suit.

When it came to choosing a solar charge controller I had a few conditions that had to be met.

  1. Must be programmable.

  2. Must have a compatible battery and temperature monitor. (Victron BMV-712)

  3. Must be compatible with the full range of deep cycle batteries on the market (Lithium, AGM, Calcium, Gel etc)

  4. Must have built in Bluetooth connectivity.

  5. Removable fuse should a fault ever occur.

The SmartSolar ticked all the boxes and the model we needed was the MPPT 100/20.

Victron have a wide range of sizes for different applications but in a nutshell:

- MPPT is for "Maximum Power Point Tracking" which gives up to 30% more efficient results than the old PWM method of charging.

- 100 is the maximum allowable solar voltage.

- 20 is the maximum charging current that will go into your battery.

Coupled with our Lithium setup, our battery hasn't fallen below 77% and has always held a constant 13.1 - 13.5V as lithium batteries don't reduce voltage when they discharge.

The system also now runs our 60L fridge/freezer fulltime while we're at home.

Now we don't use this feature but, the SmartSolar does have an intelligent load output function that I think is an awesome insurance policy in case you forget about it.

It prevents damage caused by running batteries 'flat'. You can program the voltage that the SmartSolar disconnects your loads which will prevent draining your batteries completely flat.

The intelligent part is the SmartSolar will attempt a 100% recharge every day but if it can't get there, or if there isn't enough sunlight, it will automatically raise the disconnect voltage every day, until the battery reaches 100%.

They call this feature BatteryLife because it maintains battery health and extends the life of your battery.

What we love about it

  1. MPPT Charge - The Maximum Power Point Tracking ability of the SmartSolar allows the controller to turn on earlier and turn off later allowing for a really good charge increase.

  2. Built in Bluetooth - Being able to just whip out your phone and check out what your 12v system is doing sounds luxurious but you'd be surprised how handy it is.

  3. Compact - The unit comes in at a space saving 100 x 113 x 60 mm which for us, in a little camper trailer is priceless . Not having a massive charge system to contend with when packing up really helped our decision.

  4. Support - The amount of data available through Victron is unbelievable, if you have a problem with the unit I doubt you couldn't find a solution online.

  5. Price - With other high end charging systems being over $1000, our Victron MPPT unit came in at $298 (currently $195)

What could be better

  1. Datalogging - If you're one to log data and check readouts f how much solar you produce, (we're not) this might take some getting used to. It's complicated to set up and you'll need to consult a few Victron manuals.

  2. Not Waterproof - If you install this unit in you're vehicle or a caravan, this won't bother you but the unit only has an IP rating of IP43 as the connections aren't sealed.

  3. Terminal Size - The terminal connection points are pretty small, it's definitely enough to safely handle 20 Amps but might be a bit tricky for some people to wire into.

Overall we love the Victron SmartSolar MPPT 100/20 we have and will definitely be using more of their gear as our needs change.

If your interested in purchasing your own Victron Energy Gear check out the range by following the link below.

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