Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Seven years with my gear: Morningstar TriStar MPPT Solar Charge Controller

I was flush with house sale money, so when various solar savvy people said I needed the Morningstar TS-MPPT-45 charge controller, which cost more than $500, I said okay and ordered it up.

The experts recommended the TS-MPPT-45 because of the high voltage output of my panel—38V. Also, at the time, the same experts were dismissing PWM controllers as old fashioned. They also said MPPT controllers were a better choice for the sealed AGM batteries I wanted to use. (More about the batteries in another post.) They knew more than me, so…

Other than the expense, there have been no problems. The only oddity was discovering it throws a weird error code when the Rolling Steel Tent is parked for the night under a certain type of artificial light, like those used in the RV parking area of the Q Resort & Casino near Los Algodones, Baja California. It resets itself when the sun comes up, so no big deal.

Besides, the controller’s size and big heat sink fins impress the hell out of some people. “Oh, yeah, I’ve got a small nuclear reactor in here.” Or, “I’m in direct communication with the Mars Rover.” Or, “It’s part of a system that reads minds and beams thoughts into your head.”


  1. I have the same model in PWM style and all it has done for 12 years is flawlessly charge my batteries. Flooded for about 5 years and AGM since then. I changed the DIP switch setting when I went to AGM and the controller just went on doing its job flawlessly. It had been a great controller.

  2. I'm buying the 3rd coonjecture, it can't be disproved, although highly unlikely, unless you enjoy the folly of imagination...Like me, and a photographer of semi abstract impressions like you Al. I enjoy your talents, thanks.

  3. Morningstar gear is excellent and would be choice if I had the cash. I have TriStar taste but a Tracer budget. :-)

    Having said that, this $190 all-in Chinese MPPT (4215BN) has worked perfectly under hard use (100F+ conditions, 15% overpaneled) since installation in 2017. Like the TriStar it's big has a massive heatsink. One could beat an intruder to death with it.