DC-coupled retrofit battery backup system

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Retrofit Battery Backup System

Are you looking for a system to power your most important electronics during a power outage? Is scaleability important to you? And the added efficiency of having a charge controller manage your energy storage during such times? If so, let's talk about the basic concept of "DC Coupling".

How does a DC Coupled system work?

DC Coupling is, in essence, the retrofitting of a grid-tie solar power system to include battery back-up without changing the PV array configuration. At the center of this system is the Morningstar TriStar MPPT 600V Charge Controller. This controller features a DC Transfer Switch, which is great for systems that were just set up as grid-tie. Now, during a power outage, you are able to switch from the grid-tie inverter that is in your system, to a battery back-up solution - with the flip of a switch. And have power when the grid goes down - all hope is not lost! And it's scaleable - start with a small battery bank for only your most critical loads, and add batteries and inverter capacity in the future, if needed.

To be more specific, in this solution, the controller continues to keep the batteries charged while the grid goes down, so that you'll have power for lights, the refrigerators, the computer, or cell phone charger. Then, when power is restored, you simply turn the controller's transfer switch from "Controller On" to the "Grid On" position.

Another big benefit of using the Morningstar TriStar MPPT 600V Controller with Transfer Switch is that you can OVERSIZE THE ARRAY - without harm to the controller. Yes, that's right! Though the max array input power for the controller is 3.2kW, there is no issue connecting a 6kW or even 7kW array to it. This is not the case in an AC coupled solution, where the max array power is usually 85% or 90% of the inverter power. The Morningstar MPPT Controller will limit the input power and provide it's rated continuous output current into the batteries. So during sunny conditions, the controller ignores input power in excess of 3.2kW, protecting the smaller battery bank. On cloudy days, however, you still get full power from the larger array. In this DC Coupled solution, when connected to an oversized PV array, the controller will put out significantly more power. Huge benefit. 

Until now, the only options to add backup power to your Grid Tie System were a Generator, which pollutes, is noisy, needs maintenance and periodic cycling, or AC Coupling which is fairly complex, and much more costly. With the Morningstar DC Coupling solution, you can have clean, economical backup power to run your critical loads when the grid goes down. It requires no roof work, and you can leave your PV array just as it is. It can be installed outside, in your garage, or in the basement. You just need to add the following:

  • Morningstar TriStar MPPT 600V Solar Charge Controller w/DC Transfer Switch
  • A small battery bank
  • An inverter/charger
  • A critical loads sub panel
  • Some wiring and balance of system components
  • Morningstar DC Coupled System 1:
    Item Description Quantity
    Morningstar TriStar 600V MPPT Charge Controller with Transfer Switch, GFPD 1
    Morningstar TriStar Digital Meter for TS-MPPT-600V Charge Controller 1
    Schneider Electric Conext SW4048 Inverter/Charger 1
    System Control Panel for SW Inverter/Chargers 1
    Midnite Solar E-Panel for Conext SW Inverter/Chargers 1
    Outback Power EnergyCell 200NC 178Ah 12V AGM Battery 4
    Solymoly Battery to Inverter Cables, 2/0 10Ft, Pair 1


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