Can I use the controllers that come with the HF 45 watt kits?  Should I use just one and wire the panels in parallel to it or use both controllers and wire in panels to each and wire in batteries to both in parallel

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Some members will wire 4 panels into one controller but not six. Just use both controllers, hooked up to the same battery bank. Better yet, go ahead and take the plunge [your going to soon enough anyway] and buy another charge controller that can handle all six panels and just use your HF units as a DC PDU. A DC power distribution unit.

ok...I was following you till the " just use your HF units as a DC PDU. A DC power distribution unit."....then I went huh??????    Act like I have no ideal what you mean (cause I dont) assume I buy a better controller that can handle more panels...what could I use the HF controller for...maybe in English for me I am a major newb...ya got to spoon feed me dude

You would only have the battery connections connected to the battery then use the HF unit to charge USB cell phones etc. You can also use the light bulbs that came with it and the HF unit becomes the light switch. I used it last summer to control the lights in the tent and to keep my cell phones charged

ok got it.....ty

I was under the impression the controller that comes with the thunderbolt kit can handle 10 amps or 3 kits. Presuming those are the kits in question.

Hi John J.,


I don’t know where that rumor got started, but the Thunderbolt kit can only handle 3 HF solar panels just like the Chicago Electric kit, not 3 sets.


Chicago Electric Charge Controller from Kit 90599 and Thunderbolt Magnum Charge Controller from kit 68751:


Battery voltage cigarette-lighter style outlet fused at 4 amps in the back.

Led voltage display; 3 digits with decimal point fixed at 00.0

Round “push on/push off” switch controlling the LED display.

Rocker switch controlling all outputs, including the charging output.

Low voltage light

5-volt USB outlet

3 and 6-volt outlets to be used with the included multi-purpose adapter.

Two 12-volt outlets useful for powering the two included CFL lights.

The rear of those charge controllers has “Solar Panel” connections, “Battery” connections, and the 4-amp fuse for protecting the front panel outputs.


Uses a printed circuit board marked “TPS-545-4A-02” See: HF_charger_sch.pdf for the board schematic.




Battery voltage cigarette-lighter style marked “Inverter” that is not fused is present on the Thunderbolt, but not on the Chicago Electric.

A 9-volt outlet to be used with the included multi-purpose adapter is present on the Chicago Electric, but is not present on the Thunderbolt.



The Thunderbolt 68751 CC uses the printed circuit board marked “TPS-545-4A-02”, the same as the Chicago Electric CC 90599.  Electronic components that were used to supply the 9-volt outlet are missing on the Thunderbolt controller


Both charge controllers have two Schottky diodes to prevent battery voltage and current from flowing back to the solar panels.


Both charge controllers have a PTC “resettable” fuse marked UF400 limiting the solar charging current to the battery to 4-amps.


There are other minor differences between the components on the TPS-545-4A-02 circuit board of each CC, but those differences do not affect the performance of either CC.



As long as both charge controllers have the same 4-amp PTC resettable fuse, both charge controllers should be restricted to only 3 HF solar panels.


Hillbilly Gene


Hello Hillbilly Gene,

First of all, thank you for putting the schematic diagram for the 45 W kit controller. I have two 45W kits.

I have three questions regarding using them without a battery.  I know if I attach a battery everything works great.

Why is the included 12 fluorescent bulb flickering?  Even if I have both kits connected to one controller.  The voltage from the panels is 22.5 and on the display - 13.7V.  I have tried this with different configurations, bulbs (even a LED one) and with both controllers.

If I attach the bulb to the output for the battery, it does not flicker, even in lower voltage.  I see that this output is regulated differently.  How much wattage/amps can I draw from that output?

Is there anything I can do to smooth the flickering on the front outputs?  Because this means the lower voltage outputs are also not pure DC.

Thank you very much for your time and knowledge!


Hey Luby, the kits [solar in general] are not designed to be used without the battery. 

Welcome to the forum!

Thank you, Renewable Ray,

I understand what you are saying, that solar kits are not designed to be used without a battery.  At the same time if I hook-up two or four bulbs (LED type) to the output for the battery (next to where the solar wires are connected) and that gives me enough light during sunlight, then is that wrong?  You know what I mean.

Best regards,


Will they do that without flickering?

Yes, as I wrote in my original post, no flickering.

Thank you,



Hi Luby,

I’ll try to answer your questions, but I’m going to assume you can read that schematic with some fluency.

You will probably have to print that schematic and this reply to follow along.

1.)  Quote: “Why is the included 12 fluorescent bulb flickering?  Even if I have both kits connected to one controller.  The voltage from the panels is 22.5 and on the display - 13.7V.  I have tried this with different configurations, bulbs (even a LED one) and with both controllers.”

The internal circuits of the HF charge controller needs a nominal battery voltage for the B+ line in order to function properly.  That B+ line is as follows: start with the Battery positive (top left of the schematic), trace down to the connector (pin 1), jump to pin2, up to SW-1 (front panel rocker switch), back down to pin 3 of the connector, jump to pin 4, go up to F1 (4-amp fuse in the back of the controller), back down to pin 5.  That pin 5 is the B+ line (or rail) for the internal circuits.  Notice that if you jump to pin 6 you arrive at the 12-volt charge controller front panel outputs.  The negative side of those 12-volt outputs go down to another connector, and through that connector to circuit common (or ground) displayed as the normal upside down Christmas tree symbol.  Also notice that the circuit ground is NOT battery negative.  Battery negative has an open triangle for a symbol.


It may appear that those 12-volt outputs are unregulated and those outputs are whatever the battery voltage is.  That’s true, until the battery voltage drops to 11 volts.


Low Voltage Protection Circuit:

U1-b, a LM393 comparator (bottom left of the schematic) compares a 5-volt reference developed by Q1 (TL431) going to U1-b’s pin 6.  If pin 5 of U1-b drops below an 11 volts B+ reading; the output of U1-b (pin7) will go high.  That high output causes Q3 to turn on, which in turn causes Q4 and Q5 to turn off.  Q5 off turns on the “Low Voltage” LED at the front panel.  More importantly, Q4 (turning off) turns off Q6 (IRFB3806).  Q6 is the connection between circuit ground and battery minus.  Don’t confuse that Q6 with the Q6 (not installed) at the far right of the schematic.

What all that means is that the 12-volt front panel outputs are unregulated from (whatever) high battery voltage down to 11 volts.

Study the schematic and you will see that the “Low Voltage” protection circuit unloads all charge controller outputs except the meter circuit and the solar charging circuit.


Over Voltage Protection Circuit:

The battery charging circuit starts at the solar panels (left side of page).  The positive solar panel input goes to D1 and D2 (two Schottky 3-amp parallel diodes), to F2.   F2 is a PTC resettable fused marked UF400, which is rated for 4 amps.  The positive solar input then goes to pin 1 of that big connecter to the battery positive.

What about the solar negative input?  It goes to Q1 (IRFB3806), and if Q1 is on, goes to battery negative.  Q1 is on if the battery voltage is approximately 14.5 volts are less.  Our old friend U1(a) compares the 5-volt reference voltage at pin 2 with the B+ voltage at pin 3.  When U1-a senses B+ voltage higher than 14.4 volts, its output (pin1) goes high.  That high signal turns on Q2 and Q2 turns on that opto-coupler labeled ISO1 (PC817).  The output of the opto-coupler (pins 4 and 5) turns off Q1 (HEXFET IRFB3806), effectively disconnecting the minus solar input from battery minus.  The gate of Q1 gets its voltage from the solar panels to D3 (1N4148) through the rocker switch, which is why turning off the rocker switch stops any solar energy from charging the battery.  The solar charging amps do not go through the rocker switch.


Question Finally Answered:

The positive voltage from the solar array is introduced to the B+ rail, climbs to 14.5 volts and is turned off at that point via U1-a to Q1 (IRFB3806).  The circuit voltage then drops until the TL431, the 5-volt voltage reference (also labeled Q1), and U1-a stabilizes.  Once that part of the circuit stabilizes, Q1 (IRFB3808) turns back on.  In the meantime, the low voltage disconnect comes into play because the solar charging (thus voltage) has been disconnected. The fluorescent light goes on/off about twice a second, that time depending on a lot of other variables.


That’s the short answer.  I’m not famous for being brief.


The voltage from the panels should be 23.5 volts (Voc), where “oc” means open circuit; the voltage with only a voltmeter attached.  Why the front panel displays – 13.7 volts is anybody’s guess, but that circuitry is going to be just as confused as the other circuits with the fluctuating voltages controlling it.


2.)  Quote: “How much wattage/amps can I draw from that output?”

That output, which is the solar charging output to the battery, is limited by F2, the 4-amp internal PTC resettable fuse mentioned above, and diodes D1 and D2.  Dale Marshall has modified his controller to 10 amps without any apparent problems.  He changed D1, D2, and F2, as I understand it.


3.)  Quote: “Is there anything I can do to smooth the flickering on the front outputs?  Because this means the lower voltage outputs are also not pure DC.”

Yes, you can attach a 12-volt battery as the HF manual directs.  The front panel output voltages will never stabilize until the 12-volt rail is stabilized.


I suppose, by using Ohm’s law, you could load that output to 12 volts, but I haven’t tried that.  So I don’t know.  Clouds drifting over will have an effect, along with the time of day and solar intensity.


Be careful with that schematic.  It’s drawn correctly, but the labels don’t always match what’s printed on the circuit board and such labels, as two Q1’s and two Q6’s, can be confusing.  I did not draw that schematic and am grateful “migraineman” submitted it. See here. I also hope I haven’t add to any confusion with bad typing.

I don’t know which HF controller you have, the Chicago Electric or the Thunderbolt Magnum, but they both use the same circuit board labeled TPS-545-4A-02.  The Thunderbolt Magnum does not have the 9-volt front output, and that board does not have components installed for the 9-volt circuitry.   See the upper right hand portion of the schematic.


Now that I’ve put everyone to sleep, Welcome to the board!


Hillbilly Gene



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