Is hosting a Solar controller in a tool box a bad idea?

Plecoptera

New Member
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
46
I have some Victron Blue Solar 100-30 MPPT controllers that I want to use in field-mobile systems for boondocking. Right now they live in standard DeWalt small black heavy plastic toolboxes. Currently when I use them I pull them completely out, and they rest on whatever is convienent, connected to panels and batteries via MC4 and Anderson pigtails.

I am thinking about drilling some holes in the side of the toolbox, and running the pigtails thru some rubber grommets that slide into the drilled holes. This will allow me to host the controller in the box, close the lid, and keep things like rain out.

Obviously that might create a few problems with heat, but I have been checking the controllers when they are in use, and the heavy aluminum base that Victron uses seems to dissipate the heat pretty well. The problem is my checking is happening with a controller that is not in a confined space, like said closed toolbox. Also, there might be things I haven't thought of, am not checking for.

Does anyone have experience doing something like this, and how did it go?
 

brewmatic

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Aug 6, 2021
Messages
79
Should be OK but depends on many factors like charge load, box size etc. I'd put a kitchen thermometer probe inside inside the toolbox and check a temperature while charging near empty battery. If temperature goes above 130F you can drill some vent holes or even add a 12V computer fan.
 
Last edited:

Short_Shot

Photon Sorcerer
Joined
Jul 13, 2021
Messages
1,820
Yeah just stick a tiny computer fan in it. Well. Larger ones tend to be slower and quieter if you need that but a baby little 40mm can move enough air.
 

Substrate

Solar Addict
Joined
Apr 28, 2021
Messages
675
Location
SoCal
If you are using lead-acid for your batteries, and your controllers live in a hot-box, AND if you are not using remote temperature probes connected to at least one of the battery terminals, then the ambient temperature-compensation of the solar controller internal sensor will not be correct and the lead-acid won't be charged properly.
 

acdoctor

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Oct 5, 2020
Messages
212
Location
Central Arkansas
I am not familiar with victron but the literature with mine said it will reduce output with temps above 40 deg C..It doesn’t take many watts of heat to add up in confined space. An Easy Bake oven uses a 40 watt bulb. I hope that box isn’t still black.
 

Plecoptera

New Member
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
46
It turns out that there are now cheap, reliable, simple, blue tooth temp monitors, that will easily fit in the box. You can set them to send alarms at any temp you want. Apps for both Android and iPhone. And they maintain logs. So, we will see. There are, of course, USB powered computer fans. The scope-creep on this project has all kinds of interesting gadgets.
 

Plecoptera

New Member
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
46
The scope kept creeping. What I ended up doing is buying a cheap non-tech battery box (~ $8) from Amazon. The [Victron MPPT] controller lives in a Dewalt stackable toolbox for storage and transport. Field deployed it moves to its cheap, vented, battery box with sculpted cable channels for the lines in from the panels, and out to the batteries. It resists rain, but probably not submergence. Heat has not been any kind of problem, but my Victron controller comes with a very heavy gauge heat sink attached to the back. In camp I simply pop the lid up to allow more air. When I head out I snap it down so rain can't get in.
 
Top