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Comparison of PVToolbox Controllers with Commercial Devices

Michael M.D. Ross
GPCo Inc.

Full Text Report
Link to GPCo Inc.
Link to CETC-Varennes

Note on Authorship:

This technical report was authored by the principal of RER Renewable Energy Research when he was an employee of GPCo Inc.


Research conducted on behalf of the Photovoltaics and Hybrid Systems Program at the CETC-Varennes (Natural Resources Canada) with partial funding from the Panel on Energy Research and Development (PERD).


Ross, Michael M. D. Comparison of PVToolbox Controllers with Commercial Devices. Report to CETC-Varennes (Natural Resources Canada). Varennes, Québec, 2002.


This document contains three subdocuments. The first compares the charge controller models of the PVToolbox to commercially-available charge controllers; the second compares the PVToolbox hybrid system controller model to commercially available system controllers. The objective of these comparisons is to identify shortcomings in the models. The third subdocument outlines test sequences for the CETC hybrid system test bench that will help validate PVToolbox. At the end of the document, an Appendix contains manufacturer’s literature for a large number of charge controllers and hybrid system controllers examined in the first two subdocuments.

Three general significant aspects of charge controller behaviour not modelled by the PVToolbox are the load disconnect, the use of parallel on/off controllers with different setpoints, and the voltage drop across the controller. There are numerous minor differences between individual charge controllers and the PVToolbox models, but most of these will not greatly impede simulations at the level of energy flows within a hybrid system.

The PVToolbox is capable of genset control far more sophisticated and flexible than is found in off-the-shelf PV hybrid system controllers. The particular aspects of the commercial components that can not be modelled exactly by the PVToolbox are of minor importance. If necessary, they can be modelled in a specialized Matlab script.

The PV hybrid system test bench will be used to validate the accuracy of the PVToolbox. In particular, the battery and on/off controller models need to be investigated. Six tests are recommended. Many of these tests could be run on the battery test bench, which would liberate the hybrid system test bench for other tests.