Built in collaboration with Young Circuit Designs, Voltaic Systems launches its solar charger development board for lithium ion and lithium iron phosphate batteries. Based on Texas Instruments’ bq24650 chip, the board promises to speed the development process of off-grid IoT applications through its ease of customization, optionable regulated output port, and high efficiency maximum power point tracking (MPPT).
MPPT can improve the performance of a solar charger by matching the load of the circuit to the point on a solar panel’s IV curve that produces the most power. Its input voltage regulation feature maintains the load characteristic to match the MPP of the panel and thus increases power output in variable outdoor conditions.
The development board supports multiple battery chemistries, including lithium-ion/lithium-polymer, lithium-iron-phosphate, and lead acid - as well as multiple cells in series such as a 2S 8.4V LiPo. It also supports different MPP voltages. The preset values range from 4.8V (for USB charging) up to 24V. It includes a footprint for a custom MPP voltage that can be soldered on by hand. Switching between different MPP voltages and battery configurations is as easy as turning the two knobs to their appropriate locations.
A synchronous switch-mode buck regulator reduces power losses through the circuit and leads to higher efficiency output. The efficiency through the development board in various battery and MPP voltage configurations tests on average at 86%, with a high of 91%. Other features include a header for an optional regulator from Pololu that would allow 3.3V or 5V to be readily available from the top screw terminal.
The LiIon LiFEPO4 MPPT Solar Charger costs $75 and is available now. Checkout the datasheet.