Renogy’s DCC50S combines solar and alternator charging, into one convenient package.
The DCC50S can charge a house battery from the vehicle’s main battery or by utilizing solar panels connected directly to the unit.
Who is the Renogy DCC50S for?
The DCC50S is for outdoor enthusiasts looking for more than one way to charge their electrical systems. Being able to safely charge batteries using the sun and your vehicle’s engine adds extended capabilities.
There are two different versions, a large 50 Amp unit, and a smaller 30 Amp unit. The larger unit is generally safe for full-size vans and trucks. So if you’re running a Mercedes Sprinter, Fiat Ducato or similarly sized vehicle, you’ll be good to good with the 50 Amp version.
If however, you have a smaller vehicle, you’ll be better off sticking to the smaller 30 Amp version, to reduce the load placed on your engine and alternator.
Installation of the DCC50S
The installation is straightforward. You need to run 35mm² cables to your vehicle’s existing battery. Lay the cables as far away as possible from the engine and exhaust parts that get hot. You can run a dedicated ground cable, or use the vehicle’s chassis as a ground.
After installation, choose the battery type on the DCC50S charge controller. Different batteries have different charging profiles, and it’s very important to use the correct profile. To do this, use a paper clip inserted in a specific point on the DCC50S. A light will then indicate which battery type is currently set (Exact directions are included in the user manual).
Resources for installation
Here is what you’ll need to install this device yourself.
50 Amp version: Recommended for trucks and vans
30 Amp version: Recommended for smaller vehicles
Use this for your main cable runs
The most affordable way to make your own heavy cables
How does the DCC50s compare to alternatives?
Renogy is currently the only manufacturer offering a combined unit, with this high of an amperage, in this price range. There are no direct alternatives to the DCC50s. The closest competitor, the Nemo IDDX1230 offers a DC-DC/MPPT charger, limited to 30A output.
There are other manufacturers offering DC-DC chargers without built-in MPPT (solar) charging.
Victron Energy offers the Orion-Tr 12/12-30, a DC-DC charger capable of up to 30 Amp charging.
CTEK offers the D250SE capable of up to 20 Amp charging. However, both of these units do not have built-in solar charging.
Do I need to install solar panels?
No, you can install unit without solar panels. When you drive your vehicle, the charger will use power from your vehicles alternator to charge your house batteries.
If you only occasionally plan to stay at an off-grid campsite, you can keep some foldable solar panels with you, and plug them into the unit during your stay.
Pros and Cons
- Prioritizes charging the starter battery first, before charging the house battery.
- Overcurrent, overcharge and temperature protection.
- Compatible with all battery types.
- Starter battery is charged via solar when engine is off, and house battery is full.
- Input is limited to 25.5 Volts. That means you wont be able to wire solar panels in series. We have an article about the importance of series vs parallel here.
- Solar charging is prioritized over alternator charging. This means that if the unit detects incoming power from the sun, it will limit alternator charging to 25 Amps, even if solar input is low.
The larger DCC50S is rated for up to 660 Watts of solar. However, you need to be careful. That much wattage can exceed the ratings of standard MC4 connectors, potentially causing fires.
It’s best to stick with 400Watts maximum, unless you are experienced with electrical wiring, as you will need to use upgraded connections.
The smaller DCC30S is rated for up to 400Watts of solar. Standard MC4 connections are perfectly fine with this amount of power.
The DCC50S is capable of operating with traditional and smart alternators.
Smart alternators have their voltage controlled externally by the engine control unit. If your vehicle has a smart alternator, you will have to find an ignition hot wire. This should only be done by those who are familiar with automotive work.
Traditional alternators have their voltage controlled internally by a voltage regulator. If your vehicle has a traditional alternator you do not need the ignition sensing wire. Instead, the unit will start charging after a voltage reading of more than 13.2 Volts for 15 seconds.
How do you know if you have a smart alternator?
1. Locate your main vehicle starter battery
2. Start the engine, make sure any fans, radio, lights etc. are turned off.
3. Take a voltage reading across the main vehicle battery
4. Leave running for around 5/10 minutes, then repeat step 3
If your measurement is about 14Volts, then then you probably have a traditional alternator.
If you have closer to 12.5-13.5Volts, then it’s more likely that you have a smart alternator.
Please consult a certified mechanic if you are unsure about how to install the device.
What are other people saying?
Reviews are positive, at the time of this writing the DCC50s has 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon, and 4.4 out of 5 on Renogy’s website. Customers seem to be satisfied with function and ease of installation.
Some negative reviews mention the limited input voltage for the solar panel connection. Renogy has responded by saying they are working on developing the next generation of charger. Until then, as mentioned earlier you will have to wire your solar panels in parallel to stay under the 25.5 Volt limit.
Overall we are very impressed with this unit. My wife and I live and work full-time in our van, and having enough energy is critical to our work. Although we try to generate most of our energy using only the sun, we would literally not be able to survive winter without this unit.
The winter from 2020-21 was particularly brutal in southern Germany where we stay. With temperatures reaching as low as -16°C (3,2 °F) and the sun not making an appearance for weeks, the DCC50S was our only source of power. I owe alot to this little machine, and I hope it makes you just as happy as it’s made us.
As always, thank you for being here and good luck with your build!
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