It seems there are not many electronic load controllers on the market that use modern microcontroller technology and that offer up to date protection and communication features.
All available products seem to be either custom-built and expensive, or limited in their feature range.
Our load controllers fill this gap, by using modular design and proven technologies.
In this way they can suite a wide range of installations, from the small hunting cabin to the supply of a complete settlement electrical infrastructure.
Since the use of electronic devices and computers has become ubiquitous even in the most remote areas, a high quality power supply which doesn't damage sensitive equipment becomes important even for existing hydro power installations.
We've built several ELCs based on the design of Jan Portegijs' humming bird.
They fulfilled their task well, but had several limitations:
- the 3 phase version adds up to quite a bit of analog circuitry and a big PCB. Repair of this PCB (high voltage damage, probably lightning) turned out to be very work-intensive.
- Capacity is limited to 30KW (15KW for 110V)
- Adapting the design to specific customer's needs is very time-consuming.
- Modern features like mobile communication or software-based configuration are not possible.
- For someone who has not built the hummingbird himself, on-site adjustment, error-diagnosis and repair is exceedingly difficult.
That said, Jan Portegijs produced a very detailed manual with lots of helpful background information (e.g. safe design principles)
The next stage was Manfred Mornhinwegs picmicro-based ELC.
This ELC has some clever ideas, like prioritized user loads.
However any modifications require modifying the code and reprogramming of the microcontroller, which is not feasible for the user/operator.
Also it has no protection features (operating parameter monitoring), and the design is optimized for cost (no optocouplers). This is perfectly okay if the designer/manufacturer of the ELC is also the operator, but for more general use, the ELC design needs to address these points.
The current design is based on a ATmega2560 by Atmel, which supplies ample inputs, outputs and communication protocols.