Solar not working, but batteries charging with generator

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rawill
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Re: Solar not working, but batteries charging with generato

Postby rawill » Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:03 am

I think you will now have a great setup.
Plenty of charge input, good storage capacity (depending on your usage) and backup services from a generator if needed.

And like most have discovered, where you get your advice from is very very important, but at the begining it is hard to figure.
Sadly you have discovered that not all auto sparkies know much about wiring campervans, and also sadly the same can happen with 240v.


Enjoy the journey

Rbn
My setup is Morningstar Pro 30
225 amphours storage
530 watts of panel, parallel, which I have to recheck and make sure they are all working.
One is due to fail!
Robin and Averil 16590 - Crusin - 1989 Nissan Condor - 28 sq meters CSC - toad 010 Micra - (1978 Mitsi Canter which must go!~!)

Gingernutty
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Re: Solar not working, but batteries charging with generato

Postby Gingernutty » Wed Sep 09, 2015 2:16 pm

Ok, time for a bit of an update. We finally got the two replacement controllers - 2 x 20a Tracers with remotes. I also ordered a couple of ammeters as suggested by Neville. Since work has been completed, I guess I can reveal that it was Blair auto-electrical in Paraparaumu who completed the fitting, and WaveInverter who supplied the new panels and the controller/s. We now have the three panels connected, each with their own controller. Unfortunately Blair did not connect the ammeter as requested, and also removed the voltmeter despite not being requested to. :cry: So we don't really have any visibility into how much the older, smaller panel is contributing. Anyway, today has been somewhat sunny, mostly overcast. Currently 2.11 pm, I have switched our 3-way fridge over to 12v as the gas has run out, and am waiting for partner to come home and change the bottle :roll: The two large panels are both pumping about 14v into the batteries, anywhere from about 15-24 amps combined. Solar panels producing between 29 and 36v each. Batteries look ok though not entirely sure readout is accurate, since it seems to vary wildly between 55 - 100%? Very little draw, despite fridge (.4 w?). Seems good to me but early days, plus still not entirely sure what to expect, other than hoping not to have to worry. We don't usually run fridge on 12v, just seemed like a good idea since I am home durong the day for once, and the gas is out, and in theory the panels should be keeping the batteries topped up.

Neddy
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Re: Solar not working, but batteries charging with generato

Postby Neddy » Wed Sep 09, 2015 3:51 pm

"The two large panels are both pumping about 14v into the batteries...."
The voltage won't tell you whether current is flowing into or out of the batteries.
You could have 10 amps going in and 15 amps going out with the voltage falling as the battery discharges.
Or, you could have 15 amps going in and 10 amps going out with the voltage rising as the batteries charge.

".....anywhere from about 15-24 amps combined."
Now that sounds good. Really good.

"Solar panels producing between 29v and 36v each."
This means nothing, really. You could well measure similar voltages in bright moonlight, but the current would be quite insignificant. It is the voltage/current combination (watts) that does the business.

"Batteries look OK though not entirely sure readout is accurate, since it seems to vary wildly between 55% - 100%"
If it is varying from 55% to 100% you can be sure that it most certainly is NOT accurate.
This reading isn't coming from a proper Battery Monitor - right? I guess it is comimg from Tracer controller
"Battery %" figures. These solar controllers are NOT battery monitors. Tracer themselves state that their battery capacity readings are "based on battery voltage, not the real battery capacity".
In short, their "Battery %" figures are fabricated.

"Very little draw, despite fridge"
Excellent.

"Seems good to me ....."
It seems good to me too - but wouldn't it be nice to KNOW what is happening?
I guarantee that sooner or later you will get a Battery Monitor.
Wouldn't sooner be better?

Neville.

Gingernutty
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Re: Solar not working, but batteries charging with generato

Postby Gingernutty » Wed Sep 09, 2015 4:03 pm

Neddy wrote:
"Seems good to me ....."
It seems good to me too - but wouldn't it be nice to KNOW what is happening?
I guarantee that sooner or later you will get a Battery Monitor.
Wouldn't sooner be better?

Neville.


Yes, it would be good to KNOW. However, so far this has been a VERY expensive exercise, which is going to take us a bit to recover from. Then we need to find someone who actually knows what they are doing, before we let anyone else loose on our system. In the meantime, we are just celebrating that they are working and we are not just carting around expensive deadweight on the roof! Thanks for all your advice, Neddy!

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Re: Solar not working, but batteries charging with generato

Postby Gingernutty » Tue Oct 06, 2015 6:07 am

Ok, so thanks to advice from Neddy and a 'house call' and very patient explanation from Scubadoo, we decided to bite the bullet and invest in a battery monitor, which was installed yesterday. Now we need some assistance with interpreting the manual and setting it up properly. Monitor is Votronic.

Can someone explain what the Terminal Switching-on threshold capacity and Terminal Switching-off threshold capacity settings are, and recommend what they should be set to?

Also, in terms of initial setting up, is there anything else we should know/be doing?

We have a 12v system, with 2 x 6v 225 ah batteries. The manual says if several batteries have been combined to a battery system, add the ah value. Does that not depend on how they are wired? Currently we have the nominal capacity set to 215 ah, allowing for the batteries being approximately 12 months old.

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scubadoo
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Re: Solar not working, but batteries charging with generato

Postby scubadoo » Tue Oct 06, 2015 9:04 am

Enjoy your new monitor.

215Ah is a good starting figure.

Terminal Switching threshold capacity?
On - the alarm level at which the batteries are deemed full - set to 101% - i.e. no alarm
Off - the alarm level at which the batteries are deemed exhausted enough. ;) - 50% would be a good safe number here.

Alarm?
There are terminals on your new shunt that can be used to control what occurs when triggered. This could be a buzzer, siren or relay to disconnect all power to your appliances.
I have connected a $5 Jaycar 12VDC piezo buzzer to warn me of low battery levels. It has never triggered. Don't concern yourself too much at this stage. It can easily be fitted later.
Learn to occasionally glance at the monitor to establish your normal day to day numbers. 50% remaining capacity is probably about the time I would start to consider charging options. Any deviation from those norms is the only time for concern.

Gingernutty wrote:... Also, in terms of initial setting up, is there anything else we should know/be doing? ...

1 - Ensure the new shunt is mounted and connected very close to the house battery negative terminal with heavy wiring.
2 - Ensure one side of the the new fitted shunt is the only connection to the house battery negative terminal.
3 - All other negative wires must be connected to the other side of the new shunt.
4- Make sure you have set the monitor to the correct battery type.
i.e.
1 = Lead Acid (Liquid-acid Lead Battery)
2 = Gel
3 = AGM
Neville
Mitsi Fuso CI Ultimate 6.8m 3.9 T/D. 180l fresh/grey. Single 300Ah LiFePO4 for truck/house.
600W solar. Victron 50A MPPT. 6kW Webasto diesel water/air heater.
255l Samsung 230VAC digital inverter fridge/freezer.Gas cooking/oven.

Gingernutty
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Re: Solar not working, but batteries charging with generato

Postby Gingernutty » Tue Oct 06, 2015 4:49 pm

Thanks, Scubadoo - the bit in the manual that states - 'the battery must implicitly be charged for at least 24 hours with a suitable automatic charger to ensure correct display of the capacity.' What is your advice in regards to this? (knowing our setup and that we live in the bus?) We have had a beautifully sunny day today, I would have expected batteries to be charged fairly early, given that we were both at work and therefore not using anything.

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scubadoo
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Re: Solar not working, but batteries charging with generato

Postby scubadoo » Tue Oct 06, 2015 5:04 pm

Don't be too concerned. It should all settle down over the next day or three.
Our setup has yet to see a mains battery charger. ;)
From memory the last time I reset the monitor (read disconnected the battery negative) it initially read 75% full and was up and operating, fully calibrated by the next day with no further input on my part.
You should at some point by sundown today or tomorrow have a reading of 215Ah?

Edit - Mine is reading 99% at 6:10pm in full sunshine (what's left of it) and drawing 7A. 2x notebooks, TV, extractor fan and compressor fridge all running.
Neville
Mitsi Fuso CI Ultimate 6.8m 3.9 T/D. 180l fresh/grey. Single 300Ah LiFePO4 for truck/house.
600W solar. Victron 50A MPPT. 6kW Webasto diesel water/air heater.
255l Samsung 230VAC digital inverter fridge/freezer.Gas cooking/oven.


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