#100374  by Neddy
 Sun Sep 27, 2015 9:34 am
This is an intriguing problem Robin, one that could conceivably have more than one cause.
Here are a few random thoughts and observations that may or may not include the real cause(s).

With such short battery life, you do have a definite problem. It could simply be that you have bought poor quality batteries. After all, they are ones that you know others have had the same problem with.

"The ABC Auxilliary Battery Charger definitely reaches into the 15+ volts range, at times"
That is exceding the recommended charge voltage for your batteries and cannot be good.
Who knows how high it goes when you are not watching?

"I just checked this morning, with only the solar operating, the monitor set at 198 A/H (batteries are rated 225) it shows 195 this morning with the fridge on."
Something is badly wrong here. With your fridge running all night, your battery monitor reports overnight power consumption of only 3 Ah. This simply cannot be right. A minimum believable figure would be in excess of 10 Ah. Could it be that you are in fact depleting your batteries a whole lot more than you think you are? With a wildly inaccurate battery monitor, you have no way of knowing what is really going on.
This would be a good issue to address first.

"Maximum solar input I have ever seen is around 17 amps (from 520 watts of solar, max possible is around 30 amps)"
Something is amiss here. Why such a limited output from quite a powerful solar array? Shading? Panels angled very differently? Inadequate cabling? One dud panel dragging down the rest? Miss-matched panels? Inaccurate Ammeter?

"I use my generator in the morning to make coffee etc, maybe 30-45 minutes, and sometimes in the evening say about 60 minutes."
You have battery problems in spite of running a generator for 1½ hours or more daily.
By my definition, that can only mean that you have insufficient (or inefficient) solar power.
Maybe 520 watts isn't enough for your needs - even if it was working properly.

When I see the word "coffee", a red light goes on. Do you know the current draw of your coffee maker?
How accurate is that estimate likely to be? Running the generator every time you make coffee will not insulate your batteries from the very heavy discharge currents that are typical of such devices.
Are you possibly asking too much of a relatively small battery set? Is it time to mention the Lithium word?

"I hooked in two new Champion AGMs in parallel. I know I know, it breaks all the rules."
Sure does. I understand why you did it, but putting new AGM batteries in parallel with old Flooded batteries is a really bad idea.

 #100396  by rawill
 Sun Sep 27, 2015 6:10 pm
I will reset the monitor and see how it goes.
It is a Cruz Pro monitor, and slowly goes off in accuracy and needs reset. So last nights figure may well be wrong.
I will set it again tonight when there is no input or output.
However,the fridge has been "pulled down", in readiness for going away tomorrow, the van is shut up no windows, very cool inside, the fridge is not being opened, and so it is not doing much work.

I only use the coffee machine on 240, with the generator, we only have a small 300 watt inverter, but I would never use a generator for coffee making.
Yes, on the ABC, I will wind the top voltage down, it was set up for flooded batteries.
I am reasonably confident that the top voltage as 15.00v, on the ABC, that it does not go higher when I am not watching.
As it is, it is seldom used.

My experience with a 12v compressor fridge, started in 2008, previously I had a 3 way fridge, in another van, which we still have.

I am hoping the new batteries will be the answer, but time will tell.
However, I thank you all for the input, brainstorming around these issues helps clarify the mind.

And the panels, all are working, I checked the voltages the other day,
However 3 are flat on the roof, one is vertical on the side of the van, so not all operate at full capacity at the same time, unless I adjust the angle of the vertical one.
 #100398  by RedBarrell
 Sun Sep 27, 2015 6:54 pm
Your batteries have sulphanated, indicated by the bulged ends. This occurs when batteries are not kept in a charged state. So, there are numerous reasons why this happens. Kept in a discharged state for too long a time is common, charging hardware failure another.
 #100401  by muzzanic
 Sun Sep 27, 2015 11:59 pm
I do like reading all what people have to say about Battery's & solar.

I can tell you that with 520w of solar & needed to run a generator that often, I would be checking to complete system from start to finish.

You say that 1 panel is mounted on the side of the van, If this on the same controller ?

Forum's are a great place & there can often be so much really good info to help people out.

However, You can often get a person asking for help, Giving the info as they see it & often send the people that are trying to help, Down the wrong path.

I have seen so many systems that I have been told everything checks out good, But there seems to still be a problem.

A trained set of eyes can often quite quickly find a problem that makes for a bad setup, That on a forum you can often miss because the Op hasn't thought was worth mentioning .

So some good info on here for sure, But maybe finding someone in your area to cast there eyes over you system.

 #100421  by rawill
 Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:13 pm
muzzanic wrote: I can tell you that with 520w of solar & needed to run a generator that often, I would be checking to complete system from start to finish.

You say that 1 panel is mounted on the side of the van, If this on the same controller ?
Well I hope I have not missed anything important in explaining my set up.

Murray, I am wondering what you would be looking for Murray.
I think I am wondering about 2 things, the water I added, not being distilled, and my 240v 12/6 amp 3 stage charger.
When we are home in winter, I leave it connected some of the time, although last year when we were away for 3 months.
Nothing was running, except the solar controller.
I have not let the batteries go dry, and they have not taken much water, but this bad water could be the cause.

Most of our draw is the fridge, but in winter there is not so much solar gain especially with the panels flat on the roof,
that is why one panel is vertical on the wall, to maximise the solar in the morning and in the evening.
The panel on the side is 120 watt, the rest others are flat on the roof, the vertical panel has only been there for the last 12 months,
and so in my mind can not have contributed to the failure of the first set of batteries. And I sturggle to see how it can have contributed to the failure of the second set.
I have only have one controller, the Morningstar Prostar 30.

That controller indicates when the batteries are fully charged by the charge light flashing, this is usually way before lunch time at this time of the year.
Even on an overcast day, as we have here in Invercargill today, and with the fridge going, the new batteries are full.
It has been on Solar only for 48 hours now, with the fridge going.

 #100436  by muzzanic
 Mon Sep 28, 2015 9:26 pm
You say that the panel on the side is 120w, What wattage are the other one's ? Are all the voltages the same ?

If I was doing a solar system that had a odd panel & was angled to the sun way different to the other panels I would use a separate controller for that panel.

For sure this may not be the problem with your battery's, But to me it doesn't sound like your solar system is working as good as it could.

I wasn't trying to knock what you have done, I have just seen to many people struggle to sort a problem & fresh set of eyes can often nail it, Just looking at it from another angle.

I hope it all works out for you.

 #100451  by rawill
 Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:17 am
On the roof there is an old 130, a 2 year old 140, and a 2 year old 120, (and when you do the maths, it is not 520, it is 510!)
Voltage readings, I would have to take them again, to be accurate.
About to leave for a month away, so might get to that while we are away.

I must do some more reading, on irregular panel angles, but I do see enough amps going in for my needs.
And I have no reason not to trust the solar controller, so as I said, maybe my carelessness with the water, or a not so good 240 charger.

 #100468  by Neddy
 Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:27 am
Robin, you have got a total of 4 panels - right? Do you know their individual specifications?
How are they connected?
If they are connected in series, their Amps need to be reasonably similar (ideally, the same).
If they are connected in parallel, their Voltages need to be reasonably similar (ideally, the same).
Either way, a single partially shaded panel will reduce the output of the other three panels.
It is quite probable that sometimes you would get more solar power with the vertical panel disconnected.
Conversely, it is quite possible that you would sometimes get more solar power from the vertical panel alone without the other three being connected.
Where you have 3 panels horizontal and one panel vertical, you have a situation where there will almost always be a sizeable power imbalance between the panels - even if they all had exactly the same specifications.
In short, adding an extra vertical panel would probably reduce the power output of the other 3 to the extent that the net result could be no gain at all - and quite possibly a loss.
When the sun is low in the sky and the vertical panel is powering up, the other three panels are losing power and will combine to reduce the contribution of the vertical panel. This is not far short of a lose/lose situation.
As it stands, the maximum power you have ever seen from your "520 watt" system is less than 250 watts.
Clearly, something is not right.

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