#68011  by kiwipete
 Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:55 pm
Just thought I would post an update here.

Tonight I preformed a load test with my digital volt meter set on amps, across the master fuse. This is a 25A fuse.
With the pump running, radio, TV, sat decoder, crappy UK aerial booster that actually picked up some terrestrial freeview channels ;-), fridge on but not running as the gas was off and three 10W halogen lights running I was recording just on 9 amps. I did not have my tablet or cell phone plugged in at this time and there isn't anything more I can think of that we would have running.
 #68027  by Naki585
 Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:00 am

Last year we upgraded our solar.

We took our MH up to AA Solar and asked them what they would recommend considering our anticipated usage.

On their recommendation they installed a 240w solar panel, Votronic controller with dual outputs, (this also charges the start battery), a 16 amp AC charger as our original charger was not a smart charger, ( I originally wanted a dual output AC charger, but they said that it was over kill as the Votronic controller would do the job of charging both batteries), 100 amp shunt and Votronic battery monitor. They also put in 2 x 6 v 260 amp AGM batteries.

I must say that I am very happy with this setup. It is very comforting to see what is going in and out of your batteries and know exactly what the state of charge is. Well worth the expense of installing a decent battery monitor.

I think it would be well worth the trouble of asking AA solar what they would recommend if you haven't already done so.

 #68034  by kiwipete
 Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:30 am
Naki585 wrote: I think it would be well worth the trouble of asking AA solar what they would recommend if you haven't already done so.

Hi keith. Yes i have been in contact with them and they too suggested the votronic dual but i question the need for such a controller in our caravan where we have no need for the dual charging feature. My tow vehicle is a 4x4 with two heavy duty deep cycle batteries so i do not have problems with flat batteries here.
Our onboard charger is suosed to be "smart" according to the manual and doccumentation supplied and should it require replacing i have a very good 7 stage charger in my workshop that i could replace it with.
 #68040  by Neddy
 Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:50 pm
kiwipete wrote:Last night I performed a load test with pretty much everything turned on. I was recording just on 9 amps.
That's a relatively low figure so you won't need to go overboard on your electrical system.

The most important measure, though, is your average nightly power consumption. (in Amp/Hours)
It is this figure that mediates the battery capacity you will need and also the solar capacity required.
This key figure can be measured, calculated or guessed - even an approximation is better than nothing.

When comparing solar controllers, make sure you look at the guarantee period - this can give some idea of their quality.
 #68050  by kiwipete
 Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:50 pm
This picture shows the area under the front seating looking at the back of the battery box. I will move the motor mover controller and place it on the wall to the right of the box, this will require minimal cabling alterations.
Where the motor mover controller is currently mounted I will install the solar controller, (when I decide on which one suits me ;) ), along with the circuit breaker and shunt for the monitor I am currently using. New heavy leads will be run into the battery box allowing enough lead to place the battery on the ground outside if needed, approximately 1m in length.


The following picture is my proposed wiring diagram. Is there anything I am missing here?
 #68185  by kiwipete
 Sat Jan 25, 2014 8:25 pm
Alrighty, Time for an update on where I am with things.
Today I have been busy installing the new Solar controller in my caravan.

I managed to score a Tracer 30A MPPT Controller, 3 pair of MC plugs, 2 branch Y connectors, a cable entry box and a Tracer Remote Meter for a very nice price. :) I have plenty of cable on hand.

First I looked long and hard at the space I had to work with to see how to best fit my equipment. The Solar Controller needs a lot of air flow around it as it has large heat sink fins behind it. I was going to use the wardrobe but there is too much restriction with the clothes in there. Then I though about an elevated cupboard on the opposite side of the caravan (where the remote meter is), but it is about a 6m run to the battery and the solar panels wiring would be all wrong too.
So under the front seat it was.

I used some off cuts from an old cupboard I got from a UK caravan as this is super light weight timber. This allows the Controller to sit well away from the wall as well as allowing air to move freely around it, the back of the seat has an air cavity behind it to allow air movement so overheating will not be an issue.

Controller brace timber cut to length,

Gluing and doweling,

Drilled and ready for mounting,

Motor Mover Controller moved from the back of the battery box to the wall with it's cables laid nice and tidy and the Solar Controller bracing screwed in place,

Here you can see the main wiring has all been tidied, the high current circuit breaker mounted and the factory LV (load) fuse attached to the back of the battery box,

The main Neutral stud I have installed to terminate all the neutrals as required,

This photo shows the Solar Controller in place, wired up and running. I did however run out of phase cable and had to use a short off cut to get power from the controller to the battery circuit breaker. The RJ45 lead has yet to be laid in its proper place as I have temporarily set it up for the display; testing purposes,

The remote meter showing load power and current with everything turned off. This is mounted in an elevated cupboard on the opposite side of the caravan next to the door. I have decided to leave it in here as I do not want to cut into the wall to have it on the outside at this stage. It is not an issue to open the cupboard to check what is going on. With this meter I can also change the all the modes & settings of the main controller. I made an extra long RJ45 cable for this as the one supplied was only 2m long,

I hope to be able to install the solar panels next weekend if they arrive by then, in the meantime it is temporarily running from the 80w panel that is sitting on the shed roof next to the caravan. I poked the Solar cable up through a spare hole in the floor.
 #68194  by WoodyZ
 Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:25 am
Looking good there.
 #68244  by kiwipete
 Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:38 pm
Thanks for the compliment Neil.

I have finally finished with tidying the last of the wiring, well until the panels arrive that is.

Monitor mounted and cable laid flat,

Spot the cable ;)

I found some more cable in my junk box and made a longer phase cable for the controller to battery link and laid the monitor signal cable,

Between now and when the panels arrive I need to source a nice pass through gland to protect the solar cables where they will enter the roof, under the cable entry box. The last thing I need is a short from the cables rubbing on the aluminum roof at the entry point.
The supplier of the panels has recommended I use this;
3M make a single sided white tape UV stabilized that is great to apply around the edges of the panel it is called 4412
I assume I would still be best to apply some double sided tape to the center of the panel to prevent any flapping? I have a little homework to do :shock:
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