Can i change my solar controller?

Discussion in 'Solar Power' started by The Whittys, Sep 19, 2016.

  1. The Whittys

    The Whittys Funster

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    Hi.

    I've just bought a 2015 motorhome that has a solar panel fitted. Unfortunately the dealer has no idea what type and the controller is a basic unit with a green light and just a 3 light charge indicator.

    I was wondering if i could change it for a digital one and if so do i need more info of the panel etc.

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Stealaway

    Stealaway Funster

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  3. The Whittys

    The Whittys Funster

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    Ok cool thanks. My batteries have a link cable so will i have to run separate wires to them both?
     
  4. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    You don't need to know anything more about the panel other than how big it is. As a rough generalisation point six of a square metre is a 100 W panel. So you can get an idea of what capacity yours is by measuring it and divide its area in square metres by 0.6 and you will know approximately how many hundreds of watts it is. Then get an mppt type controller which is bigger. Victron have a very good reputation.

    To wire it you can probably use the wires going to your current controller.

    But it would be worth posting a photo of it here so folk can advise on what it is.
     
  5. funflair

    funflair Funster Life Member

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    If you are bothering changing the controller I would certainly go for a MPPT one.

    Martin
     
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  6. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    remember battery is connected first then the panels removal is in reverse
     
  7. Stealaway

    Stealaway Funster

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    I ran a pair of wires to both the domestic and start battery's. I kept the solar charging system completely separate from the van charging control system.
     
  8. Bobby22

    Bobby22 Funster

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    There is no need to change for a digital controller. Your batteries will get charged. Your vans electrical panel will show you how much of a charge you have on your batteries.
     
  9. Sidney

    Sidney Funster

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    On the Sargent unit you hold one button and it goes into advanced mode. Then you can see solar amps.

    The controller on mine now sells for £9. It's basic and I'm wondering if I too should get me a more complicated unit.

    Any advice on if I actually need a MPPT unit?
     
  10. Bobby22

    Bobby22 Funster

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    MPPT controllers can harvest 10-20% more amps but can cost £80 for a good one.
    If you are managing on the power you have then no need to change. They are much less efficient on smaller systems.

    Pwm controllers are better suited to smaller systems whereas mppt work better on bigger systems, probably around 170 w for optimum performance.


    On the otherhand if you a constantly running out.........do you need more battery or bigger panels.

    BTW not all solar panels run through onboard consumer unit. Some go to the battety direct.

    Horses for courses.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
  11. musson

    musson Funster

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    Have a look at the victron I have just fitted one and seems to work very well,and they get good write ups

    cost me 63 on offer on ebay
     
  12. The Whittys

    The Whittys Funster

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    Hi

    Thanks for the advice. Heres a pic of my existing controller
     

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  13. The Whittys

    The Whittys Funster

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    Oh just to add, i added a second battery at the weekend so now have 2 x banner 100ah after my original sgl battery ran out wild camping for 36 hours :(
     
  14. Bobby22

    Bobby22 Funster

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    Be aware, unless your batteries are the same age style and capacity, you may have problems keeping them at peak performance.
     
  15. The Whittys

    The Whittys Funster

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    Both brand new as of this weekend :)
     
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  16. Bobby22

    Bobby22 Funster

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    Looks klike you will have to pay you £15 to become a member and get onto the whole site. You will not be allowed to post until you become a full member.

    Well worth £15 for all the help and banter you'll every want.
     
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  17. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    I don't know what that controller is though perhaps someone else can identify it. However, it has "temperature compensation" written on it which suggests it isn't a basic controller. This being the case it is worth reviewing why you want to change it. If you are just running out of power after a few days it could be you just need a bigger or a second panel or you are just using too much power. For example, changing to all led interior lights if they aren't already could be very cost effective.
     
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