Is my SP charging my batteries?

Discussion in 'Solar Power' started by Dorset Diver, Jul 18, 2016.

  1. Dorset Diver

    Dorset Diver Funster

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    A bit of help please and possibly just a bit of reassurance.

    Until recently I was convinced that my SP system was working well but over the last week or so I have tried to check it. The van is in my drive not being used with all main systems switched off; it is not on EHU and has not been for about 10 days. The control panel has been showing both the vehicle battery and the twin leisure batteries holding a steady 12.7v without fluctuation night or day, cloud or sun. This afternoon I put a heavy load on the leisure batteries by using the invertor for a while to drive a 500w fan. The battery voltage dropped to 11.8 whilst the load was on but immediately recovered to 12.3v once the load was removed. Over the last two hours it has been in good sun and has recovered to 12.6v. I was expecting to see a much higher voltage as the batteries were being recharged. Does it sound as if the SP is charging the batteries or not? Any advice please?

    140w SP

    2x85A batteries virtually new.
     
  2. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    Nope, something isn't working. You should see something like 13.6v when it is charging. The increase in voltage after turning the load off would just be the natural recovery of the batteries. They would do that even if you had no solar and the fact you saw 11.8v on load suggests the batteries are pretty well already on the way to being discharged.

    Time for some diagnostics I think. Working back from the panels - but worth checking first nothing simple like a fuse has gone and the switches are all in the right position.
     
  3. Wagoneer

    Wagoneer Funster

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    Googled SP and it came up with Sex Party. Only just twigged it's something to do with Solar Panels.

    A list of Motorhome abbreviations would help thick people like me, haha !!!
     
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  4. Dorset Diver

    Dorset Diver Funster

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    Unfortunately I have no idea where to start. I will have to start looking. The only clue I have is that it was working on the 4th of this month and on the 5th Vanbitz fitted a Strikeback Growler. The van has not been used since and I suspect...
     
  5. Abacist

    Abacist Funster

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    Could you please tell us the make, model, year of your van and the make of the electrical control system if its as standard for your van. If its non standard then it would help to know the make and model of solar controller with a photo and if its wired into the van control system or direct to the batteries. This is all fairly basic information which will help those knowledgeable on here to identify any potential issues.
     
  6. Robert Clark

    Robert Clark Funster Life Member

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    If your van is like mine, the pre installed solar cables are behind the little panel above the oven
    The panel is attached by Velcro
    My panels were fitted by Vanbitz and my controllers are located there.

    On each of my controllers there are led's and some sort of fuse,
     
  7. Abacist

    Abacist Funster

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    The way I read this is that you think VanBitz have somehow disconnected your solar panel. If this is what you suspect then please pick up the phone to Eddie and discuss it with him rather than leave such a suggestion just hanging in the air!
     
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  8. Dorset Diver

    Dorset Diver Funster

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    Hello Robert, my controller is on the inside of the box cupboard to the right of the drivers seat on the forward panel just below the dash. I will have a look above the oven to see if there is any obvious problem then get hold of Vanbitz. The controller is below. At present it is showing one green light.
     

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  9. Clarky

    Clarky Funster

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    I'm sure I have the same controller as yours and on almost the same van although my controller is fitted below the fridge.
    You should have a yellow LED showing if charging.
    Taken from my controller manual:-
    Green LED: will be on or blinking when the battery has been connected On: one of the two conventional algorithms
    Blinking: BatteryLife algorithm

    Yellow LED: signals charge sequence
    Off: no power from PV array (or PV array connected with reverse polarity) Blinking fast: bulk charge (battery in partially charged state)
    Blinking slow: absorption charge (battery charged to 80% or more)
    On: float charge (battery fully charged)

    Richard.
     
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  10. Dorset Diver

    Dorset Diver Funster

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    Hi Richard thanks for that. As you can see from my pic there is a green light on but the yellow light below it is not illuminated in any way. Must get it sorted as we are away again soon.
     
  11. andy63

    andy63 Funster

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    From the picture all looks connected ok...
    I'd take the panel wires out of the controller and check the no load voltage.. I'm thinking in good light you should see around 20 odd volts..
    If you are getting that then I'd suspect the charge controller is at fault..
    You could try disconnecting the batteries from it and booting it up again to see if that does anything..
    Andy
     
  12. Lenny HB

    Lenny HB Funster

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    First thing to check is the voltage coming from the panels it should be between approx 16 to 20 volts if that is OK it is probably the regulator assuming all fuses are OK. The regulator voltage should rise up to about 14.2 volts as the batteries charge and if it is a good regulator then drop back to a maintenance charge of around 13.6 volts.
     
  13. Dorset Diver

    Dorset Diver Funster

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    A bit more info. I have just managed to meter the input / output on the controller but without disconnecting the terminals. The voltage over the PV + / - was 13.45 and over the battery + / - was 19.47. Is this okay or back to front?
     
  14. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    That doesn't sound right. :(

    I'm wondering if the battery has been disconnected without the panels being disconnected first. That controller is designed for both 12 & 24V systems & it depends on being connected to the battery first to sense the system voltage correctly.

    I would disconnect the +ve wire from the panel, then disconnect the +ve wire leading to the battery. Wait 30 seconds, then reconnect the battery +ve, followed by the panel +ve. Then recheck the voltages.

    If it is possible to do, I suppose it might just be worth checking that the wires connected to the panel & the battery terminals do actually run to the correct bits of kit!

    Controllers do fail, of course. I had the exact same controller which was failing to regulate the voltage correctly. It was allowing the output voltage to exceed 16V on a really sunny day. Replaced under warranty & the replacement is behaving itself nicely. Good job on a day like today, or valve regulated AGM batteries the van came with would be busting out of their cases!
     
  15. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    That sounds back to front. The PV voltage should be around 20v give or take in sunshine. The 13.45 sounds like the battery voltage.

    However, if you are not confident of what you are doing be careful just swapping wires around. But if you do, remember to connect the battery first then the PV panel.
     
  16. Dorset Diver

    Dorset Diver Funster

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    Do you think this cheat may work?

    Wait until sun down, cover the SP then isolate the battery bank entirely (there is a switch for this in the battery compartment), wait a bit then reconnect the battery bank and uncover the SP.
    There will be a shed load of resetting to do but if it may work I will give it a try.
     
  17. Dorset Diver

    Dorset Diver Funster

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    Looking at the picture I posted the 13.45v reading came from the two terminals on the right and the 19.47v from the two on the left.
     
  18. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    Then that does sound the wrong way round, the pair on the left should be connected to the battery but a voltage over 13 is a bit odd unless you are currently on EHU? The resting voltage of the battery should be around 12.6 to 12.7 or thereabouts. It should only go above 13 when being charged.
     
  19. Dorset Diver

    Dorset Diver Funster

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    Thanks for that. Hopefully tomorrow it will have cooled off a bit as working in the van at about 36 degs is to much for me. If it does I will bit the bullet, cover the SP, disconnect the batteries and remove the controller. I can then check out the wiring and put it right if needed.
     
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  20. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    Looking at the front of the unit & reading from left to right, it goes battery +ve, battery -ve, panel -ve, panel +ve, then the load terminals that you can ignore.

    You could, but I wouldn't. I would just disconnect & reconnect at the controller terminals, in the order given above. You will need some sunlight when you reconnect to see if it is working any better.

    If it's bright sunshine, chucking a cover over the panels before you start is probably a good idea - sounds like a good idea anyway right now given the voltages you seem to have in all the wrong places!
     
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