Regulator Problems And A Very Annoying Noise!

Discussion in 'Solar Power' started by Supertramp, Jul 17, 2015.

  1. Supertramp

    Supertramp

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    Once again I turn to you wonderful funsters for assistance. I wasn't sure whether to post this in my other thread but it's a new topic, I do apologise if this isn't correct.

    I've just had a 100w panel installed with a phocos CML regulator (I'm in Morocco). Using the multimeter the battery showed 14v/13.9v yesterday in the sun.
    Overnight however the regulator started beeping. It turns out it beeps each time the state of battery charge drops, and 5 beeps when it gets to 10% then 25 beeps which means the load will shut off.
    This was at 2:30am, despite leaving th hookup (ctek charged) at 12pm that afternoon, having 14v solar and driving some miles. I was ready to throw the battery but checked the voltage and it said 12.4v, so around 80% correct? Yet the regulator battery indicator lit up the bulb that means less than 10% and eventually discharged.

    Then I noticed a pattern that this happens each time my compressor fridge kicks in, the 25 beeps come (meaning shut down). Obviously at this happened in the early hours I was conscious of the noise so I'm drastically trying to sort it today.
    The Waeco is connected directly to the battery so I'm wondering if the regulator is getting in a tizzy?
    It's been happening today too despite the battery showing 12.75v, compressor kicks in, regulator light turns red to show deep discharge and 25 beeps.
    Also, does it matter if there is no load coming from the regulator? That space is empty.

    If the regulator is kaput, what do people recommend? I can see it's clearly charging the battery, but the indicator lights aren't showing this and the acoustic warning is driving me mad.

    Help! Thank you !!
     
  2. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    Could you clarify:
    Was the sun shining when you measured this?
    Was the fridge compressor running when you measured this?
    If the compressor wasn't running, can you measure the voltage again when it is?

    No, it won't matter, but it will provide useful diagnostic information.
    While the regulator is in it's warning phase, but before it gets to the point at which it would turn the load off, take a reading across the two load terminals & compare it to a reading across the battery. A difference in excess of 0.5V points to a fairly serious problem with the regulator or with the wiring.
     
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  3. Supertramp

    Supertramp

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    Thank you for your reply! I measured this this morning, the sun was up but not directly over, later on I measured and had 13.1v, 13.4v at various times. I've been measuring when the compressor was off, I'll get an exact one when it turns on but I do see it drops rapidly.
    The indicator went up to full around lunch time as we then heard the one beep indicating a drop from 75%+ to 50-75%, lo and behold the middle indicator light is lit. I can't imagine the battery has gone from deep discharge to full in two or so hours?

    I took a voltage from the load terminals and its the same as the battery. Likewise the measurement from the panel terminals on the regulator are the same as the battery, but I took the wires out and took a direct one and got 20v, which suggests the panel is working I think?
     
  4. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    It's beginning to sound like a duff battery to me.

    If you do the measurements again after the compressor has been running for a few minutes & you measure again at the load terminals & at the battery - if they are still the same as each other but now significantly lower, and falling rapidly over time, then it points to the battery. It just might be a faulty fridge drawing a lot more power than it should, but that seems less likely, unless the fridge is making any unusual noises.

    Is it a sealed battery, or the sort you top up? A battery that was seriously short of water would behave like that.

    Are you saying that the voltage at the panel terminals was the same as the battery while the panel was still connected? I don't know anything about your regulator, but I would have expected the voltage to be higher, although not as high as the 20V you see from the panel when it's not connected.

    @Techno is busy rally marshalling this weekend, but it's his expertise we need on this one, I suspect. He knows more about solar regulators than I do.
     
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  5. Supertramp

    Supertramp

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    Thank you, I had suspected a duff battery a few weeks ago when the fridge turned off with low voltage errors, despite us previously lasting a few days at a time. If I put the multimeter on with the compressor on I can watch the volts drop rapidly, 12.4, 12.3, 12.2, 12.1 and then when it turns off and I take a measurement it goes back up. It's a Numax 110ah Wet battery, sealed. At the start of our trip with driving we were making use of only free camping and hooked up once a week or so, now it's lasting a day running the fridge, even with driving, but I had assumed it was because the weather is warmer and therefore fridge is working harder, but some parts of Morocco have been cooler than Madrid where we stood for two days and the fridge lasted.

    Yes when the panel is connected to the regulator I took a reading at that terminal it would show 12.8v whereas the battery terminal would show 12.6/7.
    I don't like this regulator anyway so going to try and get hold of an mppt one, the alarm is driving me mad, I disconnected it last night but can't do that each night.

    Once again, thank you !
     
  6. Supertramp

    Supertramp

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    Quick update. Replaced the phocos regulator with a vitron one which seems better and doesn't have the damn alarm!! Thought I was going to have irate campers knock on the door at 3am when it went off.
    I'll see how that goes but I've resigned myself to needing a new battery, though unsure where to get one and whether France/Spain would be cheaper than Morocco at £89!
    When I get back to the UK I'll be reworking everything and getting the regulator @Techno100 recommends.
    Thanks for your help @TheCaller
     
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  7. Munchie

    Munchie Funster Life Member

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    Probably showing my ignorance but you are running a fridge on 12v with the engine turned off???
     
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  8. Supertramp

    Supertramp

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    Both why?
     
  9. Munchie

    Munchie Funster Life Member

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    Just that usually fridges in motorhomes only run on 12 v when the engine is running. They pull a lot of power!
    In saying that on re reading yours is a compressor fridge so i don't know the power pull!
     
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  10. Supertramp

    Supertramp

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    Ahhh! I panicked for a second then and doubted myself. Yeah it's designed to run continuously, consumes between 1.4-1.7ah so is supposed to be very efficient. For the first four weeks of our trip I would have agreed with that, we were making about 3/4 days with the fridge running without any battery issues. Then suddenly it wouldn't make a day, confirmed it can't just be higher temperature because on cooler days on the coast it isn't lasting. New battery I think!
     
  11. Munchie

    Munchie Funster Life Member

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    Sounds like it! Sorry for the panic!
    Note to self......monitor ALL the interfaces or keep your bloody nose out!
     
  12. ubuntu1

    ubuntu1 Read Only Funster

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    Compressor fridges do take 12v whenever they kick in. You have all of the symptoms of a dead battery. Do yourself a favour and buy a good battery. I'm a motorhome engineer and I see lots of battery problems. Look at Banner, Varta or similar. You will pay more but they are significantly better than cheap batteries.
     
  13. Ralph-n-Bev

    Ralph-n-Bev Funster

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    We've got a compressor fridge and solar. We've used "Pug" a few times now although not fully converted. Weve not had hookup , and had no problems. I fact we've had to turn the fridge right down as I had frozen tomatoes !
    Ralph's at work , and I haven't a clue on the techy stuff.
    But here's a link to Pugs build. When he was at the inverter stage.
    At the bottom there are pictures of his bits n bobs that he used for our solar inverter and battery. I know the battery ( that big red one on the right of the picture) is in there now for the next 15 years, laying on its side under the compressor fridge ! It might be if use to you.
    http://www.motorhomefun.co.uk/forum/threads/rb-panel-van-conversion-begins.100614/page-19
     
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