Solar for Hymer 2004 Classic, the more I learn the more confused I get.

Discussion in 'Solar Power' started by Barry72, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. Barry72

    Barry72 Funster

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    Hi, We got our first motorhome this year, a Hymer 575 Classic 2004. We have enjoyed many short trips in it and a longer one which included Silverstone for the F1.
    We are slowly setting it up the way it suits us and the next thing to tackle is solar. First thoughts were a simple 12v system to top up the leisure battery but then we thought to go the whole hog and have everything working as if on hookup but costs were starting to spiral. So back to the original plan which can then be added to at a later date if we feel the need.
    I have just replaced the old 80Ah battery with a new 120Ah one after our first night in the wild went dark at 4am having only parked up at 7pm. We have only had one night away to test the new battery and we had ample power left after parking up at 2pm before retreating home early at midday after admitting defeat to the midges.
    We are planning a longer trip next year for around a couple of weeks, mostly wild then stopping at the odd site every 3-5 days. We don't use much 12v apart from the 24" TV, lighting rarely used, most of the other usage is charging devices.
    The question is regarding the charge controller, I have been reading about compatibility issues with some of the Hymer electrics. Do I need to involve the Hymer electrics in the system or are there any advantages in doing so or is my Hymer even compatible?
    I had picked out a DIY kit for just over £200 or is it best to buy known parts individually than a cheaper kit.
    Looking for some advice from those who use solar or especially those who have fitted solar to a similar aged Hymer. I think I also need help in what questions to ask, if there is any more specific details required to help I am happy to supply them once I know what they are.

    Thanks for any advice.

    Barry.
     
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  2. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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  3. Barry72

    Barry72 Funster

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    That's the thingy, Elektroblok EBL 99. Seen that mentioned in the manual. Thanks for the reply.
     
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  4. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    @Barry

    The Schaudt Electrobloc EBL 99 is the base model of what is currently available & as such doesn't monitor or report anything other than battery voltage. At least it doesn't with the control panel I've got - there are at least 10 compatible control panels for the EBL 99. So you won't be missing any 'state of charge' info that makes using Schaudt's own controller more important with other models of the EBL.

    I have it in writing from Udo Lang,the technical guru at Schaudt, that the only function of the EBL 99 as far as a solar panel is concerned is to offer a convenient method of connecting it to the batteries. Any dual output controller will do - or a single output controller plus a Battery Master. Whether you wire it through the EBL is a matter of convenience. Even if you don't feed it through the solar panel connectors on the front of the EBL, the battery connectors on the rear are a convenient place to wire to if direct to the batteries is inconvenient.

    Having said all that, if I was starting from scratch & didn't have a good reason to do anything different, I would use the Schaudt controller. It comes with all the connections to just plug straight into the EBL. The newer LRM... type is a MPPT controller, which will extract more usable power from a given panel. This is worth the extra if you plan to use the van much in the UK in the winter, or if you do need all the 'leccy you can get. If you are going to spend most of your time in Spain, then the benefit will be marginal.

    The Schaudt stuff isn't cheap, but it is 'fit & forget' & an easy fit at that. You may never want to move it to another van, but if you did, it would be suitable no matter which version of EBL your next van might have fitted.
     
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  5. Barry72

    Barry72 Funster

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    Thanks for the info, much appreciated. I think the Schaudt controller is the way I will go, I like the idea of easy to fit and don't mind spending a little extra to make the job easier and I also want to do it once properly not several times having blown money trying to do it on the cheap first time.
     
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  6. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

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    I fitted the Schaudt LR1218 solar controller to our van's Schaudt EBL99 block without a problem, the advantage of this is that it will charge both your leisure and engine batteries whereas if you don't use a LR1218/LRM1218 controller you'd only be able to charge the leisure battery and then have to fit a second system, eg a battery master, to get it to charge the engine battery too so using the LR1218/LRM1218 would certainly be easiest.

    The LR1218 is around £70 whereas the LRM1218 can be anywhere up to £170 so if you really do NOT need to eek out a bit more power then the LR1218 should be more than sufficient for your needs - in fact if you did need more power £ for £ it would work out more economical to put on a second solar panel on with the £100 difference - just ensure that you're within the maximum input that the LR1218 can take!
     
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  7. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

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    Forgot to say, @Techno knows a lot about solar panels and can tell you where he gets his from.

    We have a semi-flexible one which was very easy to fit (it took longer to clean off all the excess adhesive!), it's only a 60w one and we have 2 x 95amp batteries and it is more than sufficient for our needs and we never use sites and very rarely have hook-up - that's on 6 week holidays abroad!
     
  8. Barry72

    Barry72 Funster

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    I'm guessing we will want as efficient a system as possible as most of our usage will be the North of Scotland and we will use the Hymer almost all year round except for when the weather is really bad, well I mean cold as we have already covered bad weather quite conclusively. We are planning a trip to Northern Italy but no idea when that will happen. My understanding is that winter usage in the North of Scotland would dictate a fair bit more than a 60w panel, thinking as I type we would obviously use much more lighting then compared to recent trips. Open to suggestions regarding solar panels but I was guessing we would be looking at a system of 200w or more, overkill in the summer I'm sure but required more often in this dull climate of ours.
     
  9. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    I have a 135 watt panel wired via a Schaudt LR1218 into an EBL99. It has been in place since 2012 and works very well. Between April and October the panel provides sufficient power to keep us off-grid provided we drive for a decent distance every few days. This means it is perfect for the type of travelling we do. Obviously, it works much better in southern France or Italy than it does in northern Britain, where the effective operational window is May to September. So far as keeping topped up in winter in Britain, forget solar, particularly in northern Scotland. That is when your energy demands are highest and the solar output is minimal. In winter, we hook up if we are stopping for more than a couple of days (and that is with 2 x 90 Ah batteries).

    In your original post you referred to a 120Ah battery not lasting one day. Unless you were using a lot of power for something, that sounds as though either the battery was not fully charged to start with, or that something is wrong. Was your 80Ah battery the original Exide Gel model and is the new 120 Ah one also gel? If it is a lead-acid, did you change the battery selector switch on the EBL accordingly? A bit more info regarding what power drain you were actually using might shed some light on this apparent problem.
     
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  10. Barry72

    Barry72 Funster

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    Thanks for the reply, it was the original 80Ah gel battery that died at 4am, we have replaced that with a new 120Ah gel battery which we have only tested once so far. That was from 2pm until the following midday and it held up easily including almost constant tv use due to a combination of midges and insomnia. Our extra consumption in the autumn/winter months will only really be lighting as the fridge and heating will be powered by gas, even lighting will not be for that long as we only use the main lights when cooking/eating or reading. I doubt we will go away for any more than 3 days at a time in most cases in the winter and would probably involve some driving during that period so the battery life with any kind of top up will probably be enough in most cases.
    I might just try a 100-135w panel and see how we go, can always add a second panel easily enough I would guess if required.
     
  11. jockaneezer

    jockaneezer Funster

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    I bought my Schaudt LR1218 from ebay.de, was a bit cheaper than buying it over here (y)
     
  12. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    Now I understand the issue of early morning battery failure! In case you are not aware, gel batteries have many excellent properties, particularly the ability to withstand much deeper discharge than standard lead-acid, but they require much longer to charge. For example, the absorption charge phase (stage 2) of the EBL99 programme lasts 1 hour when set to lead-acid, but 6-10 hours when set to gel. To guarantee a full state of charge for a 120 Ah gel I would suggest mains supply for at least 48 hours if you have discharged the battery to any significant degree.
     

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  13. Barry72

    Barry72 Funster

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    I checked the settings and it is set for a gel battery, to be honest looking at the bolts on the seat I wouldn't be surprised if it was the original battery that I replaced from 2004. Thanks again for all the replies so far, I do like to learn how to do these jobs myself so anymore tips or tricks gratefully received. Now to look into rear view camera's, trackers and more for my new toy:)
     
  14. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    wouldn't be surprised either ..

    I replace mine least year.. as far as I could determine, they were original Hymer fitted... couldn't believe they were 14 years old and still functioning..

    needless to say my view on gels has changed, and I replaced like for like.. with Exide G80 Marine and Multifit Gel Leisure Battery 80Ah from Tanya batteries at £149.90 each.. product code ES900

    when I tested them, one was goosed.. the other still holds a charge..
     
  15. Dave and Ginny

    Dave and Ginny Funster

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    I have no solar on our Hymer, considered fitting it once after the only time it went low enough to set the alarm off. That was whilst using Aires in Normandy with no hook up and not a great deal of driving to give the battery a top up. In the end I didn't fit it as considered this a 'one off' in the manner that we use the van and one night on a site with EHU sorted it. We also have 'wild camped' in Scotland and had no issues with our single 120ah battery that's now over 5 years old.

    However, I'm expecting the battery to give out sometime soon due to it's age. Interesting stats on the difference of the re-cycle charge rates. I was going for a gel battery next time...but the deep discharge advantage would seem to quite considerably disadvantaged by the longer charge rate. Very interesting!
     
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