Solar Working or Not?

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Biggles, May 4, 2014.

  1. Biggles

    Biggles Funster

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    I think the solar panel on My Autotrail Commanche isn't working and charging the leisure batteries. I have 2 very low power consumption security devices running boat adding up to about 1.5a/h. The solar panel is 85w and in 15 days the batteries were down to 3.6v. I would very much expect the solar to keep up with that demand given that In Belgium its been pretty bright.

    The panel is working at the wires, but from there on the wires go into the ??? power box where without opening it up I lose track of them.

    The previous owner said it was working well but since they have had stuff removed and transferred I am wondering if in the process it has bee taken out of circuit.
    I know about solar installations using an MPPT as I have done one on my boat with 500w of panels.

    So my question is how does the power from the panel get to the batteries via the ????? power box. Does that have a some sort of solar controller in it

    Cheers
     
  2. robnchris

    robnchris Funster

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    Which Sargent unit do you have installed, we had a solar panel fitted to our 2013 Apache and the guy fitting it said the internal regulator was a load of cheap Chinese crap, it might be worth having a decent regulator fitted.
     
  3. Techno

    Techno Funster Life Member

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    You either need a new voltmeter or new batteries
    3.6 volts = knackered
     
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  4. Techno

    Techno Funster Life Member

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  5. tonyidle

    tonyidle Funster

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    This needs to be stressed: at 3.6v there isn't enough in the batteries to power the solar controller and as stated they cannot recover. You do need to replace the batteries before you do much else.
     
  6. steevie

    steevie Funster

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    If you are taking power constantly and there is nothing replacing it, then the batteries could now be duff, but a long slow charge and then a proper battery test might be in order before paying for new ones. I am not a fan of the fancy controllers such as yours. My mates and I just use a 30amp controller from eBay, around £20 and mine has done fine for the past three years, and we also then fit a volt meter costing about £3 from eBay to let you know how the batteries are doing.
     
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  7. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    I agree 100% you pays good money for the right cable down to your control box then what?:RollEyes: Damp string may be better:Doh:
    direct to batteries in your own cable via a simple control box, easy to check easy to fix
    Keep it simple
    G
     
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  8. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    1.5 amp 24hrs a day =36 amp/hrs
    the sun is still very low in the sky so only charging 10 hours a day at best (if its not overcast)around 2-3 amps max
    10 x 2.5(average) =25 amp/hr a day so you have a shortfall of 11 amp/hrs a day x 15 days =165amp/hrs

    depends on the size of your battery and if any charge is going in whilst running the engine but generally speaking I'd say it was working, just not well enough for the current you are drawing from the battery.
    As the battery is receiving a constant charge it may prevent calcification, remove the battery and fully charge it, you need a bigger battery bank to cover overcast days and to utilise the extra charge on sunny days.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2014
  9. Jaws

    Jaws Funster Life Member

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    Wildman, ya beat me to it !!

    1.5 amps is NOT low power..
    Hell, I run two full independent alarm systems and a separate tracker on my van and the whole lot only draws 155mA !
     
  10. Biggles

    Biggles Funster

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    The 3.6v was shown on the MH display panel not my Avo. I have 250a/h batteries both brand new.

    I have re-looked at my device spec. 1 is 55mA on standby the other I have no data for to hand but its only charging a 3.7v 500mA battery.

    I think I like the idea of a separate controller. I suppose as its such a small pannel a MPPT is a bit of an overkill.
     
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