Working through a number of solar/battery problems...

Discussion in 'Solar Power' started by ChrisMatheson, Nov 2, 2014.

  1. ChrisMatheson

    ChrisMatheson Read Only Funster

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    Hi,

    Seem to have a number of problems with my solar/battery set-up.

    I've just got my first camper van, and I'm enjoying living in it very much. It's been a bit of a learning curve, and I'm still finding out what everything does...

    I've got a solar set-up that is a little Heath Robinson. There are 4 x 85w panels on the roof connected to a Steco PR2020 control panel, charging 4 x 110ah leisure batteries that have seen better days.

    The control panel has come up with a fault code EO7, which seems to be a low voltage warning. Which is strange, as the panel was showing around 75% charged just before (Now showing 10% & 12v). I've had a look at the manual on-line http://www.marlec.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Steca-PR10-30-Manual.pdf and did a quick diagnostic, as per the manual and it's showing a 111 fault on the unit. According to the manual, it needs to go back to the manufacturer.

    Firstly, does anyone know if there is anything I can do, other than send it back to the manufacturer?

    Secondly, on the Heath Robinson side of things. The 12v appliances (fridge, lighting & a couple of 12v cigarette lighter sockets ) are connected directly to the batteries, along with the 300w inverter (used to power a small TV, computer & occasionally a small guitar amp). Am I right in thinking that these should be connected through the load terminals?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated,

    Chris
     
  2. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    I am thinking of putting a better solar controller in our van as at the moment it only has a pretty basic "shunt" type controller and if I want to add a second PV panel later I need to do something about the controller.

    All the MPPT controllers I could see have separate load terminals and the way our van is wired it would take more than a little effort to re-wire all the loads from the controller, so I asked the manufacturer of a controller I was considering (Victron 75/15) if I had to use the load terminals and they came straight back with the answer - no you don't. Not using the load terminals will prevent the controller shutting off the load if the batteries get dangerously drained (assuming the controller does this) and it won't give any information on the current being drawn but I already have a meter which shows me what is going into and out of the batteries so I don't need that and the low voltage shutdown feature I can do without as I haven't got it now and won't miss it.

    So, at least one manufacturers says you don't need to use the load terminals on their controllers but I wouldn't say this applies to all the rest although I don't see why it shouldn't.

    But just a thought, have you disconnected the controller recently? If you have make sure you connect it to the batteries first then the PV array. If you do it the other way round it might think you have a 24v system and flags up your 12v as low voltage.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2014
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  3. Wildbill

    Wildbill Funster

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    Hi and welcome to fun usually find with old vans there all like that but someone will be along soon to help you
    bill
     
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  4. ChrisMatheson

    ChrisMatheson Read Only Funster

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    Thanks DevenBeeKeeper, I was thinking about an MPPT controller, as I understand they are more efficient. Though I don't know enough yet to make a decision. I guess a separate meter for the batteries wouldn't go a miss...

    I'd guessed as much, Billthedrill. The couple I got it from were very fourth coming with the vans fault & eccentricities. So I kinda knew what I was getting into ;) I'm working through a few things before I head off for a little trip...
     
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