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EMPIRE231

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So I just got a new to me stacker trailer...which has a pretty impressive solar system (that I don't know much about) I was hoping some resident solar pros can answer some questions.

The trailer has 4 large panels, inverter, solar charge controller and 4 lifeline AGM batteries.  

 

1. How do I determine if the system is running efficiently? what numbers on the displays should I be monitoring?

2. Does the system continue to  charge the batteries,   even if the inverter is off?

3 How do I find out how much use I can draw at night before harming the batteries?  what info should I be looking at on the displays?  

 

This is what I have to look at

A327CF71-C7DC-4DD3-B783-03EA55232A26.jpeg.237bdb4ad55d5dd44a3ac8c16363eff6.thumb.jpeg.431bdc9486d03a8235100b12802ef3db.jpeg

 

 

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wow nice system for your stacker.  I have those batts and they are killer.   ok yes you will be charging while the inverter is off.  read your tristar that is what controls your solar.  batts will stop charging when reaching full charge.   you can use quite a bit of power at night.  use it and see.  when your voltage on the white panel dips below 12volts your done. turn off inverter and go to bed. 

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Hit up the resident solar expert @socaldmax . He helped me put together a system for my RV and my enclosed and they both work awesome.

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@r3meyer is also an expert and helped me with my moho

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On 9/25/2019 at 1:32 PM, EMPIRE231 said:

So I just got a new to me stacker trailer...which has a pretty impressive solar system (that I don't know much about) I was hoping some resident solar pros can answer some questions.

The trailer has 4 large panels, inverter, solar charge controller and 4 lifeline AGM batteries.  

 

1. How do I determine if the system is running efficiently? what numbers on the displays should I be monitoring?

2. Does the system continue to  charge the batteries,   even if the inverter is off?

3 How do I find out how much use I can draw at night before harming the batteries?  what info should I be looking at on the displays?  

 

This is what I have to look at

A327CF71-C7DC-4DD3-B783-03EA55232A26.jpeg.237bdb4ad55d5dd44a3ac8c16363eff6.thumb.jpeg.431bdc9486d03a8235100b12802ef3db.jpeg

 

 

Thats a nice setup.  I had that TriStar monitor in my old 5th wheel.  There is a downloadable PDF that will show you how to navigate it so you can monitor what your harvesting and using.    The most important thing is to look up the data sheet for the batteries you have.  It will tell you all you need to know as far as care goes.  Once you have that you can setup things to charge correctly.  Do not assume it was done.

 That TriStar is a bitch to program.  You need a whole lot-o conversion cables to get it to plug into a laptop to make any changes.  Should you decide you want to make changes let me know and I would be happy to mail it to you.  I can also fwd the program from morning star.

That Magnum is fully programable as well which is nice if you decide to upgrade to Lifepo4 down the road.

You dont want to discharge below 50% with the AGM's.  Once they hit 80% full its a slow grind to get them the rest of the 20%.  Post up pics of the rest of the components when you get a chance so I can see what all you have.

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16 hours ago, r3meyer said:

Thats a nice setup.  I had that TriStar monitor in my old 5th wheel.  There is a downloadable PDF that will show you how to navigate it so you can monitor what your harvesting and using.    The most important thing is to look up the data sheet for the batteries you have.  It will tell you all you need to know as far as care goes.  Once you have that you can setup things to charge correctly.  Do not assume it was done.

 That TriStar is a bitch to program.  You need a whole lot-o conversion cables to get it to plug into a laptop to make any changes.  Should you decide you want to make changes let me know and I would be happy to mail it to you.  I can also fwd the program from morning star.

That Magnum is fully programable as well which is nice if you decide to upgrade to Lifepo4 down the road.

You dont want to discharge below 50% with the AGM's.  Once they hit 80% full its a slow grind to get them the rest of the 20%.  Post up pics of the rest of the components when you get a chance so I can see what all you have.

Thank you for the feedback... I will get some pics of it.

the batteries are lifeline GFL-4CT (4 of them) and what I found online is the following

Rated Capacity @ 20 Hr Rate

220Ah

 

MINUTES OF DISCHARGE
25 Amp Load

492 Minutes

15 Amp Load

856 Minutes

8 Amp Load

1692 Minutes

 

So does that mean 15 amp load @ 856 minutes per battery? or per pair?

 

Panels I was told were 3 170 watt panels, but when I peaked on the roof I saw 4 panels.

So are the charge settings for the solar system controlled through the tristar remote? or the magnum remote?  I haven't wanted to mess with the buttons yet, so I don't screw anything up.

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Battery setup and inverter 

EEA2B239-8E4F-4AF7-8189-FC240EE8695B.thumb.jpeg.c7019b6a5063fc768d5595841d2045b5.jpeg838E9D63-CBA4-49F1-95DE-E371722A64C6.thumb.jpeg.77e4b5434697d09cbdf4a13e2cb13181.jpeg

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7 hours ago, EMPIRE231 said:

Thank you for the feedback... I will get some pics of it.

the batteries are lifeline GFL-4CT (4 of them) and what I found online is the following

Rated Capacity @ 20 Hr Rate

220Ah

 

MINUTES OF DISCHARGE
25 Amp Load

492 Minutes

15 Amp Load

856 Minutes

8 Amp Load

1692 Minutes

 

So does that mean 15 amp load @ 856 minutes per battery? or per pair?

 

Panels I was told were 3 170 watt panels, but when I peaked on the roof I saw 4 panels.

So are the charge settings for the solar system controlled through the tristar remote? or the magnum remote?  I haven't wanted to mess with the buttons yet, so I don't screw anything up.

The tristar is just remote that controls whatever solar charger you have.  It controls the solar charging.  The magnum controls the inverter/charger that will use and charge the battery when you have the gen running.

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You have (4) 6 volt batteries.  They have 2 tied together to make 12v (6v 220 + 6V 220 = 12v 220ah).  That is then paralleled with the other 2 (12v 220 +12v 220 = 12v 440).  So you have 440 total amp hours.  But because you can only discharge down to 50% you only have a usable 220ah.

Next question is what all are you running?  You need a true amp meter if you ever want to see what state the batteries are in.  It will measure the power going in and out and give you a "fuel tank" view if you will.

 

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On 9/27/2019 at 5:08 PM, r3meyer said:

You have (4) 6 volt batteries.  They have 2 tied together to make 12v (6v 220 + 6V 220 = 12v 220ah).  That is then paralleled with the other 2 (12v 220 +12v 220 = 12v 440).  So you have 440 total amp hours.  But because you can only discharge down to 50% you only have a usable 220ah.

Next question is what all are you running?  You need a true amp meter if you ever want to see what state the batteries are in.  It will measure the power going in and out and give you a "fuel tank" view if you will.

 

So can I change the settings through that TriStar remote meter? or is that just for information?

 

as far as what I will be running, it does have an air compressor that will most likely just be left on... but I'm assuming that will hold pressure all throughout the day, so it will most likely be using juice while the sun is out and making power.  Other than that, some 110 lights inside the trailer (which are all getting converted to LED), and the exterior flood lights I usually like to leave on after sun set for 2-4hrs to light up our camp (these will be getting converted to LED as well)

There are also some 12v lights inside (LED) and fuel station / water transfer pump that will be used here and there.

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More questions.....

1. Since there is also an inverter, which can charge the batteries if plugged into shore power (or to my motorhome) .... does the inverter system and solar charge system communicate in any way to avoid both of them trying to charge the batteries at the same time? or is this a non-issue?

2.  This seems like way more juice than I need, for the trailer alone.  Can I use this juice to power my motorhome for most of the day to avoid running the genny?  I am thinking turn on the inverter in the trailer, run an extension cord from the motorhomes 50amp shore plug, and plug that into a regular 110v outlet in the trailer.... This in turn would give me power in the motorhome for things like running the microwave or coffee maker / lights etc, without really having to run the genny in the moho until night time.  Thoughts?

 

@r3meyer

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4 hours ago, EMPIRE231 said:

More questions.....

1. Since there is also an inverter, which can charge the batteries if plugged into shore power (or to my motorhome) .... does the inverter system and solar charge system communicate in any way to avoid both of them trying to charge the batteries at the same time? or is this a non-issue?

2.  This seems like way more juice than I need, for the trailer alone.  Can I use this juice to power my motorhome for most of the day to avoid running the genny?  I am thinking turn on the inverter in the trailer, run an extension cord from the motorhomes 50amp shore plug, and plug that into a regular 110v outlet in the trailer.... This in turn would give me power in the motorhome for things like running the microwave or coffee maker / lights etc, without really having to run the genny in the moho until night time.  Thoughts?

 

@r3meyer

1.  They will work together.  If your running the gen I would want it charging the batteries at the same time.  It will just recover faster.  Getting those batteries from 80% to 100% takes some time.  You want to make sure they get topped off daily to keep them healthy.

2.  Does your motorhome not have an inverter already?  You could plug into the trailer.  You will just need to treat it like you would when plugging into a standard 15amp home outlet.  Microwaves pull some serious amperage.  Not a big deal with the bats are topped off, more of an issue when they are nearing dead though.

 

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The tristar is just a monitor.  To change the charge settings you have to plug into the charge controller directly with a serial connection and use a laptop to change it.

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17 hours ago, r3meyer said:

1.  They will work together.  If your running the gen I would want it charging the batteries at the same time.  It will just recover faster.  Getting those batteries from 80% to 100% takes some time.  You want to make sure they get topped off daily to keep them healthy.

2.  Does your motorhome not have an inverter already?  You could plug into the trailer.  You will just need to treat it like you would when plugging into a standard 15amp home outlet.  Microwaves pull some serious amperage.  Not a big deal with the bats are topped off, more of an issue when they are nearing dead though.

 

Thank you for the input...

yes motorhome does have an inverter as well.  I am just thinking the solar generating from the trailer all day will go to nothing, other than charging up the trailer batteries ... which I assume happens pretty fast with the 4 panels.  So my thought process is I might as well utilize that power by using it through the motorhome... which always has something going on (wife and 3 girls)...because all day long, I wouldn't really be running any trailer lights.  Only thing is the air comp. which will prob cycle once or twice the whole day.... as long as the trailer batteries are topped off by sunset, it should have the juice to run trailer lights and what not at night.  At that point, the motorhome genny will be on, so the moho will no longer be drawing power from the trailer.

I did some reading on the charge controller, and it looks like it has about 7 preset charging algorithms, by adjusting the dip switches... or you can plug in and do a custom tune.

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1 hour ago, EMPIRE231 said:

Thank you for the input...

yes motorhome does have an inverter as well.  I am just thinking the solar generating from the trailer all day will go to nothing, other than charging up the trailer batteries ... which I assume happens pretty fast with the 4 panels.  So my thought process is I might as well utilize that power by using it through the motorhome... which always has something going on (wife and 3 girls)...because all day long, I wouldn't really be running any trailer lights.  Only thing is the air comp. which will prob cycle once or twice the whole day.... as long as the trailer batteries are topped off by sunset, it should have the juice to run trailer lights and what not at night.  At that point, the motorhome genny will be on, so the moho will no longer be drawing power from the trailer.

I did some reading on the charge controller, and it looks like it has about 7 preset charging algorithms, by adjusting the dip switches... or you can plug in and do a custom tune.

You are correct.  I keep forgetting I needed the laptop for lifepo4 settings.  They have preset toggles.

 

when you plug in your motor home it will start running the converter in the motor home to charge the house batteries.  So your taking solar, charging a battery, inverting it 120 then converting it back to 12v at the coach...  kinda a waste.

 

I would probably use an isolator and run a 12 cable between the coach and trailer.  Once the trailer is topped off it will start charging the motorhome.  Kinda the same idea as the combiner switch.

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22 minutes ago, r3meyer said:

 

 

I would probably use an isolator and run a 12 cable between the coach and trailer.  Once the trailer is topped off it will start charging the motorhome.  Kinda the same idea as the combiner switch.

Interesting.... I will look into that.

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On 10/4/2019 at 12:37 PM, r3meyer said:

You are correct.  I keep forgetting I needed the laptop for lifepo4 settings.  They have preset toggles.

 

when you plug in your motor home it will start running the converter in the motor home to charge the house batteries.  So your taking solar, charging a battery, inverting it 120 then converting it back to 12v at the coach...  kinda a waste.

 

I would probably use an isolator and run a 12 cable between the coach and trailer.  Once the trailer is topped off it will start charging the motorhome.  Kinda the same idea as the combiner switch.

okay so did some google searching and couldn't figure it out... what exactly is an isolator and 12 cable?

my initial idea was to not run the inverter inside the moho.  Just plug the moho into an outlet in the trailer (with the inverter turned on in the trailer) which would be very similar to having my motorhome plugged into a basic outlet at home (15amp shore power).  I am just thinking of a way to tap into this solar power system on the trailer, since I doubt I'll be using anywhere near the juice it can provide from the trailer alone.

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1 hour ago, EMPIRE231 said:

okay so did some google searching and couldn't figure it out... what exactly is an isolator and 12 cable?

my initial idea was to not run the inverter inside the moho.  Just plug the moho into an outlet in the trailer (with the inverter turned on in the trailer) which would be very similar to having my motorhome plugged into a basic outlet at home (15amp shore power).  I am just thinking of a way to tap into this solar power system on the trailer, since I doubt I'll be using anywhere near the juice it can provide from the trailer alone.

You could do that. Put a 30 A RV socket on your trailer and plug the moho into it. 

Another option would be to install thick power cables between your moho batteries and your trailer batteries with big Anderson plugs between the 2. The solar charges the trailer and moho batteries and the moho inverter can use that power to make 120v.

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2 hours ago, EMPIRE231 said:

okay so did some google searching and couldn't figure it out... what exactly is an isolator and 12 cable?

my initial idea was to not run the inverter inside the moho.  Just plug the moho into an outlet in the trailer (with the inverter turned on in the trailer) which would be very similar to having my motorhome plugged into a basic outlet at home (15amp shore power).  I am just thinking of a way to tap into this solar power system on the trailer, since I doubt I'll be using anywhere near the juice it can provide from the trailer alone.

Then dont over think it.  Just plug it in.  You just need to make sure you dont pull over the rated amps for the inverter.

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Thanks for the feedback guys

I'll see how it all works in the real world in a  few weeks 

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On 9/27/2019 at 5:08 PM, r3meyer said:

You have (4) 6 volt batteries.  They have 2 tied together to make 12v (6v 220 + 6V 220 = 12v 220ah).  That is then paralleled with the other 2 (12v 220 +12v 220 = 12v 440).  So you have 440 total amp hours.  But because you can only discharge down to 50% you only have a usable 220ah.

Next question is what all are you running?  You need a true amp meter if you ever want to see what state the batteries are in.  It will measure the power going in and out and give you a "fuel tank" view if you will.

 

so this is the solar charge controller that I have 

https://www.morningstarcorp.com/products/tristar/ 

 

It has an option to add a battery sense wire, which is supposed to help with charging... but would that also help have more of a "fuel gauge"?  Or do you recommend a different amp meter?

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4 hours ago, EMPIRE231 said:

so this is the solar charge controller that I have 

https://www.morningstarcorp.com/products/tristar/ 

 

It has an option to add a battery sense wire, which is supposed to help with charging... but would that also help have more of a "fuel gauge"?  Or do you recommend a different amp meter?

Yes.  The main cables will have voltage loss on them.  You can run separate wires (very small gauge) to the sense hookup and it will get an exact reading of what the battery is doing.  It helps more with charging than anything else.  

 

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12 minutes ago, r3meyer said:

Yes.  The main cables will have voltage loss on them.  You can run separate wires (very small gauge) to the sense hookup and it will get an exact reading of what the battery is doing.  It helps more with charging than anything else.  

 

Do I just run those wires to the positive and negative terminals of one battery? Or do do a positive of one and negative of another?

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3 hours ago, EMPIRE231 said:

Do I just run those wires to the positive and negative terminals of one battery? Or do do a positive of one and negative of another?

You should have your large battery cables connected with the pos connected to one pair and the neg connected to the other pair. The small sense wires could be connected to the same terminals, or the other pair. I don't see any difference as long as you have very low resistance in the cables and connections. 

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Okay so I installed the battery temp sensor and the battery sense wires to my charger. Hoping this makes it closer to perfect for solar charging. 

When I pulled the cover off, I noticed the thick wires are stepped down to a smaller gauge wire with inline fuses. Is this standard? Does it affect watts / voltage at all, or is it too short of a run to cause a problem?

94B9646E-73E0-47A5-B39C-50054289A4A8.thumb.jpeg.e957cf847a94998756de4c6decf367e1.jpeg

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