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EMPIRE231

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The difference between the 2 methods is: disconnecting the panel and reading the current directly will tell you Isc, short circuit current, of each panel independently - which you can compare to the 9.6A shown on the label. This tells you how much power the panel is making, regardless of any of the other panels or the cabling.

Testing the current while in circuit will not tell you how the other panels or cabling is affecting the unit under test. You will get readings which will total up to what you see at the solar controller, assuming the solar controller is reading correctly. Generally speaking, diagnosing faults in a parallel system is best done by isolating the units from each other so it's performance can be evaluated independently. This also gives you a chance to open the connectors and see if there is any corrosion in them. Sometimes removing and installing connectors is enough to knock off some of the surface corrosion and improve performance.

The problem may be in 1 or up to all 4 panels, or somewhere in the cabling. Testing them independently will tell you exactly how each one is performing. If they are all performing well, then swapping the cables between panels will help you isolate which cable(s) is/are bad. The problem may be cumulative - lowered output from all 4 units and excessive cable losses.

It's VERY important that you don't allow any shading of the panels while testing. Even a 3/8" wide shadow will nearly wipe out all output from one panel.

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2 hours ago, socaldmax said:

The difference between the 2 methods is: disconnecting the panel and reading the current directly will tell you Isc, short circuit current, of each panel independently - which you can compare to the 9.6A shown on the label. This tells you how much power the panel is making, regardless of any of the other panels or the cabling.

Testing the current while in circuit will not tell you how the other panels or cabling is affecting the unit under test. You will get readings which will total up to what you see at the solar controller, assuming the solar controller is reading correctly. Generally speaking, diagnosing faults in a parallel system is best done by isolating the units from each other so it's performance can be evaluated independently. This also gives you a chance to open the connectors and see if there is any corrosion in them. Sometimes removing and installing connectors is enough to knock off some of the surface corrosion and improve performance.

The problem may be in 1 or up to all 4 panels, or somewhere in the cabling. Testing them independently will tell you exactly how each one is performing. If they are all performing well, then swapping the cables between panels will help you isolate which cable(s) is/are bad. The problem may be cumulative - lowered output from all 4 units and excessive cable losses.

It's VERY important that you don't allow any shading of the panels while testing. Even a 3/8" wide shadow will nearly wipe out all output from one panel.

Is there a way to test total amps coming into the charger?  Would that give me an idea if all panels are performing in their ballpark capacity?

 

BTW, panels, and the whole system is "said" to be about 2-3 years old.

Edited by EMPIRE231

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5 hours ago, EMPIRE231 said:

Is there a way to test total amps coming into the charger?  Would that give me an idea if all panels are performing in their ballpark capacity?

 

BTW, panels, and the whole system is "said" to be about 2-3 years old.

Sure,  you can use a DC Clamp meter on one of the wires coming in. It should be accurate and it will show you how accurate the information is on the display of the solar controller. 

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thanks for all the feedback so far.  I will test the panels on the next sunny day we have here...

this last week at glamis, I did notice the amps get up to 14-15 and total watts was a little over 200. (meter for the charger)

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Okay so another question relating to this topic.  I still don't think it is running at full capacity, per the last post I did see about 14-15 amps max at some points during a glamis trip.

 

So my new question..... Is there some sort of jumper cable or wire I can install that go from my trailer batteries (trailer has solar) to my motorhome batteries? (motorhome does not have solar) .....My idea being that the trailer batteries are pretty much always topped off because of low power use, I might as well get some of that juice over to my motorhome batteries, and keep the inverter on in the motorhome all day.

what do you solar / electrical guys think?  cables would probably need to be about 8-10' long.

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I would think you could add a jumper from the solar line going to trailer and "plug it in" to the coach though I would disconnect the trailer to get full power and true readings

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When I was researching RV solar power I found this video to be informative on the hardware aspect of doing this.

 

 

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On 1/20/2020 at 3:42 PM, EMPIRE231 said:

Okay so another question relating to this topic.  I still don't think it is running at full capacity, per the last post I did see about 14-15 amps max at some points during a glamis trip.

 

So my new question..... Is there some sort of jumper cable or wire I can install that go from my trailer batteries (trailer has solar) to my motorhome batteries? (motorhome does not have solar) .....My idea being that the trailer batteries are pretty much always topped off because of low power use, I might as well get some of that juice over to my motorhome batteries, and keep the inverter on in the motorhome all day.

what do you solar / electrical guys think?  cables would probably need to be about 8-10' long.

Where you at on this?  Did you ever make heads or tails of your setup?

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Trailer to Motorhome connection.

There are so many ways to do this either using a old school 12v solenoid or a smart battery isolator, the smart ISO is the best way to do this imo, you can use marine resettable fuses or one time, it depends on how much you want to spend. I used 12vDC breakers using positive & negative cables on a DIN rail between my Batteries, Solar Controller and Solar panels which are used instead of the standard Battery Switch that way everything can be isolated from each other when switched off.

Below are some examples of parts you can source along with a tow vehicle connector that would work.

https://www.dfna.info/product/true-smart-battery-isolator/?gclid=CjwKCAjwnIr1BRAWEiwA6GpwNbUUYvNSuxSFufY2f_qbbXW5m-7hBjJvMBP2H_uJMRCSVwMKsF8okxoCj3MQAvD_BwE

Or, and  this as your connection between the trailer and the MOHO https://www.scheels.com/p/connect-ease-12v-single-10-gauge-connection-kit/85499600540.html?src=google_shipping_test&gclid=CjwKCAjwnIr1BRAWEiwA6GpwNXjVEESg0VFhcYwkUBlffTuBdEXM78qwA6IyVUKxyeC2mu0voHzKuhoC_vgQAvD_BwE

battery-charger-wiring-diagram-battery-management-system-relay-png-favpng-Cw3z5z0PXVsH2VxP7aUn7B1ma.jpg

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5 hours ago, r3meyer said:

Where you at on this?  Did you ever make heads or tails of your setup?

I never really got any further..... the system is working, but definitely not producing max amps / watts.

So when the sun is shinning on top of the trailer, I only see about 14-15 max amps and a little over 200 watts.  The panels all look great and were cleaned... I don't have a reason to think they aren't working correctly....

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On 11/26/2019 at 7:39 AM, r3meyer said:

@EMPIRE231

What I would do from this point is at high noon use a DC amp meter and check what you are getting from each panel.  Most meters will only do AC amp so you will need to see if yours will read this.  If you dont have one they are very valuable tools to have.  You don't need to disconnect anything.  You can simply clamp it over the top of each panels + lead as it comes out of the panel.  They should all be almost exactly the same with zero shading.  Label and write down each panel's amp output.  Then go down to where it enters into the controller and clamp your meter over that + lead and see what you have.  You should have (very close to it) the total of all 4 panels amp output.

Next clamp the meter over the output side of the solar controller.  Record this number.  This will help us figure out what you have going on.

I only have a harbor freight multi meter.... I am assuming that wont be able to test it?

If I'm understanding you correctly, you can clamp over the insulated line and it will give the reading?

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1 hour ago, EMPIRE231 said:

I only have a harbor freight multi meter.... I am assuming that wont be able to test it?

If I'm understanding you correctly, you can clamp over the insulated line and it will give the reading?

Harbor Freight sells these and this is all you would need.

image_23330.thumb.jpg.a3172b1b901f207c4b9331796837f7ff.jpg

 

Just clamp that sucker around the wire and it will tell you how many amps your pulling right then.

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1 hour ago, MWB said:

Harbor Freight sells these and this is all you would need.

image_23330.thumb.jpg.a3172b1b901f207c4b9331796837f7ff.jpg

 

Just clamp that sucker around the wire and it will tell you how many amps your pulling right then.

That one will only read AC.  He will need DC.  They go up in price for that.

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7 hours ago, MWB said:

Harbor Freight sells these and this is all you would need.

image_23330.thumb.jpg.a3172b1b901f207c4b9331796837f7ff.jpg

 

Just clamp that sucker around the wire and it will tell you how many amps your pulling right then.

That's an AC clamp meter. It cannot read DC amps.

Nice try though.

What he needs is an AC/DC clampmeter. Amazon sells better, less expensive ones than HF.

Like this one.   https://www.amazon.com/Multimeter-Auto-Ranging-Continuity-Electrical-Capacitance/dp/B01N014USE/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=1DQ6GBD37BSF&dchild=1&keywords=ac%2Fdc+clamp+meter&qid=1587791226&sprefix=ac%2Fdc+clamp%2Caps%2C208&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyTURIWVo3U0hNNU0mZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTA3MDI1NjQxSUxXUTBJMEk1TlkmZW5jcnlwdGVkQWRJZD1BMDQ2NjI5NjNIVk5GQTVRRUlITzQmd2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl

 

Auto ranging AC/DC current, AC/DC voltage, non contact voltage, capacitance, HZ, etc.  It's only $38, HF's cheapest AC/DC clamp meter is $90.

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15 hours ago, Dennis58 said:

When I was researching RV solar power I found this video to be informative on the hardware aspect of doing this.

 

 

No offense, but about half of the stuff that guy says is wrong, or he chose the wrong components. Those Renogy solar panels are too low powered and too low voltage. The Victron controller is good, but why feed only 17v into a controller that can take 150v? Too much wasted space on the roof, he could have easily gotten twice as much solar power out of the same area with better panels. He used ultra expensive $950 batteries for a total of $4,000 of batteries when he could have used batteries with 38% more power each for $350 ea.  $1400 worth of batteries with 552 AH instead of  400 AH for $4,000.

He also hooked up the battery bank wrong - totally rookie mistake. Why did he choose fuses instead of circuit breakers? Who knows?  With a CB, just flip it and you have now disconnected power, much better than trying to unscrew a massive fuse.

There may be more  info I don't agree with, but I stopped halfway through, I couldn't handle any more.  To be fair, there's nothing that really jumps out in this video and screams "he's clueless" but the more you know, the more you realize he made a lot of bad, expensive choices at his customer's expense.

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5 hours ago, socaldmax said:

No offense, but about half of the stuff that guy says is wrong, or he chose the wrong components. 

Steve non taken, as I stated above I found this video to be informative on the hardware aspect of doing RV solar. I know nothing about what brands to use with what equipment or what works best with what.

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2 hours ago, Dennis58 said:

Steve non taken, as I stated above I found this video to be informative on the hardware aspect of doing RV solar. I know nothing about what brands to use with what equipment or what works best with what.

Dennis58 youtube DIY Solar Power with Will Prowse.  He has covered everything you can cover for people wanting to learn how to build a system from scratch on the cheap.  Very informative.

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57 minutes ago, r3meyer said:

Dennis58 youtube DIY Solar Power with Will Prowse.  He has covered everything you can cover for people wanting to learn how to build a system from scratch on the cheap.  Very informative.

I also like Will Prowse's videos. Everything he says is technically correct, but as you can see, he's pretty young, so he suffers from what I call "Lack of Vocabulary" which is common among people his age. One of them was trying to describe a "food eating place" to me, I finally asked, "Do you mean a restaurant?" We see it here on the board when guys say, "I haven't scaled my trailer yet." I think they mean "weighed it" since we use scales to weigh things.       :lol:

Anyways, you'll see that Will "LOVE LOVE LOVES" everything that he reviews. He doesn't seem to have any other adjectives in his vocabulary. Then two or three weeks later he's reviewing something else and he "LOVE LOVE LOVES" that too, except this battery is 4x better than the other one from two or three weeks ago. One example is a while back he was in love with building his own battery bank from 18650 cells. That's like rolling your own cigs by buying rolling papers one at a time off Ebay. Then he LOVED Battle Born batteries, then Valence batteries, etc, etc.

Just look at the date of his video to make sure you're getting current info and not last year's love object.    ;)

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Posted (edited)

In complete overkill anyone ever use these batteries? https://lifelinebatteries.com/products/marine-batteries/gpl-4ct/   Getting them used with the warranty still remaining ( Never mind if I had read the beginning of this post it would have answered all my questions. I ended buying 4 of these in a deal of the century  for a total of 50.00 for all four!) Note these are not light weight batteries. Really gonna add weight to the tongue of trailer.

 

GPL-4CT_R_HR.jpg 

Edited by Big Daddy Dunes

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On 4/24/2020 at 10:12 PM, socaldmax said:

That's an AC clamp meter. It cannot read DC amps.

Nice try though.

What he needs is an AC/DC clampmeter. Amazon sells better, less expensive ones than HF.

Like this one.   https://www.amazon.com/Multimeter-Auto-Ranging-Continuity-Electrical-Capacitance/dp/B01N014USE/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=1DQ6GBD37BSF&dchild=1&keywords=ac%2Fdc+clamp+meter&qid=1587791226&sprefix=ac%2Fdc+clamp%2Caps%2C208&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyTURIWVo3U0hNNU0mZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTA3MDI1NjQxSUxXUTBJMEk1TlkmZW5jcnlwdGVkQWRJZD1BMDQ2NjI5NjNIVk5GQTVRRUlITzQmd2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl

 

Auto ranging AC/DC current, AC/DC voltage, non contact voltage, capacitance, HZ, etc.  It's only $38, HF's cheapest AC/DC clamp meter is $90.

Thanks.... I'll order this thing and check it out.

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On 4/25/2020 at 12:39 AM, socaldmax said:

He used ultra expensive $950 batteries for a total of $4,000 of batteries when he could have used batteries with 38% more power each for $350 ea.  $1400 worth of batteries with 552 AH instead of  400 AH for $4,000.

Steve what batteries are you referring to for $350 EA?

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45 minutes ago, Dennis58 said:

Steve what batteries are you referring to for $350 EA?

They are Valence batteries. They're bright green, they sell them on Ebay.   https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=u27-12xp&_sop=12

I just checked, all of the lower priced ones are gone for now, the only ones advertised now are $500 and $700. I'll text you the phone number of the ebay seller I bought from, he can tell you if/when he's going to get more.

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