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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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