FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby G-Mac » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:06 pm

bdosborn wrote:Nope, you don't want to connect your charger to the load terminals. You got it right, don't connect anything to them. The controller is used to turn off loads once the battery gets below a voltage level but you might as well not use it if you have other loads connected to the battery that aren't going to run through the solar controller.

Bruce

John61CT wrote:You could use it for less-important loads you want to shut down as batt voltage drops.

But likely its the inverter should get that treatment 8-)

Also will be limited amps


Thanks guys. Glad to have confirmation before making a big mistake. At least I know my research was correct!
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby daveesl77 » Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:13 pm

Back from our last long camping trip of the season and realized some stuff I should have already known.
We have 150 watts of solar in 2 commercial panels (100 watt and a 50 watt). Plus I built a crappy looking, but usable 40 watt panel that we did not take with us.
I originally installed a cheap, $15 PWM controller and now after 2 weeks of off-grid national forest camping I understand the need for a good MPPT controller over the PWM.
Granted, we were in the trees, everywhere and very little direct sun shine, but the 2 main panels were still putting out a reasonable amount of voltage and current. Problem was the controller, I never bothered to look at the operational characteristics of PWM vs MPPT. With the PWM I might as well had just the 50 watt panel. It put out power, but very little. I found myself needing to run my new Predator 2k inverter generator a fair amount to keep the battery up to snuff. I was running the dorm fridge non-stop for 16 straight days on either battery-inverter or generator. It worked great, but the solar setup which should have done great couldn't handle it.

Only time I'd really tested my setup in the past was in my driveway, with direct Florida sun, so the PWM had no problem keeping the battery up to snuff. I've now bought an MPPT and changing out the controller. Next, I had built a 20' cable to link up to the panels. In the forests I realized I should have at least double that to be able to find a possible good spot for the sun. So, I'll pull out some of my old #8 big wire that I got from an RV salvage yard and make a nice, heavy duty cable.

I made a frame to mount the panels to the roof of the camper when traveling and it worked fine, but I'm going to do some modifications to it, to make it better. Conch Fritter is going to get a major rework this winter, so lots of fun stuff to come.

After 2 weeks of dry camping, I can say with confidence that our little camper is fantastic. Often nighttime temps in the mid to low 30s, I was needing to run one of the computer exhaust fans and open 2 windows to keep from getting too hot inside. The Haier dorm fridge, just worked fantastic. The new Predator generator is amazing. Many people would come by and ask if we had a generator running. I would ask if it was bothering them and they all said "no, just can't believe it is so quiet" And it was.

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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby John61CT » Sat Oct 14, 2017 6:19 pm

Great experience, it'll be a long time, or never, before you are finished making incremental improvements.

Get a Victron MPPT 75/15 for under $100, put the 100w panel on that, maybe a second one for the 50w or keep the cheapie.

Later on add panels, matching the existing ones, don't mix types per panel.

Ideal against partial shading is 1 SC per panel, but that's expensive unless you buy the panel to match the SC.

For that Victron that would be a high Voc one, at least 36V up to 65 would be ideal, around 250w but can go higher if you find a great deal.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby KennethW » Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:25 pm

With solar becoming lower cost. Will a 160w panel be enough to power to recharge the battery, if one is powering a old Norcold dc-254 12 volt only compress type refrigerator. I would be putting 1" more insulation around the fridge(1/2 between the back and the condenser) to reduce the run time. I have the Norcold from a old camper so I would only need the panel,charge controller and battery.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby John61CT » Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:42 pm

In northern Australian or US southwest for sure most days, if you stay in the sun and that's really 90% of your loads.

Otherwise, "it depends".

A little genny to supplement gives a lot of leeway.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby bdosborn » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:21 pm

KennethW wrote:With solar becoming lower cost. Will a 160w panel be enough to power to recharge the battery, if one is powering a old Norcold dc-254 12 volt only compress type refrigerator. I would be putting 1" more insulation around the fridge(1/2 between the back and the condenser) to reduce the run time. I have the Norcold from a old camper so I would only need the panel,charge controller and battery.


I can get by on an 80w solar panel to keep up with my compressor fridge but I have to make sure and track the sun with the panel to maximize output.

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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby KennethW » Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:42 am

What I have read is that the norcold uses 6 watt when running, but runs 1/3 of the time so net 2 amps. I think by adding the increased insulation and a small fan inside for a faster cool down I think I can reduce the run time. I will be running a separate 160w system for running 2 cpaps, tv and lights. By running separate systems. I will always have power for the cpaps. :thumbsup:
I do carry a small gen as backup(To run blender for margaritas). Thanks for the responses.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby Socal Tom » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:52 am

If you are thinking about solar, or want to keep track of your charging. This is a great tool. It’s only 19$ and can be hooked up easily . bayite DC 6.5-100V 0-100A LCD Display Digital Current Voltage Power Energy Meter Multimeter Ammeter Voltmeter with 100A Current Shunt https://www.amazon.com/dp/B013PKYILS/re ... gAbBBJT462
With a dpdt switch you can monitor solar output during the day, then switch to monitoring your load after the sun goes down. Tom


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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby Camp4Life » Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:46 pm

Socal Tom wrote:If you are thinking about solar, or want to keep track of your charging. This is a great tool. It’s only 19$ and can be hooked up easily . bayite DC 6.5-100V 0-100A LCD Display Digital Current Voltage Power Energy Meter Multimeter Ammeter Voltmeter with 100A Current Shunt https://www.amazon.com/dp/B013PKYILS/re ... gAbBBJT462
With a dpdt switch you can monitor solar output during the day, then switch to monitoring your load after the sun goes down. Tom


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I looked at those, but they also have these for twice the price : https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01M5CWR2P/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I1BWQHN94T9TV4&colid=2OEBSBWRV3044&psc=1
Twice the price, but it monitors everything, charge, discharge, state of charge etc. This is what I'll be putting in when spring comes I think.

:thumbsup:
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby Socal Tom » Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:10 pm

Camp4Life wrote:
Socal Tom wrote:If you are thinking about solar, or want to keep track of your charging. This is a great tool. It’s only 19$ and can be hooked up easily . bayite DC 6.5-100V 0-100A LCD Display Digital Current Voltage Power Energy Meter Multimeter Ammeter Voltmeter with 100A Current Shunt https://www.amazon.com/dp/B013PKYILS/re ... gAbBBJT462
With a dpdt switch you can monitor solar output during the day, then switch to monitoring your load after the sun goes down. Tom


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I looked at those, but they also have these for twice the price : https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01M5CWR2P/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I1BWQHN94T9TV4&colid=2OEBSBWRV3044&psc=1
Twice the price, but it monitors everything, charge, discharge, state of charge etc. This is what I'll be putting in when spring comes I think.

:thumbsup:


I would ask if it can monitor charge and discharge with the same meter. From the description I don't see that it does anything more than the meter I listed. FWIW I added a DPDT switch, when I'm charging I flip the switch and press reset and it monitors my charging ( Solar, Shore or vehicle), then when I'm unplugged I flip the switch and press reset and it tracks the discharging.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby Socal Tom » Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:39 pm

KennethW wrote:What I have read is that the norcold uses 6 watt when running, but runs 1/3 of the time so net 2 amps. I think by adding the increased insulation and a small fan inside for a faster cool down I think I can reduce the run time. I will be running a separate 160w system for running 2 cpaps, tv and lights. By running separate systems. I will always have power for the cpaps. :thumbsup:
I do carry a small gen as backup(To run blender for margaritas). Thanks for the responses.
I think the 6 watt number already includes the 1/3 of the time. I've tested my waeco, and over 24 hours it averaged 9 to 10 watts per hour ( just under 1 amp per hour) while in my garage with 60 to 75 degree ambient temps. If the Norcold is using 6 watts per hour, then you are at about 1/2 an amp per hour.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby Camp4Life » Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:14 am

Socal Tom wrote:
Camp4Life wrote:
Socal Tom wrote:If you are thinking about solar, or want to keep track of your charging. This is a great tool. It’s only 19$ and can be hooked up easily . bayite DC 6.5-100V 0-100A LCD Display Digital Current Voltage Power Energy Meter Multimeter Ammeter Voltmeter with 100A Current Shunt https://www.amazon.com/dp/B013PKYILS/re ... gAbBBJT462
With a dpdt switch you can monitor solar output during the day, then switch to monitoring your load after the sun goes down. Tom


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk


I looked at those, but they also have these for twice the price : https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01M5CWR2P/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I1BWQHN94T9TV4&colid=2OEBSBWRV3044&psc=1
Twice the price, but it monitors everything, charge, discharge, state of charge etc. This is what I'll be putting in when spring comes I think.

:thumbsup:


I would ask if it can monitor charge and discharge with the same meter. From the description I don't see that it does anything more than the meter I listed. FWIW I added a DPDT switch, when I'm charging I flip the switch and press reset and it monitors my charging ( Solar, Shore or vehicle), then when I'm unplugged I flip the switch and press reset and it tracks the discharging.
Tom


I've already asked this question and yes, it monitors both charge and discharge. So while it would also be cool to have 4 of the simpler monitors (solar input, charge, discharge and load) I think for me, one will be sufficient at the battery terminal. All I really care about is the battery status anyways, and knowing how much juice is left as well as charge/discharge is sufficient because any charge going in is coming from solar anyways.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby Socal Tom » Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:43 am

Camp4Life wrote:
I've already asked this question and yes, it monitors both charge and discharge. So while it would also be cool to have 4 of the simpler monitors (solar input, charge, discharge and load) I think for me, one will be sufficient at the battery terminal. All I really care about is the battery status anyways, and knowing how much juice is left as well as charge/discharge is sufficient because any charge going in is coming from solar anyways.

Just for clarity for future readers of this thread, the monitor I posted, displays voltage and current ( discharge or charge rate in Amps) Power (charge or discharge in watts) and Energy ( cumulative watt hours since last reset). It would only take 2 meters to monitor charge and discharge simultaneously, not 4 ( however when charging, discharge is 0 and vice versa)
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby Camp4Life » Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:02 pm

Socal Tom wrote:
Camp4Life wrote:
I've already asked this question and yes, it monitors both charge and discharge. So while it would also be cool to have 4 of the simpler monitors (solar input, charge, discharge and load) I think for me, one will be sufficient at the battery terminal. All I really care about is the battery status anyways, and knowing how much juice is left as well as charge/discharge is sufficient because any charge going in is coming from solar anyways.

Just for clarity for future readers of this thread, the monitor I posted, displays voltage and current ( discharge or charge rate in Amps) Power (charge or discharge in watts) and Energy ( cumulative watt hours since last reset). It would only take 2 meters to monitor charge and discharge simultaneously, not 4 ( however when charging, discharge is 0 and vice versa)
Tom



Yeah, the one I linked to also displays SoC (State of charge) so you can easily see how much juice is left in the battery without having to figure it out yourself. It also has several alarms for over and under voltage. The SoC and alarms on their own are important features for some people. Guess it depends on what features you want, or if you just want to keep it super simple.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby Esteban » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:01 pm

Victron SmartSolar MPPT solar charge controllers have built-in Bluetooth that can be monitored with a Smartphone ap, VictronConnect.

Prices at Amazon.com are $129.95 (as of 12/04/2017) for a Victron SmartSolar Charge Controller with Built-in Bluetooth - MPPT 75/15 that will work with a 12 volt solar panel up to 220 watts.

VictronConnect is the Smartphone ap used to get instant data, a 30 day history, and to change settings of a Victron MPPT charge controller.

Steve - SLO, CA
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