Solar panels again

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Re: Solar panels again

Post by Frank Peters » Apr 9th, '17, 19:02

Hi All,
When I read about your problems with MPPT, I am please I bought foldable 160W with MPPT installed.
All I have to do is plug it in to charging my batteries through my existing system.
Then I switch the bypass switch on the dumb regulator and no problems. I do charge single battery at the time, even if I can switch them together.
At home I charge my two batteries once a fortnight.
Trickle charge maybe OK, but I like to be in control. So far so good.
Everything is ready for Easter except me. I have to get my finger out and if the weather is reasonable, I get to Lakes On Tuesday.
Regards Frank

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Re: Solar panels again

Post by Ukuri » Apr 9th, '17, 19:26

Well I read every page and I am none the wiser, probably the reverse in fact.
Is the fuse OK? (clutching at straws)

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Tinggu
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by Tinggu » Apr 10th, '17, 09:37

Bligh wrote:That makes sense, felt sorry for you firstly, what happens secondly?
Of course you realise it's all the fault of the warehouse staff.
Ever considered Chinglish as a second language.
I used to think that I should be able to make a modest living if I chose to visit China by rewriting their attempts at English, particularly user manuals.
The MPPT might take a bit of extra effort just working out what's going on. Sometimes hilarious, this one is just annoying.
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Bligh
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by Bligh » Apr 10th, '17, 09:38

Just did a little research and it seems that the battery goes to the battery and load goes to load providing it does not exceed the units output, so all external appliances are connected to the load terminals leaving the reg to charge the battery and divert power as required from the battery to the load.
My understanding of this is that in sunlight the panel will be running your appliances/lighting etc and supplying sufficient charge to keep the battery full then in darkness will channel power from the battery to the load.
Was that clear or muddled?
Load is a vague word and back in my RF days a dummy load was used to balance a system where nothing was connected, the impedance of the load was the same as an actual antenna, usually 75 ohms, in this instance it seems the load is what is driven.
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bachus
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by bachus » Apr 10th, '17, 10:22

Just to add one more input, the MPPT process "should" not need a load to start. The MPPT regulator should be sensing ambient temperature and the ability of the battery to take charge current at different voltages to determine the battery state of charge. The load circuit is pure "niceness" in that the controller will shut off the current to the load circuit when the battery voltage gets too low to protect the battery. Some fancy controllers let you program the load to switch on off at times of day type of thing. But again not necessary for basic function.

As an aside, I do not use the load connnection on my tracker MPPT regulator. Most of the gear I use that is not needed in an emergency has built in battery sensing and shutoff. So just the solar panel connections and the battery connections are used in my case. The need to disconnect the solar panel before disconnecting the battery is that the solar panel array may generate an open circuit voltage higher enough to blow the regulator. This is especially relevant if you run two panels in series (as would be ideal for an MPPT regulator). The tracker MPPT regulator has a 100volt input capacity and I have never been too concerned about disconnection order.

Next the only adjustment you should have to make is the battery type. AGM versus flooded wet cell and maybe calcium etc. It will most likely default to flooded wet cell. Incorrect setting will not stop the controller charging. Lonegivity of the battery though will require corrrect setting.
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Tinggu
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by Tinggu » Apr 10th, '17, 23:14

Latest response from the seller is that I should take the controller to my local technician and if they confirm the unit is faulty they will replace it.
We'll be down Paynesville way Easter on so is there a bod out there who could make a report on it or can recommend someone I might take it to?
I put up a hastily made vid on youtube for them in China to see how the machine was behaving.
https://youtu.be/iBZIfbNxz_0
I've never done a movie before so it's truly crap but hopefully demonstrates the problem. Don't think I'm headed for Academy Awards......
Thanks,
pete
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Furstin
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by Furstin » Apr 11th, '17, 08:17

Process a return IMO.
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svwanabe
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by svwanabe » Apr 14th, '17, 15:31

Does anyone know about these panels, I'm thinking of buying one for my next trip away to help keep my fridge alive. I'm going to tie it across the deck in front of the mast (or elsewhere) when conditions allow it. I'm trying to stay away from the arch over the cockpit caper
Thanks Noel

https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/parkins ... 1143911812
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bachus
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by bachus » Apr 14th, '17, 18:04

svwanabe wrote:Does anyone know about these panels, I'm thinking of buying one for my next trip away to help keep my fridge alive. I'm going to tie it across the deck in front of the mast (or elsewhere) when conditions allow it. I'm trying to stay away from the arch over the cockpit caper
Thanks Noel

https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/parkins ... 1143911812
Similar to what I have mounted on a frame and a single stainless 1 inch pole near the transom allowing me to rotate it to the sun. It is light enough to do this at 2.5kg. It runs a fridge no issue. The battery is generally back to full charge by midday. But that is summer. Winter is here and will be a bit different now. Mounting as you describe will be suboptimal but in summer should still be ok.

But I would not buy from Gumtree. If it has has issue you have no come back, no warranty. Buyer beware. You should be able to get similar on eBay where at least you have some protection if it is bad in any way.
Jim
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MurrayF
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by MurrayF » Apr 14th, '17, 19:21


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zebedee
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by zebedee » Apr 14th, '17, 19:36

Not very many years ago I used to point out that unless you're out for at least a week at a time, simply buying more battery and starting out fully charged was cheaper than enough solar to make a real difference.

Then solar got cheaper. Much cheaper. Cheap enough to keep most of us going indefinitely...

More recently, I've watched people buying flexible solar panels, paying way more than conventional rigid panels, then laying them out on the deck occasionally when they get around to it.

Someone (Hi Adrian_also_on_the_bay_brother_of_Ray!) suggested fitting one to his Noelex, and I realised they'd got cheaper; maybe not $1/watt like rigid panels, but cheap enough that you might well save as much as you paid extra for the panel in building a lighter, simpler structure to mount them. But they do still need to be out there in the sunshine for as much of the day as you can possibly manage.

I've got some ideas for mounting them, I suspect I'll be refining them to fit to Adrian's Noelex sooner or later.

I have this suspicion that in ten years time, the big aluminium framed panels we're used to at the moment will be as dated as floppy disks; something that exploded onto the scene and faded away again within about 20 years.
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svwanabe
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by svwanabe » Apr 14th, '17, 21:27

Yes its the same seller but I don't think there's any better protection buying from ebay. They wont assist with any warranty disputes

MurrayF wrote:Same seller on eBay...
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/100W-FLEXIBL ... SwuLZY2GBH
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bachus
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by bachus » Apr 14th, '17, 23:04

svwanabe wrote:Yes its the same seller but I don't think there's any better protection buying from ebay. They wont assist with any warranty disputes

MurrayF wrote:Same seller on eBay...
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/100W-FLEXIBL ... SwuLZY2GBH
Not so much warranty - forget 12 months or ACCC etc. But if something fails inside 3 months you can apply for a refund from eBay if the seller will not come to the party. Paypal increased this time limit to 6 months to put in a claim. A few issues I have had have been resolved in this manner including deceptive advertising scams on eBay (advertise something and sell something else). Outside this time period you are out of luck unless you buy from a shopfront via eBay (rare) and then front them in person. Generally sellers do not want their reputation tarnished and are pretty good but after you have left feedback you are also exposed as the seller knows you cannot do anything to them in that respect. Fun fun fun.
Jim
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by sailboatmike » Apr 14th, '17, 23:24

I just bought 120watt camping fold up soar panels with built in regulator, but at 13Kg way too heavy

Think I may sell the new ones I just bought and get a flexible 100 Watt panel
Cheers Mike
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bachus
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by bachus » Apr 14th, '17, 23:38

sailboatmike wrote:I just bought 120watt camping fold up soar panels with built in regulator, but at 13Kg way too heavy

Think I may sell the new ones I just bought and get a flexible 100 Watt panel
You can see the mount I use in the following. Takes advantage of the light weight panel and very adjustable. The panel is mounted on an alloy frame (Bunnings alloy angle). The two arms are connected to a bicycle light mounting clamp that allows the arms to slide up and down the vertical pipe. Position of this slide adjusts the angle of the panel. I use simple spring clamps to hold the sliding bit in any position I want. The entire thing rotates as required - another spring clamp to hold a position. So I can always position it for the best shot at the sun (expect when the sails block the light). Before I go to bed I set the panel to catch the morning sun for example.

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JimJ
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by JimJ » Apr 14th, '17, 23:53

I set the panel to catch the morning sun for example
Of course allowing for the change of time and wind :)

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bachus
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by bachus » Apr 14th, '17, 23:59

JimJ wrote:
I set the panel to catch the morning sun for example
Of course allowing for the change of time and wind :)
Of course :-)

And when I tack I flick the panel back onto the sun - getting quite good at it.
Jim
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Tinggu
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by Tinggu » Apr 15th, '17, 00:37

svwanabe wrote:Yes its the same seller but I don't think there's any better protection buying from ebay. They wont assist with any warranty disputes

MurrayF wrote:Same seller on eBay...
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/100W-FLEXIBL ... SwuLZY2GBH
A couple of years ago I bought a 120W folding solar panel from DWImports. This year the panels failed and the seller has replaced them with these, the update:
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/120W-PORTABL ... rmvSB=true
When I provided evidence of the failure he had no qualms about offering replacements. Can't say fairer than that. At present battling with China to have my dead MPPT controller replaced. Maybe win some lose some but can certainly vouch for the decency of DWImports. Looks like these panels are quite expensive compared with from other sellers but I'm very impressed with the 10m very fat cable which probably weighs 2.5/3 kg itself.

And the service - that's what I'm really impressed with.
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by zebedee » Apr 27th, '17, 01:04

Tinggu wrote:Latest response from the seller is that I should take the controller to my local technician and if they confirm the unit is faulty they will replace it.
We'll be down Paynesville way Easter on so is there a bod out there who could make a report on it or can recommend someone I might take it to?
Peter and I had a close look at this regulator yesterday before I headed home from Paynesville. It has an interesting fault (yes, it is definitely faulty).

The regulator has 3 pairs of terminals, for + and -, for the solar panel in, the battery, and for a load, as well as an illuminated LCD display showing various information and 4 buttons to program it.

The first thing I noted was that the display was blank with just the battery connected, despite the battery having about 13.1V, measured at the regulator. When we connected the panel just before dusk the previous day, the display lighting cycled on and off at about 2Hz. I already had my suspicions at this point, so we made a time to look at the problem next day, which of course was the first really rainy overcast day since Easter!

The next day we connected the battery (the display remained blank) and then the panel (the display came to life), and Peter demonstrated to me setting the regulator for 12V (as opposed to 24V). It seemed a bit odd to me that it needed to be manually set up... Surely it doesn't need to be told it's on a 12V system every morning at dawn?

With the panel in the overcast daylight and at about 16-17V, the display indicated a varying voltage (presumably battery?) around 14V to 15V and zero current. (Isc was about 0.16 Amps BTW)

An inline power meter placed between battery and regulator confirmed no current into the battery and the battery voltage did not change when the solar panel was connected.

So the panel has sufficient voltage to charge, the regulator thinks it is achieveing at least 14V at the battery, but there is no current and the battery voltage is unchanged.

Peter had spoken of the need to provide a load to get the regulator to behave itself. I had my suspicions by now, but the clincher is that when you measure the voltage at the "load" terminals. It matches the display on the unit; about 14.5V. When the regulator voltage changes, the load voltage continues to match it.


First a little description of what is going on in a healthy regulator:

At it's most basic, there is a circuit between the solar panel and the battery which disconnects the solar panel positive terminal from the battery positive terminal when the voltage at the battery goes too high.
In an MPPT regulator, there's some more clever stuff, and this regulator also bulk charges then float charges, but ultimately the job of this part of the regulator is to disconnect the panel from the battery once it is fully charged.

There is another circuit between the battery and the load, which disconnects the battery positive terminal from the load positive terminal when the voltage at the battery goes too low, typically below about 11.5V to 12V.

If the solar panel has sufficient voltage to get the battery voltage seen by the regulator above about 12V, the load terminals will be connected to the battery terminals.

So, with the panel connected, with the regulator displaying 14.5V, with the battery at 13.1V, the voltage at the load terminals was... 14.5V

Somewhere between the circuit inside the device and the positive battery terminal on the case, there is an open circuit. Internally the regulator is working fine, but it is not connected to the positive battery terminal on the outside, so it is as if there were no battery connected!

This is why the display goes out when there is insufficient light or the panel is not connected.
It is also why the unit doesn't automatically detect the battery voltage.

If the battery were connected instead to the load terminals, then once the panel had light and the regulator settings were manually entered, it would charge fine. When it went dark, the regulator would remain powered up from the battery connected to the load terminals *until the battery voltage dropped below the load protection voltage*, when it would disconnect, shutting down the regulator, which would then need manually restarting when the sun returned. Which would be a bl**dy nuisance!

I'll write a version of this for him to send to the seller...
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by Tinggu » Apr 27th, '17, 18:32

Thank you heaps for the time you put in to this hairy problem. Great to meet you and enjoyed the short trip up the Mitchel in Roller Coaster. We got Isabella Jane back on her trailer this afternoon.......another story, as the trailer repair was not so straightforward. Meat for another rave on another post.
What is it with me and trailers and solar panels? Grrrrrrr! (whistful smile)

Just one thing about your report on the MPPT: although I don't have the manual to hand I believe that once it is set up it remembers whether 12v or 24v. If it's physically disconnected, as we did, it needs to be reset. I think also that the backlight of the display goes out after a few minutes of no button pushing but lights up again as soon a button is pressed.
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Tinggu
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by Tinggu » May 17th, '17, 18:07

I wonder why this popped up again although no new post since April 27 and the new topic I put up the other day (http://www.trailersailerplace.com.au/ph ... 11&t=11994)is still invisible to me?........Gremlins!
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by svwanabe » May 17th, '17, 19:06

Howdy all
Just an update, I ended up buying one of these 100w flexi panel instead of the cheaper one because for $30 more it came with a much better warranty. Pretty sure the 7 day warranty from the other guy wasn't legal anyway. I've wired it up with about 4m of cable with plugs etc back to the regulator and recon its going to live on the deck in front of the mast when I go away longer term. I've had it hooked up and sitting on top of the shed with the fridge and sterio going in the boat for about a week now with half of that overcast and raining. The battery has been staying up around 13.8v except for after the few rainy days when it got down to about 12.4v.
Looks like I wont have to run all over the places looking for ice anymore.
Noel

https://www.ebay.com.au/p/?iid=172326145428&&&chn=ps
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by Peridot » May 17th, '17, 23:34

I have a similar panel but have noticed it can get very hot. I plan to add some sort of spacer to keep it up off my paint, and I hear the high panel temp can affect the output of the panel. Perhaps someone could guide us here.

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Re: Solar panels again

Post by sailboatmike » May 18th, '17, 08:58

Whats the difference between the black panels and the others??

The black panels all seem to sell for a few more $$ than the normal flexible panels.

After my expensive mistake wrecking my batteries, Im working to putting decent solar system on, due to weight flexible seems the way to go, I bought one of those camping arrays with 120Watt output and a built in controller but the 13Kg weight is just over the top compared to the 3Kg of a flexible panel
Cheers Mike
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Re: Solar panels again

Post by bachus » May 18th, '17, 20:37

The light weight allows many options not possible with a 15kg panel . . . .


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