Solar The Solar Panel Thread

Bellbirdweb

Well-Known Member
Jan 24, 2014
1,891
2,705
113
Sydney
The answer to my question is no doubt yes. Has anyone here replaced the Jayco supplied TPS -555 solar charge controller with an MPPT one? If so - which one would you recommend? Is this a straightforward task?
Many thanks
Bill
Hi there @Billrw136, I recently replaced my PWM Jayco controller for a MPPT Epever Tracer controller. I left the connections as they were installed at the factory with 2 panels in parallel.

With my old setup, I have never seen greater than 7A supply to the batteries, but with the new controller I have seen it as high as 19A and the smarts of the inbuilt charger are much better.

The whole setup cost under $200 and a bit of time but I’m very happy with the result.
 

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
608
613
93
Ferny Grove, Queensland
Hi there @Billrw136, I recently replaced my PWM Jayco controller for a MPPT Epever Tracer controller. I left the connections as they were installed at the factory with 2 panels in parallel.

With my old setup, I have never seen greater than 7A supply to the batteries, but with the new controller I have seen it as high as 19A and the smarts of the inbuilt charger are much better.

The whole setup cost under $200 and a bit of time but I’m very happy with the result.
Hi @Bellbirdweb , glad to hear from you again and that your MPPT controller is working so well. From the figures you have provided, that is great output from fixed panels. You do not have to worry about voltage drop from long cables as I have to consider with portable panels. Your old Jayco PWM controller certainly was not being very productive for you and not doing you any favours at only 7A total from both panels. Now with the same panels and I assume same position for panels, there is a huge difference. Other than the more sophisticated operation of your MPPT controller, why do you think that there has been such a huge change? Dirty panels, bad/poor connections or maybe no output from one of the panels?? Keen to know what you think.
 

Bellbirdweb

Well-Known Member
Jan 24, 2014
1,891
2,705
113
Sydney
Hi @Bellbirdweb , glad to hear from you again and that your MPPT controller is working so well. From the figures you have provided, that is great output from fixed panels. You do not have to worry about voltage drop from long cables as I have to consider with portable panels. Your old Jayco PWM controller certainly was not being very productive for you and not doing you any favours at only 7A total from both panels. Now with the same panels and I assume same position for panels, there is a huge difference. Other than the more sophisticated operation of your MPPT controller, why do you think that there has been such a huge change? Dirty panels, bad/poor connections or maybe no output from one of the panels?? Keen to know what you think.
Hi @Boots in Action, I was quite surprised just how much of a difference it made.

The old controller was above my fridge, so quite some distance from the batteries, so I ended up joining the wires from the panel to the ones that used to go to the battery, installed the epever right down at the battery and used those wires as the panel input and ran new ones to the battery via the shunt.

So the controller is now much closer to the battery, but other than that no other changes.

I regularly get up and clean the panels, so I don’t think that was a factor, I think it’s all down to the much better controller, and much closer distance between controller and battery.
 

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
608
613
93
Ferny Grove, Queensland
Hi @Boots in Action, I was quite surprised just how much of a difference it made.

The old controller was above my fridge, so quite some distance from the batteries, so I ended up joining the wires from the panel to the ones that used to go to the battery, installed the epever right down at the battery and used those wires as the panel input and ran new ones to the battery via the shunt.

So the controller is now much closer to the battery, but other than that no other changes.

I regularly get up and clean the panels, so I don’t think that was a factor, I think it’s all down to the much better controller, and much closer distance between controller and battery.
Hi @Bellbirdweb , with those sort of results, it really shows the value of MPPT controllers. Why have extra panels and/or batteries when you can easily get so much charge into battery/ies in a very short time. If members with power problems upgrade their ordinary PWM to MPPT, it could solve a lot of their problems. A great example of all the advantages at moderate cost, which is very quickly recovered. Not hard to change either if funds are available.
 
Likes: Bellbirdweb

bigcol

Well-Known Member
Nov 22, 2012
6,813
10,159
113
Swan Valley Perth
not sure what is in mine (very very dumb when it comes to elektrickery), but it has been on toilet roll N#3 of jobs, to move the thingy off the wall of the Van and mount it closer to the battery, someone on some thread mentioned it once ages ago that the shorter the distance the better the charging
 

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
608
613
93
Ferny Grove, Queensland
not sure what is in mine (very very dumb when it comes to elektrickery), but it has been on toilet roll N#3 of jobs, to move the thingy off the wall of the Van and mount it closer to the battery, someone on some thread mentioned it once ages ago that the shorter the distance the better the charging
Yes @bigcol , you did read that on an earlier post. Technically, the voltage coming into the solar panel controller will be approx 17 to 18 volts with a single panel or even two panels in parallel. However, the solar controller reduces this voltage to a level just above the battery voltage it senses. So with this lower voltage from controller to battery, there are voltage/current losses before it gets to battery. That is why it is important to have the heavier wire between controller and battery as short as possible to get the most power into battery.
 
Last edited:

Billrw136

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2011
792
1,108
93
Gosford
Thanks @Drover , @Bellbirdweb and @Boots in Action for replying to my post. I am sorry it has taken a while to respond - granny flat, moving logs from second very large tree removal, spreading of mulch and on it goes.
I became interested in changing my controller when I recently purchased a portable panel with attached MPPT controller - I then read about PWM and MPPT.
The van is brand new with 2 x 150watt panels and 2 batteries.
I presume to fit a new controller that I simply remove the current one and connect the new one in its place? Or is it more complicated than that?
Just reread your replies and it looks like that is what I need to do!
The one you have @Boots in Action has gone up in price, but that is not a problem.
I think I will get one and add it to the pile of items in the garage that are waiting to be fitted when I get the chance!
We are heading north in the middle of the year.
Thanks again
Bill
 

Drover

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2013
7,111
13,294
113
Cooloola Coast, QLD
www.expandasdownunder.com
No need to apologise Bill, we all cop that sort of thing, swapping the units is not hard just disconnect the wires from one and reconnect to new unit, making sure you tag each wire before you remove and pull fuse on battery and panels, if no fuse then insulate as soon as you disconnect the cable.

If you have an integrated power unit where the controller is part of a big circuit board which turns solar/240/12v on/off as it wishes then thats another story.

Next trip away I will try to note what my system does, as we stop for a week at a time should give me some good figures to see how this unit of mine performs......Big Mal has a Pro Star 35 controller hanging off 200w and compare it to the TPS 30amp controller on the 120w portable, which is similar to what a lot of vans have , just means I will have to get out of bed early to catch the figures, mine usually gets back up to full noise by 1000 easily so haven't felt the need to seriously look at upgrading the controller
 

Axl

Well-Known Member
Dec 23, 2014
356
842
93
Brisbane/Bayside
Hi @Axl , I think this has come up before, but I believe that it needs reviewing again for those that want the max out of their AGM. Firstly, the Setec will only charge to a voltage of 14.1 volts. This is a very safe voltage for a Gel battery (and an AGM too!!). The Setec will "Maintain" the battery well. However, it is 0.6 volts short of OPTIMUM charge voltage for AGM batteries which need 14.7 volts to enable FULL capacity to be reached during "bulk" and "absorption" phases of charging. Float voltages are not so critical, and although a Gel battery is slightly lower, both are within the range of the Setec.
@Axl , if you think your AGM battery is fully charged, try connecting up your sophisticated multi stage smart charger and note just how long it takes to go through de-sulphation to soft, bulk and absorption to reach float/maintain. You will be surprised at the time it takes to get the extra missing charge capacity into battery from where the Setec has left it. If I use the Setec for "charging" , my LED volt meter in the van only ever shows about 12.6 volts after three or four hours OFF charge (no load). If I use the "smart charger", the battery voltage reading is ALWAYS 13.0 or 12.8 volts after more than 6 hours OFF charge. As I understand it, this means that more energy has been stored into the battery whilst charging. Incidentally, the battery in my Penguin is now nearly 5 years old and I have had it for the last 2.5 years and regularly utilize 38 ah daily when off the grid for up to 6 days. Fortunately, my solar panels and MPPT controller replace this amount and more most days. On return from outing, I place battery (120 ah AGM) on smart charger for a while until it shows "float", and then change over to the Setec to "maintain". Pedantic yes! A little more work - yes, but I believe well worth it!! Note battery SOC voltages for AGM battery below and optimum charging voltages. Different to flooded lead acid batteries.

I finally got around to putting my 25amp Projecta 7 stage smart charger onto the battery in the Expanda last week with surprising results, anyone who doubts the ability of the Setec chargers to maintain their batteries shouldn't. My van has the ST20-II Setec in it and this unit has looked after my battery keeping it in tip top condition with no worries at all.

The smart charger went straight past bulk charge to the absorption stage and within 10 minutes went to the fully charged and float stage. I haven't had the Projecta on this battery (120amp AGM 5 years old) for at least 3 years I have simply been ensuring to plug the van in every month or so to allow the Setec to do its work and now I've seen the results.

These Setec's can and will keep your battery in tip top shape if you ensure to use it every couple of months or so.
 
Last edited:

Bellbirdweb

Well-Known Member
Jan 24, 2014
1,891
2,705
113
Sydney
I finally got around to putting my 25amp Projecta 7 stage smart charger onto the battery in the Expanda last week with surprising results, anyone who doubts the ability of the Setec chargers to maintain their batteries shouldn't. My van has the ST20-II Setec in it and this unit has looked after my battery keeping it in tip top condition with no worries at all.

The smart charger went straight past bulk charge to the absorption stage and within 10 minutes went to the fully charged and float stage. I haven't had the Projecta on this battery (120amp AGM 5 years old) for at least 3 years I have simply been ensuring to plug the van in every month or so to allow the Setec to do its work and now I've seen the results.

These Setec's can and will keep your battery in tip top shape if you ensure to use it every couple of months or so.
Glad to hear that about the Setec @Axl. I see people bagging them all the time but mine has been great and keeps everything nicely charged and managed.
 
Likes: G Daddy

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
608
613
93
Ferny Grove, Queensland
Glad to hear that about the Setec @Axl. I see people bagging them all the time but mine has been great and keeps everything nicely charged and managed.
Hi @Axl and @Bellbirdweb , great feedback on Setec. I have never had a real problem with the system and what it does. Very simple and "idiot proof" . The only deficiencies as I see them relate to slower rate of charge and low voltage level reached for an AGM. I know that the specifications for Setec show max voltage reached is listed at 14.1 V which is definitely too low for an AGM, and my own observations and results tend to prove this. I am sure that @Axl would have set the "smart charger" to AGM or Flooded (not calcium or Gel), so terminal voltage (as set in the electronics inside) must have been reached for the setting selected, before charger moved on to next cycle (absorb, analysis and then float). A sign of good battery condition exists if that happens quickly. If charging with Setec, voltage never reaches 14.7. The voltage shown several hours AFTER charging finished (no load) is the real sign of a fully charged AGM, not according to me, but to the references I have been able to look up and have provided. The difference in what available power has been stored in battery may not be that significant , but it still exists. I would rather start a trip with battery voltage at 13.0V than 12.6 V. Maintenance of battery on float charge has never been an issue.
 

Axl

Well-Known Member
Dec 23, 2014
356
842
93
Brisbane/Bayside
Glad to hear that about the Setec @Axl. I see people bagging them all the time but mine has been great and keeps everything nicely charged and managed.
@Bellbirdweb, I too have heard a few people bag the Setec's but as now know they do a mighty fine job. I've been wanting to put the smart charger on this battery for a while now to see what happened and I am glad I did.
They aren't as sophisticated as the Projecta as they are a four stage unit and as I understand not as clever but the Projecta quickly analysed that the battery was in a good SOC and went straight to float.

Hi @Axl and @Bellbirdweb , great feedback on Setec. I have never had a real problem with the system and what it does. Very simple and "idiot proof" . The only deficiencies as I see them relate to slower rate of charge and low voltage level reached for an AGM. I know that the specifications for Setec show max voltage reached is listed at 14.1 V which is definitely too low for an AGM, and my own observations and results tend to prove this. I am sure that @Axl would have set the "smart charger" to AGM or Flooded (not calcium or Gel), so terminal voltage (as set in the electronics inside) must have been reached for the setting selected, before charger moved on to next cycle (absorb, analysis and then float). A sign of good battery condition exists if that happens quickly. If charging with Setec, voltage never reaches 14.7. The voltage shown several hours AFTER charging finished (no load) is the real sign of a fully charged AGM, not according to me, but to the references I have been able to look up and have provided. The difference in what available power has been stored in battery may not be that significant , but it still exists. I would rather start a trip with battery voltage at 13.0V than 12.6 V. Maintenance of battery on float charge has never been an issue.
@Boots in Action, my 25amp 7 stage Projecta puts out 14.4V maximum as charge voltage when set to AGM. It was your prompting that made me run this little test, I have been meaning to do it for years but never got around to it. Whilst I understand what you are saying about having a load to indicate a proper SOC I was pleasantly surprised and very happy when the unit went into float in under 10 minutes.
This showed me that the Setec's do a mighty fine job, although (as you have said) they max out at around 14.05V-14.1V this is more than enough to keep your battery in a full SOC if you use it regularly.
The speed at which the battery charges is determined by the amps being put back in, the Projecta can be set to deliver 2,6,12 and 25amps at a given voltage for battery make. As we know it is not a good thing to charge at anything over 10% of battery capacity so for my 120amp battery a good rate is 12amp. I have in the past used the 25amp setting to recharge when the sun hasn't been shinning and I need to fire up the genie and get some power back as quick as possible but I try to avoid this.
The extra .35V that the Projecta supplies will also speed things up a little but it really isn't needed, as the battery recovers the voltage rate being delivered drops to suit and once fully charged float voltage is pulsed into the battery at 13.8V for the Projecta and around 13.2V for the Setec.
As long as you are delivering a voltage above full SOC which as you have said is 13V (many say 12.7V) your battery will always fully charge given enough time, with no load of course.
 
Last edited:

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
608
613
93
Ferny Grove, Queensland
@Bellbirdweb, I too have heard a few people bag the Setec's but as now know they do a mighty fine job. I've been wanting to put the smart charger on this battery for a while now to see what happened and I am glad I did.
They aren't as sophisticated as the Projecta as they are a four stage unit and as I understand not as clever but the Projecta quickly analysed that the battery was in a good SOC and went straight to float.



@Boots in Action, my 25amp 7 stage Projecta puts out 14.4V maximum as charge voltage when set to AGM. It was your prompting that made me run this little test, I have been meaning to do it for years but never got around to it. Whilst I understand what you are saying about having a load to indicate a proper SOC I was pleasantly surprised and very happy when the unit went into float in under 10 minutes.
This showed me that the Setec's do a mighty fine job, although (as you have said) they max out at around 14.05V-14.1V this is more than enough to keep your battery in a full SOC if you use it regularly.
The speed at which the battery charges is determined by the amps being put back in, the Projecta can be set to deliver 2,6,12 and 25amps and as we know it is not a good thing to charge at anything over 10% of battery capacity so for my 120amp battery a good rate is 12amp.
I have in the past used the 25amp setting to recharge when the sun hasn't been shinning and I need to fire up the genie and get some power back as quick as possible but I try to avoid this. The extra .35V that the Projecta supplies will also speed things up but it really isn't needed, hence why float voltage is 13.8V for the Projecta and around 13.2V for the Setec from memory.
Thanks for the prompt reply @Axl. I agree with your information. After sending my last post, I looked up the specs on your very sophisticated charger and noted that the terminal voltage setting for AGM is set at 14.4 V. This is probably within the range for various brands of AGMs so should not be a worry.
I agree with you on the charge rate normally used as about 10% of capacity and this is a good rule of thumb for most batteries. However, AGMs can handle lots more without damage if necessary, especially if the charge rate is monitored with a temp sensor, which I note your Projector has. I had an Odyssey AGM at one stage (not in van) and the brochure gave an indication of why there is no or very little heat build up whilst charging. An example given showed an Odyssey at 100% DOD being charged with a 100A charger and was able to put in 80% capacity in 40 minutes without problems. Not that we are likely to do the same and who has a 100A charger anyway??
Your regular use and cycling of battery capacity is what keeps it in good condition I am sure. Yes, you have found that the Setec meets all your requirements, but it is a basic charger only - only 3 stage on charging. The other one is a type of "top up" in float mode. I am sure that the Projecta does a better job as you said, but that is not necessary at the moment as you keep your battery well maintained. I think the Setec has afloat voltage setting of 13.6 V which is quite satisfactory indeed. Thanks again for your informative feedback and comments.
 
Likes: Axl

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
608
613
93
Ferny Grove, Queensland
Thanks @Drover , @Bellbirdweb and @Boots in Action for replying to my post. I am sorry it has taken a while to respond - granny flat, moving logs from second very large tree removal, spreading of mulch and on it goes.
I became interested in changing my controller when I recently purchased a portable panel with attached MPPT controller - I then read about PWM and MPPT.
The van is brand new with 2 x 150watt panels and 2 batteries.
I presume to fit a new controller that I simply remove the current one and connect the new one in its place? Or is it more complicated than that?
Just reread your replies and it looks like that is what I need to do!
The one you have @Boots in Action has gone up in price, but that is not a problem.
I think I will get one and add it to the pile of items in the garage that are waiting to be fitted when I get the chance!
We are heading north in the middle of the year.
Thanks again
Bill
Hi @Billrw136 , thanks for the response about purchasing an MPPT controller. I had a look at the latest cost of the MPPT controller I had purchased and bloody hell, they now want $200.00!!! Far too dear!! I also saw that the Epever with separate panel and lead is still only about $156.00. The only thing then needed is temp probe which is available for about $12.00. That would be the one to go for even if you did not use all the equipment included. Contact @Bellbirdweb for full fitting instructions as he has successfully moved things around to fit it in a better spot and achieved excellent results too.
You mention that you saw an MPPT controller on the back of a portable panel the other day. On the first solar panel I purchased, it had a "supposed MPPT Controller" attached, but it was definitely a fake - just marked that way. Fortunately, I was not using it and bypassed it for a better PWM controller inside my van. However, I had a look at an other camper's panel the other day and it had what looked like a genuine MPPT controller on the back - small 7A max- but probably a genuine item. There are a lot of fakes around, so be careful. @Bellbirdweb originally had a problem with a purchase of a supposed MPPT controller, (cheaper than the LD or Epever, but did not work, so he raised his sights and purchased an Epever 30A I think. See his postings earlier on this subject.
 

Drover

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2013
7,111
13,294
113
Cooloola Coast, QLD
www.expandasdownunder.com
My old 14.44 the setec was plugged into the mains to keep things juiced when at home and it kept the battery up to speed as I did what @Axl did once and never bothered again as the old basic setec did the job, my biggest gripe is lack of function display and absolute crap wiring though that wasn't a manufacturingfault.
I don't like the new integrated models though, all the eggs in one basket, can destroy a holiday in one fell swoop.

The current price of my Pro Star controller is more than your MPPT controller @Boots in Action so it must be way better.......lol,lol,lol........

Strange thing has happened with my Projecta charger, it was playing up, work for awhile and then fault, push a function button and it would fault so opened it up when I discovered the fan wouldn't run, thought I had got it working again as a bad connector but while it charged okay the button function still sent it to fault, since the solar does 99% of the charging I put it in the One Day I'll box, since adding the extra battery it all works faultlessly, have moved the cables before so maybe this time is shook something, who knows but leave it alone now..................................
 
Likes: Bellbirdweb

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
608
613
93
Ferny Grove, Queensland
My old 14.44 the setec was plugged into the mains to keep things juiced when at home and it kept the battery up to speed as I did what @Axl did once and never bothered again as the old basic setec did the job, my biggest gripe is lack of function display and absolute crap wiring though that wasn't a manufacturingfault.
I don't like the new integrated models though, all the eggs in one basket, can destroy a holiday in one fell swoop.

The current price of my Pro Star controller is more than your MPPT controller @Boots in Action so it must be way better.......lol,lol,lol........

Strange thing has happened with my Projecta charger, it was playing up, work for awhile and then fault, push a function button and it would fault so opened it up when I discovered the fan wouldn't run, thought I had got it working again as a bad connector but while it charged okay the button function still sent it to fault, since the solar does 99% of the charging I put it in the One Day I'll box, since adding the extra battery it all works faultlessly, have moved the cables before so maybe this time is shook something, who knows but leave it alone now..................................
Hi again @Drover , regarding the price of my original Powertech 20 A solar controller which has a lot of sophisticated features and was a PWM type, they still want around $185.00 plus postage? In hindsight, an expensive controller. For a lot less cost, I now have a much more efficient MPPT controller - or it was a lot less when I bought it! Keeping it as a spare (future junk??). Yes, I too had a look at the current wanting price for your PWM Pro Star controller and it is pretty expensive also. But it looks good with a lot of features and a good visual display readout too. Good quality usually costs more, but cheaper in the long run and not worth changing unless needed.
Yeah, about your Projecta charger, the fault light would probably come on when the fan stopped and unit automatically shut down when internal temp exceeded design. With your moving and bumping around, possibly the heat sensor (a thermistor of some sort) was bumped from original position to an area too close to a heated part. But if now it works, leave it alone. "If it aint broke (now), don't fix it" (by dropping it again!!
 
Likes: G Daddy

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
608
613
93
Ferny Grove, Queensland
buggered if I know
all I know is 240 bites baddly, so I dont touch it - thats what them mystical erektrikery people are for.........

I do know, that some solder joints (12V) in cars - clocks and such.... sometimes crack - making clock not work, or better yet, a Xmas clock (only works once a year) - tis usually a "dry" solder crack

re-do solder - and away you go with new fully working clock
Relax @bigcol , there is no 240 volt bite with batteries and solar panels and connections as mostly only 12 volts and maybe 20 volts or so with solar panels. No "bities" there, BUT high possibilities of wires becoming red hot and, sparking, burning, and smoke, and fire to frighten the bejesus out of you if you make a mistake.
 
Likes: Drover

Drover

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2013
7,111
13,294
113
Cooloola Coast, QLD
www.expandasdownunder.com
My sentiments exactly @Boots in Action , my I relocated the Projecta from a crappy position in a cupboard to in the boot, redid the connectors to make sure the voltage wire was connected and it still played up, would run fault codes/beep for awhile then reset or I could reset after a couple of reboots, I'm pretty sure the fault was heat related even though nobody could tell me what a 4 or 6 code was...
Now it seems to work again, no need yo replace even though its rarely used anyway. Sitting on the beach, panels on ute in full sun, battery charged and Engel growling away but need a better controller, 1518577521694386730424.jpg