Solar The Solar Panel Thread

Boots in Action

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Mar 13, 2017
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
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, View attachment 59438

Hi @Drover , I was ignorant of the fact that you have a Projecta charger in your van and an integral part of your electrical system. But hard to find a 240 volt outlet whilst sitting at the beach or away from the grid. It is highly unlikely that I will ever use my Powertech 20A controller again, so if you are still looking for a cheaper PWM option, mine is available with the original instructions if you wish to deal. Photo attached. Can also send up copy of directions to study if you wish. Cheers
 

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Drover

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Thanks for the offer but the Pro Star in the van is 30 amp and works well, I may upgrade the portable one day but it going okay and like you I do have one on the shelf which will replace the elcheapo in ute, one day....maybe tomorrow, lol.

I have played with one of them somewhere seemed like a reasonable unit.
 
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bigcol

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Nov 22, 2012
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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.

dont you carry marshmallows with you when camping @Boots in Action

fire is easy, you can see it
you can hear it
you can smell it
you can taste it
and
you can feel it


elektrickery you can only feel it............
prefer fire thanks
 
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Billrw136

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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.
This is what I have - Engel Series 2 smart battery box with 110ah lead crystal battery inside. Solar King 120w portable solar panel with MPPT controller.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_219d.jpg


UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_219c.jpg
 
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Boots in Action

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Drovers Tip # 38........Remove stainless steel watch before working near alternator, shorted on the battery terminal of alternator, watch welded to terminal, hand cooked, arm nearly broken, head hurt from bonnet, kids learnt some new words including the neighbors.
Very sound advice @Drover !! Remove rings and any other items that might conduct or catch on something when working on tug or van or anything!!!
 

Boots in Action

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Mar 13, 2017
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This is what I have - Engel Series 2 smart battery box with 110ah lead crystal battery inside. Solar King 120w portable solar panel with MPPT controller.

View attachment 59467

View attachment 59466
Hi @Billrw136 , great shots of your equipment. Lead crystal battery too, which I had to look up details on again as few people have them. At first glance looking at picture and then on other sites, the controller may only be a PWM type not MPPT. Can you give model number and details of controller and where whole solar panel was purchased from?? Remember that MPPT controllers must have some sort of transformer to convert higher voltage to more amps and this makes them heavier. I notice on back of panel that max working voltage is 18.0 V ??? and max working current is rated at 6.0 A?? So working on that, I think it is a 160 watt panel (2 X 80w).
As only small current, just maybe an MPPT controller and not a "fake".
 

Drover

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I also found out not to touch fence with rifle, especially when said fence is connected to a zapper, that is very dangerous, thankfully the training runs deep and finger was in the correct position, certain parts of anatomy had moved though...............................the moral being that even 12v can cause a jolt that in turn can cause death by a 3rd party action, always treat it as HOT like 240..........
(and you thought I was going off topic ).
 

Boots in Action

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Mar 13, 2017
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Hi @Billrw136 , great shots of your equipment. Lead crystal battery too, which I had to look up details on again as few people have them. At first glance looking at picture and then on other sites, the controller may only be a PWM type not MPPT. Can you give model number and details of controller and where whole solar panel was purchased from?? Remember that MPPT controllers must have some sort of transformer to convert higher voltage to more amps and this makes them heavier. I notice on back of panel that max working voltage is 18.0 V ??? and max working current is rated at 6.0 A?? So working on that, I think it is a 160 watt panel (2 X 80w).
As only small current, just maybe an MPPT controller and not a "fake".
Hi again @Billrw136, did you know that lead crystal batteries need SPECIAL charging and your solar panels and charging system in van may compromise warranty?? Try google - charging lead crystal batteries for full details.
 

mikerezny

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Sep 11, 2016
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I also found out not to touch fence with rifle, especially when said fence is connected to a zapper, that is very dangerous, thankfully the training runs deep and finger was in the correct position, certain parts of anatomy had moved though...............................the moral being that even 12v can cause a jolt that in turn can cause death by a 3rd party action, always treat it as HOT like 240..........
(and you thought I was going off topic ).
Hi @Drover,
quite a good point.
Another case closer to home:
A lot of vans have 12V to 240V inverters.
If one is working around the 12V wiring without it switched off and has taken the effort to ensure the van is not connected to 240V, but has forgotten that the 240V sockets wired to the inverter are still actually live, and the appliances connected to them, then there is certainly a potential for getting fried.

cheers
Mike
 
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mikerezny

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Its in a Engel Box @Boots in Action which is one of the all singing, all dancing battery boxes with it's own charging system, just plug in your preferred mode of steam and it will do the job.
Hi @Drover,
if the box has its own solar controller AND the panels appear to have their own solar controller, then I would suggest their are two solar controllers connected in series. That would not appear to be a satisfactory way of connecting the solar panels.

cheers
Mike
 

Drover

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Oh yeah @mikerezny , inverters do send a shiver down me, when I've fitted stuff to the van I always try to make sure as much as possible where the 240 runs are, once I have drilled/screwed or rivetted I do a continuity test on the 240 sockets before I plug in the big steam and even run the meter off the chassis and ground just to be sure....tin sides, alloy frame so should arc up well if shorted, RCD is all well and good but I like to be sure.
 
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mikerezny

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Oh yeah @mikerezny , invertors do send a shiver down me, when I've fitted stuff to the van I always try to make sure as much as possible where the 240 runs are, once I have drilled/screwed or rivetted I do a continuity test on the 240 sockets before I plug in the big steam and even run the meter off the chassis and ground just to be sure....tin sides, alloy frame so should arc up well if shorted, RCD is all well and good but I like to be sure.
Hi @Drover,
I suspect a lot of inverters are installed by owners after delivery. There are many many ways that these can be wired so nothing is standard. Consider the poor sod who has purchased a second-hand van with absolutely no information on how it has been wired.

With an inverter on board, it is not enough to ensure the van is not hooked up to external 240V to consider that the van wiring is perfectly safe to work on since there is only 12V floating around.

cheers
Mike
 

Boots in Action

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Hi again @Billrw136, did you know that lead crystal batteries need SPECIAL charging and your solar panels and charging system in van may compromise warranty?? Try google - charging lead crystal batteries for full details.
Hello again @Billrw136 and @mikerezny , I did some more research on the lead crystal battery, and although on one of the sites, there is a warning about what one must do to charge these special batteries, Redarc has put out a statement that their engineers have fully tested their chargers with Lead Crystal batteries. Redarc state that their DC to DC chargers and other type chargers will properly charge Lead Crystal batteries IF SET FOR AGM TYPE BATTERIES which will reach the required higher charge voltage of 14.7 V. So just make sure you have charger/s' setting on AGM.
 
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Boots in Action

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Its in a Engel Box @Boots in Action which is one of the all singing, all dancing battery boxes with it's own charging system, just plug in your preferred mode of steam and it will do the job.
@Drover , if that is the case, then why is the lead from the solar panels/controller connected to Engel box to charge the Lead crystal battery?? If it has its own controlling system in Magic box, then the controller on back of panels should be bypassed!!
 
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Boots in Action

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Hi @Drover,
I suspect a lot of inverters are installed by owners after delivery. There are many many ways that these can be wired so nothing is standard. Consider the poor sod who has purchased a second-hand van with absolutely no information on how it has been wired.

With an inverter on board, it is not enough to ensure the van is not hooked up to external 240V to consider that the van wiring is perfectly safe to work on since there is only 12V floating around.

cheers
Mike
Thanks for the reminder @mikerezny . That is something I had not considered and especially important if retro- fitted by ????. Apologies to you @bigcol about no 240 v bites. There could be some around if inverters are fitted. Always make sure that all switches are off, leads removed and power 240 V AC or 12 V DC are not connected. I would not like to see you with all your hair? standing on end or singed.
 

mikerezny

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Thanks for the reminder @mikerezny . That is something I had not considered and especially important if retro- fitted by ????.
Hi @Boots in Action,
to make the issue even worse, consider that any appliance wired to an inverter is probably not earthed and there is no Earth Leakage Detector to protect the equipment or users.

Not really sure exactly how an inverter should be wired inside a van to make it as safe as the normal 240V van wiring.
There are two distinct cases:
1: appliances are plugged directly into the sockets on the inverter. If nothing is plugged in then it is safe. Better still if the inverter is also switched off.
2: appliances are plugged into what looks like a standard 240V wall socket and that socket is wired back to a 240V plug which is plugged into the inverter. This is the most dangerous. Is the wall socket the special caravan double switched or a normal single switched socket. How do you tell which sockets go to the inverter and most probably unprotected and which go through the RCD (Residual Current Device s a circuit breaker with the added safety of cutting off the current when a leakage to earth is detected). If it was me, I would paint the inverter wall sockets a bright color and have a prominent sticker near them saying what they are and what to do to make sure they are inactive. Probably overkill, (hmm pun not intended).

I remember an old story in my Telecom days told by an electrician. When one electrician is working on a live circuit, he should never ask another electrician to go turn off the power. It is the reponsibility of the person working on the circuit to ensure the circuit is turned off. Apparently, although it is in the best interests of the electrician working on the circuit to make sure the circuit is safe, but moreso, it was pointed out to me, that should the other person turn off the wrong circuit and the other electrician is killed, that person has to then live with that for the rest of his life.

Was working in an old building with a new false ceiling, spent hours running around on the ceiling installing telephone cables and using the dangling drop wires for the old lights from the original ceiling (but lights fittings removed) to steady myself. In a thoughtful moment I got out my test screwdriver and the drop wires were all still live!!! Only luck that I didn't touch the bare ends. Didn't sleep well that night.

cheers
Mike
 
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Boots in Action

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Mar 13, 2017
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
Hi @Drover,
if the box has its own solar controller AND the panels appear to have their own solar controller, then I would suggest their are two solar controllers connected in series. That would not appear to be a satisfactory way of connecting the solar panels.

cheers
Mike
Hi @mikerezny AND @Billrw136 , I had a look at your very expensive and sophisticated Engel Series 2 battery box on computer, and note that you were able to chose the battery of your choice for the box. At the bottom of the advertisement for this Engel, it lists all the various battery types which are "compatible" with the workings of the unit. All listed including Gel, AGM, Calcium, Lead acid (Flooded) and the latest Lithium (LiFePO4), but no mention of Lead Crystal type. Am I right in assuming that the seller recommended this type and advised it was a suitable for use in the Engel box??
@mikerezny , it has a 7 stage "smart charger" probably for the 240 V ac input and can accept solar charging via an Anderson plug socket at the side. This connection is probably wired directly across the Lead Crystal battery and therefore the controller on the back of panel is necessary. If the controller is in fact an MPPT with various settings for different batteries, then @Billrw136 is doing fine if set for AGM. What do you reckon to give @Billrw136 some confidence in his own system??