Solar The Solar Panel Thread

Eddii

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Jun 28, 2017
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Burua Central QLD 4680
Totally agree with you @Boots in Action ;). I’d love to change my set up in our van to hook up to controllers load terminals but running cables back to Setec is a bit of a task unfortunately :(. My controller is located in the middle overhead cupboard and Setec under our bed in front of the van. I’ll put that in my things to do one day ;)
 

Boots in Action

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Mar 13, 2017
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
Hi @Eddii again. I think that @Bellbirdweb had to do some similar changes to his system when he upgraded from his Topray controller to an Epever MPPT controller. He seemed to arrange it without too many problems, but I do not know if he has the same van type as you. If you look back on this SOLAR forum, you may find details as to what he did. It may be easier than you think. Cheers
 
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Boots in Action

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Mar 13, 2017
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
Totally agree with you @Boots in Action ;). I’d love to change my set up in our van to hook up to controllers load terminals but running cables back to Setec is a bit of a task unfortunately :(. My controller is located in the middle overhead cupboard and Setec under our bed in front of the van. I’ll put that in my things to do one day ;)
Hi @Eddii , @mikerezny and @Bellbirdweb , just found this little "gem" of wisdom on another forum. Backs up what I have been saying about LVR in Setec being FAR TOO LOW!! Definitely a good reason to put all loads (except very heavy current users) through the Solar controller IF LVD is better than Setec OR can be set by user.

#5
02-13-2017, 06:55 PM

A lot of people don't realize that the usual 10.7 to 11.7v LVD voltage, is NOT to be used for normal disconnects, but merely as a dead-man switch to protect a battery that is already fully discharged from going further and causing immediate physical damage.

When it trips, you must recharge to full immediately, and not with an unreliable source of solar power. That LVD voltage is a battery-saver IF you recharge. However, "saved" does not mean you haven't given the battery a heart-attack and cycle life has been adversely affected.

Under normal use, this LVD should be MUCH higher. In your case, about 12.2v roughly estimating about 50% DOD.

Even worse, is not recharging to full pronto. Your buyers have had their batteries sit around sulfating in a totally discharged state, so that compounds the problem. Not enough solar. Not enough capacity. Too low of an LVD voltage destroying batteries with repetetive partial-state-of-charge conditions.

The next thing you do is figure out why your *primary* LVD, which should be much higher has failed. For your little agm's, that would be around 12.2v under load, NOT the dead-man 11.2v catch.

If we knew what size your panels are, and what capacity your battery is, I'll bet that a minimum of quadrupling your panel power and at the very least doubling your battery capacity is called for. Get ready to recycle every one of your existing batteries.

Your system needs a major redesign.
 
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Bellbirdweb

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Jan 24, 2014
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Hi @Eddii again. I think that @Bellbirdweb had to do some similar changes to his system when he upgraded from his Topray controller to an Epever MPPT controller. He seemed to arrange it without too many problems, but I do not know if he has the same van type as you. If you look back on this SOLAR forum, you may find details as to what he did. It may be easier than you think. Cheers
Yes mine had the same issue.

The factory controller was located above the fridge with cables from panels and batteries both connected there.

All I did was join the cables coming from the panels and going to the batteries.

I installed the new controller near the battery and relocated the cables from the battery to the solar input on the new controller, then ran new battery cables.
 

Bellbirdweb

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Jan 24, 2014
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Sydney
Hi @Eddii , @mikerezny and @Bellbirdweb , just found this little "gem" of wisdom on another forum. Backs up what I have been saying about LVR in Setec being FAR TOO LOW!! Definitely a good reason to put all loads (except very heavy current users) through the Solar controller IF LVD is better than Setec OR can be set by user.

#5
02-13-2017, 06:55 PM

A lot of people don't realize that the usual 10.7 to 11.7v LVD voltage, is NOT to be used for normal disconnects, but merely as a dead-man switch to protect a battery that is already fully discharged from going further and causing immediate physical damage.

When it trips, you must recharge to full immediately, and not with an unreliable source of solar power. That LVD voltage is a battery-saver IF you recharge. However, "saved" does not mean you haven't given the battery a heart-attack and cycle life has been adversely affected.

Under normal use, this LVD should be MUCH higher. In your case, about 12.2v roughly estimating about 50% DOD.

Even worse, is not recharging to full pronto. Your buyers have had their batteries sit around sulfating in a totally discharged state, so that compounds the problem. Not enough solar. Not enough capacity. Too low of an LVD voltage destroying batteries with repetetive partial-state-of-charge conditions.

The next thing you do is figure out why your *primary* LVD, which should be much higher has failed. For your little agm's, that would be around 12.2v under load, NOT the dead-man 11.2v catch.

If we knew what size your panels are, and what capacity your battery is, I'll bet that a minimum of quadrupling your panel power and at the very least doubling your battery capacity is called for. Get ready to recycle every one of your existing batteries.

Your system needs a major redesign.
I didn’t get a chance to see you original diagram @Boots in Action so now I’m really interested in seeing your revised version.

Based on @mikerezny’s comment above about losing the battery isolate switch on the STIII and having a drifter, I’m keen to have a look and see if it’s something applicable to my setup or not.
 

Boots in Action

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Mar 13, 2017
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
Yes mine had the same issue.

The factory controller was located above the fridge with cables from panels and batteries both connected there.

All I did was join the cables coming from the panels and going to the batteries.

I installed the new controller near the battery and relocated the cables from the battery to the solar input on the new controller, then ran new battery cables.
Thanks @Bellbirdweb , I am sure @Eddii will appreciate your help on that matter.
 

Boots in Action

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Mar 13, 2017
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
I didn’t get a chance to see you original diagram @Boots in Action so now I’m really interested in seeing your revised version.

Based on @mikerezny’s comment above about losing the battery isolate switch on the STIII and having a drifter, I’m keen to have a look and see if it’s something applicable to my setup or not.
Hi @Bellbirdweb , my initial electrical circuit diagram was FULL of FAULTS as I struggled to put thoughts onto paper to match what I had successfully connected on my van and Daughter's. I have tried to distance myself from that hash of a diagram and have edited original post accordingly. Still trying to analyse what is connected in my van that works so well. Stay tuned. Would the "Drifter" panel have a different system of LVD and LVR controls or does it rely on the display providing VISUAL warning only?? Over to you on that one. I am sure that your Epever MPPT controller HAS user variable settings for these plus others, but I do not think that they are operable unless the loads are connected through the solar controller itself. A lot of those functions may be unnecessary when a Drifter system is fitted, but maybe NOT the settings. I know my system works, because when I have altered the settings for max charge voltage and float voltage , the volt meter confirms that panels are charging higher and float comes in at new setting. LVD and LVR not yet tested, but should do so if rest of settings work.
 
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Boots in Action

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Mar 13, 2017
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
Hello @Eddii and @mikerezny , after making a fool of myself TRYING to draw an electrical circuit incorporating what I have successfully connected in my van and my Daughter's, I used what little brain power I had left and looked up on my computer more info on how a solar controller actually works. Unfortunately it does not show an electrical circuit, but it DOES confirm what I have been unable to properly explain about the value of having the LOAD connected through the solar controller. In fact, the site states that to be able to know/record/display amps in AND out of controller (plus other info on charge settings LVDs and LVRs settings etc), you need to connect the Load through the controller. The following site helps explain this and there may be others too. So sorry to all on this site for getting off to a misleading start, but this site vindicates what I have said about having a better control of safe battery voltage operation of van battery by using settings on a good solar controller. The settings in the Setec if LOAD terminals on controller are NOT connected do not stack up against good controllers IMHO. I shall leave it up to you on how/what you think, but I am confident that my controller is going to look after my van battery better by connecting the load to the terminals than not doing so. You do have to have a controller that has user settings, but even if you have one of the cheaper controllers, connecting the load through the solar controller will /may give you better settings than the Setec when you look at the specs of same.

https://itechworld.com.au/blogs/learn/how-does-a-solar-regulator-work

I am still trying to work out a circuit on how this is incorporated into my set up so that the settings on my controller are involved in the battery operation without losing any of the other features in the SETEC controller!!
Hi @Bellbirdweb , @mikerezny and @Eddii , it is dark at the moment, but tomorrow morning, I will get into my Penguin and test out and CONFIRM the following:
1 whilst in normal operating electrical condition, I shall operate the "battery Disconnect" switch and note exactly what happens.
2. I will do the same thing with the SETEC controller in operation and charging battery as necessary and report what stays on and what goes off.
3. I will disconnect the Setec and connect up a solar panel and operate "Battery Disconnect" switch and see what stays on and what goes off.
4 Any other combinations I can think of.
5. I will take pictures of all visible connections to see if that helps.

I know most of the results already, but this will definitely CONFIRM ALL settings.

Should have info and pics by lunch time.
 
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Boots in Action

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Mar 13, 2017
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
Hi @Boots in Action,
what model Setec do you have? Only the mkIII has the manual battery isolate switch incorporated. If you have an earlier Setec AND a battery isolate switch than it is wired differently and probably only directly disconnects the battery.

cheers
Mike
Hi Mike @mikerezny , I have a Setec ST 20 - 111 (20 amp version). However, I think my Daughter's 2010 Discovery has Setec ST 20 - 11, but will have to check. Can try to do same tests later in week, but did not notice anything different to mine when installing Powertech Solar controller with Load through controller terminals - but did not really check. However, there was a separate battery switch in the circuit.

Brilliant!!! Thanks for this. I can now take advantage running two panels in parallel mode roof+folding panels(occasionally).Problem solved :)
Well now that you are organised @Eddii , I have had another go at the connections and circuit. This time I have just done tests and observations and will let some really smart "Tech Head" work out the circuit in full. See new post and connection diagram. Will take a while for me to go through notes and put into words. Glad you have made some progress. Is the "Treasurer of Home Affairs" going to approve of your expenditure???
 

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
600
608
93
Ferny Grove, Queensland
Hi @Boots in Action,
what model Setec do you have? Only the mkIII has the manual battery isolate switch incorporated. If you have an earlier Setec AND a battery isolate switch than it is wired differently and probably only directly disconnects the battery.

cheers
Mike
Hi there @mikerezny , @G Daddy , @Bellbirdweb and @Eddii , here is the updated amended diagram of how I have connected up my MPPT controller to the Setec so that everything works. The following tests and observations were made today to understand exactly how this all comes together. 4 separate tests were conducted each one with battery switch ON and OFF and also WITH and WITHOUT a load applied. 16 tests in all!!

First test "A" - no external power connected - Internal battery only.
WITH BATTERY SWITCH ON: NO Load: Controller working and all displays as normal: battery voltage, 0 amps in, 0 amps out, PV voltage and PV current 0, no load and Setec connected.
With Load ON (lights etc): Controller showing as above but with load in AMPs displayed. Setec on and operational.

WITH BATTERY SWITCH OFF: NO Load: All accessories off including radio memory function, Setec off. Note controller still operating as per NO Load test above with normal displays.
WITH BATTERY SWITCH OFF: Load ON: All accessories off incl radio memory function, Setec off. Controller still operating as per No load test above.

2ND TEST "B" - 240 volt power connected to van (and SETEC)
WITH BATTERY SWITCH ON: NO Load: Setec charging to max voltage of 14.0 volts. Controller functioning as per same test in "A". Only difference was it was showing higher battery voltage caused by Setec charging. Not showing current into battery.
With Load ON: All accessories working. Controller detected battery voltage drop because of LOAD applied. Otherwise Controller as above. Load not displayed.

WITH BATTERY SWITCH OFF: No LOAD: Setec off, but no change to Controller displays . Note in this test, the SETEC is STILL charging but only at 0.8A. Noted that battery voltage rose slightly to 14.1 volts in this mode. Dropped back to float voltage of 13.7 volts as per Setec specs when battery switch "ON' again.

3RD Test "C" - External charging by Multi stage "Smart Charger" from Anderson plug at side of van and wires connected directly across battery terminals. No other power to van .

WITH BATTERY SWITCH ON: No LOAD: Setec on, and Controller in operation showing battery voltage to 14.7 volts (correct for AGM) and as per specs of charger. No load or amps in shown on controller.
With Load ON: Setec on, all accessories On and working, controller showing Load IN AMPS and amps in, and battery voltage, plus zero for PV voltage and amps.

WITH BATTERY SWITCH OFF: No Load: Setec off, all accessories off. Controller showing no load or amps in, but charging voltage still at 14.7 volts before dropping back to 13.8 volts (float voltage) as per specs for charger.
With Load ON: Setec off, all accessories off, controller showing No Load or amps in/out, but voltage and other displays as per above.

4Th Test "D" - solar panel connected (only 1 X 180w) - no other power connected to van.
WITH BATTERY SWITCH ON: No load: Setec on, controller showing full details of 8.4 amps in, no load, PV voltage at 18.6 volts and battery charge voltage of 14.6 volts (user adjustable setting correct as set) and continuous logging of electrical system operating.
With Load ON: Setec on, all accessories working, controller showing load of 3.6amps, PV voltage of 16.1 volts, 5.8amps charge to battery and battery voltage of 14.1 volts. All electrical logging in operation.

WITH BATTERY SWITCH OFF: No load: Setec off, all accessories off, controller showing no load, but PV voltage up to 18.6 volts, charge rate of 5.8 amps and battery charge voltage at max setting of 14.6 volts (correct as set by user and adjustable) before dropping to 13.8 volts (float setting - also adjustable and correct for setting made).
With Load On: Setec off, all accessories off, controller showing no load, but still showing PV voltage at 18.6 volts,5.8 amps into battery at battery charge voltage of 14.6 volts and then 13.8 volts (float) as per user adjustable settings made by me.

I think I have covered most of the combinations possible, but if I have missed one or you want me to double check any info, I am happy to do test again for any member to clarify this very successful setup for me.
And here is the simplest way I could explain the connections I have made. Could not take photo as too many wires in the way. However, the diagram is exactly as the Setec distribution area looks and the terminals are as marked on all the connections. Hope this helps. NO FLAMES, NO SMOKE AND NO MIRRORS EITHER.
 

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Eddii

Active Member
Jun 28, 2017
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40
Burua Central QLD 4680
Hi Mike @mikerezny , I have a Setec ST 20 - 111 (20 amp version). However, I think my Daughter's 2010 Discovery has Setec ST 20 - 11, but will have to check. Can try to do same tests later in week, but did not notice anything different to mine when installing Powertech Solar controller with Load through controller terminals - but did not really check. However, there was a separate battery switch in the circuit.



Well now that you are organised @Eddii , I have had another go at the connections and circuit. This time I have just done tests and observations and will let some really smart "Tech Head" work out the circuit in full. See new post and connection diagram. Will take a while for me to go through notes and put into words. Glad you have made some progress. Is the "Treasurer of Home Affairs" going to approve of your expenditure???
@Boots in Action I shall ask the "minister of finance" after our holidays8-). I already spent enough money prior to our trip:p. Diesel Heater was the biggest expenditure for this trip. I shall find a way to justify the next project:biggrin-new::biggrin-new::biggrin-new:

Thanks for the diagram, makes much sense now:clap2::clap2::clap2:
 

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
600
608
93
Ferny Grove, Queensland
I didn’t get a chance to see you original diagram @Boots in Action so now I’m really interested in seeing your revised version.

Based on @mikerezny’s comment above about losing the battery isolate switch on the STIII and having a drifter, I’m keen to have a look and see if it’s something applicable to my setup or not.
Hi @Bellbirdweb , it would appear that the comment by @mikerezny about losing the normal use of the Battery Isolation Switch seems to be unfounded. Based on the results of my testing under all 4 conditions, it appears that the switch controls the Setec relay and not only disconnects the power to the Setec, but also interrupts the load distribution circuit as well. As my connection of the MPPT controller is across the battery terminals and NOT through the Setec switching, it is able to continue operating independently without the Setec. When the Battery Isolation switch is closed, the load circuit is picked up by the Controller. If my limited understanding is correct, then the MPPT controller will operate the LVD long before the Setec does. What are your thoughts??
Note to those with sophisticated Drifter Panels:: This setup may or may not be suitable for you. More advice needed from "Tech Heads" with Drifter panels themselves. Definitely the way to go if proven to protect your battery/ies.
 

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
600
608
93
Ferny Grove, Queensland
Brilliant!!! Thanks for this. I can now take advantage running two panels in parallel mode roof+folding panels(occasionally).Problem solved :)
Hi @Eddii , just in case you were wondering about charge voltages for the different types of batteries (the Setec does not do the complete charge job for AGMs in my opinion) I found this little gem on my computer regarding advantages/disadvantages of various terminal charge voltages. Have a read and see what one is up against. It seems that temperature has a huge bearing on what voltages should be set (on user adjustable types) like the MPPT controller you are thinking about??) As has been said on this forum, it is best to go by the manufacturers' specs which are set out on the side of the battery - Gel or AGM. The controller you and I have discussed HAS a remote temp sensor which you can tape to the battery for very accurate temps whilst charging. Otherwise, you have to rely on the ambient temp sensor in the controller itself which could be way different.

Courtesy of Cadex

During the constant-current charge, the battery charges to 70 percent in 5–8 hours; the remaining 30 percent is filled with the slower topping charge that lasts another 7–10 hours. The topping charge is essential for the well-being of the battery and can be compared to a little rest after a good meal. If deprived, the battery will eventually lose the ability to accept a full charge and the performance will decrease due to sulfation. The float charge in the third stage maintains the battery at full charge.

The switch from Stage 1 to 2 occurs seamlessly and happens when the battery reaches the set voltage limit. The current begins to drop as the battery starts to saturate, and full charge is reached when the current decreases to the three percent level of the rated current. A battery with high leakage may never attain this low saturation current, and a plateau timer takes over to initialize the charge termination.

The correct setting of the charge voltage is critical and ranges from 2.30 to 2.45V per cell. Setting the voltage threshold is a compromise, and battery experts refer to this as “dancing on the head of a needle.” On one hand, the battery wants to be fully charged to get maximum capacity and avoid sulfation on the negative plate; on the other hand, an over-saturated condition causes grid corrosion on the positive plate and induces gassing.

To make “dancing on the head of a needle” more difficult, the battery voltage shifts with temperature. Warmer surroundings require slightly lower voltage thresholds and a cold ambient prefers a higher level. Chargers exposed to temperature fluctuations should include temperature sensors to adjust the charge voltage for optimum charge efficiency. If this is not possible, it is better to choose a lower voltage for safety reasons. Table 4-5 compares the advantages and limitations of various peak voltage settings.


Sites for reference are below:
http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/charging_the_lead_acid_battery
http://byeways.net/Snippets1/Snippets-other/notes/charging_information_for_lead__14253.html
 
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