14' Series Electrical questions - TPS1230 / Setek ST-III / Sphere Lighting Controller

melbournemac

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Apr 26, 2022
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2015 Expanda 14.44-4 OB

Hi,

Had the van since 2019 but has not had much use due to CV19. Have now been out in a it a few times and want to make some changes - leading to some electrical questions before I pull out the multimeter and start chasing cables / validating assumptions

Setek ST-III
- Noticed it's not connected to the TPS1230 solar controller's Load output. Based on other posts - I'll connect it up
- is the 12V negative rail common? I believe it is as the AUX input NEG is currently connected to L8 Neg connector. I ask as I want to to add two more 12V circuits (for USB device charging)
- Was surprised to see the AUX In connected. Do you know if the cables for the AUX in are shared with the Fridge's 12V input from the tug vehicle (from memory a pair of white / pink cables at the hitch)?

TPS1230 solar controller
- thinking of changing to a MPPT controller. I do not know much about good / bad solar controllers. Any recommendations on a replacement that has similar dimensions?

Sphere Lighting Controller
- I want to connect two more LED lights to the controller. Anyone know how many controllers are normally installed? I've found one under the bench seat (next to the battery), but there appears to be a similar looking box in a hard to get place in the cupboard adjoining the one with the Setek in it.

Thanks,

Steve
 
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Drover

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- Noticed it's not connected to the TPS1230 solar controller's Load output. Based on other posts
Not really needed as the 1230 is pretty basic information wise and unless its easy to redirect the cable run then not worth the effort...
Was surprised to see the AUX In connected
That is where the 12v supply from tug arrives,
there is often a jumble of wires under a bit of tin near where the draw bar joins the chassis, in amongst this is the junction where it splits to fridge and setek.
thinking of changing to a MPPT controller.
If you use your van fairly often and mostly off grid then Yes, a worth while investment along with extra storage and panels but if mostly parks then not so much a must have if at all ... I have an Epever unit which is very good, can read the screen without having to purchase extra bits or stuff around with phone, I do 95% off grid.


Can't help with the Sphere stuff at all.....
 
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jazzeddie1234

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is the 12V negative rail common? I believe it is as the AUX input NEG is currently connected to L8 Neg connector. I ask as I want to to add two more 12V circuits (for USB device charging)
All negatives are common at some point - either in the van or tug. Main thing is that van battery negative only goes to the shunt if fitted and not to ground so that the all current to/from the battery is monitored. The 12v high current fridge negative is kept separate to the 12 pin or anderson just to keep the the high current away from the other stuff - but it is still grounded back in the tug somewhere.

I have 2 sphere lighting control modules but they are expensive compared to a regular switch.

Here is an example https://www.rvpartsexpress.com.au/s...rical-equipment/sphere-wireless-lighting.html

I left my tps1230 installed when I upgraded to mppt. I moved the roof solar cables over to the new unit and ran a new cable from the tps to an anderson under the van and use that as an input for my portable solar panel.
 
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Boots in Action

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- Noticed it's not connected to the TPS1230 solar controller's Load output. Based on other posts - I'll connect it up
@melbournemac, regarding connecting the TPS1230 solar controller, please be aware that the only reason the TPS1230 can show BOTH input and output (besides battery voltage) is because the LOAD terminals from the Setec distribution point are through the solar controller. In simple terms, the wiring from the battery from the Setec to the distribution point with all the fuses must be disconnected from the terminals at the back of Setec and properly terminated with insulation caps. These wires no longer have anything to do with providing power to the distribution points. You must manufacture two cables to run from the back of the Setec (same points on distribution busbar that were from the battery) and connect these to the LOAD terminals on TPS1230 or your MPPT controller when you get one. Solar power from panels comes into the controller solar inputs as normal, battery connections on controller are unchanged and connected to battery, and the load terminals are now in circuit from the busbar on Setec. Solar power still charges the battery as does the electrical power from vehicle or 240 volt from grid. Power for all accessories is now drawn THROUGH the solar controller instead of direct from the battery. This also allows the low voltage disconnect/re-connect to be controlled by the solar controller and does not rely on the setting in the Setec although it still works but at a different level as a last resort of approx 10.0 volts.
 

Boots in Action

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Another advantage of @Boots in Action recommendation re wiring loads through solar controller was that it allowed me to track down a parasitic load that appeared. Turned out to be one of the circuits on the sphere wireless unit.
Thanks @Grandpa Gunna for the follow up recommendation. Another satisfied member!!! I note that on the Victron site, they now recommend that all loads be via the solar controller. I think that in a lot of cases, people do not understand the relevance of amps in and amps out, hence the reason a lot of use is made of the system of how long battery power will last at the current usage. This arrangement is common in a number of vans. Easier for some to read and understand.
 
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Drover

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I think the reason the set ups now have a monitor screen which will show you water tank and power usage with a remaiining battery percentage is most have no idea of what a simple in/out reading of amps, wattage means, many too lazy and just want a simple quick answer and pretty blue lights................. I don't trust those % left algo's though they never seem close.... bit like those cable test tags, at that point in time correct, 5 mins later not so.

Be handy on the house to see a minute by minute chew rate, have a little plug in jobby which I can plug individual units into to see how much 240 they chew, takes a bit of time but can be surprising how much or little some things require.............................. Did the van once but lost my notes, basically in Big mal if its 240v its a power chewer or it would be on 12v...............
 
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Boots in Action

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I think the reason the set ups now have a monitor screen which will show you water tank and power usage with a remaiining battery percentage is most have no idea of what a simple in/out reading of amps, wattage means, many too lazy and just want a simple quick answer and pretty blue lights................. I don't trust those % left algo's though they never seem close.... bit like those cable test tags, at that point in time correct, 5 mins later not so.

Be handy on the house to see a minute by minute chew rate, have a little plug in jobby which I can plug individual units into to see how much 240 they chew, takes a bit of time but can be surprising how much or little some things require.............................. Did the van once but lost my notes, basically in Big mal if its 240v its a power chewer or it would be on 12v...............
@Drover, I believe you are on the money with your comments in the first paragraph. My Daughter and husband don't understand/comprehend the significance of the figures displayed on their solar controller which shows current in/out, battery voltage and total generated in the last 24 hours as well as 2 and 3 days ago. Even has LED lights indicating various voltage functions, state of charge etc. I always have a look every time I am out with them and the most asked question is: " Are those figures okay?" No matter how many times I explain the display to them, they do not seem to take it in. Perhaps it is my teaching or maybe they are just not interested........until they have a problem and then its ask me to sort it out!!!
 
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Drover

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Nah, not you just some folk it doesnt click and some the lights arent even on..... Sometimes a different tack of instruction is needed, others betta to just walk away... I was once told I could teach a stick to drive after I had turned hopeless cases into drivers but I would comment that some are trees and always will be... My own mob hopeless with spanners or multimeter, talents lie elsewhere.....Took me years to realize that not everyone is a jack of all trades....
 

chartrock

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@Drover, I believe you are on the money with your comments in the first paragraph. My Daughter and husband don't understand/comprehend the significance of the figures displayed on their solar controller which shows current in/out, battery voltage and total generated in the last 24 hours as well as 2 and 3 days ago. Even has LED lights indicating various voltage functions, state of charge etc. I always have a look every time I am out with them and the most asked question is: " Are those figures okay?" No matter how many times I explain the display to them, they do not seem to take it in. Perhaps it is my teaching or maybe they are just not interested........until they have a problem and then its ask me to sort it out!!!
I guess I fit that category. My TPS1230 doesn’t show anything from either button so I guess it’s not working. And there is nothing in the load connections and never has been. It shows voltage only and ranges from 13.1 to 14.2v depending whether it is daylight or night time. Maybe that’s why my gel battery, which I always thought was an agm, went into balloon mode and split the top. There is now a 105 AH agm fitted. I plan to get an mppt when get home if finances permit.
D6CB3B69-906B-4070-B4D6-A799795119DB.jpeg
 

Boots in Action

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I guess I fit that category. My TPS1230 doesn’t show anything from either button so I guess it’s not working. And there is nothing in the load connections and never has been. It shows voltage only and ranges from 13.1 to 14.2v depending whether it is daylight or night time. Maybe that’s why my gel battery, which I always thought was an agm, went into balloon mode and split the top. There is now a 105 AH agm fitted. I plan to get an mppt when get home if finances permit.View attachment 68208
Yes @chartrock, you could be one of those, but then nobody is perfect at all things either. Gel batteries are great at life span and low current supply, but need a different charging algorithm to AGMs. They are also more critical in charging voltages. See attached as a reminder of the difference. Regarding the display on your TPS1230, remember that connecting the LOAD wires through the solar controller (TPS1230 or a good MPPT controller) is not standard in most vans and the mod I explained to members has its very valuable uses for those electrically inclined.
 

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BaldEd

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Sep 24, 2017
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melbournemac:
Re: Sphere lighting controller and adding extra lights.
My Jayco came with 2x Sphere 6 channel lighting controllers. I found that not all 12 channels were utilised - I have 2 spare channels.

You will need to (1) check if you have any spare channels, and (2) can you get your new lights wired to it. Failing that, (3) piggyback your lights to an existing channel, but be aware that not all channels can provide the same amount of current - (from memory, 1 of the relays had a higher rating than the other 5).
 
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