17' Series Solar issues…

Drover

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If your regularly seeing 20 odd amps going in then I would say you have enough panels but you are running your batteries down too much and need more storage, as they must be getting low by morning........................

When I was doing my research into a MPPT controller I dismissed the Victron units as I wanted a screen and they seemed overpriced and seem to need extras, the Epever and Enerdrive units had exactly what I wanted in one bundle, a multi function screen and capability to expand the system later on, price for the Enerdrive 35 amp was okay but went out there for the 40 but the Epever was more reasonable, no brand tax and I have found it to be a very good unit all round, no need to buy extras either though I did spend $50 on a remote unit to stick inside as I get curious at times plus its lithium capable even though my wallet isn't.......

Do lots of research so you don't get ripped off on price or quality as there is lots of overpriced rubbish out there.............

Remember if you are charging at bulk rate for a long time you have a problem with your system, ideally it should be at bulk rate for a short time then into absorbtion or float , if your pumping in heap of amps for ages then you need more storage, my set up is usually fully charged by 0800 ish in the morning, I work on using about 25 to 35% of storage overnight with draw during the day fully covered by solar ..........

As a test to see if my set up was viable I ran my 3 way fridge off the van batteries, the solar kept the batteries in float and powered the fridge, surprisingly while I thought I would see max amps from panels, I didn't just enough to run fridge and keep battery happy.. Of course only an experiement run in middle of the day, you couldn't do it full time at all, batteries wouldn't make it to nightfall...
 
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Boots in Action

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If your regularly seeing 20 odd amps going in then I would say you have enough panels but you are running your batteries down too much and need more storage, as they must be getting low by morning........................

When I was doing my research into a MPPT controller I dismissed the Victron units as I wanted a screen and they seemed overpriced and seem to need extras, the Epever and Enerdrive units had exactly what I wanted in one bundle, a multi function screen and capability to expand the system later on, price for the Enerdrive 35 amp was okay but went out there for the 40 but the Epever was more reasonable, no brand tax and I have found it to be a very good unit all round, no need to buy extras either though I did spend $50 on a remote unit to stick inside as I get curious at times plus its lithium capable even though my wallet isn't.......

Do lots of research so you don't get ripped off on price or quality as there is lots of overpriced rubbish out there.............

Remember if you are charging at bulk rate for a long time you have a problem with your system, ideally it should be at bulk rate for a short time then into absorbtion or float , if your pumping in heap of amps for ages then you need more storage, my set up is usually fully charged by 0800 ish in the morning, I work on using about 25 to 35% of storage overnight with draw during the day fully covered by solar ..........

As a test to see if my set up was viable I ran my 3 way fridge off the van batteries, the solar kept the batteries in float and powered the fridge, surprisingly while I thought I would see max amps from panels, I didn't just enough to run fridge and keep battery happy.. Of course only an experiement run in middle of the day, you couldn't do it full time at all, batteries wouldn't make it to nightfall...

Remember if you are charging at bulk rate for a long time you have a problem with your system, ideally it should be at bulk rate for a short time then into absorbtion or float , if your pumping in heap of amps for ages then you need more storage,
@Roadhouse , the attached quote by @Drover is spot on!! Running your system at its limits that frequently is not good for the longevity of batteries and even solar controller. As a general rule, your battery/ies should be FULLY charged well before noon and in float condition for the rest of day, just carrying any loads you have on . That means that most times at dusk, your batteries are full and capable of lasting throughout the night without dragging the battery capacity down too low. And if the weather is not kind to you in the morning for re-charging, then you are under the pump to carry the electrical loads for the rest of the day AND are in trouble to be able to last through the night hours. Having the ability to charge quickly is a great thing, but having the ability and the capacity to "STORE" excess power is also important if you wish to avoid rationing when weather prevents full recharging.
 

Roadhouse

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Yes def not pumping in 20a all the time. Seen it as low as 2-3a and everything in between.

Power-wise the only item using a bit is starlink. Working whilst on the road… I have a little 300w inverter running that.

Other than that just the 12v water pump and some LED van lights. Plus charging a plethora of phones/iPads/laptops. Can soon add up I guess.

I have 2 x new 100AH AGMs charged by 140w roof panel and now the 160w folding portable panel all through the standard regulator and Setec III battery charger that came with the van.

Voltage display when under charge is around 13-13.5 but can get to 14.4 in full sun. Stays around 13-13.5 most of the day then high 12s when not charging.

It does get down to 12.1-12.3 by bed time which to me seems maybe a bit low as batteries should be full all day and only drawing more than being replenished after say late arvo.

Although that is 50-60% charge so maybe spot on?
 

Drover

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That actually sounds okay and pretty normal for the daytime readings, don't be worried by the voltage display unless its showing that when you have most of the stuff switched off, if I want to find out the real charge in my batteries when i get up in the wee hours well before sunrise I will have a squiz at the monitor, the battery charge will be showing the real state of charge as its all nicely settled, if its down at 12.1 or so then well you need more storage................. A 100ah battery is really only 95ah for this sort of work, less as they get older, in my books that means you really only have 45 ah of usable storage in each battery, of course you can knock them down further but it comes at a price......... thats a basic rule of thumb of mine .

I charge everything up between 1030 and 1400 ideally.
 
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Boots in Action

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Yes def not pumping in 20a all the time. Seen it as low as 2-3a and everything in between.

Power-wise the only item using a bit is starlink. Working whilst on the road… I have a little 300w inverter running that.

Other than that just the 12v water pump and some LED van lights. Plus charging a plethora of phones/iPads/laptops. Can soon add up I guess.

I have 2 x new 100AH AGMs charged by 140w roof panel and now the 160w folding portable panel all through the standard regulator and Setec III battery charger that came with the van.

Voltage display when under charge is around 13-13.5 but can get to 14.4 in full sun. Stays around 13-13.5 most of the day then high 12s when not charging.

It does get down to 12.1-12.3 by bed time which to me seems maybe a bit low as batteries should be full all day and only drawing more than being replenished after say late arvo.

Although that is 50-60% charge so maybe spot on?
@Roadhouse , the Setec, even when connected to 240 volt power, will only get you to 14.0 volts, way too low for an AGM which really needs close to 14.7 volts to achieve FULL charge into batteries. And getting a proper charge from tug alternator to van batteries while driving is only really possible with a DC to DC charger. 14.4 volts is the minimum you need to get any reasonable charge into batteries, and it would be difficult to reach that figure with lots of loads on batteries, , while charging, even small ones. Your 140w roof panel will only be operating at its best between the hours of 11.00am and 2.00pm as that is when sun is mostly overhead, each side of that charging current drops off significantly. At the current rate, I believe that batteries are only never going to reach more than approximately 70 to 80% of maximum charge capacity. Unless you can reduce electrical demand, for a period to get batteries FULLY CHARGED to maximum capacity, then I think your batteries are being pushed too hard to last long. Can you get yourself a "smart" charger and hook up to 240 volts power for at least 36 hours every now and then? If you can, and do that fairly often, I am sure you will see an improvement in battery capacity.
 

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Roadhouse

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Mar 12, 2019
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@Roadhouse , the Setec, even when connected to 240 volt power, will only get you to 14.0 volts, way too low for an AGM which really needs close to 14.7 volts to achieve FULL charge into batteries. And getting a proper charge from tug alternator to van batteries while driving is only really possible with a DC to DC charger. 14.4 volts is the minimum you need to get any reasonable charge into batteries, and it would be difficult to reach that figure with lots of loads on batteries, , while charging, even small ones. Your 140w roof panel will only be operating at its best between the hours of 11.00am and 2.00pm as that is when sun is mostly overhead, each side of that charging current drops off significantly. At the current rate, I believe that batteries are only never going to reach more than approximately 70 to 80% of maximum charge capacity. Unless you can reduce electrical demand, for a period to get batteries FULLY CHARGED to maximum capacity, then I think your batteries are being pushed too hard to last long. Can you get yourself a "smart" charger and hook up to 240 volts power for at least 36 hours every now and then? If you can, and do that fairly often, I am sure you will see an improvement in battery capacity.
If Setec is too low for AGM, why would they use them? Not doubting your knowledge but what's the point of it if it won't charge the batteries properly?
 

Drover

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The Setek is only when on mains power in a park, off grid the solar is doing it all ................... reading your earlier post 12.1 -12.3 if thats regualrly at bedtime then you need more storage for sure, also is that from a monitor on the battery or on a line in the van, reason being the reading on the battery will be battery, on a line in van it will be what left on that line after things have been sucking juice, have a look at your voltmeter about 2 hrs later and see what it says, it should be reading higher if not then you will need more storage, don't leave that invertor running as they chew up power even if something is not turned on, they are not efficient.......... turn off TV's, radios etc from socket not just remote, in my van the radio is a very hungry unit after the Foxtel Box...even those cig plug USB sockets will draw, miniscule but it all adds up.... Mine have been rewired so they all have a switch which equates to an amp or 2 saving.
 
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Boots in Action

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Hmmm, so the SETEC can't charge batteries properly? what's the point of it then!??! To upgrade that is going to be a PITA as well as expensive no doubt...

Looking at the solar reg in the van now, I am getting 24amps in (12.30pm in WA), with voltage showing 13.4V. Have seen it at 14.4 sometimes.

Had a look at SETEC manual and it seems to say max current it can charge the batteries at is 10A - so my 24A going in would be throttled back?
@Roadhouse , with the Setec, it WAS (and still is to some extent) a reasonable charger and battery management system. But technology has advanced considerably over the years. When Jayco was producing vans several years back ,it was the norm to fit GEL batteries because they were the best thing back then, long life,, could produce a low to medium discharge for long periods when the electrical demand for power in vans was only lights. water pump, fans, radio etc - all low drain equipment. And the Setec was a suitable charger. Gel batteries only need approx max 14.2 volts so and with an output of 14.05 volts was a very safe charging voltage for all vanners in those days. The max charge rate has been upgraded from a low 5 amps in the Series I model to 10 amps in the series III, with the ST 35 model (in OB models) able to input up to 15 amps through the unit using 240 volt power..
With the entry of AGM batteries and their ability to produce high current (at times), accept a much higher charging rate, and still last a long time, and were cheaper, a lot of people replaced their Gel Batteries with the (better?? and more easily obtained in most places) with an AGM. But AGMs really need 14.7 volts to get FULLY charged as shown. That does not mean that you cannot use a Setec to charge an AGM. It just means that it will never have enough voltage to punch a high enough voltage to achieve 100% capacity. and as not ever fully charged, approx 15% is lost. That is the technically correct response. However, many members have used Gel batteries with the Setec unit quite successfully for long periods too. Gel batteries are more delicate, and susceptible to heat and too higher voltage, as this tends to dry out the paste on plates in the cells while AGMs are more forgiving in this regard. Hence the reason, I do not use the Setec ST20 Series III to charge my AGM battery except when at a van park where the constant 13.65 volts power from Setec is great for all my 12 volt equipment. When I get home from van park or off grid, , I use a multi stage "smart" charger to get my AGM up to FULL capacity again. After 48 hours, it has always reached FULL capacity , is in float mode, and I turn it off. However, the Setec float charge voltage of 13.65 volts is quite satisfactory and the "Store" voltage of 13.25 volts intermittently each day is good for the battery. Later model BMS units have been changed to BMPro units to meet the increasing demands placed on electrical systems by vanners. Now they are working on Lithium batteries and chargers to suit!!!

As your solar is NOT going through the Setec and should be connected directly from controller to batteries, there is no need to worry about the fact that you are showing 24A charge rate??, If you look at the side of your batteries, they have a max charge rate listed on the side. As you have two batteries in parallel, the max charge rate for you would be twice the max listed on side. Most AGMs can handle 30 to 40A or more into EACH battery and you are never going to achieve that!! As long as you can see battery charging voltage achieve 14.4 volts occasionally, it does mean that you are getting to the max charge voltage that your solar controller can achieve, but it should hold at that max charge voltage for a while before dropping back to lower figures and perhaps a FLOAT voltage of 13.6 volts with no load.
 
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Boots in Action

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@Roadhouse , with the Setec, it WAS (and still is to some extent) a reasonable charger and battery management system. But technology has advanced considerably over the years. When Jayco was producing vans several years back ,it was the norm to fit GEL batteries because they were the best thing back then, long life,, could produce a low to medium discharge for long periods when the electrical demand for power in vans was only lights. water pump, fans, radio etc - all low drain equipment. And the Setec was a suitable charger. Gel batteries only need approx max 14.2 volts so and with an output of 14.05 volts was a very safe charging voltage for all vanners in those days. The max charge rate has been upgraded from a low 5 amps in the Series I model to 10 amps in the series III, with the ST 35 model (in OB models) able to input up to 15 amps through the unit using 240 volt power..
With the entry of AGM batteries and their ability to produce high current (at times), accept a much higher charging rate, and still last a long time, and were cheaper, a lot of people replaced their Gel Batteries with the (better?? and more easily obtained in most places) with an AGM. But AGMs really need 14.7 volts to get FULLY charged as shown. That does not mean that you cannot use a Setec to charge an AGM. It just means that it will never have enough voltage to punch a high enough voltage to achieve 100% capacity. and as not ever fully charged, approx 15% is lost. That is the technically correct response. However, many members have used Gel batteries with the Setec unit quite successfully for long periods too. Gel batteries are more delicate, and susceptible to heat and too higher voltage, as this tends to dry out the paste on plates in the cells while AGMs are more forgiving in this regard. Hence the reason, I do not use the Setec ST20 Series III to charge my AGM battery except when at a van park where the constant 13.65 volts power from Setec is great for all my 12 volt equipment. When I get home from van park or off grid, , I use a multi stage "smart" charger to get my AGM up to FULL capacity again. After 48 hours, it has always reached FULL capacity , is in float mode, and I turn it off. However, the Setec float charge voltage of 13.65 volts is quite satisfactory and the "Store" voltage of 13.25 volts intermittently each day is good for the battery. Later model BMS units have been changed to BMPro units to meet the increasing demands placed on electrical systems by vanners. Now they are working on Lithium batteries and chargers to suit!!!

As your solar is NOT going through the Setec and should be connected directly from controller to batteries, there is no need to worry about the fact that you are showing 24A charge rate??, If you look at the side of your batteries, they have a max charge rate listed on the side. As you have two batteries in parallel, the max charge rate for you would be twice the max listed on side. Most AGMs can handle 30 to 40A or more into EACH battery and you are never going to achieve that!! As long as you can see battery charging voltage achieve 14.4 volts occasionally, it does mean that you are getting to the max charge voltage that your solar controller can achieve, but it should hold at that max charge voltage for a while before dropping back to lower figures and perhaps a FLOAT voltage of 13.6 volts with no load.
@Roadhouse , just looked up the specs for your XTM 100ah AGM.
Max input charging current......30.0A
Float voltage...........13.6 to 13.8 volts
Charge voltage.......14.6 to 14.8 volts
All figures are at 25C.
So there you have it!!! Hope these advices help.
 

Drover

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What was the question ?????

Went back and had another read................................. and saw what Booties and I missed, STARLINK, so I went back over some notes I made when I was looking at the system, now I could only go by the official specs and we all know they can be fancifull , running it thru an inverter for 240v power it will want 4.5 to 7 amps, now if your running it for 6 hrs then that could be between 27 - 42 amps it will want from your battery (unless my maths is haywire which is a possibility, on 240v 50-75w) add to this normal van use your solar would be working its ars off keeping up I think ............................... 300w on roof, a good MPPT solar reg, Enerdrive or Epever, one with a screen would be a good start coupled with your 160 portable................

Starlink on 240v draws 50-75w going by the specs................ when it's on but not being used it will draw about 20w they reckon but once you start using it power consumption increases as it tracks the Sats. reports I have read say it could eat an entire 100ah battery if left on for 24hrs.............

I would still like one................. my solar is good enough but I think I would like to add the storage so mean lithium............ bum.

NOTE: I have no idea how I came to those amp figures now.............
 
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Boots in Action

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What was the question ?????

Went back and had another read................................. and saw what Booties and I missed, STARLINK, so I went back over some notes I made when I was looking at the system, now I could only go by the official specs and we all know they can be fancifull , running it thru an inverter for 240v power it will want 4.5 to 7 amps, now if your running it for 6 hrs then that could be between 27 - 42 amps it will want from your battery (unless my maths is haywire which is a possibility, on 240v 50-75w) add to this normal van use your solar would be working its ars off keeping up I think ............................... 300w on roof, a good MPPT solar reg, Enerdrive or Epever, one with a screen would be a good start coupled with your 160 portable................

Starlink on 240v draws 50-75w going by the specs................ when it's on but not being used it will draw about 20w they reckon but once you start using it power consumption increases as it tracks the Sats. reports I have read say it could eat an entire 100ah battery if left on for 24hrs.............

I would still like one................. my solar is good enough but I think I would like to add the storage so mean lithium............ bum.

NOTE: I have no idea how I came to those amp figures now.............
@Drover and @Roadhouse , I just looked up the power demands of a Starlink working through an inverter using a 12 volt power supply. Now that is where a lot of power is being consumed!!
The attachment also mentions that the estimated power draw is using a 100ah LITHIUM battery, which is much more powerful than2 X 100ah AGMs.
Tread your own path on that one!

Does Starlink draw a lot of power?


That means you'll want to be prepared for the additional power consumption. The standard Starlink dish consumes roughly 1 kilowatt hour of electricity in 24 hours. That's just shy of the usable capacity in a 100 amp-hour lithium battery.
 

Drover

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Nov 7, 2013
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@Drover and @Roadhouse , I just looked up the power demands of a Starlink working through an inverter using a 12 volt power supply. Now that is where a lot of power is being consumed!!
The attachment also mentions that the estimated power draw is using a 100ah LITHIUM battery, which is much more powerful than2 X 100ah AGMs.
Tread your own path on that one!

Does Starlink draw a lot of power?


That means you'll want to be prepared for the additional power consumption. The standard Starlink dish consumes roughly 1 kilowatt hour of electricity in 24 hours. That's just shy of the usable capacity in a 100 amp-hour lithium battery.


Isn't that what I just said ???????????????

The Specs on 240v.

The Starlink specs below include the Starlink, WiFi router, power supply, and cables.

Standard (Rectangular) power specifications:
  • Average: 50-75W
  • Idle: 20W
  • Peak: 100-240V~ 2.0A 50-60Hz

This is the guide I used to work out how much battery was needed. https://enerdrive.com.au/2018/03/08/inverter-questions-answered/
 
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