Questions about solar power - Page 8 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-11-2014, 05:17 PM   #99
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Many solar controllers have an"equalize" function the operates manually or automatically maybe once a month. It over charges the battery a bit, the purpose being to remove lead sulphate crystals (I think).

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My PD 4045 has a similar function. I believe they increase the voltage to boil the electrolyte in an attempt to make it homogeneous, mimicking the mixing effect of a moving vehicle. I believe it is preventative and will not remove already existing crystals. Newer chargers are using high frequency pulsing to reverse sulphate crystals. If anyone knows the magnitude and frequency that is being used, I'd love to know. Raz
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Old 03-11-2014, 05:18 PM   #100
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Questions about solar power

I pulled the trigger today.

100w mono semi flexible panel from Renogy. $199, free freight.

The 3 lbs weight (vs. 16.5# for their conventional glass panel) was just too good to pass up. I'm going to rig up a slide in mount on the roof. The panel will live there and stay up there if we are boondocking in the sun. It will slide out and go into a frame to sit on the ground if we are boondocking in the shade. I'll have this built in a couple of weeks and post some pics then. The light weight and 0.196" thickness makes me believe this 'best of both worlds' solution will be hassle free.

Schneider Electric, formerly Xantrex C-12 12amp PWM controller. $77 plus $13 freight from N Arizona wind and sun.

Boy, was this a complicated issue. You can read all the PWM vs MPPT discussion above. I decided the extra cost of MPPT was not justified by my puny little 100w panel.

In my research I noted different controllers use different voltage set points for bulk, absorption, float and equalize phases. I looked up Trojan's recommendation for my T105s and found none of the controllers (nor does my battery charger) meet their specs. I chose the Xantrex C12 because the voltage set points for bulk and float are user adjustable. I asked a Trojan tech support guy if this mattered and he said "well, ya, sort of, the battery will last longer, not gas as much, it's probably better". Not an unequivocal "yes" but not "it doesn't matter" either. I asked the salesman at Az wind and sun if it mattered, he leaned closer to "yes" than the Trojan guy. I was going to get a Morningstar Sunsaver 10 amp which they say is their most popular controller. I asked him, since T105s are certainly a popular battery choice for deep cycle applications, what about the mismatch? He said most people never dig this deep and the Sunsaver-T105 combo works good enough.

Here's a little table of the different voltage points. I hope the columns stay lined up.
$80. $56. $22. $90
TROJAN. IOTA. TRACER M'STAR. RENOGY. XANTREX
DLS30 1215Rn. SS-10. 10 Amp. C12
Bulk. 14.8. 14.8. 14.6. 14.4. 14.4. Adjust to 14.8
Absorb. 14.8. 14.2. 14.6. 14.4. 14.4. Adjust to 14.8
Float. 13.2. 13.6. 13.8. 13.7. 13.6. Adjust to 13.2
Equalize. 15.5. N/a. 14.8. 14.9. 14.6. 15.8

All are 10 amp PWM except the tracer is MPPT. Xantrex is 12a PWM.

Another plus for the C12 is that it will handle 200w of panels so if I find 100w isn't enough I can add more and keep the same.
controller.

I ordered 50' of 10/2 marine duplex wire from genuine dealz for $52. Free freight. I've used this supplier for all the wire and terminals for my electric boats. Good quality, good service, lowest prices anywhere. I plan to drill a hole in the bottom of the trailer under the bed where the controller will go, route under the trailer and up the back wall to the panel. If I take the panel down I'll have about 7' of wire to move the panel on the ground. I'll use the rest of the cable, about 30’, to make an extension cord if I need to locate the panel further than 7' from the back of the trailer.

The panel comes with MC4 connectors so I got a five pack for $10 on Amazon.

I'll begin installing this stuff in a couple of weeks and will update this thread when it's all done.
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Old 03-11-2014, 07:22 PM   #101
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That looks like it will do you well. I had a similar conversation with Interstate batteries, they were more emphatic that the golf cart batteries I have should be charged at absorption rate of 15.4 volts. Apparently the battery chemistry has changed for Trojan and Interstate 6 volt batteries in recent years and the controller manufacturers have not kept up.

I did not realize Schneider owned Xantrec, you may be more familiar with American Power (APC) also owned by Schneider. Xantrec makes a C35 controller that gets pretty close to recommended charge rates. The only other controller I have been able to find with sufficient charge rates is Blue Sky Sun Charger 30.

I, for one, look forward to your application of that semi flexible panel. Keep us posted.
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Old 03-11-2014, 07:32 PM   #102
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I was looking into installing an RV panel system and came across this web site, it has a good discussion of fusing your system.

Chrome Molly Wally is a bicycle enthusiast who like to boondock at remote mountain bike locations. His other recommendations regarding solar seemed sound.
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Old 03-11-2014, 07:38 PM   #103
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Trojan Battery Company

I'd recheck with your battery man..while every battery has its own settings I'd be surprised at an abosorb rate over 15.0..equalize yes..
the link is the generic table for Trojan batteries
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Old 03-11-2014, 07:54 PM   #104
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so with a panel fixed on the roof, the battery will never sit for long periods discharged. In fact it will get charged every day which is the ideal conditions for storing a battery. Therefore sulphating should not be an issue because the battery is always charged. MPPT vs. PWM controller will not have an effect either way, though some have functions that periodically apply pulses to reduce sulfation.

If however you use a foldable array that you put away, you then need to make sure you keep your battery charged while in storage and leaving the battery discharged will result in sulfation which will decrease the life of your battery.
No need to put away a portable panel, if one stores the trailer in the back yard like I do. My panel is propped against the coupler and is plugged in, doing its thing daily.
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Old 03-11-2014, 08:03 PM   #105
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Looking forward to the results Denny.
Thanks for all the hard work and research.
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Old 03-11-2014, 09:09 PM   #106
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I like the idea of a slide in solar panel as you could use a very low-profile slider system. I'm not too keen on traveling with a solar panel on the roof. Has anyone done a framed system where the Z-brackets have Velcro on the bottom and the panel gets placed on Velcro mounted to the roof? It wouldn't create drag when traveling since the panel would be in the trailer and it would look like a permanently mounted system when parked with the panel affixed to the roof with the Velcro.

I have to admit that all of this talk is a bit nauseating. I want to use solar but I just don't enjoy the details like many here do. I just want to know what to get. It's like me and my collection of 70's mopeds. I could talk about them for hours and someone else might just ask me what's the best kind to get so they can just start riding one. Thank you for posting what you got. It gives me a good starting point.
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Old 03-11-2014, 09:30 PM   #107
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Brian
I did call Interstate customer support, not a local battery store. Here is the link to their web site, it clearly state the charge rate at the absorption level for their 6 volt "golf cart" batteries is 7.75 volts. Since when using 6 volt you must have two, the voltage recommended for absorption is 15.5.

How do I charge certain deep cycle 6-volt and 12-volt batteries?

I point this out only because Interstate is a popular brand and it is necessary to be aware of all the components in a solar system. Not many people will look up their battery specs.
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Old 03-11-2014, 09:50 PM   #108
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I'm not too keen on traveling with a solar panel on the roof. Has anyone done a framed system where the Z-brackets have Velcro on the bottom and the panel gets placed on Velcro mounted to the roof? It wouldn't create drag when traveling since the panel would be in the trailer and it would look like a permanently mounted system when parked with the panel affixed to the roof with the Velcro.

.

Mine rides in the trailer - bungeed to the front outside wall of the side bathroom. I have a PVC stand I use when I need to move it away from the trailer to find some sun. When camping in open areas I often just lay it on my rock guard if the sun is coming from the right direction as the rock guard when propped up has a bit of an angle to it. Have left it up there many times while in state/provincial parks & gone off for a walk or drive and in 6 years and it hasn't walked. When attending busy places such as music festivals I put it right up on the roof and you can't even see it unless you are flying overhead and no one can tell if its secure or not. But just in case someone did notice the wire running up from the tongue around the front window I purchase a little travel alarm that when pulled apart sets off a high pitched sound - have it tied on one end to the panel and the other to the awning. Theory being if someone did try and reach up and pull it off they are probable going to do it from the none awning side as its easier to reach from there and the little alarm will get someone close at hand attention..... never had it go off so have no idea if that theory is a practical one or not
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Old 03-11-2014, 09:58 PM   #109
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Long story short.. You will boil your batteries..
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Old 03-12-2014, 12:21 AM   #110
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" . . . the purpose being to remove lead sulphate crystals (I think)."

The "equalize" function helps even out the distribution of a battery's charge across the plates and cells. It's particularly useful when a bank of multiple batteries wired in parallel. It can reverse sulphation, but that's not its main purpose, and most solar controllers don't cook their batteries long enough to actually drive the sulphate out.

There are electronic circuits that can and do slowly reverse the effects of sulphation in a battery. They are the BatteryMinder and devices like the Wizbang. Both work basically the same way, by sending a high-frequency radio wave through the battery at the exact frequency that causes the bonds between lead(IV) and its two satellite sulfate ions to vibrate and become more likely to fall apart.

The difference between the BatteryMinder and the Wizbang is the Wizbang, can be attached directly to a battery and works with just about any charging system, so you can pair it up with an existing MPPT or PWM controller as well as use it with a hookup-powered converter, like the Progressive Dynamics units that come with many newer trailers. The disadvantage of a Wizbang is it consumes power, whether or not your battery is being charged, so, unless you plug your trailer in or leave it out in the sun so the solar panels can keep your battery topped up, it'll gradually drain your battery down to nothing.

The BatteryMinder has the same kind of desulphator circuit, but with an integrated trickle charger, so it applies both high-frequency, sulphate-busting energy pulses and keeps your battery charged.
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Old 03-12-2014, 04:26 AM   #111
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Peter, do you know what frequency they operate at? Raz
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Old 03-12-2014, 09:53 AM   #112
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Raz, at about 2000mHz. If you're curious, there's a classic article written by a home-made solar advocate from 2000 that details how a desulphinator is built and how it operates.

http://www.alton-moore.net/graphics/desulfator.pdf
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