connecting a solar controller into the existing converter/charger? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-31-2021, 04:09 PM   #1
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Name: Chuck
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connecting a solar controller into the existing converter/charger?

The only dumb question is one that isn't asked right?

But I don't even know where to start. I'm confusing myself when contemplating connecting 100-200 watt panels and a solar controller to my existing PD-9160 battery controller and battery.

Would the solar controller REPLACE the PD-9160? Or are they wired in parallel to the battery? Would the Charge Wizard on the PD-9160 still be able to manage the charging voltages for bulk, absorption, and maintenance charging modes?

Any comments or pointers to educational material would be appreciated!

Chuck
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Old 07-31-2021, 05:19 PM   #2
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Wired in parallel. Either one or both can be used to charge the battery, even at the same time. So you make no changes the converter setup and add the controller and wiring it to the battery directly (following proper standards).
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Old 07-31-2021, 07:48 PM   #3
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Exactly...

The solar controller "controls" the solar panel output to the battery independent of the converter.
The solar panel will charge the battery to the proper level and the converter needs to do nothing.
Connecting to shore power the converter will charge the battery to the correct level so no need for the solar to do anything additional.
Essentially they work together but separately.
I hope that's clear as mudd
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Old 08-01-2021, 08:01 AM   #4
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What I have found is that the Charge wizard in the PD is charging according to it's programming and the solar (if connected and left on all the time) is charging according to it's programming.
The result is (in my case, I think) is overcharging.
As a result when I am connected to the shore power and the PD is charging I disconnect the solar panels from the charge controller.
When towing (usually in the sun one hopes) I turn the switch back on so that the solar system (roof mounted panels) charges the battery and powers the compressor fridge.
I have an Epever controller with the 40 amp power output and I have separated the charger from the power distribution circuit in the PD and paralleled the solar and the output from the charger to the battery and have the output from the controller feeding the PD power distribution bus.
As a Ham radio operator I have discovered that the Epever controller generates 4 kHz EMI that interferes with the radio reception so when operating I also switch off the panels.
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Old 08-01-2021, 09:38 AM   #5
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Solar controller vs factory installed converter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Motoboss View Post
Exactly...

The solar controller "controls" the solar panel output to the battery independent of the converter.
The solar panel will charge the battery to the proper level and the converter needs to do nothing.
Connecting to shore power the converter will charge the battery to the correct level so no need for the solar to do anything additional.
Essentially they work together but separately.
I hope that's clear as mudd
Definitely clear as MUDD, though not your fault!

In my case, when I have my Zamp solar panels and controller connected to my system, the solar panels will charge my lithium batteries to the higher voltage of about 14.5 VDc. With the Zamp controller, it allows you to select what type of battery the solar panels are charging. However, when connected to shore power, the converter only charges those same batteries to 13.6 VDc.

My converter was factory installed and designed for the AGM battery that came with the trailer.

My concern is how to get the converter to treat the lithium batteries as such. In other words, charge them to the 14 plus volts which represents a full charge for the lithium.

I am assuming there is no way of altering the factory installed converter. So in order to get a full charge on the lithium batteries, I will need to use the solar system and its controller or pull the batteries and put them on a charger designed to charge lithium batteries.
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Old 08-01-2021, 09:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Penn View Post
...
My converter was factory installed and designed for the AGM battery that came with the trailer. ...I am assuming there is no way of altering the factory installed converter....
Depends on the converter... some are programmable or can be set up for a lithium based battery charging profile. Most older ones cannot. Check the manual for your model. Buying a new converter is another option.
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Old 08-01-2021, 01:03 PM   #7
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The Progressive Dynamics (newer ones) have a switch that selects the lithium profile which is charge as fast as it can to the proper voltage and then the BMS turns the charging off.
Also the PD has replacement chargers that will slip into the case to upgrade or replace a bad unit.
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Old 08-01-2021, 02:09 PM   #8
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Whoo, boy, I'm swimming in the deep end now...

Thank you, everybody, for your comments.

A couple more questions pop up:
1. I am gathering I can wire a solar controller/charger in parallel with my existing 30 amp, 120 volt power converter, so there would be two devices pumping watt hours back into my battery. How does one estimate the charge level of the battery at any particular moment? I have a cheap-o monitor (PZEM51) installed on the battery that measures it's current load, in amps and watts, and the currently remaining watt hours of capacity (and volts), but if one simultaneously has "goes-into" (12-volt solar power) and "goes-out-of" (12 volt load) it would seem the estimate of remaining capacity gets knocked into a cocked hat, at least with the equipment I have now. It is possible to take another little cheap-o monitor and have it monitor the goes-into, but I have no idea how to wire that in tandem with a solar controller.

2. I like the idea of separating the solar charger from the PD-9160 on shore power, so as to avoid overcharging the battery, unless someone can assure me that won't happen?

3. What about when towing? Then there is the alternator of the tow vehicle charging (quite ineffectively, I might mention) the battery, and there is the roof-mounted solar panels. Do those two actors play well together? Or should I abandon the notion of the TV being able to charge the battery at all? I have contemplated beefing up the TV to house battery circuit with a shorter run and heftier cable, but maybe don't need to bother if I have a couple hundred watt panels on the roof?

Thanks again everybody, I appreciate all the information.

Chuck
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Old 08-01-2021, 04:36 PM   #9
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The shunt for the PZEM51 should be between the battery and everything else. All charging and load current should through it. If you connect a solar controller or any charger to directly to the battery and bypassing the PZEM51 then yes, it will not give good data. I like to put the solar controller inside the camper with a short wire run to the battery and going through the trailer side of the shunt. It other (perhaps better) words, I run wire from the battery negative post to the shunt mounted just inside the camper, then on the other side of the shunt very short wire to a buss bar for common connection, and all other negative connections to the buss bar (converter, solar, trailer brakes, etc.).
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Old 08-02-2021, 09:30 AM   #10
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Name: Chuck
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Yup. I have the shunt right on the negative battery post, and everything connects thru that, except the negative sensor wire to the PZEM-51.
I guess my observation is that the batttery capacity I set in the PZEM isn't correct if I partially recharge the battery with the tow vehicle or a solar panel. The best I can do is keep track of watt hours expended and voltage. Presumably, voltage will stay higher than with no recharging going on.

Are there solar controllers that will keep track of how many watt hours are put into the battery over some period of time?

Thanks for your patience with my nimrod questions.

Chuck
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Old 08-31-2021, 11:00 PM   #11
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Name: Cliff
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Check if you have the WF-8955PEC power panel/converter. If so, WFCO makes a replacement main board for lithium batteries. Hope the below info helps:

Reply from WFCO: Hello,

1. The charge from the tow vehicle goes direct to the battery, not through the converter, and is not controlled in any way by the converter.
2. No it does not
3. It is a separate system, and operates independently from the converter.
4. Yes, just expect an increase in charge time.

Shaun


On Wed, Jul 14, 2021 at 10:07 PM <kccliff@me.com> wrote:
I have a Casita Travel Trailer that came with the WF-8955PEC power panel. I replaced the AGM that was supplied by the factory and installed a 105 Ah 1344 Wh Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) . I additionally replaced the WFCO 9855PEC main board with the WF-8950L2-MBA designed for Lithium batteries.

I understand that the WFCO PEC charges the battery when plugged into AC shore power. I have the following questions regarding the WFCO PEC:

1. When driving the tow vehicle, does the 12 volts+ supplied by the TV to the trailer through the 7 pin connector go to the WFCO PEC to charge the battery and is controlled by the PEC main board?
2. Does the WFCO PEC act as a DC to DC charger also while driving the tow vehicle?
3. I ordered the solar charger option with the Casita. When I plug in the cable from the solar panels to the port on the outside of the Casita trailer, does the charging controller on the back of the solar panel control the charging of the onboard lithium battery, or does the controller feed the WFCO PEC and the PEC controls the charging input from the solar panel?
4. Eventually I will add another 1 or 2 LiFePO4 batteries in parallel for a total of 315 Ah. Will the WF-8550L2-MBA be able to handle charging 3 batteries? I understand it will take longer to charge up all the batteries, but can the WF-8550L2 handle managing the charging of the 3 batteries whether on AC shore power or being charged from the tow vehicle while driving?

Thank you,

kccliff@me.com
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