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Post by Alwaysurfing on Fri Dec 06, 2019 3:36 pm

Want to fit solar panels to run in parallel to the standard fitment and beef up the preinstalled mediocre 80w panel installation.
Truma SolarSet provides up to 150w kit with a old pwm controller recommended by my dealer.
Online I can get 320w panel and a good MPPT controller for 60% of the price.

So what I’m wondering is has anyone else fitted a good spec solar setup?
How much weight can I add to my roof?
How much space do I have on my roof?

Anyone have a schematic of the corrinium duo roof?
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Post by Suppersready on Fri Dec 06, 2019 4:01 pm

Hi, I don’t think you will have the available space for a 320w panel. I think the biggest single panel you can fit will be a 120w maybe 150w. I fitted 4x100w panels and they all fit in nicely and only cost £100 each. You should fit the MPPT controller as mentioned as they are far superior to earlier units.
All my equipment was from photonic universe.
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Post by Peter Brown on Fri Dec 06, 2019 4:29 pm

I've had one 80w panel on 3 vans over 15 years. It keeps both batteries topped up in the winter and supplies all necessary 12v power in the summer.

For your existing solar installation to be effective on your 2019 van you will have to switch off the solar smart charging and then fit a battery master (or similar) to control charge to both leisure and vehicle batteries.
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Post by Mike Cope on Fri Dec 06, 2019 4:31 pm

Hi I see you have a lovely 2019 van. Have you checked warrantry situation with your dealer if you fit none approved accessories ??
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Post by Alwaysurfing on Fri Dec 06, 2019 4:48 pm

Hi suppersready did photonics universe do the installation?

Peter Brown, my 80w existing seems useless - batteries went flat after 14 days in storage.  I’ll look into the battery master.

Mike Cope, as far as I can see the warranty covers very little in year two, which is 5 months away, as AS booklet says basically nothing is covered accept habitation.  The new install wouldn’t be much more than a small hole in the roof for cables, not that I’m brave enough by a country mile to do that.... but you make a valid point.
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Post by Peter Brown on Fri Dec 06, 2019 5:23 pm

Its a well known and documented (on this forum) problem with the Sargent EC500 and EC700 units. To solar charge both batteries the EC700 has to be left switched on, in which case the power consumed by the smart charging circuitry is more than the solar panel can harvest at this time of year an you end up with two flat batteries.

The manufacturers advice for storage is to switch off the EC700 - in which case all of the available solar energy goes to charging the leisure battery - and disconnect the vehicle battery.

Switching off the solar smart charging, installing a battery master and when not using the van switch off the EC700 will allow both batteries to receive an adequate solar charge.
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Post by Greyhound on Fri Dec 06, 2019 6:17 pm

Peter Brown wrote:Its a well known and documented (on this forum) problem with the Sargent EC500 and EC700 units.  To solar charge both batteries the EC700 has to be left switched on, in which case the power consumed by the smart charging circuitry is more than the solar panel can harvest at this time of year an you end up with two flat batteries.

The manufacturers advice for storage is to switch off the EC700 - in which case all of the available solar energy goes to charging the leisure battery - and disconnect the vehicle battery.

Switching off the solar smart charging, installing a battery master and when not using the van switch off the EC700 will allow both batteries to receive an adequate solar charge.

I've literally just found this myself.  Checked the batteries today and both are down to 10.7V.  Was a bit shocked but have it on EHU now to get them both fully charged.  They system just can't keep up at this time of year with just the single 80W panel.  I'm considering setting up a separate solar controller for both batteries that will run without the EC500 being needed at all.

Will be turning off for now though, unfortunately can't isolate the starter battery due to the alarm though so will have to see how long that lasts without charge.
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Post by Suppersready on Fri Dec 06, 2019 6:34 pm

My installation was completed by AS at Willersey ... I felt from a warranty point of view and resale this was the best option. However certainly not the cheapest !!.
Advise/support and after sales service from Photonic Universe proved to be excellent.
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Post by Alwaysurfing on Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:32 pm

May ask as you have 400w of panels do you have any issues with flat batteries in the winter or times when van not being used much?   And can you happily enjoy the van for a couple of days parked up touring without ehu without wondering when the lights are going out.....

Sorry see you answered that over the page smile!


Last edited by Alwaysurfing on Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:32 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Post by Alwaysurfing on Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:52 pm

Peter, on the Peugeot base vehicle battery is under passengers feet - buried.  While fitting the battery master I need to connect to it... the leisure batteries (I have two in //el) under the lounge seat next to the ec700 would be easy to connect as accessible.

My question- do I just find the wire connecting the ec700 charger to the vehicle battery and tap into it? Or does it literally need to be at the vehicle battery.....
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Post by Peter Brown on Sat Dec 07, 2019 5:18 am

You can access the wiring to the Vehicle battery near it connection to the EC700.
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Post by gassygassy on Sat Dec 07, 2019 9:00 pm

I have had several panels and kits from Photonic Universe and could find no fault at all with them.
I am interested that Alwaysurfing says he will fit another /sevaral in parallel with the existing one. That is what I would have done, but the professional company that fitted my extra one (for reasons I won't go into) said no, you connect them in series.
Any comments?
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Post by Roopert on Sun Dec 08, 2019 11:06 am

The person from the professional company is wrong. There are pros and cons to each - series or parallel.

It is (of course) a fairly complicated subject and lots of people have written long articles on the subject, so there's no point in anyone here trying to write another long article.

IMO you'll get a top quality answer if you just put "solar panels in parallel or series?" into your preferred internet search tool, because you'll get dozens of comprehensive replies from the many companies that sell and/or fit panels. The good articles won't say that you should do one or the other - they will describe the pros and cons of each.

For me, the fact that series may produce a total voltage that exceeds the limit of the controller (depending on make/model) and the fact that it is more likely to be worse affected if just a few cells on one panel are shaded mean that I would almost certainly go with parallel rather than series.
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Post by Greyhound on Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:04 am

Roopert wrote:The person from the professional company is wrong. There are pros and cons to each - series or parallel.

Yeah I found conflicting information on this with the last install I did and actually followed advice that I then found to be incorrect and changed the set up.  I'm not going into it as I agree it turns into a big argument on most forums with conflicting advice unfortunately.

Anyway, back to the subject, I removed my EC500 unit last night to look at what's going on.  I think the system is actually too over-complicated for it's own good.

The solar power goes into a standard controller, made for only supplying power to one battery.  This charge then goes into the PCB where the EC500 'smart controller' chooses which battery to send the power to.

I've found simply having the EC500 turned on, is wasting more power than the solar can supply at this time of year and it's better to simply turn it completely off.  But this removes the 'smart' system and power only goes to the leisure as far as I know.

I've ordered a 2 battery charge controller with display unit and am going to take the solar supply from the EC500 unit and into the new charge controller, and then tap into the wires to the leisure and vehicle batteries that are already present. This means I can turn the system completely off and the solar is still all taken care of with no unnecessary drain, and also with the display unit which I can send different percentages of charge to each battery and have better control over it.

This seems fairly straight forward and apart from losing the smart charging on hook up that switches the solar and EHU charge between batteries repeatedly I can't see any negatives - but if anyone has any experience of this would be interested to hear.
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Post by Peter Brown on Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:23 am

You can switch smart charging off for solar but leave it on for mains. Even in standard unmodified form , that's the most effective way to operate all year.
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Post by Greyhound on Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:35 am

Peter Brown wrote:You can switch smart charging off for solar but leave it on for mains.  Even in standard unmodified form , that's the most effective way to operate all year.

The smart charging for solar is a good idea though (in theory) as you want both batteries to be maintained when in storage and away from EHU or if wild camping.

The reality is the controller's power drain is so high you have to turn it off anyway at this time of year so lose the 'smart charge' regardless and the vehicle battery is left without any charge (from what I've read on this).

I'll be turning all the solar charging off in the menu so the EHU charge will not include it anyway, but I think the independent solar charger is the way to go with this system and simply turn it all completely off during storage.
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Post by Peter Brown on Mon Dec 09, 2019 10:30 am

When camping without hookup or full exposure to the sky (because of trees or building shade) the EC500 can allocate the best four hours of solar harvesting to the vehicle battery when you really want it to go to the leisure battery.  Switching off the solar smart charging prevents that happening and your vehicle battery will be good for a couple of weeks without charge.
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Post by Greyhound on Mon Dec 09, 2019 12:44 pm

Yeah totally agree, this is my main issue with the 'smart' charging.  As mentioned 'in theory' it's a great idea and especially in perfect conditions which are far from what we get in the UK, as you say, it could be you only get a minimal portion (or even none) into any one battery over the course of a day.

Hopefully the new controller should manage things much better and give me more control as I can set a charge priority, so instead of only charging one battery (as the EC500 does when smart control is turned off), it can switch to the second battery when one is full.  In storage I'd prefer to prioritise the vehicle battery to maintain the alarm/tracker etc and then just a low priority to trickle the leisure now and again.
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Post by Suppersready on Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:02 pm

My controller dual charges two separate battery banks. A 1amp constant trickle charge to the starter cell and all remains power to the 3x100 cells. This 1amp trickle charge keeps the starter cell at a constant 12.8/9 volts all year round, but as mentioned this is with 400w of Solar.
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Post by Alwaysurfing on Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:52 pm

On Monday we are off on a trip, through France, Xmas Madrid, south Spain January, then into Portugal for spring.   So I had two 90ah Bosch leisure battery’s fitted to give us a bit more umph overnight in between ehu opportunities.

I’m assuming the Peugeot alternator and small drops of sunshine through the ec700 smart solar will be enough to keep my batteries charged....shrugg
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Post by Alwaysurfing on Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:01 pm

Peter Brown wrote:I've had one 80w panel on 3 vans over 15 years.  It keeps both batteries topped up in the winter and supplies all necessary 12v power in the summer.

For your existing solar installation to be effective on your 2019 van you will have to switch off the solar smart charging and then fit a battery master (or similar) to control charge to both leisure and vehicle batteries.
Peter, does switching off the smart charging simply mean going to the control panel and choosing the off option on the screen, or are you meaning something more convoluted?

With a battery master fitted - does accidentally switching smart charging on cause damage, or is it simply that it causes loss of control over the battery charging....
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Post by Alwaysurfing on Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:10 pm

Seems to me in storage switch everything off (don’t have an alarm fitted so not worried about isolating the vehicle battery) then the vans 80 watt panel will feed any sun amps to the leisure- and buy a £30 solar panel and connect through the eobd socket to the vehicle battery (or croc clip it as vehicle battery in passenger footwell).  Accepting my van is outside, secure storage, and this doesn’t suit everyone. 

One thing’s evident AS have not really done a very good job of building a winter storage solution - which as someone new to all this - that’s quite astonishing in 2019.  Especially with all the feedback they must surely receive.
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Post by Peter Brown on Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:18 pm

All was fine until the Sargent EC500 began to appear in 2013.
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Post by Suppersready on Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:32 pm

Don’t forget the amount of power needed to run the factory fitted tracker ....
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Post by rgermain on Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:43 am

Alwaysurfing wrote:Seems to me in storage switch everything off (don’t have an alarm fitted so not worried about isolating the vehicle battery) then the vans 80 watt panel will feed any sun amps to the leisure- and buy a £30 solar panel and connect through the eobd socket to the vehicle battery (or croc clip it as vehicle battery in passenger footwell).  Accepting my van is outside, secure storage, and this doesn’t suit everyone. 

One thing’s evident AS have not really done a very good job of building a winter storage solution - which as someone new to all this - that’s quite astonishing in 2019. .
 Especially with all the feedback they must surely receive.

Not sure they read it, going on past history confused3

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