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Solar panels

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Post by marconi on Sun Mar 29, 2020 10:05 pm

Ask A-S an electrical question and the answer comes in the form of a quote from Sargent's advertising literature and other waffle that Sargent issue.

One reason given by Sargent for not using real PWM technology in their Solar Controller is the presumption that PWM will cause Radio Interference. So will your phone, camera, computer, shaver, tooth brush charger. No one notices or cares these days.
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Post by Peter Brown on Mon Mar 30, 2020 3:15 pm

I'm afraid I've lost the plot of what we are trying to achieve here so will summarise and bow out until a step change in the thread.

In recent posts I've been trying to imply that suspected inefficiencies in solar charging or system power consumption, even if correct, are not significant enough to warrant expending considerable resource to seek improvement.

I don't have one of my own but have had my hands on a few EC700 systems and my belief is:

Optimum solar harvesting to the leisure battery whilst camping is achieved with the smart solar charging disabled.

When the EC700 is switched off it will consume no current.

When the EC700 is switched off, there is a permanent 12v supplied from the leisure battery to certain systems and in a 2019 van I would expect these to be tracker, alarm, fridge, heating system and mobile wifi router - I would be happy if the consumption of these devices totalled 100 mA or less.

I don't have the best of hearing but I've never been able to hear the operation of a relay in a Sargent unit. The relay that is often heard to operate is the one that interfaces the fill detect ball valve in the fresh water tank with the whale filler solenoid water valve - but the EC 700 needs to be switched on with a near full water tank and movement in the van for that to happen,
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Post by marconi on Mon Mar 30, 2020 4:04 pm

Peter Brown wrote:I'm afraid I've lost the plot of what we are trying to achieve here so will summarise and bow out until a step change in the thread.

In recent posts I've been trying to imply that suspected inefficiencies in solar charging or system power consumption, even if correct, are not significant enough to warrant expending considerable resource to seek improvement.

I don't have one of my own but have had my hands on a few EC700 systems and my belief is:

Optimum solar harvesting to the leisure battery whilst camping is achieved with the smart solar charging disabled.

When the EC700 is switched off it will consume no current.


Thanks for your input Peter.

I am trying to achieve Solar Charge which is at least on par with my previous set up which had a 60W Solar panel. As it is it was very far below par as to be unusable, further the Sargent Solar Controller closes down in decent sun levels.

In these circumstances it is obviously worth considerable time, effort and cash to make it useable, I have been running with Smart Charging disabled using manual changeover when connecting my 100W Portable Solar Panel and Controller to charge the Leisure Battery, when stationary.

Obviously there could be a fault in my particular Nuevo I am checking this possibility too. I had take emergency measures whilst in the winter sun (the 100W panel) to avoid my wife having to prepare and cook meals in the dark. I could obviously not take the 'van to AS whilst away and now Covid19 has cancelled my appointment.

Now I am achieving adequate solar power I will be able to check to see if the EC700 drain is liveable with. The previous shallow charges were doing no good for us or the Battery. EC700 drain was using all Solar Charge overnight.

We now probably have the Smart Alternator scenario into the mix, this could explain the low charge to the Vehicle Battery and lack of charge whilst driving.

Yes you don't have an EC700 set up and in particular this one. So yes I'd bow out, but if you have any further ideas and comments they would be welcome.
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Post by glyne lock on Mon Mar 30, 2020 7:58 pm

This is the solar charge controller[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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Post by Greyhound on Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:08 am

Yeah that's what I pulled out of mine.  Currently in the garage with a 50W panel on the roof charging my motorbikes during the winter period.
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Post by glyne lock on Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:44 am

Greyhound
It must be the cheapest they could buy as to why  I put picture next to cup for size
I have fitted to my shed
The lug it was fitted to was a after thought [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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Post by marconi on Tue Mar 31, 2020 11:33 am

Oh I see, this is what is in mine. Two stage Controller not even PWM.

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Post by glyne lock on Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:28 pm

Marconi
they say 150w in but only 10a out when it should be 12.5 out and it switches off when no solar charge going in to ? stop drain .sargent are helpful when you contact them but there electrics for use in a motorhome has to higher drain so are just not fit for purpose just made to look good.
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Post by marconi on Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:57 pm

Big problem AS believe what Sargent tells them.
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Post by Greyhound on Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:13 pm

lyne lock wrote:Greyhound
It must be the cheapest they could buy as to why  I put picture next to cup for size
I have fitted to my shed

Yeah I wasn't impressed with the quality of it when I removed the unit and saw it.

I almost bought a better one for the bikes, but as it was available and only intended as a battery tender I thought I'd try it out.  So far it's working well, but I wouldn't put it back on for serious charging of MH batteries.
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Post by Peter Brown on Tue Mar 31, 2020 5:21 pm

This is what they used to install in the EC328, I didn't look inside the unit I replaced my EC325 with in December and there is no way I'm taking it out again but the one in the new EC328 performs much better than the one in my 2011 EC325.

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Post by gassygassy on Tue Mar 31, 2020 5:40 pm

That's what I have got. I have removed it to sort out the wiring inside. I will wire the standard 30W panel (on my 2015 nuevo) directly into the controller with thicker wire, and wire one controller output direct to the engine battery with thicker wire to bypass the electronics / relays in the 328 and set the controller to send 100% to the engine battery. The hab batteries meanwhile are fed via a mppt controller from a new 100W panel. Also I once tried for no particular reason to remove the clear plastic fuse covers and I couldn't do it so I have taken them off and will leave them off so if I do need access to the fuses I can change one.
I expect the control panel inside the door will want to go and see a psychotherapist: it won't know what happened and I half expect an alarm. That will soon be silenced with either a pair of wire cutters or a tin of squirty foam.  I would much rather have a control panel with metal contact switches that go click: Main power on/off, water pump on/off, a press button to show the fresh water tank level on an analogue gauge, and well that is about it.  The waste water tap is permanently open unless I am on a posh German aire with tarmaced parking places, shower block, electricity and water on a bollard for each pitch, and of course being free of charge. I don't need a digital thingy to know inside and outside temperatures or if it is raining or if my dinner is ready. I can stick my head out the door to see if it is raining or cold or hot,  and the smoke alarm tells me if dinner is ready. Along with twenty other things on the Nuevo I don't need all those control panel features.
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Post by Roopert on Tue Mar 31, 2020 5:49 pm

That's the EPIPDB-COM device, originally (I think) sold by EPSolar. It's been rebadged by several other sellers, including Photonic Universe.

Interestingly it is sold in both 10A and 20A versions, and the latter used to be available fairly cheaply (IIRC, around £30). I had considered suggesting that people with slightly larger solar panel capacity than 120W could upgrade the one inside their Sargent unit (where theirs is as in Peter's photo) but I resisted, because I can't say with certainty that all of the other components used by Sargent would handle the higher current. I suspect they probably would (because the mains charger is rated at 20A+), but can't say for sure.

More recently the EPIPDB-COM unit has become a bit more scarce, and the cheapest I've seen the 20A version for is around £60 - at that price level you might as well go for Votronic or one of the other leading makes, as that would not be a lot more expensive.

Re: plastic fuse covers: They are a pain, made worse if you put them on upside down. I've cut fingernail slots in each end of my covers, which makes removal a lot easier.
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Post by glyne lock on Tue Mar 31, 2020 6:14 pm

Great picture peter this is [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]the 500 from the back and my new mppt controller 20 amp
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Post by glyne lock on Tue Mar 31, 2020 6:17 pm

I should have said in the middle of fitting extra 75lt water tank so got controller unit out at mo to run pipe to new tank
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Post by gassygassy on Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:35 pm

If anyone wants the instructions  /setup for the EPIPDB-COM device they are here:
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I note that if only one battery is wanted to be charged, connect it to 'battery one' and all the charge will automatically go to that output.
Also note that the consumption of the actual unit itself is 4mA at night (I presume they mean if the solar panel is in complete darkness).
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Post by glyne lock on Thu Apr 02, 2020 12:08 pm

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This shows the extra amp gain from a good mppt controller
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Post by marconi on Thu Apr 02, 2020 2:21 pm

glyne lock wrote:

This shows the extra amp gain from a good mppt controller
Not Bad.
As opposed to the 84% Loss I was experiencing from the fitted Solar Controller into the EC700. Well that figure could be an exaggeration it was actually charging inefficiently for 16% of the available high Solar energy day. Then losing it overnight.
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Post by glyne lock on Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:17 pm

The first reading was in the morning this was mid day [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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Post by gassygassy on Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:26 pm

That's lovely. However can someone explain something I have never got to grips with. On all solar controllers there is a 'light bulb' output. What is it for? I have seen it labelled as 'load'. Surely the battery is the load and you aren't expected to rewire your lighting circuits to run off that output?
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Post by marconi on Thu Apr 02, 2020 5:24 pm

gassygassy wrote:That's lovely. However can someone explain something I have never got to grips with. On all solar controllers there is a 'light bulb' output. What is it for? I have seen it labelled as 'load'. Surely the battery is the load and you aren't expected to rewire your lighting circuits to run off that output?

You can connect your load there if you wish. Often that output is controlled and would be cut off to save the battery if the Voltage got too low.
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Post by Roopert on Thu Apr 02, 2020 5:38 pm

As marconi says, it's typically a switched output - some controllers will have time-of-day switching functions on that output, as well as a low-volts cutoff so that a load on that output can't completely drain the battery.
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Post by bolero boy on Thu Apr 02, 2020 5:45 pm

glyn, what size panel is feeding this controller?

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Post by glyne lock on Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:02 pm

Chris
the 80w fitted by auto sleepers
I removed the pwm controller and put the epever in its place as my van is not a year old yet
I did say  the 80w in the winter is no good and you really need 200w to be able to use your van in the winter and you said your 100w was ok and now I see you said about  adding a extra 100w and a mppt controller .
this is why I showed the picture as the extra price for the controller means you don't need as many panels as you would with a pwm controller and with out the roof space the mppt works much better. the epever does give the extra amps from the higher volts as can be seen not like other mppt controllers 
Gassygassy
I have not tried it but you could put a out put to the vehicle battery and set the time to charge it. I might try this to keep all my sorn vehicles charged up.
I have a solar panel and battery in a small lunch box to charge my phone  vhf radio when away in my sea kayak  using this only charges my phone when the battery is full and will not charge when the voltage drop to low cuts the power from this out let .this out let is good to power extra fridge fans in the summer on your camper
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Post by bolero boy on Thu Apr 02, 2020 8:12 pm

thanks glyn.

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