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fitting new solar panels

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Post by IanH Fri Mar 03, 2023 9:34 am

Personally I see no need to increase the solar capacity. Just wire as discussed to each battery with a dual battery solar controller direct to each battery, bypass anything Sargent.
Buy a dual battery controller which can handle, say 20A in case you change your mind and increase solar panel area, the controller will then still work....
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Post by FreelanderUK Fri Mar 03, 2023 10:09 am

Plymouthwelshboy wrote:Chris, apart from the b2b charger bit,which is the other bit you wouldn't bother to do...I'm slightly confused, which is easy to do where I'm concerned....would you not do any of it, or not fit the extra solar, or just fit the victron MPPT controller...sorry to be so dim...

I would fit as much solar as I could get on the roof even if this means  removing the small 80w panel that is on now to enable better placement of larger panels, the correct size cable to a MPPT  regulator then direct to the battery , you have the option of either a dual regulator and running a second cable run to the starter battery or fit a battery master, both these will keep the starter battery trickle charged, I would install a separate cig lighter socket near the Hab battery with thicker cable to run the small inverter that you have to charge the bike battery,

If your Hab battery is ready for changing I would swop to lead carbon gel battery for all the benifits that these provide over lead acid, if it’s ok save your money and see how you go on you can always swop it later, I think that’s covered it but I may have missed something as I have just put my eye drops in and a little blurry

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Post by Caraman Fri Mar 03, 2023 11:58 am

IanH wrote:Personally I see no need to increase the solar capacity. Just wire as discussed to each battery with a dual battery solar controller direct to each battery, bypass anything Sargent.
Buy a dual battery controller which can handle, say 20A in case you change your mind and increase solar panel area, the controller will then still work....
Sound advice but the OP has an EC700 that gobbles up to 7Ah every day even when there is no habitation load.  In the summer with a decent regulator the 80W solar panel can cope with this plus a normal summer habitation load but add on an inverter, a reluctance to increase storage capacity and spring and autumn off-grid use, I am sure more solar panels will be needed.  In the winter the 80W panel won't meet the EC700's load, especially with the Sargent PWM regulator, which is why so many EC700 users end up with flat batteries because they didn't shutdown their EC700 when they put their van into storage.
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Post by v8oholic Fri Mar 03, 2023 3:42 pm

Plymouthwelshboy wrote:the B2b means we could start the engine over breakfast and top up the battery that way. 
Running a diesel engine while stationary just to charge batteries isn't likely to win you any friends. OK in the middle of nowhere maybe, less so if anyone is nearby.
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Post by FreelanderUK Fri Mar 03, 2023 3:50 pm

v8oholic wrote:
Plymouthwelshboy wrote:the B2b means we could start the engine over breakfast and top up the battery that way. 
Running a diesel engine while stationary just to charge batteries isn't likely to win you any friends. OK in the middle of nowhere maybe, less so if anyone is nearby.

Not only is a bit antisocial but it would also cause problems to the DPF that’s fitted in the exhaust, been advised to run the engine in a morning to charge batteries from a B2B charger is a little silly, you have all day with the solar to charge the batteries and have your cornflakes in peace

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Post by IanH Fri Mar 03, 2023 3:53 pm

Running a modern diesel at idle is as good a way as possible to ruin it, certainly block the DPF and bung up the EGR system.

I was on a Navy ship once, had 3 diesel gen sets. All were run at 95% of max power. If they only needed 2, but the load increased such that they needed a third, the spare power was fed into heater mats on the hull to allow the engine of that one to be at 95% power too.

If not done, cylinder heads off every month for full decoke.....

Chris post overlapped mine!!
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Post by Plymouthwelshboy Fri Mar 03, 2023 4:41 pm

I'm an ex environmental adviser - running the engine was never going to happen anyway and I'd ignored that bit already. I was more interested/confused as to what it would do if we had an inverter and were using that when we we travelling between places. 

i've ignored the suggestion about a plug in inverter via cab or hab cig socket because it would need beefing up - so i'm sort of sticking with installing an inverter after whatever system has been put in 

Thanks for all your help everyone - the supplier and I are in discussions now and the only bit of contention is the fitting of the B2B charger - but we are discussing that! I'm sort of with you all on more solar, dual MPPT etc bypass the EC700. even sapping out the battery for a larger A one. 

Interesting conversation with our dealer we brought motorhome from - an hour ago had to visit to check/repair some minor wheel arch damage after a puncture blow out in France a few weeks ago (at 60mph - interesting experience dont want to repeat in a hurry) 

was discussing what you have been helping me with and their technical teams faces all dropped and they went off to retrieve the latest email from autosleeper they'd received

essentially - autosleeper telling all new autosleeper owners - switch off the EC700 in long term storage. However, further down the email they said that it would mean all solar would go to the vehicle battery instead (which has confused dealer techies a little). Then there was some discussion about implications for the tracker and whether that would remain working or not and the team were just about to phone AS to discuss with them what the implications of that were.  
they have been picking up more issues with autosleeper owners over this solar panel issue/EC700 issue and also whether the EC700 should be left on or off and more asking them to by pass it for them. 

also of interest to me - was that the team immediately said you've got a 100w panel up top - what made you think it was 80w? i showed them the paperwork saying its 80w and they are now off to pore the database about my vehicle because they are convinced the panel looks like a 100w one! And they will let me know. scratch head

They also seem genuinely confused as to whether they are telling people to switch EC700 off or leave it on - at moment they are following autosleeper advice - switch off but then new owners are coming back to them because of battery issues. Everyone seems to love their autosleeper but......

They made me feel so much better about my confusion -  confused3 smile! 
meanwhile - both my batteries have gone two weeks now without charging with EC700 left on - which is a record. And i'm going to follow caramans advice and switch it off and see what happens over next few weeks .  

never a dull moment - sail and oar boats - so much easier to build, repair, modify and understand!  Have a lovely weekend everyone - and thank you so much for all your help - remember - I'm the SEND member of the forum - i will get there but very, slowly!
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Post by FreelanderUK Fri Mar 03, 2023 4:57 pm

When I mentioned about the cig lighter socket in the Hab area , I was meaning use a length of 30amp cable to connect the socket to the battery.

If you are going to have an inverter fitted it realistically wants fitting when everything else is fitted as the cables are thicker and will need running to the positive of the battery and the load side of the Victron shunt if fitted, you will also possibly need an isolation switch fitting in between the inverter and battery, 

Don’t have it fitted after the install  as you will be paying twice, once to do the work and then to undo the work completed and then redo it



Did you not find a 12v electric bike charge at the company I linked to as this would do away with the inverter

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Post by Plymouthwelshboy Fri Mar 03, 2023 5:18 pm

hi chris - yes I understand - thanks for clarifying - i spoke to the company you said and they said there was one and it would work but it was only a 1,5a output for what is essentially a 4 amp need and their concern was it would take 60% more time to charge up one battery as a result.  

if I understand what you are saying - with a 30amp cable - I'd attach one end to the battery; I'd attach the other end to a new 12v cig socket and I would need to mount that somewhere - the only place I can think of is actually on the vertical panel below the front of the sofa (under which is the battery) - in this way I could then plug an inverter into that.  the guy you referred me to did say you could get 12v cig plug inverters up to 500w and then didnt go any further!  Some I am still slightly confused to the inverter and the supplier we are working with is saying the same thing just buy a cig plug in one and only use it to charge e bike battery when driving between places. 
As it stands at moment - we are looking at the 175 w panel - the victron dual MPPT controller with its battery master - bypassing the sargant system - linking the existing solar panel in with this new one and then still discussing the B2B charger - and not having the shunt monitor - but then I am slightly confused as to whether we would still see on the harmony panel above the door - the battery levels bit - and he hasnt answered that for me - yet. 

thanks to you and the others I am far further on today than I was yesterday - but still hazy on inverter size needed and type and also on the shunt monitor - but as Ian has said - nearly there and isnt this forum so amazing
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Post by FreelanderUK Fri Mar 03, 2023 5:40 pm

If you bypass the Sargent equipment you will still see the battery levels and voyages but not the solar amps, if you use Victron it has it own app showing everything you need to know ,

The advantage also of the cig lighter socket is that you ca plug in a twin usb charcher to give you 2 extra phone/ipad/tablet charge points , this is what I do

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Post by Plymouthwelshboy Fri Mar 03, 2023 5:49 pm

ah now that tip about usb things is bloody brilliant - because off grid the abundance of 3 pin plug sockets - are useless!!  cheers Chris
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Post by Caraman Fri Mar 03, 2023 6:06 pm

Plymouthwelshboy wrote:....
was discussing what you have been helping me with and their technical teams faces all dropped and they went off to retrieve the latest email from autosleeper they'd received

essentially - autosleeper telling all new autosleeper owners - switch off the EC700 in long term storage. However, further down the email they said that it would mean all solar would go to the vehicle battery instead (which has confused dealer techies a little). Then there was some discussion about implications for the tracker and whether that would remain working or not and the team were just about to phone AS to discuss with them what the implications of that were.  
they have been picking up more issues with autosleeper owners over this solar panel issue/EC700 issue and also whether the EC700 should be left on or off and more asking them to by pass it for them. 

also of interest to me - was that the team immediately said you've got a 100w panel up top - what made you think it was 80w? i showed them the paperwork saying its 80w and they are now off to pore the database about my vehicle because they are convinced the panel looks like a 100w one! And they will let me know. scratch head

They also seem genuinely confused as to whether they are telling people to switch EC700 off or leave it on - at moment they are following autosleeper advice - switch off but then new owners are coming back to them because of battery issues. Everyone seems to love their autosleeper but......

They made me feel so much better about my confusion -  confused3 smile! 
meanwhile - both my batteries have gone two weeks now without charging with EC700 left on - which is a record. And i'm going to follow caramans advice and switch it off and see what happens over next few weeks .  

....
The root of the problem is Sargent's inaccurate and misleading information and that includes the Harmony Handbook which they probably wrote for Auto-Sleepers.  Have a look at this:

[url=https://autotrailusers.nz/ForumFiles/1012/Sargents EC700 Dealer Guide Issue 1.pdf][You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Yes - it was written in 2017 - I didn't know the EC700 had been around for as long as this.  On the front page it states:

"If a solar panel is fitted to the vehicle, and the vehicle is parked outside during storage (solar panel is working) then the system can remain on during storage."

This is drivel.  If the EC700 is not shutdown in the winter the LB will go flat followed by the VB.  In the summer the LB should not go flat but that's only because after being discharged overnight there is enough light to recharge it during the day.  But this is not a reason for leaving the EC700 on during the summer as the daily discharge and recharge cycles will eventually wear the LB out and for no benefit as the van is out of use.  Swift who also use Sargent's power control system cottoned on to this which is why in their user manual they make it quite clear that the system should be shutdown when the van is in storage.  I prefer to use the words 'out of use' as that includes when the van is parked up on a drive as mine is or at a workshop awaiting labour or spares. 

Your dealer is not very clued up.  Even though the EC700 is shutdown, the tracker receives a permanent supply from the LB via its in-line 20A fuse and as I discovered the other day Fuse No 2 on the EC700.  As I have said before, when the EC700 is shutdown the tracker's current can be seen with a multimeter and its about 10mA.  If this supply is cut and Inhibit Service hasn't been activated on AS Monitor you should receive a telephone call from the manned tracker monitoring station in Bedford but only if you have paid for the tracking service.  The tracker has a standby battery so it will still work even if the external supply is cut.

P.S. If the link doesn't work Google EC700 Dealer Technical Guide
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Post by Dbvwt Fri Mar 03, 2023 7:13 pm

Slightly off the main topic but I can’t believe I’m still reading about these issues in 2023!
Although slightly different in the implementation, these EC700/Solar issues are not that different from the very same problems I soon came to realise after I bought my van in 2018 with the EC500 and IMO inadequate 80W panel.
As the EC500 had been fitted for a number of years before 2018 and was replaced with the EC700 in 2019 you would have thought A/S and Sargent would have sorted it out by now shrugg

It’s not exactly rocket science as demonstrated by the many of us that have successfully upgraded our vans to a setup that works 100%.
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Post by Caraman Fri Mar 03, 2023 7:48 pm

Within a couple of days of buying my new Nuevo in 2019 I asked my dealer (Marquis who are part of A-S) whether I should leave the EC700 on or shut it down when I wasn't using it. I was told to leave it on.  I went along with this for a while until I started to read things on the Forum and started to doubt what I was told.  I raised it with Dave Williams at Auto-sleepers and when I went to Willersey to have some warranty work done I had a meeting with him and the factory's principle electrician when it was agreed the EC700 should be shutdown in part because it ensures all the solar charge goes to the VB (not the LB as it is for the EC500) providing the Peugeot shutdown isn't used.  It was also agreed the LB wouldn't need recharging for 3 months as its only load would be the tracker - about 10mA.  So why this discussion and dealer uncertainty is happening now is beyond me.
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Post by njr001 Fri Mar 03, 2023 8:21 pm

Re ebike battery charging, my Shimano Steps charger allegedly has a 2.5Amp input and a 4 amp 42volt output,plugging it in via a power measuring device it only appears to drawing 170 watts when charging, so a 500 watt inverter would probably be adequate for your needs. I did contact the ebike battery company suggested by Chris and because of the difficulty of obtaining a lead to connect to the bike they suggested that a 12 volt inverter was the way to go.  I did find a another company in Germany who could provide a 12V to 40 volt charger plus an exorbitant price for a lead to connect to the battery but I have a probably unfounded concern that in the very unlikely event that the bike battery were to catch fire and my van be destroyed insurance could be null and void as I had not used the manufacturers charger.
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Post by gpilky Sat Mar 04, 2023 4:51 pm

Plymouthwelshboy wrote:
Unless I go to lithium - I cant see where we can fit a second battery in a broadway EB - certainly there isnt the room under the sofa bed where current battery is - so where do people put the other battery? 

I have a Broadway EB and have two batteries under the seat - 2 x 85ah. I can get you the details if you'd like smile!
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Post by gpilky Sat Mar 04, 2023 5:02 pm

Plymouthwelshboy wrote: 
Sterling 70A Battery to Battery charger @ £479.99
Parts and consumables @ £120.00 (Estimated)
Installation charge @ £336.00 (Estimated 4 hours)
 

I'm not sure you would get 70A from this. I understand the charging current to a lead acid battery is limited by the battery chemistry so you will only get a few amps (someone please correct me if I'm misunderstanding this). This is why there is a 10amp fuse in the EM40 on the line connecting the vehicle battery to the leisure battery via the Sargent controller. 

You will get 70A with lithium though. Be aware that the fuse on the vehicle battery to the connector in the B-pillar is only 50A so if you want to go to 70A you will need an separate feed directly from the vehicle battery to the B2B. smile!
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Post by FreelanderUK Sat Mar 04, 2023 5:30 pm

gpilky wrote:
Plymouthwelshboy wrote: 
Sterling 70A Battery to Battery charger @ £479.99
Parts and consumables @ £120.00 (Estimated)
Installation charge @ £336.00 (Estimated 4 hours)
 

I'm not sure you would get 70A from this. I understand the charging current to a lead acid battery is limited by the battery chemistry so you will only get a few amps (someone please correct me if I'm misunderstanding this). This is why there is a 10amp fuse in the EM40 on the line connecting the vehicle battery to the leisure battery via the Sargent controller. 

You will get 70A with lithium though. Be aware that the fuse on the vehicle battery to the connector in the B-pillar is only 50A so if you want to go to 70A you will need an separate feed directly from the vehicle battery to the B2B. smile!

Most B2B or DC to DC chargers bypass everything and are connected direct to the batteries and sometimes a wire to the d+ on the alternator

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Post by Plymouthwelshboy Sat Mar 04, 2023 7:46 pm

Two 85a batteries under the seat. Quite like to see that must admit
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Post by glyne lock Sat Mar 04, 2023 7:49 pm

Plymouthwelshboy
1st the solar mod to a mppt daul controller and extra panels bypass the lovely Sargent system .this will look after the batteries that you have already damaged from running low on power in storage in the past. In the trade we say sort the small problems to not become big problems.
When adding extra batteries as lots of people do you need better charging ref solar if not when you start the engine now put extra load on the alternator and will end up needing a replacement 
Do not think you can just change a fuse to a higher fuse as was said by a member here or you will again end up doing damage
When I start up my engine my solar has recharged my batteries and the alternator now just has the fridge to power and not needing to put high amps to charge the leisure batteries and now making the life shorter from a high charge.
A mppt controller with what is inside and how it works will increase the life of a battery so is worth the money spent   
I have fitted extra solar panels and a inverter for people  and people charge the bike batteries when away and at home making use of the solar power
In my own camper I run the microwave a 240volt kettle and I have a 12 volt kettle I use as well all from my solar power all year round
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Post by gpilky Sun Mar 05, 2023 9:58 am

FreelanderUK wrote:
gpilky wrote:
Plymouthwelshboy wrote: 
Sterling 70A Battery to Battery charger @ £479.99
Parts and consumables @ £120.00 (Estimated)
Installation charge @ £336.00 (Estimated 4 hours)
 

I'm not sure you would get 70A from this. I understand the charging current to a lead acid battery is limited by the battery chemistry so you will only get a few amps (someone please correct me if I'm misunderstanding this). This is why there is a 10amp fuse in the EM40 on the line connecting the vehicle battery to the leisure battery via the Sargent controller. 

You will get 70A with lithium though. Be aware that the fuse on the vehicle battery to the connector in the B-pillar is only 50A so if you want to go to 70A you will need an separate feed directly from the vehicle battery to the B2B. smile!

Most B2B or DC to DC chargers bypass everything and are connected direct to the batteries and sometimes a wire to the d+ on the alternator

Appreciate that! I guess my point is about the installation of a 70amp unit. The rating is the input current, not the output, and any lead acid battery charger has to limit the output current to protect the battery from damage. This means you'd likely get just as good a performance off a 30amp unit (say) which is significantly cheaper.

However, if the OP is thinking of going to lithium at a later date, installing a higher rated B2B now would perhaps make sense....
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Post by The Bargee Sun Mar 05, 2023 1:54 pm

All good stuff!

I have gone the inverter route and fitted a 2000 watt Renogy unit with pass through, not because I intend to draw 2000 watts for long, but the capacity will be useful in short bursts for the 1400 watt air cooker etc. and means I can run a mains tv etc. I have (for the moment) left the Sargent charger in place and still have only the one x 100 ah battery, although I have space to fit another if needed. Unfortunately I have not been able to road test the system yet because the van has had to go back for warranty work (suspect EC700 CP) so I will comment further once I have proved the system.

My comment now would be that from all I have gathered the best course is to bypass the Sargent whenever possible for anything that might be regarded as essential. It all seems to be a problem waiting to happen! My inverter installation powers all the van sockets but is completely independent of the EC700. My recent problem, which Sargent thought was the CP, has turned out to be a faulty solar charger which caused the CP to flash and become inoperative, cutting absolutely all services. So my instinct is that any new and bigger solar capacity is  probably best being kept independent, and just seek to charge the HB. The vehicle battery should look after itself in normal use. With Sargent too much is integrated and interdependent! 

I have not had the van back yet to take a look but when I do it will be with the intention of seeing whether I can wire a bypass route round the Sargent for essential DC habitation services (lights, water pump etc.) since the last episode caused the cancellation of what should have been our first week away.
I have a pretty thorough professional knowledge of normal electrics (was also a boatbuilder!) but electronics are alien to me and even for an expert they are probably difficult to diagnose in the field (literally!)
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Post by gpilky Sun Mar 05, 2023 2:00 pm

Plymouthwelshboy wrote:Two 85a batteries under the seat. Quite like to see that must admit

Here you go....... 2 x 80AH (not 85) smile!

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Post by Dbvwt Mon Mar 06, 2023 7:14 am

The Bargee…. sent you a PM
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fitting new solar panels  - Page 2 Empty Re: fitting new solar panels

Post by Peter Brown Mon Mar 06, 2023 2:22 pm

gpilky, did you re-route the hot air ducting or did your van come like that?
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