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Thread: Solar questions

  1. #1
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    Default Solar questions

    So my foray into solar has started, 4x4 Direct delivered my 90w panel, 20w controller and some Hellas and strip lighting.
    I have a 90ah deep cycle and a 90ah high cycle (boat battery) both brand new.
    I will be running lights/music/waterpump/phone chargers and a small fridge/freezer(not sure what)
    Did some simple looksee testing and it all works as it should, just some questions....

    Where can I get some connections for the panel like these or should I just cut them off and add my 3m cable?

    Can all the load be connected to the load output on the controller?

    Can the 11v cutoff setting on the controller be used for both batteries?

    Can I leave the 3 cycle charger(used to charge from 220v) remain connected when the solar is charging?
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    FJC - Just Cruising

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    From a connection perspective, change that to BH, and then you can make yourselves2 or so 5m extensions with corresponding BH plugs, to be added as needed.

    The rest the solar boffins need to help with ...☺
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    I just recently got those plugs from Builders Express

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    Not a solar buff, but.....

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtshark View Post
    So my foray into solar has started, 4x4 Direct delivered my 90w panel, 20w controller and some Hellas and strip lighting.
    I have a 90ah deep cycle and a 90ah high cycle (boat battery) both brand new.
    I will be running lights/music/waterpump/phone chargers and a small fridge/freezer(not sure what)
    Did some simple looksee testing and it all works as it should, just some questions....

    Where can I get some connections for the panel like these or should I just cut them off and add my 3m cable?
    Cut them off and use brad harrison connectors

    Can all the load be connected to the load output on the controller?
    The controller/regulator output goes only to the batteries. To those batteries you connect your devices.

    Can the 11v cutoff setting on the controller be used for both batteries?
    This is confusing. By 'controller' I assume you mean the solar regulator. Why would that cut out at 11v??

    Can I leave the 3 cycle charger(used to charge from 220v) remain connected when the solar is charging?
    Yes, but i think NOT when it's actually hooked up to 220.
    Last edited by jonajay; 2017/08/18 at 06:18 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    Where can I get some connections for the panel like these or should I just cut them off and add my 3m cable?
    As others have suggested, cut them off and put on a Brad Harrison

    Can all the load be connected to the load output on the controller?
    Rather not. The controller wire diameter is not very large and the voltage drop when drawing current might trigger the controller disconnect too soon. Rather connect all the electronics directly to the battery (assuming you have made the necessary calculations to ensure you don't run the battery flat). Most camping fridges have their own disconnect voltage settings, so set them wisely. If your load is very small, then go ahead and use the controller output.

    Can the 11v cutoff setting on the controller be used for both batteries?
    Yes, if you do choose to use it. Alternative to the above, use the controller to power a relay which powers your devices through thicker and shorter wiring. When the controller cuts out (i.e., it purely monitors, no voltage drop across its cables) the relay switches off and the load is gone. But it is easier to just use the camping fridge or inverter cutout instead.

    Can I leave the 3 cycle charger(used to charge from 220v) remain connected when the solar is charging?
    It will be fine, but the battery will likely receive little charge from solar as the mains charger will keep it topped up except during the sunny hours where solar and mains will share the load.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    Thanks for the answers, I will cut off and add BH's with 3m of 2.5 wire to a Hella which will plug into the marine(bulkhead) Hella on the trailer.
    Can I connect the two batteries in parallel, bearing in mind one is deep cycle and one is high cycle
    FJC - Just Cruising

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtshark View Post
    Can I connect the two batteries in parallel, bearing in mind one is deep cycle and one is high cycle
    It doesn't sound like a great idea. If I'm not mistaken the charging voltage for the two are different, so the high cycle electrolyte might boil at the 14.4V required to fully charge the deep cycle. Perhaps someone who has done this may be able to shed some light on this.
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    Quote Originally Posted by pgreeff View Post
    Where can I get some connections for the panel like these or should I just cut them off and add my 3m cable?
    As others have suggested, cut them off and put on a Brad Harrison

    Can all the load be connected to the load output on the controller?
    Rather not. The controller wire diameter is not very large and the voltage drop when drawing current might trigger the controller disconnect too soon. Rather connect all the electronics directly to the battery (assuming you have made the necessary calculations to ensure you don't run the battery flat). Most camping fridges have their own disconnect voltage settings, so set them wisely. If your load is very small, then go ahead and use the controller output.

    Can the 11v cutoff setting on the controller be used for both batteries?
    Yes, if you do choose to use it. Alternative to the above, use the controller to power a relay which powers your devices through thicker and shorter wiring. When the controller cuts out (i.e., it purely monitors, no voltage drop across its cables) the relay switches off and the load is gone. But it is easier to just use the camping fridge or inverter cutout instead.

    Can I leave the 3 cycle charger(used to charge from 220v) remain connected when the solar is charging?
    It will be fine, but the battery will likely receive little charge from solar as the mains charger will keep it topped up except during the sunny hours where solar and mains will share the load.

    If I may offer an alternative view/approach.

    1/. The Controller is amply suited and designed to switch the load without meaningful losses if you stay within the rating of the controller. By way of example your average 20/30 controller will handle a simple camping fridge, absolutely no problem.

    2/. Low voltage cutouts in the load (fridge etc) are a real PITA in simply because they are not measuring the voltage at the controller or battery, but at the end of the cable feeding them. So they can, and do, get confused, and produce poor results because of the cable losses.

    When the fridge is on, you have cable losses which can lead to the fridge low voltage detect operating and switching the fridge off. When the fridge switches off, the volt drops are now zero and the fridge sees a high voltage again and switches back on. Now we have volt drops again and......I think you see the pattern developing here.

    Traditional ways of dealing with this use a technique called hysteresis, but it remains iffy at best in anything but a stable permanent installation.

    3/. Because the controller is, or at least should be, as close as possible to the batteries, this volt drop switching thing becomes a non event.

    ----------------------

    Ironically the better quality load equipment doesn't have low voltage cutouts built in - I wonder why.

    ----------------------
    Cheers

    ZS5KAD
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    The frogs are starting to notice that the water is getting warm but it is already too hot to do anything about it.....

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    Quote Originally Posted by pgreeff View Post
    It doesn't sound like a great idea. If I'm not mistaken the charging voltage for the two are different, so the high cycle electrolyte might boil at the 14.4V required to fully charge the deep cycle. Perhaps someone who has done this may be able to shed some light on this.

    The trick is to

    1/. Initially charge both batteries separately and independently.

    2/. Then connect them in parallel.

    3/. Make sure you keep them in parallel forever - ie never separate them again unless you feel they need another independent charge. (Say every 6 months)

    --------------------------------

    Despite what people repeatedly say and think, batteries of different sizes, makes, and technologies (ie Deep Cycle, Leisure, AGM, High Cycle) co-exist extremely well together.

    Batteries tend to remain in a state of equilibrium. Sure one will work harder than the other, one will charge faster than the other, one may reach 100% while is partner only gets to 97%, and yes one will last longer than the other. - But the sum of their performance will still be pretty damn close whether or not they were in parallel or separate.
    Cheers

    ZS5KAD
    3 V8's
    NA TwinTurbo SuperCharger
    A V6 and an inline 4

    The frogs are starting to notice that the water is getting warm but it is already too hot to do anything about it.....

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Fluffy View Post
    The trick is to

    1/. Initially charge both batteries separately and independently.

    2/. Then connect them in parallel.

    3/. Make sure you keep them in parallel forever - ie never separate them again unless you feel they need another independent charge. (Say every 6 months)

    --------------------------------

    Despite what people repeatedly say and think, batteries of different sizes, makes, and technologies (ie Deep Cycle, Leisure, AGM, High Cycle) co-exist extremely well together.

    Batteries tend to remain in a state of equilibrium. Sure one will work harder than the other, one will charge faster than the other, one may reach 100% while is partner only gets to 97%, and yes one will last longer than the other. - But the sum of their performance will still be pretty damn close whether or not they were in parallel or separate.
    Thanks Fluffy. I'll defer to your wisdom. Coincidentally I have two very different batteries powering my study with no ill effects but I have always had it in the back of my mind that it should not be done, because all the experts have always said so.

    Regarding powering loads on the charge controller, the reason I suggested powering loads directly off the deep cycle battery is because I had problems running my fridge on an inverter through the charge controller. The wiring was longer and thinner (thickest wiring the very same SAKO used by the OP would allow) where the inverter had a 30 cm run of thick wires directly to the battery. On the battery the inverter would run fine, whereas through the charge controller its 10.5V emergency cutout would kick in disconnecting the fridge. An no, the startup current did not exceed 20A. But, in the OPs case, you're probably right. 2.5 or 5 A for a camping fridge would likely not cause any problems through the charge controller.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    I always was under the impression that the batteries should be of the same type, size and so forth. This is interesting to hear that guys say you can use the 2 in parallel that you have.

    I think you are drastically going to have to up your panel wattage to keep those batteries full if running all the mentioned items. In my experience one 85W panel is not enough to run only a fridge, unless the demand is VERY low and the panels get max sun exposure (Tracking the sun) Even then getting the batteries charged will be a challenge.

    I would go for a 250W panel
    If Force is not the solution, not enough of it was applied....

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    Quote Originally Posted by pgreeff View Post
    Thanks Fluffy. I'll defer to your wisdom. Coincidentally I have two very different batteries powering my study with no ill effects but I have always had it in the back of my mind that it should not be done, because all the experts have always said so.

    Regarding powering loads on the charge controller, the reason I suggested powering loads directly off the deep cycle battery is because I had problems running my fridge on an inverter through the charge controller. The wiring was longer and thinner (thickest wiring the very same SAKO used by the OP would allow) where the inverter had a 30 cm run of thick wires directly to the battery. On the battery the inverter would run fine, whereas through the charge controller its 10.5V emergency cutout would kick in disconnecting the fridge. An no, the startup current did not exceed 20A. But, in the OPs case, you're probably right. 2.5 or 5 A for a camping fridge would likely not cause any problems through the charge controller.
    As always, these things can escalate out of hand in complexity very quickly.

    For sure, I would think twice about connecting an inverter any way but direct, likewise a high power two way radio or maybe even a caravan pump, etc.

    And it also depends a lot on the quality of the equipment. If it is cheap as chips Chinese rubbish that's one scenario, a Victron or HCDP etc would be another.

    ----------------------

    So if this all gives people some ideas to chew on, great stuff, that's one of the reasons for a forum..
    Last edited by Fluffy; 2017/08/21 at 12:30 PM.
    Cheers

    ZS5KAD
    3 V8's
    NA TwinTurbo SuperCharger
    A V6 and an inline 4

    The frogs are starting to notice that the water is getting warm but it is already too hot to do anything about it.....

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Pietsweis View Post
    I always was under the impression that the batteries should be of the same type, size and so forth. This is interesting to hear that guys say you can use the 2 in parallel that you have.

    I think you are drastically going to have to up your panel wattage to keep those batteries full if running all the mentioned items. In my experience one 85W panel is not enough to run only a fridge, unless the demand is VERY low and the panels get max sun exposure (Tracking the sun) Even then getting the batteries charged will be a challenge.

    I would go for a 250W panel
    Technically yes, in practice NO.

    A 250W is a real beast to handle and stow and transport. Most of them (ALL?) are also not 12V class panels and will kill many of the popular solar controllers (CTEK included).

    Much easier to get a 90W, see how it goes and then add another 90W or even two if/when needed.
    Cheers

    ZS5KAD
    3 V8's
    NA TwinTurbo SuperCharger
    A V6 and an inline 4

    The frogs are starting to notice that the water is getting warm but it is already too hot to do anything about it.....

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Fluffy View Post
    Technically yes, in practice NO.

    A 250W is a real beast to handle and stow and transport. Most of them (ALL?) are also not 12V class panels and will kill many of the popular solar controllers (CTEK included).

    Much easier to get a 90W, see how it goes and then add another 90W or even two if/when needed.
    Thanks for the input guys, yes Fluffy this is my way of thinking, as it stands for now I will be using a mates fridge (he has two to choose from) and get a feel for what works, at the moment this is going to be mainly to keep the lights and music on for a 3-4 day off grid stay
    If my planned trip to Afrikaburn and a few other places materialises then I can see another 90w panel and a 105ah deepcycle coming my way!!
    Agree on the 250w size, its just too unwieldy, the 90w is just right at 1000x670...my trailers motto is 'Travel Light' and I have to stick to it as much as I can!!
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtshark View Post
    Thanks for the input guys, yes Fluffy this is my way of thinking, as it stands for now I will be using a mates fridge (he has two to choose from) and get a feel for what works, at the moment this is going to be mainly to keep the lights and music on for a 3-4 day off grid stay
    If my planned trip to Afrikaburn and a few other places materialises then I can see another 90w panel and a 105ah deepcycle coming my way!!
    Agree on the 250w size, its just too unwieldy, the 90w is just right at 1000x670...my trailers motto is 'Travel Light' and I have to stick to it as much as I can!!
    I have the 120 W also from 4x4Direct. It is a bit larger at 1270 x 670. I'm planning on getting another one and fixing both to the roof rack on the cab to keep the batteries charged. The two together make a 1270 x 1340 panel. With all the antennas and the future panels my bakkie is going to have a truly unique look.
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Solar questions

    Quote Originally Posted by pgreeff View Post
    I have the 120 W also from 4x4Direct. It is a bit larger at 1270 x 670. I'm planning on getting another one and fixing both to the roof rack on the cab to keep the batteries charged. The two together make a 1270 x 1340 panel. With all the antennas and the future panels my bakkie is going to have a truly unique look.
    Yes, its going to look like a Microwave Tower.
    Cheers

    ZS5KAD
    3 V8's
    NA TwinTurbo SuperCharger
    A V6 and an inline 4

    The frogs are starting to notice that the water is getting warm but it is already too hot to do anything about it.....

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