Solar system for off grid camping - Page 2





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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    Quote Originally Posted by bigboy529 View Post
    ... , 1 weekend per month, ...
    Quote Originally Posted by plakkie View Post
    ... at least 5 days every month, even during this lockdown period (working in off-grid locations) and my battery is always full by around 10:30 and the controller moves to float charge for the rest of the day.
    As long as the lead acid battery bank is fully charged at LEAST once every 7 days to float, that can work ... IF it is never left uncharged, as in ever.
    That is "classified" as weekend use i.e. 5 days to get the batts fully charged and floated ... with equalization as and when required (... if the batts can do that ... ).


    FWIW, FIY: What gets me riled up in face to face conversations, braai's, beers talking is when some people B&C (Bitch and Complain) about how bad a battery/panel/controller is when a battery died due the user not "getting it", "penny NEVER dropped", "blames the equipment" ... "stupid arse!".

    Daily cycling vs weekend cycling, understand the difference, the loads ... then all it peachy.

    See, solar charging is easy, you have irradiation reports, optimal solar hours. optimal seasonal angles, panels specs, temp coefficients ... all about maths!!!
    No joke,
    ... and the you get weather, clouds, shade, bird poop .... SWAMBO ... dare you to calculate THAT!
    I'm, serious, go ahead, I dare ya!



    Bottom line: Loads PLUS (+) recharge = panels needed = MPPT required ... in winter.
    Political Correctness
    Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional illogical minority, rabidly promoted by a unscrupulous mainstream media which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd ... by the clean end!

    Saw this in a pub - no idea why the wife does not see it so:
    I'm not opinionated ... I'm just always right!

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    PM Me if you need pricing on panels, lifep04 batteries and victron charge controllers

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    Where would be the best spot to put in fuses for solar & DC-DC charging?
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  4. #24
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    Quote Originally Posted by Rudolfweyers84 View Post
    Where would be the best spot to put in fuses for solar & DC-DC charging?
    Normally close to the source. On long runs one tends to use a fuse on either end of the cable.

    It would be interesting to hear some other views on this topic.

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    Quote Originally Posted by ekkekan View Post
    Normally close to the source. On long runs one tends to use a fuse on either end of the cable.

    It would be interesting to hear some other views on this topic.
    I concur, close to the batteries basically.

    First and biggest fuse close to the starting battery. Depending on the distance between the starting battery and DCDC charger, I'll put one close to the DCDC charger as well.
    Then I'll put the next fuse between the DCDC charger output and the aux battery.
    Usually a fuse isn't required between a single solar panel and solar controller input, but I'll put one in if higher voltages and bigger panels are involved say 500W, same for the output side of the solar controller.
    Then fuses on the lines between battery and your consumables, fridge, lights, pumps etc.
    Last edited by bigboy529; 2020/08/04 at 08:29 PM.
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  6. #26
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    I have started putting it all together. For now I have the 2x100w panels, in parallel, the Victron Smartsolar 75/15 charge controller and the 120ah LiFePO4 battery. Later on I will add a WRND dc-dc/solar controller. (Before you ask why 2 controllers...its for redundancy...and got the Victron controller for a very good price). My question is...can I have the 2 controllers connected to the battery at the same time, obviously only 1 will be charging at a time, and if so, can I have the load running permanently through the Victron controller. Its nice to be able to check the load on the battery from the Victron app.
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  7. #27
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    Quote Originally Posted by Rudolfweyers84 View Post
    can I have the 2 controllers connected to the battery at the same time, obviously only 1 will be charging at a time, and if so, can I have the load running permanently through the Victron controller. Its nice to be able to check the load on the battery from the Victron app.
    I see no reason why you cannot run the load through the Victron. Just make sure the Victron does not switch the load off as I found my 100/20 was prone to see the slightest drop in battery voltage and would then cut the load.

    Also 2 controllers connected to the same battery should work fine.

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    Quote Originally Posted by Rudolfweyers84 View Post
    I have started putting it all together. For now I have the 2x100w panels, in parallel, the Victron Smartsolar 75/15 charge controller and the 120ah LiFePO4 battery. Later on I will add a WRND dc-dc/solar controller. (Before you ask why 2 controllers...its for redundancy...and got the Victron controller for a very good price). My question is...can I have the 2 controllers connected to the battery at the same time, obviously only 1 will be charging at a time, and if so, can I have the load running permanently through the Victron controller. Its nice to be able to check the load on the battery from the Victron app.

    Having the 2 controllers permanently connected to the battery won't be a problem, the controller will only start to work once you connect a panel to it. While sitting there it will draw a little current, but this will be almost nothing.
    If I may ask, where did you get that Victron controller at a good price?

    Play around, also try connecting those panels in series, due to the way the Victron controllers work, those 2 panels in series might just be a bit more efficient.
    For a Victron controller to start up in the morning it must read a panel voltage 5V higher than the battery voltage. If your battery sits at 13V, the controller will only start up if it sees higher than 18V. With the panels connected in parallel it might only see that 18V at say 8:00 in the morning. When the panels are connected in series however the voltage will rise past the 18V much earlier in the day, at first light already. In other words when in series your charging will start much earlier in the day and continue until much later in the day so you get more hours of charging.

    With only 200W the difference between parallel and series might be negligible, but the Victron controller can handle both so gives you the opportunity to experiment with both, that's why I say play around with it.
    It's in pubs where the world's greatest ideas begin.

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    Quote Originally Posted by bigboy529 View Post
    For a Victron controller to start up in the morning it must read a panel voltage 5V higher than the battery voltage. If your battery sits at 13V, the controller will only start up if it sees higher than 18V. With the panels connected in parallel it might only see that 18V at say 8:00 in the morning. When the panels are connected in series however the voltage will rise past the 18V much earlier in the day, at first light already. In other words when in series your charging will start much earlier in the day and continue until much later in the day so you get more hours of charging.
    Very good information for those using Victron controllers. Luckily for the parallel config the peak voltage is high early in the morning before the current increases and the voltage drops. This is normally high enough to kick the Victron into life. This graph shows the voltage early in the morning.

    Your reply clearly indicates why people using panels in series get a higher total PV output.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  10. #30
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    This is what I got over weekend using 2x80watt panels in series on the Victron 75/15.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  11. #31
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    Quote Originally Posted by plakkie View Post
    This is what I got over weekend using 2x80watt panels in series on the Victron 75/15.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    You must have been drawing a lot lower load today than yesterday. Even the 240Wh of yesterday can go a lot higher if you have a bigger load connected.

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    Quote Originally Posted by ekkekan View Post
    You must have been drawing a lot lower load today than yesterday. Even the 240Wh of yesterday can go a lot higher if you have a bigger load connected.
    Today I packed up and went home so less charging. Yesterday was the only completely cloud free day and I charged a hand held radio. Other than that I only had a fridge and some lights as load this weekend and I just went with the easiest option of facing the panels north at a 45° angle.

    If you track the sun by moving the panels throughout the day then you also get better charging. In winter I find you don't need to do this as the fridge does not work very hard with the colder temps compared to summer.

    At home now the battery just stays on a smart charger until its next trip.

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  14. #33
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    I have now added the solar panels to the load bars on the bakkie roof. For now i only have the Victron controller going. Will later add the WRND controller. Im in the process of designing the battery box. Want to make it easily removable from bakkie and installed into trailer. The solar panels can be removed easily from the load bars when we go camping with the trailer and they need to be left behind at the camp. When its only me and the misses in the bakkie they can stay mounted on the roof.

    Now for the next question....i have 12v LED lights for the trailer, running from a 12v transformer for when there is 220v power at the camp site....can I join the power from the battery to the output from the transformer so I only need to plug the battery in when no 220v is available?
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  15. #34
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    Panels looking real nice.

    Yes you can plug battery to the Trfr output to run from the battery when no 220V.

  16. #35
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    I have completed the design/layout for my battery box, should receive it sometime next week.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I have also tested the panels in series, and definitely start charging much earlier, till much later, and even in very cloudy conditions.
    Last edited by Rudolfweyers84; 2020/08/27 at 09:06 AM.
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  17. #36
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    Another testimony why series do give higher output if all panels are in sun or just a portion of a panel shaded.

    Very impressive design.

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  19. #37
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    Quote Originally Posted by Rudolfweyers84 View Post
    I have completed the design/layout for my battery box, should receive it sometime next week.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I have also tested the panels in series, and definitely start charging much earlier, till much later, and even in very cloudy conditions.
    Have you tested your fridge on the load output of the mppt? Those mppt’s are not happy with some fridges. I can connect my newer 32L engel, but not my older 60L engel. The mppt is not happy with a large inrush current.

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  21. #38
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    I haven't tested running the fridge from the charger as per the designed layout. Will do that this weekend and report back
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  22. #39
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    I agree with Bigboy529.
    I would recommend a bigger battery.

    I had 2 105nlead acid batteries and used a 60W 220V Staycold through an inverter. It killed my batteries in a few days. It emptied the batteries to 50% in less than 3 hours. Rather use a 12V icemeker if you can get it.

    I would recommend a 240Ah or two 120Ah Omnipower AGM/Gel hybrid batteries. You can use 80% of the capacity and may get along like that.

    I am using 4 x 80W panels, that I linked in pairs to close like a book. I use a Victron 100/30 solar charger and I am happy with my setup so far.

    I may use a 220V icemaker, but I have to check what is the amp consumption. Remember, it will run for a few hours and my require too much Amps.
    Groete / Regards
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  23. #40
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    Default Re: Solar system for off grid camping

    Hi there

    I can confirm firsthand that the load output "trips" every time fridge powers up.
    Quote Originally Posted by MrTolbos View Post
    Have you tested your fridge on the load output of the mppt? Those mppt’s are not happy with some fridges. I can connect my newer 32L engel, but not my older 60L engel. The mppt is not happy with a large inrush current.

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