Dealership solar install issues

This topic contains 14 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  CaptnRob 3 years, 2 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
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  • #26937

    CaptnRob
    Participant

    After two nights in my new RV I’ve learned a few things about my dealer-installed systems: It’s not enough! Can’t even go 6 hours without the converter on overnight and nothing running on DC except the furnace (still gets down in the 30s here at night). Also I turned the converter off yesterday morning – Sunny day and 300 watt panels charging the batts – and by mid-afternoon the batteries were only on 1/2 capacity. Starting from a FULL charge!

    My system:
    2 150 watt Zamp panels
    Zamp 30 amp charge controller
    2 Trojan T105 plus 6V wet cell batteries @225 AH each

    I’ve already decided to add two more batteries once I come up with the $$ to pay for it. I’m a bit tapped out right now…

    #26939

    Ray
    Keymaster

    Sounds like it’s under-performing a bit. The fan on the RV furnace is a big power drain though. I believe they draw around 8 amps when running.

    2 fully charged Trojans should give you at least 100 amp hours of usable capacity. When I had 2 of them we always made it through the coldest nights, but would need to recharge come morning. Furnace set to 66F

    I know when we were camped in the cold December nights this year we would use 40 – 45 amp hours during the overnight period, now that it is really warm out its about 5 – 10 amp hours.

    I’d advise getting a battery monitor system installed. Trimetric is the one most folks have – http://www.bogartengineering.com/products/trimetrics/

    That way you can figure out what things are drawing and how much the solar is charging. See if it is doing the job as expected.

    RVHH Chief Cook and Bottle Washer - LoveYourRV.com

    #26941

    John
    Participant

    Might make sense to figure out when and for how long to run your generator so you don’t damage your batteries by drawing them down more than half their capacity. As Ray says, a meter would help. If you can’t swing a meter financially at this time, then google whatever you need to understand how to use a cheap voltage meter and your battery manufacturer’s specifications to measure the batts level of charge. Ultimately, you need to figure out what’s going in and coming out of the batts and fill that deficit with a generator PRIOR to letting the batts get below 50%. Or, stop using power until the solar brings the batts back up.

    I’m new to this myself. If you got about 90 amp hours on a sunny day coming in from the array and 45 going out during the night, you’ll have to live off what’s left.

    #26943

    CaptnRob
    Participant

    Also, when I called the dealership they told me that my two batteries combined are NOT 450 AH as I was expecting but more like 300AH. Can anyone confirm?

    #26945

    CaptnRob
    Participant

    According to the display on the controller, it is charging between 1.5 and 3.0 amps depending on clouds. Indirect sun and partial shade. Panels cannot be angled – something I discovered after the fact. The dealership explained that these panels do not need to be angled (something I am skeptical of)

     

    #26947

    Ray
    Keymaster

    Also, when I called the dealership they told me that my two batteries combined are NOT 450 AH as I was expecting but more like 300AH. Can anyone confirm?

    2 six volt Trojans rated at 225 AH are going to be rated at 225AH when combined to make a 12-volt bank. The AH stays the same and voltage doubles. To get 450 AH you’ll need 2 more six-volt batteries.

    Your real usable capacity is in the neighborhood of 100 AH since lead acid batteries shouldn’t be drawn down below 50-60 %.

    Lots of good info at this link.

    http://www.trojanbattery.com/tech-support/battery-maintenance/

    RVHH Chief Cook and Bottle Washer - LoveYourRV.com

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by  Ray.
    #26949

    Ray
    Keymaster

    According to the display on the controller, it is charging between 1.5 and 3.0 amps depending on clouds. Indirect sun and partial shade. Panels cannot be angled – something I discovered after the fact. The dealership explained that these panels do not need to be angled (something I am skeptical of)

    You should be seeing much more than that off of 300 watts in direct sun.

    As a reference, my 400 watts array right now is producing over 20 amps of charge during the midday sun not tilted.

    RVHH Chief Cook and Bottle Washer - LoveYourRV.com

    #26952

    John
    Participant

    According to the display on the controller, it is charging between 1.5 and 3.0 amps depending on clouds. Indirect sun and partial shade. Panels cannot be angled – something I discovered after the fact. The dealership explained that these panels do not need to be angled (something I am skeptical of)

    You should be seeing much more than that off of 300 watts in direct sun. As a reference, my 400 watts array right now is producing over 20 amps of charge during the midday sun not tilted.

    Cap, extrapolating Ray’s out put onto yours, you should be looking at around 16 amps on your controller. You mention shade. Dude, ANY shade kills your output. Are you saying your in some shade. Even a golf ball size shade spot is very bad. Can you move into full sun, then see the result?

     

    #26954

    CaptnRob
    Participant

    Thanks Ray. Right now I think a big part of the problem is the shade. Surrounded by pine trees and no other good option right now. Expected better though and now I’m disappointed. Looks like I won’t be boondocking as much as I intended – need power for my computers so I can work…

     

    #26956

    CaptnRob
    Participant

    According to the display on the controller, it is charging between 1.5 and 3.0 amps depending on clouds. Indirect sun and partial shade. Panels cannot be angled – something I discovered after the fact. The dealership explained that these panels do not need to be angled (something I am skeptical of)

    You should be seeing much more than that off of 300 watts in direct sun. As a reference, my 400 watts array right now is producing over 20 amps of charge during the midday sun not tilted.

    Cap, extrapolating Ray’s out put onto yours, you should be looking at around 16 amps on your controller. You mention shade. Dude, ANY shade kills your output. Are you saying your in some shade. Even a golf ball size shade spot is very bad. Can you move into full sun, then see the result?

     

    Kinda stuck where I am right now. No maneuvering room to move to a different spot and even if I could my landlord would have issues if I get in the way of orchard operations. (Live in a cherry orchard). Next month we’ll be out  of here and have more flexibility.

    #28688

    CaptnRob
    Participant

    I think I found the issue with my batteries depleting so fast. When I parked my rig initially it was on a slight hill so I thought that pulling the breakaway switch to engage the brakes would add a bit of security in addition to the wheel chocks. Totally forgot about that until this weekend when I hooked up to move to a new campground. With that safety breakaway switch engaged the trailer brakes were drawing on the 12V system constantly.

    Still have the issue of the panels not putting out even though we are in an open spot now with NO shade on the panels in the afternoon. Bright sunny day – no shade at all – and still the most I saw was 5 amps.

    #28708

    John
    Participant

    perhaps you might want to carry some blocks, etc., to get more level. I had the depot guy cut me 12″ pieces off a 2 x 12 + I carry some 6′ pieces to put under both axles if needed. if you’re out of level bad enough to feel the need to pull the emergency switch, you may be out of level enough to damage your refrigerator, which needs to remain generally level (assuming it’s an LP burning one).

    assuming you’re reading 5 amps correctly, this is a problem that need diagnosis and correction. before anything else, go up and make sure that the panels are clean. maybe clean glass off with something. then, make sure no shading is occurring from your own roof equipment, like antenna or AC units, etc., during the time you’re reading the display.

     

    #28710

    CaptnRob
    Participant

    Thanks John. I have and use both 2X8 blocks and Lynx Levelers. Using a 4ft level we are spot on in both directions.

    I plan on having Eddie troubleshoot and upgrade my solar system. Panels are spotless and ZERO shade from about 11:00 AM to sunset.

     

     

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 4 months ago by  CaptnRob.
    #28713

    John
    Participant

    sounds good. eddie will fix you up.

    #30758

    CaptnRob
    Participant

    Didn’t have the finances to get Eddie to upgrade my systems – maybe next year – but now that we’ve moved south from Montana to an area with more direct sun I’m getting much better performance from my panels. Over 12 amps charge rate at noon on a sunny day. I think the major issue is that I cannot angle the panels so in the northcountry getting direct sun is almost impossible except in the middle of summer. Are there commercially made brackets I can buy?

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