Solar The Solar Panel Thread

Crusty181

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Feb 7, 2010
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Mentone, VIC
Hi @Crusty181 , now if you are looking for the ultimate solar panel/s, have a look at Kick Ass's latest 250 watt folding panel - 5 folds and extra light. Only $1200.00 for panels alone. Cables and controller are extra!! But then you have them, so it is still $1200.00. I am sure your house is worth much more than that!!! Too rich for me whilst I am still camping, so looks like I will be carrying my 14kg glass panels around for the foreseeable future. Perhaps you may wish to indulge in this field???
Ouch, that's a lot of generator fuel. I have a shallow concern for the environment, and I have a deep emotional concern for my wallet. At $1200 my rip off meter is spiking, and the irony is Kick Ass in name is Kick Ass in nature but it would be my ass getting kicked. From practical experience I'd get better performance from 2 x 150w Super Cheap panels for half the price.

That Kick Ass panel is almost 10 foot long, Id need a mortgage, a vacant site next door and a team of Oompa Loompas to set it up.

I had a cursory glance over the Kick Ass offerings and they are unjustifiably expensive across their entire range, and Im pretty sure I wont be ringing their bells. If someones kids should go the DisneyLand on the back of price gouging, it will be mine. You dont have shares in Kick Ass @Boots in Action ???
 

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
Ouch, that's a lot of generator fuel. I have a shallow concern for the environment, and I have a deep emotional concern for my wallet. At $1200 my rip off meter is spiking, and the irony is Kick Ass in name is Kick Ass in nature but it would be my ass getting kicked. From practical experience I'd get better performance from 2 x 150w Super Cheap panels for half the price.

That Kick Ass panel is almost 10 foot long, Id need a mortgage, a vacant site next door and a team of Oompa Loompas to set it up.

I had a cursory glance over the Kick Ass offerings and they are unjustifiably expensive across their entire range, and Im pretty sure I wont be ringing their bells. If someones kids should go the DisneyLand on the back of price gouging, it will be mine. You dont have shares in Kick Ass @Boots in Action ???
No @Crusty181, and I agree with your sentiments about being pricey across the whole range too. Also, I made a mistake in the price. It is $1300.00 and that does not include your work party to set it up either. Still, it shows where the solar panels are going in improvements. Unfortunately, that same improvement is not the same in MY wallet either.
 

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
This was what I had found ages back as a good readable guide to stuff, lost the link but found it again, or has it been posted already ? This thread has got too big to look for stuff.
.

http://12voltblog.com.au/a-guide-to-using-solar-panels-and-regulators/

http://12voltblog.com.au/solar-panels-parallel-series-shading-diodes/
Hi there again @Drover, I too am becoming a bit of a cynic like you on the workmanship (or lack of to be precise!) of Jayco electrics. Daughter has a Jayco Journey which she purchased NEW from company in Brisbane in 2010. After a weekend of drama ( a separate story to come), where battery failure without warning occurred, I fortunately was on site to sort out their problem. The van has only a 80 watt solar panel on roof and has been mainly used on 240 volt power. Jayco fitted a TopRAYSolar controller 30A type - same as Camec. The only problem was that of the 3 twin connections on panel (battery, solar and load), Jayco failed to connect ANY wires to the Load terminals so no display on amp hours used each day!! Daughter and husband are not technically minded and just read off the voltage shown and did not try to see what they were using and what had to be put back into the system after being off grid. And this was done during the day time and with no load, so voltage reading was deceiving. Actually showed 12.5 volts until light/s were turned on and or the DVD player was connected, which caused a sudden drop to 11.0 volts and continued to sink even lower to under 10.00 volts. "No one told us about anything!" was their response. A trap for the unwary.
 

Glen Bundesen

Active Member
Jan 12, 2014
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Perth WA
Hi there again @Drover, I too am becoming a bit of a cynic like you on the workmanship (or lack of to be precise!) of Jayco electrics. Daughter has a Jayco Journey which she purchased NEW from company in Brisbane in 2010. After a weekend of drama ( a separate story to come), where battery failure without warning occurred, I fortunately was on site to sort out their problem. The van has only a 80 watt solar panel on roof and has been mainly used on 240 volt power. Jayco fitted a TopRAYSolar controller 30A type - same as Camec. The only problem was that of the 3 twin connections on panel (battery, solar and load), Jayco failed to connect ANY wires to the Load terminals so no display on amp hours used each day!! Daughter and husband are not technically minded and just read off the voltage shown and did not try to see what they were using and what had to be put back into the system after being off grid. And this was done during the day time and with no load, so voltage reading was deceiving. Actually showed 12.5 volts until light/s were turned on and or the DVD player was connected, which caused a sudden drop to 11.0 volts and continued to sink even lower to under 10.00 volts. "No one told us about anything!" was their response. A trap for the unwary.
Hi Boots
Just fitting a TopRaySolar and was wondering what needs to go into the LOAD side. Do I just run another twin from the battery to the "Load" terminals and leave the existing wires/circuits coming straight from the battery?
 

Bellbirdweb

Well-Known Member
Jan 24, 2014
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Sydney
Hi there again @Drover, I too am becoming a bit of a cynic like you on the workmanship (or lack of to be precise!) of Jayco electrics. Daughter has a Jayco Journey which she purchased NEW from company in Brisbane in 2010. After a weekend of drama ( a separate story to come), where battery failure without warning occurred, I fortunately was on site to sort out their problem. The van has only a 80 watt solar panel on roof and has been mainly used on 240 volt power. Jayco fitted a TopRAYSolar controller 30A type - same as Camec. The only problem was that of the 3 twin connections on panel (battery, solar and load), Jayco failed to connect ANY wires to the Load terminals so no display on amp hours used each day!! Daughter and husband are not technically minded and just read off the voltage shown and did not try to see what they were using and what had to be put back into the system after being off grid. And this was done during the day time and with no load, so voltage reading was deceiving. Actually showed 12.5 volts until light/s were turned on and or the DVD player was connected, which caused a sudden drop to 11.0 volts and continued to sink even lower to under 10.00 volts. "No one told us about anything!" was their response. A trap for the unwary.
Actually it was wired correctly. Nothing gets connected to the load outputs, that is designed for a 12v output only, not for charging.

To see the amp reading on the topray you just press the black button a couple of times and it cycles between battery voltage and current.
 

Bellbirdweb

Well-Known Member
Jan 24, 2014
1,897
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Sydney
Hi Boots
Just fitting a TopRaySolar and was wondering what needs to go into the LOAD side. Do I just run another twin from the battery to the "Load" terminals and leave the existing wires/circuits coming straight from the battery?
Nothing goes to the load connections unless you want to power something directly from solar (not from the battery) which is unlikely
 

Eddii

Active Member
Jun 28, 2017
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Burua Central QLD 4680
Unfortunately, Jayco never connects those Solar controller load output terminals to anything because they all go to Setec. Also, controller only has max 30A load. I'm pretty sure no other caravan manufacturer uses these units to give the full load status. You'll have to buy a unit and fit it at the battery terminals to get the full consumption.
 

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
Actually it was wired correctly. Nothing gets connected to the load outputs, that is designed for a 12v output only, not for charging.

To see the amp reading on the topray you just press the black button a couple of times and it cycles between battery voltage and current.

Thanks @Bellbirdweb and @Eddii for your prompt replies. Not knowing this type of controller, it looks like I may have gone off 'half cocked"!! A couple of things I have noticed are: there is no black button on front of TPS 1230 model, only 2 red buttons, one on left marked with a red triangle and the other shows two light bulbs (one illuminated and the other not so) with a double pointed arrow between them. I will have a further look at the original instructions my Daughter has as I am sure it speaks about amp hours used. That would have to come from the Pos and neg terminals on the Setec distribution system. When I had a PWM solar controller Power Tech 30A) the load terminals were connected to the Pos and Neg output terminals on the Setec distribution box and it gave me a readout of amp hours used for the day, the day before and the day before that. The MPPT controller I now have gives both amp hours consumed and amp hours into battery on continuous logging. I zero the readouts every morning so i know what happened and start again. I thought the Topray was similar. I will get back after looking at instructions. Thanks again. @Glen Bundesen , take note of what others say for the time being please.
 

Bellbirdweb

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Jan 24, 2014
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Sydney
Thanks @Bellbirdweb and @Eddii for your prompt replies. Not knowing this type of controller, it looks like I may have gone off 'half cocked"!! A couple of things I have noticed are: there is no black button on front of TPS 1230 model, only 2 red buttons, one on left marked with a red triangle and the other shows two light bulbs (one illuminated and the other not so) with a double pointed arrow between them. I will have a further look at the original instructions my Daughter has as I am sure it speaks about amp hours used. That would have to come from the Pos and neg terminals on the Setec distribution system. When I had a PWM solar controller Power Tech 30A) the load terminals were connected to the Pos and Neg output terminals on the Setec distribution box and it gave me a readout of amp hours used for the day, the day before and the day before that. The MPPT controller I now have gives both amp hours consumed and amp hours into battery on continuous logging. I zero the readouts every morning so i know what happened and start again. I thought the Topray was similar. I will get back after looking at instructions. Thanks again. @Glen Bundesen , take note of what others say for the time being please.
@Boots in Action, it’s been a while since I played with my TPS1230 having since moved to my eperver MPPT. The buttons are red not black.

The one with the triangle toggles between amps and volts. It doesn’t show any accumulative figures, only the live current.

The one with the globe symbol is the on/off switch to control the load output.
 

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
650
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
Actually it was wired correctly. Nothing gets connected to the load outputs, that is designed for a 12v output only, not for charging.

To see the amp reading on the topray you just press the black button a couple of times and it cycles between battery voltage and current.
Hi @Bellbirdweb , @Eddii and @Glen Bundesen , thank you all for the responses. Firstly, the Jayco connection may be correct but it is INCOMPLETE if you wish to use the full facilities of this very basic and crude controller. It may give a continuous display of battery voltage or if toggled, will also display amperage going into battery, but to obtain amperage OUT from battery to load is a messy arrangement indeed. There are lots of better and more easily operated controllers on the market for about the same price in PWM. It would seem that this controller would only be useful for those with more sophisticated monitoring systems to back up the limited info it provides eg. Drifter panel control. When I went back into some of the previous posts on this type of controller, there were a few problems with not showing charging and a lack of info. Indeed, one member discarded the Topray TPS 1230 and replaced it with a Powertech PV controller which gives a lot more detail - albeit at twice the price!! I will be replacing my Daughter's controller with my no longer wanted Powertech 20A ( I now use my MPPT controller) and teach them how to read it properly. I see that at the moment the Powertech is around $190.00 which is expensive, particularly when I can buy a LD MPPT 30A controller $50.00 less than that and has heaps of readouts available on screen including continual logging and recording!!

The following site gives FULL details of what you have to do to get all the readouts on the TOPRAYSOLAR TPS 1230:

https://www.caravansplus.com.au/pdf/solar_reg.pdf
@Glen Bundesen , after reading the above site, if you wish to know what current is going to the load, you will have to use the load terminals and connect them to the ve pos and ve negative output terminals on you Setec controller at the fuse panel. If in doubt, refer to Setec manual.
 

Bellbirdweb

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Jan 24, 2014
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Sorry @Bellbirdweb , not correct. Check out web- site listed in recent reply. No wonder I would not have one of these!!
That is only correct if you want to power the load from solar ONLY, which is not how the vans are wired.

The 12v loads are all derived from the battery, and the solar is only used to charge the battery, so I stand by what I have said.

You are correct in stating that you require another system to monitor the load of the system, hence the Drifter panel and shunt arrangement.

Given these Jayco fitted controllers are $35.00 each, I'm impressed they do as well as they do, but they are very basic.
 

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
650
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
That is only correct if you want to power the load from solar ONLY, which is not how the vans are wired.

The 12v loads are all derived from the battery, and the solar is only used to charge the battery, so I stand by what I have said.

You are correct in stating that you require another system to monitor the load of the system, hence the Drifter panel and shunt arrangement.

Given these Jayco fitted controllers are $35.00 each, I'm impressed they do as well as they do, but they are very basic.
Hello again @Bellbirdweb , first of all, my humblest apologies - foot in mouth disease I am afraid. Could not comprehend what you were saying, so went back to the site for this panel and then saw that the display is Battery Voltage (volts) , then BATTERY OUTPUT to LOAD (Amps) , and then Solar Power Input (Amps). If my understanding is correct, then there is very little reason to use the right hand button, as you previously said it is mainly to control load on/off and reset if under /over voltage. In fact it duplicates one of the earlier displays too!! Is that correct?? Therefore, the only thing one would not have if load wires were not connected was the ability to turn load on or off. I hope this clarifies the matter for @Glen Bundesen , as I do not want to confuse him. Obviously with the Powertech controller I am going to install in daughter's van, I will need to connect up the Load wires to the Setec battery output terminals.
Incidentally, the Topray controller is selling for over $85.00 on Ebay, so Jayco are getting them at a good price. Not good value IMHO, but I suppose it all depends on how much surveillance one wants to keep or understand on battery management. Thanks again.
 

Bellbirdweb

Well-Known Member
Jan 24, 2014
1,897
2,715
113
Sydney
Hello again @Bellbirdweb , first of all, my humblest apologies - foot in mouth disease I am afraid. Could not comprehend what you were saying, so went back to the site for this panel and then saw that the display is Battery Voltage (volts) , then BATTERY OUTPUT to LOAD (Amps) , and then Solar Power Input (Amps). If my understanding is correct, then there is very little reason to use the right hand button, as you previously said it is mainly to control load on/off and reset if under /over voltage. In fact it duplicates one of the earlier displays too!! Is that correct?? Therefore, the only thing one would not have if load wires were not connected was the ability to turn load on or off. I hope this clarifies the matter for @Glen Bundesen , as I do not want to confuse him. Obviously with the Powertech controller I am going to install in daughter's van, I will need to connect up the Load wires to the Setec battery output terminals.
Incidentally, the Topray controller is selling for over $85.00 on Ebay, so Jayco are getting them at a good price. Not good value IMHO, but I suppose it all depends on how much surveillance one wants to keep or understand on battery management. Thanks again.
No need to apologise @Boots in Action, this is a learning and sharing forum and we are all doing that with these posts.

I’m still a litttle confused as to why you would connect the load terminals on the powertech controller to the setec battery output terminals.

If I understand correctly, the batter output terminal would be to supply power from the battery via the setec to Power 12 devices.

The load terminals on the controller, be it Topray, Powertech or even my Eperver are to supply 12v to supply power to devices but coming from the door directly.

If you connect the load and battery output terminals together I suspect you’ll see smoke.
 

mikerezny

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Sep 11, 2016
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Mount Waverley, VIC
Hi,
the issue is that the solar controller and the Setec have both been designed to be the MASTER controller. In my opinion, it makes much more sense to keep the Setec as the master controller. You then get a multi-stage 240V battery charger, a 240V to 12V power supply, ability to charge via the AUX input from the tug alternator, fuse distribution system, low voltage disconnect, and on the Setec III, the ability to completely isolate the battery from all loads.

You then add a roof mounted solar panel/controller to the system by connecting the battery terminals of the solar controller directly to the battery via an inline fuse. Keep the wiring from the controller to the battery as short as possible. You do not connect anything to the load terminals of the solar controller. In this way the solar controller is NOT the master controller and becomes the SECONDARY controller.

In more sophisticated controllers, you will be able to measure battery voltage, instantaneous current coming from the panels to the battery, and accumulated charge and possibly many other things.

Battery state of charge can (SOC) only be measured with no load on the battery, and some time after any charge has been put into the battery. I have found the best time to measure SOC when off grid is first thing in the morning. If you have a Setec III, then also switch the battery off to ensure there really is no load. You will need to print off a table or chart for your particular battery type which shows no load voltage against % SOC. AGM, GELs, and normal Lead Acid batteries differ in this regard.

Taking the SOC of the battery, you can then determine how many Ah must be generated during the day to fully restore the SOC to 100%. You need to add a bit more for efficiency losses (i.e the battery dissipates heat when it is charged and discharged). I would suggest adding about 10%. With time you will generally get a feel for how much power you are consuming per day.

After this you can get more complex by adding portable solar panels, a DC-DC charger to get higher charge rates to the van battery from the tug.

If contemplating putting charge into the van battery from a portable generator, I would strongly suggest not using the Setec but getting a more heavy duty multi-stage charger that will deliver more current. The reason is to charge the batteries faster, use less fuel, and annoy fellow yor campers much less.

As an example, assume a 100Ah battery and a Setec ST20 has a MAX charge rate of 10A. So, the maximum power going into the battery from the generator will be approximately 140W. (14V x 10A). Drwaing only 140W is tot really an efficient use of a 2kW generator! At 10A and a battery that is down to 50%SOC, it will take way longer than 5 hours to pump the 50Ah needed to fully charge a 100Ah battery. The reason it will be way longer is that the last part of the charging cycle to get the battery back to 100% will be done in float mode which will be charging at currents much less than 10A.

Now, a Ritar 100Ah battery has a maximum charging current of 20A. So, getting a good 20A multi-stage charger will pump twice as much into the battery from the generator. It will charge the battery up twice as quickly and use much less fuel. 20A x 14V is now a more respectable 280W load on your 2kW generator.

If you have multiple batteries, get an even bigger charger. i.e a 40A charger for 2 x 100Ah batteries.

If you have a solar controller that does not output battery voltage, instantaneous charge, and accumulated charge, invest $15 or so on buying one of these on eBay. Note that these will only measure current on ONE direction. So they are good for measuring solar panel output but not good for measuring charge into and discharge out of a battery.

cheers
Mike
image1.jpeg
 

Eddii

Active Member
Jun 28, 2017
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Burua Central QLD 4680
Great explanation @mikerezny :) I noticed that if you have an external solar panels plugged directly to the house batteries and solar produced from house controller they seem to be “fighting” each other. I have 150w/Topray PWM in house setup plus 200w/xxxPWM controller folding panels charging 2 x 100ah ritar gel batteries and the don’t seem to be efficiently working together, they both jack up the voltage which puts both controllers in float mode and slows the chargers down. I’ll be replacing the Topray today with Victron energy smart controller MPPT and move that controller to the folding panels so I can really see much more status via mobile app and also see how much the folding panels are charging as well . Then I’ll do more experiments like introducing the folding panels to see how much the house controller pulls back.