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Old 09-10-2010, 10:16 AM   #1
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SunSaver 20 charge controller

On our Monaco Diplomat we have a solar panel on the roof and a SunSaver 20 charge controller in the battery compartment.

The charge controller do not have a display where I can read the output from the solar panel and i would like to add such a panel. I can go and replace the charge controller for another panel that includes a display but I was wondering if there is a cheaper way to get to where I want.

I was thinking along the line of maybe buying some sort of cheap(ish) digital AMP meter somewhere. Then cut the negative wire coming from the solar panel and inserting the AMP meter here

I have stated this before and I am not afraid to state it again: I am not the World Champion when it comes to electrics so any advice is appreciated.

Maybe i am better off just buying a new controller with a display. If so - have you any suggestions as to which one I should get?

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Old 09-10-2010, 10:56 AM   #2
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I wouldn't go the route of inserting an Ammeter. To do it right, you'd have to have one that would handle all the current your system could ever deliver...and if you have a large inverter, that could be hundreds of amps.

I think the best solution would be to get one of the Monitoring systems. There are several that exist.

The nice thing about these systems is that they can tell you not only how much current is flowing into and out of the batteries, they can tell you how much energy is left, how long till full, etc. Very useful if you ask me.

Some of the companies that make them;
Xantrex
Bogart Engineering
Magnum has one that incorporates with their inverter.
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Old 09-10-2010, 11:17 AM   #3
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Maybe the SunSaver Duo would be a suitable replacement if i can't install just a display?

I did read about the much better MPPT charge controllers but they also seem to be terribly expensive.
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Old 09-10-2010, 11:25 AM   #4
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Hi RocketDork

Are you referring to something like this?
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Old 09-10-2010, 12:04 PM   #5
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Exactly like that!

I think I'm going to be buying one from Bogart Engineering.
Bogart Engineering | manufacturer of the TriMetric battery monitor which measures volts, amps and amp-hours for battery systems
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Old 09-10-2010, 12:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Danes Are Coming View Post
I did read about the much better MPPT charge controllers but they also seem to be terribly expensive.
I'm interested in the MPPT controllers too, but I'm not convinced that the make that much of a difference. The marketing looks good, but I haven't really seen a lot of science that indicates they really deliver on their claims.

There is a lot of information out there about Solar, but not much science. You have to spend a lot of time weeding through the junk to find the pearls of wisdom.

When it comes to the MPPT controllers, I haven't really found anything that really indicates they provide significantly more for the money you spend. It seems that getting the panels aimed at the sun is really more useful. My plan is to use the $'s I'll save on the controller to make a mount that I can aim.

Here is a link that has a lot of actual science! Sorry that its very USA focused.
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:29 AM   #7
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I am still investigating my options on this and while in the process I am wondering about this:

My 2007 Monaco Diplomat manual states that the factory installed solar panel is capable of suplying about 2 to 3 amps of charge per hour in full sunlight (usually about 5 hours per day on a sunny day). That's only 10 to 15 amps per day.

First thing I wonder about is why did Monaco put a SunSaver 20 change controller in there when a smaller one would be more than capable?

I then read on the Internet: "It takes about a 15 watt solar panel exposed in bright sunlight for one hour to produce 1 (one) amp of power. So if you have a 80 watt solar panel it will create 80/15=5.33 Amps per hour in direct sunlight."

This leads me to believe than the panel on my roof couldn't be bigger than a 40 watt panel (40 watts div by 15 is 2,67 Amp). I haven't got all my manuals with me at present and my MH is parked about 4.800 miles away so I can't check what it reads on the actual panel.

Factory installing a 40watt panel seems like a waste of time and maybe I should think about a panel with a higher output before anything else. If I want to install the SunSaver Due that potentially will charge 2 battery banks I fell convinced that my existing 2 to 3 amps per hour is quite insufficient and may not even keep pace with the batteries natural drain without any loads applied.

I am just thinking aloud at the moment but any comments would be appreciated.
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