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Old 12-15-2010, 08:36 AM   #169
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Understanding your individual needs is important

I purchased equipment after first understanding what exactly it was I wanted to accomplish.

The Solar PV system,
An installation requirement was that the remote interfaces be readily available but not intrusive in any way. Remote control capabilities, flexible configuration, status monitoring and a proactive alarm system were the top priorities. Additionally the system would need the capability of off line storage for the configuration files. Included in the system are the roof mounted PV panels, equipment compartment charge controller and relay driver, remote control panels, alarming devices and a computer interface.

The Charge Controller and alarm system
The Morningstar TriStar MPPT-60, RD-1 Relay Driver and the TS-RM-2 remote control panel were chosen as the equipment compliment. The 60amp MPPT charge controller was chosen to address future panels’ additional current, allow for the series connected higher voltage panels and even more important its’ integrated Ethernet interface. The addition of the RD-1 was a simple decision with it’s’ fully configurable alarming capabilities. The TS-RM-2 remote control panel greatly improved access to the system.
I currently have only 270watts of panels. Yes, folks would say the 60 amp controller is overkill but my needs demanded an Ethernet interface. Knowing your individual needs is critical to a successful system.

PS - "TechWriter" I like your system
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Old 12-15-2010, 10:45 AM   #170
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Help w/ charging profile

We're on our road to solar this month and have been reading as much as we can, both on this thread, on HandyBob's site and others. There's one point we're stuck on at the moment and hope somebody can help to clarify.

Handybob talks alot about the need to charge batteries to 14.8 daily charge, per the battery manufacturers instructions (I believe he has Trojan). We've got Interstate U2200 batteries and I can't find anywhere (on the manufacturer's website or otherwise) that mentions 14.8. As far as I can see the charging profile on this battery is 14.4 for bulk. So, I'm thinking 14.4 is still the right level for the Interstate batteries.
Am I missing something? Or, looking at the wrong info? Anyone know?

Here's the charging info I'm looking at:
Interstate Batteries FAQ :: How do I charge certain deep cycle 6-volt and 12-volt batteries?

Thanks so much for the help!

Nina
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Old 12-15-2010, 11:00 AM   #171
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That information looks odd...

Bulk charge at 14.4V at c/10...normal
Absorption at 15.5V <----that is odd...this is usually maintained at the bulk charge Voltage.
Float at 13.2....normal
Equalize at 15.6V, again, normal

Interesting comment in there about the short duration high voltage anti-sulfation...

I'm not sure how to interpret this. It goes counter to the stuff I've learned about charging batteries. Perhaps a call to Interstate tech support is in order. I'd be interested in hearing what they have to say.
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Old 12-15-2010, 12:21 PM   #172
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Updated RV Battery Charging Puzzle

I just uploaded a nearly complete rewrite of The RV Battery Charging Puzzle to my blog. Now people can complain that it is even longer, but I addressed a lot of nit picking details that needed better explanations.

Two years ago when friends were having problems with their Interstate batteries, some guy at tech support (Charles Brown.... I'll never forget that) told them to charge daily at 15.5 or 15.6V. Sorry, but I don't have a copy of what he sent them. They did so for days with their SB50 and over 40 amps of charging, risking the electronics in their rig and being unsuccessful in getting the hydrometer to budge into the green zone. They finally yelled enough that he agreed to refund their money. The big well kept secret here is that Interstate does not manufacture their deep cycle batteries. I haven't been able to figure out exactly where they come from. I am convinced that they are just as clueless as some of the charge controller manufacturers. I use 14.8V, temperature compensated for Interstate 6V batteries in series. I am a bit cautious when charging 12V marine batteries and use 14.6V. There is new info on batteries in the blog. Take a look at this if you want to learn more about batteries from someone who is not in the RV world. I loved what I saw on a sailing forum. Somebody said "This guy clearly doesn't know what he is talking about." Sound familiar??: Sterling Power Products: What is the best battery to use for an auxiliary charging system?
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Old 12-15-2010, 02:44 PM   #173
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Thanks RocketDork and Handybob - I was worried about the higher 15.5V absorbtion charge esp. for our internal electronics. It just seemed really high (!) and I couldn't figure out the right balance between that and the 14.4 bulk charge they mention on the website. I will try calling them too and see what they say...just for fun. They'll probably say exactly what's on the website, but you never know. I'll write back if they give me anything useful.
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Old 12-15-2010, 03:37 PM   #174
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By law country of origin must be listed on the, in this case battery and if the cells are US and assembly China that must be listed. I just went through this exercise on the Teardrop and Tiny Travel Trailer Forum with a discussion of Optima battery problems. Concord/Lifeline is all US manufacture.
Bob, I will bring up the update on the T&TTT forum. There are a fair number of us that boondock/offroad with a teardrop (you aint taking the MH where we go ).
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Old 12-16-2010, 06:55 AM   #175
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TechWriter View Post
First, my purpose in installing solar on my RV was to enable me to keep using as many of my creature comforts as possible while I'm off the grid.

If I wanted to rough it, conserve, and save resources, I'd sell the RV and buy a tent. In fact if there was a Mr Fusion for RVs, I'd install it. However, though I backpacked the Rockies with the Mrs. about 40 years ago, our backs are no longer up to that.

Those of you who can live off less, more power to you (no pun intended). But that's not for me.

Second, IMHO if you do a lot of camping in the shade, buy a generator. From solar power records stored in my charge controller, I found that light/moderate shade derated my PV array by 10-30% and heavy shade 50-90%. Even with a large system (mine was 760W), that sort of depletion kills many creature comforts.

The first system I installed was a 240W, two panel system with a Blue Sky Solar Boost 2000 (20W) controller connected to two Trojan T105s. It was a great system for battery charging while our RV sat in outdoor storage.

However, I wanted more juice so I added 4 more Kyocera panels (130W), a Xantrex 60W MPPT controller, a Xantrex 2000W pure sine inverter/charger, and replaced my two Trojans with four Lifeline AGMs.

I opted for serial/parallel PV array wiring because my first wiring choice -- parallel for maximum shade tolerance -- drew far too much current (75 amps). The wiring was sized for 3% line loss. Though it was a sweet system, I'm a part timer who camps mostly in partly to heavily shaded areas so luckily I had generator backup.

On my new RV I'm going to start with a small battery maintenance system like before, but allow for expansion if I go that route again.

Here's my install:
MobileMe Gallery

Several sites I found useful:

Blue Sky Tech Bulletins:
Blue Sky Energy Inc. | Technical Bulletins

Apollo Solar T80 Controller Manual (Good planning advice + these guys use a 1.5% line loss):
Charge Controllers

MidNite Solar (great general info + combiner box breakers):
MidNite Solar - Renewable Energy System Electrical Components and E-Panels.

Alt-E Store (handy wire sizing with adjustable line loss):
How to Size Wiring and Cabling for Your System - AltE

California PV Ratings ("real world" PV values):
List of Eligible SB1 Guidelines Compliant Photovoltaic Modules - Go Solar California

That inability to park in the shade/under cover, is exactly why I kept my panels mobile. I can take them down from the roof where they are stored, and set them up on the ground. A simple spike bolted to the back creates a sturdy, ready-made ground mount that I can turn about 4 times a day to keep my panel aimed optimally. I'm usually in one spot for 3 days to 2 weeks, so it isn't much hassle taking them down and hooking them up. A 2 minute operation, at most.

Not only does this double my daily output, but keeps the coach cool enough in most places not to need A/C. Just a good fan. Another way of looking at it...I need half the panels of a flat roof-installation, half the cost, and more freedom to park where I want. I'll take that trade-off.

Now if I was just a park flyer with very occassional boondocking, I wouldn't even bother with solar. I'd just get a big battery bank, a powerful alternator, and just run the engine when it got low.

I'm NOT a fan of generators....or the people who park near me with them. Especially the A--hole RV novices who buy loud, non-rv gens that blast me for hours each night while they watch TV, cook, and run heat/AC. Then come out with that "What?" look as you shoot them dirty looks. Yeah, that happened just a few weeks ago while waiting for the Shuttle Launch. Grrrr.

Amen to roughing it! After years of tent living in the military, I'm not going without my creature comforts anymore! That being said, a few wise choices in lighting and appliances will save alot of wasted power without sacrificing comfort. In boondocking, that means more time & money to enjoy the world, and less to spend on fuel, generators, maintenanace and the like.
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Old 12-16-2010, 03:28 PM   #176
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10 amps of charging through the clouds!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowcatche View Post
By law country of origin must be listed on the, in this case battery.............. (you aint taking the MH where we go ).
Thanks for spreading the word. I'm not concerned about the country of origin. Who is the real manufacturer? Is it Johnson Controls as one friend told me? (They told somebody that battery charging recommendations were proprietary information and they would not share them!) Or is it US Battery? Crown Batteries would not even respond to my questions about charging and from what I hear, they build a great product. Whatever, Interstate's recommendations are bogus, so much for my always telling people to follow the battery manufacturers recommendations. You see, what you get from Interstate is not from the manufacturer. I would not take a battery manufacturer's recommendations for air pressure in my tires. Therefore.................

We don't have a motor home, (for those of you that don't know, see the photos in the blog) and we are 2 miles from the pavement, where even most trailers won't go. You are not really boondocking if you can see pavement. There are three rigs around us, all friends, pretty well spread out, all with working solar and I heard a generator running this morning. Of course it has been cloudy and rained most of the morning. Plus, they don't have a big inverter and will run the generator for cooking. We are at 76% on the Trimetric & climbing. No worries.
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Old 12-17-2010, 07:15 AM   #177
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Bob one of the best resources I have found is Car and Deep Cycle Battery FAQ, Battery Manufacturers and Brand Names List the page on who makes what battery was updated 12/7/10, can't get much fresher than that.
There was a story on one of the forums from some one who works for Optima who packed up one of their production lines and shipped it off to Mexico. None of the products from that line have passed quality control, the lead is too contaminated.
I do realize that most products in the US have foreign content (our Subaru has more domestic content than a Ford Mustang) and I don't have a huge problem with that as long as the quality is there. When a manufacturer refuses to tell you what their specs are it tells me that either there is a problem with how/where their product is made and they do not know, or something is seriously amiss in their corporate culture. When I had a question concerning using a Progressive Dynamics converter with a Concord AGM I called them and had a conversation with one of their engineers. I will vote with my checkbook if I can't get answers I will buy from some one else.
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Old 12-18-2010, 08:20 AM   #178
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Question guys. How often do you equalize your batteries? Now that our solar system is running wonderfully, I'd like your thought on how often you equalize your batts. We have the Sams Club 6v GC batteries, the 2200's.
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Old 12-19-2010, 10:13 AM   #179
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Anyone have a recommendation for an installer in las Vegas?
The guy I know installs the stuff but handy bob would cringe if he talked to him. He wanted to use 12 or 14 wire from the panels to the controller.
So I am looking for someone else. He also thought it would take a full day at 50 per hour that's 400 to do he install. That's sound high to me but I've never done it

Thanx in advance
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Old 12-19-2010, 11:17 PM   #180
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Originally Posted by computerguy View Post
Anyone have a recommendation for an installer in las Vegas?
The guy I know installs the stuff but handy bob would cringe if he talked to him. He wanted to use 12 or 14 wire from the panels to the controller.
So I am looking for someone else. He also thought it would take a full day at 50 per hour that's 400 to do he install. That's sound high to me but I've never done it

Thanx in advance

If I was out there, I'd do it for ya at easily half that price....maybe less...Plus, the correct size wiring! Unfortunately, I won't be there till March, so I can't help ya, mate!
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Old 12-20-2010, 10:45 PM   #181
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Wet boy,
Where you going to be?
I could use a trip...
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Old 12-20-2010, 10:59 PM   #182
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I have tested my batteries with a hydrometer each 4 months since I renovated my system in 11/09. I have not needed to equalize since the solar system has worked right.
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