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Old 04-17-2010, 08:39 PM   #1
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Solar That Really Works

BEFORE ANYONE SPENDS THEIR HARD EARNED MONEY ON SOLAR GO TO THIS WEB SITE AND LEARN WHAT I DID. After I renovated my system my solar works at least 100% better now than it used to. All I have to do is keep the panels clean. With 400 watts and 6 - 6volt Trojan batteries I have all the power I need without skimping very much. Microwave, vacuum, stereo and lights use very little power when your batteries are really charged. I do not at present have a TV. When I had one I never watched it much as I love to read.
This Guy is an electrical engineer. I did what he said and got solar that works as it was supposed to at first according to all the books I read on the subject. Mine was all wrong from the start too.

Go to this site and learn:
http:/handybobsolar.wordpress.com/2009/07/22/solar-power-that-works/

Also this site: http:/www.powerstream.com/wire_size.htm
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Old 04-19-2010, 10:41 AM   #2
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Thanks for posting this. It has given me a lot to think about. He really does make some good points, a little repetitive but good points.
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Old 04-19-2010, 01:11 PM   #3
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Thank you for the Post. Very educational.
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Old 04-19-2010, 05:23 PM   #4
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I read HandyBob's page before I bought my solar setup. He has some useful info but his opinion of MPPT controllers is way off base. Why would he not like a controller that converts excess voltage into amps? Fully understanding solar and batteries goes a long way in deciding what you need. Here are a couple of useful links based our recent installation of 270 watts of solar:

RV Road Trip Library - Solar Power Installation Guide
RV Road Trip Library - 12v Information
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Old 04-20-2010, 08:45 AM   #5
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I believe in the MPPT controllers myself. The BIG point is to NOT use the little flush mount controllers, bulk charge up to 14.8 volts, put the controller near the batteries and USE LARGE WIRE.

I have 4-100watt panels that put out 22 volts each. I put in a Blue Sky Solar Boost 50 controller. I upgraded my wiring from #8 to #2 which has a square end area 4 times larger. My system puts out at least 100% more than it did before renovation. My system now works like the books said it should.
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Old 05-06-2010, 10:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralper View Post
I believe in the MPPT controllers myself. The BIG point is to NOT use the little flush mount controllers, bulk charge up to 14.8 volts, put the controller near the batteries and USE LARGE WIRE.

I have 4-100watt panels that put out 22 volts each. I put in a Blue Sky Solar Boost 50 controller. I upgraded my wiring from #8 to #2 which has a square end area 4 times larger. My system puts out at least 100% more than it did before renovation. My system now works like the books said it should.
My guess is that you are running the AM Solar panels, yes? While #8 is a tad thin for 400W of panels, if you are literally seeing a 100% different in output, something else is (was) lacking. I have the same panels as you and would do it again in a heartbeat. I bought AM Solar's controller because it did everything I wanted, including External Sense from the battery. If you have that avaliable and it's hooked up and working properly it will go a LONG way toward compensating for cable losses. I regularily see 30A+ from my system even with admittedly smaller cable than I'd like.
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Old 05-08-2010, 01:18 AM   #7
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I am using AM Solar panels. Nothing compensates for a #8 wire when a #2 wire should have been used. The #8 wire gave me a 9.7% line loss. The #2 wire gives me a 1.4% line loss. If the controler is not near the batteries, the controler is fooled with false readouts. Yes I had and still have a battery temperature sensor. Your 30 amps are not reaching the battery. Test it with a good meter. Also test to see if the bulk charge is actually reaching (for lead acid batteries) 14.8 volts at the batteries before going into the absorbtion mode. I will bet dollars to doughnuts it is not. With a 22 volt output per panel the panels equal aprox. 115 watts with a solar boost controler. Your system is not all that it can be just as mine was not. I was honest with myself to admit my system was not doing what it was supposed to and I did what was needed to make it work up to design. The whole thing is about getting the batteries properly charged. To do that the power being generated by the expensive photovoltaic panels has to be put into the batteries in the most efficient manner other wise you have a lot of wasted money sitting on the RV roof.

I am a full time RVer. I have not used the battery charger part of the charger/inverter since the monday before thanksgiving 2009. I used to have to use shore power to bring my batteries up to full charge. I do use shore power when in a CG but not for the batteries. I just learned to moniter the batteries with the Link 1000 that came with the charger/inverter. It does the same thing as a Trimetric moniter. It displays voltage, A/H being used, AH below full battery charge and weather the system is charging or is charged. I learned that I need to adjust the float mode amperage up a little as I draw very little less than the charging amperage and it takes a long time to top off the batteries. I shall continue to fine tune until it is right.
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Old 05-08-2010, 04:20 AM   #8
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The controller will not be fooled by false readings IF you have remote sense capabilities on the controller, AND it is properly configured. That's why I asked the question. BTW- the 30A mentioned is AT the battery measured with 2 different amp clamps.

BTW#2- I called AM Solar awhile back and talked to a guy that is writing a set-up procedure for the entire board. He says he'll call me when it's done.
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Old 05-10-2010, 02:10 PM   #9
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SCVJeff,

What brand and model number is your controller?
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Old 05-12-2010, 11:01 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ralper View Post
SCVJeff,

What brand and model number is your controller?
Heliotrope HPV-30DR. It also has external current sense that I'm not using because I think all it really does is feed the panel display
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Old 05-12-2010, 01:46 PM   #11
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Your controller is a better one than I had. I am still learning about controls. I had the Heliotrope HPV 22. It had two settings. MPPT (maxium power point tracking or the solar boost) and a voltage setting that would bring the bulk charge up to 14.2 volts. Trojan batteries calls for the bulk charge to go up to 14.8 volts. In my opinion it was a hunk of junk. It worked but very poorly. My system wire upgrade would have worked with #4 wire but the #2 wire gives me much less wire resistance and thus a lower wire loss.

Your system would work much better with #2 wire also.

I have a remote readout up in the trailer and the battery temperature sensor. I have a 500 ohm shunt on the negative side of the batteries and the controller is tied to that for the voltage and amp sensing as per the Blue Sky Controller instructions.

Ralph
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Old 05-13-2010, 01:20 AM   #12
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With the panels having close to 4V headroom over the "conventional" panels and with the controllers ability to see what's being delivered right to the battery, it makes a huge difference in how the controller acts, especially as far as the two are mounted apart.

BTW- AM Solar has had a big price drop in panels if you're looking for additional. This controller can handle 5 panels before it starts complaining. My excuse is that the rain isn't so loud on the roof
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Old 05-13-2010, 10:17 PM   #13
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Now that I have my system working properly I do not need more panels. I am single and have plenty for just me and my dog does not use any power. Just remember. If you add more panels increase the wire size or the power stays up on the roof.

My roof is fiberglass and the rain is very loud even with my poor hearing. It is not the gentle pitter-patter of rain on a tent roof.

Ralph
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Old 07-07-2010, 11:25 PM   #14
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An update to my post:

I learned that Morningstar controlers are better than and less expensive than the Blue Sky unit I used. Handy Bob does fix solar that is not working right for a reasonable fee. E-mail him if you need his services. His e-mail address is on his web site. I just spent the 4th of July weekend with him. He tweeked my controls and I am getting more power. I hardly used what my system was producing and now I have even more. He and his wife were very gracious hosts. He does indeed live off grid and collects and uses filtered rain water. His wife was sewing and using the iron on solar power and like me they use their microwave. No generator needed.
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