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TOPIC: My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055

My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 05 Jan 2017 02:08 #26

  • TenMile
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The voltage on all 4 panels matches exactly -- as such you're 100% fine paralleling all 4 of them to make a 300W system at 18V. Your MPPT controller will work to maximize the panel output in this case.

On my system I have 2 x 100w flex panels and find that with the fridge running 2 of them don't quite keep up. By morning my house bank (4 x Trojan T105) is down to about 75%. My fridge uses roughly 7 Amps and the heat of the day makes it run more. The solar system sometimes has a tough time replenishing the bank back to 100% so that extra 5.5A/hr would certainly be useful.

Do you have a battery monitor that you're installing like a Xantrex that shows overall State of Charge? IMHO that's the most helpful tool in your system.

Not sure which Charge Controller you're purchasing -- I saw you're getting one with a temp sensor which is good. You want to be taking the temperature of your batteries themselves. The good Charge Controllers allow you to set the Absorb voltage (avoid the ones that dont have this adjustment if you can). Depending on the battery manufacturer you want to set the Absorb stage usually to 14.8-15V (Trojan recommends 14.8v) so that the battery gets 100% charged. Some of the controllers also have an Equalize function which you can activate once a month or so -- Equalize takes the Absorb voltage up beyond 15V to stir up the electrolyte and extend the life of the system.

These controllers have both the variable absorb and equalize functions: www.amazon.ca/Y-SOLAR-Solar-Charge-Contr...ge%2Bcontroller&th=1

On our family cabin I run a Morningstar TriStar-45 which is a PWM controller. It has the variable absorb, remote temp sensor and equalize. I use it with 4 x Trojan T105 batteries and a Trimetric system monitor along with a GoPower 2000w inverter. Entire system has been flawless for 7 years now -- only maintenance I do is add water 2x per year.
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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 05 Jan 2017 02:54 #27

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Thanks guys this thread is very interesting and informativery. I hope once someone completes this project they post a complete parts list. I would like to do this on our boat also.

Ken

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 05 Jan 2017 21:07 #28

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@ TenMile - Thanx Terry for your input on this project. Here's a link to the MPPT charge controller package I ordered.

From research on other solar dedicated forums and with BOC members inputs it appears I may be able to make this work. If I parallel the two 50w panels together the voltage remains at 12V and the amperage will double bringing it up to closely match that of the 100w panels. I can then connect the paralleled 50w panels in series with the 100w panels.

With your mounting experience and Joe440's input I'm looking to add a flap with grommets that will run the full length of the panels and attach to the fwd edge grommets on the topside of the panels. The objective will be to route the airflow up and over the panels rather than allow it to penetrate the gap between the canvas and the panels. The aft edge would be secured with individual grommeted canvas straps to the grommets on the panels.

@ Iproff - Ken, I will be taking more pics of the parts when they arrive and will document the project thru installation and testing
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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 07 Jan 2017 05:56 #29

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My MPPT charge controller package showed up late today.
Actual controller is quite heavy. From the you tube reviews it's suppose to be built with quality components.
Remote monitor, battery temp sensor and computer link all included.

Had to buck up some extra $$ to the UPS guy for taxes and import duties though, arrrgggggg. :angry:

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 07 Jan 2017 15:27 #30

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Yeah, UPS in particular SUCKS!!! $45 admin fee plus the duties etc... In Victoria here we are relatively close to Roche Harbor by boat and I found out that you can have Amazon packages sent c/o the Hotel Haro. The have a holding bin full of Amazon and international packages. We go over for the day, quality control test their Clam Chowder, fill up with half price diesel, get our packages and call it a day.

That CC does get some great reviews and the unboxing and walk-through the guy does on Youtube is excellent. I think you'll be very happy with your setup.

Here is a good calculator that will provide you with the recommended wiring size between your CC and Batteries. For example in a 12v / 30A system where you want a 3% loss and your cable run is 5m, you want to use 5AWG cable: www.solar-wind.co.uk/cable-sizing-DC-cables.html -- The larger the cable the lower the loss and vice-versa.

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 08 Jan 2017 03:52 #31

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TenMile wrote: Yeah, UPS in particular SUCKS!!! $45 admin fee plus the duties etc... In Victoria here we are relatively close to Roche Harbor by boat and I found out that you can have Amazon packages sent c/o the Hotel Haro. The have a holding bin full of Amazon and international packages. We go over for the day, quality control test their Clam Chowder, fill up with half price diesel, get our packages and call it a day.

My charges were no where near that.

That CC does get some great reviews and the unboxing and walk-through the guy does on Youtube is excellent. I think you'll be very happy with your setup.

That youtube vid is what sold me on that CC. That and the great pricing from overseas.

Here is a good calculator that will provide you with the recommended wiring size between your CC and Batteries. For example in a 12v / 30A system where you want a 3% loss and your cable run is 5m, you want to use 5AWG cable: www.solar-wind.co.uk/cable-sizing-DC-cables.html -- The larger the cable the lower the loss and vice-versa.

Link worked but wouldn't calculate.

Getting more feedback for this other solar forum. Still trying to sort out the best way to wire this 50w/100w panel set up.

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 08 Jan 2017 05:15 #32

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Kirk get a mail box at hagens in Blaine. Often free us shipping carry across the border often they won't stop you for duty or taxes

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 08 Jan 2017 06:02 #33

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hfxjack wrote: Kirk get a mail box at hagens in Blaine. Often free us shipping carry across the border often they won't stop you for duty or taxes


Thanx John. My daughter lives in Bellingham. We visit often and use her home for most all our shipping needs. Nice seeing you again today.

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 08 Jan 2017 21:05 #34

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TenMile wrote: The voltage on all 4 panels matches exactly -- as such you're 100% fine paralleling all 4 of them to make a 300W system at 18V. Your MPPT controller will work to maximize the panel output in this case.

I'm getting enthusiastic discussion of different wiring schematics from this other solar forum so still looking to get the final decision on how I'll be wiring this up.

Do you have a battery monitor that you're installing like a Xantrex that shows overall State of Charge? IMHO that's the most helpful tool in your system.

I have the LINK 10 monitor and I also got the MT-50 monitor that connects to the charge controller.


My two 50 watt panels arrived today.

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 08 Jan 2017 22:06 #35

  • TenMile
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One suggestion I can make is maybe assemble all the panels, CC, and a battery on your bench at home. I did that when I installed our solar system at our cabin. I pre-built a backboard with the required switches, fuses, controller, bus bars etc and then got it running at home so that when I did the install, I knew I had all the parts.

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 08 Jan 2017 23:24 #36

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TenMile wrote: One suggestion I can make is maybe assemble all the panels, CC, and a battery on your bench at home. I did that when I installed our solar system at our cabin. I pre-built a backboard with the required switches, fuses, controller, bus bars etc and then got it running at home so that when I did the install, I knew I had all the parts.


Good idea Terry.

After much back and forth discussion with many solar guru's I think I have the best wiring plan for my 2x 50w and 2x 100w panel setup.


Wire the 2x 50w in series, the 2x 100w in series and then both wired in parallel to the mppt controller.

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 09 Jan 2017 04:13 #37

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So you're creating a 24V system? If you wire your 2 x 100w panels in series that means you will have a 100w, 24V system (same for the 50W). That's cool as long as the elements in your house system can all run as 24V. I only point it out as that means any existing 12V system components (bilge pumps, stereo, electronics) will not be able to run unless you get a DC to DC step-down.

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 09 Jan 2017 05:22 #38

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No, it'll still be 12 volts.
While the combined voltage of the 2x2 series wired panels will actually develope well over 30 volts on a good sunny day the mppt charge controller will regulate that voltage down to the appropriate charging level for the 12 volt house batteries while increasing the amperage. None of the boats 12 volt systems will see any elevated voltage levels.

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 10 Jan 2017 01:52 #39

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MC-4 connectors to build the wiring from the panels to the charge controller.

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 15 Jan 2017 04:13 #40

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SprinterX wrote: No, it'll still be 12 volts.
While the combined voltage of the 2x2 series wired panels will actually develope well over 30 volts on a good sunny day the mppt charge controller will regulate that voltage down to the appropriate charging level for the 12 volt house batteries while increasing the amperage. None of the boats 12 volt systems will see any elevated voltage levels.


You're right about the voltage question. The charge controller adapts the solar panel output to the battery voltage.

I still don't agree with mixing the panel sizes. Better opinion is against this.

But it's your dime - let us know how it works.


Ron

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 15 Jan 2017 04:56 #41

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freedre wrote: You're right about the voltage question. The charge controller adapts the solar panel output to the battery voltage.

I still don't agree with mixing the panel sizes. Better opinion is against this.

But it's your dime - let us know how it works.


Ron


Thanx for all your feedback Ron. I didn't do enough homework before I ordered the 2x 50W panels. My bad.

I did seek out advise from a popular solar forum and rcvd quite the heated feedback. In the end I decided to go with the suggestions of a very seasoned guru there with almost 20,000 posts. What he said made sense and the math worked out as he described. I should still get the full 300w out of my array. Guess I'll just have to wait till it's all wired up and tested to make the final conclusion on it's success.

Canvas goes in next week for quotes on the work to fasten the panels.

Still have to order a pair of paralleling MC-4 connectors for the wiring.

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 15 Jan 2017 05:01 #42

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Hey Kirk

I have a pair of paralleling MC4 connectors that I used when I ran 2 panels. Let me know if you haven't ordered any yet.


Joe

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 15 Jan 2017 05:08 #43

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joe440 wrote: Hey Kirk

I have a pair of paralleling MC4 connectors that I used when I ran 2 panels. Let me know if you haven't ordered any yet.

Joe


I haven't ordered them yet Joe.

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 15 Jan 2017 05:10 #44

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SprinterX wrote:

joe440 wrote: Hey Kirk

I have a pair of paralleling MC4 connectors that I used when I ran 2 panels. Let me know if you haven't ordered any yet.

Joe


I haven't ordered them yet Joe.


I sent you a PM.
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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 16 Feb 2017 22:24 #45

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After the Vancouver and Seattle Boat Shows my solar diy project is moving along. Still waiting on a couple parts. The canvas is out for some zipper repairs, isonglass and mounting reinforcement for the flexible panels. Thanx to Joe440 for giving me a couple MC-4 paralleling connectors for the project.


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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 17 Feb 2017 00:27 #46

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One solution to the dissimilar panel is to parallel them but tie them together with half of a bridge rectifier. This solution was recommended to me by www.energyalternatives.ca/ a number of years ago (when they used to be in Victoria) and they supplied me with a rectifier for this purpose in my last setup.
I used a 100 watt and an 80 watt panel and it did a good job of combining the amps. The panels had no effect on each other.
While this is not the best solution (the best is the same panels in the same location in series) it might be okay for your situation.
There probably are others here with greater electrical experience to contribute knowledge toward this problem.

Hope this helps.
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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 17 Feb 2017 14:41 #47

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I dont believe you mentioned the battery bank size you will be charging. What type and how many total AH will play a big factor in the game. Also, what do you plan on running with the system? It is always more efficient to keep any of your 12v draws ( lights, fridge, etc) running directly off the batteries. Inverting the 12v to 110 is a waste of power. If everything is sized right you may get away with a 200w pv system. As with any pv set up, you will need to use your power sparingly and make sure you dont drain your batteries below 50%. If you are just using the batteries to keep your batteries topped off then you are well beyond ok for that application. As you run the engines you will also be charging that way.

In short, I have a 200w dedicated system charging 2 AGM batteries @ 155ah each. This runs everything that I need in moderation.

Good luck
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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 17 Feb 2017 16:57 #48

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seanV18, nlewis100 - Thanx for the feedback.

I have 4x 6 volt, flooded lead acid golf cart batteries @ 232 amp hours each. In my 12 volt system that equates to 464 amp hours. Given that lead acid batteries shouldn't be discharged below 50% I have approx 232 amp hours usage.

On the hook I need to run my 12V fridge, 12V cooler, led lights and stereo. Thru the inverter I run the tv/dvd combo, laptop, microwave (rarely), kettle and coffee maker.

The solar system will be directly connected thru the mppt cc to the battery bank for charging. All loads will then come from them.

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 17 Feb 2017 18:41 #49

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SprinterX wrote: seanV18, nlewis100 - Thanx for the feedback.

I have 4x 6 volt, flooded lead acid golf cart batteries @ 232 amp hours each. In my 12 volt system that equates to 464 amp hours. Given that lead acid batteries shouldn't be discharged below 50% I have approx 232 amp hours usage.

On the hook I need to run my 12V fridge, 12V cooler, led lights and stereo. Thru the inverter I run the tv/dvd combo, laptop, microwave (rarely), kettle and coffee maker.

The solar system will be directly connected thru the mppt cc to the battery bank for charging. All loads will then come from them.


From my experience some of your expectations should be okay but others might be a challenge.
The 12v fridge should be okay providing it is a reasonably newer design build with efficiency in mind. The 12 volt cooler might use just as much power as your fridge; if so and if affordable you might consider another efficient fridge or freezer for the volume required.
LED lights and a stereo shouldn't be an issue. Inverted power loads may put you over; TV/DVD should be okay, the LED TVs are best. laptops are okay as they have their own battery that offsets the usage. Microwaves use lots of power - a small one uses nearly 800 watts sustained while operating. I use my microwave either on shore power or while the generator is running or as a testing device trigger the charge controller for solar of shore battery charge going in bulk charge mode. The kettle and coffee maker are resistive electrical devices meaning they are generally not suitable for an inverter and 4 golf cart battery configuration. Making one pot of coffee or boiling one kettle's worth will flatten your batteries to 50% pretty quick or at least take a lot off the top. Propane gas with all safety measures in place is my preferred resource for making coffee of boiling water in a kettle.
In any case, once you set it up and start using the is you'll know pretty quick how to feel about it.
I like to test each item I use by measuring the DC current with an inductive meter. I do this by measuring one or more cycles over time with something like a fridge. With a coffee maker I might measure the total draw in amps to make one pot of coffee. From that by applying a bit of arithmetic you can get a realistic result what to expect it to do to the condition of your battery bank. An inductive ammeter doesn't have to be expensive. The DC clamp style ammeter in the picture can be had for $30-40 on ebay. I bought one of these and highly recommend it! It's not as nice as my Fluke but the required accuracy is comparable.
I run 520 watts of solar with 6 golf cart batteries. It keeps up with two efficient 12 fridge/freezer combo units and typical boat electrical loads (water pump, lots of LED lighting in high usage, stereo, charging mobile devices and occasional use of LED TV/DVD). Much more than that it shortens time at anchor or I run the generator. This is in average PNW summertime weather conditions (some overcast, rain and sun).
Hope this helps your project...

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My SOLAR project has finally started - 3055 17 Feb 2017 20:19 #50

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I 100% agree with mlewis100 on the coffee pot and the microwave. In general, anything that produces heat will devistate your battery reserves. Best to use your propane for those applications for sure unless you have an onboard generator.

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