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Old 10-04-2013, 09:28 PM   #16
Langanobob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JAB View Post
Just had to replace the "house" battery in the RV. This battery only lasted 2 or so years. I thought it would last longer since it is always being trickle charged by a solar panel. Is there a charge/discharge routine that helps a deep cycle battery last? What kills this kind of battery?
It takes awhile to read through all of this guy's articles, but he seems like he knows something:

http://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/t...ging-puzzle-2/
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Old 10-07-2013, 08:08 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Langanobob View Post
It takes awhile to read through all of this guy's articles, but he seems like he knows something:

http://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/t...ging-puzzle-2/
That's quite the find. It is a long read but seems like good background info
with links to other stuff that I have not had time to get to. If I were to believe HandyBob, seems I could be undercharging from either a voltage drop
or a pre-set level on my controller. Will keep reading and see what I can come up with.
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Old 10-08-2013, 12:52 PM   #18
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I'll second (or is it third?) Bob's blog. Lot's of great info.

As for your issue, how far from the battery is your solar charge controller? Is your battery a true deep cycle battery, or one of those RV/Marine batteries that is supposed to be deep cycle as well as a starting battery? When I was shopping for mine, I had to go to a battery specialty shop to get a true deep cycle battery (I opted for a single 12V one for now, though may switch to a pair of 6V batteries at the next battery change-out). What gauge of wire runs from the panels down to the controller and from the charger to the battery? Have you actually measured the voltage AT the battery during the various cycles of the charge controller? Have you measured the amps in the system?
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Old 10-08-2013, 01:47 PM   #19
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I'll second (or is it third?) Bob's blog. Lot's of great info.

As for your issue, how far from the battery is your solar charge controller? Is your battery a true deep cycle battery, or one of those RV/Marine batteries that is supposed to be deep cycle as well as a starting battery? When I was shopping for mine, I had to go to a battery specialty shop to get a true deep cycle battery (I opted for a single 12V one for now, though may switch to a pair of 6V batteries at the next battery change-out). What gauge of wire runs from the panels down to the controller and from the charger to the battery? Have you actually measured the voltage AT the battery during the various cycles of the charge controller? Have you measured the amps in the system?
I have a gen-u-ine NAPA deep cycle battery. (says deep cycle on the sticker) I can not state the size of the wire for a fact at the moment other than to say it is what came with my system. A guess would be 10ga. It's not zip cord or welding cable. The wire down from the panel to the controller is about a 12 foot run and from the controller to the battery is another 16-ish feet.
At the moment, I only have my trusty VOM, so I can measure volts at the battery and compare that value to the control panel read-out. Might be able to borrow a amp-clamp and give that a go, but this is getting to the outer edge of my current 'lectrical knowledge.
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Old 10-09-2013, 07:46 PM   #20
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Handy Bob is great. I learned a lot from him when designing my solar system.

Anyway if when charging at full power you are getting more than about .3 volt loss in your cables, I'd upgrade those. If they used the little automotive circuit breakers, you could be loosing that much right there.

Deep discharge, going long periods of time without being fully charged, and being run low on water will shorten the life of lead acid batteries.

I've also seen corrosion at the terminals or in the battery end of the cables be mistaken for a dead or failing battery...
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Old 10-10-2013, 01:09 PM   #21
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Handy Bob is great. I learned a lot from him when designing my solar system.

Anyway if when charging at full power you are getting more than about .3 volt loss in your cables, I'd upgrade those. If they used the little automotive circuit breakers, you could be loosing that much right there.

Deep discharge, going long periods of time without being fully charged, and being run low on water will shorten the life of lead acid batteries.

I've also seen corrosion at the terminals or in the battery end of the cables be mistaken for a dead or failing battery...
This weekend I am going to have a look at the wiring to see what gauge it is and how many feet there is. Maybe I can apply a little math to see if there is much loss. With the current system, I have never had to add water. I have done a few deep discharges on the old battery. With the way the system is now, the battery never goes dead. What I think I have to do now is see if I am charging it to full capacity. It was an interesting point that Handy Bob made that even missing a 10th of a volt on the total charge could make a noticeable loss of capacity. Another thing to check is that I have a blade style fuse holder coming from the controller. I need to see what size wire it has too. Would be silly to have 8 or 10 ga. wire choking down at the fuse holder.
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Old 10-14-2013, 11:26 AM   #22
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So I did a little more checking. Seems I have 8 ga. wire all the way from the
panel to the battery. Looking at the control panel, it tells me that the battery is 100% charged at 13.8 volts and turns the amps/output to 0 at that point. I then turned the fridge on DC which in turn runs a heating element. Ran that for about 10 minutes and the control panel dipped down to 12.8 volts. Turned off the load and the controller was charging at 6.7 amps and 14.2 volts at the battery. I only have a VOM to test with, so I can't check amps at the battery at this time. To my inexperienced eye this shows me the system works, but it seems like I need to have a control panel that will allow a higher voltage. The next time I travel, I will need to take a reading to see what kind of voltage I have from charging the battery with the alternator and see if there is a difference. I might also have a voltage drop in the house wiring after the battery, but I have no plans to rewire the RV at this point.
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Old 10-15-2013, 01:28 AM   #23
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You mentioned a coffee pot and hair dryer as a low load. Coffee pots and hair dryers draw a lot of amps. I'd suspect more than the microwave, but the microwave would be pickier about the current it gets.
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Old 10-15-2013, 07:30 AM   #24
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So I did a little more checking. Seems I have 8 ga. wire all the way from the
panel to the battery. Looking at the control panel, it tells me that the battery is 100% charged at 13.8 volts and turns the amps/output to 0 at that point. I then turned the fridge on DC which in turn runs a heating element. Ran that for about 10 minutes and the control panel dipped down to 12.8 volts. Turned off the load and the controller was charging at 6.7 amps and 14.2 volts at the battery. I only have a VOM to test with, so I can't check amps at the battery at this time. To my inexperienced eye this shows me the system works, but it seems like I need to have a control panel that will allow a higher voltage. The next time I travel, I will need to take a reading to see what kind of voltage I have from charging the battery with the alternator and see if there is a difference. I might also have a voltage drop in the house wiring after the battery, but I have no plans to rewire the RV at this point.
I think you'll find there is a lot of loss in the wiring through the car/truck chassis and trailer plug. You probably won't ever top the trailer battery off using just the alternator. I think Bob's article discusses this, and I think there is a lot of truth to it. I also believe that's why a lot of RV-ers get into trouble with their electrical systems. They leave their trailer for weeks/months at a time, then think just driving down the road will top off their batteries. Just doesn't work that way. And running the alternator in camp to charge it up for 30-minues doesn't do squat, either.

A good quality charge controller is the heart of a solar system. Buy bigger than you think you'll need and it will be flexible for later modifications. And if you get one that you can program yourself, you can fine tune the parameters to meet your specific needs.
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:41 AM   #25
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I think you'll find there is a lot of loss in the wiring through the car/truck chassis and trailer plug. You probably won't ever top the trailer battery off using just the alternator. I think Bob's article discusses this, and I think there is a lot of truth to it. I also believe that's why a lot of RV-ers get into trouble with their electrical systems. They leave their trailer for weeks/months at a time, then think just driving down the road will top off their batteries. Just doesn't work that way. And running the alternator in camp to charge it up for 30-minues doesn't do squat, either.

A good quality charge controller is the heart of a solar system. Buy bigger than you think you'll need and it will be flexible for later modifications. And if you get one that you can program yourself, you can fine tune the parameters to meet your specific needs.
Agreed. FWIW, this is a motorhome rather than a trailer. Past experience shows the alternator, after a long drive will top up the
house battery as well as it is going to, but yes, idling in the driveway almost takes away the charge. Firing up the generator to charge is a joke, as the charging system it is tied to isn't much better than a trickle. Takes more juice to start the gen than the wimpy charge will recover. The microwave is big and old and pulls hard to start and is almost the only reason I need to start the gen. That and the roof air that I hardly use. I have a small inverter that I mount close to the battery and then plug that into the shore cable as there is very little line loss with AC. I switch off the shore power charger and am able to run the coffee pot or TV. Typically after breakfast, the power demands are pretty low and the battery is topped up by evening by the solar system. Real cheap and real simple. Will have to see which control panel to upgrade to so I can adjust the peak volts. I have considered, but really have to study, adding another battery to the single panel I have for extra capacity. And if I go to 2 batteries, then to take the leap and go with 2 6V batts. My only argument there is
that if a 12V fails, you still have 1 to go. Not the same with 6V. I wonder if there is something I can add to the existing controller (resistor or potentiometer?) to fool it into giving me more volts?
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:50 AM   #26
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Not really practical. Your controller doesn't let you program the voltage?
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Old 10-15-2013, 09:25 AM   #27
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Not really practical. Your controller doesn't let you program the voltage?
Seems it is pre-set. I have not contact their tech department to see
what could be done. Per the instruction sheet, all I can do is choose
what type of battery to use. (AGM, flooded) The flooded selection
charges at the highest rate.
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Old 10-15-2013, 10:38 AM   #28
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This is nuts. Based on what you wrote, all you are trying to do is trickle charge a battery. The system you are using is way oversized and way too complicated for a simple trickle charger, although it could be used (and I believe it is working anyway). Before you go thinking about adding resistors and more electronic gizmos and worrying about 8 GA wire (you do NOT need 8 or 10 gauge for milliamps of current <20'), you should buy any of a myriad of *amorphous* panels (lower peak voltage -watts does not matter) http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw...sacat=41981for off ebay for <$30 and connect the 14-16 guage wire it is going to have directly to your battery and leave it. Even the brain-dead could not screw this up.

I don't believe your charging system is the problem though, it is most likely mismanagement of a possible low quality battery. If I were replacing my battery, I would spend $2-400 for a LiFePo4 battery with a choice of capacity. It would fit in a fraction of the existing space, it has the same charge points as lead acid meaning you can use your existing alternator/chargers, it takes abuse far better than lead acid if bottom balanced properly, little to no self-discharge and it will have over triple the cycles at 25% the weight at similar capacity. Once you try one, you will never go back. http://store.evtv.me/products.php?cat=10

Tweaker screwed with this post 10-15-2013 at 10:50 AM
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Old 10-15-2013, 11:25 AM   #29
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2 big 6v batteries in series only gives you more plate area (amp hour capacity). if you can't charge what you have with what you got, it won't really help.... it only prolongs the time to discharge, with a longer re-charge time.
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:27 PM   #30
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The issue with running two 12v batteries in parallel is that if one of them has a weak cell, it will draw down the other battery.

If you can do it physically, two 6v in series, or one big honkin 12v would be preferable. If you have to run two 12v in parallel, they should be of the same type and capacity, and close to the same age.



So, what have you got for charging? How big is the solar panel? What do you have for an converter/charger?

If camping for a significant time, you've got to be putting in what yiu are drawing out.
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