Help troubleshooting van system

I've had a Renogy 100 watt on my camper van for a few years and it has worked great. This summer not so much. I was running a Blue Sky Sun Charger 30 and it would never get to bulk charge even when the batter was down to 12 volts. The amp reading was never above 0.2, even in full sun. This didn't used to be like this. It would read 5+ amps in full sun. I tested the panel with a multi meter and it seemed to be fine. 21 volts, 5+ amps in full sun. So I got a new controller. A Morningstar Sun Saver Duo. Hooked it all up and it's showing zero amps in full sun. I got a new battery 95ah AGM. I hooked up the new battery today and I'm still showing zero amps. WTH? I tested again. Panel seems to be fine. Battery from the store with no more charge is at 12.8. What am I missing?

Comments

  • round00round00 Posts: 9Registered Users ✭✭
    edited August 12 #2
    Here are some photos
  • BB.BB. Posts: 26,529Super Moderators admin
    edited August 12 #3
    Check the polarity of the solar panel(s) to the solar charge controller?

    In general, connect the solar charge controller to the battery bank first. Then connect the solar array to the charge controller. In some cases, charge controllers are "confused" (or can even be damaged) if the solar panels are connected first (i.e., solar charge controller may configure for 24 volt battery bank if output is left "floating").

    What voltage are you seeing on the Vpanel input for the charge controller? Also double check that the voltage on the Vbatt terminals of the charge controller are about the same as that as on your battery bank (withing 0.10 volts or less).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • round00round00 Posts: 9Registered Users ✭✭
    The multimeter readings are straight from the panel
  • round00round00 Posts: 9Registered Users ✭✭
    Across the battery terminals the voltage is 12.73 and across the battery + terminal on the controller and the ground terminal on the controller the voltage is the same, 12.73.  If I test across the controller terminals for + from panel and ground the voltage is the same as the battery, 12.73, which I really don't understand because if I disconnect the panel and test across the + from the panel and to ground, it is 19+....  I'm lost on this one.
  • BB.BB. Posts: 26,529Super Moderators admin
    edited August 12 #6
    All your numbers look OK -- Assuming the battery is not charging (solar panels will read around 19-21 volts if they do not have any load). And your battery readings are OK.

    You do not have battery 2 connected... I do not know what the Sunsaver Duo is programmed to perform with this condition (i.e., one "dead battery"?)... If nothing else, I would connect battery 1 + 2 to both battery positive connections.

    And, measuring voltages at the Sunsaver, meter black on controller ground screw, what do the other terminals read (Batt1+, Panel+, and Batt2+)? I am not there, but I just want to confirm that all ground connections are good (i.e., solar panel ground is solid connection to battery1 ground, etc.).

    The controllers are usually pretty solid devices and will work if connected correctly. Unless it is damaged (such as Batt 1 connected correctly and Batt 2 connected with +/- reversed).

    -Bill

    PS, when the solar panel is charging the battery bank, the Vpanel voltage will be close to Vbatt voltage (the PWM type charge controller is, basically, an "ON/OFF" switch between the battery and the solar panel(s)--When the charger is charging, the panel is connected directly to the battery bank with a little bit of voltage drop).

    And I should add, the 4 pictures are visible now.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • EstragonEstragon Posts: 1,172Registered Users ✭✭✭✭
    Maybe try a small load like a 12v bulb along with the MM when testing panel voltage?
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • round00round00 Posts: 9Registered Users ✭✭
    I only have one battery.  The Sunsaver instructions seem to indicate that it is fine to have one battery.

    Grounds are all good.

    BB:  "And, measuring voltages at the Sunsaver, meter black on controller ground screw, what do the other terminals read (Batt1+, Panel+, and Batt2+)? I am not there, but I just want to confirm that all ground connections are good (i.e., solar panel ground is solid connection to battery1 ground, etc.)."

    Batt1:  12.73
    Panel+:  12.73

    I followed the instructions on 12-14 of the attached manual, although, it says on 12 that "Power connection order is not critical" and does not have you connect the battery power until the last step - Step 6 on page 14 (by inserting the fuse).

    The light on the controller is solid with a 5 second "heartbeat" which according to the instructions indicates that it is in bulk charging mode.

    I just can't understand why the remote monitor is reading "0.00" amps?


  • BB.BB. Posts: 26,529Super Moderators admin
    With 12.73 volts at both panel input and battery output at the controller, it appears that the panel output is going to the battery and all should be ok.

    The question is why is the meter not showing current flow. It could be a poor connection back to the solar panels (high resistance connection somewhere) or the meter interface is not working correctly.

    Do any other menu readings work (battery voltage, etc.)?

    Sears makes an inexpensive dc clamp current meter (DMM for $60) that would confirm if solar panel/battery current is flowing.

    http://m.sears.com/craftsman-digital-clamp-on-ammeter/p-03482369000P

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • round00round00 Posts: 9Registered Users ✭✭
    could I use the multimeter to do the same thing? It can measure current up to 10 amps and my panel does a max of 6 amps. I could put the MM between the controller and the battery.

    Thanks for all your help. Much appreciated
  • round00round00 Posts: 9Registered Users ✭✭
    Yes battery reading voltage works fine
  • BB.BB. Posts: 26,529Super Moderators admin
    Yes you can open a wire connection and place your dmm set to 10amp scale.

    However,  if you can justify the clamp meter, it is much easier (and safer for high current and/or high voltage circuits). Also it let's you measure current without breaking/making circuits.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Posts: 569Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 13 #13
    Why are the connections in the first picture of the controller like that?  Next, if that isn't the way it is connected now, are all dip switches set properly?

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • mcgivormcgivor Posts: 1,007Registered Users ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 13 #14
    All installation diagrams are for dual battery, my suggestion would be to wire the solar directly to the solar input, and likewise with the battery to battery 1 input,  since you're only using a single battery, this would eliminate using the chassis as a conductor, for testing purposes at least.
      1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider 150 60 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 8×T105 GC 24V nominal 

  • mike_smike_s Posts: 36Registered Users ✭✭
    Do you really have an SLA battery? That's what the controller is set for. Why is ground connected to the BATT2 terminal? Where does the other end of the ground wire go to? Based on the cable clamp, I'd guess straight to the panel. You also need a chassis/battery ground.
  • BB.BB. Posts: 26,529Super Moderators admin
    The controller manual says that all controller grounds are bused together and only one ground to common chassis ground is needed.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • round00round00 Posts: 9Registered Users ✭✭
    Yes common ground, grounded to chassis.

    I've been on the phone with Morningstar and Renogy. Morningstar thinks the panel is bad and Renogy thinks the charge controller is bad (Renogy says if open circuit voltage is 20+ and short circuit current is 5.5 amps, the panel is working fine). Renogy wants me to mail them the panel for testing. Seems like a lot of trouble to mail a 4 x 2 foot panel when the panel only costs 125 brand new. Anyway, I ordered a new panel (wanted to have 2 panels anyway). If it new panel solves the problem, I'll use the box to send back the old one for warranty. we'll see later today. Thanks for the help
  • round00round00 Posts: 9Registered Users ✭✭
    Got the new panel, installed, all good, works fine again. It was the panel. Bad on Renogy for so easily dismissing that the panel was the problem.
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