Soooooooo frustrated

frustratedwithsolarfrustratedwithsolar Registered Users Posts: 2
edited December 2018 in Solar Beginners Corner #1
I have two 256 watt panels on my travel trailer roof. My charge controller has a green light for load, but says 0.00 for load on lcd screen.  Also say o.oo for charge, and red charge light is also lit up.  

I have two 256 watt panels underneath the morning sun for a total of 512 watts and apparently i am getting 0.  A big fat zero!

Besides that obnoxious scenario, my vehicle is a Toyota tacoma that charges my travel trailer battery when being towed.  The only thing plugged into 1500 watt inverter is a cell phone charger.  And the travel trailer battery cant even keep up with it.  Constantly.  Every day the battery is dead.  

I can turn my ignition key to accessory so that engine does not turn on and run my laptop, cell phone n dome light for 12+ hours out of the cigarette lighter with no issues.  

A battery that supposedly gets charged while being towed or with solar panels cant even last 6 fucking hours and before you say bad battery.  Its less than 2 weeks old.  Replaced it last monday.  And i know when the vehicle is on it is charging the battery cuz the charge will jump up to 13.7 on the inverter n solar charge controller.  This is my 2nd battery, 2nd charge controller.  

1st xharge controller was a $20 pile of stuff from amazon.  This new one is a $100 battery doctor model 23127.

Battery was regular 12v car battery.  Now its a $150 marine/rv 1000 cca battery 6 days old n isn't taking charge from solar n isnt holding charge from alternator.  N the only thing it needs to power is a simple phone charger.

What the heck (-BB)


  • AguarancherAguarancher Solar Expert Posts: 282 ✭✭✭
    No need to swear..
  • AguarancherAguarancher Solar Expert Posts: 282 ✭✭✭
    edited December 2018 #3
    Did you connect the battery to the charger first and then your panels? If not, then do so...
  • NANOcontrolNANOcontrol Registered Users Posts: 123 ✭✭✭
    I just got a nice 40A MPPT controller for $25 shipped.  It was a customer return.  It works perfectly. You can't tell the players without a scorecard.  Get a FREE Harbor Freight digital meter and get some useful data. Two bad controllers points to a hookup problem. It is a system.  If every part works the whole thing should work.  Start with measuring the voltage at the controller terminals for the solar panel.
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 3,614 ✭✭✭✭✭
    How are the panels wired (series or parallel)?

    What is the max input voltage of the controller(s)?

    Any shade AT ALL on the panels (eg vent stack, antenna, etc)?

    I would get a 12v car charger for the phone and turn the 1500w inverter off unless needed for a larger load.  It probably uses more just being on than it does for charging the phone.

    +1 on getting some data with a multimeter.
    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
  • frustratedwithsolarfrustratedwithsolar Registered Users Posts: 2
    Ok ill give the forum one more try because at this point the 4 replies have been useless as i predicted because anyone that knows solar uses english words but doesnt apparently use the english language.

    Two 256 watt panels for a total of 512 watts mounted on roof.  Using 8 agw wire both positives run into the 1 positive port on the battery doctor charge controller.  Same for negative.  This wire run  is about 20feet.  Then the same 8 awg wire runs from the deep cycle 12volt rv battery back to battery doctor charge controller.  Same 8 awg wire runs directly from battery to 1500 watt pure sine windynation inverter.

    The trailer hitch plugin for trailer lights using the standard circle plugin (8 or 7 pin plugin) also has a negative n positive running to deep cycle 1000 cca battery.  So  there are two( 2 streams of charge) one from truck one from solar.  

    Testing today revealed

    When truck is on.  The battery under the hood in the vehicle reads 13.8volts. 
    While truck is still running the battery on the travel trailer reads 13.04volts

    The wire upto the inline fuse for the inverter reads 13.0 volts.  On the other side of fuse reads 13.0.  Were wire meets inverter reads 13.0 volts.  Turn on inverter and inverter reads battery at 12.8 volts.  Charge controller reads battery at 13.0 volts.  Also flickers a scren that says charge off 13.7 volts.  Who knows what that means.  

    Ran truck for 9 hours today.  

    Hooked up two samsung galaxy phone chargers

    1 in using a cigarette lighter in the truck.
      Other using windynation pure syne inverter.
    Tyrned truck off.  Windynation inverter lasted 45 mintues before saying battery was 10.4 volts.  

    Truck inverter doesnt have alarm but phone was charged too 100% using $35 duracell cigarette inverter u can buy at target.  Also hooked up laptop.  Turned fan heater on high.  Turned on truck lights to high beams.  Turned on dome light n windshield wipers.  Left truck off in the accessory key position for another two hours.  

    Rv battery still hadnt charged cell phone to even 65% and constantly ran alarm bell for over two hours.  

    Started truck right up no dead battery.  6 day old rv battery still dead.

    Either i grabbed 2 defective deep cycle batteries from the store in a span of less than 2 months or solar panels wrecked the battery so that they cant take a charge anymore and they do this in a span of less than a week.  

    My money is on this bullshit solar energy system.

    I dont want to read amp hours or voltage divided by watts or watever equation that isnt english.

    Solar panels wired to charge controler.  Charge controller wired to battery.  Battery wired to inverter.  

    Why does my battery not hold charge after 6 days when its a brand new battery? 
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,879 ✭✭✭✭
    Sorry, I forgot to wipe your a$$… I didn't think it was my/our problem! Your tone is all wrong, nobody here has to help you.

    Why did you pay $100 for a $58 Charge controller?

    Appears to all the world, to be a PWM charge controller, if it was good enough to have a manual, perhaps you would read it! It would contain information including hooking your battery up first... 
    ...but if you read carefully, you might notice it likely doesn't handle the higher voltage of those panels! instead needing something in the voltage range for charging a 12 or 24 volt system. Those panels are very likely 60 or 72 cell panels (seriously doubt they are "256 watt panels" panels are pretty much always grouped in 5 or 10 watt increments. A 256 watt panel would be called a 255 or 250 watt panel)

    Because these panels produce around 30 volts, it may well be too high for your charge controller. You may have already destroyed it! Oh the joy!

    A "marine/rv 1000 cca " battery is likely NOT a true deep cycle battery, in fact at 1000 cca, it is likely even being sold as a marine starting battery, not it's poorly designed cousin the trolling motor battery. They have a short life in true deep cycle applications. Even better you might have destroyed that too! Oh the Joy!!

    Here's some English for you!

    Go Away!

    Happy New Year! Hope you are screwed on both the charge controller and batteries!

    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do
  • mcgivormcgivor Solar Expert Posts: 2,834 ✭✭✭✭✭
    You may be better served by customer support offered by WirthCo, so far everything you've described is how not to do something. The tone used in your comments won't receive much attention, nobody here is paid to answer questions or offer advice, much less put up wits abuse , without some understanding of how a solar system functions, it will be an expensive prospect. The errors made are very clear, how to correct them very simple, you may wish to apologize or move on, up to you. Good luck either way.
    1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider MPPT 60 150 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 400Ah LFP 24V nominal battery bank 
    Second system 1890W  3 × 300W No name brand poly, 3×330 Sunsolar Poly panels, Morningstar TS 60 PWM controller, no name 2000W inverter 400Ah FLA 24V nominal used for water pumping and day time air conditioning.  
    5Kw Yanmar clone single cylinder air cooled diesel generator for rare emergency charging and welding.
  • mathiasmathias Registered Users Posts: 27 ✭✭
    Man you're soooooooo funny !!!
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,250 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Your 1500w inverter is a likely culprit too.  It's idle current draw is way more than the power consumed by the cell phone charger.
    By it running the battery down to 10.4 volts, you have likely destroyed the battery with a inverter that does not turn off till the battery is destroyed.

    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    gen: ,

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,043 admin
    OK... First issue is that it is difficult to get 12 VDC charging current from the truck to the trailer.
    1. 13.8 volts is not very high charging voltage. It is (in older vehicles) generally considered to be the minimum charging voltage for your vehicle's battery. 14.2 to 14.4 volts is about the maximum typical charging voltage for your vehicle battery from the engine alternator. Many alternators are not adjustable unless an aftermarket kit has been added.
    2. True deep cycle Flooded Cell Lead Acid batteries (FLA) generally need around 14.75 volts (@~75F) to quickly/properly recharge. And for a deeply cycled FLA battery, it may take upwards of 3-5 hours of bulk charging (10% or so of battery AH capacity... I.e., an 80 AH vehicle sized FLA would be ~8 amps). Once the battery is over >~80% State of Charge (SoC), it will take another 4-6+ hours to finish Absorb charging (holding charging voltage at ~14.75 volts). Once that cycle is complete, the battery should be close to 100% SoC (>90% SoC is usually "good enough" for daily charging). Then the charge controller would cut back to float voltage of ~13.6 to 13.8 volts typical. Your RV battery is probably way under 50% SoC. Do you have a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of each cell?
    3. Your alternator with 13.8 volts output, and a ~1.0 volt drop from wiring and fuse is typical for a trailer application (and if you use a battery isolator, that can add to the voltage drop). It is very difficult to get much more than 8-10 amps through a trailer harness/battery isolator with a stock alternator.
    4. An "easier" method to charge from the vehicle is to install a AC inverter in your truck, and an AC to DC battery charger in the trailer. That will get the few hundred Watts from the engine alternator to the RV battery. Say you have 160 AH @ 12 volt battery bank; 
    5. 160 AH * 10% rate of charge = 16 amps charging. 
    6. 16 amps charging * 14.75 volts = 236 Watts charging power. 
    7. 236 Watts * 1/0.80 AC battery charger eff * 1/0.85 AC inverter eff = 347 Watts of charging energy from the truck alternator
    8. 347 Watts / 13.8 volts charging = 25 Amps from alternator. (yes, the losses are a pain)
    Next issue is to figure out why the solar charging system is not working.

    Measuring the voltage of each solar panel under sunlight (typically around 21 volts Voc -- Voltage open circuit). Then measure the short circuit current of each panel (Isc). At noon on a clear day with the panels pointing at the sun, you should read something like 50% to 100% of Isc rating of the panel.

    256 Watt panels are generally Vmp~30 volts and rated current would be ~8.5 amps Imp. While an inexpensive PWM (pulse width modulated) solar charge controller could work (on a 12 volt battery bank), a PWM controller would lose almost 50% of the Wattage of a Vmp~30 volt solar array (two of your panels connected in parallel). It could also damage a 12 volt only PWM controller (too high solar panel voltage).

    Normally, you would use an MPPT type charge controller (Maximum Power Point Tracking). A fancy name for a computer controller buck mode switching power supply. These types of controllers can take high voltage, low current DC voltage from the solar array and "efficiently down convert" to the low voltage, high(er) current for charging your battery bank (upwards of 95% efficient).

    And as stated by others above--Generally you need to connect the solar charge controller to the battery bank first (and typically the battery bank has to be >~9.5 volts) for the charge controller to boot and recognize your battery bank (many have auto 12/24 volt configuration).

    Once the controller has been connected to the battery bank, then connect the solar panels to the Vpanel-input of the solar charge controller.

    Measure the Vpanel input voltage to the solar charge controller (and tell us what kind of controller you have), and the Vbatt voltage on the output of the controller (should be between 9.5 and 15.0 volts).

    The solar panels have to be exposed to open sky, no shading from ropes, nearby vent stacks, etc.. Any shading will generally kill the output of the solar array by 50% or more (even if just a few cells are shaded).

    For RV systems with smaller battery banks (and smaller solar arrays), generally a 1,500 Watt inverter is a pretty large load... Just turned on, the inverter can draw 10-20 Watts (or more). Plus the AC load of your device/appliance.

    A good sized RV bank of 2x 6 volt @ 200 AH for 12 volts at 200 AH, such a bank would "reliably" support a 200-300 Watt inverter at full load. And such a load would take this fully charged battery bank to dead in roughly 10 hours or less.

    Also, lead acid batteries do not like to be taken below ~20% State of Charge... And taken "dead" (10.5 volts or less resting voltage) will ruin an FLA battery in days, or faster.

    At this point, if you can, get your RV battery bank on a 120 VAC charger (good quality) and get the battery bank recharged quickly--The batteries will be getting ruined pretty quickly.

    You probably have several issues... But getting the solar charging system running is #1 priority... Can you give us details on the charge controller (if it is the same unit Photowhit linked to, I could not find a manual or solar array configuration information) and the size of battery bank (how many batteries, voltage and AH rating, voltage of RV battery bank--typically 12 volts but could be 24 VDC).

    And the Vmp & Imp rating of your solar panels (should be on the rear label of the panels).

    At this point, your batteries are just not getting anywhere near the charging current and voltage needed to be brought back to full (it sounds like).

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • NANOcontrolNANOcontrol Registered Users Posts: 123 ✭✭✭
    And with all that typing he still couldn't answer what the panel voltage is at the controller.
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