Diminished power presenting as low lights

djdenalidjdenali Registered Users Posts: 11
About two weeks ago, the lights in our house began to show about half the power as normal. We have a 12-Volt system (2 pairs or 6-Volt batteries---2 in series and each pair in parallel). I have the wiring connected as shown on page 584 of the 30th anniversary edition of The Solar Living SourceBook ( + of battery 1 to - of battery 2 (series) and + of battery 3 to - of battery 4 (series) THEN, - of battery 1 to - battery 3 then to the sun controller AND + of battery 4 to + of battery 2 then to the sun controller). All connections seem strong. All batteries individual showed 6+ volts.

ANy suggestions on how to get out lights back to full strength? Inverter works fine. Lights are the only load.

Thanks.
david

Comments

  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Diminished power presenting as low lights
    djdenali wrote: »
    About two weeks ago, the lights in our house began to show about half the power as normal. We have a 12-Volt system (2 pairs or 6-Volt batteries---2 in series and each pair in parallel). I have the wiring connected as shown on page 584 of the 30th anniversary edition of The Solar Living SourceBook ( + of battery 1 to - of battery 2 (series) and + of battery 3 to - of battery 4 (series) THEN, - of battery 1 to - battery 3 then to the sun controller AND + of battery 4 to + of battery 2 then to the sun controller). All connections seem strong. All batteries individual showed 6+ volts.

    ANy suggestions on how to get out lights back to full strength? Inverter works fine. Lights are the only load.

    Thanks.
    david
    It is the Inverter, it'a MSW that has a switching scheme that uses the line and neutral to take 60 V on each and make 120v. One line is probably not functioning correctly.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Diminished power presenting as low lights

    Well David, welcome to the forum.
    What do you have for an inverter? Make / model?
    Reason asking, most decent inverters will shut down due to low battery voltage long before you notice any output voltage drop at all. So unless you forgot to take off your sunglasses, I'd suspect problem with the inverter, or the wiring between the inverter and the lights, or a problem with the lights themselves.
    The battery voltage you mention - - is that the voltage while under load?
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Diminished power presenting as low lights

    another question worthy of asking is what is charging them and at what current capacity over how much time? if they aren't getting enough or any charge then they slowly die.
  • djdenalidjdenali Registered Users Posts: 11
    Re: Diminished power presenting as low lights

    Thanks for all the responses. I should have noted the inverter has nothing to do with the lights. That was more for informational purposes. We have a 'load' coming from the sun controller directly to the house. The lights are the only load on this sun controller. Again, they worked fine a few weeks back.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,114 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Diminished power presenting as low lights

    Do you have a link to show us that charge controller? I'll bet that is where your problem lies. Have you re-tightened the screws on the wire since you set it up? They loosen over time, copper 'flows' under pressure and time...
     
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  • ThomThom Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭✭
    Re: Diminished power presenting as low lights
    djdenali wrote: »
    Thanks for all the responses. I should have noted the inverter has nothing to do with the lights. That was more for informational purposes. We have a 'load' coming from the sun controller directly to the house. The lights are the only load on this sun controller. Again, they worked fine a few weeks back.

    Wow you have a box that controls the output of the sun! I need one of them !

    Thom
    Off grid since 1984. 430w of panel, 300w suresine , 4 gc batteries 12v system, Rogue mpt3024 charge controller , air breeze windmill, Mikita 2400w generator
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Diminished power presenting as low lights
    djdenali wrote: »
    Thanks for all the responses. I should have noted the inverter has nothing to do with the lights. That was more for informational purposes. We have a 'load' coming from the sun controller directly to the house. The lights are the only load on this sun controller. Again, they worked fine a few weeks back.
    I see, said the blind man. It's much clearer now. The Lights have nothing to do with the Inverter, that was informational. I don't have a clue, dig out the multimeter and check the voltage.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Diminished power presenting as low lights
    I see, said the blind man. It's much clearer now. The Lights have nothing to do with the Inverter, that was informational. I don't have a clue, dig out the multimeter and check the voltage.

    You took my thoughts :)
    But seriously, I really don't understand his setup, definitely not enough information to work with. Coming across as a mystery system, almost wondering if someone is pulling our leg.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Diminished power presenting as low lights

    So he's got a Morningstar SunSaver charge controller with LOAD terminals that have some DC lights connected to it.

    He's also got four 6 Volt batteries of non-specified size. These are wired as two parallel strings of two. If they are GC2's were looking at 440 Amp hours @ 12 Volts. To charge that you'd need a big array: absolute minimum of 385 Watts (based on 5% current & 17.5 Vmp for the PWM type controller).

    The largest single SunSaver is 20 Amp, so it is unlikely the batteries have been properly charged. As a result they have become sulphated, with their capacity diminishing. Like finding you've got AAA batteries in D cell cases; the Voltage may read "right" at rest but there is no capacity there. Apply a load and the Voltage sags quickly.

    We do not know the load in Amps/Volts/Watts. We do not know the wiring size or length. Therefor this is all just speculation.
  • djdenalidjdenali Registered Users Posts: 11
    Re: Diminished power presenting as low lights

    So, again, thanks for the sincere responses. Picking up a little sarcasm, but can't be too sure. Too clarify, I have other things to do than 'pull anybody's leg' about something like solar power. I am new to this phenomena and trying to gain clarity. The explanation from Cariboocoot sounds like what I'm working with. I am heading out this weekend, but will try to get some information on the return.

    I did check each battery individually and they all read above 6 Volts, but do I understand, one needs to do this when the sun is off the panels? In that case, I need to recheck. Slowly, slowly, I'm working through this learning curve. I appreciate the feedback and patience.

    david
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Diminished power presenting as low lights

    Two Voltage readings would help: one with no current going in or out (batteries at rest) and another with the load on but no charging (batteries under load). What you're looking for there is how much change happens between these states. A big Voltage drop indicates a loss of capacity.
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