How can I check my Horrible Freight solar panels?

bgarrettbgarrett Solar Expert Posts: 48
I dont think my panels are working or maybe its the controller.
The voltmeter gives me 18 volts output on the controller and after 49 days on the charger with no load, (I was outatown) the battery has very little charge,
How can I determine what the problem is?

Comments

  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,433 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: How can I check my Horrible Freight solar panels?

    Take the controller out of the circuit. On the other hand, if your battery has been sitting un charged for ~49 days it may be toast. I suggest fully charging the battery before you do anything.

    An ammeter and a shunt will tell you how much current the panel is putting out.

    Tony
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,358 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: How can I check my Horrible Freight solar panels?

    I usually chuck mine from a bridge, then buy real ones.

    Serioulsy though, is the controller any good? Try connecting the panel directly to the battery [ +to +, - to - ] and check the battery voltage every 30 minutes, you should see the battery charge come up slowly, if you have a meter.
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  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,005 admin
    Re: How can I check my Horrible Freight solar panels?

    Assuming the volt meter is calibrated:
    1. What is the voltage on the panel side of the charge controller (full sun)
    2. What is the voltage on the battery side of the charge controller (full sun)
    3. Set the Meter to 10 amps maximum scale, disconnect the solar panel, put the meter across solar panel output leads (the amp meter will short the output of the panel--but that is OK. DO NOT SHORT CIRCUIT THE BATTERY--that will ruin the meter--or worse). The maximum Isc (short circuit current) should be around Imp +/- depending on the actual amount of sun at the time.
    4. Last test, with the meter set to 10 amp scale, connect the panel directly to the battery and measure the charging current (make sure the panel/battery polarity is correct--you will fry the meter+panels if wrong). Should be close to Imp (if full sun).
    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,433 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: How can I check my Horrible Freight solar panels?

    What Bill says, assuming you have meter capable of handling DC amps. (Most cheap ones will only handle Milliamps).


    Tony
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: How can I check my Horrible Freight solar panels?

    Gee, that is the first complaint we have heard of those panels... today ;)

    Actually it is usually the $7 controller that goes out, if your panels are OK with the tests given by others, you can just buy a small Morningstar, such as http://store.solar-electric.com/ss-6.html
  • RandomJoeRandomJoe Solar Expert Posts: 472 ✭✭✭
    Re: How can I check my Horrible Freight solar panels?

    When I first set up my HF panels, I found that the supplied charge controller (newer one, with LED digital readout) does NOT block current flow at night. The panels also didn't have diodes in them, so when the sun went down the battery started to discharge through the panels.

    I just chucked the controller and bought a decent one from NAWS.

    Not sure that would cause enough discharge to kill the battery, IIRC it wasn't a very large current, but don't remember for sure...
  • n3qikn3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
    Re: How can I check my Horrible Freight solar panels?

    Must have gotten one of the few that worked for the most part. 6 panels into one of the digital controllers into 110AH of batteries. Worked, just had to up the fuse size. Mine did block the battery at night.

    Now with a reading of 18 volts. The battery is WAY over charger/shot/bad. Look at getting a new charge controller and battery.

    Now to check the panels, there are two test:

    Open voltage- this is with a meter set to read 200 VDC. Hook red probe to the red wire and the black probe to the black wire. In full sun you should read 19-22 volts.

    Short circuit current- this is with a meter set to read 10 amps. Hook red probe to the red wire and the black probe to the black wire. In full sun you should read 1-2 amps. I forgot the exact reading.
  • YostFMXYostFMX Solar Expert Posts: 94 ✭✭✭
    Re: How can I check my Horrible Freight solar panels?

    I have one on my RV with there controller and everything has worked 100%, I love that thing! (maybe I'm lucky?)
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: How can I check my Horrible Freight solar panels?
    YostFMX wrote: »
    I have one on my RV with there controller and everything has worked 100%, I love that thing! (maybe I'm lucky?)

    You've just not asked it to live up to the somewhat fantastic claims made by the retailer.:D
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