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post #1 of 12 Old 07-24-2007 Thread Starter
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Solar Panel / Overcharging ???

Hi All,

Ok here's the question. I have a Siemans 75 watt panel mounted to my davits and I can't find any sort of solar charge controller that actually turns the panel off when the batteries reach 100%. I don't want to fry my batteries through over charging yet my charge controller continues to put out amps even when the batteries are at a 100% charge. So I know how to prevent discharging back through the panel at night and do have a charge controller but how do I stop it from charging when the batteries are full. I can't seem to find info on this anywhere on the net and I've been to the solar sites as well as the off the grid type sites..?? Six to seven hours a day of 1-4 amps is too much in my estimation if the batteries are already full.....

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Last edited by Maine Sail; 07-24-2007 at 08:42 AM.
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post #2 of 12 Old 07-24-2007
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Halekai-

It is very unlikely that your batteries will ever reach 100% under solar alone, and if they are wet-cell lead-acid batteries, they will begin to self-discharge almost immediately. Most good charge controllers will drop the voltage and amperage to a relatively safe "float" charge level.

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post #3 of 12 Old 07-24-2007
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H

try Hamilton-Ferris, they have a nice charge controller that shuts off the current to the battery. It cycles with and audible click. Inexpensive in the grand scheme of things.

dave
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post #4 of 12 Old 07-24-2007
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I'd be worried about frying my batts at 17V and 4.4 amps full output all day long. Get a regulator or an mppt controller!!
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Cam...

What's an MPPT controller. I am charging at roughly 13.1 to 14.2 and anywhere between .5 amps and 4.5 amps depending on the sun. My Xantrex XBM tells me I'm at 100% yet the solar panel is still putting out. Will an MPPT stop the charging at a certain state of charge..??

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post #6 of 12 Old 07-24-2007
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Halekai,

You would benefit from a MPPT controller. It stands for Max Power Point Tracking. It WILL increase the charging potential for your battery, 10-20% or so.

At that size solar panel, you should consider a Blue Sky... maybe a couple hundred bucks. You could probably even add a panel or two without too much fuss, if you have the money. Your setup is too small for an Outback.

Yes, it shuts off the charging and puts out the "extra power" as heat if there are no systems running. A good MPPT controller should be a must for every cruiser with solar today, in my opinion.

Here, talk to these guys. Ask for Ryan... Great people and very knowledgeable. http://store.solar-electric.com/index.html

- CD

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post #7 of 12 Old 07-24-2007
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Don't worry about it. Any reputable charge controller (like Trace/Xantrax, Outback, Blue Sky. Morningstar, etc) knows what it is about. One amp six hours a day is only six amp hours, not enuf to overpower most batteries. It IS enuf to compensate for self-discharge, small parasitic loads, and to undo damage by sulfation on the plates. A nominal twelve volt battery is really not 100% charged until about 14.4 V. Be especially aware of state-of-charge meters that rely on voltage readings instead of on amperage shunts.

Any PWM charger will taper and float without damage to your batteries -- IF you have it set for your type of battery. See if the manual mentions different bulk/absorb/float thresholds for flooded lead acid, sealed gel, AGM, and NiCads. For example, sealed gels should not be high-charged or equalized; NiCads require charging at higher voltages than other batteries. If you are really scared, flip the breaker to the PV. It can be dead-headed without harm.
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post #8 of 12 Old 07-24-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad View Post

Yes, it shuts off the charging and puts out the "extra power" as heat if there are no systems running. A good MPPT controller should be a must for every cruiser with solar today, in my opinion.

Here, talk to these guys. Ask for Ryan... Great people and very knowledgeable. http://store.solar-electric.com/index.html
A question concerning the MPPT conversion of "excess" solar power to heat: Where does that heat go? Would it make sense to mount the MPPT to the outside of the boat, like in a vented box under the panels themselves? Assuming I have a big bank and an intermittant draw (like refrigeration), is this ever likely to be a problem (the solar can never quite top off the battery banks with a draw going on, and the MPPT never therefore goes into "heat to amps" mode).

Basically, I am trying to determine if the sensible thing would be to rig a load triggered by full batteries, like a fan that turned on at 13.5 V or something, because the idea of putting a box that can get hot from a couple of hundred watts running through it inside a boat seems a little counter-intuitive.
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post #9 of 12 Old 07-24-2007
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Val,

Mine kicks on a fan internally. I did rig mine to be completely shut off easily with a switch. Doing so will put a small drain on the batteries, since the controller requires some power to run.

As far as the concern about it overheating the cabin, etc... I would not be too woried about it. Yes, until you are a LA/Cruiser, there is the real potential (like I have right now) that it will be severely underutilized. Turn it off if you are worried about it. However, once cruising, you will be always be taxing the system and the only heat you will be putting off is your frustration from the kids leaving all the lights on (in my experience).

I will see if I can get some pics for you soon so you can see how I set it up. I looked in my library and have no pics of the MX60. Sorry.

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post #10 of 12 Old 07-24-2007
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Umm Bob...that is not correct..I think you meant to discuss bulk charging...a 12V battery fully charged at rest is 12.7 V or a few hundreths +/-. The BULK charging rate for a 12V battery is 14.4 volts tapering to a float charge of 13-13.5V and just and amp or less of current.

Link to charge state paper with chart: http://www.batteryfaq.org/
As you can see...12.65-12.8V is fully charged depending on battery type.
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