Dreadlocks outfitting of InTech Discover

dreadlocks

Well-known member
Rode nice and solid over Monarch Pass twice, no problem.. and we needed all the solar this last weekend.

Used >2kWh Friday and Saturday, was one of my son's birthday so we had a lil party and used the ice maker a bunch during the day when the battery was charged, but once the sun stopped charging on Friday we ran the microwave a few times, had the radio going, had a crockpot running on high, I tuned the LP pressure for the Propex furnace so it'd run right and that involved a ton of testing and running, then that night I charged up the laptop and all the electronics while I ran only the propex w/no wave heater to offset the power needs because I wanted to test if it'd fault.. I woke up to 20.4% SOC, just before the cutoff at 20%.. so I figured I'd fire up the generator real quick to make my coffee and add some amps back in but come to find my generator which just got out of the shop for a few recalls and I never tested would not start.. I really needed my coffee so I hit the reserve battery over-ride and when I was fully awake the battery was at 14% SOC.

With solar alone and my backup out of commission, by 11am I had it back up to 40% SOC and I knew where to put the portable panel so it'd be in the sun all day, thankfully we had a really good site for solar, we fired up the crockpot on low for day 2 of slow cooking our pork and went out for 5h of trail driving, came back at 4pm to a full battery and the solar feeding max 30A.

So 86AH overnight use, fully replenished + cooking food with my two panels and good sunshine.. Now to get that 2nd 30A SmartSolar and wire up both panels independently, with em both on the same charger its obvious that one is almost always cutting out the other unless they are both seeing identical lighting conditions.. should really increase performance when the sun is not being as cooperative as it was this weekend.
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I also managed to get the Propex to run all night long, took a lot of trial and error but after everything else failed tuning it onsite was the only way.. I think I may add my own pressure gauge to this just to make on the fly tuning in the field a lot easier than shooting in the dark.

Ice maker was totally awesome, using the extra solar power to make ice.. doggos got ice, kiddos drank more water, temps were hot and humidity was below 14% (where my gauge stops reading) extra went to filling up my dad's cooler.
 

ITTOG

Well-known member
Quote
Now to get that 2nd 30A SmartSolar and wire up both panels independently, with em both on the same charger its obvious that one is almost always cutting out the other unless they are both seeing identical lighting conditions.
Quote

Are you indicating if the panels aren't producing the same amount of power then the one producing less does not add any power.

Sent from my Pixel 3a XL using Tapatalk
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
yeah thats exactly what happens, the weaker panel would drag down the stronger one so the internal bypass diodes cut it out.. say I'm seeing 100W out of the roof panel, then I plug in the portable one in slightly better conditions, I'll see like 150W.. clearly with two panels in different environments one is getting bypassed on a singular solar charger.. If I had em on seperate ones I'd be getting 250W combined instead of 150W either/or.

If your doing like me w/both fixed and portable, you'll want 2 solar chargers.. I've been planning for it from the beginning.. each solar panel at max output @ 13V is ~25A so its pretty easy for em both combined to cap out this singular charger too.. I'll have even more available power in great solar conditions, enough I can start considering charging electric recreational vehicles (bikes/boats) w/a kWh or two of needs.
 
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dreadlocks

Well-known member
On the subject of the 2nd solar charger, I mis-spoke.. my next SmartSolar is going to be the 50A variant.. with the intentions to wire that one up to both my portable panel and my 48v AC Power Supply, with its output limited to 40A.. to further reduce generator runtime by quick charging my LFP as quickly as (is safely) possible w/a fully programmable charger.. I will then unwire the onboard dumb CCV charger but keep it in place for a backup.

I tested using the Solar Charger as an AC/DC supply and it worked great with my DIY Diode box, but had one failure issue that will be addressed by having two seperate charge controllers.. the problem is my panels are higher voltage than the shore supply, so the diode box does not give priority to shore charging.. so to quick charge off shore power I unplugged the solar panel, but then if the trailer got unplugged accidentally the solar charger drained the battery slowly.. thats not good long term, to address this I could feed a higher voltage than the solar panels (>70VDC) which is hard to find or would require two 48v units in a series but when shore power was lost it'd fail back to solar.. or I can just unplug the portable panel very easy since its not buried in a wiring box when on shore power and I want to quick charge asap on generator and keep priority to solar otherwise.. which I think I prefer, because even if I unplug one panel the other is still wired up if shore power is lost.. and if I leave it plugged in the shore power will only kick in at night or if everything is covered in snow when the solar cant provide baseloads, allowing me to run like my GMRS Repeater and APRS Digi out of the camper entirely off solar w/backup shore power mostly leaving the battery alone just floating along.. tha'd be super nice at both home and if we buy some mountain property that this gets parked on.
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
Fixed my Genset today, the jet was clogged up despite me running ethanol free w/stabil storage added.. musta forgot to run the carb dry last time used it, doh.

So now I have a small needle and an 8mm wrench duct taped inside the generator cover so if this ever happens again in the field I can fix it..

On the subject, I'm torn if I should rejet this or not.. on one hand, its used mostly at high altitude, but very short runs just for the battery when solar aint cutting it.. but on the other hand I'll be using the genset for days on end in the southern latitudes for AirCon and I dont want to have to rejet this all the time.. If I fail/forget to rejet for sea-level I risk running lean and burning up a piston which is real bad, at altitude it runs rich, but otherwise fine.. I'm leaning towards just keeping this tuned for sealevel and changing the oil more frequently since its likely getting polluted by fuel running rich at 9-10kft
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
yes and nope.. the wire is marine (tinned so wont corrode), and the higher voltage means lower current.. no need to protect anything from the elements..
 

Jman99

Member
yes and nope.. the wire is marine (tinned so wont corrode), and the higher voltage means lower current.. no need to protect anything from the elements..
Is there a concern for electric shock? I thought about long cable runs with high voltage with multiply joins with anderson plugs, but in wet grass etc I dunno?
 

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dreadlocks

Well-known member
no, andersons are short safe.. you'd have to purposefully be pretty damn stupid to shock yer selves with em.. my only concern for shock was when I was cutting the plugs of the panels and trying to crimp on mine to hot wires.. didnt get shocked either.

You greatly over-estimate the conductivity of nature, its not raining salt water thankfully.. DC and Fresh water dont really have issues existing together once you account for corrosion.. also keep in mind its just hooked up to a solar panel, not a battery.. the amount of energy at its disposal is considerably less.. a panel that has max 5A of current at its disposal is not the same danger as say a big battery bank with hundreds of amps of current at its disposal.
 

Jman99

Member
yeah thats exactly what happens, the weaker panel would drag down the stronger one so the internal bypass diodes cut it out.. say I'm seeing 100W out of the roof panel, then I plug in the portable one in slightly better conditions, I'll see like 150W.. clearly with two panels in different environments one is getting bypassed on a singular solar charger.. If I had em on seperate ones I'd be getting 250W combined instead of 150W either/or.
Wouldn't the weaker panel have produce it's near rated voc even in average light conds and simply contribute what it can? I don't see why one is getting bypassed so much?
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
with any load on it (the charger) the voltage gets pulled down below that of the stronger panel and cut out.. without the diodes the weaker panel would drag all the other panels down to its performance level..

 

Jman99

Member
So your two panels are in series. I would guess you wan't the higher voltage for long distances with panel placment? My cables start out at 20M... some up to 40M....all so I can get to those small patches of sunlight.
 

Jman99

Member
This thread has made me want to get a large 25yr warrenty sunpower 400watt and ditch the portable panels, just no darn room to mount them.
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
The cells within the panel itself are in a series, and the panels are in parallel.. but the effect is the same, you cut out a series of cells within the panel and its voltage is now lower than the other panel and the diode blocks the current from flowing from the higher powered panel to the lower, cutting it out.
 
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