Solar Diagnosis Help Please

DesertBoater

Adventurer
So I woke up this morning to the little red light on my fridge blinking angrily and the temperature reading a couple degrees above where it should be. After coffee, I started poking around my battery compartment and found that my battery bank was waaay low... Hmmm. I have been conscious of where I park as to attain maximum solar capture so I concluded that wasn't the issue. After the second cup of coffee, the volt meter came out and I discovered that my two main panels were only putting off 5-6 volts...not good at all. Does anyone with more solar knowledge have any ideas/suggestions? I'd really rather not replace panels, but if I can't charge batteries, that seems like the only option as I'm currently living out of my truck for the summer...thoughts?

Cheers,
West
 

Haf-E

Expedition Leader
Did you completely disconnect the two solar modules when you made the measurement?

It could be some failed "bypass" diodes - they are not really important in a low voltage application and can be cut out if they are accessible - on many modules they are in the wiring compartment / junction box on the back of the module. On some modules that box is glued closed and has to be cut open to get to them - which will void the warranty and such - but if the choice is tossing them modules what's to lose?

What brand / model of solar module are these? They usually have a long warranty - although some companies can be extremely hard to track down for warranty service.
 

DesertBoater

Adventurer
Thanks for the quick reply!! The panels (4, two of one type and two of another) were on the camper when I bought it and have no markings on the tops. Thus i have no idea what size/brand they are. The two sets are routed through separate charge controllers as they're different sizes. The two larger ones look like sunsaver 40w models and the other two I think are Kyocera 20w models. I haven't removed them from the camper yet, that's the next step.
 

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JIMBO

Expedition Leader
:sombrero: Not much of a story--solar panels don't work at night and actually only provide solar 12VDC at 80% efficiency for about 4 hours of DIRECT SUNLIGHT-


So I woke up this morning to the little red light on my fridge blinking angrily and the temperature reading a couple degrees above where it should be. After coffee, I started poking around my battery compartment and found that my battery bank was waaay low... Hmmm. I have been conscious of where I park as to attain maximum solar capture so I concluded that wasn't the issue. After the second cup of coffee, the volt meter came out and I discovered that my two main panels were only putting off 5-6 volts...not good at all. Does anyone with more solar knowledge have any ideas/suggestions? I'd really rather not replace panels, but if I can't charge batteries, that seems like the only option as I'm currently living out of my truck for the summer...thoughts?

Cheers,
West
Need more info on your previous days use/positions/circuits--

:costumed-smiley-007:wings: JIMBO
 

jimi breeze

jimi breeze
Have you ever taken voltage readings before? if so what did you get?
When trouble shooting, I first always go back to the last thing I did. Usually I find the problem there. Did you bump, disconnect, use the battery differently, ect?
 

camper357

Observer
Not much of a post. Try reading the original post before you chime in with worthless comments.

:sombrero: Not much of a story--solar panels don't work at night and actually only provide solar 12VDC at 80% efficiency for about 4 hours of DIRECT SUNLIGHT-




Need more info on your previous days use/positions/circuits--

:costumed-smiley-007:wings: JIMBO
 

madmax718

Explorer
Im gonna ask the really obvious question.. did you see if the panels have any dirt on them? Sometimes windex and a paper towel will work some wonders.
 

DesertBoater

Adventurer
I climbed up on the roof yesterday and cleaned them to no avail. I then started sticking my multimeter anywhere I could get contact with wire to figure out if it was the wiring between the panel and the controller or the panels themselves. This also included cutting the wires a few inches from the panels, as there is a junction/splice (for whatever reason) behind one of the lift panels that I couldn't get to. I found that that one of the panels is putting out the correct voltage, and the other was not putting out anything. Both panels are mounted right next to each other, were in full sun, and recently cleaned. I'm hoping to have a friend double check what I've done just so that I know I'm not missing something, but at this point it looks like a new panel is the answer.

As I mentioned before, the camper came to me with two separate sets of panels wired into one controller. I have since separated the panels onto different controllers for the sake of efficiency. I'd really like to simplify the system, and if I'm going to be replacing a panel, now seems like the time to do it. My plan at this point is to remove all panels and replace the whole shebang with one (maybe two) that are identical, and mount the way that I'd like them to. Anyone have recommendations for a single rigid panel (possibly two depending on wattage) totaling 120-150 watts?

Cheers,
West
 

JIMBO

Expedition Leader
:sombrero: I'm not to happy/w solid panels mounted on a truck/camper/trailer, because it's too difficult to keep the panels in full sun, but


I climbed up on the roof yesterday and cleaned them to no avail. I then started sticking my multimeter anywhere I could get contact with wire to figure out if it was the wiring between the panel and the controller or the panels themselves. This also included cutting the wires a few inches from the panels, as there is a junction/splice (for whatever reason) behind one of the lift panels that I couldn't get to. I found that that one of the panels is putting out the correct voltage, and the other was not putting out anything. Both panels are mounted right next to each other, were in full sun, and recently cleaned. I'm hoping to have a friend double check what I've done just so that I know I'm not missing something, but at this point it looks like a new panel is the answer.

As I mentioned before, the camper came to me with two separate sets of panels wired into one controller. I have since separated the panels onto different controllers for the sake of efficiency. I'd really like to simplify the system, and if I'm going to be replacing a panel, now seems like the time to do it. My plan at this point is to remove all panels and replace the whole shebang with one (maybe two) that are identical, and mount the way that I'd like them to. Anyone have recommendations for a single rigid panel (possibly two depending on wattage) totaling 120-150 watts?

Cheers,
West
You might check/w Adventure Trailers, they have some flexible multiwatt panels that have been proven in different climate/environment uses-

The 60w rigid panel I've been using for over 5 years isn't hardmounted, so I'm able to keep it in full sun, including morning and afternoon, so my trailer battery's always topped---

Good luck

:costumed-smiley-007:wings: JIMBO
 

Rando

Explorer
If you do end up replacing your panels, one thing to consider is that solar panels are cheap (now), so if you have the roof area oversize your panels so you don't have to think about parking in the correct orientation or setting them up and storing them. Solarblvd generally has competitive prices, two 100W panels and an appropriate charge controller (assuming your current one won't work with 200W of solar) can be had for well under $400.
 

JIMBO

Expedition Leader
:sombrero: Heh Heh, could be both, but


Homie are you drunk or just plain stupid? He said the panels are putting out 5 to 6 volts. What would that have to do with yesterdays solar panel position?
You're never gonna be intelligent/smart enough to know and actually--

You ain't gotta need to know !

Since your self imposed importance here, has nothing to do with the ops question, since you've offered nothing of value-

Our conversation is finite

:ylsmoke: JIMBO
 

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madmax718

Explorer
If one panel is putting out full power.. and the other one has no power- (what is full power anyways in this config?) Its possible that the second panel has failed, and they are wired in a way where if one panel fails, the other cannot push the power through properly.
 

JIMBO

Expedition Leader
:sombrero: There's also the possibility that you may have SERIE'D the two panels and the controller is blocking the 13/14vdc charging voltage, because of a possible 44/45vdc input-

My single 60 watter will gen 23.5vdc in full light, but the controller drops it to 13+vdc for charging !

Lotta checks to make !

Good luck

:costumed-smiley-007:wings: JIMBO
 
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