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Old 29-10-2012, 02:33   #31
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

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Originally Posted by sailinglegend View Post
Many thanks for that - if only this would also "talk" to your alternator and your shorepower charger.

Come on all other manufacturers make some system that will do the charging job properly.
I am almost never connected to shore power, but I with an outback charger (which I have not got) you can also terminate the absorption phase with battery return amps.
The system will also activate a relay which could be used to control the alternator output.
As 99% of our energy is from solar I am happy with simple systems for the alternator and battery charger. Because I can see the return amps I can always terminate the charge of these systems anyway.

I agree with you about the charging. Many people with very sophisticated systems and expensive batteries have an inappropriate charging algorithm .
It would at least be nice if all the better solar controlers at least allowed the adjustment of parameters like absorption time.
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Old 29-10-2012, 06:44   #32
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post

I agree with you about the charging. Many people with very sophisticated systems and expensive batteries have an inappropriate charging algorithm .
It would at least be nice if all the better solar controlers at least allowed the adjustment of parameters like absorption time.
I install a lot of solar, alternator, wind, IC's & chargers. They all need proper programing to work and ideally folks need to understand how they work and how they use the boat in order to maximize absorption time charging.. Perhaps 98% of the external regulators I work on are improperly programmed and most often charging slower than simple a two stage, bulk/absorption dumb regulator would because they go from absorption to float far to early.

I had one boat with 675Ah's running a 1 hour absorption time on his solar controller. His panel was 1.2% of the bank. With that panel he really does not even need a float stage as he should never be able to hit it unless on a mooring for a long time. I extended his float and transition to float parameters on his IPN ProRemote and it made all the difference in the world, well, as much as you can do with 1.2% of "C".. As it was he was not hitting absorption voltage until the high 90's as a % of charge anyway. Even at that point an hour at absorption was pretty useless...

Battery chargers are the same and most don't allow any customizing, you get what you get.. You need to get into more sophisticated chargers to get the ability to program.

With the Blue Sky IPN ProRemote absorption times can be adjusted as can "transition to float". By adjusting these two parameters to fit your bank they can certainly work better and do not have what I call "premature efloatulation".

Often I will "prioritize" absorption voltages for customers so they don't drop out their highest current source when they hit absorption voltage. I also adjust float conditions so that premature efloatulation does not occur and slow the rate of charge. Premature efloatulation is one of my biggest pet peeves but I see it over, and over and over..... Ideally you don't even want to consider a float level voltage until the bank has attained 98% SOC or better.

This programming is simple to do and only requires the source with the highest output capability to have a voltage limit 0.1V higher than the others.. This prioritizing all depends on how the customer uses the boat and how they plan to use it.

Sometimes the solar array gets priority voltage and some times an alternator or big charger run off a gen set.. Just depends upon how the customer uses the boat. It also depends upon what the bank can "accept" as it enters absorption voltage with each of the differing sources. The state of charge when the bank hits absorption voltage is entirely dependent upon the sources available current. An alternator will hit absorption voltage on the bank far earlier, perhaps 75-85% SOC, than most solar or wind set ups. Solar or wind alone often don't hit absorption until the mid to high 90's (amperage dependent) so the alt often takes the priority voltage, when it is running..
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Old 29-10-2012, 06:46   #33
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

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To give you an example of the interference between sources, I cannot get a full charge on my batteries using my genset and battery charger. The genset has a 10 amp starting circuit alternator with a fixed regulator. It works fine when the battery is low and I get a full 50 amps, 10 amps out of the alternator circuit and 40 amps out of the charger. The problem is that the battery charger shuts down it's output every 10 minutes or so to measure the actual battery voltage, but the alternator circuit does not. The charger reads the voltage coming out of the alternator circuit as battery voltage and interprets this as fully charged and shuts down.
I am confused by your description. The way I read it is the generator has a small alternator on it connected to the starting battery for charging that battery and the AC output of the generator is used to power a battery charger to charge the house batteries.

How is the charger that is connected to the house batteries seeing the alternator voltage provided to the starter battery?

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Old 29-10-2012, 07:47   #34
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

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Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
Perhaps 98% of the external regulators I work on are improperly programmed.
I disagree. It's more like 99%

One thing I have noticed is the correct absorption time is very different on boats that get their power from generators compared with boats that get most of the power from solar.

The solar boats have a long slow build up to the absorption voltage and often spend a considerable period of time close to the absorption voltage, but until the set point is reached the time is not counted.
The generator equipped boats have a more rapid rise to absorption voltage and need a longer absorption time to get a complete charge.
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Old 29-10-2012, 08:12   #35
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

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I am confused by your description. The way I read it is the generator has a small alternator on it connected to the starting battery for charging that battery and the AC output of the generator is used to power a battery charger to charge the house batteries.

How is the charger that is connected to the house batteries seeing the alternator voltage provided to the starter battery?

Mark
You have actually recognized one of my problems. The guys who built my boat wired the genset start circuit to my house batteries, not the start batteries! This does give me 10 more amps for the bulk phase, but it causes the conflict with my charger. I would disconnect it from the house bank and move it to the start bank, but they buried the cables in a bunch of other cables and routed them through some pretty inaccessable locations. I think the must have put in the wiring before they mated the hull and deck. I may end up running new cable from the start batteries and just abandoning the old cables in place.

To address some issues from other posts. I have the IPN-Proremote with a shunt. I have modified the default settings to the ones recommended in the Concorde Lifeline technical manual, not the ones on the web site which are not corrected for temperature. What is not clear to me is though the IPN-pro remote measures the amperage going into the battery, does it feed this information back to the charge controller? I suspect it does not. Perhaps one of you knows? Given that some of the output from the regulator is actually used to support loads, I don't know how the regulator can ever put the proper charge in the battery without having all loads disconnected without input from the shunt.

One of the parameters that is set by the IPN-proremote is the size of the battery bank. This does not mean it knows the actual working capacity of the bank, just its nominal capacity. The IPN-Proremote is a battery monitor when equipped with the optional shunt and that shunt is installed properly. That is all loads and charging circuits must pass through the shunt, which is the way mine is set up.

I use my engine alternators for bulk charging. As the regulators are fixed at 14.2 volts, in all but the hottest battery temps they don't get the voltage high enough for a proper absorption phase. These are the standard Yanmar/Hitachi 55 amp alternators. From what I've read it is very difficult if not impossible to fit an external regulator to these units. I would have to buy new alternators designed for external regulators. Even then the external regulators would not "talk" to my other charging circuits. I guess there's probably not enough of a market to make these various systems talk over an NMEA 2000 bus and coordinate their outputs. Such a solution would mean that one was not limited to buying solutions from a single vendor even is one was available.
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Old 29-10-2012, 08:13   #36
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
....One thing I have noticed is the correct absorption time is very different on boats that get their power from generators compared with boats that get most of the power from solar...
Its simply to do with the energy available. Solar might give you a maximum of 20 amps so that's all the constant current charge available to raise the batteries to absorption voltage. An alternator might give you 100 amps so will get there quite quickly. My DC genny gives me 250 amps so gets to absorption almost immediately.
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Old 29-10-2012, 10:32   #37
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

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Originally Posted by Captain Bill View Post
.... I have the IPN-Proremote with a shunt. I have modified the default settings to the ones recommended in the Concorde Lifeline technical manual, not the ones on the web site which are not corrected for temperature....
One of Maine Sails comments that seemed to be tied into the problem you are having and what might solve it was....

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....This programming is simple to do and only requires the source with the highest output capability to have a voltage limit 0.1V higher than the others.. This prioritizing all depends on how the customer uses the boat and how they plan to use it. ..
I'm wondering if you have tried that?

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Old 29-10-2012, 11:13   #38
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

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Originally Posted by Sumner View Post
One of Maine Sails comments that seemed to be tied into the problem you are having and what might solve it was....



I'm wondering if you have tried that?

Sum

===================================
This assumes that your highest output charging source is programable, which in my case it is not. My solar puts out about 13 amps at peak and is fully programable. My charger had 40 amps of ouput and has an temperature compensated AGM setting, but is not otherwise programable. The Yanmar/Hitachi alternators have a combined output of 110 amps (though the most I've ever actually seen is 70 amps) but at a fixed maximum voltage 14.2 so not programable at all. To achieve Maine Sails ideal I would have to replace the alternators and install external programable regulators.
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Old 29-10-2012, 11:29   #39
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

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This assumes that your highest output charging source is programmable, which in my case it is not. My solar puts out about 13 amps at peak and is fully programmable. My charger had 40 amps of ouput and has an temperature compensated AGM setting, but is not otherwise programmable. The Yanmar/Hitachi alternators have a combined output of 110 amps (though the most I've ever actually seen is 70 amps) but at a fixed maximum voltage 14.2 so not programmable at all. To achieve Maine Sails ideal I would have to replace the alternators and install external program able regulators.
I was reading it to mean that if you know the max. voltage from the alternators is 14.2 that you could program the source from the solar above that since you can control that source with the remote. Maybe I'm not interpreting his comments right.

I started to read the manual for the remote and still have a lot to learn but did read the following ....

Quote:
Float Transition Current “Time in Acceptance” is an accepted method to determine when the battery is fully charged if net charge current is unknown. A preferred method provided by the IPN-ProRemote is to use net battery charge current matched to battery size in amp-hours. With the IPN-ProRemote the charge controller will consider the battery fully charged and to switch to Float if net battery current drops below the Float Transition Current setting while the battery is at the Acceptance voltage setpoint. The factory default Float Transition Current setting (Float current in the Battery Charge Parameters menu) of 1.5 amps per 100 amp-hours of battery capacity is suitable for most batteries. With the factory default Battery Amp-Hour setting of 220 amp-hours, the battery would be considered fully charged when net battery charge current decreases to less than 3.3 amps while at the Acceptance voltage setpoint.

To assure that net charge current is what determines when the battery is full, Charge Time should be increased to approximately 4 hours.
...and wondered if you have changed the one setting to 4 hours? That also might not have a bearing on your problem. Sounds like you have already spent a lot of time analyzing the problem and trying to solve it,

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Old 29-10-2012, 11:43   #40
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

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I was reading it to mean that if you know the max. voltage from the alternators is 14.2 that you could program the source from the solar above that since you can control that source with the remote. Maybe I'm not interpreting his comments right.

I started to read the manual for the remote and still have a lot to learn but did read the following ....

...and wondered if you have changed the one setting to 4 hours? That also might not have a bearing on your problem. Sounds like you have already spent a lot of time analyzing the problem and trying to solve it,

Sum

=========================================
The solar is currently set to 14.4 volts based on the current temperature of the batteries. As you noted that as soon as the unit switches to float voltage as soon as the amperage drops below the trip voltage. Based on a suggestion in another thread I've even reduced the trip amperage to zero. It does stay in absorption mode longer, but when the fridge is running and the load exceeds the output of the panels it still trips to float. I've never had it stay in float absorption mode than 30 minutes, no matter what the timing setting says.

Like I said before, I don't think the unit is working correctly.
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Old 29-10-2012, 11:57   #41
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

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...Like I said before, I don't think the unit is working correctly.
Probably the case. I just sent them an e-mail. Let me know if they contact you or post here or if they get back to me I'll PM you. Hopefully something will be resolved for you.

The more I read about the remote we might get one once some of our other expenses are out of the way. I don't know if it will really help us much as with the Endeavour I think we are now way over paneled and we should have no charging problems also what we have has been working very well on the Mac,

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Old 17-11-2012, 04:01   #42
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

Well I'm wondering if I've made the right decision. I have 6X50 watt panels that I know will see shade and so have bought 6 Gensun GV-4 MPPT controllers to match and plan to run them in parallel. (The panels are 17.6VCD) but after reading this I wonder how well they will perform since they are I believe a fairly basic MPPT controller.
The rep from Gensun said they won't interfere with eachother but I'm wondering about their charging algorithm and don't know if it can be modified by me if they go to float too fast.
Another thing is (I'm not trying to hijack this thread) these controllers use coded led flashes and do not have a fancy user control and screen. Will a good battery monitor tell me everything I need to know? Would it be worth while setting up 6 individual volt meters
With shunts to see what each panel is producing? Am I off my head here?
If this is too far off the OP's post I can take these questions to a new thread but thought they were relative.
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Old 17-11-2012, 04:36   #43
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

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Will a good battery monitor tell me everything I need to know?
You've got a good setup. A battery monitor (with shunt) would also be nice. It will show you the net current flowing into or out of the battery bank, whether from your solar controllers or alternator, and it will estimate the batteries' state of charge. However, it will not show the individual output of each Genasun controller. The LEDs on your Genasuns should indicate their charge modes. If you need to trouble shoot individual charge controllers you can use a clamp meter to check their current output.
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Old 17-11-2012, 07:56   #44
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

Mischief - good question!

I still can't get my head around how the 6 (or 4) controllers can do their thing without talking to each other. (with the exception of the Bluesky 2512)

With manufacturing intolerances, imperfect wiring etc etc.. It remains a mystery
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Old 17-11-2012, 08:23   #45
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Re: 4 Solar Controllers in Parallel?

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Well I'm wondering if I've made the right decision.
Your system will work fine.
I would certainly get a good battery monitor. It will tell you most of the information you want to know.

A clamp on multimeter is also a good investment. With this you can check the output from each controller/ panel without disconecting any wires. This is worth doing periodically to guard against a bad connection developing somewhere.

The battery monitor will tell you how much is going into or out of the batteries and importantly the AHrs, but a single ammeter showing the total amp output from the solar panels would be useful extra information.
Individual ammeters for each panel would do the same thing and are available cheaply on eBay, but they would require a lot of instalation for not much extra information.
Individual voltmeters won't tell you much.
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