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Old 29-08-2012, 12:17   #91
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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Ok... the reading off the + alternator lead is 1.59 to 1.78 amps with the genny off.
With the genny running and the inv/charger off, 1.59 amps
With the genny running and the inv/charger on, 1.08 amps

Does this indicate a short?
take the field wire off and see if it is still showing a draw.
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Old 29-08-2012, 12:28   #92
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

Interesting. There shouldn't be any current on the alternator cable unless the alternator is running.

How many wires on the back of your alternator? Is it just the main power cable, or are there smaller control wires? If so, have you also measured current on those?

What I'm digging for is whether this is an internal regulator or external, and the type of regulator.
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Old 29-08-2012, 12:38   #93
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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The suspense is killing me. Where is all your juice going? Have you explored the alternator issue yet? What is your load when you shut everything off? Do you still have a big drain going somewhere else?


With everything turned off at the DC panel the reading on the Xantrex is -0.8

From the Xantrex by switching individual circuits on and off it's clear that the Isotherm fridge/freezer is the biggest guzzler at -6.8 to -7.5 amps
The top loading fridge is next at -4.2 to -5.2 amps
The 12v outlets about -2 amps because I've got my computer plugged in.

I guess I need to deduct the -0.8 from the above figures to get the actual amps the items are using.

There don't seem to be too many mysteries here. The13.2 amps is easily accounted for. We're freezing ourselves out of existence!
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Old 29-08-2012, 12:48   #94
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

The mystery would be why the fridges seem to be running 100% of the time. That is unusual.
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Old 29-08-2012, 13:00   #95
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

it might be an idea to turn off the isotherm,and just use the top loading fridge on its lowest setting .
and get yourself a chest type freezer rated at 4amps.

then rebuild the onboard freezer as and when.
this should get your domestic use down to ~6 amps/150 AH,which is about all you will have with 4 solar panels effectively
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Old 29-08-2012, 13:06   #96
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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The mystery would be why the fridges seem to be running 100% of the time. That is unusual.
Good point.
We're in much cooler conditions now than we were in Key West or the Cayman Islands.

The Isotherm fridge/freezer is built in and there is a small fan, not part of the Isotherm, that was fitted to make sure air circulates to the back. It's only small but runs 24/7. It's on the same circuit as the Isotherm so it's current useage would be included in the Isotherm reading.
If the back is not getting cool enough would it 'think' it's in a hot climate and keep running?

At night we'd have some lights going so maybe they make up for the fridge cut off times. They are LEDs.
I'm going to try turning the top loading fridge off overnight.
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Old 29-08-2012, 13:10   #97
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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it might be an idea to turn off the isotherm,and just use the top loading fridge on its lowest setting .
and get yourself a chest type freezer rated at 4amps.

then rebuild the onboard freezer as and when.
this should get your domestic use down to ~6 amps/150 AH,which is about all you will have with 4 solar panels effectively
This could be an easy option to try. We already have a freezer under the galley floor that I turned off back in the Caymans because we didn't need it and the Isotherm too.
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Old 29-08-2012, 13:14   #98
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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Originally Posted by VirtualVagabond View Post
This could be an easy option to try. We already have a freezer under the galley floor that I turned off back in the Caymans because we didn't need it and the Isotherm too.
WAECO CR-50 STAINLESS STEEL FINISH 48LTR UPRIGHT FRIDGE
these are great and use about 3 amps or less at -18c.
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Old 29-08-2012, 13:23   #99
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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Interesting. There shouldn't be any current on the alternator cable unless the alternator is running.

How many wires on the back of your alternator? Is it just the main power cable, or are there smaller control wires? If so, have you also measured current on those?

What I'm digging for is whether this is an internal regulator or external, and the type of regulator.
The positive has the heavy cable I took the readings from, and a much lighter red wire attached to the same terminal. The neg also has a lighter black wire sharing it's terminal.

Then there is a white wire that is attached to one of the bolts that hold the alternator together, like you'd attach an earth/grounding wire. Between the + and - terminals there is a plug into the alternator that has a white and a blue wire going into it.
The alternator is a Balmar.
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Old 29-08-2012, 13:48   #100
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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Originally Posted by VirtualVagabond View Post
The positive has the heavy cable I took the readings from, and a much lighter red wire attached to the same terminal. The neg also has a lighter black wire sharing it's terminal.

Then there is a white wire that is attached to one of the bolts that hold the alternator together, like you'd attach an earth/grounding wire. Between the + and - terminals there is a plug into the alternator that has a white and a blue wire going into it.
The alternator is a Balmar.
the white and blue plug will be your speedo and field wires.
pull it out see if the current changes,you still have 0.8a to account for with every thing off
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Old 29-08-2012, 14:00   #101
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

Yep, the blue wire is your field wire, so you can check to make sure it has zero current. The mysterious red wire is probably going into the same harness as the blue and white wires, right? It's the power wire for the regulator. The funny white wire on a bolt on the side is probably the temperature sensor, also heading back to the regulator.

There should be no current in any of the wires unless it turns out that the extra small red wire is going somewhere else. I've just discovered that my boat was wired with the alternator positive cable coming from the alternator to the starter (in a 5 foot run, even though they're a foot away), then two wires leave from the starter, one going to the battery switch, and the other going to the DC panel! So your 1.5 amps could be going down your battery cable to the alternator, then off to somewhere legitimate along the thin red wire.
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Old 29-08-2012, 14:01   #102
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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WAECO CR-50 STAINLESS STEEL FINISH 48LTR UPRIGHT FRIDGE
these are great and use about 3 amps or less at -18c.
This one is an Engel Portable Refrigerator, top loading unit, 12v, not very big internally and probably meant for camping and 4WD because it's plugged into the 12v socket system.

The built in top loading fridge appears to be a Waeco Cold Machine judging from the manual I found here. The actual cooling unit is a Coolmatic. The pump unit says Danfoss and is German made.
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Old 29-08-2012, 14:14   #103
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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Originally Posted by VirtualVagabond View Post
This one is an Engel Portable Refrigerator, top loading unit, 12v, not very big internally and probably meant for camping and 4WD because it's plugged into the 12v socket system.

The built in top loading fridge appears to be a Waeco Cold Machine judging from the manual I found here. The actual cooling unit is a Coolmatic. The pump unit says Danfoss and is German made.
waeco and engel are the same company,really good low draw fridges.

as these fridges are air cooled it might be an idea to give the condensor radiator a good clean with soapy water,also the fan,the forced air unit becomes clogged with dust making it inefficient./

sounds like your under floor unit is similar to the one i suggested,give the fan a clean and use it instead of the boat freezer.
it should cycle at 2-3 amps,so will reduce you power consumption by 100ah per day!
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Old 29-08-2012, 14:29   #104
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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the white and blue plug will be your speedo and field wires.
pull it out see if the current changes,you still have 0.8a to account for with every thing off
Current in the big red cable with the plug out is 1.88 amps, so no real difference there.
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Old 29-08-2012, 14:42   #105
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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Originally Posted by cwyckham View Post
Yep, the blue wire is your field wire, so you can check to make sure it has zero current. The mysterious red wire is probably going into the same harness as the blue and white wires, right? It's the power wire for the regulator. The funny white wire on a bolt on the side is probably the temperature sensor, also heading back to the regulator.

There should be no current in any of the wires unless it turns out that the extra small red wire is going somewhere else. I've just discovered that my boat was wired with the alternator positive cable coming from the alternator to the starter (in a 5 foot run, even though they're a foot away), then two wires leave from the starter, one going to the battery switch, and the other going to the DC panel! So your 1.5 amps could be going down your battery cable to the alternator, then off to somewhere legitimate along the thin red wire.
The blue wire reads 3.16 amps while the plug is in the alternator, and 1.52 amps when I unplugged it. (I always take a few readings to make sure I'm getting the reading fairly consistently.)
This a long way from zero!
The red wire does go into the same harness.

The 'brain', regulator? for the Balmar usually has red numbers on it's screen. It's showing nothing now, as though it's turned off.
I didn't notice when the readings stopped. It may have been when I disconnected the leads yesterday.
I reconnected the leads this morning and left them connected all day... they still are. How do I get the regulator to come back to work?

The intersting thing is that the alternator is cool now.
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