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Old 27-01-2015, 17:27   #16
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Re: Solar, Batteries, Power and what the heck am I doing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by masterolive View Post
This absolutely helped. Im special in the department where using simple examples make more sense, and I totally understand the compressed air concept.
It looks to me that In order to truly understand my system I need a battery monitor or amp reader so I can see exactly how much is going in, stored, and being taken out. simple.

I monitor my volt meter and solar charger and make sure the solar charger never displays %50 or that the voltage doesn't go below 12.0-3. On what seems to be a good day, my meter will show 13.1volts. After steadily using it thought the day, I end the day with the meter reading 12.7. Should I be seeing 14v or 15v on my volt meter? I have to save gas and cant just charge my batts all day yet because I am in haiti.
I started the voyage a month ago, and Ive been carefully making sure my batteries dont go below 70% but Ive never fully charged them since. I intend to but I cant at this time.

for battery isolators, does a battery switch count? I have the solar charge output connected to the common terminal. since Im living on the hook now, I have all terminals open.

Alot of people told me this today, about getting the DC adaptor cords for my devices and that is the first thing I want to look into. If I completely bypass the inverter by getting DC cords and outlets, will my DC switch panel be able to power a game system or small tv if I plug them into a DC Outlet connected to a 15amp breaker?
or will I have to look into another DC/inverter type of device?
Thankyou so much for your reply.



Unfortunetly I cannot purchase one at this time, but this seems to be the answer to everything if I truly want to see what my power is doing :/ money is scarce and so is cooking propain and gas if im lucky enough to afford turning my engine on to act as a small generator.

That battery monitor along with DC Outlets and replacement cords are on by buy list. Its getting to the point where I may have to sail back to the USA to work on all this.



Do you mind giving me a link to your computer or where you purchased it? Is is specially designed to run at low power while being able to run games or edit movies? I have a power house mac book pro, i7, 16gb ram, 1.5T hard drive, Its a work horse and it provides exceptional results for my movie editing photos and gaming, but its been used and abused so much It has no re-sell value. Someday Ill have to completley 1UP mself and get the latest and greatest laptop like I did in 2011, so Im interested if this "low power consumption" is a special feature for specific laptops.
Thanks for the reply.
My laptop is a Toshiba, nothing special. The latest i5 and i7 CPUs from Intel throttle way down on CPU cycles, cores and power consumption when not doing video rendering or graphics. I think most new laptops are also LED backlight, which not only lasts a long time, but uses less power. A lot of laptops have a 9 cell battery available, which increases run time by 50%.


To be honest, I don't have an ammeter on either of my solar systems because I usually have a surplus of power, so I can be pretty wasteful.

The smaller system has 2 x 205watt panels on a 20 amp MPPT controller. The controller has a rated input of 300 w of solar, but you rarely get full power and a setup like this produces much closer to full power under low light or winter conditions.

What I end up getting is about 16-18 amps in the winter instead of 10-12 amps, and 22 amps in the summer, instead of 20 amps. As long as you don't exceed the Voc of the controller, it can handle it.

The larger system has about 475w of panels on a 25 amp controller. Since my batteries are fully charged by 9 or 9:30 am, I decided to add a portable 40 lb ice maker. I run it during daylight hours and it makes 20 lbs of ice per day. It's really nice having plenty of fresh ice for drinks all day long, then I dump the excess into the beer cooler. The net result is I open the fridge and freezer much less often because the ice and beer are not in them, so they use less power.

The drawback is all of my neighbors know where the ice cold drinks and beer are located! LOL
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Old 27-01-2015, 22:21   #17
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Re: Solar, Batteries, Power and what the heck am I doing?

Quote:
I don't know what 12.0-3 means.
sry, in short I meant to say that I pull back on power consumption when I see the volt meter go down to 12.0 to 12.3 under load.

Thanks for that table btw, thats awesome. IDK if its the best way to judge without a amp meter but my volt meter usually reads 12.7 at night so I think its safe to assume that my power consumption is maintained good enough.

Quote:
My laptop is a Toshiba, nothing special. The latest i5 and i7 CPUs from Intel throttle way down on CPU cycles, cores and power consumption when not doing video rendering or graphics. I think most new laptops are also LED backlight, which not only lasts a long time, but uses less power. A lot of laptops have a 9 cell battery available, which increases run time by 50%.


To be honest, I don't have an ammeter on either of my solar systems because I usually have a surplus of power, so I can be pretty wasteful.

The smaller system has 2 x 205watt panels on a 20 amp MPPT controller. The controller has a rated input of 300 w of solar, but you rarely get full power and a setup like this produces much closer to full power under low light or winter conditions.

What I end up getting is about 16-18 amps in the winter instead of 10-12 amps, and 22 amps in the summer, instead of 20 amps. As long as you don't exceed the Voc of the controller, it can handle it.

The larger system has about 475w of panels on a 25 amp controller. Since my batteries are fully charged by 9 or 9:30 am, I decided to add a portable 40 lb ice maker. I run it during daylight hours and it makes 20 lbs of ice per day. It's really nice having plenty of fresh ice for drinks all day long, then I dump the excess into the beer cooler. The net result is I open the fridge and freezer much less often because the ice and beer are not in them, so they use less power.

The drawback is all of my neighbors know where the ice cold drinks and beer are located! LOL
SWEET. My vessel (among the other two Im partnered with) is the only one with a working Fridge unit and its great. I can run it almost all day if I start off with a full charge.
Any tips on fridge insulating?
Unfortunately the previous owner installed this unit into the side of the Icebox so its deep. (about 2 1/2 ft deep and 17inch wide) I don't know if its the set up or if its just how it is, but I have trouble keeping anything cool once I turn it off for the night. (Compared to how cold a small beer cooler will keep overnight)

The ice box is insulated all around, but Ive felt a slight slight bit of cool air behind the wall where the unit was cut and fit into so Ive stuffed it.
There is a lip halfway down the ice box that Ive placed 1 1/2 inch marine grade wood on top of, Ive lined the lip with windshield reflector to help make a better seal. Ive also placed some foam at the very bottom of the icebox to create dead air space. The icebox cover is covered in more windshield reflector and is completely sealed when shut, but still it doesn't seem to keep cool as long as I want it to the next day.

Im paranoid about this battery stuff so Ive never run my fridge long enough to see if it turns itself off. the longest ive run it was probably 4 hours before I shut it down.

Anyways, I appreciate the help.
the volt chart, links, and the Scuba air tank example really helped me out.
Since I only have 1 solar panel, and my "Surplus" can only come from running my engine, I will have to continue picking and choosing what days I would want to charge laptops or run the fridge so I can keep my batteries charged up lol.
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Old 28-01-2015, 00:13   #18
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Re: Solar, Batteries, Power and what the heck am I doing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by masterolive View Post
sry, in short I meant to say that I pull back on power consumption when I see the volt meter go down to 12.0 to 12.3 under load.

Thanks for that table btw, thats awesome. IDK if its the best way to judge without a amp meter but my volt meter usually reads 12.7 at night so I think its safe to assume that my power consumption is maintained good enough.



SWEET. My vessel (among the other two Im partnered with) is the only one with a working Fridge unit and its great. I can run it almost all day if I start off with a full charge.
Any tips on fridge insulating?
Unfortunately the previous owner installed this unit into the side of the Icebox so its deep. (about 2 1/2 ft deep and 17inch wide) I don't know if its the set up or if its just how it is, but I have trouble keeping anything cool once I turn it off for the night. (Compared to how cold a small beer cooler will keep overnight)

The ice box is insulated all around, but Ive felt a slight slight bit of cool air behind the wall where the unit was cut and fit into so Ive stuffed it.
There is a lip halfway down the ice box that Ive placed 1 1/2 inch marine grade wood on top of, Ive lined the lip with windshield reflector to help make a better seal. Ive also placed some foam at the very bottom of the icebox to create dead air space. The icebox cover is covered in more windshield reflector and is completely sealed when shut, but still it doesn't seem to keep cool as long as I want it to the next day.

Im paranoid about this battery stuff so Ive never run my fridge long enough to see if it turns itself off. the longest ive run it was probably 4 hours before I shut it down.

Anyways, I appreciate the help.
the volt chart, links, and the Scuba air tank example really helped me out.
Since I only have 1 solar panel, and my "Surplus" can only come from running my engine, I will have to continue picking and choosing what days I would want to charge laptops or run the fridge so I can keep my batteries charged up lol.
If you do a search for "aerogel" on the forum, you'll find a couple of great threads about this amazing but expensive insulation. When I get a boat, I plan on rebuilding the original fridge/freezer with that for greatly increased insulation.

You never mentioned what brand of solar controller you have or if you have room for a 2nd 100watt panel. Also, don't forget to add in a battery isolator. You might be better served putting some of your loads on one set of batteries and some on the other set, based on which batteries have more capacity and which loads are the biggest.

I usually tell people that 2 x 6v golf cart batteries are roughly the equivalent of 3 x 60 lb deep cycle batteries. They're usually rated at about 220 AH ea, so with 4 of them you have 440 AH, 220 AH of which is usable. I'd be really surprised if your 2 deep cycles are that powerful, unless they're bigger than 60 lb.

You shouldn't have any problems running your fridge at night, too. Again, I try to have enough solar to run everything AND top off the batteries before sundown, after which the batteries can handle the loads.
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Old 28-01-2015, 01:09   #19
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Re: Solar, Batteries, Power and what the heck am I doing?

we struggled with 240w of solar but with 320w we could sail mostly non stop without using the egine or other means to recharge, and i mean autopilot gps nav lights(led) fridge etc
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Old 28-01-2015, 12:31   #20
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Re: Solar, Batteries, Power and what the heck am I doing?

i have a volts/amps digital meter, that i live by, and after 20+ yrs, i still go by the volt reading...never let the volts get below 12.2/the given 50% level, then kick in the batt charger! extends the batt life! [it`s even in my 20 yr old nigel calder book] amazon, and probley many other web sites sell the 12 power supply/batt charger for boats/cars...look for a 12v dc automobile computer batt charger, etc...just put the number and name of the computer into amazon, look for the ones with the 12v cigar lighter plug on the business end from the computer power plug...been running mine that way for eons! got tired of the humm/fan noise of the inverter...clyde
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Old 28-01-2015, 12:40   #21
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Re: Solar, Batteries, Power and what the heck am I doing?

@ socaledmax

I will look into that insulator, thanks for that!

as for my solar panels, I have a RENOGY 100W panel with a RENOGY 10CC controller.
the controllers specs are
Nominal system voltage 12v/24v auto recognition
rated charge current 10 A
rated load current 10 A
max solar input voltage 42v
max PV INPUT power 120w (12v), 240W (24v)

I've got 4 6vs and isolated my 2 deep cycles for engine only. I expected the worst and wanted to be prepared, but I discovered it takes nothing to start my engine, and now that I am on the hook and finished the voyage, I figured I could use ALL the batts for more "JUICE"

I don't have a hard top bimany, if I did I've already factored in that I could easily add 2 more 100ws to make 300w, or two of the new 250w panels from RENOGY to make up 500w. but that's in my dream world where I pretend to have money lol. I realize I would need a bigger solar charger if I did that as well.

@steven & socaledmax

I've NEVER struggled with power YET. I've run GPS, auto pilot, radio, nav lights (LED) and kept cellphone charged the whole 9day trip. and even now on the hook, I've never struggled with power and now I'm running the water pump whenever needed, charging cellphones, and lights at night.
I occasionally pick a day to chill a drink in the fridge and sacrifice charging laptops for that day. one or the other.

Its not that I cant run them both, my main issue is fear of damaging my batteries. I'm kinda out on a limb here. I wonder if I can get more out of my batts than I think. better safe than sorry I'd say, but I want to bring up two hypothetical examples so I can have some reassurance. (and help me understand power ratings with just a volt meter.

first off, I follow everyone's advice and switch off my deep cycles.
1. normally I would never do this, but let's just say, my golf batts are close to a full charge at the end of the day and the meter reads 12.7 - 13.0 with no load. like max suggested, I run the fridge at night. at what number should i turn off the fridge, and what is a healthy number the meter should read without a load?

2. same situation but during a bright sunny day with solar charge. what's a golden number i should taper off from using more devices, and what is a healthy number the meter should read if I turn everything off during the day?

thanks for everyone's help. I really feel like I've learned more about this. in the future I will work forwards getting an amp meter and better stuff, but for now I'd like to understand my setup with what I have at my disposal, a volt meter. :/
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Old 28-01-2015, 12:50   #22
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Re: Solar, Batteries, Power and what the heck am I doing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by clyde View Post
i have a volts/amps digital meter, that i live by, and after 20+ yrs, i still go by the volt reading...never let the volts get below 12.2/the given 50% level, then kick in the batt charger! extends the batt life! [it`s even in my 20 yr old nigel calder book] amazon, and probley many other web sites sell the 12 power supply/batt charger for boats/cars...look for a 12v dc automobile computer batt charger, etc...just put the number and name of the computer into amazon, look for the ones with the 12v cigar lighter plug on the business end from the computer power plug...been running mine that way for eons! got tired of the humm/fan noise of the inverter...clyde
yep, exactly why I connected my inverter to a switch so I can shut it down. aside from the annoying hum, mine has a piercingly bright light that stays on even after Turing it off, so I had to connect it to a complete kill switch.

also I've already seen those charger cables for the Mac, I wish I would have gotten one before I left. thanks to this thred I now have a big list of things to buy lol.
bty, when you said don't go below 12.2, do you mean while under load?
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