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Old 06-09-2014, 04:31   #61
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

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Originally Posted by sailinglegend View Post
There are over 1700 watching it as well and they are probably confused as well. Thanks for the "reset", but I fear many people posters on here really need to get a good marine electrician on board to physically go through and explain all the points covered here. The trouble is GOOD marine electrical engineers are hard to find, better to find another cruiser who can help who really knows his stuff. This thread has highlighted a lot of the questions to ask.

Ex-Calif - one request as an Moderator you should be able to go back and edit your last post to correct your major blunders in confusing Amps and Amphours. Sorry for the criticism but this only adds to the confusion here!
As a retired mod I get no special editing privilege. Not sure what the error is. I am rereading but not catching it...

Unless of course you are talking about the discussion of usable amp (hours) in the battery and amp (hours) used) and then Mea Culpa for my short hand use of amps.
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Old 06-09-2014, 05:06   #62
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

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As a retired mod I get no special editing privilege. Not sure what the error is. I am rereading but not catching it......
In your first para you should be using both Amps and Amphours - in all other paras you use Amps but should be using Amphours.

First para should read:

Max amps to be expected from the solar is probably 20 amps @80% percent of capacity for say max 6 hours a day or 120 amphours. This may be optimistic.
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Old 06-09-2014, 10:27   #63
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

Thanks for the reset. As the OP I'm lost as well.

I'll try and provide more info..

1. What brand of Batteries?
I can't see any stickers. They came new with the boat in March. A hanse 385.
It says absorption is 14.6-14.8v and float is 13.6-13.8.

2. The solar controller is set to the default setting.
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3. My battery monitor doesn't matter for this thread. I can see amps in at midday are around 6-7amps unshaded.

4. Energy use is about 120amps per day I've worked out.

5. Wiring. Not sure how to explain so hope the following images help.
This is from left to right. Then a single cable goes into the socket with a 6-7m run to the solar controller.

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Old 06-09-2014, 10:54   #64
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

Simon, where are you reading the absorption and float voltages you posted above. On the battery?
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Old 06-09-2014, 10:57   #65
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

Yes. Here's a photo of the battery as best as I could take it..

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Old 06-09-2014, 11:10   #66
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

Ok well a quick google and it appears to be an AGM battery, not gel, and 160Ah, not 165. The factory specifications state 160Ah AGM as standard so I guess you had another added. In that case I would suggest program 3 would be the closest to the specifications on the battery and the best starting point
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Old 06-09-2014, 18:34   #67
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

http://www.qbatteries.de/uploads/tx_...2LC-150_01.pdf

As near as I can tell this is the battery you have.

I agree with cycle 3 for the charge profile.

The first thing to note is that if you discharge this battery to 50% you will get less than 900 cycles. This could be between 2 and 3 years. If you discharge to 30% you will almost double the life of the bank.

Based on your 120 amp hour daily draw, overnight you could regularly take 16 hours X 5 amps = 80 amp hours. This is about 26% of capacity.

For daily needs and reliable solar this is probably OK. But 1 or 2 days of overcast will quickly put you at a serious amp deficit.

As you are preparing for the ARC, IIRC, I would definitely unplug from the grid and do some real world testing. Run the loads that you intend to run on the passage and monitor what happens.

I do not suspect your solar is wired wrong at this point but it really is impossible to tell from the photos. You'd have to physically trace the wore connections or flash for continuity using a meter.
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Old 06-09-2014, 20:09   #68
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

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Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
.....

The first thing to note is that if you discharge this battery to 50% you will get less than 900 cycles. This could be between 2 and 3 years.

If you discharge to 30% you will almost double the life of the bank.
....

Just to clarify you probably mean discharge by 30% (DOD) not to 30% (SOC). Discharging down to 30% would nearly kill your batteries in one single cycle. You have very little life left after that.

Discharging done to 70% SOC instead of 50% SOC definitely increases the available cycles, but is extremly difficult to achieve without ample solar, more than 600W AND properly working is required for that.
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Old 06-09-2014, 20:28   #69
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

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4. Energy use is about 120amps per day I've worked out.
That is expremely optimistic for an ocean crossing. I would work with doubling that number. Your autopilot and navigation are going to suck enough to account for that alone. The pilot will be working hard all the time. On our boat, admittedly a power hungry cat, we averaged a draw of 25-30A depending on wave state and wind, for a total of up to 720Ah per day.

See these videos of what to expect.


Listen to how many million times the autopilot will be turning your rudder during the crossing in the next video.

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Old 06-09-2014, 20:37   #70
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

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Just to clarify you probably mean discharge by 30% (DOD) not to 30% (SOC). Discharging down to 30% would nearly kill your batteries in one single cycle. You have very little life left after that.

Discharging done to 70% SOC instead of 50% SOC definitely increases the available cycles, but is extremly difficult to achieve without ample solar, more than 600W AND properly working is required for that.
Great points - Yes and thanks!

I also agree that a real world amp budget needs to be investigated. Which is why I suggested unplugging and getting some trial time on this set up.

A also agree with an earlier poster about having redundant charging options.
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Old 06-09-2014, 23:16   #71
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

Thanks all. Totally agree about the redundancy side. Also looking into tow generators, etc.

The draw was based on what I measured after a 2 night 3 day crossing I did recently. By the end of that the battery monitor was down to 90% SOC. We do of course have the engine to top this up if needed.

At this stage I'm going to start looking for a good marine electrical engineer I think who can check my setup on site.

Does anyone know, or is located in, Gibraltar? We're heading that way in a few weeks.

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Old 07-09-2014, 01:44   #72
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

good advice. Id guess you would want an additional 2 batteries and additional 300W of solar to come close to covering your needs with solar. I have a quick question for anyone in the know. Earlier I posted how SOC relates to voltage at rest. Ive just rechecked my battery data sheet and found a big difference between the voltages posted earlier.
I had assumed all batteries used similar figures, but...does this seem correct?
If so where I was assuming 80% SOC, its actually closer to 60%

Also below is our power budget, Im not sure if you have done one of these Simon but its worthwhile to help get a handle on things. Let me know if you would like the spreadsheet emailed to you.
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Old 07-09-2014, 03:02   #73
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

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I had assumed all batteries used similar figures, but...does this seem correct?
If so where I was assuming 80% SOC, its actually closer to 60%
There are differences between different types of batteries. Predicting the SOC from battery voltage is not easy. The battery has to be rested (no input or output) for a long time (24 hours +). In addition you need to make a compensation for temperature and the voltage measurement needs to accurate (many multimeters have a significant error).

A voltage measurement can still be useful as a relative value even on a non rested battery and with no temperature, or equipment calibration. In the very early days of solar there were no reasonably priced battery monitors and I used a simple home made voltage meter. I got some idea of how the battery was doing by measuring the voltage each morning.
The only load overnight in those days was an incandescent anchor light (pre LED and no fridge).
So the load was constant for 8 hours and the same every day. By measuring the voltage in the morning before the solar panel produced anything I could get an idea if we were gaining or loosing.
Calibration of the voltmeter was unimportant and the temperature varied little from day to day.

It was not a bad system, very simple system, for a boat using very little electrical power, but not very practical on my current boat.
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Old 07-09-2014, 17:24   #74
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

Monte:

Have you confirmed that your alternator delivers 50A. The maximum I could see with the Hitachi 80A on the Lagoon 450 Yanmar was 30-35A. This was with the lead acid 6x140 batteries fairly empty. About an additional 20A being used by electronics and autopilot. So the alternator deliver 50A but 30 towards charging. Pretty painful. I installed a Sterling alternator-to-battery charger (no changes to the alternator required) and it boosted the A going into the battery to above 50A.

On my new Lagoon with 120A Hiatchi alternators I see about 60A coming out of the alternator (measured after about 10 minutes run time directly at the alternator). This is with LiFePo with high acceptance rate. The problem is twofold:

1 - the alternators sense the charge voltage at the alternator and not at the battery terminal. So voltage losses in the cables are not compensated.
2 - The alternators have temperature compensation and they regulate the voltage down with rising temperature. This is a good thing, as it protects them from overheating. No problem having 1400Ah LiFePo on the whimpy alternators.

However, you get a lot less from the alternators than you may think. Luckily, with 1800W of solar I do not need the alternators for my LiFePo. The alts only maintain the starter batteries, and will put a little bit into the house bank should I be motoring a little longer. But even then my solar is likle producing 90A+ and the alternators maybe another 20A.

Boy, you have a tiny watermaker and an even smaller consumption. Good for you.
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Old 07-09-2014, 17:58   #75
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Re: Solar not Working Correctly?

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Originally Posted by simonpickard View Post
Thanks all. Totally agree about the redundancy side. Also looking into tow generators, etc.

The draw was based on what I measured after a 2 night 3 day crossing I did recently. By the end of that the battery monitor was down to 90% SOC. We do of course have the engine to top this up if needed.

At this stage I'm going to start looking for a good marine electrical engineer I think who can check my setup on site.

Does anyone know, or is located in, Gibraltar? We're heading that way in a few weeks.

Regards,
Simon



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Might be a good idea to have someone you can talk to face to face. The wild card is finding someone who really understands this stuff.

I think your system is very close to operating properly but I still think your monitor is not well understood and may not be in proper calibration.

With all the money you are spending you might consider adding a SmartGauge - This is really a good piece of kit by all accounts and takes all the complexity of the BVM SOC out of the picture.

You should re-read the posts (MainSail especially) about determining SOC by battery voltage at rest.

@Monte - I don't want to be rude but you might consider starting new threads to ask questions about your boat. It is hard enough to help Simon without the thread drifting of track all the time with thread hijacks. Just sayin' is all...
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