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Old 19-07-2013, 15:04   #46
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

coco-
I don't know how you tried to start with the low batteries, but starter motors are notorious for heat damage. They are what are called "high impulse motors" meaning, they are designed to put out a great amount of power for a very short time. This also means they are allowed to generate a lot of heat, and if the motor is powered up for more than a very short time, that heat will destroy it because that's a design limit. In order to get high power, the frame and rotor coils have to be kissing close, but the heat expands both, so if they overheat from being powered up just a little too long, they grind each other up, or warp, or seize.

If you had low power and kept grinding away trying to start a hard engine, that could destroy a starter. If you had "zero" power...then the starter wouldn't overheat and the same attempt wouldn't damage it.

In that context, do you think you could have hurt the starter, or were the batteries so low they would have just annoyed it?
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Old 19-07-2013, 15:10   #47
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

Hello Sailor,
Not really sure how much damage I've done so far... Should be an interesting weekend though. Enjoy yours & thanks. That makes since.
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Old 19-07-2013, 15:29   #48
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

coco, you can also kludge around without the ammeter. Depending on what you want to do, you can wire up a heavy shunt to split the current, or you can just use the millivolt setting on a multimeter. Take a foot or so of a conveniently heavy cable, put it in the circuit, and measure the voltage drop across JUST that piece of cable. With a little math, you look up the resistance of that cable (gauge and length) and you can determine the amperage it was carrying, by the voltage drop across it. Which is actually how ammeters work, they just hide the math.

All depends on how you feel about math, and making do.
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Old 21-07-2013, 22:16   #49
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

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Originally Posted by CoCoKnots View Post
began having low battery problems due to the draw down from the refrigeration load,
If you are not sure how your batteries &/or charging system are holding up, you can get a cheap little tester from Harbor Freight, that plugs into a cigaret lighter outlet, for about $6. It has 6 LEDs on it. 3 are for when the alternator is not running & the other 3 are for when it is running. Each bank of 3 has a yellow, green & red for low, good & danger. If the tester is inside a cabin, you can easily see the lights from over 10 feet away. In bright sunlight, it's harder to see.

I'm generally not a big fan of stuff from Harbor Freight, but I find this little gizmo to be darn useful in helping me to keep track of the health of my battery bank & charging system with just a quick glance.
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Old 22-07-2013, 05:38   #50
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

Good morning,
Thanks Jim... I'll swing by Harbor Freight today on my way back from having my starter tested. I hope to have my generator back together & running today. The led tester from H/F sounds great. Thanks
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Old 24-07-2013, 13:54   #51
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

Another Update:
Wind & Solar are now connected & running... The batteries are happy campers.
Tried the new amp gauges... Still no readings... before or after the controller. Voltage is traveling thru... No readings on the analogue scale. I have to be doing something wrong... Any ideas ???
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Old 24-07-2013, 14:01   #52
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

"Tried the new amp gauges... Still no readings..."
Exactly what kind of gauges are these?
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Old 24-07-2013, 14:06   #53
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

Blue Seas Analogue
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Old 24-07-2013, 14:10   #54
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

No, if you want electronics to work you'll have to be more specific than that.

"The Blue Sea 8017 100 amp ammeter requires an external 50mv current shunt. Blue Sea Systems Ammeters of 50 Ampere and greater capacity utilize an external shunt as the current sensing device. "

They make more than one analog ammeter and the installation varies accordingly. I can see your meters on the camera, but the light isn't so good, so I'm not sure which ones you have. :-)
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Old 24-07-2013, 14:13   #55
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

I'm not at the boat right now... Not sure about the model number.. But they are the 25 amp with an internal shunt.
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Old 24-07-2013, 14:29   #56
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

OK, internal shunt. Sadly these web forums turn ascii artwork into a dog's dinner, but your setup should be something like this:

(battery +) to (- meter +) to (+ panel -) to (-battery)

That is, battery positive connected to meter negative,
meter positive connected to panel positive,
panel negative connected to battery negative.

And the controller can just be bypassed or ignored, for these purposes it makes no difference if it is there or not. If the meter is on one side of the controller or the other, it just shows "raw" versus "controlled" power.

I don't know if your meter is a +-25A type that reads both charge and discharge, or a 0-25 type, but if you hook it up backwards it should still twitch and quickly disconnecting it will prevent any harm.
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Old 24-07-2013, 14:36   #57
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

Ok... Now I'm really confused.
The back of each amp meter as two studs. I was told to interrupt the positive lead & place the meter inline. I wasn't looking for a positive or negative on the back... ???
And it's only a +0-25 amp. Am I expecting this to work when it shouldn't???
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Old 24-07-2013, 14:47   #58
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

Since it is a 25-0-25 meter, it reads both charge and discharge. That's intended for use in a system with a battery and alternator, i.e. so you can tell when a car or boat battery is being charged by the alternator, versus when the battery is discharging and powering loads. For a solar charging system, it is the wrong meter since your charging system should only be putting out a charge, one way, into the batteries.

But it will work, and whether it is in the positive or negative line doesn't really matter. The advantage of having a 25-0-25 meter is that you can't install it backwards.

Again, install it in the positive line from the panels to the battery, and where the controller is shouldn't matter as long as the controller is working.
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Old 24-07-2013, 14:57   #59
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

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Since it is a 25-0-25 meter, it reads both charge and discharge... (It's only reads 0-25)

Again, install it in the positive line from the panels to the battery, and where the controller is shouldn't matter as long as the controller is working.
So I'm doing it correctly by placing it inline on the positive lead ? If I have 12 volts going thru it... I should see an amp reading, shouldn't I ?
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Old 24-07-2013, 15:18   #60
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Re: Solar Panels w/Amp Gauges

Yes, assuming there is some load, some current flowing, the meter should show something.

If you want to get a fast reality check on that, take a 12v lamp. A spare headlight, a spare steaming light, whatever the biggest spare bulb you can lay hands on.

Now take a couple of jumper wires, alligator clips, battery jumper cables, whatever you have at hand.

Connect the negative side of the battery to the lamp. Connect the positive side, and the lamp should light up, confirming it is good. OK, now you "break" that positive connection, put the meter in between the battery and the lamp.

The lamp should still light up and the meter should deflect to indicate the power being drawn. If it doesn't, you may need a priest for an exorcism.

It sounds like you need to use a voltmeter to start sniffing you solar charging setup, somewhere there has to be a failure, all those meters can't be dead.
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