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Old 24-07-2006, 10:50   #1
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Solar Regulators

I have a 180watt solar panel which is connected to my system via a Sunware Fox-350 regulator http://www.sunware.de/US/Support/Sup...V_Basis_US.htm. This is designed as a 2 bank stepped charge regulator, and there I think is the problem. From new it charged up the system very well, and then maintained a float charge for(cause I wasnt using the boat for a while. Then it seemed to consider that the batteries were charged and stopped providing additional charge. Unfortunately the only available place to site this is not easy to view the data on its screen. However, the battery charge went down and solar didnt seem to be doing anything. I took it off and it was tested out as totally OK. When I replaced it it has repeated what happened before, so I guess it has something to do with how this regulator "works".

Do your regulators work like this, and if youhave combined solar and wind, do you use a single regulator - if so what type (+comments)
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Old 24-07-2006, 11:45   #2
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I am using a PV 14 which seems to keep the batts topped up, using onky 110 watts of PV panels. But this is during a period of 5 days and does depend on the weather of course. I believe if it senses that the voltage drops below a certain value it beings to charge again. When I arrive the coltage seems to be about 13+ which is like a float/maintenance charge.

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Old 24-07-2006, 12:07   #3
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This is the reply I got from Libbie at Hotwire enterprises when I asked her about charge controllers for a wind/solar set-up.

"Rick, our recommendation is to use a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) charge controller with your solar if you plan to install that many watts. If you go to the Blue Sky Products website, there's a really good explanation of how MPPT technology works.
You'll have to cut-and-paste this into your search window to get the page to come up.
http://www.blueskyenergyinc.com/pdf/...0is%20MPPT.pdf
Essentially, it gives you a greater charge than you would get from a standard controller. Kind of like installing another solar module but taking up a whole lot less space. The MPPT controllers perform best in cooler climates where you can get as much as 30% more power! But even in the tropics, you can get a charging boost from 4% to 10% more. So, I would suggest a 2000E for your two Kyocera 130 watt solar modules. (The 125's have been obsolete for several months, and other manufacturers are voiding the warranty if you install their product on your boat!)

As for the KISS, we still recommend the Trace C40 (made by Xantrex). But, if you really-really-really want only ONE charge controller, we can set you up with a C60 which will have enough amp capacity to handle the KISS and a couple of large solar modules."

I found the Blue Sky Products site very informative.
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Old 24-07-2006, 13:26   #4
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I use a FLEXCHARGE NC25A for my two 75 watt panels.

Very happy with the charger, but I sort of run it in "manual".

When I am out using the boat and need every amp I can get, I turn it all the way up so it does not really regulate, just pumping in the full output.

With the fridge and other stuff running I nevr get over 14 volts anyway.

When the boat is "parked" and not used for awhile, I turn the charger down to maintain about 13.2 volts or so. If it gets over that in strong sun, it actually puts in a load to reduce the voltage...(I think..sounds strange?)

With my previous battery bank I left the controller alone to do its thing and it would charge the batteries too much and I had to add water at least once a month. (Had it set high, but not all the way up.)

So, uh to answer the question:

No my regulator does not work like yours..

I am very happy with my set-up and would not change a thing.
The NC 25 A is also highly efficient, 99% according to the manufactor.

I paid about $99.00 for it 5 years ago, now the same unit sells for $145.00 in the West marine catalog.

http://www.flexcharge.com/flexcharge...c25a/nc25a.htm
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Old 24-07-2006, 17:05   #5
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We have a trace c-40 that controls the air-x and two 85watt solar pannels It works fine. My panels probably are small enough for the C-40 to handle both I talked with the folks at hotwire recently about a kiss and they said the way I'm set up now would work with the kiss also. I would just need a divert load to have a more hands off system.
Don't intend to highjack this thread but Vasco are you happy with the kiss so far? Do you have a divert load or are you turning the kiss off and on as needed?

P.S.Wen we bought the boat last December it had been on the hard for two years with nothing but the C-40 and the panels taking care of the batteries which are five years old and still going strong.


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Old 24-07-2006, 18:19   #6
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I am using the Trace 35 by Xantrex for two 125w and one 80w Kyocera panels. The nice thing is the adjustability and capability of the unit. With a multi-meter and a few jumpers you can configure the controller to do just about anything you need to accomplish.
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Old 25-07-2006, 06:23   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soul searcher
Don't intend to highjack this thread but Vasco are you happy with the kiss so far? Do you have a divert load or are you turning the kiss off and on as needed?


Matt
Matt,

I'm very happy with the KISS. I'm aboard most of the time so don't have a charge controller on it. If the voltage starts getting real high I'll turn it off (just a switch so you don't even have to turn the vane out of the wind like I used to have to do with my Windbugger) or else if I'm feeling industrious I'll turn the inverter on and do some vacuuming with the DirtDevil. If I ever go the whole route and get a couple of large panels I'll get one of those ac/dc elements for the hot water heater to divert the load.
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Old 25-07-2006, 12:25   #8
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Retro-tech and kiss

Whoa! Just how does any level of critical thinking equate a retro-tech solution with keeping it simple? Anyone can make a still without a pressure relief valve hoping to kiss it and self-monitor the pressure tank until they blow themselves (or someone else) up.

A lack of regulation on any charge source does not constitute kiss, it only constitutes ignorance (no personal offense intended) or lack of budget, just admit to it (at least to yourself). Kiss in this case consists of a regulator designed to deliver maximum power when needed and regulating the battery ALWAYS when max power is not needed automatically and reliably. What could be simpler (kiss) than that?

Just suppose all automobiles required the driver to monitor and manually regulate or turn on and off the alternator to the battery. How could that by any definition be kiss?
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Old 25-07-2006, 13:27   #9
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Rick,

The majority of wind powered generators on boats don't come with a regulator. You can get a charge controller if you wish. Most don't need them and many cruisers don't bother. All of them should be tied off in high winds (around 30 knots). I've used them in cruising for 16 years relying on amp and voltage meters and now a Link 2000 to monitor output. Most of the time the output is from zero to twenty amps depending, of course, on the wind strength. The output varies greatly as the boat is moving (even at anchor) and wind speed varies. In my case adding a charge controller at this time would only complicate the system by introducing another component. With flooded batteries voltage control is not as critical as with gels or AGM's.

Cruising is not like driving down the highway. Most cruisers get to know how boat systems work, most car drivers don't have the foggiest notion of what is happening under the hood nor do they really need to as AAA, CAA your local tow-truck operator and a host of smiling garage owners are ready and waiting to assist. In cruising you learn very early in the process that you need to watch everything that's going on in a boat and hopefully get to understand some of it.

I monitor my batteries whenever they are under charge, whether through the engine driven alternator, Honda and Zantrex charger or wind generator. It's not an onerous task, just look at the guages once in a while to ensure everything's working alright. Whatever system you use, you eventually have to switch them off. Of course, even with regulation, night switches the solar panels off.
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Old 25-07-2006, 14:09   #10
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Hello Vasco

After designing systems as well as components for system integration on boats, RVs and electric vehicles for decades now I am famaliar with all of what you say. There are SOOO many myths regarding the electrical systems on boats and one of them is that by adding a component the system is thereby made more complicated (it COULD be made more complicated, the point is that it does not necessarily follow as such).

Another myth is that most cruisers get to know how most system work. The more accurate wording is that they learn how THEIR systems work, right or wrong. They rarely truly know or understand how it is SUPPOSED to work if it was designed and implemented correctly. I have been on many professionally skippered boats, the skippers who were far more knowledgeable than most cruisers, and upon investigation of some complaint discovered a bad installation, poor choice of components, bad design, or incorrect set up of the devices such as their battery monitor and charger parameters.

Yes, most cruisers THINK that they understand their systems but they rarely do. With judicious choices of components and proper installation and maintenance used in the implementation of an electrical system the system will ALWAYS work better than manual observation and manual control without the burden. Again, that is not to say that your observations are not necessary for prudent cruising.

What could be more complicated than having to constantly observe the output of a charge source that is controllable only by an ON/OFF switch in order to determine exactly when to turn it on or off when not only can the task be better performed automatically but also with regulation (when required) and, in the case of a pv panel, with more power output (there is no way you can get max power out of a pv panel into a battery without a switch mode buck converter)?

Out of about 1000 cruisers I would deem perhaps two of them sufficiently knowledgeable about batteries alone to determine just when is the optimum time and voltage for a battery to be at float. Are you one of those? The aglorithms written to perform that task automatically are quite involved and NEVER require that you be mentally alert, fresh, attentive, and knowledgeable. Yes, in that sense cruising IS just like driving down a highway.
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Old 25-07-2006, 14:46   #11
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Rick,

I would agree with you about having a charge controller with p/v panels. I do not have any solar panels. There is no disagreement where these panels are concerned but can you tell me how a charge controller would improve the operation of a wind generator other than diversion control? And again to divert the power you would need an ac/dc water heater element or a resistive load bank. More complications. I have never claimed to be an expert on electrical systems, on the contrary, I have stated more than once I'm a bit electrically challenged but how can the addition of a charge controller and resistive load bank make the system more simple. It might make it a bit easier to operate but certainly doesn't make it more simple. In my mind this would be two more components to wire and protect from corrosion. Right now I don't need to divert the load. I just switch the wind generator off.
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Old 25-07-2006, 15:34   #12
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Talbot, it sounds like your Sunware is either broken or defective. Their Ynglitch is better than my Deutsch, but from their web page it sounds like their charger SHOULD continue to trickle charge with a 13.8V limit. From your description yours has actually SHUT OFF and simply not come back on line. That could be a program defect in the microprocessor, or a defective relay/switch, etc.

Have you tried contacting them to ask about this?
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Old 25-07-2006, 21:11   #13
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wind generator and outboard motor "lighting coil" outputs

Vasco:
Most small (less than a few kilo-Watt) wind generators as well as the so-called "lighting coil" outputs from outboard motors require shunt regulators in order to regulate the outputs. As you already indicated these regulators place a load on the output that is not taken or required by vessel loads such as batteries.

If you merely turn off these outputs then you inadvertently create a radical change in current versus time internal to the generator that can, over time, degrade the field magnetism of the generator with the exception of those utilizing rare earth magnets (and who knows if that is exactly what they have...some do some don't and outboard motors don't).

In addition, peak voltages will over time degrade the ON/Off switch that you manually use to disconnect the generator output. If you pay close attention to the generator manufacturor you might notice that they do not suggest a manual disconnect switch without first stopping the blades.

Many cruisers confuse the term "simplicity" with lack of multiplicity or "additional concepts". Coincidentally they confuse lack of understanding with complexity. Now don't accuse me of being unaware of just what really constitutes simplicity or complexity in a particular instance. I merely challenge you to examine your use of such terms tossed off in what I might call a cavallier manner without comparing or contrasting other words better suited to communicate what you might not like to do such as adding another few properly designed and installed wires and components.

Your vessel is much more simple and less complex without a method of motivation, even sails. So why don't you merely skull your boat into the marina instead of using any motor? Retro-technology does not imply improved reliability or usefuleness. Cruising technology, in general, is way behind state of the art much less practical implementation of what the rest of more popular (translate: more money available for manufacturors to pursue) pastimes utilize. That is no excuse to live in the dark ages relative to the rest of the practical real world, regardless of what the Pardys, et al propose regarding a minimalist existence.

As a final note think about just how technology put man on the moon. It was not done by anti-technology. In fact, simplicity in the strictest technological interpretation meant absolute application of statistical methods which lead to the development of the integrated circuit. The integrated circuit was much more complex than any configuration of transistors, resistors and interconnects yet, as a component, yielded a statistically much more reliable operation than ever thought possible before. Such thinking applies today and to your vessel as well. That is what I'm trying to convey. Please don't confuse me with someone who had not gone to sea in small vessels. I'm on my third cruising boat and am no stranger either to aerospace technology or polynesian technology.

By analogy, removing yourself from the regulation "loop" of ANY charge source and utilizing a proper regulator you will have moved towards putting yourself on the "moon" technologically speaking AND will have moved towards higher reliability overall (yes, given a proper design and installation). If you point to some sophomoric concept about adding a wire which may or may not increase complexity then you have failed to understand the difference between a "proper" versus "improper" design and/or installation. Please do not propose or imply to others that such "dark ages" technology is superior to what available today. There are too many "nay-sayers" as it is in the cruising community.
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Old 26-07-2006, 05:34   #14
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Rick - If you get some time, would have have a gander at my "all purpose, smart charge controller" thread?

I was wondering if you were aware of any such device that exists, or if my approach is all wrong. Thanks!
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Old 26-07-2006, 08:53   #15
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Originally Posted by Rick

If you merely turn off these outputs then you inadvertently create a radical change in current versus time internal to the generator that can, over time, degrade the field magnetism of the generator with the exception of those utilizing rare earth magnets (and who knows if that is exactly what they have...some do some don't and outboard motors don't).
Rick,

I would suggest you read up on the KISS. http://www.kissenergy.com/TechnicalDescription.html
By the way KISS does tell you what type of magnets are in the alternator - epoxy-coated neodymium iron-boron magnets, which I understand are rare earth magnets. I think a look at this page will help you understand wind generators.
I don't know how outboard motors got into the mix, in the post that started this discussion I was asked about my KISS wind generator, whether I was happy with it or not and whether I diverted the load. I guess this started you off on your "retro-tech" bit.

If not having a charge controller on my KISS puts me in the dark ages, I guess the dark ages weren't that bad a time.
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