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Old 10-28-2014, 04:19 PM   #29
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When parked in the sun, I can always hear the solar controller clicking, so it's doing something.
But here's a typical scenario: on a long trip with the coach electrics on and the fridge stocked and running; we stop for several hours to do shopping, etc, and we're parked in the sun, and I may even turn on the MaxxAir roof vent to help keep the interior cool. After a few hours we get back and I notice the solar display shows maybe 85% and "chr". Surely under these circumstances it should be charging at close to 4 amps, not less than 0.2 amps.
I went out there and listened, and yes, I hear clicking every 4 minutes. So, something is happening. However, amps still show .3, and charge is down to 70%. I will be taking a trip soon, so I'll follow your scenario and see where the charge my charge level winds up. One question: where does the "chr" notification show up, is it in the same window as the battery level? It seems to me like that display can only show numbers, not letters. Does the "cur" alternate with the level?
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Old 10-28-2014, 04:26 PM   #30
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It does show in that window. The small black button will scroll you through charge %, current, batt voltage, and amphrs in.


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Old 10-28-2014, 04:32 PM   #31
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You can "zero out" your amphrs in to tell just what you are getting from the system. Scroll to amphrs and press and hold until it starts to flash, release and press again to clear value. Then watch it over time to see if it goes up...and how much.


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Old 10-28-2014, 04:55 PM   #32
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I went out there and listened, and yes, I hear clicking every 4 minutes. So, something is happening. However, amps still show .3, and charge is down to 70%. I will be taking a trip soon, so I'll follow your scenario and see where the charge my charge level winds up. One question: where does the "chr" notification show up, is it in the same window as the battery level? It seems to me like that display can only show numbers, not letters. Does the "cur" alternate with the level?
"chr" shows up when Solar Charge Amps is selected. The documentation I have for the Sunexplorer Charge Controller says:
The minimum solar charge current the PVDM4-LC will indicate is about .20 amps. Below this value the PVDM4-LC will display “chr” if the PVCM20D is passing solar charge current to the battery.
So it's underperforming in some way. I'm referring this to the dealer since I'm a novice with electronics.
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Old 10-28-2014, 07:38 PM   #33
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My solar controller had me worrying this past summer. My Lifeline batteries were ruined by sitting on the dealer's lot...run down. When they were replaced with new ones my voltages were always much higher while stored. I had gotten accustomed to seeing a lot of solar output since my old batteries frequently dropped to below 12.6 volts. This doesn't happen that often anymore, and now I do not see a lot of solar output...until i let them drop (or load them up) to a voltage of 12.6 or less. Then the panel output kicks in until it gets the batteries charged up. That's the nature of the "shunt"-type controller. You can be sitting in full sun, but if your voltage is above the "cut-in" voltage you will not see any solar output.

Unfortunately the Sunexplorer solar controller installed by Airstream will never fully charge your batteries no matter how much sun you get. It is a fixed voltage charge that will not get the AGM batteries to final float stage. The same problem happens when you charge while driving since the Mercedes alternator will not get your coach batteries to full charge. The only way to get your batteries fully charged is by shore power or the propane generator, assuming you have a Magnum inverter/charger.

Hope this is useful,


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Old 10-28-2014, 07:50 PM   #34
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More on my solar: I've decided I have accidentally discovered the solution to free power. I just checked my panel, and even though it's completely dark (I even turned off the garage lights - hey, you never know!), I'm still showing .2A charge. Maybe the moon shines really bright here in NC? Sounds like I'm on my way back to the dealer tomorrow.
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Old 10-28-2014, 07:52 PM   #35
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Boxster is dead-on correct. This is a major complaint against the stock solar controller, and a serious issue for battery longevity. A shorepower (or generator) charge at a regular interval is needed to maintain the charge capacity of the batteries. Other threads, from folks in the know, point to a problem with repeatedly charging only to 90% capacity. That seems to be the end result of charging only by the solar panels, as setup.


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Old 10-28-2014, 08:04 PM   #36
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The lack of accurate charge information drove me to have my Airstream dealer install Magnum's battery monitor kit along with the upgraded remote panel. Unfortunately, they hosed the job and installed the monitor's shunt in parallel with the loads. Hope to get that straightened out shortly.....in a nutshell, the stock Magnum remote panel and solar remote panel do not give you an accurate measure of the battery state of charge....in amp hours available. It would not take a lot of effort or cost for Airstream to at least offer this as an option.


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Old 10-28-2014, 08:20 PM   #37
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I was told by Jim Parrett that the solar charger kicks in whenever the house batteries drop below 12.45 V. Never run any tests to see if this is accurate or not.
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Old 10-28-2014, 08:57 PM   #38
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I checked my solar controller today (parked in my garage) and it showed .0 charge. It also showed 747 amps total charge since last reset and prior to parking inside.
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Old 10-28-2014, 09:16 PM   #39
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I checked my solar controller today (parked in my garage) and it showed .0 charge. It also showed 747 amps total charge since last reset and prior to parking inside.
Yours sounds like it's working as it should; mine displays 0.9 amps total charge - and that is over 18 months.
I understand the shortfalls of the current controller though; doesn't bother me quite as much as others since the AI is usually parked in the garage and plugged in with the Magnum doing its job.
However, I think BillyBoy may have a similar problem.
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Old 10-29-2014, 02:05 PM   #40
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A new angle on the solar problem. I climbed a ladder, and disconnected the PV array, voltage meter read right on spec., but still only .2A charge in hazy sun. Checked the connectors, and the main one into the coach seemed badly oxidized. Managed to clean it as best I could (kinda small to get into), and the charge jumped to 1.2A. So, whatever's going on, I'll be back at the dealer. Does anyone know: does the charge shown on the Sunexplorer display represent the actual output from the PV panel, or just the current that is being let through by the charge controller. In other words, if the batteries ever reach 100% (a miracle!!), and the limiter kicked in, would the display show 0, or still show the output available?
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Old 10-29-2014, 03:06 PM   #41
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When my house batteries are fully charged, the solar shows 0 amps.
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