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Old 06-03-2015, 04:05 PM   #1
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Solar panel quit charging

I've always been able to leave the AI unplugged and everything turned off and the solar panel kept both the house batteries and the chassis battery charged. Yesterday when I checked, the batteries were all below the 12.45V point that the solar panel is supposed to start charging and it wasn't and hadn't been for a couple of days. Checked the 1 amp fuse under the lounge and it was OK. Checked for any other fuses that might be related, found none. Can't recall if there was one on the back of the solar controller.

Plugged in shore power and everything seems to be normal as far as battery charging is concerned.

Any ideas would be welcome.
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Old 06-03-2015, 04:07 PM   #2
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Loose connector? We had that issue on the back of our controller.
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Old 06-03-2015, 04:24 PM   #3
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Is the display showing the charge level, charging current, and total amp-hours since reset the charge controller or is it buried in the next of snakes wiring under the lounge?
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Old 06-03-2015, 04:34 PM   #4
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Check CB 3? (At least it's circuit breaker 3 on my 2013).....


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Old 06-03-2015, 04:35 PM   #5
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You say the batteries were below 12.45v. How far below? There's a quirk about the solar panel— or rather the solar charge controller. The controller doesn't run off the solar panel, it runs off the batteries. So if the battery charge drops far enough to trip the charge controller's low-voltage cut-out, the solar panel won't charge the batteries anymore.

That low-voltage cutout is very low, somewhere around 10v if memory serves, so your batteries would have to be beyond dead in order for the controller to quit working. If your batteries weren't that low then the problem lies elsewhere, but I thought I'd mention it so you'd know.
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Old 06-03-2015, 04:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
You say the batteries were below 12.45v. How far below? There's a quirk about the solar panel— or rather the solar charge controller. The controller doesn't run off the solar panel, it runs off the batteries. So if the battery charge drops far enough to trip the charge controller's low-voltage cut-out, the solar panel won't charge the batteries anymore.

That low-voltage cutout is very low, somewhere around 10v if memory serves, so your batteries would have to be beyond dead in order for the controller to quit working. If your batteries weren't that low then the problem lies elsewhere, but I thought I'd mention it so you'd know.
About 12.3V

Quote:
Originally Posted by toskeysam View Post
Check CB 3? (At least it's circuit breaker 3 on my 2013).....


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CB3 is the water heater on mine. None of them were tripped nor did the description seem to associate any of them w/ the solar panel.

Next step is to pull the panel and check the back of the controller (if that's what the display is) for either a fuse or loose connection.
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Old 06-03-2015, 06:06 PM   #7
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This thread is quite a coincidence since in the last couple of days I've noticed a difference in the way my solar is working.....
To cut a long story short, I've had my Interstate for a couple of years from new and until 4 months ago was never certain whether the solar was actually working since the display never showed anything more than "chr" or "0" when parked in the sun. I just didn't know any better! However, the dealer eventually found a faulty RJ-45 cable.
So for 3 months or so the solar was working nicely and I could see the controller kicking in when the voltage went down to 85% on the solar display.
But the day before yesterday it was displaying 80% and the solar still wasn't charging. Since we had things to do, I had to ignore it at that time, but when we returned, it was charging once again.
After I got home, it suddenly dawned on me that since the weather is now hot, it's lowered the cut-in threshold by some volt amount, perhaps equivalent to 75-80%.
So does anyone know whether my assumption is correct? Otherwise I'm going to have to moan to the dealer once again!
Thanks, Peter
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Old 06-03-2015, 06:36 PM   #8
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These units vary with the day of the week in production.....
My wiring diagram shows a 10amp ATC fuse in the solar panel....how's that for inconvenient.
That the 12v main schematic.
Then again, I remember I had questionable solar output last summer and tried to find a fuse under the lounge, none there.....suddenly the problem went away. I have never found the cause....
I know that was no help, but any info may provide a lead. Good luck.


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Old 06-04-2015, 05:01 PM   #9
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Replace the in-line FUSE HOLDER between your solar controller and the battery (normally in the battery compartment).

I had a similar problem where my solar stopped working. I checked fuses, etc. and everything was good. I tightened battery connections, etc. but no luck. I deduced that it was a problem with the solar controller and called the manufacturer and talked to the president of the company. He said he would give it a 95% probability that the in-line fuse holder needed replacement. I was doubtful, so I connected a Fluke multimeter to the terminals at the back of the solar controller going to the battery (only reason I mention the Fluke is that it has the ability to record both minimum and maximum voltages). After a few hours I went back and checked the multimeter and it showed normal voltage for the maximum, and zero volts for the minimum.

I opted to blow the budget and went to Walmart and spent a couple of dollars for a replacement in-line fuse holder, then took it home and installed it (with the 10 amp fuse that was in the previous fuse holder).

System has worked perfect ever since.
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Old 06-04-2015, 05:45 PM   #10
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Pulled the panel to check the cable connection to the solar controller and it was secure. However the "Cable Error" LED was not lit on the PWA as it was when I installed the propane valve switch. Never found out what that was for as everything seemed to work normally w/ it lit.

WindyJim: The only in-line fuse I could find for the controller was the 1 amp under the lounge that I checked yesterday.

toskeysam: Did the schematic give any indication where the fuse in the solar panel is?
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Old 06-04-2015, 09:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WindyJim View Post
Replace the in-line FUSE HOLDER between your solar controller and the battery (normally in the battery compartment).

... I deduced that it was a problem with the solar controller and called the manufacturer and talked to the president of the company. He said he would give it a 95% probability that the in-line fuse holder needed replacement...

... I opted to blow the budget and went to Walmart and spent a couple of dollars for a replacement in-line fuse holder, then took it home and installed it (with the 10 amp fuse that was in the previous fuse holder).

System has worked perfect ever since.
Interesting how the president of the company knew they installed a poor quality in-line fuse holder that had to be replaced. Just saying.
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Old 06-04-2015, 11:33 PM   #12
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Comment made that president of the company must have know it was a faulty fuse holder...

I don't believe so. A third party did the installation, the wiring, etc. and the in-line fuse holder was almost 10 years old and installed in the battery enclosure. Sulfuric acid fumes aren't the most forgiving environment, not to mention being somewhat subjected to climate changes, etc....

Relative to only finding only a 1 amp fuse... If that is the one from the solar system to the battery, that means the maximum charge your batteries could receive from your solar system would be 12 watts, before the fuse would blow. (Power = Amps x Voltage). The fuse (or breaker) must be somewhere else. (I would recommend looking for "extra" terminals connecting to your battery and following them back until you find an in-line fuse, breaker, or some other protective device. Now, of course it is possible that your system was installed without a protective device, or it could be that the protection is in the solar controller itself). The protection should be between the controller and the batteries.
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Old 06-05-2015, 12:44 AM   #13
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Without looking at the schematic, I believe the 1 amp fuse supplies the controller. I'm not sure if or where there is a fuse between the solar panel and the batteries. Will have to get the schematics out and see if I can find that fuse. Of course it could be the solar panel controller itself since this is the second one that's been in the RV since new.
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Old 06-05-2015, 01:42 AM   #14
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To access the fuse AT THE SOLAR PANEL, you first have to dis-mount the panel from it's aluminum L-brackets. Flip it over and there will be a small black junction box toward one end of the panel. Remove the 4 screws and remove the cover. The fuse holder should be inside the J/box.
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