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Old 07-21-2009, 01:52 PM   #15
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I know the last thing you want to do at this point is to throw more $ at the problem, but FWIW, one to consider for the longer run is a battery monitor, such as this one:

Xantrex Technology Inc. - Boats - LinkPRO Battery Monitor - Product Information

Unfortunately, they're a bit pricey to start out with (approx $250 street price for this one), but I installed it's predecessor in my sailboat to help monitor the battery system, and I have to say that the extra info it gives you at any time on your batteries makes any troubleshooting much easier. I can tell at a glance the charge state of the battery, its charging or discharging rate, and an estimated time til fully charged (or discharged). Very handy to determine the exact current draw of every battery-powered appliance for "off-the-grid" planning purposes.

At the very least, consider adding a digital multimeter, which also can measure current draws to your toolbox - you can find them new for under $25 and will prove invaluable to help track down electrical issues.

Again, good luck - tracking down "stray electrons" can always be a challenge!

aJ
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Old 07-21-2009, 02:08 PM   #16
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Quote: "In any case, it's probably worth check the actual charge voltage that the solar charge controller is putting out (which will be somewhat higher than what the lower-voltage battery will "pull" it down to, if you measure them when they are connected - so you'd want to temporarily disconnect the charge output wires from the charge controllers, use a voltmeter to measure the output voltage from the charge controller, and adjust the controller as appropriate before reconnecting the wires). It should be around 14.5 volts for the AGM batteries."

I am going up to the trailer to first see what the charge set point is at, adjust it to 14.4 if it is not already, (which is what my new manual says), then see how that works.

If I decide to disconnect the wire as quoted above, where do I do this? The wires are all inside the wall. I looked at the schematic in the manual on page 4, (see link from BDandTTs in above response) but do not see where "charge output wire" is.

With zippo experience in any of this, I feel like I am sitting at one of those tiny desks in Electrical Nursery School, but I am trying hard to do this on my own...

Thanks, Carol
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Old 07-21-2009, 02:17 PM   #17
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God, that Link Pro looks lovely, but living on an artist's income right now, as I toss another bunch of bills from the mail onto the unpaid pile, I don't even have the money to fix the screen the bear punched out in my trailer the other night. (See "Have you ever had a bear climb in" thread)

I need to keep tinkering with what I have until I drop....
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Old 07-21-2009, 06:23 PM   #18
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Your Diehard combo-jump starting gadget won't help to charge your AS batteries - those things only have small, sealed, lead-acid batteries in them, and it wouldn't run your AS's converter/charger very long, if at all!

Hooking your car up to the trailer's 7-way tow cord will charge your batteries to some extent, however, at 'idle' your alternator isn't cranking out much in the way of usable current to charge at a very high rate - you'd have to run the car at a 'fast idle' for several hours to see much effect...

You'll probably need at least a 1000 Amp portable generator to power up your converter/charger...I don't see any other way out...possibly you can borrow one for a couple of days - or maybe rent one - to get your batteries up to a full charge...then your solar panel will be able to keep with the small demand...

The 14.4 volts for the solar charge controller sounds about right for bulk charging your AGM batteries...provided you can get them up to full charge, the 'float' charge for AGM's is around 13.5 volts - you may wish to check if your charge controller will automatically change to the 'float' setting when the batteries are charged fully...

Good luck...is there a creek nearby...maybe you could build a water-wheel to get a 'charge'...
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Old 07-21-2009, 06:33 PM   #19
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I don't know how hard your batteries are to get out but you could take them home with you and charge them with a battery charger
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Old 07-21-2009, 06:42 PM   #20
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Right on - common sense prevails again!!! right, just haul em' back to town for a good charging session...why didn't I think of that???


Reminds me of the story that really happened near where I worked, years ago in San Francisco...

A large flat-bed truck was hauling an oversized transformer for a power company and had to go under a bridge-like girder of an elevated roadway in town...

You guessed it, the top of the transformer became lodged in the girder as they drove their intended route...someone missed the measurement on that one!

For several hours, the various 'officials' fretted about how to pull this heavy object from it's wedged position...when a passerby mentioned that they may wish to let some air out of the trailer's tires and drive it out...which of course is what they did!
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Old 07-21-2009, 09:06 PM   #21
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OK, here is the latest! I went up and checked the solar controller:

Battery Voltage: 13.3-13.6
Array Current: 1.6-2.5
Charge Set Point: 14.4
External Current: -00.3

Those numbers that were ranging up and down while I watched it, I think might be due to what I read in the manual on page 4 under Operation (Charging Method: Low Frequency Pulse Width Modulation....has on/off cycle)

So, what do you think?
Carol
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Old 07-21-2009, 10:43 PM   #22
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Carol, All of the numbers are normal and where they should be. The current or amps fluctuate with the amount of light reaching the panel. That's normal. It reinforces my and others idea on this thread that your batteries are too far discharged for the solar to catch up. I think to take the batteries home for a good full charge will help. That would be what I would try next. If that doesn't work, I would then suspect the charge controller or the inverter charger.
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:22 AM   #23
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Thanks again everyone, sounds like I need to charge the batteries

One more thought though, if it made it up to 13.5 today on the voltage meter plus I finally got two guys to finally cut back a lot more of the foliage this afternoon to let in the morning sun and I don't put any load on it for the next week or two or three, wouldn't it finally charge up full on it's own? The solar controller manual says, "no minimum voltage is required, it will charge a dead battery."

Just a thought, and it would save me having to unhook all those wires, try to pull out and put in my car both batteries (each one weighs nearly as much as I do, plus the fact I have had twelve back surgeries) and then repeat the reverse process after charging.

Carol
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:48 PM   #24
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It's worth a try. Most solar won't charge dead batteries but yours don't sound that bad. You can also hook up your vehicle to the trailer to help charge won't be alot of amps at idle but would still help. If not get the two guys that did your triming to help load unload batteries Sometimes we have to ask for help.
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:54 PM   #25
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I did try hooking up the car at idle, would see a jump in the voltmeter from maybe 12.1 to 12.4, after a hour maybe up to 12.6. Unhook the car, it is down to 12.2 or 12.3...
Turn on my light for awhile, I am back to 12.1
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Old 07-22-2009, 03:37 PM   #26
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It's going to take along time to charge your batteries this way. Figure how many amps you are putting in your batteries and how many amps they hold.You will see what I mean.
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:21 PM   #27
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Managing the solar system

Quote:
Originally Posted by cclarkego View Post
OK, here is the latest! I went up and checked the solar controller:

Battery Voltage: 13.3-13.6
Array Current: 1.6-2.5
Charge Set Point: 14.4
External Current: -00.3

Those numbers that were ranging up and down while I watched it, I think might be due to what I read in the manual on page 4 under Operation (Charging Method: Low Frequency Pulse Width Modulation....has on/off cycle)

So, what do you think?
Carol
Carol,
You cannot expect very much in the way of recharging with 1.6 to 2.5 amps of charging for a few hours a day.

My guess is that this will only keep fully charged batteries topped up.

Pulse Width Mod (PSW), should be turned ON.
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:45 PM   #28
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Sorry, I was not clear. "has on/off cycle" was just part of a quote from the manual. It meant in full, that the controller cycles on and off as it's method of operation. There is no "on/off switch."
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