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Old 10-02-2018, 10:49 AM   #1
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2019 25' Flying Cloud
Tucson , Arizona
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Posts: 306
Battery/Solar Panel Help Please

Hi,

Attached are photos of the electric panel on a 2019 AS Sport 22FB. Facrtory installed solar package.

I can find any explanations for these number. While I understand some of it I'm curious as to why it isn't topped off so to say.

I had accidentally left the fridge on but it was off for 2-3 days before these readings.

Why is the Charging Status light red?

Included manual is more about installation and trouble shooting and does not explain the readings.

Also shouldn't there be some manual on the actual solar panel?

Thanks,

R44
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Old 10-02-2018, 11:22 AM   #2
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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Hi

First picture = battery power stored, you are at 75% capacity (this is just a guess on the controller's part)

Second picture = battery voltage, you are at 12.5V. This should be a pretty solid number if nothing is powered up in the trailer and the charger is not going crazy.

Third picture = solar voltage, the panel is at 12.5V. You don't have much light on the panel.

Fourth picture = charge current from the panel. 0.6A isn't much. Again, not much light on the panel.

Fifth picture = charge amp hours. The charger has put 471 amp hours into the battery since it was reset.

The charge light is telling you that there's not much sun on the panel and that the battery is not fully charged.

The manual on the panel its self can be downloaded from the Zamp website. There's not much to it.

=====

The control board on most fridges pulls about an amp. Running for three days comes out to about 72 amp hours. That's close to the full usable capacity of the batteries on a typical trailer. It's not surprising that the system is still struggling to get them charged back up.

Bob
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Old 10-15-2018, 10:06 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

First picture = battery power stored, you are at 75% capacity (this is just a guess on the controller's part)

Second picture = battery voltage, you are at 12.5V. This should be a pretty solid number if nothing is powered up in the trailer and the charger is not going crazy.

Third picture = solar voltage, the panel is at 12.5V. You don't have much light on the panel.

Fourth picture = charge current from the panel. 0.6A isn't much. Again, not much light on the panel.

Fifth picture = charge amp hours. The charger has put 471 amp hours into the battery since it was reset.

The charge light is telling you that there's not much sun on the panel and that the battery is not fully charged.

The manual on the panel its self can be downloaded from the Zamp website. There's not much to it.

=====

The control board on most fridges pulls about an amp. Running for three days comes out to about 72 amp hours. That's close to the full usable capacity of the batteries on a typical trailer. It's not surprising that the system is still struggling to get them charged back up.

Bob
THANKS!

SO sorry I delayed my thanks and response.

My panel is a Sunexplorer II and while I found their website there was no instructions on what the number mean and how to interpret they relate to the health of the system.

Still searching so I can learn how to monitor.

Thanks again,

R44
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Old 10-15-2018, 09:27 PM   #4
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NCR , Ontario
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reports from a vitron system deployment

these are some of the reports that i get from myVictron system
https://www.victronenergy.com

you get what you pay for

the cheaper system don't tell you much
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Old 10-15-2018, 09:35 PM   #5
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this is what my inside monitoring panel looks like
plus there is web access and victron apps on the phone
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Old 10-16-2018, 09:02 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rounder44 View Post
THANKS!

SO sorry I delayed my thanks and response.

My panel is a Sunexplorer II and while I found their website there was no instructions on what the number mean and how to interpret they relate to the health of the system.

Still searching so I can learn how to monitor.

Thanks again,

R44
Hi

Simple answer is still that with *any* voltage monitoring setup, you are pretty much flying blind. There are simply to many variables involved. It's good enough to work some of the time, so don't ignore voltages. For not a lot of money, there are much better ways to go.

Bob
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Old 10-18-2018, 12:22 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
. For not a lot of money, there are much better ways to go.

Bob

I don't want to get too crazy but a small upgrade may be warranted.

What did you have in mind Bob?

Thanks!

R44
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Old 10-19-2018, 09:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rounder44 View Post
I don't want to get too crazy but a small upgrade may be warranted.

What did you have in mind Bob?

Thanks!

R44
Hi

There are a number of outfits that make shunt based monitors. We talk a lot about Victron, but they are *not* the only outfit making the devices. I happen to like Victron, but I'd never ever tell you they are the only game in town. I believe you can get similar devices from others for around $125 to $150. I have no direct experience with them. I'll let others chime in with recommendations for stuff they have used. While it probably is true that you get what you pay for, even a lower end current based device will do a better job than a straight volt meter.

Bob
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Old 10-19-2018, 11:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

There are a number of outfits that make shunt based monitors. We talk a lot about Victron, but they are *not* the only outfit making the devices. I happen to like Victron, but I'd never ever tell you they are the only game in town. I believe you can get similar devices from others for around $125 to $150. I have no direct experience with them. I'll let others chime in with recommendations for stuff they have used. While it probably is true that you get what you pay for, even a lower end current based device will do a better job than a straight volt meter.

Bob
Bob’s right there are many battery monitoring systems out there. He’s also right that most of us have the Victron systems. The easiest to install is the Victron BMV712 because it has built in Bluetooth. That means if you don’t feel like fishing wires around to the monitor’s panel you could just install it in some more convent place wire-wise and connect to it with your phone.

That Victron unit is part of a soup to nuts ecosystem of components that you may be tempted by in the future.
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Old 10-19-2018, 12:17 PM   #10
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2016 25' Flying Cloud
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One shuntless system I have been using for just over a year now and really like is Balmar's Smartgauge. Easy to install, just two wires; easy to understand. Hardest part is mounting the gauge.

Disadvantage - you don't get all the cool info to view.
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Old 10-19-2018, 12:21 PM   #11
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Howdy,

I've been installing Victron systems for over 4 years now. Wouldn't use anything else!

Hope this helps a bit!
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Old 10-19-2018, 12:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daleyocum View Post
Bobís right there are many battery monitoring systems out there. Heís also right that most of us have the Victron systems. The easiest to install is the Victron BMV712 because it has built in Bluetooth. That means if you donít feel like fishing wires around to the monitorís panel you could just install it in some more convent place wire-wise and connect to it with your phone.

That Victron unit is part of a soup to nuts ecosystem of components that you may be tempted by in the future.
Thanks...

I watched a few videos and read some more but the benefit seems to be more accurate display compared to some lesser models. The Sunexplorer II has numerical output not just lights and electronic meters are accurate and dirt cheap so I assume it should be close enough... but....

I must be missing something... I see what the shunt is and now assume my system doesn't have one? (2019 Sport 22FB)

The Victron looks like something in my financial wheel house so I'll dive deeper into that but it looks like an effort to install... it's not a plug and play replacement of the Sunexplorer but will require some retrofitting and wiring...

I was a carpenter for years; lots of remodels so know how and where to punch a hole (being aware what's behind!) and the basics of electrical etc... SO I could probably handle the upgrade...

I need to learn more!

Thanks again all!

R44
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Old 10-19-2018, 04:37 PM   #13
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R44,

Its kind of an apples and oranges thing here. The Victron monitor doesnt replace the Sun explorer. I have an older trailer which had the previous version of the Sun explorer. I replaced it with a Victron MPPT solar charge controller. Your Sun explorer is giving g you information on solar amp hours and charge rates, and battery voltage, but the voltage reading is misleading. Not that it's wrong, but it's not a true representation of the battery's state of charge.

The Victron BMV-712 is a battery monitor that uses the amperage flow to calculate usage and theoretical battery remaining. It uses a shunt, and when installed properly, all current flows through that shunt, giving you accurate usage information based in amps, not volts.

So its not a replacement. You need a solar charge controller (the Sun Explorer, or an upgrade); a shunt based battery monitor is a separate component. It's another tool to monitor battery usage. I'm sure others will have a more thorough explanation, but I hope I've helped unpeel the onion a little.

Happy trails,
Mike
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Old 10-20-2018, 08:50 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rounder44 View Post
Thanks...

I watched a few videos and read some more but the benefit seems to be more accurate display compared to some lesser models. The Sunexplorer II has numerical output not just lights and electronic meters are accurate and dirt cheap so I assume it should be close enough... but....

I must be missing something... I see what the shunt is and now assume my system doesn't have one? (2019 Sport 22FB)

The Victron looks like something in my financial wheel house so I'll dive deeper into that but it looks like an effort to install... it's not a plug and play replacement of the Sunexplorer but will require some retrofitting and wiring...

I was a carpenter for years; lots of remodels so know how and where to punch a hole (being aware what's behind!) and the basics of electrical etc... SO I could probably handle the upgrade...

I need to learn more!

Thanks again all!

R44
Hi

None of the stock Airstream trailers come with a shunt based system. If you only have what came when it was new, you just have voltage monitoring. That is not at all unusual on an RV. It's the default way to do things. For the part of the world that really never uses batteries it's "good enough".

A shunt system involves at least one added chunk of wire with a couple lugs on it ( hint - Amazon sells them and wire from Amazon is ok to buy). It needs to be big enough / long enough to do the job. How long that is ... that depends. If you have the room to run it 4/0 AWG is the default way to go. Not everybody has a big enough wire chase to get that done ....

There is some voodoo involved in the way shunt systems work. Indeed the fancier systems do a better job than the less expensive systems. We all buy Victron for that reason .... (and because *somebody* got us all started on them .... darn that Lewster .... ).

Lots of fun !!!!

Bob
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Old 10-20-2018, 09:47 AM   #15
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Yep!

I always like to add to the issues.
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Old 10-20-2018, 02:27 PM   #16
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2018 23' International
Guilford , Connecticut
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Solar voltage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

First picture = battery power stored, you are at 75% capacity (this is just a guess on the controller's part)

Second picture = battery voltage, you are at 12.5V. This should be a pretty solid number if nothing is powered up in the trailer and the charger is not going crazy.

Third picture = solar voltage, the panel is at 12.5V. You don't have much light on the panel.

Fourth picture = charge current from the panel. 0.6A isn't much. Again, not much light on the panel.

Fifth picture = charge amp hours. The charger has put 471 amp hours into the battery since it was reset.

The charge light is telling you that there's not much sun on the panel and that the battery is not fully charged.

The manual on the panel its self can be downloaded from the Zamp website. There's not much to it.

=====


Bob
The solar voltage reading is always zero on my Sunexplorer whether the panel is actually charging or not. Defective?

Pop
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Old 10-20-2018, 02:51 PM   #17
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The solar voltage reading is always zero on my Sunexplorer whether the panel is actually charging or not. Defective?

Pop
Hi

Maybe, or the fuse is blown in the wire from the solar, or the panel needs to be power cycled, or you are in the shade, or the wiring to the panel(s) is broken, or they have come unplugged from the box on the roof.

First step would be to use a multimeter to see what the voltage actually is.

Bob
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Old 10-20-2018, 11:46 PM   #18
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OK,

I have to say I'm a little confused.....

Looks like the Victron is simply a monitor and compared to Sunexplorer could be more accurate and easier BUT how accurate does one have to be?

Even if it indicated some issue with the system I'm still clueless to figure it out and in that sense seems like one of the last things one would do in a solar upgrade....

But perhaps I'm missing a key point....???

Thanks,

R44
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Old 10-21-2018, 12:49 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Rounder44 View Post
OK,

I have to say I'm a little confused.....

Looks like the Victron is simply a monitor and compared to Sunexplorer could be more accurate and easier BUT how accurate does one have to be?

Even if it indicated some issue with the system I'm still clueless to figure it out and in that sense seems like one of the last things one would do in a solar upgrade....

But perhaps I'm missing a key point....???

Thanks,

R44
The reason why many, myself included, like the Victron is it’s showing you actual state of charge in a linear way that makes sense. If it says you have 50% state of charge then you have half the total capacity of the battery remaining. It also shows you things like how many amps you are using right now.

Measuring voltage gives you a very nonlinear vague idea of your state of charge. Those numbers can vary all over the place depending on load, what the solar panel or charger is doing, etc.

If you upgrade to Lithium batteries you have no choice, you have to use a battery monitor because their discharge curve is so flat. The voltage doesn’t change much over most of their charge life.
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Old 10-21-2018, 08:31 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Rounder44 View Post
OK,

I have to say I'm a little confused.....

Looks like the Victron is simply a monitor and compared to Sunexplorer could be more accurate and easier BUT how accurate does one have to be?

Even if it indicated some issue with the system I'm still clueless to figure it out and in that sense seems like one of the last things one would do in a solar upgrade....

But perhaps I'm missing a key point....???

Thanks,

R44
Hi

Ok, keeping this simple:

When a voltage based setup tells you your battery is at 75% it is likely lying to you. The battery may be at "stop using". It may be fully charged. There is no way for you to know. If you *do* go ahead and use the battery when you should not, there is a risk of damage. You also get disappointed when there isn't enough power available. Next step is often replacing perfectly good batteries or pulling a working charger / converter.

If all you care about is "did the battery fully charge?" then (properly used) the voltage readout may be ok at normal temperatures. Using it properly involves turning everything off (including the charger) and waiting a couple hours. It is very unclear just how many people actually do that ....

The Sun Explorer panel is a readout that plugs into your solar converter /charger. It *only* tells you part of the story. It really does not understand much about your charger / converter. It's not supposed to, it's a solar gizmo.

If you want to replace the stock solar charger, Victron makes a replacement. It's their MPPT series of devices. AS is now using them on some 2019 trailers. It will do a bit better job than the older unit. It also can come with some bells and whistles that the 20+ year old unit they were using does not have.

The shunt based devices (like a replacement converter /charger, or a new solar setup) are very much optional. It's a bang for buck sort of thing. You spend money and you get more features. Heavy duty off grid trailer use is not quite what a typical AS is designed for.

Upgrading an AS to fit your usage needs is not at all uncommon. Some start the process before the trailer rolls off the dealer lot brand new. There are not a lot of options on a new trailer. Mods do happen

Many of us get into these upgrades as part of re-do that involves a fancy set of batteries. In those cases, the various electronic bits and pieces quickly become roundoff error in the total bill. That is in no way to say you have to do them or that they all have to be done together.

Lots of zigs and zags ....

Bob
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