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Author Topic: Solar output  (Read 712 times)
smoline
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« on: November 30, 2011, 10:44:53 am »

I have a new 2012 2350 (Ford) on which I had a 120 watt solar panel installed by the factory during construction. The standard coach batteries are 2 deep-discharge type 27 lead-acid 12 volt batteries wired in parallel.

My concern is that either I'm not getting full output from the solar array or there is a phantom load draining the batteries. The maximum output I've ever recorded from the array is 12-14 volts (bright, cool, sunny day) at approx 1.4 amps. While that will just barely restore the battery to its bulk capacity (13.6 volts), by the next morning the batteries are back down to about 11 volts. This seems excessive. I have unplugged every outlet, turned off every appliance, and shut off the inverter, but there is still considerable (or is it?) voltage reduction on the batteries each night.

My previous coach (2007 Roadtrek) had an 80 watt array and kept the coach batteries fully charged all the time. I expected the same or better peformance with a 120 watt array. I don't know if a 2 - 2.5 volt drop in the coach batteries each night is normal (it doesn't seem so). I also don't know if 12-14 volts max output from the solar array on a sunny day is normal (seems it should be more).

Any advice would be appreciated. Phantom load? Insufficient solar output? Both?

Thanks,

Steve
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lghjr
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2011, 12:06:20 pm »

I would vote for both knowing that I have a parasitic load on my house batteries. I would also check to make sure your solar controller is working as advertised.  I also believe I have read the output from the solar panel is in the order of 16-18vdc.  The solar cells will draw power at night if not properly isolated and will act as a parasitic load in addition to any other you may have.

L. G.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2011, 12:08:02 pm by lghjr » Logged
ron.dittmer
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2011, 03:21:09 pm »

Did you shut off the inverter using the switch by the entry door, or at the control panel, or did you shut it off using the switch on the inverter itself.

I think the 2012s have a different inverter than on my 2007, but if I don't kill the power for the inverter, using the switch on the inverter itself....there is still a power drain from it.
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Ron Dittmer (wife Irene) 2007 Model 2350 Without A Slideout
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smoline
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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2011, 04:27:18 pm »

Did you shut off the inverter using the switch by the entry door, or at the control panel, or did you shut it off using the switch on the inverter itself.

Ron -- I turned off the inverter at the inverter switch located behind the driver's seat (near the generator start button). The switch at the entry door is the battery disconnect, which I did not turn off (assuming the battery won't charge in a 'disconnect' state).
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pyrthkr
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2011, 10:20:20 pm »

I'll be monitoring this post closely as I am considering installing a solar array on my new 2552.
 cool
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2011, 10:19:13 am »

Soon after we bought our 2007 2350, I thought it would be real cool to have two large solar panels.  I eventually concluded they would be near useless when considering the kind of camp sites we seek in the shade, and storing the rig in a dark garage.  I am sure an array of panels would have done "some" good, but not as much as the demand would call for.  If we lived in the desert region with lots of sun, camping often in such places without electricity or shade trees, I would reconsider.
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Ron Dittmer (wife Irene) 2007 Model 2350 Without A Slideout
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smoline
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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2011, 04:42:47 pm »

Ron -- We live in Virginia, so have a mix of weather year round. We mostly dry camp. We installed a solar panel on our previous coach (Roadtrek) and found it to be invaluable. I knew when I was considering the PC (or any other motorhome) that I would have solar panels installed. It's one of those things that once you get accustomed to, can no longer do without. With solar power to keep the batteries charged, we found that the only limitation to camping became the amount of water and food (and beer!) we had on board. The batteries fully recharged every day (weather permitting), even with our son playing XBox and watching TV.
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2011, 05:03:46 pm »

Very interesting.

The 2000 watt Trip-Lite inverter in my 2007 2350 draws 12 amp hours sitting idle with no load, documented accordingly.  I don't know how the newer 1800 watt Xantrax compares, but such a continuous load would have quite a negative impact on the effectiveness of solar panels.

We dry camp a lot.  Because of the power drain from the inverter, we turn it off until 110v is needed.  I unplugged the jack from the back of the control panel which then I can manually control the inverter there.  With that jack plugged in, the control panel is only an LED monitor.  Details here:  http://www.phoenixusarv.com/community/index.php/topic,73.0.html
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 09:51:26 pm by ron.dittmer » Logged

Ron Dittmer (wife Irene) 2007 Model 2350 Without A Slideout
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smoline
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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2011, 07:23:32 pm »

Great recommendation (and link!); thanks, Ron. The inverter in the 2012 2350 is an 1800 watt Xantrax, but I'll read the manual and do some probing around in the morning to see if I can find a similar switch on it. Kermit is away at a show today, but I hope to speak with him tomorrow and learn if he has any other ideas. Will post if he does.
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