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mad-runner

Batteries and solar panel

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I have 4 leisure (sealed) batteries and a starter battery for the engine. I have a Sunsaver MPPT (Morningstar) controller with a 136W solar panel.However, I am hooked up to a shoreline. Recently, the battery 'state of charge' indicator on the controller (I appreciate it is approximate)has been going from green to amber and then red (indicating empty)overnight and then back up again the following day. This is unusual because all 'summer' it has been on green, permanently. Simultaneously, the counter on the shoreline electricity post seems to be creeping up although there is nothing switched on (e.g. immersion not on, computer only). I'm guessing the first thing to do is check the batteries with a multi-meter and based on this get new batts? Has anyone with the same solar panel/set up had the same issue? The other thing I should say is that I have no idea when the batts were installed. Worse case scenario....2005 when the boat was built! I thought the batts were being drained because I had left a tap running v slowly and the pump was kicking in sporadically. However, this can be ruled out. Maybe just a case of knackered batteries?

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This sounds like a single failed battery pulling the rest of the bank down.

You need to test each battery separately, and remove the one/several that are faulty. It is unlikely to be the whole bank at once, however, the longer you leave it, the more likely others are to go the same way.

If they are original from fitout batteries, you have had a good run and should replace before winter.

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Have you missed out some critical piece of information such as "I have a mains powered charger" or "I have a combi inverter with battery support feature"?

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If you are on a shoreline then your batteries should be permanently fully charged. If your batteries are discharging and you are using more electricity than normal I would check to see who else is on your shoreline!

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Sorry Gibbo, yes I have a basic Sterling pro budget battery charger. I have to be connected to the shoreline to use it but I haven't used it since about March. All of the sockets on my boat run off the 240system. I have limited stuff that runs on 12V,which are, fridge, gulper pump, water pump and backboiler pump. Stove has not been on since April.

 

No one else is on my shoreline.

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To be honest I'm a bit baffled what you're baffled about.

 

1. You have equipment running from 230 volt, so that explains the counter on the shorepower going up.

 

2. You have 12 volt equipment running so that explains what discharges your batteries.

 

3. You have a mains powered charger but it hasn't been used since march, your solar panel can't keep up with your 12 volt loads so that's why the state of charge goes down.

 

What exactly do you think your problem is?

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Thanks for the response. So the fact that my batteries do not seem to be maintaining a steady state of charge, yet they have consistently been on 'full' all summer. Nothing has changed in terms of equipment usage etc so I'm just trying to ascertain if there is a problem with my batteries.

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To sum up; you are coming home, seeing a green light (where? on the Morningstar?) using some stuff, the light is red in the morning.

 

You have 440Ah (is this right), you are using a fridge (TV, computer?) and normal stuff (LED lights?)

 

The Morningstar lights aren't an accurate indicator of what is going on, you need some more indication. It seems from the information so far that you are charging to an extent through the day that is not enough to run your evening needs without going in the controller's 'red'.

 

You need to charge your batteries fully from the shorepower at least once a week so that your use is sitting within the upper range of the batteries capacity rather than much lower. I would guess your panel is broadly keeping up with your consumption but not fully and you need to supplement it from another source.

 

You need better monitoring, at the least a voltmeter, possible a battery monitor and some technical observation leading to a power audit.

 

Your batteries may be reaching the end of their life, certainly at 7 years old (at least) their capacity will be a lot lower than 440Ah. You haven't said TV or laptop but without that your consumption will be likely in the range 30-100Ah a day, mostly down to the fridge. If your batteries are at 50% capacity (well possible) then this is possibly on the limit of your daily use.

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This is what morningstar say about the battery status LED

 

green on solid nearly Full Load on

Yellow on solid Half Full Load on

red Flashing (1 Flash / sec) Battery Low LVD Warning (Load on)

red on solid Battery Empty LVD (Load off)

 

Which, given how good Morningstar are at technical explanation, is a very imprecise indicator of battery status.

 

i don't know the price of this;

http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/rm-1

 

but may be worth considering.

 

I have a ProStar with meter in it and it is the meter that provides information, the lights are simply a quick check.

 

 

 

...

Edited by Chris Pink

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Thanks Chris, this is excellent information. I have no TV but use my laptop for a few hours every weekday evening. When I say red, amber and green lights I'm referring to those on the Morningstar controller. Yes I have 4 110Ah batteries and use normal stuff like LED lights and computer, pumps. No microwave, TV, toaster or hairdryer. I'll get a voltmeter as a first step.

Many thanks.

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http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/support/library/SSD.IOM.Remote_Meter_Manual.01.EN.pdf

http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/support/library/SSMPPT.APP.Meter_Map.EN.021.pdf

 

the meter is around £80 which makes it the cheapest battery monitor for your system.

 

Thanks Chris, this is excellent information. I have no TV but use my laptop for a few hours every weekday evening. When I say red, amber and green lights I'm referring to those on the Morningstar controller. Yes I have 4 110Ah batteries and use normal stuff like LED lights and computer, pumps. No microwave, TV, toaster or hairdryer. I'll get a voltmeter as a first step.

Many thanks.

 

Like I say, 50Ah - 100Ah is the likely range of your consumption.

 

Midrange for a basic "No microwave, TV, toaster or hairdryer" setup. The fridge is your thirstiest appliance.

Edited by Chris Pink

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Chris has hit the nail on the head, your fridge is the biggest drain and your solar panel will not give enough to maintain a full charge.

 

Your fridge is most likely accounting for 40-50 amps per day, which means that you would need to put back up to 60 amps on the basis that you need to replace more than you take out. If you are also using laptop, lights, pumps etc, then even with an 80 amps per day requirement, your panel will not give you enough. A 135 watt panel will give you a maximum of about 10amps output under perfect conditions, probably a couple of hours either side of mid day. Over a whole day you will get a maximum of perhaps 70 amps, but over 3 days for example, you may well have clouds for some of the day, or mist in the morning, so your average for 3 days may be only 100-150 amps. Your consumption though would be pretty consistent, so your batteries are never getting up to full charge, and starting from a lower point each day until eventually they are showing low voltage.

 

As has been said, you need to fully recharge your batteries from your mains hookup at least once per week. The cost in electricity of doing that, will be far less than replacing your batteries because of their shortened lifespan.

 

Roger

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Thanks Chris, this is excellent information. I have no TV but use my laptop for a few hours every weekday evening. When I say red, amber and green lights I'm referring to those on the Morningstar controller. Yes I have 4 110Ah batteries and use normal stuff like LED lights and computer, pumps. No microwave, TV, toaster or hairdryer. I'll get a voltmeter as a first step.

Many thanks.

 

To be blunt, if you don't have access to regular shore power, you need to run your engine, or get a generator, to charge your batteries. Wind and solar are OK for topping up the last 10 or 15% but, unless you have an enormous bank of solar and/or wind, they will rarely keep up with normal daily use.

 

It's not good practice to use the engine regularly when moored, so a generator. IMHO Honda Eu are best, but you can buy a Kippor for not much money. A 1Kw would probably be enough for you.

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To be blunt, if you don't have access to regular shore power, you need to run your engine, or get a generator, to charge your batteries. Wind and solar are OK for topping up the last 10 or 15% but, unless you have an enormous bank of solar and/or wind, they will rarely keep up with normal daily use.

 

 

If you read the original post again, you will see that he is connected to a mains hookup :)

 

Roger

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If you read the original post again, you will see that he is connected to a mains hookup :)

Roger

 

if you read MR's profile on the left, you will see that he is a she :)

  • Greenie 1

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To be blunt, if you don't have access to regular shore power, you need to run your engine, or get a generator, to charge your batteries. Wind and solar are OK for topping up the last 10 or 15% but, unless you have an enormous bank of solar and/or wind, they will rarely keep up with normal daily use.

 

It's not good practice to use the engine regularly when moored, so a generator. IMHO Honda Eu are best, but you can buy a Kippor for not much money. A 1Kw would probably be enoughpril for you.

 

This is simply not true. I maintain 30-50Ah a day, April to October almost entirely on solar ( this summer being the almost) on 124W of solar. I have another 80W panel which needs the round tuits but will extend this into October but makes little difference now. The OP's 135W is probably not enough but another 100W or so would see her to September.

 

Come back in November, no light, and I'll agree with you.

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If you read the original post again, you will see that he is connected to a mains hookup :)

 

Roger

 

You are, of course, correct :)

 

But in a later post says she hasn't used the battery charger since March..... which confused me into thinking it wasn't permanent access to shore power. Seems she is choosing to rely on solar, and to not use the battery charger, whilst using shore power to run her 240V stuff.

 

It looks like the 135W of solar has managed to just about keep her going since March, butthe batteries have gradually drained, to the point where it is noticeable by the red light on the controller, with only a bit of 12V usage.

 

Unless I've missed something else, the immediate solution to the problem is to plug the battery charger in, get them up to 100% then either trickle charge from the charger, or use solar until they are about 50% depleted, then charge them up to 100% with the charger on shore power. Which is what you have already suggested.

 

I think she was also querying whether there is something wrong with the batteries.... The answer is maybe, maybe not. But if she allows them to continue depleting, there will be.

 

Chris: I agree that 135W of solar could provide about an average of 50Ah per day in late Spring, Summer, but the OPs usage could be up to double that. Which both you and Roger have suggested.

 

With a 440Ah bank, a deficit of say, 4 Ah per day would empty them in 110 days.... e.g. April May June July or so.

 

Like Mr. Micawber said. 50Ah in, 49Ah out = happiness, 50 Ah in, 51Ah out........... :)

Edited by Richard10002

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