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chubby

Solar panel & Tracer MPPT start up procedure advice please

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Hello ,

 

Yesterday i started a thread about my solar installations fuse requirements so thankyou to those who helped . Today i' m hoping to have my solar panels working finally . I spent yesterday threading cables through roofspaces and screwing the Tracer 40 amp mppt box and meter to the walls in the engine room and so today its about wiring it all up ....... safely .

I ve read the tracer manual several times and thru some recent threads but i'm left somewhat confused because the trcer instructions state that during the wiring up you" do not fit a fuse into the fuse holder at this stage " when connecting up the tracer to the batteries . BUT then at no point states at which stage you DO fit a fuse .

I realise this stuff is probably a total doddle for many on here but i would hate to damage what may be sensitive equipment so is the following accurate .

1. ) connect batteries to tracer - fit no fuse in holder

2) connect 4x 100w panels together in series

3 ) cover panels from sunlight whilst

4 ) connect panel wiring at Tracer

5 ) fit fuse in holder between batts and tracer

6 ) remove covers from panels

7) refer to manual and program the battery type into the Tracer - flooded wet type in my case

Sorry for bullet pointing my thoughts but this is how i approach techy things like this as it leaves no scope for getting things in the wrong order . Thanks for any thoughts and whether points 1-7 are in the right order .

 

cheers folks

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Looks good, think it's mainly to avoid blowing fuse if there's a slip while connecting batt side of Tracer.

 

Instead of covering the panels you could isolate them from the MPPT by disconnecting one of the 'MT4' connectors between panels an MPPT, not ideal to plug them in 'on load' but should be OK for a one off.

 

Or, just do the final connecting up after dark. smile.png

 

How is your diesel heater BTW, any luck with that?

 

cheers, Pete.

~smpt~

Edited by smileypete

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Cheers Pete ,

 

Thanks for your help again . I ve put my eberspacher back together as best i could but that second o ring got me flummoxed . I m going to put it back in this afternoon but i want to see if i can get my batteries topped up before trying to start it up . I can do it with the engine running but i can never hear the eber when i do that to tell whats going on .

Thats if i can start my engine . As soon as i get ine thing straight something goes wrong .

My smartgauge is now giving me grief since i interfered with the batteries fitting the solar cables .,

Since fitting it 2 weeks ago its read 12.5 - 12.7 volts and when pressing status button its read C 71 - C75 .

After tampering with the batteries about 30 mins ago & disconnecting the smartgauge to do so , it now reads Status C 10 . I ll look thru the manual later on but i m hoping it just needs to recalibrate itself after dusconnection .

I m hoping at some point in the next five years to start enjoying my boat but just now it feels like a long drawn out 20 ton to-do list !!

 

cheers

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Ok ,

all set up . 400w wired in series , positive to negative etc then the leads pos & neg that are leftover at either end of the array are wired in to the tracer & the little lcd meter is plugged in . I have programmed type 3 batteries - flooded wet cell type batteries .

Reading the instructions of the lcd meter it says a green light means charging is taking place . A red led light indicates an error of some sort , presumably relating to the wiring ?

Neither light is on . Is this then indicating that there are no errors regarding wiring - hence no red light , but that conditions ( grey & overcast following rain ) are not sufficient to enable charging ?

I ' ll keep an eye on it and if the sun re emerges i would hope to see a green light indicating charge to batteries .

 

edit to add : checking the tracer the green led relating to " battery " it is on permanent - not flashing .

The Led on the left relating to " pv " is off - nothing at all .

Sorry to bother with such basic stuff but i m just getting a bit lost with all this

thanks

Edited by chubby

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Try checking the voltage at the PV terminals of the MPPT with a multimeter, what do you get? Sounds like the panels may not be connected quite rightly.

 

If the Tracer is getting a voltage from the PVs OK try switching some loads on like lights, water pump and see if the controller kicks into charging mode.

 

cheers, Pete.

~smpt~

Edited by smileypete

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Cheers again Pete

I found the fault as to why i had no green " charging " lights on both the tracer & the meter . As expected it was my own ineptitude . I had crimped the mc4 connectors onto the solar cables but the metal part which you crimp did not extend far enough into the connectors and consequently tho the male & female plug clipped together there was infact no connection between the actual metal parts .

 

### !

 

All sorted now tho . All plugged in & green lights glowing . My Smartgauge issue looks like its trying to rectify itself . When i press status button the number is increasing .
My battery bank voltage on the smartgauge is reading 13.05 but am i right to assume this is just because theres charge going in and a better way of ascertaining the state of my batteries is what the voltage / SOC is to read it in the morning which is after a nights battery usage & before they ve had a chance to recharge during sunlight . This would be its " rested " SOC / voltage .
correct .... ish ?

cheers

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Good to hear it's OK :)

 

Smartgauge should sync itself OK after a few charge/discharge cycles.

 

One thing came to mind, if you ended up using the fuseholder with those screw terminals it's worth checking the screws are tight from time to time, they can loosen off and lead to them heating up.

 

cheers, Pete.

~smpt~

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Smartgauge voltages will reflect the solar controller output when there's any solar power worth mentioning.

The SG should get used to the solar and start to take account of it reasonably well in its percentage charge readings but the voltages on the battery banks will always be affected by any voltage from the solar system while it's connected & working.

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We have a Tracer too, and spent some time scratching our heads when initially installing it. Check the instructions, as if yours is the same as ours it is designed to run a street light system so will only charge the batteries during the daylight, and only supply power FROM the batteries during the darkness. We couldn't understand why everything appeared to be charging fine, but none of our electrics worked until night time! It is a setting that can be bypassed once you know about it.

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I'm about to embark on fitting the same Tracer and 500w of panels. But although its straight forward if only charging the leisure bank, how is it possible to get some charge into the starter to keep it topped up?

At the moment I have a Stirling split charger fed from the alternator which keeps the two banks separate, but I think this is faulty so removing it and fitting something to achive the above is not a problem. Would like something that's automatic, not just a switch, so keeps the starter bank from discharging.

Thanks for suggestions

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You could possibly put a split charge diode on battery side of Tracer, however I'm not sure what that will do to the Tracers Battery sense (i.e. how it will charge. Nearly full starter battery v 1/2 discharged domestics... Not sure that's very healthy ). Is the Start battery same capacity and type as the Domestic's? Note:- I do wish the Tracer had a separate temperature and Battery sense input. The Tracer can get very confused when the voltage wobbles around due to current induced voltage drops(and is made worse when the batteries are knackered)

another thing to note, is that the current displayed by the Remote is not at all accurate and can jump around all over the place even though the actual current flow is as steady as a rock. I've used a calibrated clamp meter to verify and there is at least a 10% error... although difficult to judge accurately given the stability of the tracer remote. I suggest use the remote as a 'its working' option only. I Have fitted these units to several boats and they all behave similarly.

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