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blythecooper

Troubleshooting Solar Panel

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Help please! After 3 weeks of living on the boat, I have only JUST realised my solar setup is not working. And I am at a total loss as to how to even begin to start troubleshooting it. I've got a Victron MPPT controller and a 250w solar panel. Where do I start? If anybody has the patience to talk a complete newbie through understanding solar setups and troubleshooting problems, I would massively appreciate it.

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Check all you connections. Panel to switch (if you have one), switch to controller, controller to fuse,fuse to battery. Fuse itself(not blown).

Then, If you have a voltmeter, start measuring voltages.

How do you know its not working?

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I have a victron battery monitor and a victron mppt controller.. I started taking measurements from my batteries over the past couple of days, which was when I realised there was no solar input.

 

Where in the setup do I measure the voltage? Electrics are completely new to me- I need to work out some diagrams of all of my connections, and I've only just learnt how to test voltage on a battery:/

The lights on the mppt controller are all off- I believe that at least one led should be on. According to the instruction book it points to a blown internal fuse which has to be sent back to the factory to sort out... Is that really the case, or is it just not recommended that you try sorting the fuse yourself?

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What is the voltage on the Victron battery monitor when the sun is out, and no other draw on the batteries,whilst they are charging from solar?

Edited by rusty69
from solar

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The internal fuse is probably not one you would recognise, it may well be a semiconductor fuse. Its also a safety part so I would recommend not to meddle.

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Not exactly sure what the daylight reading is but it's minimal.. 0.1 something a and 1w (I know one is current and one is power but don't know which way round it is- I'm sure you do!).

 

Will work out connections and see if I can find an external fuse tomorrow

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4 minutes ago, blythecooper said:

Not exactly sure what the daylight reading is but it's minimal.. 0.1 something a and 1w (I know one is current and one is power but don't know which way round it is- I'm sure you do!).

 

Will work out connections and see if I can find an external fuse tomorrow

Read the voltage and current readings on the Victron battery monitor whilst the batteries are charging (when they are not fully charged), with no other draw on the batteries,and post the results (ideally a picture).

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Might be worth covering the panel(s) and disconnecting a battery lead at the controller for about a minute. Then reconnecting it and uncovering the panel(s). If the previous owner connected the panel(s) before the battery it may have set itself to 24 volts and tripped out. (If its capable).

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I would start by establishing whether the solar panel itself is in working order. Acquire a multi-meter from somewhere like Maplins. Then set it to the 200v DC range. Put the two probes on the ends of the two wires coming out of the solar panel where they enter the solar controller. On a sunny day you should be getting perhaps 16 or 17 volts. Or possibly a lot higher. This will confirm the solar panel is working. Post the result here :) 

P.S. you are going to be using a multi meter a LOT in the next few years! 

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45 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

Might be worth covering the panel(s) and disconnecting a battery lead at the controller for about a minute. Then reconnecting it and uncovering the panel(s). If the previous owner connected the panel(s) before the battery it may have set itself to 24 volts and tripped out. (If its capable).

I disconnected the batteries a couple of days ago to take readings, didn't find out until afterwards that I should have thought about solar. Will try that tomorrow, thanks!

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1 hour ago, blythecooper said:

Help please! After 3 weeks of living on the boat, I have only JUST realised my solar setup is not working. And I am at a total loss as to how to even begin to start troubleshooting it. I've got a Victron MPPT controller and a 250w solar panel. Where do I start? If anybody has the patience to talk a complete newbie through understanding solar setups and troubleshooting problems, I would massively appreciate it.

We had a problem when they upgraded their software. We asked on their website about out problem, and the problem was sorted. See https://www.victronenergy.com/live/

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1st thing, disconnect the panels two connectors,  probably MC4 or similar. See what voltage is being produced in bright sunlight. A single 250w panel is likely to be 24v or possibly 36v, it should be reading 27-29v (or 39-42v)

If there is no reading from the panel it is likely diodes have broken or the control box on the back of the panel has been shorted. 

 

When work on the batteries or solar is done, ALWAYS disconnect solar panels before disconnecting or working on battery banks.

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2 hours ago, blythecooper said:

I have a victron battery monitor and a victron mppt controller.. I started taking measurements from my batteries over the past couple of days, which was when I realised there was no solar input.

 

Where in the setup do I measure the voltage? Electrics are completely new to me- I need to work out some diagrams of all of my connections, and I've only just learnt how to test voltage on a battery:/

The lights on the mppt controller are all off- I believe that at least one led should be on. According to the instruction book it points to a blown internal fuse which has to be sent back to the factory to sort out... Is that really the case, or is it just not recommended that you try sorting the fuse yourself?

We have a victron mppt controller and the led lights tell you how it's working. It should have a flashing yellow if it is supplying a charge to the batteries or a solid yellow if the batteries are full....if it is the same model as mine....and you can see the voltage and current on the battery monitor. If no leds on the mppt then either it is broken or no voltage from the panels. I would suspect a panel wiring problem so do what MtB says and test the panels first. 

Edit...and what Matty40s says.....posts crossed.

Edited by Dr Bob

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2 hours ago, roland elsdon said:

If you disconnect a Victron mttp from the batteries without turning off the panels  first it goes pop. Says so in the instal pdf. We have a warning prompt next to batt master

 

That strikes me as shockingly poor electronics design for a supposedly good quality bit of kit. 

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4 hours ago, roland elsdon said:

If you disconnect a Victron mttp from the batteries without turning off the panels  first it goes pop. Says so in the instal pdf. We have a warning prompt next to batt master

Is covering the panels equivalent to turning them off? Not sure I can find anything as user friendly as an on-off switch anywhere!

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7 minutes ago, blythecooper said:

Is covering the panels equivalent to turning them off? Not sure I can find anything as user friendly as an on-off switch anywhere!

Yes,as long as the cover is thick enough to block the sun/light,and big enough to cover the whole panel.

 

Make sure the cover won't blow away. 

Edited by rusty69

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10 minutes ago, blythecooper said:

Is covering the panels equivalent to turning them off? Not sure I can find anything as user friendly as an on-off switch anywhere!

When I replaced my leisure batteries last year I just unscrewed and disconnected, at the controller end, one of the two cables (the one with the red screw-on connector) coming from the panels to the controller. From the display it was then immediately obvious that there was no longer any solar juice coming in from the panels. After the batteries were replaced I re-attached said cable and all was well.

 

That seemed a lot easier to me than finding something appropriate to cover the panels with.

 

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I wouldn't disconnect the panel whilst charging in full sunlight. Cover it first as Tony suggests, or wait until its dark. I have a switch between my panels and controller, but will not switch it off whilst charging in case of damage.

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7 minutes ago, rusty69 said:

I wouldn't disconnect the panel whilst charging in full sunlight.

 

Except that it isn't charging, so what would be the problem?

 

The risk of electrocution is about all. Nothing will be damaged by disconnecting the panels from the controller in full sunlight. It's disconnecting the batteries from the controller whilst charging that supposedly damages the controller.

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9 minutes ago, rusty69 said:

I wouldn't disconnect the panel whilst charging in full sunlight. Cover it first as Tony suggests, or wait until its dark. I have a switch between my panels and controller, but will not switch it off whilst charging in case of damage.

I didn't realise that could cause a problem but I'm happy to be corrected.

 

As it happens I did mine on a relatively gloomy February day so I doubt there was much coming through to start with.

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1 minute ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

Except that it isn't charging, so what would be the problem?

 

The risk of electrocution is about all

Or maybe it is!

 

Oh, is that all. Carry on then.:)

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Just now, rusty69 said:

Or maybe it is!

 

Oh, is that all. Carry on then.:)

 

There is no need to disconnect anything to do the first step of checking to see if the panel is working. 

 

Just measure the voltage across the panel terminals and post the result here.

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