Saturday, 16 June 2012

Solar Panel Regulator 20A 12V/24V

My initial purchase of what I thought at the time was a good Solar MPPT controller from China proved to be a false economy. While the controller worked, it did not perform as well as I expected.

So I bit the bullet and purchased an all singing and dancing MPPT controller. A bit more sophisticated, but easy to use. All of the configuration options are menu based with variable settings. This controller uses an external temperature sensor to prevent overcharge or over discharge of the battery system.

The inbuilt screen can be configured to show a number of parameters including, accumulated charge in Ampere Hours, The instantaneous charging current, The charging voltage. The unit has inbuilt protection systems including, overload, reverse polarity and High voltage surge protection.

The three solar panels are mounted flat on the boat roof and cannot be configured to point them directly towards the sun. I did them this way as an anti-theft  measure. However, I have discovered that because the panels are mounted flat, standing water can build up on the surface. Occasional cleaning of accumulated dirt can make a small difference to the performance. I intend to make changes to the panel layout for next year. To centralise the panels on the boat roof and to leave more clearance for the centre line.

You have to adapt your lifestyle to get best performance from your electrical items. Choosing how and when you use an electrical item can help to reduce your battery consumption. For us Laptop and Mobile phone charging. Hair dryer and kitchen microwave  (used via Inverter) are only operated when the engine is running and we are underway. All our hot water for showering  is provided via the engine though we have a ALDI gas heating system if needed.

I have estimated our power consumption when moored at around 50 Ah per day.

Power Budget: 
Fridge   25Ah per day.  Shoreline
Lights    2Ah  per day.  LED
TV         9Ah  per day.  12v
Pumps   2Ah  per day.  12v
Inverter 12Ah per day.

This is a day to day recording taken over the last 21 days of the ampere hours supplied to the leisure battery pack by the solar panels. The panels are rated at a maximum power of 240 watts (18a @ 13.2v) watts. When the engine is running the solar panels do not provide any power to the leisure batteries. The boats 70amp alternator provides charge in this circumstance. No allowance has been made for this. I have provided a rough overview of the weather conditions before noon and after noon in the notes.

This is not at all scientific but any info is better than no information.

Day                    Date                    Ah                  Notes.
Fri              25th of May 2012        0010/10     Overcast
Sat             26th of May 2012        0042/32     Bright Sunshine
Sun            27th of May 2012        0082/40     Bright Sunshine
Mon            28th of May 2012        0119/37     Bright Sunshine
Tue            29th of May 2012        0157/36     Bright Sun, Overcast.
Wed           30th of May 2012        0170/13     Overcast, heavy showers.
Thu            31st of May 2012         0186/16    Overcast, showers.

Average 26.5 Ah per day  High 40 Low 10

Day                    Date                     Ah                  Notes.
Fri                1st  of June 2012       0199/13     Overcast.
Sat               2nd of June 2012       0211/12     Light rain, Overcast.
Sun              3rd  of June 2012       0217/06     Heavy rain, Overcast.
Mon              4th  of June 2012       0225/08     Overcast, Showers.
Tue              5th  of June 2012       0247/22     Sunshine, Showers.
Wed             6th  of June 2012       0266/19     Sunshine, Showers.
Thu              7th  of June 2012       0273/07     Overcast, very heavy rain.

Average 10.5 Ah per day  High 22 Low 06

Fri                8th  of June 2012       0294/21     Overcast, Showers.
Sat               9th  of June 2012       0302/08     Overcast, Heavy showers.
Sun            10th  of June 2012       0331/29     Sunshine, Overcast
Mon            11th  of June 2012       0358/27     Overcast, Showers.
Tue             12th  of June 2012       0374/18     Overcast, Some Sun.
Wed            13th  of June 2012       0393/19     Overcast, Some Sun.
Thu             14th  of June 2012       0399/06     Disconnected, Some Sun

Average 15.0 Ah per day  High 29 Low 06

Previous postings on Solar panels.

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