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Solar Charge & Solar Panels & All About Solar

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1. MPPT Solar Charger:

The device is built into the inverter if the van fitted with TBB CG Inverter

Key MPPT solar regulator/charger parameter you need to know :

  • What is the max PV input wattage it is rated to accept – 2000W. Which means it can handle max 2000W solar panels in total
  • What is the max panel Voltage/VOC rating it can handle – 150V. Which means, after your connect all the panels together, the open circuit voltage can not be more than 150V. In reality, no more than 140V. It will destroy the charger if it is more than 150V
  • What is the max output charge amp rating – 30 A. Which means the max charge amp is 30A, it is irrelevant to the solar panels.
  • Max tracking voltage range – 65V-145V. Which means the charger will only start to work when the solar panels produce more than 65V, but no more than 145V.

2. Solar Panel:

Key solar panel parameters you need to know: (Check the specs sticker on the panels itself)

  • Open circuit voltage (VOC)
  • Open circuit amps (ISC)
  • Max power Voltage
  • Max power Amps

How are they wired (Series – Parallel)?

Version 1: PowerBank Models (2021model)

10x100W Panels are all in two series, 5 panels each series, because the panel used has the Open Circuit Voltage (VOC) 20+ V per panel which end up with 110+ V in total of 5 panels. Remember the total Open Circuit Voltage (VOC) can not be more than 140V.

Version 2: PowerBank and Suit Of Armour Models (2022models and Onwards)

10 x100W Panels are all in one Series, because the panel used has the Open Circuit Voltage (VOC) 10 V per panel which end up with 100+ V in total of 10 panels. We designed that way on purpose to have all solar panels in one series.

Version 3: Aluminium framed Glass Panels (2023 Aluminium Monocoque Models)

9x120W (7 x 120W for 16 ft model) Panels are all in one series, the panel used has the Open Circuit Voltage (VOC) 14.94V per panel which end up with 135V (104V for 16 ft model) in total. Remember the total Open Circuit Voltage (VOC) can not be more than 140V.

Why I am not getting as much solar as I expected?

People would ask, I have 1000W solar panels on the roof, why it is not giving me 1000W charged into the battery?

Certainly! When it comes to solar panels on caravans, there are several factors that can affect the actual power output you can expect to receive. It’s important to understand these factors to set realistic expectations and maximize the efficiency of your solar setup. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Solar Panel Efficiency: This is term used for all brands of solar panels. When solar panels are rated at a certain wattage, such as 100W, it means that under specific test conditions in a laboratory setting, the panel is capable of producing that amount of power. However, in real-world conditions, the actual power output of a solar panel can vary.
  2. Sunlight intensity: The power output of a solar panel is directly proportional to the amount of sunlight it receives. On a clear and sunny day, the panel is more likely to come closer to its rated wattage. However, variations in sunlight intensity due to weather conditions, cloud cover, and the angle of the sun throughout the day can impact the power output.
  3. Angle and orientation: The angle and orientation of the solar panel play a role in its efficiency. For optimal power production, panels should be angled towards the sun and face the correct direction based on your location. If the panel is not properly angled or oriented, it may not reach its rated wattage
  4. Temperature: Solar panels are less efficient at higher temperatures. As the temperature increases, the panel’s efficiency may decrease, resulting in a lower power output. The actual temperature of the panel during operation can affect its performance.
  5. Shading: Shade is the enemy of solar panels. Even a small amount of shade on a panel can cause a significant drop in power production. It’s crucial to ensure that your panels are not shaded by trees, buildings, or any other obstructions. Even partial shading on one panel can affect the output of the entire solar array.
  6. Weather Conditions: Weather conditions, particularly cloud cover, can impact the amount of sunlight reaching your solar panels. Cloudy days will result in reduced power production compared to clear sunny days. It’s important to note that solar panels still generate power on cloudy days, but the output will be lower.
  7. System Losses: There are several losses associated with a solar power system, including wiring losses, inverter inefficiency, and so on. These losses can reduce the actual power output compared to the rated capacity of the solar panels. It’s essential to account for these factors when calculating the expected power output.
  8. Battery Charging: If you have a battery bank connected to your solar panels, it’s important to consider the charging efficiency. The charging process is not 100% efficient, and some energy is lost during the charging and discharging cycles. This means that the actual power available for use from your solar system will be lower than the total power generated.
  9. Use while Charging: The power harvested from the solar will be used at same time while it is charging into the battery, therefore no all power will go into the battery

It is not a excuse. In fact, this is a big and controversial topic in the whole solar industry, not just caravan application. There are too many factors to affect the performance

To get a better understanding of the expected power output from your solar panels, using onboard monitor to observe the real-time data on your solar system’s performance, helping you assess its efficiency and make any necessary adjustments.

Remember, while solar panels can be an excellent source of power for caravans, it’s important to have realistic expectations based on the factors mentioned above. By optimizing the installation, minimizing shading, and using high-quality components, you can maximize the power output and overall efficiency of your solar system.

How to read your solar status from the monitor?

1. A7 Monitor (Early PowerBank Models)

  • Solar Charger: “2.70 Amp” is how many amps you are getting from the solar panels at given time (real-time), it will keep fluctuating. The 2.70A is in 48V, not 12V. If you are comparing with 12V caravan, times the figure by 4 is a rough indication.
  • The “0.711Kwh”, is what wattage/power you have harvested from your solar panels on that day so far. It will keep accumulating until the end of the day and then rest to zero.

FAQ:

  1. I received 10% or xxx amount of power from the solar panels, but the battery percentage did not increase by 10%
    • Q: The caravan is using power simultaneously
  2. The solar gauge indicates solar charging, but the battery is not charging.
    • Q: The van consumes more power than the solar panels generate, causing the battery gauge to not show any charging.
    • Q: Check the battery gauge to determine the amount of power being drained from the battery by the van.
  3. I haven’t used anything, but the solar panels are unable to maintain the battery charge.
    • Q: The battery loses power when devices draw power from it.
    • Q: When the van draws more power than the solar panels produce, the battery level drops.
    • Q: You can verify “I haven’t used anything” by checking the battery gauge to see how much power is being drained from the battery.

Amount of solar charging into the van (X) minus the amount drawn from the battery (X) equals the “real-time amperage drawing out of the battery” displayed on the monitor.

  • If the “real-time amperage drawing out of the battery” on the monitor is 0, it means you are using the same amount of power as the solar charging.
  • If the “real-time amperage drawing out of the battery” on the monitor is XX A, it means you are using more power than the solar charging, and it is drawing XX A out of the battery.
  • If the “real-time amperage drawing out of the battery” on the monitor is XX A and the lighting sign is on, it means you are using less power than the solar panels produce, and there is a surplus of XX A charging into the battery.

Real Case Scenario, PowerBank model, here are some facts: – Location WA

  • The system is a 48V system, all power system devices are 48V including the MPPT solar regulator.
  • The control panel reading is in 48V and also real time dynamic reading. The 7.9Amp on the screen is only for that instant sec, the amperage will fluctuate as conditions change.
  • At that given second time 7.9A is in 48V, it is equivalent to 31.6amp in 12V system theoretically
  • 2.2Kwh total harvested from solar on that day by 4 pm, it is 15% of total battery capacity. We have 14.4 Kwh power on board in total, similar size like tesla wall.
  • 2.2Kw is 45.8Amp (300amp lithium batteries in total on board )in 48V , and 183amp in 12V system theoretically
  • System itself will consume some of power when the solar charging is on, our system will awaken up automatically whenever there is available source of charge like DC from tow, solar, or shore power.
  • The customer have a 3000W inverter on board, like a real household inverter capacity, the inverter consume some of power when it is standing by due to the size of it.
  • That is the reason why it has 15% charge on that day by reading the solar gauge, but only shows 10% increase on the battery gauge

2. MCK Monitor (2022 Models Onwards)

  • Use 10 or 12 to roll the display to “Solar – KW” or “Solar – A”.
  • “Solar” and Kw combination, it shows you how much power you are getting into the system in Kw at real-time (not necessarily charged into the battery, the van is using the power at the same time)
  • “Solar” and “A” combination, it shows you how much amperage you are getting into the system at real-time (not necessarily charged into the battery, the van is using the power at the same time)
  • #1, Solar icon, it is indication whether the solar system is working

FAQ:

  1. I received 10% or xxx amount of power from the solar panels, but the battery percentage did not increase by 10%
    • A: The caravan is using power simultaneously
  2. The solar gauge indicates solar charging, but the battery is not charging.
    • A: The van consumes more power than the solar panels generate, causing the battery gauge to not show any charging.
    • A: Check the battery gauge to determine the amount of power being drained from the battery by the van.
  3. I haven’t used anything, but the solar panels are unable to maintain the battery charge.
    • A: The battery loses power when devices draw power from it.
    • A: When the van draws more power than the solar panels produce, the battery level drops.
    • A: You can verify “I haven’t used anything” by checking the battery gauge to see how much power is being drained from the battery.

Amount of solar charging into the van (X) minus the amount drawn from the battery (X) equals the ” battery draw” displayed on the monitor.

  • If the “battery draw” on the monitor is 0 Amp, it means you are using the same amount of power as the solar charging.
  • If the “battery draw” on the monitor is XX A and #4 sign is not showing up, it means you are using more power than the solar charging, and it is drawing XX A out of the battery.
  • If the “battery draw” on the monitor is XX A and the #4 Indicates the battery is charging, it means you are using less power than the solar panels produce, and there is a surplus of XX A charging into the battery.

Can I add portable solar panels?

Yes, the portable solar panels can be connected to the front “Anderson” Style plug at A frame. However, it has to be done right as followings

  • The system will shut off to protect the caravan if the connection is not followed as below. Wrong setup may result in damaging the onboard DC-DC Device
  1. The portable Solar Panels can no more than 1000W
  2. A 12V MPPT Solar regulator is required, for example Victron Solar Controller
  3. A 12V battery is required to smooth the voltage before connect to the caravan, any size of battery will do the job
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