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Old 01-17-2015, 03:19 PM   #1
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Solar Controller Location

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Originally Posted by LeonW View Post
On our new 21, I asked if the solar controller could be moved so that it was more visible -- but was told that it needs to be close to the batteries for some reason.
The controller should be able to read the voltage at the battery, but there will be a voltage difference between the controller and the battery due to resistance in the wires and current flow though them; this is minimized by keeping the wiring run between battery and controller short.

There is a straightforward fix to this: controllers can use a separate wire (with essentially no current flow through it) to sense the battery voltage, instead of looking at the voltage at the output terminals of the controller. Common controllers do no use this separate connection.

ETI uses a GoPower controller. Since they seem to have only one current model - GP-PWM-30 - I assume this is the one in an Escape. It does not use a separate sense wire, and the manual for it lists required wire gauge for lengths up to 25 feet.

I can't remember if anyone has put in a controller with a separate sense wire.
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Old 01-17-2015, 03:35 PM   #2
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I asked that the controller be placed under the front dinette in my 15 as I wanted as clean a run of overhead cabinets as possible. Unbeknownst to me, this was to my advantage.
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Old 01-17-2015, 09:57 PM   #3
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The solar controller needs to be close to the battery because of the loss of voltage in using a longer wire. How close? Some installers say one meter.

So you say what difference is another few meters of wire going to make? Lots of difference. That distance is critical because the controller is what is performing the charge process to the battery, just a 5% drop in voltage due to wire resistance will make a substantial reduction in how much time your battery will last after the charge process. Simply put, it means you are not filling up your battery to capacity.

Some solutions are: upgrade the wire size between the controller and battery, check if your controller has an option for a remote monitor, or install a separate battery monitoring system.

Each of these solutions has issues, changing the wire size means having the ability to route some heavy gauge wire through the walls and cabinets to the new location. But you need to fish two sets of wires, controller to battery and solar panel to controller. The Go Power that Escape has traditionally used does not have a remote monitor option, you could change it out for a model that did offer a remote such as Morning Star, Blue Sky, and others. The last solution is install a wired battery monitor from Trimetric, Xantrec, Magnum, Samlex and others. These usually only require a phone or network wire from battery or controller to your viewing location. I believe I have read where there is now a wireless version of some sort of battery monitor.
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Old 01-17-2015, 10:17 PM   #4
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That's an interesting variation: without remote battery voltage sensing the controller still needs to be close to the battery, but with a remote display one major reason for wanting to located the controller elsewhere is handled. That works if you have a good mounting location near the battery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
I believe I have read where there is now a wireless version of some sort of battery monitor.
That's presumably the BM PRO BatteryCheck from Setec.
Upgrading your battery system....
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Old 01-18-2015, 12:29 PM   #5
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Yes I purchased one and as soon as I can find 2 old battery cores I'm installing 2x6 volts and the wireless battery check system. Hopefully within 2 weeks.
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Old 01-20-2015, 12:56 PM   #6
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I also had my my controller installed under the front dinette, near the converter and inverter, but my reasoning was to make for easier access to the wiring when I eventually add a portable solar panel. Reace gave me a through-hull access point on the driver side for that wiring.
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Old 01-22-2015, 11:05 PM   #7
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We are not real sure we understand all of this, and our build sheet for our 5.0TA is due next week- Yikes! Above the fridge there are the tank and battery monitors, Tammy said the solar controller is mounted on the side of the cabinet by the door, our batteries are under the rear bench in the U-shaped dinette. Would it be better to have the solar controller moved to above the fridge with the rest of the monitors or even under the dinette table on the bench face by the batteries? Do we get both the standard battery monitor and the one that comes with the solar?
Thanks for your help,
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Old 01-22-2015, 11:25 PM   #8
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I am not familiar with the layout on a 5TA but that monitor for solar is a part of the solar controller and has to be near the batteries. It cannot easily be moved to the location with the tank monitors without adding some substantial diameter and quantity of wire. The battery status portion of the tank monitor is next to useless.

My recommendation would be to drop the GoPower solar controller provided by Escape and use another brand with a remote monitor that can be placed where ever you wish. There are some brands mentioned in the above post. There is a second benefit to such a replacement and that is you can use a controller that will charge your batteries at the recommended level as specified by Interstate Batteries. This is especially important if you are going with dual 6 volt.

I am not sure how Escape will receive either of these two solutions. In the past they have not wanted to change to heavier gauge wire for good reasons, like wise, if you switch out the solar controller you may have to do as I did and install it yourself. They did get it wire ready however.

If you are interested in the logic behind all this PM me and I will provide the links for prior posts on the subject. Pretty dry stuff.
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Old 01-23-2015, 02:06 AM   #9
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George and Jodi, if I'm reading this right you've got me confused. Tammy said the solar controller is going next to the door? Last I knew standard was mounted under the dinette bench. Might want to make sure that is what she said. Getting the solar controller up off the floor (dinette bench) wouldn't be a bad thing, either by the fridge as you suggest or by the door. If they ran heavy enough cable to make it work from by the door, I wouldn't complain, it is a more convenient spot. My self installed battery monitor is mounted there.

As far as battery monitors go, If you get solar you get both. The front or control panel of the solar controller has some monitoring functions to it. The basic monitor is the little idiot lights that tell you 1/3, 2/3, full, that sort of thing. It's the same panel that tells you the status of the holding tanks.
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Old 01-23-2015, 12:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin View Post

As far as battery monitors go, If you get solar you get both. The front or control panel of the solar controller has some monitoring functions to it..
That's the main reason I mounted mine at the end of the table where I could easily see and adjust it. I wanted to be able monitor how things are functioning, it does provide a lot of info. and be able to adjust settings easily.

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