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Old 10-18-2019, 10:12 AM   #1
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Solar power and circuit breakers

When AM Solar in Oregon added two rooftop solar panels to the one I had from the factory, they also installed a circuit breaker. But they put the breaker between the existing GoPower controller and the batteries, not between the panels and the controller. Why would they do that?

I am currently upgrading my solar controller. I intend to put a breaker between the panels and the new controller, mainly to act as a switch when needed, and not have one between the controller and the batteries. Why should I not do that?
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Old 10-18-2019, 10:14 AM   #2
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At the suggestion of a local solar company I installed one on each side of the controller for safety and convenience. Haven't used them in 2 1/2 years though, and hopefully don't need to.
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Old 10-18-2019, 10:24 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Mike Lewis View Post
When AM Solar in Oregon added two rooftop solar panels to the one I had from the factory, they also installed a circuit breaker. But they put the breaker between the existing GoPower controller and the batteries, not between the panels and the controller. Why would they do that?

I am currently upgrading my solar controller. I intend to put a breaker between the panels and the new controller, mainly to act as a switch when needed, and not have one between the controller and the batteries. Why should I not do that?
Most large solar installations require fuses or breakers on both sides of the controller. The one between the batteries & the controller protects the wiring & controller. A fault to ground at the controller would allow the short circuit current from the battery (100's of amps) to flow if there was no circuit protection.

While a fuse or breaker is less often installed in small systems such as in our trailers, I feel a circuit breaker is a useful addition. Without it, shutting off the input to the controller from the panel is difficult. Most controller manufacturers note in their installation manuals not to connect the panels without a battery already connected. Without a breaker that can be used as a switch, you would either need to wait until night or cover or disconnect the panels before disconnecting or changing the batteries.
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Old 10-18-2019, 01:00 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
Most large solar installations require fuses or breakers on both sides of the controller. The one between the batteries & the controller protects the wiring & controller. A fault to ground at the controller would allow the short circuit current from the battery (100's of amps) to flow if there was no circuit protection.
True, but a fuse (or breaker) at the battery would be more effective if the power source for the fault scenario is the battery.

I think the breakers on each side of the controller are a good idea, mostly as disconnects for only occasional use.
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Old 10-18-2019, 01:42 PM   #5
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True, but a fuse (or breaker) at the battery would be more effective if the power source for the fault scenario is the battery.
A fuse! Yes, a fuse in an in-line fuse holder between the battery and controller would protect the controller, be more compact, and would probably be less expensive than a breaker. I'll look for one, and keep the breaker between the controller and panels to shut off power from the panels when necessary. Thanks.
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Old 10-18-2019, 02:36 PM   #6
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A fuse! Yes, a fuse in an in-line fuse holder between the battery and controller would protect the controller, be more compact, and would probably be less expensive than a breaker. I'll look for one, and keep the breaker between the controller and panels to shut off power from the panels when necessary. Thanks.
For the size fuse you would need, a Maxi fuse works well.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 10-18-2019, 02:43 PM   #7
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On the panel side of the controller you might consider a pair of Anderson Powerpole connectors. That will give an absolute indication of the disconnect state. It will also give you the option of hooking the panels to something else should it be needed. I like the 50 Amp version because it is easier to grab with fat fingers.
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Old 10-18-2019, 10:01 PM   #8
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For the size fuse you would need, a Maxi fuse works well.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
This is perfect, thanks. If I don't find one locally (my guess) I'll order it from Amazon. The breaker I'm using for the panel-to-controller path is this one:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I will also connect the hot line from the rear mounted SAE connector for a portable panel to one of the terminals on the breaker, thus killing two birds with one stone.
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Old 10-18-2019, 10:05 PM   #9
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On the panel side of the controller you might consider a pair of Anderson Powerpole connectors.
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Although I user PowerPoles for my ham radio stuff, I've had occasional problems with my crimps staying crimped. I'm sure it's my fault, but there it is. So it's probably better for me to switch that connection via a circuit breaker.
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Old 10-19-2019, 09:54 AM   #10
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Mike - I used two of these breakers on the solar panel to controller side:

https://www.solar-electric.com/midni...t-breaker.html

as I set my trailer up with both a roof mounted panel and a portable array.

I used a 20amp version of the same breaker between the controller and batteries. I mounted these in their “Big Baby Box” :

https://www.solar-electric.com/misobigbabox.html

The system has been flawless thus far.
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Old 10-19-2019, 02:06 PM   #11
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I feel like I am always the one with the basic questions, but with the “stock” ETI solar set up of a panel (or two), the Go Power controller, and the batteries, do I need to take any special considerations in hooking up or unhooking the batteries? All this talk about fuses / breakers made me wonder. Thanks.
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Old 10-19-2019, 03:42 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jordan View Post
I feel like I am always the one with the basic questions, but with the “stock” ETI solar set up of a panel (or two), the Go Power controller, and the batteries, do I need to take any special considerations in hooking up or unhooking the batteries? All this talk about fuses / breakers made me wonder. Thanks.
The
GoPower manual (page 12) says to cover the solar panels when installing the controller. I suspect disconnecting the battery would also require disconnecting or eliminating the output of the panels.
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Old 10-19-2019, 04:58 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
The
GoPower manual (page 12) says to cover the solar panels when installing the controller. I suspect disconnecting the battery would also require disconnecting or eliminating the output of the panels.
Thanks Jon. I would have guessed ETI would include info on that in their manual, but I found nothing.
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Old 10-19-2019, 06:12 PM   #14
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Thanks Jon. I would have guessed ETI would include info on that in their manual, but I found nothing.


The info is in the GoPower manual, which is supplied to the trailer purchaser along with manuals for all of your other appliances.

You can’t expect ETI to repeat all of the appliance-specific information in their trailer manual. Thus they supply the appliance manuals.
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Old 10-19-2019, 09:14 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
The
GoPower manual (page 12) says to cover the solar panels when installing the controller. I suspect disconnecting the battery would also require disconnecting or eliminating the output of the panels.
Or save your battery chores for night.
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Old 10-30-2019, 02:33 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by wdr2 View Post
Mike - I used two of these breakers on the solar panel to controller side:

https://www.solar-electric.com/midni...t-breaker.html

as I set my trailer up with both a roof mounted panel and a portable array.

I used a 20amp version of the same breaker between the controller and batteries. I mounted these in their “Big Baby Box” :

https://www.solar-electric.com/misobigbabox.html

The system has been flawless thus far.
How did you combine your 2 leads from the "baby box" to the controller?
And what size wire did you use ?
Thanks!
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Old 10-30-2019, 02:39 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
Most large solar installations require fuses or breakers on both sides of the controller. The one between the batteries & the controller protects the wiring & controller. A fault to ground at the controller would allow the short circuit current from the battery (100's of amps) to flow if there was no circuit protection.

While a fuse or breaker is less often installed in small systems such as in our trailers, I feel a circuit breaker is a useful addition. Without it, shutting off the input to the controller from the panel is difficult. Most controller manufacturers note in their installation manuals not to connect the panels without a battery already connected. Without a breaker that can be used as a switch, you would either need to wait until night or cover or disconnect the panels before disconnecting or changing the batteries.
Jon et al,
What size breakers did you use between your roof mounts and your portable panels and the controller? between controller and batteries?
If I remember, you have 3 panels all about 150-160 Watt, Mine are 2 190's on the roof and 1 100 watt portable.
Thanks,
Bern
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Old 10-30-2019, 03:45 PM   #18
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Jon et al,
What size breakers did you use between your roof mounts and your portable panels and the controller? between controller and batteries?
If I remember, you have 3 panels all about 150-160 Watt, Mine are 2 190's on the roof and 1 100 watt portable.
Thanks,
Bern
2 160 watt panels on the roof & I can add a portable 160 watt panel when necessary.

I have a 40 amp breaker on the panel side of the controller as well as a 30 amp fuse on the battery side. The panel breaker is much larger than I need, but I had it in stock & use it as a switch to "turn off" the panels when necessary.
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Old 10-30-2019, 09:58 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
2 160 watt panels on the roof & I can add a portable 160 watt panel when necessary.

I have a 40 amp breaker on the panel side of the controller as well as a 30 amp fuse on the battery side. The panel breaker is much larger than I need, but I had it in stock & use it as a switch to "turn off" the panels when necessary.
Thanks, how did you join the large 4-8 gauge wires?
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Old 10-31-2019, 02:20 AM   #20
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Although I user PowerPoles for my ham radio stuff, I've had occasional problems with my crimps staying crimped. I'm sure it's my fault, but there it is. So it's probably better for me to switch that connection via a circuit breaker.
you probably need a better crimper. I've been crimping the AWG12 PP30s with one of these Panduit CT-260's, which has always worked quite well for me.

However, it does NOT work very well on AWG10 PP45s, and I certainly wouldn't try and use it on anything larger, those sorts need special crimpers. I've had a variety of cheap crimpers, including off brand 'ratchet' crimpers, and they just don't work well, you need to invest in the correct tools for the job.
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