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Old 06-09-2019, 10:18 AM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: North Bend, Washington
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Solar Charge seems erratic

We just picked our 17B up last Monday, and have been slowly getting prepared for the first trip in two weeks, and testing/learning about our various features.

One thing we have noticed, and have not been able to fully figure out is the solar charge % on our little readout.

It had been struggling to get above 85% all week, until I discovered the inverter was ON rather than on REMOTE yesterday morning (I heard the fan on it running periodically), and fixed that. Last night when we got home, it was down to 71% (from 84% earlier in the day) without any apparent draw aside from the propane detector.

Is it normal for that % reading to fluctuate that much without any draw, or are there things we need to be aware of?

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 06-09-2019, 10:51 AM   #2
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There is draw when the inverter is "on", another reason why I have never installed one, makes waste too easy to accomplish. I can do everything with propane and 12v that others do via plugging into an inverter.
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Old 06-09-2019, 11:28 AM   #3
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I dont worry as much about percent charge but keep an eye on the voltage. At night when the panel is getting no sun full charge should be around 12.7 volts for full. The percent of charge on my last trailer was 100% at around 14 volts. That means full while charging. I have not got my escape yet but after watching Reasses video i suspect that these are similar.
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Old 06-09-2019, 02:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abaum View Post
We just picked our 17B up last Monday, and have been slowly getting prepared for the first trip in two weeks, and testing/learning about our various features.

One thing we have noticed, and have not been able to fully figure out is the solar charge % on our little readout.

It had been struggling to get above 85% all week, until I discovered the inverter was ON rather than on REMOTE yesterday morning (I heard the fan on it running periodically), and fixed that. Last night when we got home, it was down to 71% (from 84% earlier in the day) without any apparent draw aside from the propane detector.

Is it normal for that % reading to fluctuate that much without any draw, or are there things we need to be aware of?

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

Take a look at this thread. It explains some the issues you are seeing with the GoPower charge indication. Battery charge level

A good battery monitor such as a Victron or Trimetric would be a good idea if you plan to do much boondocking.
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Old 06-09-2019, 05:39 PM   #5
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Ditto on the Victron. A good battery monitor is a good idea.



If you install one, make sure that nothing is attached directly to the negative post of the battery, and that includes the ground connection to the trailer frame. All negative connections have to be on the trailer side, not the battery side of the shunt.
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Old 06-10-2019, 01:47 AM   #6
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Further to the previous comments, don't pay attention to the percentage display during daylight hours. When charging, the solar panel will try to charge the battery at a voltage of 13.6 or 14.4 (depending on whether you are on a bulk charge or float charge), but the battery is not yet fully charged. If the voltage is over 12.8V, the percentage meter will read 100%, but the batteries are still charging. During the day, I prefer to look at the current (amps) that the panel is sending to the batteries to keep them at the charging voltage level. The higher current that is required, the further you are away from a full charge.

If I am keeping a close eye on the solar charging if the battery is down lower than normal, this describes how I can watch it during the day.
- If I check early in the morning, (before 1+ amps of charge current), I look at the voltage or percentage to get an idea how low the battery is. Once the amperage (and voltage) increases, ignore the charge percentage.
- as the sunlight becomes stronger, the voltage will increase, and the amps will indicate how strong the sun is.
- if the sun is strong enough, the voltage will reach about 14.4, the bulk charge voltage. Once this voltage is reached, the amperage will tell me how much charge is needed. As the battery charges, the amperage will decrease, as the controller keeps the charge voltage close to 14.4. My system can deliver 4 to 5 amps in strong sun if the battery needs it, closer to 1 amp or less if the battery is closer to full charge.
- After an hour of bulk charge, the controller changes to a float charge at 13.6V. There are 4 small dots on my display that are on until the bulk charge is complete. If the sun is not strong enough to keep the voltage at 14.4 for a full hour, the controller can stay in bulk charge all day.
- Once on a float charge, the amps should be much lower, under 1 amp if you are close to a full charge. Again, a lower current means that the battery is closer to a full charge
- As the available sunlight decreases before dusk, the amps and voltage will drop. When the amps approach 0, the voltage and percentage charge more closely reflect the state of your battery. Of course, when a heavier load is running (inverter, furnace or water pump), you may see the charge level drop temporarily.

Hope this helps you read your solar controller display.
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