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Old 10-07-2015, 05:29 AM   #1
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Solar Monitor Question

I have to admit I am not terribly solar saavy. The Escape is my first experience with solar panels. And Although I have read the manual, it didn't really provide a simplified explanation of what I am now asking. I know that the monitor provides a readout of battery charge level, e.g., 13.4v or 12.8v etc. there is a flashing LED on the monitor that sometimes blinks 3 times, 4 times, 5 times, and so on. Can someone who has a thorough understanding of the solar read out explain what the different number of blinks means? And also, what should one be looking for when viewing the solar monitor panel. I did search the forum but did not find a good answer to this question.
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Old 10-07-2015, 10:22 AM   #2
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Sounds like you have the Samlex controller.
the manual is here;
http://www.samlexamerica.com/documen...-0715_Lrez.pdf

the blinks are sort of letting you know how the charging is going.
1 blink means its past 25%
2 blinks 50%
3 blinks 75%
4 blinks at 100% voltage
5 blinks, while it has brought the voltage up to 100%, now it has to push amps into the battery, actually reverse the chemical reaction that discharges the battery. So it does this for, I think 1 hour.

look around page 25 in the manual, and the blinking chart is on page 33.

I wonder what the DIP switches on the back of it are set to?
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Old 10-07-2015, 11:29 AM   #3
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The whole setup is surprisingly automatic, and does a good job.
Two things,
It has the be set properly for the batteries your have, hence the dip switch setting on the back of it.
And, if you have flooded or lead/acid batteries you have to check that they have the proper amount of distilled water added to them to replace the water that evaporates/boils off. You probably should do this water level check twice a year.

You being in the Florida sun and with no mountains to shade the morning sun will have the best results of anyone here I would think.
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Old 10-07-2015, 11:33 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by jxoco View Post
Sounds like you have the Samlex controller.
the manual is here;
http://www.samlexamerica.com/documen...-0715_Lrez.pdf

the blinks are sort of letting you know how the charging is going.
1 blink means its past 25%
2 blinks 50%
3 blinks 75%
4 blinks at 100% voltage
5 blinks, while it has brought the voltage up to 100%, now it has to push amps into the battery, actually reverse the chemical reaction that discharges the battery. So it does this for, I think 1 hour.

look around page 25 in the manual, and the blinking chart is on page 33.

I wonder what the DIP switches on the back of it are set to?
More blinks is better. Solid green is best. 13.4 volts is where u want to be. Also u can check how many amp hours it input to your batteries since last time it was reset. So if you reset in the morning and check the next morning you can get an idea of how many amp hours u r using.

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Old 10-07-2015, 05:51 PM   #5
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John & Ken, thanks. I don't normally spend a lot of time checking the solar monitor, but in the darkness this AM I noticed it was doing 5 blinks and the batteries (dual 6v) were at 13.4. But I was plugged into shore power so any incoming current was coming from the grid rather than the sun. That was after towing from Tampa to Montgomery, AL. I do run the refrigerator on 12v when traveling, and even after driving 8-10 hours, with stops, the battery voltage has never dropped below 12.8v, even when the sky is somewhat cloudy. I now understand what the blinks mean, I'm assuming the solar monitor also monitors battery condition 24/7 even if the battery is being charged by the converter rather than the panel
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Old 10-07-2015, 11:23 PM   #6
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John & Ken, thanks. I don't normally spend a lot of time checking the solar monitor, but in the darkness this AM I noticed it was doing 5 blinks and the batteries (dual 6v) were at 13.4. But I was plugged into shore power so any incoming current was coming from the grid rather than the sun. That was after towing from Tampa to Montgomery, AL. I do run the refrigerator on 12v when traveling, and even after driving 8-10 hours, with stops, the battery voltage has never dropped below 12.8v, even when the sky is somewhat cloudy. I now understand what the blinks mean, I'm assuming the solar monitor also monitors battery condition 24/7 even if the battery is being charged by the converter rather than the panel
Carl - your solar controller and your convrter both will be monitoring the state of charge on yyour batteries. You are welcome re info.
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:07 AM   #7
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First problem with Samlex solar panel system

After more than a year of reliable performance from the solar panel system, this last weekend I was surprised to find an 'alarming' message, instead of the usual battery voltage and charge current and power listed on the Samlex monitor. It read "Alarm: CPF04 on SCC-30AB, dc/dc low volt."

Looking at the back panel, I discovered one of the 4 wires was loose, the one labeled "Batt +." It was easily reattached, but made no difference to the 'alarm' message.

Googling the problem led to the suggestion to check that the DIP switch on the back of the monitor panel was set to 12, rather than 24 V [Ken Schwantje from Samlex responded early Monday morning to my e-mail request with the same suggestion]. I went through all the Samlex manuals I had, one showed the DIP switch, but without any indication of how to set it up, nor had Google included that detail. Not having enough hair to pull out , I looked again at the rear panel and noticed that there was writing, which I couldn't read upside down; so I used my digital camera to take a closeup picture, see below, which I could read. Then it was clear that it had switched from 12 to 24 V operation, switching back fixed it.

I was surprised that two things seemed to go wrong at the same time, but then I remembered that the voltage reading had not been steady for the last few days, so the wire had been loose for that time. Then during travel, stuff we store under that dinette seat must have bumped the DIP switch #1 to OFF instead of ON.

It seems to be working ok now. A day later, it still isn't fully charged, but it is parked in shade for most of the day.
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:11 AM   #8
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:54 AM   #9
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I was surprised that two things seemed to go wrong at the same time....
Isn't that the way it always is I always find two things wrong, but never three
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Old 09-14-2016, 01:21 AM   #10
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Art, what is your battery setup?
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Old 09-14-2016, 01:51 AM   #11
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I looked again at the rear panel and noticed that there was writing, which I couldn't read upside down; so I used my digital camera to take a closeup picture, see below, which I could read. Then it was clear that it had switched from 12 to 24 V operation, switching back fixed it.
...
Then during travel, stuff we store under that dinette seat must have bumped the DIP switch #1 to OFF instead of ON.
Okay, one switch down ... four to go.
It looks like whatever pushed DIP switch 1 may have pushed down more switches. The charge program for switches 2-3-4 in the OFF-OFF-OFF combination doesn't look likely to be correct. Maybe one of the owners who has looked into charging voltages will have a suggestion for the setting to match your batteries, which I assume are the optional Escape dual 6-volt package.
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Old 09-14-2016, 02:28 AM   #12
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Okay, one switch down ... four to go.
It looks like whatever pushed DIP switch 1 may have pushed down more switches. The charge program for switches 2-3-4 in the OFF-OFF-OFF combination doesn't look likely to be correct. Maybe one of the owners who has looked into charging voltages will have a suggestion for the setting to match your batteries, which I assume are the optional Escape dual 6-volt package.
That's right. If you have the dual 6V Interstates, the recommended dip switch positions would be (from 1 through 4) ON-ON-ON-OFF. That'll supposedly provide 15V bulk charge on the Interstates, which is just slightly below their recommendation. Dip switch 5 in the ON position means the equalization is set automatically by the charge controller. Turn it off and it will use the equalization voltage specified in the reference chart for 15V. Not knowing what the auto-selected equalization voltage is, I would probably go with manual voltage selection by turning dip switch 5 to OFF. That will provide 15.3V equalization, which would be spot on for the Interstate 6V batteries.

So, according to the manufacturer at least, the recommended dip switch positions for 15V bulk charge with manual equlization charge of 15.3V are:

ON-ON-ON-OFF-OFF


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Old 09-14-2016, 08:48 AM   #13
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With the controller installed in storage spaces this can be an issue. I always disliked the openness of the accessory 12v outlets ETI installed, very easy to short out the circuit if some metallic item shift during travel. I asked Charlie @ widget to look into make some sort of plastic backs for these areas but it was not fruitful. I'm going to install plastic electrical boxes around mine and protect the controller with some sort of backing.
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Old 09-14-2016, 10:02 AM   #14
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Dual 6 volt Interstates call for absorption @ 14.46V, float @ 13.38V, and equalization @ 15.6V, thus my question about what the battery setup is. If this were my controller I'd go with ON ON OFF OFF ON for the closest to Interstate's recommendations. If he has dual 6 Interstates...
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Old 09-14-2016, 10:05 AM   #15
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I always disliked the openness of the accessory 12v outlets ETI installed, very easy to short out the circuit if some metallic item shift during travel.
Funny to hear you say that. When filling out my build sheet, I thought about adding some 12v outlets but after looking at the way they are installed, I passed. I will add some outlet boxes where needed and then install 12v outlets in them.
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Old 09-14-2016, 10:37 AM   #16
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Ok, I need to check and set these DIP switches and Robert and Scott have different responses for DIP #3 and DIP #5. We have the Interstate 6v's so which is correct for DIP #3 and DIP #5
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Old 09-14-2016, 10:43 AM   #17
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None of your available choices are exactly right. The charging voltages I've listed are those that Interstate recommends. You'll have to make a judgment call.
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Old 09-14-2016, 10:56 AM   #18
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It looks like reading the Samlex manual switch 2,3,4 shows ON,OFF,OFF for Flooded battery type and the ON,ON,OFF shows for AGM L-16 battery type.
I guess I'll go with the flooded switch setting since only difference looks to be in the Absorbtion stage 14.6 vs 15.0
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Old 09-14-2016, 10:59 AM   #19
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now I'm confused?? which is it for the stock 6v ETI package, flooded Interstates direct from the ETI factory install??
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Old 09-14-2016, 11:09 AM   #20
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Jim,
Just looked at Interstate charging specs and it looks like they are:
Absorption:14.7 Float; 13.2 Equalize: 15.3
DIP #2,3,4, set to ON-OFF-OFF will yield Absorption: 14.46 Float;13.4 Equalize:15.6
As Scott says, none are perfect, but if I'm reading everything correctly this one seems the closest.

Update: Looks like in this previous post Optimum charging voltages for 6V GC2 batteries
They are saying the absorption rate for the G2 Interstate batteries is 15.3, so it gets even more confusing. The L-16 AGM settings may actually be closer for the G2's.
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