Solar panel meltdown.

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 22, 2015 at 22:25
ThreadID: 111212 Views:2434 Replies:4 FollowUps:10
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Hi All.

Just looking for some help with my solar panel.

I have a 140 watt panel (cheapy) on the roof of my car that feeds the 2nd battery in the tray, it's been there for about 8 months or more.

This battery is also charged off the car when driving.

At times if the battery is a bit low I'll plug it into a 15 amp charger overnight to give it a top up.

Tonight we could smell a weird odour coming through the bedroom window (thank god the car is parked beside the bedroom!) and I went out side to have a look.

There was smoke coming from under the panel, a small black box with wiring, regulator maybe? So I unplugged it from the battery and turned off the charger as well, the battery was cool, everything was fine there.

What could have caused this to meltdown?

Cheers Wayne
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Reply By: Crusier 91 - Sunday, Feb 22, 2015 at 23:17

Sunday, Feb 22, 2015 at 23:17
I suspect you have no isolator? My guess is the regulator has drawn power from battery each night for the last 8 months straight and has given up the ghost.

I could be wrong.
AnswerID: 546419

Follow Up By: Boobook2 - Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 05:52

Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 05:52
Yep that would me by guess too.
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FollowupID: 834138

Reply By: Member - Nutta - Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 07:57

Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 07:57
Thanks for that.

I think it was okay until I put a bigger charger on a month ago.

Is it possible the panel is okay?

Can I buy a regulator that comes with an isolator?

I don't have much knowledge on this stuff.

Cheers.
AnswerID: 546424

Follow Up By: Member - Rosco from way back - Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 09:55

Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 09:55
You could check the panel output in the sun with a multi. Should be around 23V I would expect. That will tell you if it's OK.

I thought (but may be wrong) that most regulators incorporated a diode as a one way valve to prevent the busy little electrons running in the wrong direction.
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FollowupID: 834145

Follow Up By: Member - Nutta - Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 10:12

Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 10:12
So bypass the buggered regulator? Is it possible to check it straight from the panel?

Cheers.
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FollowupID: 834148

Follow Up By: Member - Rosco from way back - Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 10:22

Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 10:22
Yep.

Check the V on the panel side of the reg.
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FollowupID: 834151

Reply By: oldtrack123 - Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 12:27

Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 12:27
HI
[1]Was the panel supplied with a regulator[ie, a portable panel] if so ,it is possable it is just the regulator stuffed up
[2]If no regulator at the panel, it may just be a junction box,with just a few screws holding on the lid
If so disconnect from the battery then take off the lid
It may just be a short in the Jbox
[3]If that is just a Jbox ,do you have a regulator inside for the panel??
[4]Who fitted the panel?
[5] panel details???

PeterQ
AnswerID: 546440

Follow Up By: Member - Nutta - Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 18:28

Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 18:28
Hi oldtrak, this is basically the panel i bought.
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/NEW-12V-140W-FOLDING-SOLAR-PANEL-KIT-MONO-CARAVAN-BOAT-CAMPING-POWER-BATTERY-/360466559785?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_15&hash=item53ed7b3329

1 yes looking at the link
2 not sure, box is completely melted
3 not sure
4 me
5 hopefully the web address helps.

Appreciate it, cheers.
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FollowupID: 834172

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 21:05

Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 21:05
Hi
From the link
The box with all the cables going into it is the regulator
If that is what has melted it could be due to a fault in the regulalor

It should/would have had a blocking diode ,so it is unlikely that the panels themselves have been damaged

They can be easily checked.
Disconnect their cables from the reg ,then in bright sun check :
[1] the open circuit voltage
[2]the short circiut current, set the multimeter to 10A DC a connect directly across the panel leads, come back with the readings

[3]Did you run your own wiring ,?
[4]How long has it worked for before this happenned?
[5]Did you connect anything to the reg load terminals?

PeterQ
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FollowupID: 834185

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 21:09

Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 21:09
Hi
cannot edit
Just add to the above
You cannot just by pass the solar reg
Solar panels of that size require a reg ,or you can destroy your batterries

PeterQ
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FollowupID: 834187

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 21:10

Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 21:10
HI
Are the panels still under warranty??
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FollowupID: 834188

Follow Up By: Member - Nutta - Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015 at 19:54

Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015 at 19:54
I'll get the panel off on the week end and check the voltage.

I did run the wiring myself so i may have buggered something.

I had the panel wiring running to the battery and in the evenings i also have a 15amp charger plugged into the battery as well, when necessary.
As well as the daily alternator charging whilst driving.

It's probably been running like this for 8 months, I only updated from a 2.5 amp charger to the 15amp 6 weeks ago.

I haven't added anything to the regulator.

Not sure if they are under warranty, will check but at over 12 months old guessing it is out of date.

Can you give me a link to an isolator if needed and maybe regulator to purchase?

Do I need a dc to dc charger?

Thanks again, much appreciated.
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FollowupID: 834241

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 19:31

Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 19:31
Nutta,

Whatever happened it took a fair amount of energy to release that much heat. This points to the energy probably coming from the battery, maybe the charger. This shouldn't happen. What caused it to happen? Probably a breakdown in the solar controller, assuming that your melted black box in fact housed the controller. Check that the controller isn't attached to the back of the panel - it's possible your melted black box isn't the controller but just housed some connections leading to it. A photo of your black box would tell us a lot.

I'd suggest disconnect the remains of the black box from the solar panel and from the battery. Then measure the voltage supplied by the panel when in full sunlight - if its about 22-23 volts the panel is looking good. Measure the battery voltage without the charger being connected - given the treatment its had I'd be happy to see anything over about 12.5 volts. Then connect the charger and give it a good charge. I think you'll probably find that both battery and panel are ok.

I'd follow up too on Peter's suggestions.

HTH

Cheers

John
J and V
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AnswerID: 546458

Follow Up By: Member - Nutta - Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 21:19

Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 21:19
Thanks John.

I'll have to pull the panel off as its hard to get under it.

I did install a new 15 amp charger about a month ago where the old charger was only 2.5 amp, maybe this give it a blasting.

I'll delve into it a bit more.

Thanks again.
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FollowupID: 834189

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