A Question on Solar Panels

Hi,
I have a solar panel on the roof of my van with a Prostar Controller

http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/support/library/ProStar%20Datasheet.pdf

This controller goes through a cyclic display of battery voltage solar current and load current.

My batteries are fully charged and new.

The battery voltage shows a value (13.7) but the solar current is showing 0.0.

I don't know much about these things so may be that is correct.

It is a bright sunny day but cold (Canberra). Sun is getting to the panels.

Is this what you would expect or should there always be a solar current.

The status indicator for the battery says it is charging - there are no other indicators I can see.

Thanks for any help,
Richard
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Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 17:15

Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 17:15
Hi Richard

If the battery is 'full' according to the setting selected on the Prostar, it will not be showing any current going to the battery if no appliances are running . If the fridge comes on and draws say 4.5, similar should be seen coming in.

Motherhen
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Follow Up By: Member - Richard C (ACT) - Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 17:21

Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 17:21
Motherhen,
Thanks for the reply.

What you say does seem obvious and something like what I thought but I just was not certain.

The van is currently connected to electricity (as home).

I just don't understand the display and there is no real explanation of what they mean.

I have had a few problems with the van where things that should work in a new van didn't so am a bit sus about every thing.

Many thanks,
Richard
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 17:26

Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 17:26
Hi Richard

Our Prostar had a fairly easy to follow booklet with it. We don't connect to power when parked at home. I used to run lights or fridge to keep it all ticking over, but since we came home last year, i haven't run anything and the batteries are full all the time - i should syphon some of the power back into the house somehow!

Cheers

Mh
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Follow Up By: Member - Richard C (ACT) - Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 17:31

Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 17:31
MH,
As mentioned I have it plugged in to the electricity. May be I should test it by turning the electricity off and starting the fridge.

I doubt I would get enough sun to keep all charged but would be worth a test as well.

Then i should see some activity.

I have read the booklet but I can't see it explaining this bit - as said I know b$$%all about this stuff.


Thanks again,
Richard
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Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 19:00

Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 19:00
Richard,
From what I understand of what you're saying, the battery is at 'float' voltage, the battery system is fully charged and is receiving zero charge *at the time you’re looking* at the gauge.

The voltage you’re seeing is only the charging voltage, not the actual (rested) battery voltage.

The solar regulator has *regulated* the Amps from the available Amps produced by your solar system down to zero, at *the time you were looking* at the regulator, because the battery was in a condition where it is requiring no further charge at all.

You say "the status indicator for the battery says it is charging" so I have to wonder why the solar regulator says it is not sending a charge to the battery, maybe the battery "status indicator" means it is fully charged?
Is it a gauge that actually shows numbers ?

These 2 photos I’ve placed here show similar numbers, not exactly the same, but give a clear understanding as to what is happening with my system, using as close to the 13.7v as your system is showing.

Image Could Not Be Found
Above it is showing 1 Amp is going to the 14.2v battery.

Image Could Not Be Found
In this photo there is 1/2 Amp charging the 13.8v battery system.

Maîneÿ . . .
AnswerID: 424418

Follow Up By: Member - Richard C (ACT) - Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 19:15

Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 19:15
Hi,
Thanks for that.

The reason I say it is charging is because the green light on the charger is flashing and according to doco that came with it this means it is charging.

The display is digital and shows 0.0 - may be it is less than a .1 amps going in.



But reckon you and others are right - the batteries are full so no charge from solar is being input.

It is my lack of understanding of how these things work, I reckon I better do some reading on solar as I need to know a bit more.


Thanks,
Richard
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FollowupID: 694857

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 19:23

Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 19:23
Richard,
Does the "green light" indicate the solar panel is producing a charge which is available for the battery, then the regulator is doing what it should and restricting the charge going to the fully charged battery ??
Just a thought :-)

Maîneÿ . . .
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FollowupID: 694859

Follow Up By: Member - Richard C (ACT) - Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 19:32

Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 19:32
The doco just says it is charging.

Richard
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FollowupID: 694861

Reply By: Mandrake's Solar Power- Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 23:07

Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 23:07
Is this what you have in your manual --

CHARGING (LED 1 – green)
ON: battery charging during sunlight (always on during sunlight)
OFF: normal during night (off during sunlight indicates solar reverse polarity or
overcurrent)
BATTERY STATUS (LEDs 2 – 4)
GREEN: ON indicates battery is near full charge
BLINKING indicates PWM charging (regulation)
YELLOW:ON indicates battery at middle capacity
RED: BLINKING indicates a low charge state and a low voltage load disconnect

The combination of 2 green LED would indicate battery full and Solar Panel connected and functioning in either FLOAT or EQUALISATION modes ..

I have a 17 page Prostar Manual if needed .. ( Was going to sell them at one stage but couldn't get authority from Morningstar USA .)

Cheers

Steve

AnswerID: 424448

Follow Up By: Member - Richard C (ACT) - Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 23:48

Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 23:48
Yep That is what I have and what the manual I have states

Charging light is ON and
Status is blinking green


Richard

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FollowupID: 694899

Reply By: WATTS2C - Monday, Jul 19, 2010 at 11:46

Monday, Jul 19, 2010 at 11:46
Do you have an owners manual - it can be downlaoded from Morningstar -
http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/support/item.cfm?ItemId=18

regards

mh
AnswerID: 424476

Follow Up By: Member - Richard C (ACT) - Monday, Jul 19, 2010 at 12:11

Monday, Jul 19, 2010 at 12:11
Mh,
I saw that but it does not quite explain my situation.

Richard
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FollowupID: 694920

Follow Up By: WATTS2C - Monday, Jul 19, 2010 at 12:18

Monday, Jul 19, 2010 at 12:18
I'll check with Don, the electrical engineer and get back to you

regards

mh
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FollowupID: 694924

Reply By: Keith_A (Qld) - Tuesday, Jul 20, 2010 at 13:11

Tuesday, Jul 20, 2010 at 13:11
Hi Richard. Since you are connected to mains power, the 240V charger in the van will keep the battery fully charged. The solar will not put any current in.

If you disconnect from mains power, with a fully charged battery the solar will then put some power in. Why? -
All batteries have some internal loss, plus there are devices that use some power even when turned off - eg your radio and a battery protector if fitted. My solar puts in about 4 amp hours a day when the van is parked at home.

regards..................Keith
AnswerID: 424608

Reply By: Member - Richard C (ACT) - Tuesday, Jul 20, 2010 at 15:36

Tuesday, Jul 20, 2010 at 15:36
Hi,
I finally got around to doing the test recommended by you guys,

I turned off electricity
I turned on the fridge

And as you all said I started to see values in the solar current display.

I have spent more time on the forum than it took to do this test - I am a bit embarrassed.

I would like to thank all those who responded to my stupid question - it was very much appreciated and I have learnt a few things on the way.

All the best,
Richard
AnswerID: 424617

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Tuesday, Jul 20, 2010 at 16:02

Tuesday, Jul 20, 2010 at 16:02
Richard,

Your question was not taken by any of us as stupid at all, it was simply a learning curve, as they say we learn by our (mistakes) experiences :-)

Maîneÿ . . .
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FollowupID: 695098

Follow Up By: Member - Richard C (ACT) - Tuesday, Jul 20, 2010 at 17:36

Tuesday, Jul 20, 2010 at 17:36
Mainey,
The fact thta people did provide serious answers as well as some effort to help me resolve this was noted and very much appreciated.

Thanks to all again,
Richard
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FollowupID: 695105

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