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Old 11-11-2018, 09:25 PM   #1
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Need Help Trouble-shooting Solar

Had our Geo Pro out boondocking this weekend only to find something went wrong with our solar system.
Have a 160W panel on the roof (not sure of brand), a Go Power 30amp controller and 2 6v interstate flooded batteries. Everything in its first season of use.
Had a less than optimal exposure, ie faced in a way that the roof top ac unit always cast some shade on the panel, but located in AZ and had cloudless skies with a good 8+ hrs of sun daily.
The main symptom I observed was that the Go Power controller would show .5amps by 8:30 am but would never go higher even as the sun rose and panel shadowing reduced. volts never rose higher than 12.6. Over 3 days of camping with very conservative use of 12v, according to the Go Power, batteries dropped to 73%. After a 2 hr drive home, batteries were at least 90% again.
My theory is that the controller is failing to recognize when the batteries drop and is not directing the power to recharge them.
I need some help and suggestions in trouble shooting this to determine exactly what is wrong and then how to fix if possible, or what to replace.
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Old 11-11-2018, 09:47 PM   #2
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If you have any shadows on the panel, you will basically get no output.


Show us a picture of your panel on your roof.


If you only have one panel, why is it next to your AC or is it because your roof is very small?



I was going to have a shading issue on one of my panels but I just made a taller mount to clear a vent and I was able to mount it away from the AC. You can also make a really tall mount and put it above your AC. Just has to be a strong mount.



Have you measured the panel voltage where it enters the controller?
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Old 11-11-2018, 10:06 PM   #3
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I've had some good experience with this setup.
Even with some shadowing, worse than I had this weekend, I'll still get between .9 and 1.5 amps.
I did pull the controller off the wall and put a self ranging digital multi meter set to DCV but couldn't get a reading. I found that odd being the controller indicated some current was flowing so I expected to be able to measure some voltage
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Old 11-11-2018, 10:33 PM   #4
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Hi,

A partially shaded, presumably flat mounted panel (with presumably nice tight connections).

Before I tinkered around too much, if it were me, I would find some way to get that panel in full overhead sun and then get some fresh amperage and voltage measurements.

Rich Phillips
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Old 11-12-2018, 12:15 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lamokadave View Post
Had our Geo Pro out boondocking this weekend only to find something went wrong with our solar system.
Have a 160W panel on the roof (not sure of brand), a Go Power 30amp controller and 2 6v interstate flooded batteries. Everything in its first season of use.
Had a less than optimal exposure, ie faced in a way that the roof top ac unit always cast some shade on the panel, but located in AZ and had cloudless skies with a good 8+ hrs of sun daily.
The main symptom I observed was that the Go Power controller would show .5amps by 8:30 am but would never go higher even as the sun rose and panel shadowing reduced. volts never rose higher than 12.6. Over 3 days of camping with very conservative use of 12v, according to the Go Power, batteries dropped to 73%. After a 2 hr drive home, batteries were at least 90% again.
My theory is that the controller is failing to recognize when the batteries drop and is not directing the power to recharge them.
I need some help and suggestions in trouble shooting this to determine exactly what is wrong and then how to fix if possible, or what to replace.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lamokadave View Post
I've had some good experience with this setup.
Even with some shadowing, worse than I had this weekend, I'll still get between .9 and 1.5 amps.
I did pull the controller off the wall and put a self ranging digital multi meter set to DCV but couldn't get a reading. I found that odd being the controller indicated some current was flowing so I expected to be able to measure some voltage
Any shadow on your solar panel will cancel any power from it. See this youtube video:
What effect does shading have on Solar panels?

I have six 100 watt solar panels in parallel to avoid shadow. At least one will not be in a shadow.

My roof panels:
Click image for larger version

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The panels on the right will not produce any power because of the shadows on them.
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Old 11-12-2018, 02:26 PM   #6
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This is exactly why I chose to put all 6 of my panels in parallel rather than series. Shading can eliminate all panel output. As suggested, you need to get this panel in full sun, unshaded, and check the output then. Your charger will not decide whether or not to charge. It will provide a charge voltage if it can, although it should slow to trickle charge as the battery is full.
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Old 11-12-2018, 03:33 PM   #7
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Old 11-12-2018, 04:03 PM   #8
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X2. Good info.
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Old 11-12-2018, 04:03 PM   #9
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Thanks for the video as it has convinced me to agree that my problem is simply shadowing as several have suggested. I was reluctant to accept that as in the past I'd have shadowing but always got an amp or more under that condition. The difference now though is the angle of the sun in Nov vs summer.
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Old 11-12-2018, 04:09 PM   #10
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Here's a shot that is only producing .4 Amos
https://photos.app.goo.gl/xALYUHyYxtENJ6BW9
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