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Old 11-18-2014, 01:30 PM   #1
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Question Solar and Battery Level

Anyone else have this problem? When I am boondocking, my solar slowly charges my batteries, but when the batteries are charging the battery display shows full, when I know for a fact they are not. How do I know the actual battery level when I am charging?

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Cliff
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Old 11-18-2014, 01:57 PM   #2
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Consider those lights "dummy" lights. Full is charging (or has power being supplied to them) and empty is just go replace your batteries because you've probably already hurt them. The only way to really know for sure (conveniently) is to install a decent meter that reads amp hours.

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Old 11-18-2014, 02:43 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by ShooterGuy View Post
Anyone else have this problem? When I am boondocking, my solar slowly charges my batteries, but when the batteries are charging the battery display shows full, when I know for a fact they are not. How do I know the actual battery level when I am charging?

Thanks!

Cliff
The lights are an indication of voltage not actual battery state as you know. When charging, the charger must apply a voltage higher than the battery's in order to "push" current into the battery. Thus the voltage reads high when charging.

In order to accurately measure the battery capacity, one must use a hydrometer in combination with a battery monitor that measures current into and out of the battery and sums up the difference. The hydrometer is used to calibrate the meter to 100%.
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Old 11-18-2014, 03:08 PM   #4
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ShooterGuy,

What solar system do you have? Please describe the setup, solar panel and solar charge controller as well as your battery set up (single or more and how they are wired). Also, do you have anything else charging the batteries besides solar?

Also, how do you know for a fact that the batteries aren't full?
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Old 11-18-2014, 03:14 PM   #5
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Those standard panel lights will show full if there's charging voltage going to the batteries, even if they were completely dead and plugged in for five minutes they'll show full most of the time.
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Old 11-18-2014, 06:50 PM   #6
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Consider those lights "dummy" lights. Full is charging The only way to really know for sure (conveniently) is to install a decent meter that reads amp hours.

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X2 With a heat sink.
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Old 11-19-2014, 04:54 AM   #7
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I check the battery meter in the AM when there is no Sun or charge going to the batteries . This is a reliable way to know how your batteries are doing unless you want to spend the extra $ on a trimetric meter. If the voltage is low we know the approximate state of charge of batteries and wait for more Sun. Be patient or get more solar on your roof. When stationary we tilt our panels up and get twice the amps into the batteries verses leaving them flat on roof.
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Old 11-19-2014, 07:53 AM   #8
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Grn_Mtns..I set my system up to be able to tilt thus get as much power as possible. I discovered it didn't make much of a difference. Are you using a MPPT controller? I get nearly rated output now, but we all know solar, more is better..
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Old 11-19-2014, 08:12 AM   #9
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Hi RPAspey,
When we compare the panels mounted flat on the RV vs tilting, in winter, is where I see the most difference. It seems to get more amps in the AM & PM which then fill the batteries each day. I like the Morningstar SS MPPT 15L & have a 280watt panel.It keeps the RV going anytime there is sun with a day or two of clouds here and there. Here is a link to the solar Mod we did to our Windjammer
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Old 11-19-2014, 03:56 PM   #10
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Ok, I see you're a little farther north than I am. That helps explains your results. I designed my system with the exact angle brackets needed to quickly tilt the panels. Did it a couple of times when I'd go to my farm in the southern tier of NY. I have more than enough generation with the panels flat and it didn't seem to matter anyway. So I stopped tilting. That's one less thing to set up!!! Less is more when it comes to setting up camp.
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