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Old 06-05-2021, 02:01 PM   #1
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Unhappy Panel to Battery reads 0 Amps w/2nd Panel?

I have a 2021 Catalina Expedition 192BH that comes with a 100W rooftop solar panel as well as a rear junction box where you can plug in another one. I recently bought an extra Renogy 100W suitcase style solar panel to plug into the rear box, but when I plug in the new panel, the panel to battery amp reading on the charge controller goes from 2 for instance to 0, instead of doubling like I would expect. What am I missing here? Can anyone provide some info on how to plug in an extra panel with this setup so it works correctly?

Thanks for the help : )
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Old 06-05-2021, 02:32 PM   #2
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If your battery is already charged, the stock panel may be sensing that and cutting output. The Renogy panel MUST have it's own solar controller when plugged into side like that. If batteries are not full, you are correct to expect output from both stock panel and Renogy panel.
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Old 06-10-2021, 01:47 PM   #3
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Thanks NJKris,

The Renogy panel I bought does not have its own controller, I assumed the rear junction would be wired to the rooftop panel in parallel and wouldn't require a second controller, is this not the case? Are you able to elaborate on the problem that could occur with not having a controller for the second panel?

I also emailed Catalina and this is the response I got:

"That’s why we moved the 2nd solar prep to the front of the coach. If you get more than 15ft in wire away from your battery you then have the opposite happen of what is supposed to happen. I could be wrong. It also might be how they have it wired. I got this information and from what it sounds you may want to contact you dealer and see if they can help you trace this issue."

Are you aware of the length of the wire being problem with solar setups? I specifically bought a 20ft cable so I would have some leeway in terms of moving the panel into the sun, but since the junction is in the back it's already at least 20ft from the controller (it's a 21 ft trailer).

Thanks for any more info you can provide.
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Old 06-10-2021, 03:04 PM   #4
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When it comes to wire length, from my understanding, the wire AFTER the solar controller is important, because it is putting out relatively low voltage at that point (compared to BEFORE controller). It is therefore important to have heavy enough gauge wires to compensate for the length of the wire run. Short runs, not as important. Longer runs, heavier gauge is required to prevent 'line loss' (loss of voltage caused by resistance in the wire). Thicker, heavier gauge wires will have less line loss over distance than thin ones.


I'm not sure if the junction box you have effectively parallels the portable panel with the rooftop panel. If it does, it probably operates on the solar controller you already have. The 2nd panel definitely needs to go through a solar controller, either the controller you already have (must be able to accommodate output of both panels, they have a rating, like 20 amp, 30 amp, etc). In my case, my RV side solar input plug (just an SAE plug) is wired directly to the battery a couple feet away on the tongue, so I HAVE to use the controller that came with my Renogy panel. I bought a pair of Windy Nation 20' 10 gauge cables to connect it. I figured at that relatively short length and decent thickness, I would not have much line loss.
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Old 06-10-2021, 04:18 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by jlinn View Post
Thanks NJKris,

The Renogy panel I bought does not have its own controller, I assumed the rear junction would be wired to the rooftop panel in parallel and wouldn't require a second controller, is this not the case? Are you able to elaborate on the problem that could occur with not having a controller for the second panel?

I also emailed Catalina and this is the response I got:

"Thatís why we moved the 2nd solar prep to the front of the coach. If you get more than 15ft in wire away from your battery you then have the opposite happen of what is supposed to happen. I could be wrong. It also might be how they have it wired. I got this information and from what it sounds you may want to contact you dealer and see if they can help you trace this issue."

Are you aware of the length of the wire being problem with solar setups? I specifically bought a 20ft cable so I would have some leeway in terms of moving the panel into the sun, but since the junction is in the back it's already at least 20ft from the controller (it's a 21 ft trailer).

Thanks for any more info you can provide.
The response from Catalina is incorrect or they don't understand the problem. Length of wire causes resistance and theoretically affects the amperage, but in no way would completely shut the amperage down. I use 40 feet of wire from my panels to the battery and I hardly lose anything.

Kris may be on to something with the battery being at max and not accepting current. I am not familiar with your controller setup so I can't comment.

Is the charge controller for panel #1 at a location where it would seem logical that your newer panel wiring goes to it? You can easily connect two panels to one controller if the controller's specs are the right volt max and amperage.
You can also use two controllers to the same battery.

These prewired systems can be confusing because you can't see exactly how they wired it. I have a secondary suitcase panel and I directly connect it to the battery with alligator clips. If you need another controller, there are a lot of them on Amazon for sale. You fan get a decent MPPT controller for around 89 bucks.
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Old 06-10-2021, 04:40 PM   #6
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Thanks again NJKris and PhilFromMaine, I'm not sure if the extra junction is wired to the existing controller or just straight to the battery, I'll send Catalina another message and ask about this, or dig around and try to figure it out myself. I would kind of prefer to use the existing controller if possible, but also like your idea Phil of just going straight to the battery with alligator clips, that would shorten the length of the wires but would necessitate getting the extra controller, and removal the battery covers (I have 2) each time.
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Old 06-11-2021, 06:14 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by jlinn View Post
Thanks again NJKris and PhilFromMaine, I'm not sure if the extra junction is wired to the existing controller or just straight to the battery, I'll send Catalina another message and ask about this, or dig around and try to figure it out myself. I would kind of prefer to use the existing controller if possible, but also like your idea Phil of just going straight to the battery with alligator clips, that would shorten the length of the wires but would necessitate getting the extra controller, and removal the battery covers (I have 2) each time.
jlinn

Yes, it is a little more work using the clips. Another way to do it is to semi-permanently attach a set of cables to the batteries about 18 inches long with a quick connect connector like a Anderson connector. (I assume you have two batteries connected in parallel) Then connecting is a breeze. Solar controllers can be pretty cheap. A decent MPPT can be had for 89 dollars.
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Old 06-11-2021, 12:58 PM   #8
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Another test you can do is to hook up the second PV panel as you originally did and at the same time turn on some electrical devices to put a noticeable load on your battery. Now, does your single solar controller show amperage going into your battery? As mentioned before, maybe your battery was initially fun and not accepting any charge.
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