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Old 04-16-2024, 01:08 PM   #1
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Isata 3 - Solar panels not charging

Out on a trip and The shore power at the park we are staying at got turned off for the day due to maintenance. just noticed the solar panels on the Roof donít seem to be charging the batteries. The go power Control box right by the steps shows the voltage on the display, but none of the lights are on.

Normally I leave the motorhome plugged in and the Panel displays voltage of mid 13s With the charging light on. Now the light is off With the power being turned off and it shows 12.7 Volts, which is probably just what the batteries have in them. Batteries are fairly new.

Curious if anyone knows of a circuit breaker that may have gotten thrown or something else to look in the direction of in finding my problem. I wouldnít have thought that both solar panels wouldíve gone bad at the same time so Iím surprised there is apparently no charge coming to the Go Power control box from the solar panels.

Thanks in advance. I had done a search, but didnít find anything that was helpful to my problem, but perhaps I missed it
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Old 04-16-2024, 01:48 PM   #2
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Follow-up

Just checked my Go Power control box an hour later and noticed that the red light and blue light are now on. And the little meter next to 12.7 V display is going up and down as if itís charging although it hasnít changed from 12.7. I thought that I had remembered in the past the meter showing voltages in the mid 13s as well even from the solar panels.
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Old 04-21-2024, 06:00 AM   #3
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Fixed?

Did you solve this problem? I replaced our PWM controller with an MPPT, but am still curious what happened with it.
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Old 04-21-2024, 07:05 AM   #4
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what happens when you cycle the top button for volts/amps

my guess is..... (I don't have your controller)
you will probably cycle through and see..
the panel voltage,
battery voltage
and amps actually being sent to battery

Don't be surprised to see very low amps being sent to a nearly full battery... this is normal.

The YELLOW light indicates almost full (confirmed by the 12.7 voltage)
and the LAST little bit of charge can take a long time

The little battery symbol on the screen .......... is a bit confusing as it looks nearly empty compared to the yellow LED's graphic (weird ?)
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Old 04-21-2024, 10:02 AM   #5
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Follow-up

Thanks for the responses...

I have not resolved the problem yet, but am working on troubleshooting it. I contacted Go Power (Canada) at the end of the day on Friday. Spoke to a guy that seems to think my solar panels are bad. Said the voltage on each panel should be about 20 Volts w/ 2-5 Amps.

Went up on roof after the call (as the sun was still out) and disconnected the solar connectors and measured about 17.5 volts in one panel and 16.79 volts in the other. The first was showing very low m A and the second showing none.

Sent all this info to the Go Power rep as directed and awaiting a call back tomorrow. Will send another update after I speak to the rep again tomorrow.

Assuming the flexible panels are bad, I will need to further research if best to stay w/ Go Power or replace w/ some other compatible. A quick look on the internet shows huge price differences from one brand to the next.

Has anyone had to replace their flexible panels and if so, with what brand?

If I do have to replace the panels, I plan to glue the new one on top of the old one to avoid damaging the thin roof in the process of trying to remove the old panel.

PS: The pic of my controller in the second post showed the battery indicator w/ 1 bar. That just happened to be when I took the pic. It was going up and down as if it was charging, even though apparently it was not.
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Old 04-21-2024, 06:19 PM   #6
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FYI, the panels will not charge unless there is a 5V difference. IE, if the batteries are at 12.7v, they will not charge unless the panels are producing 13.2v. 12.8 is a fully charged lead acid battery.

I'm not sure I have seen anything there that would say it was time to replace yet. You said the sun was "still out"...if it was not full sun, 17v seems fine
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Old 04-22-2024, 12:11 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by bclemens View Post
FYI, the panels will not charge unless there is a 5V difference. IE, if the batteries are at 12.7v, they will not charge unless the panels are producing 13.2v. 12.8 is a fully charged lead acid battery.

I'm not sure I have seen anything there that would say it was time to replace yet. You said the sun was "still out"...if it was not full sun, 17v seems fine

Thanks as always for weighing in Brian. Assuming u meant .5V?

In the first 3 years of ownership, I would always see the solar controller coming on (red and blue light) in the daytime when the sun was out. Even if the batteries were fully charged.

One of the reasons why the batteries are fairly new is because I mistakenly left it disconnected from shore power thinking the batteries would get charged up from the solar when the coach didnít get used for several months and one of the batteries discharged and ended up getting ruined. Had to replace both batteries as what I had was no longer available.

I guess I was a little suspect of a solar panel then, which is why I started plugging in to shore power after installing new batteries.

The fact that one of the panels Was not showing any amperage at all on Friday seems like a potential bad Panel to me but perhaps I am wrong on that.

When I said the sun was still out it was actually mid to late afternoon the full sun was beating down on the panels.
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Old 04-22-2024, 05:21 AM   #8
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https://footprinthero.com/how-to-test-solar-panels

The above link is a good troubleshooting tutorial. I couldn't find the exact voltage and amp values for 100 watt GoPower panels, but with the voltages you provided, the DC amps should be in the 4-5 range, I would think.

If you replace your panels, GoPower is probably not your most cost effective choice, and I wouldn't recommend using your existing panels as a base. They likely won't be the exact size, and the risk of them coming loose while driving would scare me.

Good luck!
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Old 04-22-2024, 07:34 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by jneum525 View Post
Thanks as always for weighing in Brian. Assuming u meant .5V?

In the first 3 years of ownership, I would always see the solar controller coming on (red and blue light) in the daytime when the sun was out. Even if the batteries were fully charged.

One of the reasons why the batteries are fairly new is because I mistakenly left it disconnected from shore power thinking the batteries would get charged up from the solar when the coach didn’t get used for several months and one of the batteries discharged and ended up getting ruined. Had to replace both batteries as what I had was no longer available.

I guess I was a little suspect of a solar panel then, which is why I started plugging in to shore power after installing new batteries.

The fact that one of the panels Was not showing any amperage at all on Friday seems like a potential bad Panel to me but perhaps I am wrong on that.

When I said the sun was still out it was actually mid to late afternoon the full sun was beating down on the panels.
no 5.0v....well, let me correct that. The Victron is 5v...I think most are similar.
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Old 04-22-2024, 10:01 AM   #10
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how / when did you measure amps ....

if there is good voltage that means the panels internal structure is good

if your battery is almost fully charged there will not be much amps flowing
TURN on some 12v loads and watch the amps increase

If one panel shows good volts but not a lot of amps could be a connection issue
dirty corroded or loose connection

best way to test panels is to get a good multimeter that can read DC amps via a clamp
simply clamp over a wire at the panel OR at the controller to confirm its output

BUT again.... you must have a LOAD
either a discharged battery or some largish load like headlights

I've been watching my solar via bluetooth in the
middle of the day and afternoon perfect weather for charging only seeing 5 amps being produced which is the load of my fridge

In the morning with a 25% discharged battery I see 20-30 amps from my solar at around 11am when sun is high

you can also buy special meters for solar panels
BUT a good multimeter is more useful for RV in tracking down other problems
you can buy a moderate priced DC amp clamp meter for under $100
never leave home without it


edit... some people use headlights wired to a circuit board and then attached to house battery for a load
DON"T turn on the headlights of the RV.
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Old 04-23-2024, 08:44 AM   #11
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Why not install a Victron shunt so you can get real time information on what your system is doing? Easy to install and you can monitor volts, amps, and state of charge on your phone, laptop, or tablet.
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Old 05-02-2024, 08:01 PM   #12
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Problem solved!!!

As previously mentioned, my solar system in my Isata 3 was not charging the batteries. The technical support folks at GO-POWER had me do some tests, and the old panels were measuring 0 A output. Did a few more tests and was pretty convinced that my panels had gone bad, even though there were some skeptical posts to the contrary on this thread.

Just received my new panels and put them up on the roof temporarily and connected all of the cables just as a test. Checked the solar controller inside the doorway. Immediately the red and blue lights came on and the green light for three-quarter full battery came on.

Note: During the past 6 months, those lights would almost never come, but more importantly on the rare occasions when they did, the batteries were not being charged via the solar system.

Within just a few minutes of temporarily connecting the new panels, the voltage was showing 14.4 V and the amperage had increased to over 10 Amps and climbing on the solar controller. Previously, Amperage was 0. It will be nice to once again have the sun keep the batteries charged up so I don’t have to keep it plugged into shore power all the time.

My plan is to knock off the block where the cables come out of the end of the old solar panel, clean off some of the self-leveling caulk on top of each panel and I plan to glue the new panels on top of the old panels with some Dicor 502LSD leveling caulking. I am also planning on putting some caulking around the perimeter of each panel as well, just like the existing panels have where they are attached to the roof.

I don’t want to try and take off the old panels for fear I will damage the fiberglass roof in the process. Since the solar panels are so thin and lightweight, I think this is a reasonable plan. The technician at GO-POWER agreed. Just awaiting my caulking to arrive so I can permanently install the new panels.

Hope this helps others…
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Old 05-03-2024, 07:45 PM   #13
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Change of Plans for Mounting New Panels

Well it took a good portion of the day, but I was able to remove the old solar panels after very carefully removing all the caulking, 6 screws each and double sided tape on the perimeter of the back side of the old panels. That said, I won’t have to stack the new panels on the old ones after all.

4 of the 6 holes of the new panels line up w the old ones, but I will need to put in two new holes into the roof, since the new panels are slightly longer due to a different way in which the cables attach to the panels.

Can anyone confirm that there is plywood mounted under the entire fiberglass roof?

And is there any reason why I wouldn’t be able to add 2 new holes into the roof a couple of inches down from where the old holes are at the one end of the new panels, where the cables are attached?

Thanks…
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Old 05-08-2024, 03:47 PM   #14
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Finished!!!

Just finished installing my new solar panels. Solar panels once again charging the batteries properly. Very Pleased with the amperage output.

Just a warning to check Your roofs for screws backing out. I know there have been other posts about thisÖ

There was one screw underneath one of the solar panels that had backed out a quarter of an inch and poked through the roof under the panel. I found it when I had removed the old panel Also found more than a dozen places where the screws are just starting to back out right where the fiberglass roof transitions from the horizontal to the vertical on the sides.

Mostly on the passenger side. Bumps and small surface cracks on all of those. I just put a blob of self leveling caulk over each one as I really Didnít want to open up the roof anymore than I had to in order to screw the screws back down.

Question for DYNAMAX: Just curious if you use any kind of Loctite or caulking or any other substance that might keep the screws in place so they donít back out as the coach moves around during travel?
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Old 05-08-2024, 03:58 PM   #15
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We use butyl tape under all penetrations. In theory, that should keep them from spinning back out, but nothing is perfect.

We also tape over all roof screw heads now...mainly to prevent them from wearing through the roof material. Over time, anything in wood tends to get loose as the wood shrinks back.
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Old 05-08-2024, 04:22 PM   #16
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We use butyl tape under all penetrations. In theory, that should keep them from spinning back out, but nothing is perfect.

We also tape over all roof screw heads now...mainly to prevent them from wearing through the roof material. Over time, anything in wood tends to get loose as the wood shrinks back.

Thanks Brian. Both would definitely help I would think.
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