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Subject Topic: Solar Panels Post Reply Post New Topic
22/8/2018 at 2:41pm
 Location: Chorley
 Outfit:  Sterling 480 Continental - VolvoV90
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Can anyone tell me in general, what the expected life of a factory fitted (Swift) solar panel should be?
Mine dosent seem to be doing a great deal to say the least.

Also is there any easy way of checking the charge rate if there is one?

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I started out with nothing and I've still got most of it left - Seasick Steve 2008


22/8/2018 at 3:44pm
 Location: Preston
 Outfit: None
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How long is it since you cleaned it? Dirt on the service can make a difference.


22/8/2018 at 7:05pm
 Location: Northamptonshire
 Outfit: Lunar SB + Volvo XC70
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You don't say why you feel it's not working properly. Is the battery not being charged? What do the indicator lights on the controller show you?

Certainly clean it before testing it with a multimeter but before testing you have to know what figures to expect.


22/8/2018 at 8:33pm
 Location: West country
 Outfit: Mondeo
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Is any part of the panel in shade from the house or a tree etc or have you got a caravan cover. Just a small part will stop the panel generating.

A dirty panel will have reduced output.

Cloudy overcast weather will reduce output.

Normal life for panels is 25 years but controller could be less.

Not easy to check the output current. You need an inline ammeter or if you have some spare cash a DC clip on ammeter. AA men tend to carry them.


22/8/2018 at 8:33pm
 Location: Midlands
 Outfit: Mondeo Avondale Grampian
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Clamp meter around the cable, or an ammeter inline in the cable will tell you how well the panel is doing.

Not as sunny at the moment and the daylight hours are a little less compared to the heatwave a few weeks back.

Also if running on battery alone you need to work out how much power your using.

Its easy to use a whole days worth of solar charge in a couple of hours.



-------------
Post 1997 licence holder?

Max tow weight = Cars gross laden weight + Caravans gross laden weight.

These 2 figures must not exceed 3500kg. And the Caravans gross laden weight must not exceed the cars UNLADEN weight.

Unless the manufacturer has set a lower limit.


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23/8/2018 at 2:36pm
 Location: Chorley
 Outfit:  Sterling 480 Continental - VolvoV90
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Thanks for your replies.

The caravan is just over 3 years old.
It is kept beside the bungalow. Is not shaded or covered.
It is clean.
No electrics run off it while its not used except the standard factory fit alarm.

We last used the van two weeks ago, brought it home and didnt bother to hook up to the mains as I thought the solar panel would have kept things topped up.
We have only had the van about 3 months so it is still somewhat new to us.
We have the Alde central heating to sort out yet!

Spanners and hammers are ok but I'm not into electrics so please be kind to me.


-------------
I started out with nothing and I've still got most of it left - Seasick Steve 2008


23/8/2018 at 3:14pm
 Location: None Entered
 Outfit: Sterling Eccles Topaz
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Our solar panel is about 2 years old, the caravan sits on the drive next to our bungalow in the sun most of the day much like yours does, we donít bother plugging it in because at any time if I check the voltage it will read 13.2.
I would say thatís what yours should be doing too.


23/8/2018 at 6:26pm
 Location: Ilkeston. Derbyshire
 Outfit: Disco 4 Unicorn Barcelona 4
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Hi

Some say they last on a caravan for 10 yrs, and some say 20yrs.

I expect the older ones would be 10. And the newer versions as things have moved forward last up to 20yrs.
Maybe we should have a poll on solar panel age?



-------------
Cheers
Ray

Discovery 4 & Bailey Barcelona 4







23/8/2018 at 7:01pm
 Location: Chorley
 Outfit:  Sterling 480 Continental - VolvoV90
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I wonder?

I had a check around the van and discovered that I had left the mover (also new to us) switched on in the battery box.
Would that drain the battery?

I had a good look at the battery 110ah so its a decent size. I didnt take it out so I couldnt see any date on it but assume this also is just over 3 years old. It should be ok shouldnt it?



-------------
I started out with nothing and I've still got most of it left - Seasick Steve 2008


23/8/2018 at 8:05pm
 Location: West country
 Outfit: Mondeo
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Not sure on the mover. I've always found if I leave the isolator on it switches itself off after a while. I have to switch the isolator off and then on again to get it working.

What size panel have you got and what controller. I have a 100watt panel on my Bailey. The controller shows a continuous green LED when the battery is fully charged and a flashing green LED when it is charging.

I use the mover a fair bit to get the van on the drive but it's charged by the following morning.

If you have a smaller panel such as a 10 watt that will not be the case.


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23/8/2018 at 9:36pm
 Location: Chorley
 Outfit:  Sterling 480 Continental - VolvoV90
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Navver -

The size of our panel is 80w. (Not being clever. I had to look it up)
From what you say about your 100w, I would expect 80w to also be value.

This is the newest van we have had, and we are still trying to get to grips with it.
Its the first time for a mover. (I still try to back it on to pitches) but the mover is fun.

My van is a Sterling (Swift) so probably a little different from a Bailey regarding charging lights, but I will look a little closer tomorrow.

Alternatively, find a friendly vanner on a site, who, without difficulty will know more than me!

-------------
I started out with nothing and I've still got most of it left - Seasick Steve 2008


24/8/2018 at 9:00pm
 Location: West country
 Outfit: Mondeo
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Page 89 of this seems to describe what may be your system.

http://assets.swiftgroup.co.uk/swift-group/handbooks/2014%20Owners%20Handbooks/201........

There seems to be various options.
1 a connection point for a 40watt after market panel with it's own regulator.
2 A fixed 40watt panel and regulator.

Maybe both can be used.


24/8/2018 at 10:42pm
 Location: Chorley
 Outfit:  Sterling 480 Continental - VolvoV90
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Thanks Navver.

Interesting reading.
I dont pretend to understand everything, but interesting reading never the less.

I have recharged the battery and propose to monitor any voltage loss if any over the next few days.

I didnt know you had to go to night school to go vanning these days!
I will get there.
I will just have to spend more time getting a handle on everything.
The weather over the weekend is not so great so I can see myself sitting in the van with the handbook and try and understand everything a little better.


-------------
I started out with nothing and I've still got most of it left - Seasick Steve 2008


25/8/2018 at 11:46am
 Location: Hatfield Peverel Essex
 Outfit: Ace Supreme Twinstar Disco 3
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Assuming the battery is of an un-sealed type, I suppose you have got the battery topped up with distilled water ?
DaveS1


26/8/2018 at 4:23pm
 Location: Yorkshire
 Outfit: Car & Caravan
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The rigid panels will last about 20 years before you notice much power lose, flexible type at around 5 year but usually earlier.
Controllers, some good ones have a warranty of 5 years, cheap ones about 5 minutes.
The usual power lose will be from the solar panel to the battery, if the controller is near the battery and you have proper solar cable from the panels (I use 6mm≤) you could lose a volt or two, but as its solar panel voltage of around 20 volts it'll not make much difference. Why the controller should be reasonable close to the battery.
If the controller is fitted away from the battery area, in the top of a wardrobe or cupboard etc, even if you use quality cable and a quality controller don't expect the controllers full charge potential to reach the battery, and don't expect the controller to reach full potential if its not fitted somewhere that has a good airflow to keep it cool.


26/8/2018 at 9:39pm
 Location: Chorley
 Outfit:  Sterling 480 Continental - VolvoV90
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Quote: Originally posted by DaveS1 on 25/8/2018
Assuming the battery is of an un-sealed type, I suppose you have got the battery topped up with distilled water ?
DaveS1



It is a Numax 110ah battery.
As far as I am aware they are sealed and maintenance free.
.....................
Paul,
I will have to get someone who knows more than me to check it out.
I'm an ex spanner and hammer man and not into anything that can spark or blow a fuse!


Post last edited on 26/08/2018 21:43:12

-------------
I started out with nothing and I've still got most of it left - Seasick Steve 2008



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