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Subject Topic: Solar Panels
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Message posted by Colbourne78 on 05/11/2013 at 6:30pm
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I do a lot of winter short breaks at weekends without electric hook ups. Can anyone help me with some advice on what things I need and the best way to wire two solar panels together. I have got a 80w one at the moment. Do I have to have the same for the second or can I use a larger one? I also want to charge two battery's as we'll so what do I need to do or get so I will be able to do that?
I will be grateful on some advice and pointing in the right way.

Message posted by JTQU on 05/11/2013 at 7:36pm
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Typically if each solar panel has its own controller then each controller can be wired to the battery and look after its self. With some rudimentary controllers this may not work but generally it is a fool proof solution.

This way panels of any size and any output voltage can be used provided the controller is suitable for the panel it is looking after.

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Message posted by boff on 05/11/2013 at 8:01pm
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I am told that one controller per panel is the best solution but it is possible to connect 2 panels together then onto one controller. Just make sure you connect them in parallel ie positive to positive and negative to negative not in series,unless you actually want to produce 24v not 12v.

I also think it is possible to buy a controller that can charge two batteries independently.

Message posted by nigel16 on 05/11/2013 at 8:08pm
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Have a look at Wizards website here It will provide much needed help in your installation. You can link 2 panels but you will need to know the total amperage output so that you wire them into a controller before connecting to your battery.

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Message posted by rd57chad on 05/11/2013 at 8:13pm
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I have 2 x 40 watt solar panels with 2 regulators and 2 batteries . I normally use both panels connected in parallel through 1 regulator to keep the main caravan battery topped up . But also have a spare leisure battery under the fixed bed with its own regulator which I sometimes use exclusively to run the tv off . However I do not link both batteries together which I think is what your after doing. In order to do that you would want 2 identical leisure batteries of the same rating , heavy duty cabling and a heavy duty multi position switch . I got one from the local boatyard it allowed me to charge / run either battery or both together . I no longer have the switch as I normally bring the battery that powers the tv home after a weekend away and bench charge it ready for the next trip out . The main battery remains attached to the van with both panels attached which keeps it fully charged . Watch your payload / nose weight if you opt for 2 batteries , I have one battery in its dedicated locker forward of the axle and the other sited the same distance behind the axle to counterbalance it this helps keep the nose weight within limits having both batteries forward of the axle would take me over the 75kg nose weight limit !

Message posted by JTQU on 05/11/2013 at 9:10pm
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My controller that charges two separate batteries is a Morningstar Sun-saver Duo as can be found on this link:

http://www.windandsun.co.uk/products/Solar-Charge-Controllers-/Morningstar-Charge-Controllers#.UnlcDPnIY_g

The technical details and installation manual can be downloaded from this link:

http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/sun-saver-duo

This controller is "smart" in that it knows if the second battery is actually there. When two are present can direct 50/50 or 90/10% to the batteries and when anyone is fully charged direct its full attention to the other.

There are cheaper offering from the Far East which claim similar features, but I only have experience of the Morngstar unit. It works very well; I have its optional meter as I am into things technical, but it is not needed the Duo will work away happily without anyone watching it!

Message posted by rcpilot on 30/11/2013 at 7:19pm
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The basic rule is the values in the panel specifications should be exactly the same ( even the same wattage panels can be different from each other if from different manufacturers ) and if the specs are not the same the smaller value panel can pull the output down of the larger spec panel. Panels can be wired together in series or in parallel, in series they will increase the output voltage ie 2 panels = 24 volts ,3 =36 volts and so on, in parallel the amperage will increase as in the previous statement. What happens now is if you want to charge 2 batteries that are connected together (in parallel) as in the case of a caravan to give a larger capacity amps wise but retain 12 volts you will need a solar controller that can cope with the larger capacity of the connected batteries otherwise you can damage the controller. Also take it from someone who has gone into all this (as we go caravanning without Hookups and use 240volts from our batteries (a true sine wave inverter) just about all solar panels are produced in China the branded ones are just chinese panels with a brand name sticker on them and which the retailers ask huge prices for, also if you havent got panels yet make sure they are monocrystaline ones they are the best, a solar panel in constant use looses aprox 0.5% of it's capacity to produce electricity from the sun and will last over 30 years so a 30 year old panel (if not damaged ) will still be producing about 70 to 75% worth of electricity from sunshine so is really a very good investment.


Message posted by DaveCoaches on 01/12/2013 at 2:56pm
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It is possible to connect in series or parallel. Which is the best I am not sure, but most panels and regulators can take a voltage of over 100 volts which then gets pulled to the correct voltage via the regulator. I suspect to connect in parallel is the easiest option.

You would need a regulator that is capable of handling the combined power of both panels though with a bit to spare.

There are regulators that can be set to split their charge between two batteries and the balance can also be split. They are not the cheapest regulators, but can be picked up on eBay for 30 - 50. On the subject of regulators, this is not an area to skimp on. You can get regulators for under 10, but they can waste an awful lot of the power produced by the solar panel. It's cheaper to buy a more efficient regulator then a solar panel that is 3 times bigger than you need and also takes up less room and is a lot lighter.

I have a dual regulator from eBay which I think cost about 35. It looks identical to the Morning Star one. OK, they do copy the appearance of big brand appliances in the far east, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Morning Star came from the same factory either.

Message posted by 2004brianv on 24/2/2016 at 11:15pm
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I really get upset when people who have no idea of what they are on about give advice, this topic is like the blind leading the blind.

1)You can wire any amount of solar panels together of different wattages in to one regulator providing you keep within the regulators working load

2)You can charge 2 batteries of different ampage together from one regulator or battery charger without damaging either batteries, the batteries will charge at the same rate because the smaller battery will flow to the big one and vice versa until both become the same, one will not charge faster than the other, this is basic physics, it's how charging works.

Something for you to ponder, if you have 2 car batteries, one has 11 volt in it, the other has 13 volts in it, and you wire them both together in parallel what will happen, there will both end up with 12 volts each, because the larger capacity one will charge the smaller one till they become equal, and that's why you can charge batteries of different values together.
And almost forgot, a smaller panel will not pull the voltage from a big panel, complete and utter rubbish, that's why panels are fitted with blocking diodes to prevent that from happening and to stop them from draining your batteries at night.
Also never wire 2 regulators to the same battery, a regulator is looking for a voltage from the battery to know when it's charged, how can it do this if you have a voltage from another solar panel coming in an fooling it in to thinking it is charged, hence one regulator will cancel the other one out.
Posted by Brian, 35 years in the electrical, solar and electronics business.


Post last edited on 24/02/2016 23:31:03

Post last edited on 25/02/2016 00:08:59

Message posted by JTQU on 25/2/2016 at 7:29am
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Morningstar, who arguably are the world leaders in solar charge controllers specifically design for their controllers to work in parallel. In their words, they synchronise with each other, plus they don't require you to disconnect the solar charger when you go onto an EHU, or even use a generator. If the installed controller is not of adequate size for the solar array they allow for the paralleling of their controllers.


As I said With some rudimentary controllers this may not work but generally it is a fool proof solution.

If panels are not reasonably well matched in their power point voltages then paralleling them is not the best of solutions.

Message posted by Paul_B on 25/2/2016 at 9:42am
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I have two Morningstar controllers for my battery, one for the roof mounted solar panel and one for a free standing panels. No problems whatsoever :) (see Morningstar webpage)

Regarding charging 2 batteries a dual controller is the best way, otherwise use 2 batteries of the same type, size and age. Using differing batteries is not a good idea as it reduces the overall battery capacity (Peukert's law)

Message posted by Ray Clayton on 25/2/2016 at 11:26am
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Quote: Originally posted by 2004brianv on 24/2/2016
I really get upset when people who have no idea of what they are on about give advice, this topic is like the blind leading the blind.

1)You can wire any amount of solar panels together of different wattages in to one regulator providing you keep within the regulators working load

2)You can charge 2 batteries of different ampage together from one regulator or battery charger without damaging either batteries, the batteries will charge at the same rate because the smaller battery will flow to the big one and vice versa until both become the same, one will not charge faster than the other, this is basic physics, it's how charging works.

Something for you to ponder, if you have 2 car batteries, one has 11 volt in it, the other has 13 volts in it, and you wire them both together in parallel what will happen, there will both end up with 12 volts each, because the larger capacity one will charge the smaller one till they become equal, and that's why you can charge batteries of different values together.
And almost forgot, a smaller panel will not pull the voltage from a big panel, complete and utter rubbish, that's why panels are fitted with blocking diodes to prevent that from happening and to stop them from draining your batteries at night.
Also never wire 2 regulators to the same battery, a regulator is looking for a voltage from the battery to know when it's charged, how can it do this if you have a voltage from another solar panel coming in an fooling it in to thinking it is charged, hence one regulator will cancel the other one out.
Posted by Brian, 35 years in the electrical, solar and electronics business.


Post last edited on 24/02/2016 23:31:03

Post last edited on 25/02/2016 00:08:59



Yea and if you wire up the battery the wrong way, you will end up with 24v not 12v

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Message posted by 2004brianv on 25/2/2016 at 6:16pm
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A 2006 critical study concluded that Peukert's equation could not be used to predict the state of charge of a battery accurately unless it is discharged at a constant current and constant temperature.[1] A 50Ah lithium-ion battery tested was found to give about the same capacity at 5A and 50A; this was attributed to possible Peukert loss in capacity being countered by the increase in capacity due to the 30◦C temperature rise due to self-heating, with the conclusion that the Peukert equation is not applicable.

Message posted by Paul_B on 25/2/2016 at 8:57pm
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I thought he had lead acid batteries.

Message posted by Grampian91 on 25/2/2016 at 10:47pm
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Thread from 2013....

So in your example of a 11v and 13v battery equalizing to 12v and a panel charging them equally, what happens when the reason one battery was at 11v was because its faulty and sapping most of the power trying to charge dud cells?



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

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Message posted by 2004brianv on 26/2/2016 at 12:42am
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What are you on about, nobody said there was anything wrong with any of the batteries, it was just an example, a hyperthetical situation to show what would happen, jesus christ get a life man.


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