Hail storm may have killed my solar...

Our '19 400 has been under the PahaQue cover for a couple of weeks now and on Wednesday afternoon we had an impressive hailstorm. Tonight I checked the Victron app just to see the state of the battery and noticed the history showed there has been no charging since then.

I'm thinking the solar panels have been damaged. I'll take a look at them tomorrow. In anticipation of possibly replacing them I was wondering what brand flex panels were factory installed for the '19 400. I'm under the impression NuCamp is using different panels now.

Thanks - Peter
Peter & Darlene
"Sparky" 2019 [email protected] 400
2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-T
Flagstaff, AZ
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Comments

  • N7SHG_HamN7SHG_Ham Member Posts: 987
    The late 2019's use a custom panel from https://www.sunflaresolar.com/
    2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite
  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Moderator Posts: 6,516
    Curious, what was the state of your battery and was it fully charged when you stored it.
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • DougHDougH Member Posts: 895
    @Petroffski ; Can sympathize, we lost a pair of panels to a hail storm a couple years ago.  It makes for a good reason to get better / higher yield panels as they seem to improve every year.
    2014 328d diesel wagon, 2017 [email protected] S Max, D/FW Texas

  • PetroffskiPetroffski Member Posts: 27
    The battery was almost fully charged. The solar has been keeping it charged through the cover. It makes up the nighttime phantom drain every day. I've since shut off the battery so as to not drain it further.

    I took off the cover this morning and currently (no pun intended) the Victron app shows Solar Voltage at 17.variable and 0 Amps with the panels ⅓ in the sun. If it shows ANY voltage shouldn't it show SOME amps?

    I looked at the panels and I can't say they look smooth but aren't sure they ever looked smooth. I suppose I expected to see some destruction.

    I'm guessing I'll take a look at the solar controller and measure the power from each panel. Any guidance on this would be appreciated. Not sure where to go from here really...

    Peter


    Peter & Darlene
    "Sparky" 2019 [email protected] 400
    2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-T
    Flagstaff, AZ
  • pthomas745pthomas745 Member Posts: 1,577
    Turn a few things on in the trailer and see if the panel keeps up.  There is no need for a panel and controller to provide volts to a battery reading 12.7, so that could be the reason for the zero wh from the panel.

    2017 Outback
    Towed by 2014 Touareg TDi
  • PetroffskiPetroffski Member Posts: 27
    Pthomas745 I hear what you're saying but I'm only comparing it to "before the hailstorm". Every day it had always produced enough power to get the battery up to 14+V before it started floating. After resting it showed 12.9V in the morning. Now? Nada.
    Peter & Darlene
    "Sparky" 2019 [email protected] 400
    2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-T
    Flagstaff, AZ
  • N7SHG_HamN7SHG_Ham Member Posts: 987
    edited August 2019
    The panel voltage is volts it is making, the amps is what it is sending to the battery, if battery is charged no amps flow into it. If the panels were damaged they wouldn't be making voltage.
    2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite
  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Moderator Posts: 6,516
    Let’s see a screenshot of the Status page.
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Moderator Posts: 6,516
    When you hit float mode, what is the panel voltage?  
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • PetroffskiPetroffski Member Posts: 27
    SIS- I'll have to get back to you with the status info tomorrow. There was weather coming and I decided to cover it up. I also decided to plug in to shore power to see if all is normal there.

    I did take some screenshots of the history page and things don't seem normal there either. It started charging this morning but never made it to float or absorption. Normally the charge voltage made it to 20+ volts but today it didn't make it to 18V. It even looks like things were getting strange 3 days before the hailstorm. The Vmax and Ahr's were daily decreasing and never making it to float either. It always made it to float voltage easily every day.

    I wonder if one panel is dead-ish. I turned shut off the battery today and will see how it does without anything dragging it down.

    I appreciate your help.
    Peter


    Peter & Darlene
    "Sparky" 2019 [email protected] 400
    2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-T
    Flagstaff, AZ
  • ChanWChanW Member Posts: 2,816
    I think you won't see normal charge cycles until you are using the battery, and discharging it some.

    Try discharging your battery a good amount, preferably in the morning (the three way fridge will do it in a jiffy!), and then see if the bulk, absorption, float stages look more normal in the afternoon sun.
    Chan  -  Buffalo NY (Beau Fleuve)
    2014 S Maxx - 2011 Tacoma 4cyl
     
     [email protected]'ll_Do_Ya
  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Moderator Posts: 6,516
    Check out this thread.  @JEB had some abberant readings and found some fuses that needed to be replaced.

    https://tab-rv.vanillacommunity.com/discussion/8836/victron-charge-controller-aberrant-readings
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • PetroffskiPetroffski Member Posts: 27
    edited September 2019
    That is very, very interesting. Now... Where are these pesky fuses of which you speak? I'm guessing on the rats nest panel wiring on the roof?!?
    Peter & Darlene
    "Sparky" 2019 [email protected] 400
    2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-T
    Flagstaff, AZ
  • JEBJEB Member Posts: 266
    No. They are inline fuses located very near the charge controller. But I second what other posters are advising. Unplug from shore power and put a substantial 12v load on the electrical system and see if your panels wake up to provide a charge before messing with anything. Don’t just assume the panels are damaged based on before storm/after storm experience.  Unless you are seeing physical evidence of damage, they probably aren’t damaged. 
    2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite
    2019 Chevy Colorado Z71 Duramax
  • PetroffskiPetroffski Member Posts: 27
    I'm drawing the battery down now and will see what happens tomorrow morning when the sun comes up. In the mean time I've been looking for the solar fuse and have found only the battery/controller fuse. I've looked at the controller area and next door where the water pump resides. I guess I'll look under the glycol cover tomorrow but that seems as an unlikely location for a solar fuse.

    I'll report back on what I find tomorrow morning as the controller starts and continues to add data.

    Thanks for all the help.
    P

    Peter & Darlene
    "Sparky" 2019 [email protected] 400
    2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-T
    Flagstaff, AZ
  • pthomas745pthomas745 Member Posts: 1,577
    The solar panel inline fuse should look something like this.


    2017 Outback
    Towed by 2014 Touareg TDi
  • PetroffskiPetroffski Member Posts: 27
    I'm guessing there is one for each panel...?
    Peter & Darlene
    "Sparky" 2019 [email protected] 400
    2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-T
    Flagstaff, AZ
  • pthomas745pthomas745 Member Posts: 1,577
    That would be a good guess.  I don't know what the wiring for the panels on the roof look like, but I would get a ladder and have a look at the wiring from the panel that you can see before the wiring goes into the trailer. 
    2017 Outback
    Towed by 2014 Touareg TDi
  • PetroffskiPetroffski Member Posts: 27
    I've been monitoring the solar pretty carefully and I can say that it just isn't keeping up. It's 10am here in Flagstaff and full sun on 200W of panels are producing 70W of power. It will max out at about 80 before the clouds return this afternoon. I got 240Wh yesterday and it didn't make it out of the bulk charge. There is NO load not the battery as it's currently shut off.

    It turns out there are no inline PV fuses with our factory setup. The connectors on the roof are just that, connectors. I've followed the wiring all the way to the controller from the panels and have come up with nothing but white and red wiring. I can eliminate the fuse as a problem.

    I'm going to access the controller again and tighten the terminals. After that? I'm not sure what to do.

    I should say this system has kept the battery charged throughout the past year in all conditions, even with the cover on, until now.

    Thanks-
    Peter
    Peter & Darlene
    "Sparky" 2019 [email protected] 400
    2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-T
    Flagstaff, AZ
  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 6,141
    @Petroffski start by measuring the voltage if the PVC wires coming into the controller, using a multimeter. Also, I am not sure about your model but my solar controller has a fuse.

    2021 [email protected] 320 Boondock "Mattie Ross" | 2021 [email protected] Nights: 64 | Total nights in a [email protected] 274 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk | [email protected] owner since 2014

  • PetroffskiPetroffski Member Posts: 27
    edited September 2019
    jkjenn-
    The controller has an internal fuse to protect for incorrect polarity but the panels themselves have no inline fuse as the battery/controller line does.

    What I did was disconnect the panels on the roof and measured each voltage. It was 11am with the panels almost square with the 7000' Arizona sun. Each panel measured 17.26V. I'm under the impression that maxed no-load panel voltage is supposed to be 21V+. When I plugged them back in the voltage to the controller dropped to 14.6V or so. It's tough to charge a 12V battery with 14.6V. The max watts, in the full sun, measured 90. Not too good for 200W of panels!

    I should mention too that the Victron 75/15 controller won't start charging until there is a voltage differential of 5+V. I drained the battery to about 12.3V last night. So... I had to turn on the 12v fridge and radio to get the battery to drop half a volt or so to even get the controller to start charging.

    I may be missing something here. Hard to say. I know just enough about solar to be dangerous.
    Peter & Darlene
    "Sparky" 2019 [email protected] 400
    2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-T
    Flagstaff, AZ
  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 6,141
    edited September 2019
    I would be curious about a couple of things:

    You have 2, 100w panels, wired in parallel, is that right?

    In the Victron Connect app, you should be able to export a 30 day history, to Excel, if I recall, correctly. Can you export that and upload it?

    Next, maybe disconnect from the branch connectors and test each 100w panel, independently. You might have one bad panel but sounds like you should have one still working.

    On a funny note, I went to the kitchen closest spot to where I park my [email protected]) to open Victron Connect app, and couldn't figure out why I wasn't showing any devices..that would be  because Austin has my [email protected] in Sugarcreek, lol.

    2021 [email protected] 320 Boondock "Mattie Ross" | 2021 [email protected] Nights: 64 | Total nights in a [email protected] 274 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk | [email protected] owner since 2014

  • PetroffskiPetroffski Member Posts: 27
    Never been able to trust Austin...

    Yes, 2 100W parallel panels. It came with a PWM controller but I swapped it out with the Victron MPPT controller several months ago because I was told it would make me happier. A fellow at a solar supply place here in Flagstaff today suggested I hook them up in series as to bypass the 5V+ start-up regime to see what happens. I might try that. Just because.

    I did test each panel and it showed, roughly, the same thing; 17.somethingV. I find that puzzling, but I have to accept the test for what it showed.

    NuCamp denied a warranty claim as it fell two months out of warranty. We've got a trip to the north rim of the Grand Canyon in two weeks and I have to figure out a plan A and a plan B. I'm thinking of replacing my defective solar charging system with a portable system. We ALWAYS camp in the shade of trees but the portable systems require constant surveillance as they are easily walked off with. So much for the hike down the North Kaibab trail...

    I've not downloaded the history before from the App. I'll see if I can figure it out. I can say it would be more interesting if I could download 45 days as it would show how it was working before things went south.
    Peter & Darlene
    "Sparky" 2019 [email protected] 400
    2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-T
    Flagstaff, AZ
  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 6,141
    If you get readings of 17v on each and also at the controller, it sounds like it might be possible that they are not actually working in series, where voltage is additive. 17v for a single panel actually sounds about right if your panel is a 24v panel as you never reach max voltage. 

    2021 [email protected] 320 Boondock "Mattie Ross" | 2021 [email protected] Nights: 64 | Total nights in a [email protected] 274 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk | [email protected] owner since 2014

  • PetroffskiPetroffski Member Posts: 27
    No, they are working in parallel as that is how they are wired from the factory.

    17V is barely enough to start the charging sequence in the morning. There have been days, lately, where the charger doesn't even start (previous posted screenshot). No charging all day because the 5V+ over battery voltage is never reached as the best the panels could manage was 16.85V. When they do produce enough voltage to start the charging sequence they don't produce enough power to replace the previous evening's phantom draw. Two months ago they charged some even if it was cloudy all day long.

    Monday (a normal summer day here in northern Arizona) the panels maxed out at 240Wh. From my reckoning 240Wh is (roughly) a little less than 2 hours of normal/previous production. I'd like to see what people are currently getting for a full day charge in watt/hours.

    None of this is normal unless I'm missing something big here.
    Peter & Darlene
    "Sparky" 2019 [email protected] 400
    2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-T
    Flagstaff, AZ
  • ColoradoJonColoradoJon Member Posts: 375
    It really depends on the specs of your panels, but 17.26V isn't bad at all.  You say you have 200W total output in two panels connected in parallel.  You should get around 18V directly from the panels themselves with an amperage of around 11, in optimal conditions.

    Once you connect to the Victron 75/15 controller, the output from the controller should drop to 14.4V - 14.8V which is exactly what you need to charge your battery.  If you are getting 14.6V like you stated then you might not be pushing enough amps to charge the battery.

    You need to measure the output from the controller, both volts and amps.  That will tell you if you are getting enough output from the controller to charge your battery.  If you are getting 14.6V but less than one amp, that's a problem.  If you are getting 14.6V and more than 1 amp you should be charging just fine.
    Jon & Angela | Florissant Colorado | 2017 Outback S
  • TabberJohnTabberJohn Member Posts: 588
    While researching solar and RV battery charging I came across this informative discourse on the subject from several years ago --
    http://popupbackpacker.com/state-of-charge-your-camperrv-may-be-killing-your-battery-bank/
    As @ColoradoJon mentions conditioning voltages from the controller will never be 17v.
    2015 [email protected] Max S (White/Silver) -> 2014 Ford Escape 2.0L (turbo, AWD, factory tow)
  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 6,141
    100% agree with @ColoradoJon

    Since they are wired in parallel (misread earlier) is enough charge your battery. Your controller will convert it down to the appropriate voltage. I would be interested to see what your charging voltages are set at.

    2021 [email protected] 320 Boondock "Mattie Ross" | 2021 [email protected] Nights: 64 | Total nights in a [email protected] 274 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk | [email protected] owner since 2014

  • PetroffskiPetroffski Member Posts: 27
    I'm currently out of state and won't know "what up" until I get back on Monday. I'm interested in charging voltages myself...

    Thanks - Peter
    Peter & Darlene
    "Sparky" 2019 [email protected] 400
    2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-T
    Flagstaff, AZ
  • ColoradoJonColoradoJon Member Posts: 375
    You need to use a multimeter to test your voltages/amps.  Don't rely on the Victron app or any reading that outputs in Watts.  You're interested in direct Volts and Amps.  I would first check the voltage on your battery after disconnecting the charge controller and load.  At full charge you should read somewhere between 12.7 and 12.9 volts.  At this point, if this is what you are getting, your charging system is working just fine.

    Measuring the output of the charge controller is a bit more complicated, and it's output will depend entirely on the charge state of the battery that it is connected to.  If the battery voltage is 12.6V or less the charge controller should be pushing between 14.1 and 14.6V depending on whether it is in the bulk or absorption stage. In the float stage you will see between 13.0 and 13.8V.

    I suspect that your battery is charging just fine, but it is simply in the float stage and not really 'charging'.  Phantom drain is very small and will not drain enough of your battery to kick the controller into it's bulk or absorption stages every evening, and the float/maintenance charge will simply keep it topped off.
    Jon & Angela | Florissant Colorado | 2017 Outback S
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