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Old 09-30-2016, 10:18 PM   #1
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HandyBob, Solar-Electro-Guru

This guy!
Wow.....mind blown after reading his stuff for the last hour or so.

"HandyBob" is a full-time boondocker and an electrical engineer, and has a worth-checking-out great little blog.

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/

Curious what you other electrical sharpshooters here on the SMB forum think of this guy's perspectives.

Lotsa real-world RV/off-grid electrical system design/theory. There's also a few solid rants, about how too many solar charging systems, when set up to factory-recommended specs, aren't even remotely optimized....and therefore aren't properly charging batteries.

But mostly....what seems like pretty darn solid guidance on the right way to spec, design, wire, and put together robust solar and battery systems for RV's and off-grid dwellings. He has some unique (and apparently controversial) guidelines on how to not only make batteries last, but give serious juice.....and it all comes down to his methods of consistently ensuring true, full charge of batteries. (Hint: raised voltage settings on the charge controllers.) He's gotten eight years out of his current lead-acids!

Overall, a wealth of info..
Batteries....solar.....chargers......wiring....... proper charge voltages to attain true full charge....lead-acid vs AGM.....panel efficiency.....are MPPT chargers worth it.....

This page, in particular, seems to be worth reading if you're just not getting the battery performance you think you should be....

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/...ging-puzzle-2/

Warning: lengthy reads ahead!
But man, great stuff.
Seems like a fantastic resource.
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Old 10-01-2016, 05:58 AM   #2
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Agree,
Handybob is a great resource.

greg
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Old 10-01-2016, 09:28 AM   #3
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Breezed through a bunch of that and will go back and read it thoroughly. But the few points I took away thus far were all really good ones. Oversize your wiring, most controllers might be crap, you really need to match the manufacturers charging profile as closely as possible.

Just wish he used more paragraphs.
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Old 10-01-2016, 10:33 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Flux View Post
Breezed through a bunch of that and will go back and read it thoroughly. But the few points I took away thus far were all really good ones. Oversize your wiring, most controllers might be crap, you really need to match the manufacturers charging profile as closely as possible.

Just wish he used more paragraphs.
Agree 100% about his almost-too-much-to-handle rambling wordiness!

I got the same takeaways:
1) Make sure batteries are bulk-charging at the **battery manufacturer's** recommended voltage (seems like Trojan specs 14.8v bulk charge rate)
2) Measure/adjust this voltage *at the battery terminals, don't believe what the charge controller display claims*
3) Oversize your wiring between solar panels/charge controller, and between charge controller/battery (and make wiring runs as short as possible)
4) Scrutinize the heck out of your charge controllers' strategies for charging (way too many of them throttle back the charge way too early, or maintain a too-low bulk charge rate throughout their charge cycle)
5) Be sure to understand exactly what is going on when a charger claims to do "boost charging" -- many of them are actually undercharging a battery
6) Use a quality battery meter like the Bogart Trimetric that calculate amp-hours in/out as its primary measurement of "battery charge level," and that displays this as a percentage of remaining charge
7) Solar: make sure the panels aren't ever even slightly-partially-shaded, as many solar panels stop flowing voltage completely if even *one cell* in the array is in the shade
8) (His opinion): AGM should be considered only if access to batteries (or venting) is an issue --- otherwise for longevity of battery life he prefers lead-acid batteries that can be checked with hydrometers to verify internal condition/state of charge
9) (Again, his opinion): MPPT controllers aren't worth it for everybody (this is worth reading his specifics in his text...but he mentions a 600W threshold for which (above that rating) they are worth having)

Also some overall perspectives:
A) Solar setups, when properly spec'd/adjusted and with an appropriate battery bank, are so good that nobody should need a generator.
B) You probably need less solar panels than the solar salesperson will tell you.
C) Most charge controllers have flawed charge algorithms that lead to chronic states of undercharging and premature battery destruction.
D) If in doubt, believe the **battery manufacturer's specs/data ** before the solar charge controller manufacturer's data on ideal charge voltages.
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Old 10-01-2016, 02:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by MountainBikeRoamer View Post
7) Solar: make sure the panels aren't ever even slightly-partially-shaded, as many solar panels stop flowing voltage completely if even *one cell* in the array is in the shade
See this thread, and embedded video, regarding panel shading.

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...anel-6853.html


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Old 10-01-2016, 03:49 PM   #6
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See this thread, and embedded video, regarding panel shading.

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...anel-6853.html


Herb
Great thread! Fascinating video from Jage there --- looks like there's a very small "window of forgivability" with the panels, in terms of how much localized shade they will tolerate before panel output dumps precipitously.

Amp output dropped severely and abruptly in most of his "cover only one cell" experiments --- but it was interesting to see that it did take covering a larger percentage of the panel to get it to drop to completely zero.
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Old 10-01-2016, 05:03 PM   #7
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Well I just got through with one section and here is what I am taking away:

PWM is fine, spend your money on thicker cables and a real battery monitor. Measure your voltage drops and and make adjustments, especially between the controller and the battery. Use a temp sensor.

I am looking at that morningstar Tristar PWM. It's small and you can plug a PC into it and do your own charge profile. 135 bucks!!! That to me seems like the ticket.

I am not really sure if I even want my alternator connected to the house unless I can do something to make it charge smarter. Maybe a relay sort of thing that switches the loads over to the alternator when it's on and leaves the solar to work the battery charging. I just keep thinking there is a better way!

Like this guy, I work in the lighting industry as well. We see a ton of bullshit flying around. Especially with the advent of LED lighting. People will try to sell you anything. But in the end it's about being smart with your money and system. Stick with established companies that have been doing this for years.

After reading that, I would fully agree that most are not getting the full potential out of their batteries with or without a solar system.
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Old 10-01-2016, 07:01 PM   #8
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I got over 10 years out of my house batteries just keep them as charged as possible I think is the key to long life...
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Old 10-01-2016, 09:38 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by BroncoHauler View Post
See this thread, and embedded video, regarding panel shading.

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...anel-6853.html


Herb
Thanks for that link. Never seen that video. Very interesting, or perhaps I should say, surprising.
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Old 10-02-2016, 10:11 AM   #10
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The Bogart Engineering battery monitor he recommends is pretty interesting as well.

It has a connectable PWM controller that reads from the monitor. Has a built in Lifeline AGM profile as well as many others. Probably 350 for the whole setup including all the monitor wiring. Might be a fine way to go as they are integrated and pull voltage right from the battery terminals.
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