OLDER SOLAR REGULATORS, AND HAZARDS FOR ADDED ON EQUIPMENT

 
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 5:10 am    Post subject: OLDER SOLAR REGULATORS, AND HAZARDS FOR ADDED ON EQUIPMENT Reply with quote

Hello Pre-Loved Bushtracker Friends,

Here is another minor problem that could become a major problem... The Morningstar or ProStar Regulators. Many years ago, the regulators were rated to 30 amps and they said it was OK for four 120 Watt Panels.

But there were a few instances where the Regulators suffered a catastrophic melt down, I mean it smoked them!! Now one or two we put off to possibly a lightening strike. But it seems that the panels rating was changed over time, and the MorningStar and Prostar Manufacturer then decided that the regulator was "not recommended for four 120 watt panels anymore." They did not do a recall or change any of the ones out there, and they did not have a larger Regulator than the 30 amp model... So, long story short, we stopped putting on four panels with that particular Regulator. Flat screen TV and Satellite Dishes were not common, and there never were many Bushtrackers out there built with four panels on that style of Regulator anyway.... But people have added on to their vans, and here is the problem...

We spent about a year developing our own 40 amp Regulator, and it has proven to be an absolute PEACH of a piece of equipment. More functions, more readouts, alarms and all kinds of goodies and a great heat sink about twice as big as the old regulator.. The Heat Sink? That is a finned alloy electronic radiator so to speak, and our 40 amp model has a very large one..

The problem is that these panels have gotten more efficient over time, and are rated now at about 125 to 130 watt depending on the system. They used to rate them at about 7.25 amps. But on a cloudy day, when the sun broke out of the clouds and the panels were cool, you could get a PEP Peak Performance of 10 amps for 15 minutes until the panel heated up... Shocked

OK, NOW WHAT HAS HAPPENED.... Is Flat screen TV, and Satellite Technology have come of age, and also additional fridges in the tow vehicles commonplace.... People have continuously added more equipment to their vans as time wore on... And amongst the Bushtracker Owners talking with each other FOUR PANELS IS QUITE COMMON AND MANY HAVE ADDED THE FOURTH ON THEIR THREE PANEL OLDER VAN !!! If you have done this, or have bought a Bushtracker that has four batteries and four panels, I would seriously think about upgrading the solar regulator. Not only is it better, but there is a major heat dissapation problem. A couple have scorched the paneling, and melted down the plastic onto the upholstery... You can read about the new Regulator on the Category on TIPS ON OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT...

If it were me and I had four batteries and four panels and the older style Regulator, I would change over to the new 40 amp one... Am I telling you this for economic reasons..???? Ridiculous, do not think that way, we have so much work that too much work is our major problem. My advice to you is based on trying to look after your best interests, to return something to the Bushtracker Community.. OK?

Best Regards, lone Ranger
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Swifty



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can it be fitted by a competant handyman, and how much will it cost to get one to Melbourne?

Paul. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Paul,
I think we charge about $590 for it, this is from memory, as I am out with 5 horse at the Nationals.... But we just did one for Eric G********** and it was $640 installed...

Now, could you do it yourself? Yes absolutely.. If you need any bits like a Tassie Oak Plaque to mount it on or any specialty bits, when I am back in the office next week I can talk with our Electrician and make you up a bit of a Care Package Kit... It is not a drama..

As to our new Regulator, read about its new functions in the Optional Equipment section here in the Public Forum...

Let me know if you need any more help with it.. I just can't remember what is involved, if you need a Tassie oak Placque to cover the old screw holes or what. I would have to look at one.

One more thing, if you have an older van using a lot of power, you may want to upgrade the wire size between the Regulator and the Batteries to 8 mm Twin Sheathed. Or snake through two 6mm each for Positive and Negative, so 4- 6mm cables. We do it from new now, but years ago, there was no 8mm Twin, and also Flat screen TV and all the other power consuming goodies were not so common...

Let me know if I can help more... Regards, LR
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UncleDodgy



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:13 pm    Post subject: Upgrading Existing Solar Reply with quote

Our BT was purchased new 06/2000 and carries the Vin # 6T9T21AAHYOAVX019

It has 3 Solar Panel (90 Watt I believe) a Morningstar ProStar 30 controller, and 3 batteries.

I would like to be able to solar recharge the batteries a little better by the addition of another panel.

Show me something mechanical & I can fix it, show me something electrical & I will most likely holler HELP!! Rolling Eyes

Accordingly, If modifications are to be made to the solar system we would prefer they be done by BTI at the factory.

Questions

Would the extra panel need to be the same wattage as the existing ones or could I utilise a higher wattage panel. e.g. 120 watt. or do I need to change all panels.

I believe that the addition of another panel would likely require the upgrading of the controller, particularly if a 120 watt panel was employed, but would the existing controller handle the extra wattage of an additional 90 watt panel.

If we need to change the controller with the addition of a 120 watt panel, would we be wiser to change all panels

Would the wiring from the controller to the batteries be adequate or would they need to be upgraded/replaced. Would such an upgrade require body panel removal

Can 4 panels operate on 3 batteries, or must there be one battery for each panel.


Any help or assistance/advice you can provide will be greatly appreciated

Regards
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Bushtracker
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello John and Sharyn,

You will first have to tell me why the Panhandle "Uncle Dodgy" Laughing Now thank you for putting this kind of question here in the Topic that relates to it, because in helping you I will be helping a dozen more instead of going throught he exercise a dozen more times... Wink

Anyways, to your questions...
First of all, I do not remember using smaller panels on a van of your era. There were times when we did put on an 80 watt because the normal 120's did not fit a fourth panel or something... But I would have no reason to have put on all smaller panels, no point.... It could have been a solar installation after leaving here, or somebody having us install their old panels from somewhere else, but I doubt it.... Those instances were very rare...

Measure the panels and get back to me, I suspect "Odds Are" they are all 120 watt Kyocera. Now if you want to do the work here, what I would do is possibly snake down a 8mm wire from the top junction box to carry more power, but it is not really a must. However, I would if possible upgrade it and possibly the run down to the batteries if we can.

Secondly If money is not a constraint, for the reason in the Topic above, if your panels are all good then a third 120 watt puts you over the top for that Solar Regulator. You could chance it, but I would upgrade it, and sell the solar regulator to someone else..

Third, so you know what you are up against, read the Topic in the Owners section on an easy way to test your panels to make sure they are all good. There were some Kyocera panels of that vintage that vibration broke some of the internal connections, and they only had a 5 year warranty on that. (Maybe less than 3% of a year or two batches, fixed..) You would have to replace them, but you can test this yourself simply by covering all but one with big folded out cardboard and reading the Regulator.. All should be about the same output at noonish ...

No matter what your panels are, mix and match has no issues, not a worry. Each panel has blocking diodes, each panel is its own solar pump, and they have no real interaction with each other. They all feed power to the Solar Regulator independently...

And last but not least, yes I would marry up the 4 panels with a 4th battery.... In the TIPS ON DESIGNING YOUR NEW BUSHTRACKER, read the Topic on matching up panels and batteries and the reasons why.. OK?

Kind Regards, stg
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UncleDodgy



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 4:55 pm    Post subject: Uncle Dodgy Panhandle - Origin Reply with quote

The origin of the "Panhandle" Uncle Dodgy.

Well Steve, you asked the question, so in all fairness I will do my best to answer it, but to do so requires a bit of a trip down memory lane for me.

We have a daughter, and the sister in law has 3 sons and a daughter of comparitively close ages and was widdowed when the youngest was still in nappies, so all 5 kids did what kids do as they grow up in close contact and graduated from billy carts and roller skates to pushbikes and eventualy motor cars.

Money during that period was never an oversupply issue, and when anything was wanted to be repaired or built it often became a family project utilising whatever was to hand or could be scrounged (sorry, recycled) from wherever, most often involving my guidance / assistance / help.

The latterpart of this period was around the time when the "Dodgy Brothers" were on TV.

Not all things went to plan but all gave a learning experience, and collectively the kids called themselves the Dodgy Brothers and derived a lot of fun and worthwhile experience from this period.

To the majority of the participants, I was Uncle, so it naturally (to the kids at least) fell that I became Uncle Dodgy, and it stuck, as nick names tend to do.

It is a nick name that has a lot of warmth, affection and fond memories to it, and so I keep and use it in memory of those times, even though the kids are now middle aged and have families of their own, and they still refer to and address me as "Uncle Dodgy".
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CD&JW



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think all kids could do with an "Uncle Dodgy".
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UncleDodgy



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 3:02 pm    Post subject: Results of Solar Panel Tests Reply with quote

Steve, here are the results of the tests on the panels using covers over the panels and removing the covers in turn to test the panels.

The tests were conducted today in brilliant sunshine in the middle of the day with zero cloud cover.

We have been connected to 240 volt power, so last night I turned off the charger to let the batteries run down to about half way, and the ProStar showed 12.1 Volts, a draw of 4.2 Amps, and zero Amps input from the panels confirmed at the start of the test.


Front Right Panel Only 6.4 Amps, 12.6 Volts, 4.2 Amps Draw
Front Left Panel Only 6.2 Amps, 12.5 Volts, 4.2 Amps Draw
Rear Left Panel Only 6.2 Amps, 12.5 Volts, 4.2 Amps Draw
Front & Rear Left Only 12.7 Amps, 12.8 Volts, 4.0 Amps Draw
Both Fronts Only 12.9 Amps, 13.1 Volts, 4.1 Amps Draw
All 3 Panels Together 19.1 Amps, 13.1 Volts, 4.0 Amps Draw

The BT is now back under cover and the 240 V charger is on.

Viewed the batteries, connections on all three are tight and clean (no verdigrease or growing muck)

Hope this info helps
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alright,
You did not give me the dimensions of the panels, but it sounds like they are all 120 Watt, and all working just fine...

More power? I think you are up for the fourth panel and fourth battery or replace all three with four new, depending on their age...

And you should upgrade the solar regulator.
Email me at sales@bushtracker.com for prices and schedule if you want it done... OK? Cheers, stg
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UncleDodgy



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:56 pm    Post subject: Solar Upgrade Reply with quote

Greetings Steve & thanks for the propmpt reply.
No problem, this is what I am here for...

I think you have basicaly confirmed what I suspected & I will contact you seperately regarding upgrade to 4 & 4. Idea

Sorry I thought you meant for me to measure the output of each panel when you asked me to measure them. They are 665 X 1430 or there abouts(measured up a ladder in torchlight) & I believe I was mistaken and that they are in fact 120 Watt panels as you said. Embarassed Embarassed
No worries, you needed to verify they were all working and this was not the source of your problem... And yes, confirming, those are Kyocera 120 watt, the few mm extra width you report is probably the mounting brackets..

I went digging back in our old records and the contract for manufacture of the van says 120 Watt. Sorry for the incorrect info. Please forgive a senior citizen (grey nomad) Must be CRAFT (Cant Remember A Flaming Thing) Embarassed Confused

Regards
John

Hey, don't be so hard on yourself, the young ones are often "dingy" and forgetful, and we silver haired have more wisdom and more to offer.... Wink
Snow on the mountain top and fire in the valley... Laughing


Best Regards, stg
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Muddy1



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello all - A few weeks ago I purchased my first ever caravan, an 18ft BT. Quite an upgrade from sleeping on the make-shift bed in the back of the ute, with my ears a whisker away from the compressor fridge.

Last weekend, the Treasurer and I headed off for an overnighter in the BT not too far from home, just to test things out.

All worked well with our BT, however I thought the solar amps should be higher. My BT is a 2001 model, with 3 panels and 3 new sealed wet batteries. The ProStar showed around 6 or 7 Amp in full noon sunlight. The panels are Uni-solar, according to the manual, so perhaps they were not fitted in the BT factory, but installed during the first owners lap of the island of Oz.

I will undertake the cardboard test this weekend. I think I may also have a look inside the junction box to see if there are any problems there, and afterwards I will make sure that I reseal the junction box correctly as described in another posting on this website. Naturally I will use those 600mm x 600mm ply load distributors should I need to drag my torso across the roof!

I did jump onto the website of the Uni-solar panels, and I noted the largest rigid panel is 64 watts and 3.88 Amps. According to the website, these panels are built for Australian conditions and are heat and shade tolerant.

So it is quite possible that my panels are working as intended. This of course is a bit limiting, so I may need to upgrade my panels. If so, the Treasurer is more then curious as to budget, whereas I am curious as to the performance and brand (?Kyocera). I'm rather handy when it comes to these sorts of things, so I'd be looking to do the instal myself. The Treasuer approves of this approach!

Regards Muddy1
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Loki of Condor



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Muddy, as I understand it, if the batteries are fully charged the solar regulator will reduce the charge going in.

So everything may be good.
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Muddy1



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Stephen, that's good advice. I'll Take that into account with my testing.

Muddy1
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Muddy1



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:08 pm    Post subject: Solar panel fault Reply with quote

Well I conducted a test of my three solar panels over the weekend. It was a beautiful sunny day and I undertook the test at around noon. I covered up two of the panels then moved the covers around until each panel was tested. The result - one panel works producing almost 5Amps and the other two panels are not producing any current. The Amps were being read at the regulator.

My next step is to remove the cover of the junction box and see what I find. I will do this initially when there is no sun, and after I safely disconnect the solar input into the regulator. If nothing obvious is seen, I will attach my multimeter and check for output from each panel separately. This will be done in good sunlight.

I'll update this post as my testing progresses.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Muddy1

There is a Topic on how to do this, in the Category BUSH MECHANIC FIXES ON THE ROAD... And the Topic is TESTING SOLAR PANELS IN PLACE..

Please put any further discussion on this Topic there where it belongs. There was a batch of weak internal connection panels, in Bushtrackers from about 2001-2006 that were replaced. They seemed to have weak internal connections that just fractured on the corrugation. Put your Posting there in the proper place and I will have comments depending on your testing results.

Kind regards, Bushtracker
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