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  1. #1
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Default Battery charging

    I am wondering if I can charge up an AGM with a generator running a 240v charger and also attach the generators 12v output to the battery as well for quicker charging. Is also connected to solar panels. Don't see too much of a problem but need to check.

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    I'm certain you can't use the generator 240v outlet and the 12v outlet together generator restrictions and the 12 v from the generator is unregulated OK for lead acid batteries as overcharing will just cause excessive gassing AGM different technology all together and you can't allow overcharging. What you need is the biggest 3 stage charger you can get which will reduce the running time of the generator.
    Buy one of these 3 Stage 12V 240V 40Amp Smart Battery Charger FOR CAR Boat Caravan Truck 4x4 4WD | eBayand let me know how it goes as I would like to get one as an addition to my 6A Ctek. The trouble with the cheap chargers is that only tell you charge or not the Ctek give you a visual indication as to the level of charge of the battery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    I am wondering if I can charge up an AGM with a generator running a 240v charger and also attach the generators 12v output to the battery as well for quicker charging. Is also connected to solar panels. Don't see too much of a problem but need to check.

    HI Phil
    The generator 12V output is not regulated in any form , while it could be done you would need to closely monitor the battery voltage to prevent over charging
    There is also the possability for the Charger to fed back against the 12V {?} output as the battery voltage gets up to near full charge .
    Personally I would not go that way .
    Best get a bigger charger??


    PeterQ

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    Definitely use a 240V charger plugged into the generator and forget the 12V output.

    What is the capacity of the battery? As a general rule, the maximum charge rate for an AGM is 0.3 times the amp hour capacity of the battery. So that's 30 Amps for a 100 Amp Hour AGM battery.

    For Gel, that limit is generally 20%. So 20 Amps for a 100 Amp Hour Gel battery.

    No limit for flooded cells, since they will normally self limit and gassing isn't such a problem.

    What happens if you exceed the maximum charge rate?

    AGM - will lead to venting of gases and drying out of the battery. This causes premature failure.

    Gel - leads to bubbles forming in the gel and an immediate partial loss of capacity. May also lead to venting of gases, drying out the gel and in due course leading to separation from the plates and/or cracking. End result = battery killed.

    What's the size of your battery? And are you sure it's AGM?

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, my preference is for a high output charger around 20-25A. AGM is 95A and the cloud and tree shadow is reducing the 160W solar charging quite significantly. So as an adjunct I thought if I boost my 240v 7 Amp charger with the generators 5A 12v output, I could help the charging process without excessive fuel usage. Ended up moving the van into a full sun location but before investing in a high output charger, just need a quick solution to this problem. Seems I can combine all three charging processes as long as I keep a close eye on things and don't over charge the battery.

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bros View Post
    Buy one of these 3 Stage 12V 240V 40Amp Smart Battery Charger FOR CAR Boat Caravan Truck 4x4 4WD | eBayand let me know how it goes as I would like to get one as an addition to my 6A Ctek. The trouble with the cheap chargers is that only tell you charge or not the Ctek give you a visual indication as to the level of charge of the battery.
    Actually using a 20A version of this in the car with an inverter. Ideally I understand the ideal float voltage for AGM is 13.7v. Mine I recall is giving more than this, need to re-check.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    Actually using a 20A version of this in the car with an inverter. Ideally I understand the ideal float voltage for AGM is 13.7v. Mine I recall is giving more than this, need to re-check.
    The plot thickens what function does the inverter do, do you also have a battery in the car or in the van or both and what size are the batteries and type. I have adapted my caravan to be entirely 12 v and never use an inverter and I have been caravanning for the last 12yrs. I have 280w Solar and two 100Ah AGM battteries and I am agonizing weather I need to get a very small generator for battery charging.

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    I missed you previous post in the battery is 95 Ah so the max charge current is 20A and you have a charger so with the generator the problem is solved.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bros View Post
    I missed you previous post in the battery is 95 Ah so the max charge current is 20A and you have a charger so with the generator the problem is solved.
    oops, I am a bit all over the place with what I am saying I think. Car has an inverter combined with the 20A charger. It has a 75A AGM 6 pack copy.
    Van has a 95Amp AGM with 7A charger and 2 80W panels.
    Running two Waeco's. Car has 32l and van has 10l as a freezer. Both end up with red light error after a days use from depleted batteries. The standard cable connectors on the Waecos become quite hot which I am not happy about either. Writing this as the 10l Waeco cycles briefly on and off on it's 'lo' setting. TV and everything else working though
    The 2K generator does bugger all re-charging, so will be looking to get another 120w portable panel for the car and bigger charger for the van. The car's 20A charger is dedicated and would be a nuisance to undo and use for the van's battery. So meantime I thought of using the generator to run the 7A charger and supplement this charge with anything the solar gives and also the 12V 5A output of the generator.

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    Gee isn't this complicated

    Lets start with the car only a few questions
    75 Ah AGM what is the 6 pack cop? and is it in good condition? I capacity test mine annually after 3 yrs old
    How do you charge The battery?
    What does the 20A charger do?
    What is the function of the inverter as I have never had need for one?

    Now the van
    95Ah battery is the battery in good condition?

    Combination
    Is there a connection between the 12v system on the car and the van?
    The red light you speak of do you know what voltage the is? test it by using the probes and piercing the insulation on the fridge cable as it should be two core and you can get at each cable 180 deg apart as your connections are getting hot means voltage drop and loss of energy at the plug. I chucked the cigarette lighter plugs for my fridge years ago and just us Andersen plugs, bit bulky but pretty good and you can buy them in bulk

    Sorry about all the questions but I am trying to get a picture in my mind of what you have.

    I'll tell you mine
    100AH AGM in the car with 40L engel fridge. Charges from the car via Readarc dual battery control (only a smart relay)
    Andersen plug to van to supply fridge and maybe the van battery
    The van has 2 x 100AH agm batteries and the Jayco Setec converter/charger. 2 x 140w solar panels. Fridge is the 3 way type. TV, computer, Vast converter, Ipad, lights, pump all 12v.
    An Andersen plug off the battery to outside to run any 12v power tools, drill compressor.
    Long 6 mm lead if necessary to use the van solar to the Andersen plug on the vehicle to charge the aux vehicle battery.
    No generator but thinking about it and would use it with a large charger to charge all three batteries at once.

  11. #11
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bros View Post
    Gee isn't this complicated

    Lets start with the car only a few questions
    75 Ah AGM what is the 6 pack cop? and is it in good condition?

    Optima Yellow Top AGM copy.

    How do you charge The battery?
    Booster type by using a 2000W inverter from the car's electrical and 20A charger like the one you pictured earlier.

    What does the 20A charger do?

    Purely to charge the car's aux battery.

    What is the function of the inverter as I have never had need for one?
    To run the charger, the inverter/charger combination is like a booster and I need not worry about wiring voltage drops; and get better control of the battery's charging.

    Now the van
    95Ah battery is the battery in good condition?

    Both batteries are fairly new and very few cycles.


    Combination
    Is there a connection between the 12v system on the car and the van?

    Not yet.

    The red light you speak of do you know what voltage the is? test it by using the probes and piercing the insulation on the fridge cable as it should be two core and you can get at each cable 180 deg apart as your connections are getting hot means voltage drop and loss of energy at the plug. I chucked the cigarette lighter plugs for my fridge years ago and just us Andersen plugs, bit bulky but pretty good and you can buy them in bulk

    Unfortunately the problem seems a little further in the manufacturers wiring and more to do with their crap connectivity. When new the connections are tight things are right but eventually these loosen up. So it becomes necessary to measure voltages inside the fridge unit to establish voltages.



    I'll tell you mine
    100AH AGM in the car with 40L engel fridge. Charges from the car via Readarc dual battery control (only a smart relay)?

    My inverter is connected via the same relay type as Redarc.

    Andersen plug to van to supply fridge and maybe the van battery

    Yet to do.
    Thanks for your setup info and it seems very good.
    The fridge error conditions indicates low voltage. The heat from the interconnects will not be easy to resolve long term unless I pull the fridges apart. Brother-in-law has same issue as well with his 60l Waeco.

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    HI
    [Quote}What is the function of the inverter as I have never had need for one?
    To run the charger, the inverter/charger combination is like a booster and I need not worry about wiring voltage drops; and get better control of the battery's charging [end quote]

    So you are using the inverter from a12V BATTERY [running the engine /] TO RUN an inverter to boost the voltage to 240V for CHARGER TO CHARGE ANOTHER 12V battery???

    You loose a lot of energy that way!
    Have you considered it might be better to simply to simply look at heavy cables to overcome the voltage drop .
    What is the distance from the tug battery to the other one?
    PeterQ

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    Inverter battery charger I wouldn't have gone that way and that is a big inverter I would have uses a 20A DC/DC charger which will allow reduced wiring size.

    Where exactly in the heat I assumed it to be the cigarette lighter plug all portable fridges come with.

    You are in a difficult position during the day getting the energy lost during the night with the fridge running. Getting to the bottom of the heating would help as heat is energy lost and with mobile 12v you can't afford to lose any.
    On my old car I used to have a 80 w solar panel for the fridge battery and I could tilt it for best results but it slowly went backwards over 3 days.

    There is an excellent spread sheet here calculating your solar power needs where you can calculate your energy supply and demand.

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldtrack123 View Post
    HI
    [Quote}What is the function of the inverter as I have never had need for one?
    To run the charger, the inverter/charger combination is like a booster and I need not worry about wiring voltage drops; and get better control of the battery's charging [end quote]

    So you are using the inverter from a12V BATTERY [running the engine /] TO RUN an inverter to boost the voltage to 240V for CHARGER TO CHARGE ANOTHER 12V battery???

    You loose a lot of energy that way!
    Have you considered it might be better to simply to simply look at heavy cables to overcome the voltage drop .
    What is the distance from the tug battery to the other one?
    PeterQ
    Yes, running an inverter from car to give 240v for charger. Agree with energy losses but it does keep a high enough voltage for proper battery charging. From memory it is twin 6mm cable and 5m from engine bay to inverter, charger to battery is around 500mm,

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bros View Post
    Inverter battery charger I wouldn't have gone that way and that is a big inverter I would have uses a 20A DC/DC charger which will allow reduced wiring size.

    Where exactly in the heat I assumed it to be the cigarette lighter plug all portable fridges come with.

    You are in a difficult position during the day getting the energy lost during the night with the fridge running. Getting to the bottom of the heating would help as heat is energy lost and with mobile 12v you can't afford to lose any.
    On my old car I used to have a 80 w solar panel for the fridge battery and I could tilt it for best results but it slowly went backwards over 3 days.

    There is an excellent spread sheet here calculating your solar power needs where you can calculate your energy supply and demand.
    Thanks for that link and will check it out.

    Today was not good. Have been suspicious that the van's solar was not working properly. Disconnected a lot of wiring and had 37v from series connected panels but the GSL MPPT was only giving 11.6v out. Rang GSL and their suggestion was to disconnect the battery, connect a load like an incandescent bulb and measure the output voltage. Only got 11.6v and they said that regulator should be putting out 14.8v so had to get another regulator. The GSL was rated to 12A so knew it was been driven hard and thought it better to get a higher rated unit. Damn hard to find something like this while away and could only get a 30A ProVista. Put it in and with 37v input it showed only .6A charge current @11.6v . Ran the gennie with charger and the voltage was higher at 12v but I didn't measure current and should have. After several hours the voltage with charger only rose to 12.6v. Charger gives 13.8v.

    More tests tomorrow.

    The cig lighter centre pin can become too hot to touch, and the fridge connector also heats up.

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bros View Post
    I would have uses a 20A DC/DC charger which will allow reduced wiring size.
    The only way I know to do this is to use a booster. GSL make these and from what I know they invert to a higher voltage and use charger type circuitry from there. Fairly much what I am doing but with better efficiency.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    The cig lighter centre pin can become too hot to touch, and the fridge connector also heats up.
    Swap to an Anderson connector. Cig lighter sockets are too unreliable for a fridge on the move.

    Those who want to ignore the science are increasingly alone. They are on their own shrinking island.


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    You have the charging capacity there why not use it all. As a cheap way out go and get some 6mm auto cable twin and some lugs just sufficient to reach from the vehicle charger to the van battery and some lugs for each end. If you cant access a crimper use a hammer as they will do temporarily and tie the charger in the vehicle and the van battery in parallel and use the generator to run the 20 charger in the vehicle and the 7 A charger you have.
    That will allow you to continue your holiday and you can fix it when you go home. That way you can run your generator for 2 hrs a day.
    On one of my old vans I blew up the on board charger due to a cheap generator and just substituted a battery charger I carried for the 12v supply

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    Sounds like you all need good quality MPPT controllers. At the farm I have 1 x 250 watt panel, tracer MPPT and 1 x 150 AH semi cycle calcium battery. We run the entire camp off this set up. Caravan lights, camp lights ( lots and lots of led's), 3 water pumps, 50 lt fridge freezer, phone chargers, TV, inverter etc..... In full sun the panel puts out 34v and the charge controller decides what is best for my particular battery. Generally in the morning it goes into boost mode and pumps out 14.8 v and 15 amps then ramps it back to float at 13.8 and 1 or 2 amps. Even in full cloud the panel still puts out 26 v and the controller does its magic.

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bros View Post
    You have the charging capacity there why not use it all. As a cheap way out go and get some 6mm auto cable twin and some lugs just sufficient to reach from the vehicle charger to the van battery and some lugs for each end. If you cant access a crimper use a hammer as they will do temporarily and tie the charger in the vehicle and the van battery in parallel and use the generator to run the 20 charger in the vehicle and the 7 A charger you have.
    That will allow you to continue your holiday and you can fix it when you go home. That way you can run your generator for 2 hrs a day.
    On one of my old vans I blew up the on board charger due to a cheap generator and just substituted a battery charger I carried for the 12v supply
    Yes, The 6mm wire extension could be the go. Have crimping tool with me. Thanks for that.
    Today I tested battery charging and found the battery taking it all (7A from charger combined with 4 solar amps). What really surprised me is that while the panel is putting out 37v, the MPPT controller and it's new replacement are only trickling amps into the battery. Best output was 4.1A at the peak of our 39 degree clear sky day day. Cooler morning delivery isn't worth mentioning. I checked all solar panel connections and seem in good shape.
    Can faulty panels still deliver good voltage or could the heat be reducing output to such a low level?

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ringtail View Post
    Sounds like you all need good quality MPPT controllers. At the farm I have 1 x 250 watt panel, tracer MPPT and 1 x 150 AH semi cycle calcium battery. We run the entire camp off this set up. Caravan lights, camp lights ( lots and lots of led's), 3 water pumps, 50 lt fridge freezer, phone chargers, TV, inverter etc..... In full sun the panel puts out 34v and the charge controller decides what is best for my particular battery. Generally in the morning it goes into boost mode and pumps out 14.8 v and 15 amps then ramps it back to float at 13.8 and 1 or 2 amps. Even in full cloud the panel still puts out 26 v and the controller does its magic.
    I now think that MPPT I took out has nothing wrong with it, damn, $170 poorer

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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    Yes, The 6mm wire extension could be the go. Have crimping tool with me. Thanks for that.
    Today I tested battery charging and found the battery taking it all (7A from charger combined with 4 solar amps). What really surprised me is that while the panel is putting out 37v, the MPPT controller and it's new replacement are only trickling amps into the battery. Best output was 4.1A at the peak of our 39 degree clear sky day day. Cooler morning delivery isn't worth mentioning. I checked all solar panel connections and seem in good shape.
    Can faulty panels still deliver good voltage or could the heat be reducing output to such a low level?
    Panels are rated for 25 deg so as the temp increase the output decreases and it can be made worse if there is no air gap under the panels. Figures I have seen for an ambient of 40 deg the output drops by 10% but you are seeing more than that. When you do as I suggest put all your fridges on 240v so you can get maximum into your batteries.

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    I had a panel fail once and it was an 80 w panel and the voltage dropped to around 11v. I was told sometimes some of the joints fail within the panel. Van you connect your panels up in parallel and see how it goes or is it impossible to get the the connections.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bros View Post
    I had a panel fail once and it was an 80 w panel and the voltage dropped to around 11v. I was told sometimes some of the joints fail within the panel. Van you connect your panels up in parallel and see how it goes or is it impossible to get the the connections.
    Worth a shot, though the current series connection avails 3 connectors to me, where I am now has little available
    .... good pointer, need to try.

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    I'm assuming you don't have grid connect panels which have a high open circuit voltage 30V and only have 12v panels with 22v. As you seem to be able to measure current and you get the series connection apart try each panel on the battery and check its charging current or better still put your meter across the output of the solar panel as the short circuit current should be about 4.8A, it won't hurt the panel also measure the open circuit voltage which should be around 20V. This way you will pick up a faulty panel.
    You can safely run without a regulator with that amount of solar but the catch is knowing where the battery is in its capacity eg if the 100AH battery was at 50% charge you would need 50Ah to bring it up so two panels at full output would need 5-6 hrs charging from solar only but the key to this is knowing the capacity of the battery.

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    Grid connect panels are the way to go for sure I reckon. Get that voltage right up there and use a tracer MPPT controller to charge your particular style of battery. The tracer has different settings for different types of batteries. My 20 amp unit was only $165 delivered. 10 amp units are only $100 ish

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    Today was interesting. I disconnected the panels and tested charging rates for each. They both registered around 4A each at 18v. Series connect both and the charge rate was still around 4A into the battery measuring just on 12v. Suspicion fell back to the battery.
    Then my 20 A charger blew a 3A fuse and the replacement 7.5A fuse. Ditching that charger and Bros, happy to know I bought a Ctek booster charger for the car, another $330, and scrapping the inverter/charger setup.
    So left the 100A van battery with Battery World for testing though after removing the car's 6 pack and putting into the van, I am very sure tomorrows result will be a failed battery. The car's battery gives every indication of a happy end to this shimozzle. So many hundreds more for a new battery, and annoyed the old none gave so little service.

    I know about Anderson plugs, but these do not resolve the sloppy fridge connectors, only the cig lighter end.

    Now, what are grid connect panels...ones on house roof types, and if so, how would these differ from any other panel?

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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    Now, what are grid connect panels...ones on house roof types, and if so, how would these differ from any other panel?
    Bigger more watts per sq m than the 12 v panels and the open circuit voltage is 30v and I think they are cheaper per watt. These panels are designed to be connected in series parallel. Get a Fullriver or Ritar battery they are good batteries and cost about $270 to $290 for 100Ah battery but check the date stamp that it is less than 6 mths old as some try to flog off old batteries cheap.

    Did you say you are on holidays?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bros View Post

    Did you say you are on holidays?
    Was for a while there.
    Not a lot of battery choice in Swan Hill

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    Lots of replies there. Just one observation about using 12V output from the generator to charge a battery. When the fact that it is not regulated seems to be a problem, in reality the problem is that it is 12V. You will never charge and much less overcharge a battery with 12V. You need 14v and in the case of calcium batteries up to16v. That is why a smart chager is the go. 12V you can run all day and it will bring it up to half charge if that.
    “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.”
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    Battery has tested ok, somehow the solar is not giving what it used to. Did a short circuit measure on each panel as Bros suggested and they were similar results. Frustrating trying to work this one out. Anyway, multimeter out of action for the moment as forgot to change leads over for a voltage reading after doing amps....so need to check it's fuse

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    You must have it fixed by now, what happened?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bros View Post
    You must have it fixed by now, what happened?
    Still haven't fully resolved issues, and still on the road near Omeo Vic. The MPPT controller I have is not delivering the expected charge with panels in series. I am now using a non-MPPT type in parallel and getting at most 9A which is getting me by.

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    Out of 160w solar panel 9A is the absolute maximum so you shouldn't complain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bros View Post
    Out of 160w solar panel 9A is the absolute maximum so you shouldn't complain.
    Thought I originally got a bit more than that but yeah, 9A for part of the day is pretty good, 4A around 4pm today, 1.5A at 6:20pm. The panels are flat on the roof so maybe optimal for a couple hours a day.
    The little 10L Waeco I thought used around 2.5A but after it has been going a bit it is over 4A when used as a deep freeze. Didn't know that and maybe I got a later version without the Danfoss compressor!

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    4K Club Member Marc's Avatar
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    Hi Phil, hope your trip is going well. Out of curiosity, you mention amps in your measurements, but what voltage are you getting out of them? For battery charging it is essential that you get at least 14V or basically almost nothing will happen regardless of amps.
    “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.”
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    Gee you must like your Ice Cream to be running a 10l freezer. We only ever run a 40L Engel plus the van fridge on gas when not on power. I just helped a mate of mine setup a system on his car to do what I do. I also advised him about how to set up his van so he can use its solar system to help the car aux battery that is running his Engel. He also has 100w of portable solar so I had to factor this in.

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Also have a 32l Waeco in the car. Gas fridge spat the dummy again, doesn't like it's piezo starter so have to pull it out again

    Marc, yep do get 14.2v but the AGM should only be getting 13.7v, so I might be slowly destroying the battery now

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    4K Club Member Marc's Avatar
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    Mmm half a volt difference? May be not that dramatic. You could use a small transformer?
    “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.”
    Louis Pasteur



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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    Also have a 32l Waeco in the car. Gas fridge spat the dummy again, doesn't like it's piezo starter so have to pull it out again

    Marc, yep do get 14.2v but the AGM should only be getting 13.7v, so I might be slowly destroying the battery now
    Hi Phil
    Does the reg have any adjustments for battery type?
    AGMs can dry out if overcharged & yes 0.5V is signiicant overcharging
    NOT sure what a transformer would do with DC

    Of course the voltmeter is showing battery voltage, NOT the Charging voltage
    That cannot be measured!!

    PeterQ

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldtrack123 View Post
    Hi Phil
    Does the reg have any adjustments for battery type?
    AGMs can dry out if overcharged & yes 0.5V is signiicant overcharging
    NOT sure what a transformer would do with DC

    Of course the voltmeter is showing battery voltage, NOT the Charging voltage
    That cannot be measured!!

    PeterQ
    No setting for AGM Peter. It's a basic Pro-Logic unit, not my ideal choice for the regulator either but my options then were less than good.
    Had considered putting a hefty power diode in series to get a small voltage drop....but at the end of the day it's just putting a band-aid on it.

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Didn't realise how long ago this was. At the end of that trip the battery was dead probably because I ran it down. Also the GSL MPPT was kaput. The inverter charger setup failed, the inverter died.

    I now have 100-120a LifePO4 battery and a new MPPT charge controller. Have added an additional 100W of solar. Best part of the day 260W of solar gives 15A. I upgraded the battery as the van was borderline heavy, threw the 3 way to the tip and just run a 100l compressor fridge. Anyway about to trip away soon.

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