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Rubicon Solar Power Experience

Discussion in 'Power Systems' started by Cruiserdrew, Jul 4, 2015.

  1. concretejungle

    concretejungle SILVER Star

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    I did what Andy talks about above. I have two 60W panels and hinged them together. It powers everything i need so far. I'm running a fridge, radio, charging cell phones, iPads, drone batteries, RC car batteries. If i'm sitting out at the beach where i know i have plenty of power, i've hooked up a crock pot to slow cook a pork butt all day long. Solar is awesome!
     
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  2. Dragos80

    Dragos80

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    At night, while there is no solar power input (obviously) and the engine does not run, how much electricity does the fridge use out of the battery?

    Will the car start up the next morning?
     
  3. concretejungle

    concretejungle SILVER Star

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    It doesn't consume much. I don't recall the exact amperage, it's been discussed, but i've had no issues starting in the morning. I now have dual batteries, so it's even less a concern, but when i was using one battery i could have the fridge running, parked, for almost 3 days before my truck would not start.
     
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  4. cme4lyt

    cme4lyt SILVER Star

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    Yes, you would have to be parked for prob three days before no start Kinda depends on the fridge but anything discussed here is gonna be good
     
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  5. weejub

    weejub SILVER Star

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    Andy - Was reading through this thread again, as I was just going to ask you if you hooked both the Battery and Load wires to back-feed into your bus - then saw your pic. Figured Battery was a must, but was concerned the "computer part" of the system would work properly.
     
  6. Cruiserdrew

    Cruiserdrew SILVER Star

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    Not sure what you mean. In that picture, the CC is plugged into the battery via the inside fuse panel, and it's all 8ga wire from the CC to the battery which is under the hood. The Solar panel wire which is 10ga, comes down off the roof, and through the door seal and plugs into the controller. So it's just like plugging the system into the battery, just a few feet further away. It's fully tested like this and all systems work perfectly. Like I said, I probably give up a bit of charging efficiency but it isn't enough to be noticeable. I ran my wire lengths/size/current through a voltage drop calculator and got 0.93% at 10 amps into the battery. That's well below the 3% guideline that many quote for non-critical systems.

    And one other thing that I'm going to address. I have hooked up the solar by accident to the battery lead of the charge controller. Fortunately, the controller is protected from operator mistakes like that. This is the downside of power poles-EVERYTHING fits together. I am switching to the SB50 power poles on the solar side so further mistakes like this will not be possible. In a permanent mount, you would not have this issue.


    Edit: I think I understand what you mean. I only hook up to the battery and do not use the "load" output of the charge controller. That's for controlling lights and hings like that automatically (and it's programmable so I may use it for something eventually).
     
  7. weejub

    weejub SILVER Star

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    Right - was going to "ask a dumb question" about hooking up the load to my bus, but then I saw your pic and figured you get all the info you need via the other pics from just tying the CC to the Battery,
     
  8. george_tlc

    george_tlc SILVER Star

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    Hooking a fridge to the "load" output would be useful to easily track power consumption over time since the victron unit measures that. Handy to see what the net battery power consumption is (watt.hours) versus what your solar is putting back into the battery. e.g. compare each 24 hours to get an idea of your net gain/loss is. Handy if you have marginal solar conditions (cloudy etc).

    You can leave the "load" always on, so it's just a free data logger feature for the fridge. The only caveat is that it appears to display in blocks of 10W.Hr (resolution). I need to do some bench tests to see what the accuracy is of the "load" output logging.

    cheers,
    george.
     
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  9. RFB

    RFB 97 FZJ80 LIFTED BLOWN DUAL BATTERIES,37s SILVER Star

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  10. RFB

    RFB 97 FZJ80 LIFTED BLOWN DUAL BATTERIES,37s SILVER Star

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    heres the breaker

    DSCN2753.JPG
     
  11. Cruiserdrew

    Cruiserdrew SILVER Star

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    Alright-Solar powered Rubicon year 3 is in the bag. Here is a report and some actual data!

    I started the Rubicon trail last Sunday and set up that afternoon at Buck Island for a 4 day stay. 160 watt solar panel deployed on the roof, facing south, elevated to 14 degrees to optimize power harvest. Also supplemented with a 100 watt panel on a separate charge controller) to face the morning sun and gather the first rays of the day. It turns out this 100 watt panel wasn't needed at all, but more on that later.

    I was running 2 refrigerators, one of them an Engel 45 from 2003, and the other a much older Sawafuji-Norcold unit I got off of Craigs list. Sawafuji is the original manufacturer of Engel, ARB etc. They still make the Engels in Thailand, though mine is a Japanese one I believe from the mid 1980s.

    The real news this year was the new Victron BlueSolar MPPT controller. In camp the first day, @TrickyT and myself took a hint from @george_tlc and ran the fridge power through the output terminals of the charge controller, because it would then log power consumption and we could easily measure basically all of the consumed power for our stay. The data is provided below. You can see my power consumption peaked on day 2, running 2 fridges at about 37 amp-hours (Wh reported below and more accurate). That's less than I had planned for, and a real testament to the power frugal nature of these fridges. Also interesting that the two fridges averaged about the same power consumption total, even though the older one draws 4.7 amps running and the newer one draws 2.7 amps running. (that's based on past year"s average power use by the Engel alone)

    You can see based on the numbers, the power use was variable, but close to the same, and the panel could more than keep up with use. Even with 2 fridges the batteries would hit absorb stage by mid morning and then just float the rest of the day, ramping up panel power when a fridge came on.

    The low voltage number reported is mis-leading. The resting voltage of the battery first thing in the morning with both fridges off was typically 12.3-12.4 volts. When they both started, it would momentarily drag the voltage down and the controller would log that as the "low" voltage of the day.

    We used my 100 watt portable panel to supplement @TrickyT 's 60 watt panel, because the 60 watt had a bit of a tougher time fully charging his battery. My conclusion from that, is that 60 watts is almost enough for a typical camping load, but really a 100 watt panel should be considered the minimum for this type of use.

    One other thing-Renogy sells this as a 100 watt folding panel, and @e9999 was concerned the company was not telling the truth about the output. Since my Victron app could also see @TrickyT 's controller, I saw 101 watts several times, so I think the panel is a legit 100 watt panel in real world conditions.

    Conclusion: total success all around, the Victron MPPT with the bluetooth control is excellent and fun to use. There is some question about the consumption logging accuracy but I'll let @george_tlc comment on that, but I believe up to a 7% error was quoted.

    My data from 2017 Rubithon:


    IMG_0655.PNG
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
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  12. RFB

    RFB 97 FZJ80 LIFTED BLOWN DUAL BATTERIES,37s SILVER Star

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    So correct me if Im wrong, but your pulling in more usable energy than your using, and the rest gets stored. Correct? Im thinking maybe to install a third sealed battery in the rear for the soalr. overkill? oddessey extreme house optima yellowtop main thus far. and I have an extra yellowtop
     
  13. TrickyT

    TrickyT Hate that mud... SILVER Star

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    Yeah, plugging the fridge (or in Drew's case, two refrigerators, one dedicated to the beer supply) into the load terminals of the Victron BlueSolar 75/15 allows you to monitor both power production ("yield") and consumption. But why a 3rd battery? I ran this same setup with just a single battery and it worked just fine for the 3 days we were camped at Buck Island.
     
  14. opg4759a

    opg4759a KB6FJ /AE SILVER Star

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    As a analytics nerd I really like that tracking.

    Can't wait to get my system up and running once I get done with my move.
     
  15. Cruiserdrew

    Cruiserdrew SILVER Star

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    Not sure. Battery charging is not 100% efficient so some power is just wasted. I ramped up my Absorb voltage to 14.8, so that may run extra power through the battery without any actual charging, again not sure.
     
  16. TrickyT

    TrickyT Hate that mud... SILVER Star

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    I agree. And don't forget that June-July are for optimum solar irradiance in north america, since days are both longer and solar elevation angle greater. In Death Valley last October my 60 watt panel struggled to keep my battery charged when I was running my fridge and charging personal devices. I still could start my fzj80 after two days in camp, but I don't think I could have gotten by indefinitely without supplementing the panel with other power. Oh yeah, lots of dust in the air on that trip too.
     
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  17. RFB

    RFB 97 FZJ80 LIFTED BLOWN DUAL BATTERIES,37s SILVER Star

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    Cool I got the renogery 100watt panel with the 40amp MPPT rover controller, not sure if that gonna do all the shiite your does. new to this. I bid on it he countered and I accidentally said accept when I didnt mean to, oh well its just more money into the fzj hole. to think I thought 16k was gonna be a built go to go rig, and my own nature kicked in and ten grand later it continues.
     
  18. Cruiserdrew

    Cruiserdrew SILVER Star

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    One other thing to note, is that the system could have made made way more power than it did. But once it hits absorb voltages, the battery is basically done charging, and the charge controller drops to minimal output. But every time a fridge would kick on, the controller would ramp up the power and supply the load, without touching what was in the battery. At dusk, you could even see the battery and panel sharing the load, but I didn't get a screen shot of that.
     
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  19. Enigma

    Enigma

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    Not sure if this is the right thread to to drop this, but I've been on the frugal hunt for awhile to find a better/bigger solar panel than the 50watts I have now to keep my fridge up and running for longer than 3 days.
    Stumbled across this site the other day, weird place for solar, but seems like a reasonable deal?

    Portable & Foldable Solar Panel | 100 Watt, 12 Volt | Wise Food Storage
     
  20. Cruiserdrew

    Cruiserdrew SILVER Star

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    Looks like a Renogy panel. I agree, it looks like a decent panel for a fair price.