Three 100 AH batteries and four solar panels,were not enough.

Submitted: Saturday, Jul 26, 2008 at 03:35
ThreadID: 124910 Views:3639 Replies:6 FollowUps:2
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Howdy Boggers ,

I just spent ten days in sunshine at Cue and the same at Halls Creek . Both times the van was in the sun all day . After about seven days the same thing happened at both locations - the batteries slowly lost the battle and were at only about 11.9 after a day of sunshine . This was a very gradual decline over the week .

I am surprised that the four solar panels could not handle the two interior lights and the fridge - that's all I ever used .

Is this a poor result or is this pretty well what I should expect from the system ( The batteries are brand new , as is one of the panels . The other panels are 2001 ) ?

Thanks ,

Willie .
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Reply By: Goodpal50 - Saturday, Jul 26, 2008 at 03:52

Saturday, Jul 26, 2008 at 03:52
Hi Willie,

I think you must have a problem with your solar panels or the controller. We have 3 panels and 3 batteries and as well as the lights and fridge are running a TV and Smartsat and have never had aproblem when relying on just solar.
The lowest we have ever been is 12 volts in the morning and usually after the sun has been on the panels for all day we have 14 volts which drops down after about 3.30 pm until we go to bed.Most times we still have 12.4 or 12.5 in the morning.
I did hear about a bad batch of panels and if you look back on the forum I think you will find a posting where the manufacturer is going to replace faulty panels at no cost.

AnswerID: 575599

Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Saturday, Jul 26, 2008 at 08:13

Saturday, Jul 26, 2008 at 08:13
Hi Willie - get the serial numbers of the panels and ring Kyocera (assuming they are Kyocera panels), especially if they are the dreaded 2001! Sounds just like the story of our life. What amps do you have as input on your regulator in full sun? Panels should deliver at least 6 amps each. That is about all we ever got from all 4 and didnt know any better, which ran our fridge, lights and pumps, until we got into the short days of winter in the NW.


With four new panels - only two connected as yet, and in a very shady CP getting more power than ever before.

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Reply By: Fred & Marj - Saturday, Jul 26, 2008 at 19:50

Saturday, Jul 26, 2008 at 19:50
Hi Willie

This does sound like panels and if they are 2001 manufacture they are possibly faulty a quick check first should be to have a look at the maximum amps in on a bright day - it should be up around 28Amps if the batteries are very low. I had the situation where two out of four were faulty and although it appeared to be ok the maximum charge was around 10Amps. next step is to cover each panel with cardboard in turn and you will soon see which ones are faulty - no effect on output when covered. To check the serial numbers you will have to remove the panels as they are on the underside of the panel.


Helen & Wayne

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Follow Up By: Noosa Fox - Saturday, Jul 26, 2008 at 22:44

Saturday, Jul 26, 2008 at 22:44
We did the check by placing a blanket over all but one panel and checking the solar input and found that we only had 1 panel operating and we were one of the earlier 1 in 1000 with the faulty Kyocera 2001 batch of panels.

Another thing that would tend to point to the panels being the fault is that Willie has said that it has happened after being camped for a few days. This would indicate that they are OK when the batteries are receivi9ng charge from some other means like the vehicle or via a battery charger.

The good thing is that the panels have a 25 year garantee but they have to reach Sydney in good condition via a courier for them to be covered.

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Reply By: Fred & Marj - Sunday, Jul 27, 2008 at 06:59

Sunday, Jul 27, 2008 at 06:59
The good news is that Kyocera will honour their warranty I had only two out of four faulty panels but they changed out all of the panels including the two which were fine because they were in the same batch range. My replacement panels which are 130Watt in lieu of 120 Watt have a 30 year warranty!

The best customer service I have ever experienced and I wasn't the original owner - just had to send a stat dec to determine ownership after that no question re backing ther warranty. I can provide the Sales Managers name and number if you like

Helen & Wayne

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Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Monday, Jul 28, 2008 at 03:21

Monday, Jul 28, 2008 at 03:21
Same with us - and really good service. They replaced all four, even though two were 1997 manufacture

Willie, phone Kyocera on 1800 242 118. I spoke to George who was most helpful, and continued to talk to me by email well past normal close of business time.



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Reply By: Willie - Monday, Jul 28, 2008 at 07:07

Monday, Jul 28, 2008 at 07:07
OK everyone , thank you for your helpful replies .

I am having a set of springs and one wheel's destroyed brakes replaced this week ( Tanami woes ), so I will not be able to check it out before I go to Tiborburra in Aug .

But it seemms that I do have a problem and will do the test while I am up there to ascertain which ones are not performing .

How big a task is it to remove the panels and check the serial numbers ? I live in Sydney , so there will be no problem getting them back to Kyocera .

Thanks again to all ,

Willie .
AnswerID: 575603

Reply By: The paca people - Tuesday, Jul 29, 2008 at 00:51

Tuesday, Jul 29, 2008 at 00:51
Hi Willie,

Fairly simple job really. Except you will need a long ladder; fair sized sheet of heavy plywood [12 mm or thicker] or other timbers/panels to avoid dinting and damaging BT's roof [could result in leaks] ; screwdriver; small electrical screwdriver; tube of SikaFlex; etc.

Close 4 Seasons hatch from inside van; Climb ladder to roof; DO NOT FALL OFF; unscrew S/S screws holding panel to aluminium angle strips [strips are screwed and sealed to roof so suggest you do not disturb these screws]; yank hard on panel alum frame to break corrosion bond between panel frame and roof angles. CAREFULLY lift panel and turn over minding the wiring - there is not much spare wire length..

You will find the full Kyocera nameplate decal on the underside with a manufacture date, serial number and performance figures. If you have done the "blanket check" check recommended by Noosa Fox then you should know which panels are unservicable or short on performance but check all serial numbers and manuf dates and record same for arguements with manufacturer.

We found1 panel with about 5% of anticipated performance, 1 with about 10%, the last with about 25% [Van was built in 2002 and panel manuf dates were around June 2002].
After calling Kyocera Sydney with serials and manuf dates, they accepted, over the phone, that the the panels were ...." in the range." i.e in the range of serial numbers known to probably fail !!!

Most expensive part of the exercise was the careful packaging and freight from Perth to Sydney to my account. They tested the 3 panels and replaced them N/C with freight back to Perth paid by them - this was in mid 2006.

When fitting the new 130watt panels I replaced the original BT minature grey junction box on the roof of the van and the mickey mouse cable connection "acorns" with a larger plastic marshalling box and separate junction strips [utilised brass earth links] on either side of the marshalling box. I fitted new wiring from each panel individually to the positive and earth return brass links in the new larger marshalling box - in this way one can easily dop off a couple of +ve wires and check open circuit voltages of individual panel and also check current output of an individual panel close up to the panel.

[Should you disturb or replace the roof mounted junction box then be very careful to put a good seal of SikaFlex under and around the junction or marshalling box - I skimped on this bit and created a major water ingress problem in the van ceiling and it cost me a complete new roof light fitting but, whilst at Tassie Bushies farm, we removed and resealed the box with no further trouble.]

After struggling with unacceptable 12V system performance for 12 months, we finally have lots of volts and lots of amps from our 3 x 130 watt panels and ProStar-30 Solar Controller.

Cheers from Martin B. currently in Iluka, NSW en-route to the Rally.
AnswerID: 575604

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