Pro Star 30 or old batteries at fault?

Submitted: Thursday, Mar 03, 2011 at 23:49
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We have an early 2001 van with 3, 120 w. Kyocera solar panels, a Pro Star 30 regulator and two AGM batteries (one died and was removed). The batteries are old but were checked by Battery World who said they were alright but the third one was dead and thus we threw it out. I have been intending to order a new Pro Star 30 controller as I thought it was faulty due to it not showing any reading of the 'Array current'. This morning, due to charging with 240v the batteries over night were reading 14.5 and the fridge has been drawing 4.6. It is midday now and the batteries are down to 12.8. even though the van is in full sun. The 'Array current' reading is 0. We had an auto electrician check the electricals recently and he said there is nothing wrong with the Pro Star and that it is the batteries which are no good causing the array current reading of 0.
We had the Solar panels checked recently and they were generating, and the junction box was dry. So, should I get a new Pro Star 30 regulator, or new batteries first and then if there is still no 'array current' reading replace the former.
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Reply By: Turist - Friday, Mar 04, 2011 at 05:43

Friday, Mar 04, 2011 at 05:43
Batteries first, everytime.

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Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Friday, Mar 04, 2011 at 09:23

Friday, Mar 04, 2011 at 09:23
Also contact KyoceraSolar with the serial numbers of your panels (will have to lift panels to get the numbers). The nature of the faulty panels defy reason as they test OK but are not really delivering.

Motherhen
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Reply By: Escape 1 - Friday, Mar 04, 2011 at 23:33

Friday, Mar 04, 2011 at 23:33
Thanks for the help. I will get new batteries as I need them anyway. Has anyone recommendation for the best available? Also, I will lift a panel and check it's number.
AnswerID: 582121

Reply By: Mr Sweedy - Friday, Mar 04, 2011 at 23:48

Friday, Mar 04, 2011 at 23:48
Not sure if it's appropriate for me to jump in here or not... please let me know if not, but we may be in a similar boat. Our batteries appear to be charging ok with peak battery reading also around 14.5, with the fridge also drawing about 4.5, however when we go somewhere unplugged, the batteries seem to run down from full charge very quickly. I've replaced the internal lights with LED globes and from full charge (green), using only a couple of LED lights for a few hours, the fridge and the pump (for periodic use of the sink), we will often hit the red flashing indicating that we are almost out of power. Are the batteries the most likely culprit here also? Or is there something else I need to check that might just be eating away our electricity (water heater and inverter turned off makes no tangible difference).

What typically do people find that they can run off 4 batteries with 4 cells over the course of a typical day when they are all working efficiently?
AnswerID: 582122

Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Saturday, Mar 05, 2011 at 09:24

Saturday, Mar 05, 2011 at 09:24
Hi Mr Sweedy

Yes, definitely get the batteries checked out fully. One battery in the bank going down can cause you grief. What voltage is you regulator set to flash red on? We can run for days off four batteries using fridge, pumps and LED lights.

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Reply By: Perth Bushtrackers - Saturday, Mar 05, 2011 at 11:44

Saturday, Mar 05, 2011 at 11:44
We have a 2002 van and had both panels replaced. A simple test is to cover the panels, look at the Pro Star, then uncover one at a time and see the change in output of each panel.
AnswerID: 582123

Reply By: Strpr - Monday, Mar 07, 2011 at 00:01

Monday, Mar 07, 2011 at 00:01
We have BT same year,same stuff. Chuck out all your batteries and replace them, thats the first step. Even the cheapest cranking batteries are better than old unknowns. I only use Amptech D70Z s 105 amp hr deep cycles. A month ago I bought 3 from SuperCharge Batteries for $175 each which is cheaper than a BigW cranking. Used them in our last van and never had a problem. For the price I throw them out every 2 to 3 years and replace with new. They are a flooded battery so you need to keep the water up. No sun we are good for 4 days with fridge on 3, Inverter on running 2 fans. Sun out the array amps is 13.3 at midday.
Regards
Pete

AnswerID: 582124

Reply By: Escape 1 - Tuesday, Mar 08, 2011 at 00:01

Tuesday, Mar 08, 2011 at 00:01
An update on the electrical situation!
Are now on the road. Presently at Lake Conjola booked into a van park - to get 240 power. Haven't replaced batteries yet as not been able to.
Was in the bush and thought we could ease the situation ( of batteries going flat) by hooking up the Honda EU Inverter 20i generator. It seemed to have no effect whatsoever. Batteries didn't charge. They went down to 12.3 and eventually all power was cut off in the van. We couldn't even get power through the power points - tested the toaser and laptop! Lucky we had torches and candles.
We went to this van park and plugged into 240v and everything came good. The power points worked and the batteries charged up to 14.3 in a few hours. The fridge is ice cold. We got here about 4 p.m. yesterday and everthing was perfect this morning.
What I can't understand is - why didn't the generator do what the 240 power in the van park did? It is supposed to be powerful enough to start up the airconditioner.
AnswerID: 582125

Follow Up By: Noosa Fox - Tuesday, Mar 08, 2011 at 01:27

Tuesday, Mar 08, 2011 at 01:27
Maybe, the power lead wasn't pushed all the way into the vans 240 Intake, or you mistakenly put it into the A/C plug if you have an early model BT with 2 inlets.
The generator could also have thrown out on overload switch, in which case the motor would run but no power would be generated.

Run the generator with a fan or light plugged in to make sure it works.

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Follow Up By: Uncle Dodgy - Wednesday, Mar 09, 2011 at 05:37

Wednesday, Mar 09, 2011 at 05:37
Escape 1
I agree with Brian's comments, and add the following.
If you were running, or trying to run, somethings within the BT as well as.the battery charger, if the load was great enough, the generator could have tripped out on overload, and the generator motor would keep on running.
Check the tell tale lights on the generator while the engine is running, and if it has tripped out on overload it's relevant light should be lit.
If that is the case, stop the generator motor, reduce the load by turning off some of the current users, and restart the generator, and watch what happens with the generator tell tales. When you restart the generator, do so with the eco throttle switchturned off. When the generator is working with the load you could try turning the eco switch on again.
It is remotely possible that you could have had a generator output fault, but this easeily determined by plugging a lead light into the generator. If the lead light does not work on the generator, you will need to take the generator to a Honda Dealer for diagnosis and repair. The reliability of the Honda's, suggests that a generator fault would be a rarity indeed, but remotely possible.
Would love to hear how you get on.
Cheers
John
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Reply By: Spirit Gypsys - Tuesday, Mar 08, 2011 at 12:16

Tuesday, Mar 08, 2011 at 12:16
Must be some strange current in the air.

You seem the have a problem in your controller if the solar array is reading 0.
Simple first check. In sunlight, put a multi meter on the + & - wires on the SOLAR wires at the bottom left of the controller. No reading then the problem is in the wiring coming in. Or panels but all 3 most unlikely. even dud panels usually have something.
if you get a reading then the controller is the problem. Throw it out. For $280 odd it's not worth mucking around with.

You are really pushing your system with only 2 batteries. if they are old (how old) they may have kacked it after they were load tested from being on their own (doubtful) but you definitely need 3 batteries to run your system if your not on power or don't want to run your genny every night.

Did someone say something about a Toaster.??? On an Inverter. ??????????????

We have a power loss problem that is baffling me too.
Power holds up fine as per usual down to 12.5v then zonk ! you can see it dropping to 11.8v cut out.
This is a new one one me.
We've had our 10 yr old van 6 years now and have replaced 3 Ky panels, yes found the culprits 1 at a time by covering them individually and watching the read outs. Ky replaced them under warranty ok but we had to pay the freight.and we've been thru 2 sets of batteries, the originals and a set of BT "specials" that lasted 2.5 years. We run a lot on "off power"and rarely use the 20i to top up battery charge.
We have 3 panels and 3 100a/h Supercharge (not by choice) AGM's 18mths old.
Normally it handles our 190l fridge at 2.8 amp. (had the blue resistor taken off by a fridge mechanic in Hedland 2 years ago & halved the draw) and 1200w inverter and 3-4 hours of tv/dvd per night easily,--
Down to 12.2v by morning in up to 35degree. days.
temps above that we cut back to 3 hr max tv. maybe none over 40 deg.days.

i agree Mother Hen, Batteries first on the list.

First check the batteries, Is one getting hot ? (that does not always happen)
As some has already said, the dud battery will be draining the others.
This is my next check. It saves taking all the batteries out or having to find a battery mob in the middle of Woop-Woop or with parking for a rig.
Disconnect each battery in turn each night, (in the evening) only have to take off the Neg.
Put any wires to another neg in the set.
run the van as usual overnight. if that battery off improved you power time, then that one's the problem.
if that battery is good your power will drop even faster.
Take that one to a battery dealer and have it load tested. If you can' have it tested strait away, leave it out of the system.

My trouble now is that the above has not shown a dud battery.
My solar in is fine, my fridge is running it's normal 70% cycle (now the Perth temps have come down. ( I hoped it may have been the long hot was the problem)
I checked the inverter(by not running it below 12.6v) Still dropped out at 12.5v
I turned off the fridge one night at 12.6 v. and thats where it was in the morning , proving there was no "leak"
I have turned the inverter/tv off at 12.8v at night and left the fridge going and still have 12.6v in the morning. proving the fridge would appear ok.
Tomorrow my last resort is to take out all 3 batterys & have them load tested (to the max)
then if they're ok i'll get a new controller or if not 3 new Full River batteries and find a job sooner than planned.

Expect to and it is preferable to replace all batteries together.
Twice i have sold my other still ok 2 batteries to campers etc for $50 each / no garantees or course.

Aah ----- Batteries / Power *&%#2****

AnswerID: 582126

Follow Up By: Spirit Gypsys - Wednesday, Mar 09, 2011 at 10:59

Wednesday, Mar 09, 2011 at 10:59
Escape 1, you said your solar is showing 0,
I've just been reading my prostar manual (properly) and 0 means either the reset button has been pushed for 2 seconds to turn the solar off -- or it has cut off due to a fault in the solar system.
a check on the solar panel wires at the prostar box with a multi meter should show if there is anything coming in.
that the solar is not charging your batts says to me that it's not getting to the prostar or thru the prostar or your batts are too far gone to accept charge.

OR ---- as I am beginning to strongly suspect in my case, the prostar is faulty.
i had all my batteries tested today and they are fine.
I can have the prostar tested here in perth by the 12volt shop for $20 but it'll take 3 days but i have yet to find out if my fridge, lights, pumps etc will run if i take it off.
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FollowupID: 853352

Reply By: Escape 1 - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011 at 21:00

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011 at 21:00
Hi everyone, here is our latest update on this frustrating problem.
We came to the conclusion our Pro Star is faulty, so ordered a new one here in Inverell where we are fossicking at the moment. Before we left Sydney we bought three new 120 AGM Fullriver batteries. They have been working very well - with the help of our Honda generator.
The solar still did not appear to be charging at all even though the green light is on to say it is.
We installed the new superior model Pro Star PS 30 M controller/regulator in the van on Friday and low & behold it behaves the same as the old one - Array Current 0.0 - even in full sunlight. The wires beneath the Pro Star on the left hand side coming into it presumably from the solar panels show a reading of about 14.
We took the van back to the auto electrician who sold us the Pro Star yesterday and he spent most of the day doing what the others did - testing wires with his multi meter etc. He got onto the roof and tested the panels individually and said one was not working properly so disconnected it.
The confusing thing is, even if there is not much current coming from the panels, there should still be some array current reading. There always was when we first got the van, even in low light there was some reading.
I have emailed Morningstar but they were probably off for the weekend. It will be interesting to find out what they have to say.
Maybe the Array Current reading is not what I imagine it is supposed to be!!
Any more thoughts on this confusing issue?
Pam and Geoff
AnswerID: 582127

Reply By: Wadefarers - Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011 at 06:34

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011 at 06:34
A couple of years ago I had a similar problem. Was sitting in full sun and the ProStar was showing solar input of ZERO. Had the batteries checked (all fine) and the Prostar (in fact swapped the Prostar with one B1B2Bfree had replaced) and still showed ZERO. At the time I was tearing my hair out trying to find out what was wrong.

Upon advice from others, lifted the panels and found out that ALL had the bad batch numbers and Kyocera replaced then at no cost.
It's a bit of a pain in the neck lifting the panels but could be worth it.

Kyocera will let you know if the numbers you supply are in the bad batch series. I'm not saying that this is the problem but it was in my case and your problem seems so like mine.

I would agree with fitting another battery, two just doesn't seem enough.

Regards

Jeff
AnswerID: 582128

Follow Up By: Wadefarers - Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011 at 06:44

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011 at 06:44
Just to advise that my original post re this problem was 5593. It's in the Members archives and might be worth a read.

Jeff
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FollowupID: 853353

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