Solar Panel Regulator - Electroblock DT220 Dethleffs Esprit
userjak
Posted: 12 October 2021 11:43 AM
Subject: Solar Panel Regulator - Electroblock DT220 Dethleffs Esprit
 
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I have yet again come around to considering the benefits of fitting a solar panel to my 2008 Esprit which has a very sturdy roof rack that appears ideal to attach said panel to. I am still pondering how best to route the cables into the van being very reluctant to puncture the bodyshell. I am looking at a 150W panel which I hope will provide sufficient charge to keep the domestic battery charged over the winter months. I have already replaced one battery on this motorhome and do not want to do it again as it is not a particularly easy task for a seventy year old and in doing such things one places the ageing electronics at risk which I certainly do not want to do.

My principal dilemma is deciding on an appropriate regulator. The motorhome is equipped with a Schaudt Electroblok DT220 with an associated panel which I believe means solar connection can be routed through the unit but an additional intermediate regulator is required. Schaudt recommend their own LR1218 or LR1218M which not surprisingly are relatively expensive particularly the more recent M version. Their appear to be a range of alternative options by suppliers such as:

Votronic whose Solar Controller MPP 165 Duo or

Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT

Each of the latter require additional cabling which I can probably obtain for a relatively small sum but I am curious if anyone has experience of using any of the above controllers and advice on which to use. The LR1218M are available from circa £200+ the older LR1218 as cheap as £60 and the Votronic circa £80 with Victronic about £120. Price is not my main consideration but rather ease of installation and reliability. I know AandN of north Wales thought the Votronics were quite good units but this is sometime ago and things have changed dramatically of recent date
userBruceM
Posted: 12 October 2021 12:20 PM
Subject: RE: Solar Panel Regulator - Electroblock DT220 Dethleffs Esprit
 
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I’m not in a position to give a comparative comment on the two regulators but following the late Allan Evans advice the Votronic Duo 250 was fitted to my installation which, it turns out, has been perfect for my needs. I’m not the type of user that needs to know my ‘solar yield’ or feels the need to change charging profiles via my mob. I just needed something that I could fit and forget about with maybe an indicator light or two I can check if I’m curious as to the state of play. My Votronic is perfect for this. My EBL incidentally is an EBL 99.

I’m not certain how you’ll wire the solar in neatly if you don’t go through the roof, others may have viable suggestions.
userOcsid
Posted: 12 October 2021 1:20 PM
Subject: RE: Solar Panel Regulator - Electroblock DT220 Dethleffs Esprit
 
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"Votronic whose Solar Controller MPP 165 Duo or

Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT ???"

The Votronic here is a "DUO", whereas the Victrron example quoted is not.

Being a DUO allows it single handedly to charge two separate and even quite different technology lead acid batteries.

That may or may not bring a significant advantage if you have two batteries to charge, eg habitation and engine starting, and have not already got a battery to battery system.

I have neither of these products but an old Morningstar DUO, choosing it specifically for and making good use of the Duo feature.
userjak
Posted: 12 October 2021 2:55 PM
Subject: RE: Solar Panel Regulator - Electroblock DT220 Dethleffs Esprit
 
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Thanks Mike, I am leaning towards the Votronic but not sure exactly what additional wiring I will need and how easy it is to connect to the DT220 which can be a bit unpredictable particularly if it is switched off and on as I found out whilst changing the battery. I am aware there are additional wiring kits which one can pick up even on Amazon. My habitation battery is my primary concern and the vehicle battery is an utter beast which never looses any charge and will start first attempt after a 6 month layup. gaining entry without drilling seems a major problem but there are so many plastic panels on the van I feel sure I can find somewhere - then I will have the problem of routing everything back to the driver seat where the DT220 is located. If only it was just a matter of buying a panel life would be so simple
userjak
Posted: 12 October 2021 2:57 PM
Subject: RE: Solar Panel Regulator - Electroblock DT220 Dethleffs Esprit
 
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Yep the Morningstar looks like a rebadged victronic/votronic or viceversa. Duo is not critical as main battery is not a prob at all.
usercolin
Posted: 12 October 2021 3:17 PM
Subject: RE: Solar Panel Regulator - Electroblock DT220 Dethleffs Esprit
 


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Our globecar has the EBL99 which also specifies their own regulator (from memory the same one you quote), but the panel was fitted by the dealer and they just wired it through one of the cheapest Steca regulators to the battery. When I realised this 'mistake' I did think of rewiring it, but as it proved to work perfectly well I've never bothered.
As for routing of wiring, the dealer drilled through roof into overhead locker, regulator is fitted here (another no/no which works despite that) then wires taken down behind panelling, a neat tidy job which can't been seen unless you either climb up ladder on outside, or open locker on inside.
userOcsid
Posted: 12 October 2021 4:14 PM
Subject: RE: Solar Panel Regulator - Electroblock DT220 Dethleffs Esprit
 
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Whilst the controller has to be electrically connected to the battery it charges, that does not need to be physically connected, picking up any normally live wire and the van's earth is all that is needed, given the cable can carry the Amps involved.

Most controllers have an inbuilt temperature sensor as the charging voltage is adjusted to best suit the battery's temperature. That is a primary reason to place it near the battery, so they share the same ambient. Also, it is to cut down on voltage loss in the controller to battery, but the magnitude of that issue is down to cable size and length of run, and typically pretty modest.

Morningstar are one of the longer established world leaders in top end solar controls, I very much doubt they licence any other maker's designs.
user747
Posted: 12 October 2021 6:20 PM
Subject: RE: Solar Panel Regulator - Electroblock DT220 Dethleffs Esprit
 


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I am not sure about the EBL220 but if you connect the Schaudt regulator to the EBL99, you get all the wiring that you will need. One of these leads contains an extra wire that is used to charge the vehicle battery.

I preferred to install my Schaudt regulator through the EBL because the control panel shows the voltages in both batteries.
userRobinhood
Posted: 12 October 2021 7:45 PM
Subject: RE: Solar Panel Regulator - Electroblock DT220 Dethleffs Esprit
 


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It would be useful to know what model EBL you have. (The DT220 is the control panel designation, not the EBL model).

It would assist in advising options and means of wiring, since these vary by EBL model.

Nonetheless, if you want to easily replicate the functions of Schaudt's own "LR" series regulators, then my recommendation would be the Votronic.

All wiring can be done to the EBL (with the Votronic to charge both vehicle and habitation batteries) and though wiring practice varies by EBL type, it is usually a relatively simple job with easily obtainable connectors.

In addition, with the appropriate model of EBL, the Votronic can be (separately, with another lead widely available) connected to display the solar current on the DT220 panel (be aware, however, that this might need the option programming at the panel, and this might need an "engineer" code to enable, though these can usually be determined from forums, and tested in advance).
userjak
Posted: 13 October 2021 6:09 PM
Subject: RE: Solar Panel Regulator - Electroblock DT220 Dethleffs Esprit
 
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I am reasonably confident the unit has an EBL220. I am familiar with re-setting the DT220 and had the appropriate access code as I have already replaced the original which failed - they are not particularly robust units.

I believe the LRM comes with 4 cables including at least one I suspect I will not require for the EBL220 as it addresses the trickle feed to the vehicle battery. The LRM package also appears to include a number of additional fuses and connectors which could be of use but may well prove surplus to my needs. I am currently looking at a Victronic solar panel -140W-12V Mono series 4a - which has a max output of 7.2amp. I believe the Dometic freezer fridge is AES and I am unsure if one needs to introduce an additional cable to control this to fully utilise any excess solar power

It was actually an earlier comment by yourself where you explained that you had fitted the LR1218 to your EBL and used it in conjunction with a portable panel which got me to thinking I could do the same to keep my battery topped up during the winter when we tend to use the van far less and there is no facility in the storage area to charge up. Solar would certainly make life easier when abroad but with covid that is for us still a dream.
userRobinhood
Posted: 13 October 2021 9:34 PM
Subject: RE: Solar Panel Regulator - Electroblock DT220 Dethleffs Esprit
 


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The EBL220 seems to be one of those that are easier to wire for both leisure and starter battery - simply needing a 3-way MnL plug to provide input for both batteries (as opposed to needing the fly-lead required for the vehicle battery for the EBL99, etc).

You can choose to acquire and install the additional lead to display solar current or not (given you have the code, it's your choice).

The Votronic would provide ease of wiring for main and trickle charge, and also give you that display option for immediate or later use.

(frankly, if I were installing now, I'd use the Votronic, even with my portable panel, which still gets use if we're planning to be off-grid).
userplwsm2000
Posted: 13 October 2021 11:11 PM
Subject: RE: Solar Panel Regulator - Electroblock DT220 Dethleffs Esprit
 
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I fitted a Votronic MPPT250 to my van that has a DT220C and EBL223. I don't know the exact differences to your setup but they seem very similar.

Although you can get a cable kit from Votronic, the cables are quite easy to make up yourself. The "trickle charge" output (Start II) from the Votronic is useful to keep the starter battery topped up. If your van is wired as per the EBL wiring diagram, you should also fit a 2Amp inline fuse between the Votronic "Start II" terminal and BL5 pin 2 on the EBL. The trickle charge current gets to the battery through the fridge supply (BL4 pin 3) which is normally protected with a 20A fuse.

You can monitor the solar output on the DT220 if you connect the "EBL" output on the Votronic to BL9 pin 1. This uses a 4 pin Lumberg "Minimodul 3114-04" connector which gets routed through the EBL to the DT220 display. This just gives you the instantaneous solar current output. You will need a Votronic "solar computer" to see the total output over a period.

Unless you have a large solar setup and/or lots of sunshine, I think the AES function is a bit of a gimmick. The MPPT160 does not have this feature in any case - you need the MPPT250 or larger for this
user747
Posted: 14 October 2021 1:00 PM
Subject: RE: Solar Panel Regulator - Electroblock DT220 Dethleffs Esprit
 


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The AES fridge supply from the Votronic is only around 1 amp and is only useful if you have a substantial solar array to recharge the Leisure batteries.

I have just sold my van but if I had been keeping it I was going to connect the AES supply to a 12 volt relay and use Leisure battery power to feed a couple of 5 volt sockets to charge up small devices during daylight hours.