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solar charging gel battery


SorC

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We have a 90watt solar panel that is connected via charge controller direct to our gell battery bypassing the fitted Hymer transformer/rectifier. The charge controller soon indictaes 14v then cuts back the current to a float charge of about 1.5amps even when there is 3.5 amps available from the panel. Hence, it shows the battery to be fully charged while the control panel indicates otherwise when reading the available Ah. Even in good sun the solar panel therefore puts little charge back into the battery. However, if we charge the laptop via the inverter we then get over 3amps through the battery that seems to boost the charge rate. Is this normal for gell batteries or should we be thinking of changing to lead acid batteries?
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You've not yet had an answer, so I'll put my 'twopennethworth' in.

If I am reading your post correctly, what you seem to be saying is the Hymer panel is showing incorrect Ah availible, that is if solar charge controller is compatible with gel batteries, quoting make/model of charge controler may get a specific answer from someone who may know.

I'm guessing for the Hymer panel to know Ah availible then it must measure voltage and compare this to a figure you will have set for battery capacity?

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thanks for that colin. The charge controller is a Steca 15/15 and is set for gell battery in the couple of weeks that its been fitted it indicates that 140Ah of charge has been through the battery so its doing something right it just seems that as soon as the voltage approaches 14v it then goes into float charge mode that takes a long time to bring up the Ah reading on the hymer panel and I wonder if wet cell batteries charge quicker I have spoken with another hymer owner who has the same problem with his gell batteries and he forked out a couple of thousand for a self seeking solar panel that is capable of as much as 6amps even at this time of year.
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Surely the gel cell when it reaches 13.8 volts is at its safe level beyond which the charge regulator will cut back the panel output to prevent battery overcharging and ultimately being damaged. If you substituted a wet cell instead, it would reach its gassing point it you continued to charge at high current, and would ultimately destroy the battery, and might result in an explosion if not properly ventilated.. Accept that the regulator is working properly and sleep safely... tony g3nwl
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thanks for the posts the regulator does cut back the current when it senses 13.8v so it must be working properly. Maybe I'm just being impatient expecting it to charge quicker hopefully in the summer with the longer days it'll perform more efficiently. We are currently in Portugal and only get about 3hrs of the day with maximum 3.5amps from the panel. Your information has reasured me.

Regards, steve

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SorC

Steca are a reasonable controller but I don't know how they are with gel batteries,

But if you’re thinking of going down the same route as the chap with the self seeking solar panel, maybe you should look at the Morningstar Sunsaver MPPT Charge Controller first, you could save yourself a bob or 2 ;-)

 

Paul

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Thanks Paul, I'll take a look at that controller but self seeking solar panels are out of our league. It seems that Gell batteries are slow to charge once the voltage reaches 13.8v. After looking in our manual it does suggest charging the battery for 20hrs from the mains if the M/H has been laid up for a while so I suppose that indicates we don't have enough hours of sun while its so low in the sky.

Regards, Steve

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