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Extra Solar Power via Portable Battery to Mains Socket

NRDSRFR

NRDSRFR

VIP Member
Messages
94
Location
Tynemouth
Vehicle
T5 SE 174
OK, so it's already been established that you can't plug a Solar Panel directly into the external mains because it accepts 230v AC. However...?

I would like to add more power to my current solar setup, which is a Solar Camper Solutions panel wired through a Votronic MPPT controller, because last summer I felt like all our devices crushed the leisure battery and I can't always get great coverage on my panel to optimise its power as it sits under a roof box where we keep all our awning stuff.

One solution I supposed is just to wire another panel directly into the MPPT controller inputs, and I assume a second 100w panel would be fine and probably not exceed the 165w rating of the controller; I've never seen my current one above 50w on its own...

Because it was on sale, I just bought an Anker Powerhouse II 400ah portable battery hoping that it might provide a slightly more flexible option. The battery can be charged via its own solar panel, which got me thinking because it has a 230v output and supports up to 300w. I was thinking I could actually sit the battery in the van, run the camp power lead with UK Mains adaptor out the window and right into the mains plug and then attach a 100w panel into the battery and position it more optimally to try and "pass through" the power into the van as an auxiliary solar boost.

This would presumably net drain the spare battery unless being topped up by solar, but if the other panel was also working maybe it would keep a charge not drawing full power from it. The ancillary benefit being I could take this battery and its panel outside the van anywhere I need power around the site.

I think the drawback will be that it reduces the life of the portable battery, I need to check it's cycle rating.

Anyone think this will work in theory at least?
1618831981602.png
 
What are you powering in the van & why not just power whatever that is straight off the battery pack?

If that battery pack has 230v output it must be via an inverter? so you would be converting 12v to 230v to supply a 230v battery charger with a 12v output, you are loosing a lot of power in the conversions.
 
What are you powering in the van & why not just power whatever that is straight off the battery pack?

If that battery pack has 230v output it must be via an inverter? so you would be converting 12v to 230v to supply a 230v battery charger with a 12v output, you are loosing a lot of power in the conversions.

iPads, iPhones, walk-in talkies etc.

You’re probably right about losing power. I would prefer to use the portable battery as intended. Just wondering if this setup would work as last year my fridge and devices drained my relatively new pair of 105ah van leisure batteries in like 2 days and the power dropped to like 10.x volts and the solar then cut off too because it needs a minimum voltage.

Assuming the extra 100w panel might be overkill for a couple devices I could dump that extra power into the van leisure batteries instead of just hitting 100% on the portable unit


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iPads, iPhones, walk-in talkies etc.

You’re probably right about losing power. I would prefer to use the portable battery as intended. Just wondering if this setup would work as last year my fridge and devices drained my relatively new pair of 105ah van leisure batteries in like 2 days and the power dropped to like 10.x volts and the solar then cut off too because it needs a minimum voltage.

Assuming the extra 100w panel might be overkill for a couple devices I could dump that extra power into the van leisure batteries instead of just hitting 100% on the portable unit


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Are you absolutely sure the van system is working correctly?
Are you seeing a voltage rise on the Control Panel when the solar panel is in sunlight?
If not, check the 50 or 75 amp cube fuse on the rear leisure battery +tve pole. You might be running on just 1 leisure battery.
 
Are you absolutely sure the van system is working correctly?
I'm not sure... I felt like I should have seen a big difference when I changed the then 13 year old leisure batteries 2 years ago. I added solar last year but I didn't aim it well enough and now I realise you need really full light coverage of the panel. In driveway testing during lockdown I've observed 30-40w indicated on my status panel (votronic, not the VW one) but I haven't done a comprehensive test to verify the working performance/condition of both leisure batteries. Is it possible to isolate them to ensure they are both in operation and working ok?

googling "tve+ pole" now... :) I don't pretend like I know what I'm doing, but I'll have a go! I managed to install the solar unit last year and Watts do appear on a panel! :rolleyes:

* BTW I do have a multimeter to check voltages, but since the batteries are connected I'm not sure how to ensure they both work separately. I presume it requires disconnecting them...
 
I'm not sure... I felt like I should have seen a big difference when I changed the then 13 year old leisure batteries 2 years ago. I added solar last year but I didn't aim it well enough and now I realise you need really full light coverage of the panel. In driveway testing during lockdown I've observed 30-40w indicated on my status panel (votronic, not the VW one) but I haven't done a comprehensive test to verify the working performance/condition of both leisure batteries. Is it possible to isolate them to ensure they are both in operation and working ok?

googling "tve+ pole" now... :) I don't pretend like I know what I'm doing, but I'll have a go! I managed to install the solar unit last year and Watts do appear on a panel! :rolleyes:

* BTW I do have a multimeter to check voltages, but since the batteries are connected I'm not sure how to ensure they both work separately. I presume it requires disconnecting them...
What voltage do you see on the VW California Control Panel in daylight? It should be greater than 13v if nothing connected and Solar Panel in sunlight.

Remove the flap at the bottom of the wardrobe and remove the battery.
Disconnect the red lead and red lead from Solar Panel Controller and wrap them in something. It must not touch anything as it is live, connected to battery under front passenger seat.
Under the red lead is the Cube Fuse. Either check the fuse or measure the voltage of the battery with the cube fuse in place. If 0 volts remove the Cube Fuse and measure battery voltage again.
 
OK, so it's already been established that you can't plug a Solar Panel directly into the external mains because it accepts 230v AC. However...?

I would like to add more power to my current solar setup, which is a Solar Camper Solutions panel wired through a Votronic MPPT controller, because last summer I felt like all our devices crushed the leisure battery and I can't always get great coverage on my panel to optimise its power as it sits under a roof box where we keep all our awning stuff.

One solution I supposed is just to wire another panel directly into the MPPT controller inputs, and I assume a second 100w panel would be fine and probably not exceed the 165w rating of the controller; I've never seen my current one above 50w on its own...

Because it was on sale, I just bought an Anker Powerhouse II 400ah portable battery hoping that it might provide a slightly more flexible option. The battery can be charged via its own solar panel, which got me thinking because it has a 230v output and supports up to 300w. I was thinking I could actually sit the battery in the van, run the camp power lead with UK Mains adaptor out the window and right into the mains plug and then attach a 100w panel into the battery and position it more optimally to try and "pass through" the power into the van as an auxiliary solar boost.

This would presumably net drain the spare battery unless being topped up by solar, but if the other panel was also working maybe it would keep a charge not drawing full power from it. The ancillary benefit being I could take this battery and its panel outside the van anywhere I need power around the site.

I think the drawback will be that it reduces the life of the portable battery, I need to check it's cycle rating.

Anyone think this will work in theory at least?
View attachment 76989
This set up would be super inefficient as there would be considerable energy loss converting 12 v to 240v and then back again.

why not just keep them separate as advised above?

then you will have a reasonably flexible system.

can you get a second panel on the roof - that would be another solution? Or is there not enough space? Roof box seems like it is an issue here.

PS my van leisure battery (I have one as it is a Beach) works for about 3 days in winter powering the fridge plus mobile device (iPhone charged once a day). I have two solar panels but they really don’t add much in winter. Unless you are charging multiple devices A LOT then it sounds like there may be a problem in your van electric system.
 
What voltage do you see on the VW California Control Panel in daylight? It should be greater than 13v if nothing connected and Solar Panel in sunlight.

Thanks for your ongoing help @WelshGas - I had sunlight on the drive this am (38W worth) and after turning off the fridge, my voltage went from 12.7v to an indicated 13.4V on my solar status panel and 13.1V on the VW panel, so that's a good sign!
PS my van leisure battery (I have one as it is a Beach) works for about 3 days in winter powering the fridge plus mobile device (iPhone charged once a day).
I think last Summer in Devon it was 25º so I guess the fridge was working harder...and I have at least my iPhone, wife's phone and 2 kids' iPads, plus maybe a bluetooth speaker. So perhaps I should only expect 2-3 days with 2 batteries given all that... I will follow WelshGas' advice to check the fuse when I have a spare moment just to confirm that I am in fact getting the benefit of both batteries in any case!

I hope with a separate, well-aimed panel for that Anker battery for the tech stuff, my single panel will be ample to keep the fridge going in summer daylight. I will be pitching with the roof facing south this time.

IMG_0949.jpeg IMG_0950.jpegIMG_0951.jpeg
 
Thanks for your ongoing help @WelshGas - I had sunlight on the drive this am (38W worth) and after turning off the fridge, my voltage went from 12.7v to an indicated 13.4V on my solar status panel and 13.1V on the VW panel, so that's a good sign!

I think last Summer in Devon it was 25º so I guess the fridge was working harder...and I have at least my iPhone, wife's phone and 2 kids' iPads, plus maybe a bluetooth speaker. So perhaps I should only expect 2-3 days with 2 batteries given all that... I will follow WelshGas' advice to check the fuse when I have a spare moment just to confirm that I am in fact getting the benefit of both batteries in any case!

I hope with a separate, well-aimed panel for that Anker battery for the tech stuff, my single panel will be ample to keep the fridge going in summer daylight. I will be pitching with the roof facing south this time.

View attachment 77042 View attachment 77043View attachment 77044
That looks good. Panel definitely working, but do check the Cube Fuse to ensure both batteries are in circuit.
 
That looks good. Panel definitely working, but do check the Cube Fuse to ensure both batteries are in circuit.

8e5fb33a851904a7002759d8e5bca48a.jpg


Finally the weekend! I pulled the battery out of the rear compartment and it looks like the 50 amp fuse is ok.
I guess this means that power must be flowing to the other battery. I suppose there is some way to disconnect them and test the front battery under the seat with a multimeter. I might leave it for now I’ll probably blow the fuse if I disconnect it in the wrong order or something!

Thanks for the help again!


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I've noticed this thread very late in the game. A question - do you remove that roof box when camping? Because any shade at all has a serious impact on performance. You mention never going over 50w , yet I test our panels and see way beyond that. 75w on the panel side (100w panel) and close to or over 90w on the MPPT battery side.

Panels are made of many cells working as a team. Shade one cell and you can significantly knock your performance down
 
A question - do you remove that roof box when camping? Because any shade at all has a serious impact on performance.
I have not, but I think this year I will be given what you've said and the results... There is generally a small area that the box shades, but it sounds like this is the Pareto principle at work...20% of the surface being obscured by the box may result in 80% loss of power or more.

I leave the box on for convenience as it holds my driveway awning and soft accessories, but given I only take that stuff out on more extended stays, it sounds worth the extra 5 minutes to remove the box at the site as well once all that stuff is unloaded from it.
 
That would make a big difference and explains the max 50w
 
We have a 150w panel on the roof that generally keeps us topped up but a lso have a separate 100 panel that lives on the top bed matress. This can be plugged in parallel with the fixed panel and can be postioned to point directly at the sun.As Roger has indictated this can make a massive difference to the combined output and the panel can be resited throught the day
 
@NRDSRFR I was wondering if you had made any progress
1. Why your batteries drained faster than expected
2. Increasing the 38W from your solar panels
3. Incorporating the portable battery in your setup
 
OK, so it's already been established that you can't plug a Solar Panel directly into the external mains because it accepts 230v AC. However...?

I would like to add more power to my current solar setup, which is a Solar Camper Solutions panel wired through a Votronic MPPT controller, because last summer I felt like all our devices crushed the leisure battery and I can't always get great coverage on my panel to optimise its power as it sits under a roof box where we keep all our awning stuff.

One solution I supposed is just to wire another panel directly into the MPPT controller inputs, and I assume a second 100w panel would be fine and probably not exceed the 165w rating of the controller; I've never seen my current one above 50w on its own...

Because it was on sale, I just bought an Anker Powerhouse II 400ah portable battery hoping that it might provide a slightly more flexible option. The battery can be charged via its own solar panel, which got me thinking because it has a 230v output and supports up to 300w. I was thinking I could actually sit the battery in the van, run the camp power lead with UK Mains adaptor out the window and right into the mains plug and then attach a 100w panel into the battery and position it more optimally to try and "pass through" the power into the van as an auxiliary solar boost.

This would presumably net drain the spare battery unless being topped up by solar, but if the other panel was also working maybe it would keep a charge not drawing full power from it. The ancillary benefit being I could take this battery and its panel outside the van anywhere I need power around the site.

I think the drawback will be that it reduces the life of the portable battery, I need to check it's cycle rating.

Anyone think this will work in theory at least?
View attachment 76989
Don't forget doing this would mean your battery charger would also kick in to start charging your leisure battery and vehicle battery,
 

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