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Solar on a T6.1

Swissian

Swissian

Messages
328
Location
Zurich, Switzerland
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 150
General question for T6.1 owners only.

Do you have solar?
If so, how did you make the connection - simply from the charger (Victron, etc) to the battery terminals or somewhere else?
Have you experienced any issues?

I’ve been reading on several forums about issues with T6.1’s and solar, and how it could be the way that the new control unit “manages” batteries and power. I’m a bit skeptic about this and wanted to see if any of you have good/bad experiences.

I’m also wondering if Roger at solar solutions can make a comment on this?

TIA


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
General question for T6.1 owners only.

Do you have solar?
If so, how did you make the connection - simply from the charger (Victron, etc) to the battery terminals or somewhere else?
Have you experienced any issues?

I’ve been reading on several forums about issues with T6.1’s and solar, and how it could be the way that the new control unit “manages” batteries and power. I’m a bit skeptic about this and wanted to see if any of you have good/bad experiences.

I’m also wondering if Roger at solar solutions can make a comment on this?

TIA


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
@Roger Donoghue
 
I got mine from Roger and can confirm that I connected MPPT directly to battery terminals. Can't say I've had any problems all seems to be working well.
 
I’ve been reading on several forums about issues with T6.1’s and solar, and how it could be the way that the new control unit “manages” batteries and power. I’m a bit skeptic about this and wanted to see if any of you have good/bad experiences

Could you link the forum threads you mentioned so I can have a read.

The solar connection has always been directly to the batteries and the VW control panel hasn't known about the soalr charging as it has bypassed their monitoring circuitry. A quick engine start has been the solution to reset the VW display when it showed the battery as being low in the batter icon image.

The T6.1 has an extra current monitor on the negative terminal of the rear battery. It may be worth connecting to the other side of this if you want the VW display panel to register the solar charging. I have not tried.
 
Hi Roger, thanks for commenting.

One is a Facebook post on the Volkswagen California T6.1 group https://www.facebook.com/groups/595074464544342/
Unfortunately I can't link direct to the post, but it was by Max Tsr on 21 July

The others (several comments) were on the German Caliboard. How's your german ;)?

I bought the solar kit from you a few years ago, and it worked fantastically on my T6.

Now I have a T6.1, I am simply worried about causing problems if I install it, as the electronics are very different on the T6.1 and there are a lot of software bugs. Some people are experiencing low battery messages and then the fridge switches off, even though they have solar.

Is this me panicking? :eek:

I actually wanted to establish if there are many people here with successful installations. In this cases what I read about must be one off cases.

Thanks
 
OK, joined that facebook group and did some reading. The 6.1 display panel has a lot of bugs from what I've read. Needs an update. Nohting to do with the solar.

People on that post had varying problems , including a blown 200 amp fuse, which is nothing to do with solar again. The general consensus is the 6.1 control software is a bit of a mess and should correct itself with updates.

The guy in question on that facebook group, Max, is the same guy that emailed me on 6 occasions, pretending to be a potential purchaser in 2018. I replied 6 times, with photos, step by step instructions on how I do the installations, how everything works. I spent a lot of time helping him.

He then emailed me today with his T6.1 display panel problems and asked for help (I've since found out he moved his solar from his old van to his new 6.1). I asked which name he ordered under and he revealed he had not, but installed his own system, which is great for him, but.... I got used for detailed advice, right down to where to mount the charger, battery connects, etc, and then he had the temerity to ask for support after he'd bought his own panel and charger.

The man is not averse to refer to VW as "sh1t" in a lot of his posts. Quite an angry fellow.

I'm not a huge fan of his, and, I'd advise not getting worried by his posts.
 
Thank you Roger.

I don’t care what my control shows as I know I can trust the Victron, I just don’t want my fridge switching off because the it thinks the batteries are low.

I was thinking that these were one off, unrelated cases but I needed an expert opinion.

As soon as I get my van back from VW I’m going install the panel.

Thanks again

BTW I may contact you direct soon for a second panel upgrade


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I picked up my T6.1 at the start of March and installed 2 Solar panels from Roger at the end of March as a lockdown project. So the system has been working fine for 5 months until a few weeks ago when I got an error message saying 2nd battery low and an ! on the battery symbol on the front camping screen. The van went into VW to look at and the technician said I need to put the -ve on the other side of the battery monitor (which is the white module in the photo. So drilled a whole on the other side and attached withA4AB5DED-A721-4F97-87F6-6D3D2581F90D.jpeg a bolt. All appears to be working now.

BF17AF61-C480-48E1-BF46-DE451997D2C3.jpeg
 
Interesting. Does the VW display now show the solar charging amps? It should do.

I'll put the nut and bolt and washer in the kit for the T6.1 . May I use your photos in the instructions?
 
Last edited:
I don’t think so, this a snap shot now with not much coming from the Panels.

DFA2AB94-C29D-4021-9836-95554433F117.png

D21C87CF-B705-4830-9A86-00EE661E34BD.jpeg
 
Hmm - maybe the panel doesn't display charging under a certain current?

The whole point of attaching the earth the other side of the "current monitor" is is that the VW system can see the charge coming in, and therefore, doesn't assume the battery is going flat when it sees current flowing out (to the fridge etc) - hence your garage recommended putting the -ve on the other side of the sensor.

With the previous models - the VW display planel slowly shows the battery going flat (even though it isn't) - as it sees the fridge etc being used from internal current monitoring but doesn't see the solar input as we go direct to the battery. An engine start resets the display to be correct (one assumes when you start up, it takes a fresh voltage reading from the battery to get an idea of charge).

The 6.1 has individual battery current monitors on each battery - as you know, so going to the ouside of the rear monitor "should" mean the VW is aware of the charging now. Otherwise there would be zero point in putting the connection on that side.

Let me know how things go regarding the VW display over the coming days - with some better weather incoming!

FYI - the reason VW go to all this trouble is simply because you cannot accurately tell the capacity of a Lead acid battery whilst it is a) being used, or b) being charged ! Both charging, and usage skew the voltage so far you can't tell what state the battery is in whilst it is happening. Hence they try to monitor the in and out flow of current to get a bette picture ofthe battery state of charge.
 
By the way - you "should" be able to achieve exactly the same effect by connecting the negative solar regulator wire to chassis earth - assuming, and they really should be, the leisure batteries are earthed to chassis. I'll test next time I have a 6.1 in.
 
Update - this is confirmed, as I suspected. My 6.1 kits will carry the instructions to do as per above, or, just bolt the negative cable to the battery retaining clamp bolt.
 
Hi, do you have a website for ordering a kit? Tks


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Hi @Roger Donoghue,

according to the VW body builder guidelines [1] section 2.5.4.3 the external charging detection must be deactivated when installing a solar charging system. This system closes the isolation relay when it detects an external charger, but in solar charging systems it can lead to an excessive amount of isolation relay cycles depending on the sun conditions, wearing it out prematurely.

It seems that the firsts Californias T6.1 left the factory with this function enabled but when they realized about this problem with the isolation relay it was deactivated (it may happen also when connecting a regular charger when the starter battery is low: The relay closes and the starter battery is connected in parallel, the voltage drops so the CU opens the relay, the voltaje raises again and the CU closes the relay and it starts over). On 6.1 Ocean models there is a cable from the charger to the relay to keep it closed when the 220v cable is connected.

Do you have more information about it? Based on your expertise, is it so critical to disable this function after installing a solar charging system?

[1] https://bb-database.de/jctumbau/en/web/international/transporter-aufbaurichtlinien
 
What they are saying (for the Transporter, not necessarily the Ocean/Beach - as that document is for unconverted vans) is that the relay connecing the underseat battery and the starter battery is activated not only by the engine running, but also if the electronics recognise the leisure battery as being under charge, and, at a reasonable charge level, so your charging also charges the starter battery.

They are then recommending disabling this facility (how?) when using solar as you may "prematurely wear the relay". They are saying this as solar is variable. Sun comes out, solar charges the battery, voltage climbs, electronics sense this and activate the relay. Sun goes in, battery voltage drops, electroncs see this, and de-activate the relay. Each time this happens the relay clicks on or off.

The thing is, with 100w or more of solar, the battery is going to be taken over the threshold almost instantly in the morning, and stay that way all day, even with a mix of blue and cloudy skies.

I've installed solar in plenty of vans with two way voltage sensing relays (same thing) and they don't sit their clicking on and off all day.

Personally, if I had a 6.1 and disabling "external charging detection" was a simple option - I'd absolutely disable it. When you park up, it's likely your starter battery is at 80% due to regen braking smart alternator. The external charging detection would then re-link the batteries and your solar would be charging all three in a Cali. I'd want the solar to focus on the LBs!
 
Personally, if I had a 6.1 and disabling "external charging detection" was a simple option - I'd absolutely disable it. When you park up, it's likely your starter battery is at 80% due to regen braking smart alternator. The external charging detection would then re-link the batteries and your solar would be charging all three in a Cali. I'd want the solar to focus on the LBs!
I agree. The first thing I want to check before installing the panel is if it is enabled in my Ocean. I will connect a regular charger and check if the relay "clicks".

Meanwhile I asked my dealer how to disable this feature and they have opened a query to the product department. I guess it will consist in coding the KFG unit, something that (I think) can only be done by the dealer because it requires an internet connection to the VW servers.
 
The one thing I can tell you , is I have a LOT of 6.1 installs out there and the relay is not clicking away like mad. I'd know, I'm often under the seat working by the relay whilst my system is connected, with the fridge running, in variable sun.
 

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