Testing the Solar panel setup

by Administrator 23 July 2012

My new solar panels and charge controller have arrived, so I'm ready to get it all connected. But, before it's set up permanently I want to test everything to make sure it all works as it should.

The picture to the right shows a simple wiring diagram, basically we have connections for the Solar Panel(s), battery and the load. First we need to connect the battery, this charge controller can switch between 12 and 24 volts and by connection the battery first it can switch accordingly. When the battery is connected the controller should light up showing the battery capacity and whether or not it has sufficient charge for a load.

I did a quick test of the battery/charge controller combination by connecting a 12v cigarette lighter socket to the charge controller and charging my phone with a USB adaptor, this worked fine. It took a while for a decently sunny day to arrive for testing of the solar panels, I had already done a few simple checks in overcast weather and the voltage was OK, but to test the true capacity of the panels I needed the full strength of the sun.

First I checked both panels seperately, the voltage was still OK, and according to my multimeter each panel was producing approximately 1.1 - 1.2 amps which checks out with the 20 watt specification. I then connected both panels in a parallel configuration and they managed to produce a maximum of 2.4 amps, I was ready to get it all connected properly.

I did all this testing without using fuses, which is not a very smart thing to do. Later when testing with fuses I accidently tried to measure the voltage while the multimeter was in Amp measuring mode, resulting in a short circuit, luckily the fuse blew and saved my equipment.

* Please note, I am learning as I go along. If there are any incorrect facts above, please let me know by leaving a comment. Thanks

Part 1: Solar panels for camping (Introduction)
Part 2: Parts for a Solar camping setup
Part 3: Testing the panels and charge controller
Part 4: Assembling the Camping Solar system

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