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#1 acmedave

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Posted 23 March 2020 - 03:03 AM

I have a 2018 FWC Fleet. For some unknown reason my factory installed solar controller on my factory installed solar setup has failed 3 times.

One day I'll go to check check the battery charge and find the Victron Bluetooth Dongle unable to connect to the controller and with a red error light on, or the MPPT control scrolling ' 'disconnected'. When this happens there are no lights illuminated on the solar controller which when operating properly will display a flashing green all the time and a yellow that indicates the charge sequence (bulk, absorption, float)

It's disconcerting to have to deal with this frequent failure and have to find a replacement while on the road and just as troubling, I am not sure whether the controller is charging the battery since there is no way to measure output either through the MPPT control or the Victon Bluetooth Dongle. I am concerned that the solar controller may overcharge/undercharge, fail to charge, or damage the batteries if it has malfunctioned.

My system is as below:
The controller is an Overland Solar MPPT 100/15, identical to Victron of the same model
Also a Victron Bluetooth Dongle and MPPT control
The solar panel is an Overlander 160 Semi-Flexible Solar Panel
Batteries: 2 6V USBattery AGM 2000 in series
Converter/Charger: Iota DLS-30/IQ4
Battery separator: BlueSea ACR
Fuses & Breakers

I have talked with the folks at FWC and Overland Solar and not had much help with diagnosis. The solar controller comes equipped with a 20 amp fuse the folks at Overland Solar suggest I try a 15 amp fuse with my new 4th unit. They suggest that there may be some problem with the input from the solar panel. There are 2 solar plug connections on the camper, one on the roof and one on the back wall. I have used both and both work. So I'm not sure how that could be a problem. I have requested a wiring diagram from FWC but they are currently shut down by CA's precautions over the coronavirus.

Any help trouble shooting would be much appreciated.
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#2 PaulT

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Posted 23 March 2020 - 04:29 AM

While you're trying fuses, pull and reseat the fuse between the solar panel and the charge controller. Also, check for all connectors for solar wiring and battery to be snug and not loose. Wiggle all the wires releated to solar charging. Your symptoms seem likely to be a loose connection somewhere.

 

And don't hold your breath for a wiring diagram. I've been trying to get one for my 2014 Hawk since I bought it. They don't seem to have any.  One good use for your time during this "Hunker Down at Home" situation while troubleshooting the wiring is to draw your own schematic. Be sure to take photos of the wiring and use a label maker to attach to the wire on each end. indicating wheere it goes, its color etc. Just consider it a work in progress that may never be complete, but it wil come in handy later when hunting down a new issue.

 

Good luck.

Paul


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#3 Vic Harder

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Posted 23 March 2020 - 06:06 AM

I find it puzzling that this well equipped system (from the factory?) does not include a battery monitor.  The output of the MPPT as seen on the MPPT Control "gauge" or its associated bluetooth app don't tell the whole story.  It might be well worth your while to add a Victron BMV (712 is great!) to this setup, so you can really see what's going on with the batteries, regardless of the charging source.

 

Back to the problem at hand.... when you find the MPPT to be dead (no lights) have you checked the wires going to it?  How have you determined that the MPPT is dead?  Does the Are you getting them replaced under warranty?

 

Does the Overland MPPT have load outputs like the Victron one does?  Are they being used?   

 

Have you tried unplugging the cable that goes into the MPPT and to the MPPT Control gauge?  

 

Vic


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#4 rando

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Posted 23 March 2020 - 02:11 PM

Does the overland solar controller get firmware updates from overland solar or Victron, and is using the Victron bluetooth dongle supported by Overland?

 

I wonder if this is not a firmware compatibility issue - Victron updates their firmware regularly and if some newer version of the dongle firmware is causing issues with the controller.     

 

This is all just a guess, but there was some discussion at some point about the Overland branded Victron chrage controller not being compatible with the Victron eco system.


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#5 acmedave

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Posted 23 March 2020 - 10:23 PM

While you're trying fuses, pull and reseat the fuse between the solar panel and the charge controller. Also, check for all connectors for solar wiring and battery to be snug and not loose. Wiggle all the wires releated to solar charging. Your symptoms seem likely to be a loose connection somewhere.

 

And don't hold your breath for a wiring diagram. I've been trying to get one for my 2014 Hawk since I bought it. They don't seem to have any.  One good use for your time during this "Hunker Down at Home" situation while troubleshooting the wiring is to draw your own schematic. Be sure to take photos of the wiring and use a label maker to attach to the wire on each end. indicating wheere it goes, its color etc. Just consider it a work in progress that may never be complete, but it wil come in handy later when hunting down a new issue.

 

Good luck.

Paul

Thanks Paul, I will be investigating and tracing down the wiring. Just wish I was more flexible. Not much room to search it out in a Fleet.


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#6 acmedave

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Posted 23 March 2020 - 10:45 PM

I find it puzzling that this well equipped system (from the factory?) does not include a battery monitor.  The output of the MPPT as seen on the MPPT Control "gauge" or its associated bluetooth app don't tell the whole story.  It might be well worth your while to add a Victron BMV (712 is great!) to this setup, so you can really see what's going on with the batteries, regardless of the charging source.

 

Back to the problem at hand.... when you find the MPPT to be dead (no lights) have you checked the wires going to it?  How have you determined that the MPPT is dead?  Does the Are you getting them replaced under warranty?

 

Does the Overland MPPT have load outputs like the Victron one does?  Are they being used?   

 

Have you tried unplugging the cable that goes into the MPPT and to the MPPT Control gauge?  

 

Vic

Thanks Vic, 

As to how I’ve determined the MPPT was dead. First time Overland mailed me a replacement on the road. On installation everything worked fine. After that I got a spare and whenever I have had a ‘no lights/no readings’ issue I do a swap out and if the spare works I just assume the unit failed. I sent one unit back to Brian at Overland and he agreed the unit had failed but didn’t go into detail other than to say failure is extremely rare and I’m the only customer to have it occur repeatedly though only one of the three failed units was confirmed to have died by the Overland shop. 

 

And yes Brian at Overland has stood behind his product and has quickly mailed me out a replacement each time. Great service there but would rather not have the problem.

 

The Overland does have load terminals and they are in use. The  Overland unit comes with a Victron manual and I am pretty certain it is a rebranded Victron. 

 

I perhaps should have mentioned that the manual says the unit should be mounted with the power terminals facing downward. FWC has installed it with the terminals facing up. (I assume this is to facilitate wiring) It is in a protected location so I think it is still a safe installation but perhaps . . .

 

I have noticed that when I first connect the load terminal, before connecting the battery and PV terminals, power was delivered into the unit and illuminated one of the LED’s don’t remember offhand whether it was the green or yellow.

 

I have tried unplugging the cables you mentioned and nothing seems to revive the ‘dead’ units, swapping out to a new unit works immediately however.


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#7 acmedave

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Posted 23 March 2020 - 10:47 PM

Does the overland solar controller get firmware updates from overland solar or Victron, and is using the Victron bluetooth dongle supported by Overland?

 

I wonder if this is not a firmware compatibility issue - Victron updates their firmware regularly and if some newer version of the dongle firmware is causing issues with the controller.     

 

This is all just a guess, but there was some discussion at some point about the Overland branded Victron chrage controller not being compatible with the Victron eco system.

Thanks rando,

The controller does get firmware updates. Brian from Overland knows I am using a dongle and has never suggested that might be an issue. And I’m pretty certain the Overland controller is identical to a Victron, even comes with Victron instructions. But . . .


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#8 Vic Harder

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Posted 23 March 2020 - 11:09 PM

I have tried unplugging the cables you mentioned and nothing seems to revive the ‘dead’ units, swapping out to a new unit works immediately however.

 

This reminds me that I have had my controller shut down once or twice.  It appeared "dead" and the only way to revive it was to disconnect ALL the wires and reconnect.  It seems to remember its "state" if it is getting power from anywhere.   This is one good reason to have breakers in all the positive leads connected to the MPPT... you can flip them all off and wait a bit before resetting the breakers.

 

I am curious, did you ever try re-inserting the unit you just pulled out to see if it "wakes up"?


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#9 acmedave

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Posted 23 March 2020 - 11:52 PM

This reminds me that I have had my controller shut down once or twice.  It appeared "dead" and the only way to revive it was to disconnect ALL the wires and reconnect.  It seems to remember its "state" if it is getting power from anywhere.   This is one good reason to have breakers in all the positive leads connected to the MPPT... you can flip them all off and wait a bit before resetting the breakers.

 

I am curious, did you ever try re-inserting the unit you just pulled out to see if it "wakes up"?

I do believe that I did once disconnect all wires, wait 10-15 min and reconnect to no effect. I will try to keep this in mind though if I continue to have problems.

 

Do you think mounting the unit upside down could make any difference.


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#10 rando

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Posted 24 March 2020 - 12:16 AM

 

 

Do you think mounting the unit upside down could make any difference.

 

No, I would strongly doubt that.  The suggestion to mount it terminals down is likely a safety issue so that if you drop something on it, it won't arc or short out.   

 

I am fairly certain there is something wrong with your installation if you have gone through 3 of these.   This is completely anecdotal, but I have not heard of any of these dying, let alone 3 in a row.      

 

The reason I was wondering about the bluetooth dongle/firmware, is that that appears to be something you are doing differently from most with the overland solar controller.   How are you using both the bluetooth dongle and the display?

 

FWC has been installing these for a while and I assume their install is somewhat 'standard', so if it were something in their setup it seems they would be aware of it (although wiring is not their strongest point). 

 

I am also curious what is on the load terminals?    You have to be a little careful with these as they are only able to carry current in one direction - if these were miswired where they could have charge flowing into the controller, it would be a problem. 


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