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Should I get a MPPT controller, or B2B or CTEK or......... help?

#1
My MH has 2 solar panels 100 & 120 utilising just a basic controller linked up to my leisure batteries. Initially I had 2x110ah, but as I had space and payload I took out my 2 new LBs sold them and put in 4x110ah Banners.

That was just over 2 years ago. They have been fine all that time but then we don’t use the MH for long holidays, often it’s sat at home used only weekends. At this time of the year if we go off for a weekend we’ll quite likely use the inverter and microwave to nuke some lunch. Clearly that’s not very good for LBs long term and I may have damaged them.

I opened them up recently to find they were all rather dry, I could see the tops of the plates sat out in the open, and topped up with distilled water.

I intend to take them out and bench charge them individually as firstly I’m not sure if the EHU charger is man enough to do all 4 to 100%, then get them drop tested. This morning, according to the inbuilt voltage meter in the MH they’re showing approx 12.2volts.

Going forwards, what should I be looking at doing to ensure battery health and to aid the solars charging?

Should I get a MPPT controller? I tried to find some answers on here and got redirected by answers about CTEK D250 controller and Ring RSCDC30 controller. And then started to get more confused. I need help.

I can buy the Ring thing from where I used to work, and possibly the CTEK as that maybe a rebranded (or is rebranded to ) a Yuasa charger.

I’d really appreciate your input and help.
 


#3
There are plenty of battery experts on here I’m sure one will be along soon to give you guidance. I was advised a few years back to take out my mot and replace with a Ctek as they were better but I have since changed vans and have bigger panels 350w and 3 marine gel batteries and a victron inverter I am not sure how it all works as I paid a nice man to do it all for me but it does wish I could be more helpful.
 
#4
Batts should be at 12.7v standing,so called les batts are no more than rebadged truck units,best to buy bosch/varta silver power frame which will hold volts for 5 years before dropping of,however just dont discharge down as much.
All depents on how you charge to ,mppt fine but if its charging from mains through van then i would rather have a multi stage float charger of about 20ah with the amount of batterys you have,cheap on ebay. charger 20ah.png
 
#5
A lot of the cheap Solar Controllers are branded as MPPT but are not really, so be wary of too-good-to-be-true deals.
The ctek and ring jobbies are combined solar and split-charge systems. Are you looking to update both? (What kind of split charge system are you currently running?).
The Victron MPPT Controller will be purely a Solar Controller, but you would be hard pushed to find better quality (cheaper ones? for sure. better ones? nah). My B2B is a combination B2B smart charger and MPPT Controller, but I don't bother with the MPPT bit as the Victron I have is superior.
 


#6
@Kev - love you too 😉

My setup is charged by Schaudt Electroblock EBL99 when on hookup and driving. I wild camp as much as possible and only hookup at home when I park on the drive.

So, really I need advice on what would be best suggestion with regards to keeping plenty of charge in the batts from the solar panels. Do I put in a new controller? Or an extra box by Ring or Ctek or whoever in place of the solar controller?
 


#9
We only have 120Watt Solar
and 85 AH battery
MPPT controller works well
The onboard electrics also divert excess solar to the engine battery.
This is based on observation of the voltages of both batteries
Once the LB is "Full" (14.4V) I will use the EB to run a 150Watt inverter being careful to monitor the EB
Once it drops I disconnect the Inverter and wait maybe 30mins (on a sunny day) so the EB is re-charged and I can use the inverter again.
Works for us and I am careful with both batteries.
PS we use the MoHo for 6 months in the SUMMER and rarely use EHU
 
#10
@Kev - love you too 😉

My setup is charged by Schaudt Electroblock EBL99 when on hookup and driving. I wild camp as much as possible and only hookup at home when I park on the drive.

So, really I need advice on what would be best suggestion with regards to keeping plenty of charge in the batts from the solar panels. Do I put in a new controller? Or an extra box by Ring or Ctek or whoever in place of the solar controller?
Do you actually need to do anything apart from replace your batteries if they are dead and then make sure you maintain the new ones? If the batteries aren't totally sealed/maintenance free you will have to check and top up fluid levels on a regular basis.
 


#11
#12
Don't expect too much from solar in winter ,some days you won't get any thing .on sunny days you will get a few amps for a couple of hours .an mppt controller can be 20 -30% more efficient, but 30% more of very little is still very little .
 
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#13
Yep
Solar in winter is cr@p
We have solar on our roof at home which feeds in to the grid
December is less than 10% of June
Triple whammy.
Less daylight hours
Sun not anywhere near overhead
Simply less sun and more clouds
 
#14
I’m not certain the batteries are dead as such, first thing this morning they were showing at 12.1v on the Ring inverter when I momentarily switched it onto see its volt meter.

Then checking the internal meter that showed over 13v ,no sun shining just ambient on the panels, I then checked with another plug in voltmeter that said the same, and then stripped out the battery space to gain access to the terminals and a digital meter also showed 13.27v

I’ve now taken the fuse out of the solar converter box so no more solar for now to check the batteries without any input. Now 2 hours later they show 12.83v.

I’ll see what they are showing in the morning and then isolate each of them to charge individually so I can get them checked.

Perhaps there isnt enough daylight to keep them topped up. I believe the EHU charger doesn’t do much other than get them up to around 80%, does that sound right? Perhaps I’m over optimistic that 220w of solar can charge 440ah of batteries?

Would a MPPT controller help? Oh, this is where I began 🤔
 
#15
I was writing while the last 2 were enroute, sorry.

I have every intention to maintain the batteries properly, from now on. Once bitten.....
 
#16
I’m not certain the batteries are dead as such, first thing this morning they were showing at 12.1v on the Ring inverter when I momentarily switched it onto see its volt meter.


Then checking the internal meter that showed over 13v ,no sun shining just ambient on the panels, I then checked with another plug in voltmeter that said the same, and then stripped out the battery space to gain access to the terminals and a digital meter also showed 13.27v

I’ve now taken the fuse out of the solar converter box so no more solar for now to check the batteries without any input. Now 2 hours later they show 12.83v.

I’ll see what they are showing in the morning and then isolate each of them to charge individually so I can get them checked.

Perhaps there isnt enough daylight to keep them topped up. I believe the EHU charger doesn’t do much other than get them up to around 80%, does that sound right? Perhaps I’m over optimistic that 220w of solar can charge 440ah of batteries?

Would a MPPT controller help? Oh, this is where I began 🤔
12.83V after all charging taken away for 2 hour is promising. What you could do is put some kind of fairly known load on them for an hour or two, then remove the load and see if the new voltage matches expectation. (a voltage reading on its own doesn't tell you the whole story with confidence).

220W for 440Ah of batteries? depends on time of year and amount of recharge needed. I have 400W of Solar and that recharges my 440Ah of batteries well before noon in the summertime (bear in mind your "220W" of solar will never deliver 220W except for a very very small window during a summers day and never close in other seasons).

My mains charger puts in 200W and if I plug in after a some days away and the sun is poor I am recharged by around midnight.
Some MH Chargers output a set voltage - The Sargent EC155 unit for example puts out 13.6V - that is never enough to properly charge a battery. If your charger has similar characteristics then it will have similar issues.

Impossible to give a definitive answer to if what solar can absolutely do as too many variables. The only sure answer is 'less than you think' - but how much less is the real question.
 
#17
440ah of batteries would take an awful long time to charge on EHU unless you have seriously uprated the onboard chargers lol

Definitely charge them up individually and see what you get then. The readings you have posted since original don't sound too bad to me but I am certainly no expert. I would make sure the fluid levels are okay and charge them up individually, your charger should say how long they will need or give an indication when fully charged

I am having similar problems with keeping charged up at the moment due to not enough sun/bright light to recharge my 270ah battery bank with 300W solar. A decent MPPT charger will give better harvesting but your solar may not do the job over winter although you say you aren't using it much so it may just have been the fluid levels that has caught you out.
 
#18
First thing this morning I checked the voltage and it’s showing 12.5v on the multimeter, again with no charging involved. I think my voltage meter in the Ring unit is not to be trusted, a shame as it’s so easy to access. I think for now I’ll put everything back together as it all seems reasonably OK
 


#19
#20
I put a volt meter inline with a 2 way switch in my selfbuild Si, one way did the LBs, tother way the VB, it was a very cheapo Ebay one, but as accurate as both my digital meters.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/12V-Mini...=item2abb564e09:g:13oAAOSwXc9b6PrM:rk:26:pf:0
ThAnks Kev, That’s similarish to the self contained one I’ve got that plugs into a cigarette lighter socket and I’m thinking along those lines wired direct to the LBs.

I’ve just put it all back together neatly so the enemy doesn’t spot what I’ve been up to and checked again and it’s showing 13.5v in the sunshine. I’m going to ignore the Ring meter it’s obviously wrong.
 


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