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Old 03-15-2019, 02:15 PM   #21
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Putting the controllers as close to the batteries as possible is good. They donít have a remote voltage sense, so the shorter the wire run, the more accurate your charging will be. Victron does have a blue tooth voltage and temp monitor, but I have read that the range is quite poor.
We installed a Victron BMV-712 monitor last year. Recently our boat was in a closed building getting the caprails refinished and I was concerned about how the batteries were doing. I was able to view the status from outside the building on my phone. The range is actually pretty good.

Jeremiah
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Old 03-15-2019, 05:51 PM   #22
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I install quite a few solar panel systems. "Usually", unless an exceptional long run (over 20 feet or so), the 10 gauge is ok to run from the panels to the controller. From the controller to fuse/breaker and on to batteries no one can give you a blanket answer for that without knowing the real round trip distance. You need to figure out where the controller will be physically located in relation to the fuse and batteries, then use a voltage drop table to determine wire size. Blue Sea Systems has a free App called "Circuit Wizard" that you can download to your phone and has a great voltage drop / wire size calculator. You do want to have Victron solar controller as close to the batteries, and in the same environment if possible for the controller to know the exact voltage and temp of the batteries as these are both internal to the controller. I like to use breakers (Blue Sea 285 series) instead of fuses on these installations so you are protected and can use it as a disconnect switch. Most manuals want a fuse or breaker between the panels and controller also. I do that as standard practice.
As far as using the app to Bluetooth to two different controllers, that works fine. When you pull up the app, it will see both controllers and ask you which one you want to look at. I'm personally not a big fan of Victron inverters (although I install quite a few of them) but I am a big fan of the Victron Smart Solar controllers.
I see you are in Victoria, Texas. Where is your boat?
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Old 03-15-2019, 06:30 PM   #23
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Thanks for the very helpful info!

Boat is on Longboat Key Fl.
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Old 03-16-2019, 12:36 AM   #24
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I like the idea of two smaller controllers if the wiring doesnít cause me too much trouble.

I really wanted to get a Bluetooth compatible controller because I was not interested in mounting a separate display panel, so thatís why I was looking at the SmartSolar from Victron. So I could use two of these?

Attachment 86255

Wonder how the smartphone app would handle two of these controllers in the same location?


It handles them just fine. I have three, all mounted right next to each other, and a BVM-712 there also. I also have the remote voltage and temp monitor because my batteries are in one space and my charge controllers in another. Theyíre about 12í apart through the floor. I can sit in the V-berth and easily check the status of everything, even the temp sensor.

I suggest the Bluetooth temp monitor because otherwise the MPPT controllers will do their temperature compensation based on the ambient temperature of the controller, not the battery. If youíre like me and have them in two completely different environments, youíll be shortening the battery life without it.

Also, the Victron units make their own little network, so the sensor is shared between all the devices. Itís right handy, although the MPPT controllers only display temp in SI, while the BVM is more American friendly and will do either C or F.

There are several settings changes that need to be made to make everything play nice between the solar and the battery monitor, but there are several videos and tutorials available that make it pretty straightforward.

The Victron stuff is amazing. And given the price there isnít really any reason not to give each big panel its own controller. Iíve got two 300W panels each with their own, and a pair of 100W panels in parallel to a third. Although Iíve taken the two 100W panels off line because I really donít need them, especially not down here.

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Old 03-30-2019, 08:06 PM   #25
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Solar controller question

Finally made it to the boat. Can the solar controller be hooked to this positive and negative bus bar or does it have to be hooked to the battery?Click image for larger version

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Old 03-30-2019, 08:33 PM   #26
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It can be connected to the bus bar as long as the bus bar, wiring, and circuit protection are rated for the current.

You want to have a circuit breaker between the controller and down stream in event of a short or other resistance-reducing failure at the controller. You also want one between the panels and the controller as a service disconnect.
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Old 03-30-2019, 09:23 PM   #27
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It can be connected to the bus bar as long as the bus bar, wiring, and circuit protection are rated for the current.

+1

You want to have a circuit breaker between the controller and down stream in event of a short or other resistance-reducing failure at the controller.
You want it near the batteries or the bus

You also want one between the panels and the controller as a service disconnect.
Nice but not essential
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Old 03-30-2019, 10:30 PM   #28
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I guess it is worth a few words to explain the location of the circuit protection thing further...

Placing it close to the bus or battery provides the most protection, because it protects both the wires and device. So, if a hot wire chaffes and shorts to ground along the run, you are still safe.

Placing it up by the device or panel makes it easier to shut off, turn on, check, and reset -- but protects only the device, not the wiring. And many (not all) devices have built in fuses or fusable linksbor even breakers, making an external one near them somewhat redundant.

In my own boat, I have fuses on the batteries (Blue Sea 2151) near the terminal block rated for the wiring...and the breakers at or near the panel rated for each supply or load. I like the ability to turn things off and wiring a breaker is almost as east as wiring a switch, I think.

This is super true with supplies rather than loads. These are different. If a solar charger, power charger, or inverter goes wonky, you really want to be able to turn it off, be sure it is off, and be sure it stays off, before it boils your batteries.

My boat's PO didnt have this philosophy andvhad a misconfigured solar charger -- killed a bunch of house batteries and blew up (literal explosion) at least one.

If you dont want breakers near the device, and dont want to use one for a disconnect, give yourself some other way...a switch, a disconnext plug, etc. Disconnect plugs are cheap and take no panel space. At some point you'll want a convenient way to de-energize the device, I think. I know I have.

For example, when I had to open my controller to adjust the charging voltage (so float was really float), I ended up waiting to evening so a slip of the screwdriver couldnt short 20A on the panel supply side. I took that opportunity to add panel and load side breakers as disconnects.

Disconnecting load side wires was easy. But, to disconnect the panel side wires would have been above the bimini -- or inside that same energized metal box and then sliding them out of it.

...could have done it live. Work live plenty. But, I avoid it when I can. Statistically speaking. Reducing exposure keeps me and equipment safer.

Any rate, hope this helps.
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Old 03-31-2019, 06:18 AM   #29
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"I ended up waiting to evening so a slip of the screwdriver couldnt short 20A on the panel supply side."

If you did short the panel supply with a screw driver it wouldn't hurt a thing. The panel current is limited to Isc which the wiring is fully capable of carrying indefinitely. And it will do no harm to the panels.

David
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Old 03-31-2019, 08:44 AM   #30
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I ended up going directly to the battery. Forgot I ordered the 60 amp fuse that mounts directly to the battery terminal and that made it easy. Thanks for that recommendation David!

I did run the negative cable to the big bus bar, but it all seems to be working.

One thing I donít have are some disconnects for the panels. Should I put a disconnect for each positive panel wire right before the controller? Or could I just throw a towel over them and disconnect using the connectors? The less I have to cut wires the better it seems.
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Old 03-31-2019, 09:25 AM   #31
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Hi cardude01,

This is where David and I disagree.

He is correct that the panels are current limited and can't fry the wiring. This is why I have consistently referred to it as a "disconnect" not "circuit protection" on the panel side.

And, unless you are dealing with a high voltage system, which is unlikely, it is no threat to a human.

As far as I know, there is no ABYC requirement for either a disconnect or circuit protection, and,,just for reference, to my knowledge, NEC only requires it when multiple strings are wired in parallel such that the current from 2 or mote can overpower the wiring of 1. Think about 3 strings joining a common bus. The protection would be requires on each of the 3 strings, not the common bus.

But, I still very strongly advocate for a disconnect. I don't like poking at live things when it is avoidable.

Earlier I said I wanted the disconnect when adjusting voltage. I was misremembering. I did that live to see the voltage output.

When I wanted the disconnect is when I was changing wiring to and had to slide wires through an energized controller to get them out and put pliers in to tight spots to trim the exposed wire first, and dropped some of that wire as I did.

Now...just because the two supply wires are rated for the maximum current suppliable by the panels most certainly doesnt mean any two points in that controller box are. Screwing up poking live can potentially damage things.

So, what you need in this case is no more that what you'd like.

I used breakers because, at the time, I'd just bought the boat and didn't know the panel rating to know the wiring was safe. Enough else was wrong, that I just figured it couldn't hurt. It was still only half protection, because, if that'd been a problem, the short could have been before the breaker. So, it was a good disconnect but not adaquate as circuit protection. Regardless, I eventually got the spec sheet and the wiring was fine.

A cheap way is just to use a plug disconnect as it goes into the controller or, if reachable, at the too. This way you are only adding one crimp connection, not two.
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Old 03-31-2019, 10:00 AM   #32
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I guess it is worth a few words to explain the location of the circuit protection thing further...

Placing it close to the bus or battery provides the most protection...
This is true, but this is not 'optional' -- ABYC E-11 (and every other regulation world-wide) requires overcurrent protection to be placed very close to the source of the current. The ABYC spec for batteries requires the overcurrent device to be located within seven inches of the battery terminal. The only exception to this is for conductors that feed engine cranking motors.

re: "Placing it close to the bus or battery provides the most protection, because it protects both the wires and device."

The primary overcurrent device (at the battery) is generally sized to protect the conductor only. Downstream, every subsequent termination point (such as a bus) must then also have overcurrent protection, also within seven inches and also sized to protect the branch conductors -- not the end devices. When the current source is not a battery, there are exceptions up to 40 inches for wiring in enclosed panels or protected sheathing.

This is important, because (check your insurance policy...), any wiring you do on your boat that does not follow these rules exactly could give your insurance company every good reason to deny any claims found to be the result of your wiring.

Here's an example of how easy it is to mess this up. I can't tell you how many times I have found owners who needed a source of DC somewhere below decks -- and so they attached a wire to the starter motor main conductor -- with no fuse at all. Often it is the starter motor for the generator. Remember that the cranking motor wire is exempt from the overcurrent device rule, so if that wire shorts, there is nothing to prevent it from starting a fire (almost instantly).

When one of these boats burns to the waterline, among the first things the ajduster/surveyor is going to do is look at the starter motors to see if there are extra ring terminals under the positive cable lug -- as you can see in the photo below.

That adjuster/surveyor will have earned his money because he just saved his employer the cost of paying the claim.

When it comes to electrical matters, please don't rely on anything you read in an online forum. Go buy a book, or join ABYC and download the standards...
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Old 03-31-2019, 10:11 AM   #33
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Every wire on every boat...

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Hi cardude01,

As far as I know, there is no ABYC requirement for either a disconnect or circuit protection...

There absolutely are. ABYC, the C.F.R. (and every other organization worldwide) requires overcurrent protection at the source of the current for every ungrounded wire on every boat, except for cranking motor conductors.

The maximum distance from the source to the OCP is seven inches for conductors connected to batteries, and no more than 40 inches for conductors connected to bus bars in protected enclosures. If a wire is protected inside a conduit, the overcurrent device can be up to 72" away.
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Old 03-31-2019, 10:22 AM   #34
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When I installed my solar panels, the supplier insisted on breakers between the panels and the controller, and as near as possible to the panels. That is code for home solar installations. I followed that for the boat as well. The wiring exceeds requirements for the loads from the panels. So...there is a breaker on both sides of the controller.

FYI, the electrician connected the wiring after the controller breaker to a bus bars between the batteries and the house loads.

Jim
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Old 03-31-2019, 10:53 AM   #35
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There absolutely are. ABYC, the C.F.R. (and every other organization worldwide) requires overcurrent protection at the source of the current for every ungrounded wire on every boat, except for cranking motor conductors.

The maximum distance from the source to the OCP is seven inches for conductors connected to batteries, and no more than 40 inches for conductors connected to bus bars in protected enclosures. If a wire is protected inside a conduit, the overcurrent device can be up to 72" away.
Riverguy,

Thanks! That ABYC recommendation is pretty clear. (I had misremembered the alternator exception to be broader). My next trip trip my boat, "need" them or not, I'm climbing the top and adding fuses all the way at the top if they aren't already there. I dont want to second guess the collective wisdom of those who have been standing on each others' shoulders for decades.

(Btw, I dont think NEC has this requirement, except as I mentioned, see attached).

Thanks again,

-Greg
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Old 03-31-2019, 03:02 PM   #36
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When I installed my solar panels, the supplier insisted on breakers between the panels and the controller, and as near as possible to the panels. That is code for home solar installations. I followed that for the boat as well. The wiring exceeds requirements for the loads from the panels. So...there is a breaker on both sides of the controller.

FYI, the electrician connected the wiring after the controller breaker to a bus bars between the batteries and the house loads.

Jim

Re: "supplier insisted on breakers between the panels and the controller, and as near as possible to the panels. That is code for home solar installations."


Yes...the key concept here is that we need to protect the conductors from turning into flameing red-hot firestarters in case of a short circuit downstream, and the only way to do that is to limit the current that can flow into them. That means putting the overcurrent device as close to the source of the current as possible. Solar panels, battery chargers, inverters etc.

It's a universal concept (residential or marine), but very frequently misunderstood or ignored. I don't know why, but I see it way more in boats than in residential situations.


Kudos for hiring an electrician...
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Old 03-31-2019, 04:02 PM   #37
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Sorry Riverguy, but not true. Solar panels are one of the few marine devices that have a fixed, unalterable maximum current that they can produce, usually the Isc value. You would have to somehow increase the sun's energy to produce more than Isc current.

So as long as the wire connected to the panel can take the Isc (and for any installation it should be able to do so) then there is no need for an over current protection device because there is no way to produce an over current situation.

Batteries, yes. Solar panels, no.

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Old 03-31-2019, 04:56 PM   #38
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Sorry Riverguy, but not true. Solar panels are one of the few marine devices that have a fixed, unalterable maximum current that they can produce...

David

Unless, of course they get hit by lightning. Anyways they are code for home installs. At least that was what I was told. Maybe itís a belts and suspenders kind of thing.

Jim
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Old 03-31-2019, 05:34 PM   #39
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Solar panels are one of the few marine devices that have a fixed, unalterable maximum current that they can produce, usually the Isc value. You would have to somehow increase the sun's energy to produce more than Isc current.

So as long as the wire connected to the panel can take the Isc (and for any installation it should be able to do so) then there is no need for an over current protection device because there is no way to produce an over current situation.

Batteries, yes. Solar panels, no.

David

I get what you are saying (in theory), but ABYC makes no exception for solar panels. I think you are referring to the "self-limiting devices" exclusion.


The problem is that when the wiring is installed, you might know which (and how many) panels are feeding it, but there's no knowing when the solar panels might be upgraded or more panels added to the same circuit.


re: "You would have to somehow increase the sun's energy to produce more than Isc current..."


Either that, or install new solar panels a few years now when the efficiency triples. All of a sudden, you CAN fry those wires.



This is why the conductors must be protected at the source of the (planned or future) current.



At the end of the day, every conductor on every boat MUST have overcurrent protection located at the source of the current, and MUST be sized based on the capacity of the conductor....not just for the devices that are supplying current today, but for any future devices using that conductor in the future.



ABYC E-11 is quite clear on this.


If there is a fire on your boat, and you didn't put overcurrent protection at the current source, do you think you will win that argument with the insurance company? No...you won't.



Not worth the risk, even if your logic is sound.


Once again (for the record), no one should be taking advice on electrical issues from an online forum. Buy a book or join ABYC and read the standards.
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Old 03-31-2019, 06:48 PM   #40
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"Once again (for the record), no one should be taking advice on electrical issues from an online forum. Buy a book or join ABYC and read the standards. __________________
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That is something we can both agree on.


David
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