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Have I killed our Blue Sky Energy MPPT PV charge controller?


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A bit of the story:

Last fall we had difficulty operating the jacks without shore power , they became sluggish, barely moving.  A technician determined our  PD4000 Series Power Control Center was bad, and replaced it.  It also turned out that 2 of our 4 eight year old Trojan AGM batteries were bulging.  The bulging batteries were removed, and the 2 apparently good ones left in for the winter.  When preparing the Ollie for use this year we found that the jacks were again sluggish except when on shore power.  Thinking it was the batteries, we removed the  remaining  2 Trojan AGMs from the Ollie and had them tested; We were advised that even though they  were holding a charge, they should be replaced.  We ordered 4 Bright Way AGMs, which will be arriving next week.   We did not know to disconnect the solar panels before removing the batteries. A short time later none of the lights in the Ollie worked, and I used the Power Control Center reset switch to get them back in use.  I did not figure out why the switch had tripped.  

Now, while learning more about how to change over to the new batteries, I read that it was a mistake to remove the batteries without disconnecting the solar panels.  We have arranged for a technician to come help us once the batteries arrive, but now I am wondering if we are also going to need to deal with a damaged Blue Sky Energy solar controller system.  Any advice on how to proceed?  

I am overwhelmed.  Thank you for your help.

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25 minutes ago, MAG said:

Any advice on how to proceed?  

At this point it would appear that you are on the right track in getting to the bottom of your troubles.  This tech should be able to tell you fairly quickly if you need to replace - anything.

If you have not already done so - turn off your solar panels or put something (a moving blanket or opaque tarp) over the panels so that they will not be generating any power.  This is for your protection and would help prevent any "shorts" that could cause a fire.  I'd also unplug from shore power unless you have to have power for some reason.

30 minutes ago, MAG said:

I am overwhelmed.

The "key" to understanding electricity in your camper is to understand each of the separate and combined systems that potentially provide power to it.  Your batteries can be thought of as the heart of the system with BOTH the solar panels and the shore power providing energy that is stored in those batteries.  Power (electricity) continues to come into the camper via either and/or both systems unless  one or the other or both are disabled in some way.  Shore power is the easiest in that if you unplug from a shore power outlet - that stops the electricity from entering the camper/batteries from that source.  The solar panels will generate electricity as long as they are getting light - yes, they will produce electricity even when indoors and the building's lights are on.  If you have one of the big red solar disconnect switches then it can be used to "turn off" the solar panels - note here that this switch really doesn't turn off the solar panels but only stops the current from proceeding any further down the line (wires) - reread the previous sentence about panels producing electricity.

So, shore power provides electricity to your batteries and solar power provides electricity to your batteries and (in most circumstances) your tow vehicle can provide electricity to your batteries.  These sources are all "controlled" individually - solar controller adjusts voltage and amount of current from the solar panels, your vehicle has a voltage regulator and your camper has a manager for all of these sources to include shore power - someone (something has to be the "traffic cop") has to manage things so that neither too much nor too little is given to your batteries and/or is used by you such that you potentially overload the wiring in your camper (very much like the circuit breakers in your house).

Try to understand one system at a time and it should be easier.  And, in any case where you are forced to work with electricity in the camper, be sure to remember that you have at least two if not three sources that will need to be disabled prior to any work or you risk unpleasant things happening.  When in doubt - get advice BEFORE proceeding!  As you are presently doing with your tech.

Bill

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Great advice, @topgun2.

MAG, do cover the panels until you figure it out. And leave your trailer unplugged.

Do you know if you have a breaker to disconnect the panels? In our 2008,  it is near the pd charger, down low,  and it's not a big red button, it's black and yellow. But, Oliver has made many changes and improvements over the years.

 @ScubaRx has an Elite II of similar vintage to yours, so he could probably tell you better where to look, and if Oliver installed a switch in those days, or not. I'd pm him with your question, so he gets an alert. He has a thorough understanding of blue sky system, and early Elite II, and is really good at explaining things in a way everyone can understand.

If indeed you shorted out the controller, you and your tech will find Ryan Gurin at Blue Sky is extremely helpful. I'm sure he can get you back in business economically and swiftly .

Here's his number and email.

760-208-2149

Ryan@blueskyenergyinc.com

I've found an email with my phone number is a good way to start, as he's on pacific time. 

I know you feel overwhelmed right now, but you have lots of help here, and at Blue Sky. Soon, you'll understand how everything works together with all its electron magic. My sister in law delights in saying, "we can eat that elephant, one bite at a time."

Best of luck.

 

 

 

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

 

 

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Thank you, Bill and SeaDawg, for your quick responses.  As you suggested, I put tarps over the solar panels, and unplugged from shore power.  Below is a pic of the controller and related stuff.  Last night we moved the yellow lever from On to Off, hoping it was the cutoff switch.  Do you think it is?  If not, I think I'll add another tarp to the 2 thin ones over the solar panels now. 

I'll figure out how to PM ScubaRX......

Thank you again.

Mary

IMG_2383.JPG

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1 hour ago, MAG said:

I'll figure out how to PM ScubaRX......

Simply place your cursor on the blue highlighted @ScubaRxand when a new window look for "message".  Click on that and start typing and then click on send.

Bill

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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1 hour ago, MAG said:

Hull 50 and Hull 55 should be pretty similar!

"similar"?

Yes, perhaps. 

But, if you ever have a chance to tour ScubaRx's Ollie - DO IT!  I don't think that it is like any other Ollie out there.

Bill

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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2 hours ago, topgun2 said:

But, if you ever have a chance to tour ScubaRx's Ollie - DO IT!  I don't think that it is like any other Ollie out there.

Bill

Scubarx never stops improving his trailer, and he's got the skills and tools to do it. So, today his will look very different from 2014, but I'm sure he remembers how those first ones were equipped.  

He worked very closely with Oliver on his #50, the first out after the hiatus.

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

 

 

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13 hours ago, MAG said:

 Last night we moved the yellow lever from On to Off, hoping it was the cutoff switch.  Do you think it is?

I see the red /positive wire running to the controller from the 30 amp breaker/switch, so yes, I'd think so. 

I'd leave your panels covered,and 110 disconnected,  till you can discuss with Scubarx/Steve. He's your best resource on here.

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

 

 

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Here's   wiring diagram for your solar boost. If you don't have the manual, you can download it and the manual for the ipn pro remote, so that you can read along when you talk with Steve and Ryan.

See the red (+) fused (circuit breaker)  line coming from the panels to the controller, along with the black (-)? I believe those are the wires coming from your panels, in wire loom.

In the middle, the red/+ and  black/- go to the batteries. The skinny black wire on the left in your photo is likely your temperature sensor running to the battery, and the little flat grey cable under it that looks like a phone cord runs to your ipn pro remote where you reprogram the unit, and see your readouts inside the Oliver. (It's a communication cable, basically)

If you turned that switch/circuit breaker off before you removed the batteries, I suspect you'll be fine. Even if you didn't, and you didn't see any sparks, and you kept the red and black wire ends separated, and not touching any other wires or metal, you're probably still fine. 

I'm not nearly as versed as others in your trailer, and its specific wiring, but at least maybe you can relax a little til you talk with someone who is.

Hope is not lost.

 

 

 

Screenshot_20220507-155801_Chrome.jpg

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

 

 

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1 hour ago, SeaDawg said:

See the red (+) fused (circuit breaker)  line coming from the panels to the controller, along with the black (-)? I believe those are the wires coming from your panels, in wire loom.

 

ScubaRx walked us through what we were seeing in the photo ( I understood a small fraction of it.)  You and he agree on what is going on.    He pointed out that the cable that appeared red on the far right of the photo was not in fact a positive wire.  Afterwards I went back and pulled away the black covering and could see that the two exposed wires on the far right are actually yellow.  (see photo below)

IMG_2384.JPG

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Thank you  Topgun2 and Seadawg, for the advice to get in touch with ScubaRx!  Perfect!  He thinks there is a good chance no damage was done, and worst case the fix will be inexpensive. Turns out that he helped my husband with Solar system issues 8 years ago when we first got our Ollie.  It was like an unexpected meeting up with an old friend!

It's amazing to have so much support, I am so grateful.

 

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5 hours ago, MAG said:

 

ScubaRx walked us through what we were seeing in the photo ( I understood a small fraction of it.)  You and he agree on what is going on.    He pointed out that the cable that appeared red on the far right of the photo was not in fact a positive wire.  Afterwards I went back and pulled away the black covering and could see that the two exposed wires on the far right are actually yellow.  (see photo below)

IMG_2384.JPG

I’m glad you looked closer at that “red” cable coming off the back side of the shunt. All Oliver installed ground wires are yellow. So all is good there. And remember, turning off that breaker will not cut off power coming from the panels. It will only kill the (charging) power going to the batteries. 

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Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher and Rocky plus our beloved Storm, Maggie and Lucy (all waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)

2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #026 | 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #050 | 2022 Silverado High Country 3500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

             801469912_StatesVisitedTaliandSteve08-23-2021-I.jpg.26814499292ab76ee55b889b69ad3ef0.jpg1226003278_StatesVisitedTaliandSteve08-23-2021-H.jpg.dc46129cb4967a7fd2531b16699e9e45.jpg

 

 

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Below is a diagram of the solar system that was in our papers; it disagrees with the other diagram, reversing the positions of the cables to batteries & solar panels; this is the right one for our set-up, I think.  It shows an off/on switch along the cables to the solar panels; I followed the cable until it went out of view up the back of the trailer; did not find a switch.

 

 

F887DED1-DD66-45A0-9417-44C115895FEC.jpeg

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Steve can likely  tell you if you have a "switch" inline, and if so, where it might be located. I don't know. Some trailers have one, some don't. 

The important thing right now is that the 30 amp breaker you showed in the photo is set to "off", so that circuit is not sending power to the loose wires from the solar that are no longer connected to a battery. Either way it was wired,(right or middle) the breaker would have shut off solar generated power, before or after the controller.  Before is what the apparently nonexistent or hidden switch does in your diagram, I think.

As Steve said, understand that the line up to the 30 amp breaker is still potentially energized any time your solar panels are exposed to the sun, and generating power. That's why topgun and I suggested you cover the panels completely. I suspect  Steve concurred. If you don't have an inline switch, I'd just leave those panels covered til you and your tech install the new batteries you ordered. And, leave your trailer unplugged from 110. No power in/no power out can do no harm. (Is your trailer stored inside, or outside? Will you have to secure the moving blankets or tarps?)

The really important thing is, you were likely very careful, and probably also very lucky. If you disconnected the batteries in daylight to remove them,  and the breaker was on, you were working with a hot positive. 12v dc, but still a hot line.

You didn't see sparks, didn't get shocked, and didn't burn up your trailer, probably didn't damage the controller,  so life is actually pretty good right now. 

And, I'm really glad you spoke with Steve. As I said, he knows far better than any of the rest of us how your trailer is actually wired. It's  slightly different from mine. He's totally the early elite II expert. 

I don't know what advice he gave you about all the loose wires in the battery compartment right now, but you'll want to always be sure none of the wires touch, til you get your new batteries installed. I'm sure he gave you good recommendations. 

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

 

 

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4 hours ago, SeaDawg said:

You didn't see sparks, didn't get shocked, and didn't burn up your trailer, probably didn't damage the controller,  so life is actually pretty good right now. 

We did not appreciate the peril!  And then we got lucky. Yes, life is pretty good right now.

We have the trailer outside right now, with several layers of a heavy duty opaque tarp secured with tie downs over the panels.  The 30 amp switch is set to OFF.  The cable ends in the battery compartment are well separated.  The shore power is disconnected.  It will stay like this until the batteries and the technician arrive.  Thank you for making sure we are alert to the dangers.  

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@MAG, I'd like to thank you, for helping others in the future to avoid perils that you avoided, by design or chance. 

Changing out batteries with solar panels is not the same as swapping out car batteries. As you well know now.

Thank you so much for helping others.

Your honest questions and feedback will undoubtedly help others in days to come.

Please keep us all posted on your progress. We're all rooting for you.

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

 

 

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You all are the best!   Thanks for the encouragement and help.

 It will be next week before there will be  progress on the solar panel/battery issue.  While we wait we find ourselves thinking it might be good to put in a cut off switch between the panels and controller; another part of us thinks it's enough to get things operating again. 

Many thanks!

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A cut off switch is OK, but not absolutely necessary. I would install it if it made you feel better.

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Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher and Rocky plus our beloved Storm, Maggie and Lucy (all waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)

2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #026 | 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #050 | 2022 Silverado High Country 3500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

             801469912_StatesVisitedTaliandSteve08-23-2021-I.jpg.26814499292ab76ee55b889b69ad3ef0.jpg1226003278_StatesVisitedTaliandSteve08-23-2021-H.jpg.dc46129cb4967a7fd2531b16699e9e45.jpg

 

 

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Yesterday 4 Bright Way AGM batteries arrived!  And the technician will be here on Monday!  Getting closer.  Somehow I only have 4 of the nuts needed to secure the cables to the batteries, so will see if I can find 4 more today.  

Still thinking about one question, and would appreciate advice: I wonder if the bearings that the battery tray ride on should be treated in any way, before the battery tray is reinstalled?  At the present, they are exactly as they were installed 8 years ago.  After all the mishaps I've had this year (even more than I've shared!), I am apprehensive about doing anything.   

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IMG_2398.JPG

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On 5/11/2022 at 7:15 AM, ScubaRx said:

A cut off switch is OK, but not absolutely necessary. I would install it if it made you feel better.

Thank you!  Will put this on a list for when I am more resourceful.

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1 hour ago, MAG said:

I wonder if the bearings that the battery tray ride on should be treated in any way, before the battery tray is reinstalled?  At the present, they are exactly as they were installed 8 years ago.  

If the "rail" of the tray glide smoothly in and out - then they should be OK.  However, if it was me, I'd put a bit of grease on them just to make sure that they continue to glide smoothly for another 8 years.  If you really want to do the job "right" then you'd clean all of the old grease - that would be that nasty looking white/yellow looking stuff - off before I put the new grease on.

Bill

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Well, the 4 new Bright Way AGM batteries are installed, and the MPPT controller reprogrammed.  Ryan at Blue Sky Energy clarified the questions that remained from Wanda’s helpful documentation.  

I wish I were better suited for this work.  But great help from ScubaRx, SeaDawg, and Topgun2 made it possible to be successful.  Thanks so much everyone.

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We're all very happy for you, @MAG! No one is born knowing any of this stuff, and there are always plenty of people here to offer help and advice from their experiences. And, Ryan at bluesky is one if the best tech support people I've ever had the pleasure to work with.

You've learned some things along the way, and now it's time to get out there and enjoy some camping and relaxation time in your Ollie.

You've earned it.

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

 

 

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