Can You Solve a Solar Mystery?

17 Apr

OK…let’s see who’s the quickest and the smartest when it comes to troubleshooting. We already know the answer but it took us several hours and a call to technical support to finally nail down the problem. Here are the components of our problem.

  1. Before we left Maryland in November we installed two 275 watt solar panels on an arch hanging off the stern of our boat. The solar panels feed through a 15 amp circuit breaker and into a controller that distributes power to out batteries as needed.
  2. Today at around noon I noticed that the batteries were draining even though the sun was blazing in the sky. I looked at the situation and discovered that the 15 amp circuit breaker was tripped and the sun’s energy was not reaching the controller.
  3. After resetting the circuit breaker I discovered that it would work for a few minutes but would trip whenever the sun would come out from behind a cloud.
  4. After fiddling with different components and finding no solution we called technical support.
  5. Technical support did some calculations and discovered that our circuit breaker was not sufficient for the wattage of our solar panels.

The question is this. Why did this start happening after we have been using these panels without fail for over 6 months?

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4 Responses to “Can You Solve a Solar Mystery?”

  1. Frieda April 17, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    Does it have to do with the position of the sun in the sky changing as you have headed south? Just a stab at an idea since technical expertise is definitely not my strong point.

    • four2tango April 17, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

      Brilliant Frieda! You solved the mystery about three hours quicker than we did. This was one of those situations where taking a step back and looking at the whole picture really helps. I guess I didn’t want to believe it because it didn’t do this yesterday and it was sunny as well. I guess the difference between April 16th and April 17th is about 30 watts.

  2. S/V Haanli April 17, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    I postulate that seconds before your 15 amp breaker tripped, a solar flare erupted, sending 16 amps to your 15 amp breaker. An equally plausible explanation is that planet Mercury is, Astrologically speaking, in retrograde. This caused a flux in Tango’s electromagnetic field which, as we all know, typically peaks on or about 16/17 April in years ending with a 13.

    • four2tango April 18, 2013 at 8:12 am #

      Tango’s flux! So that must be what’s causing all our piddly breakages and issues?!

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