Friday 1 May 2015

Sunshine on my shoulder…

The SmartGauge manual says that it will synchronise with the batteries automatically after a few charging cycles. You just have to let them discharge below 75% to get it started. So yesterday, after our return from taking Erin Mae across to the service wharf for a pump-out, I left the mains hook-up disconnected. In the evening we watched the snooker and used our computers. The Squirrel got the interior to a monstrous 25˚C, so the fridge must have been working its socks off. I went to sleep confident that the SmartGauge's initialisation would proceed as planned. I hadn't reckoned on the combined effect of new batteries and solar panel. By 8.30 the panel was already pumping juice into the batteries and the SmartGauge was telling me that they had not got below 75%. So I sighed and rejoiced in equal measure. This is exactly why I splashed out on the panel! I'll just let the SmartGauge sort itself out in whatever time it needs.

When I re-connected the mains supply I got some interesting data from the controller's meter. I'd assumed, from something said by Midsummer Energy, that the controller would simply shut off when there was another source of electricity. But the opposite happened, and it seemed the solar system was trumping the Victron charger/inverter. The meter showed a good charge voltage and current from the solar gear, while the Victron's lights showed it in float mode, even while we were running the washing machine. Well, so far it's all very satisfactory.

So in a happy glow we went for a walk this afternoon at the Wolseley Centre, one of our favourite local spots, run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. Unfortunately the sunshine, the effects of which I'd spent the morning analysing, largely disappeared after lunch. Still we had a good walk through the wetland conservation areas alongside the River Trent.

I took my new camera along, even though the cloud meant the colours were not as vibrant as they could have been. The telescopic function came into its own.

The geese were pairing off,

 accompanied by some early arrivals.

 Some cygnets are due to follow shortly, I fancy.

 An unexpected patch of what we think was azalea brightened up one shady section.

The Centre is well worth a visit, even though it's looking a bit bald in places at the moment – they seem to have been doing a lot of clearing. It's a very accessible example of how to bring traditional water management technology to interact successfully with contemporary conditions and needs.


  1. When you were running the washing machine, surely that would have been from the mains hook-up and not the inverter. Your battery charger and solar panel would merely have been float charging the batteries, as indicated.

    1. Yes, Halfie, I'm sure you're right. But the main surprise for me was the way the solar system dominated the charging of the batteries during this period, rather than the Victron. I'd expected it to take a back seat, but it took over. The solar controller was in absorption phase, while the Victron was in float. That might be to do with the voltage settings for the phases for each device – I'll have to check what they are.

  2. Chris changed the diagram because if the owner starts with the typical installation (i.e. both take off cables at the same end of the battery bank) there is a higher chances of being able to stretch one of the cables to reach battery 3 than battery 4. Electrically there is no difference.

    1. Thanks for this, whoever you are!. (For the casual reader, Anonymous's comment really relates to my observations about Battery Wiring on 11th May). I can see why Chris would want to do this.