Solar Panel Test

Solar Panels rarely fail. The only known problems have been with physical damage to the panel, usually from point loads. It is not too uncommon to hook a panel up backwards, especially if an extension wire is added. Usually a charging problem is related to not getting enough direct sunlight, or the lift being used too much for the charging ability of the panel. It is important to explain to the customer that a solar panel can only bring a battery up from 50% depletion. If the battery goes below 50%, it will need to be booster charged using a standard 10 amp AC charger that can be purchased from Sunstream, a marine store, or an automotive parts store.

If battery is charging slowly or not charging at all:

  1. Check that Solar Panel is located in direct sunlight for majority of day
    1. Find out how many hours a day the solar panel gets direct sunlight
    2. If the panel is mounted on the canopy, make sure it is not mounted on the north side (unless you are located in the southern hemisphere).
  2. Check that Solar Panel is clean from bird droppings, leaves, etc.
  3. Check that Solar Panel is hooked up to battery correctly (Red or White to 12V+ and Black to 12V-)
  4. Measure Solar Panel output voltage
    1. Remove the solar panel wires from the battery
    2. Measure Solar Panel Voltage Output (16 to 20V+)when exposed to direct sunlight
  5. If panel checks out, check battery.
    1. The solar panel will not recover charge if battery capacity level drops below 50%. (New lift owners will often demo the lift until battery is dead)
    2. Ask if battery has been booster charged with 10 amp charger overnight at least once in beginning of season and once at end of season. High use lifts should get a booster charge mid-season.
    3. If battery water level is low often, add a voltage regulator to prevent over-charging. It is best if Florida solar lifts have a regulator.
    4. If more charging is needed due to low exposure hours, or high use, additional panels can be added in parallel.
    5. Is there anything else draining the battery? Extra lights. etc.

Approximate Number of Cycles Per Month with Solar Panel (Seattle & Miami)

Cloudy Climate Sunny Climate
JAN 2 27
FEB 8 29
MAR 14 29
APR 18 31
MAY 21 27
JUN 22 25
JUL 24 28
AUG 24 31
SEP 19 29
OCT 12 29
NOV 4 28
DEC 1 25