Power loss in solar home

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Old 09-18-13, 11:04 AM
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Power loss in solar home

I have an off the grid solar house in Baja.

3 panels; 2 deep cycle batteries, inverter which feeds into a box for AC with two circuits coming from that, so two circuit breakers.

2 weeks ago, we arrived to fully charged batteries. In the course of the first night the charge went WAY down. So much that they did not even fully charge in a full day of sun.

We replaced the batteries with charged “loaners” The batteries lost all charge overnight again with only one ceiling fan running.

Next night, same thing without even the fan running.

The current loss is coming through circuit breaker 2. When it is switched off, there is no leak. I checked the breaker. It’s fine.

I checked for voltage in every outlet. One outlet had a high reading in one of the plugs. I removed the outlet and capped off the wires. No change.

My question: How do I find the leak? Once I locate it, I may have a question about how to fix it, but for now, I need to find the leak.
 
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Old 09-19-13, 12:04 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

The problem isn't going to be an "outlet" or receptacle....... it's going to be something connected to the second breaker. Measuring voltage won't be of much help to find the problem.

You need to make a list of what is connected to the system and find out what's on that shouldn't be.

You really need ammeters in the lines to watch for draw issues.
 
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Old 09-19-13, 05:34 AM
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Another check would be to turn off everything on circuit #2. Then at the breaker use a volt/ohm meter to check for continuity between the + and -. If it shows current flowing start un-pluging and disconnecting things from that circuit. Unplug devices is easiest. Then move on to removing any light fixtures or devices that are hard wired. If you don't have a meter a battery and buzzer or test light can be used. Make sure you use a small battery & low voltage so there is no harm done if you touch the wires or short something out.

If you still have not found it it's time to look at the wiring. Often it's run in series but I have also seen hub and spoke sections. Start at an outlet, box or device furthest from the breaker panel. Look inside and if there are only two wires leave them out in the open not touching anything. Move to the next closest item and you'll probably see wires going into and out of the device. Disconnect the wires. In between each step go check the meter to see if it's showing continuity between the + and -. Eventually you'll work through the system until the meter shows no continuity. The last thing you disconnected will be the problem device or section of wire.

---

Unlike wiring in the USA in Central and south America it's common to run individual conductors and to have hidden junctions. It's also somewhat common to see multi-stranded wire or extension cords with the ends cut off. So, you have to stop thinking like an American electrician and expand to think of any way things could possibly be wired. Remember codes often do not exist or they are not followed or enforced. Wiring is done to get results. Power from point A to B and how that's done is entirely up to the person doing the work and what they have at hand.

I've seen one pair of wires go from the circuit panel and into trenches cut in masonry walls. When it's time to branch the circuit they'll use wire nuts or just twist the wires together and wrap with tape... then cover everything with mortar or cement. I've seen houses built and individual wires/conductors are laid on top of the finished ceiling, between roof furring strips and then corrugated tin roofing screwed down into the furring strips when nobody marked the wires locations. You also have to think that a lizard or other animal has gotten in somewhere and chewed on wires which can not be touching or shorting the + to ground through conduit, plumbing, metal roof or through wet masonry.
 
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