How does a Solar Panel work?

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Simply put, a solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Solar panels actually comprise many, smaller units called photovoltaic cells. A photovoltaic cell is basically a sandwich made up of two slices of semi-conducting material, usually silicon.

To work, photovoltaic cells need to establish an electric field. Much like a magnetic field, which occurs due to opposite poles, an electric field occurs when opposite charges are separated. To get this field, manufacturers mix silicon with other materials, giving each slice of the sandwich a positive or negative electrical charge.

When these two materials are placed side by side inside a solar cell, the n-type silicon’s spare electrons jump over to fill the gaps in the p-type silicon. This means that the n-type silicon becomes positively charged, and the p-type silicon is negatively charged, creating an electric field across the cell. Because silicon is a semi-conductor, it can act like an insulator, maintaining this imbalance.

As the photons smash the electrons off the silicon atoms, this field drives them along in an orderly manner, providing the electric current to power calculators, satellites and everything in between.

You can find our list of Solar Panels that we carry here at ApolloGateMotor.com. Don’t hesitate to give us a call toll-free at 1-800-803-8093 with any questions you might have.

What is a Solar Controller or charge Regulator?

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A charge controller, charge regulator or battery regulator limits the rate at which electric current is added to or drawn from electric batteries. It prevents overcharging and may protect against overvoltage, which can reduce battery performance or lifespan, and may pose a safety risk. It may also prevent completely draining (“deep discharging”) a battery, or perform controlled discharges, depending on the battery technology, to protect battery life.

Charge controllers are sold to consumers as separate devices, often in conjunction with solar or wind power generators, for uses such as RV, boat, and off-the-gridhome battery storage systems. In solar applications, charge controllers may also be called solar regulators. Some charge controllers / solar regulators have additional features, such as a low voltage disconnect (LDV), a separate circuit which powers down the load when the batteries become overly discharged (some battery chemistries are such that over-discharge can ruin the battery).

A series charge controller or series regulator disables further current flow into batteries when they are full. A shunt charge controller or shunt regulator diverts excess electricity to an auxiliary or “shunt” load, such as an electric water heater, when batteries are full.

Simple charge controllers stop charging a battery when they exceed a set high voltage level, and re-enable charging when battery voltage drops back below that level. Pulse width modulation (PWM) and maximum power point tracker (MPPT) technologies are more electronically sophisticated, adjusting charging rates depending on the battery’s level, to allow charging closer to its maximum capacity.

Apollo’s Latest 1550ETL 1K & 1650 ETL 1K Operators

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For those of you in the market for a swing gate operator, why not take the Apollo 1550 ETL 1K into consideration? Need a dual swing gate operator instead? Consider the Apollo 1650 ETL 1K model for the job!

The ideal solution for special applications, the Apollo 1550 ETL 1K and 1650 ETL 1K swing gate openers can be used in push to open or pull to open mode, increasing the flexibility of having the actuator inside or outside the gate, regardless of hinge left or right or direction of gate swing.

Both operators come with the advanced 1050 circuit board, are solar compatible (optional 12 V battery required) and can be charged by either solar or AC power.

Features include:
• Easy to install
• LCD Display
• Plug-in receiver: up to 1,000 rolling-code transmitters
• 7 day programmable event timer
• Innovative Obstacle Detection System
• Surge Protection
• Programmable Inputs and Outputs
• Advanced Dual Gate Management
• Solar power compatible
• Built in solar regulator
• Corrosion resistant

Specifications:
Power Supply: 12-30VDC
Operating voltage: 12VDC
Current Draw: 10mA (standby)
Open Speed: 14-16 seconds (90 degrees)
Duty Cycle: Varies based on charging capacity
Dimensions – Control Box: 18 x 18 x 8 in
Dimensions – Actuator: 42′ Retracted – 66″ Extended

Have a question? Give us a call toll free at 1-800-803-8093, we’re here to help!

Issue with LiftMaster 312HM receiver and 61LM remotes connected to an Apollo gate opener system

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Jimmy is having some issues with his LiftMaster reciver and remotes connected to an Apollo gate opener system… I have an Apollo 1500 swing gate opener with 635 Control Board. I have the LiftMaster 312HM Receiver with 61LM remotes hooked to it. My remotes stop working. I replaced the receiver with a duplicate. The learn light comes on but remotes will not program. The light stays on 30 seconds. It will not go off when trying to program remote. The setting on remotes were not changed.

Answer: Hi Jimmy, you have been victim of a commonly made mistake, I hate to inform you that your devices are not compatible as your LiftMaster 312HM receiver is a 315Mhz “learning” receiver and your LiftMaster 61 LM transmitter are 390Mhz, Trinary (on, – , off) dip switch programmable. I am not sure how many transmitters you have but you have a choice of replacing your receiver with a LiftMaster 412HM which is identical to the 312HM but is in fact a 390Mhz Billion Code/Dip receiver and will learn your remotes or you may replace your remotes with the newer LiftMaster 371LM transmitters which are 315Mhz (like the 312HM) with the enhanced rolling code Security+ System.

Question: My Apollo 1500 will not auto open when we have a spell of really cold weather

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Question: Jimmy has an interesting problem he needs help solving… I have an Apollo 1500 gate operator and my gate will not auto open when we have a spell of really cold weather. The sensor is buried and it will not work at any depth during cold weather… What can I do?

Answer: Hey Jimmy, per your recent email enquiry, it appears that what it giving you the problem is your exit probe, and unless the temperature has been dropping below -5 degrees Farenheit (which is the tolerance value of the EMX-202S probe) what you have is a defective exit probe. You do have other alternatives to the exit probe which are reliable, but non would be as simple to install.

For a list of the Apollo gate openers we carry, please click here or call 1-800-803-8093.

Issue: I am having an issue with readjusting the open and close limit of the Apollo 7300 ETL Operator

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Question: Hector wanted to know about his Apollo operator… We have a 7300ETL opener and I am having an issue with readjusting the open and close limit. It appears, cold weather somewhat messes up the cycle when opening my gates.

Answer: Hello Hector, the good news is that the model 7300 from Apollo is rarely affected by weather, especially the limits as they are magnetic reed switches with the actual magnets physically bolted to the chain as you can see on page 11 of the installation manual.

http://www.apollogatemotor.com/manuals/apollo-7300etl-manual.pdf

What this means is that neither rain nor shine nor sleet or snow will affect its ability to work or the limits and unless your chain has been cut, they will always stop in the exact same place. However with that being said you may want to check the actual limit reed switches or call a gate maintenance company that can check your charging system and control peripherals.

Second question from Hector: Thanks for your quick and helpful reply. After reading your message, I read something that the installer did not include in the install. That was the magnets for the closed and open limits. I was guessing that these functions were programmed into the system, that apparently is my issue, and the reason why I cannot set the open limit and my gate just wants to go on, plus the gate overworks and then will not come on. Please advise.

Answer: Hello again Hector, please contact me directly and I will be more than happy to give you a quote on the limits and the magnets you need.

Interested in an Apollo gate opener for your property and have some questions? Give us a call toll-free at 1-800-803-8093 and we’ll start the ball rolling for your security project.

Question regarding Apollo operator not closing gate in weather below 45 degrees

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Question: Tom has a small problem… I have an Apollo Gate Opener, with control board (model 635) which was installed a little over a year ago. The controller will not close the gate when the air temperature drops below 45 degrees. Please advise what I need to do to correct this problem?

Answer: It sounds as if one of your peripherals (photo cells, receiver, or other safety device) is acting up in the cold weather. Check that all photocells are clean and clear of moisture in the lens, other than that if you have a loop or any other device you may want to look at or even take a photo of your control board so we can determine which input is holding it open by the LED’s that are lit on your board.

Question regarding the 951N wireless keypad

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Question: Frank would like to know, the 951N wireless keypad uses what frequency? How does the 1550ETL know to listen to it.

Answer: Good afternoon Frank, per your recent inquiry, the 951N keypad works on the 433Mhz frequency and here are the programming instructions for it: http://www.apollogatemotor.com/manuals/950-951_keypad.pdf

Interested in an Apollo product and have a question? Give us a call today at 1-800-803-8093 and we’ll point you in the right direction!

Question regarding the Apollo 635/636 Control Board

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Question: Robert from California has himself a really interesting situation… I had an Apollo 635 / 636 installed in Jan./02. Gate began behaving very erratic. Batteries have been replaced and are fully charged. I am getting a very limited range on both keypad and remote, also when the keypad does function it will open when any number that is pushed.

Answer: Hi Robert, it sounds like you are having issues with your wireless system and not with your operators. May I suggest that before anything else you check the batteries in your keypad, in your remotes and please it is very important that you check the connections (including the antenna connection – COAX cable) on your receiver. Make certain that all connections are tight and free of corrosion or debris. If that does not help I would begin with the receiver.

Question regarding the Apollo 1600 operator and the 636 control board

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Question: Armando has a little bit of a complicated issue: I have the Apollo 636 board and the Apollo 1600 dual door actuators. The doors get stuck open or in the retracted position. If I disconnect the primary actuator it will sometimes close, most other times if I press the led button on board, the gates will close. Do I need a new board or do I have problem with the primary actuator or maybe the free exit sensor?

Answer: Well Armando, I would not rush to buy a new board just yet. Before you do anything, my suggestion is to take out the battery and test the voltage under load. If you do not have a meter to do so, you can always take it to an auto parts store (PepBoys or NAPA) and they will test it for you free of charge. If the battery checks OK under load, all your connections are clean and free of corrosion and your peripherals (photocells, loop detectors and exit probe can be tested by simply disconnecting them from the gate operator) are in good working order… then you will probably need a new board.