arc fault on inverter

sgd2zsgd2z Registered Users Posts: 14
Every few weeks my inverter (Power-One Aurora PVI 6000) stops with an arc fault. I reset it (press esc.) and it is back to normal for a few weeks. Anyone familiar with the inverter know how I can get the thing to reset itself after one of these? TIA

Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: arc fault on inverter

    I doubt it's meant to reset itself after an arc fault trip.
    You should be investigating why it's tripping. An arc fault indicates loose wiring somewhere, or else a defective arc fault detection circuit. It is not normal for it to trip any more than it's normal for over-current or ground fault to trip. In any of these cases there is either a problem with wiring/use or a problem with the protective device.

    Mind you, our experiences here with arc fault breakers (now required for bedroom circuits) show they tend to trip under ordinary use such as turning on the vacuum cleaner.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,872 admin
    Re: arc fault on inverter

    Is anything going on in your home that might trip the Arc Fault breaker (running a vacuum cleaner, blender, power saws, etc. with brushed universal motors)?

    Have you seen any unexplained output drop from your inverter (like an open solar panel string)?

    Look closely at your panels and wiring--Any browning/black spots under the panel glass (use binoculars if you cannot get close to the panel)?

    Otherwise, I would try to get somebody out there under they system warranty and get them to inspect the system.

    Arc Fault breakers are electronics and can fail (or possibly have an upgrade to change their sensitivity).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • ThomThom Solar Expert Posts: 169 ✭✭✭
    Re: arc fault on inverter

    Ha ha arc fault . They can b a pain in the ---- !

    Thom
    Off grid since 1984. 430w of panel, 300w suresine , 4 gc batteries 12v system, Rogue mpt3024 charge controller , air breeze windmill, Mikita 2400w generator
  • sgd2zsgd2z Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: arc fault on inverter

    thanks for the input. I had our installer check on it and it seems that there was batch of powerone inverters with a faulty arc sensor and I'm one of the recipients of those. Powerone is sending a new arc fault board. Had another arc fault today. They happen generally during peak hours while the system is clipping and nobody is at home - as soon as I turned it on after the arc fault, I showed both strings at >3kW.
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713
    Re: arc fault on inverter

    PowerOne inverters are sensitive to arc faults if you are using them in "parallel" mode. They have dual DC inputs, but you can tie the inputs together if your strings are the same size and "parallel" them. There is a little settings switch inside to select this mode. However they have found that in this mode, you have to not only jumper the two inputs together (they give you jumper wires for this purpose) at the DC inputs, but also need to jumper them together at the terminals in the upper compartment. The disconnect switch sits in between these two points and as such can inject arcing into the power flow which the arc-fault detector is picking up on.
  • sgd2zsgd2z Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: arc fault on inverter
    solarix wrote: »
    PowerOne inverters are sensitive to arc faults if you are using them in "parallel" mode. They have dual DC inputs, but you can tie the inputs together if your strings are the same size and "parallel" them. There is a little settings switch inside to select this mode. However they have found that in this mode, you have to not only jumper the two inputs together (they give you jumper wires for this purpose) at the DC inputs, but also need to jumper them together at the terminals in the upper compartment. The disconnect switch sits in between these two points and as such can inject arcing into the power flow which the arc-fault detector is picking up on.

    Thanks, we got our first arc fault again after replacing the arc fault board. I've forwarded this on to our installer. Hopefully this is it.
  • tc0nntc0nn Registered Users Posts: 1
    Re: arc fault on inverter

    I have a 6.2 and a 4kW Aurora tied in parallel from a 35 panel array (250w per). For the second time in three weeks I've lost my 4kW inverter due to arc faults. Seems like a common problem.
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713
    Re: arc fault on inverter

    PowerOne is having problems with their arc-fault circuit. We've had them out multiple times on several systems. I think they are up to version 4 on their upgrade fix. Make sure your connections are all good though.
  • sgd2zsgd2z Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: arc fault on inverter
    solarix wrote: »
    PowerOne is having problems with their arc-fault circuit. We've had them out multiple times on several systems. I think they are up to version 4 on their upgrade fix. Make sure your connections are all good though.

    Our installer has also been out several times and this last time he was fairly confident that the changes he made would fix it. But lo and behold, we had another arc fault yesterday. Beautiful, not too hot sunny day. We generally seem to have arc faults only on perfect days for solar production.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,872 admin
    Re: arc fault on inverter

    Trying to add safety to solar arrays--This has been a cutting edge (bleeding edge?) issue for the solar/code writing industry for a decade or more...

    The solutions, so far, seem to provided limited (if any) safety improvements and can affect reliability and even negatively impact safety (the fuse/breaker type ground fault "solution")--So far.

    Right now, it is running a close race between necessary evil and get my cutters out to yank the darn thing so I can wire around it.

    Just to remind folks what "getting it wrong" looks like:

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?4524-Panel-Fire-Question

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713
    Re: arc fault on inverter

    I've suspended installing any more PowerOne inverters until they resolve this issue. (Are you listening PowerOne) This is the kind of problem that can kill a product's reputation. Now that SMA has a dual mppt product, the PowerOne Aurora inverters have lost their advantage. Another instance of a safety feature causing more trouble than its worth.
  • sgd2zsgd2z Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: arc fault on inverter

    I heard from my installer that PowerOne has a new arc fault module which they claim has fixed the issue but will take a few weeks to get because of "demand". I'll keep the forum posted in a month or two if the problem is really solved. Though we might not have cool sunny days until later in the year so it is possible that I wont know until fall.
  • sgd2zsgd2z Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: arc fault on inverter

    So the new arc fault module has been installed and we had a couple of fairly cool sunny days and the inverter hasn't shut off. Maybe it is fixed. If it does arc fault again, I'll keep the forum posted.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,872 admin
    Re: arc fault on inverter

    Good Luck!

    These "high tech" fault detection devices can be a pain.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • petergarpetergar Registered Users Posts: 1
    Re: arc fault on inverter

    I have the same problems with my 2 Powerone Inverters. Today Sunpower said they can get 2 Powerone Non-AFCI inverters or go with 2 SMA 3000TL's. I'm waiting for my installers to respond with their opinion.
  • mountainstoragemountainstorage Registered Users Posts: 4
    edited December 6 #17
    We have a Sunpower System, The inverter is issuing an error message and is not producing. The message originally said update complete and now it says Electr Arc detected, the section message is check DC converter and the red warning light is on.  I thought it may be a firmware update but Sun Power said there were no recent firmware updates. Sunpower said wait 24 hours to see if it starts producing and if not call a dealer and pay for a service call . The system is less than two years old. Anyone have a similar problem with a Sunpower System? 
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,872 admin
    If this is an "arc fault" (vs a ground fault)--This is (typically) a "receiver" that is looking for electrical/radio waves generated by electric arcs (opening connect in solar array wiring, possible insulation short to ground). It some cases, "universal" brushed motors (like a vacuum cleaner or electric drill) can generate enough "noise" to trip an arc fault breaker (used in main panels).

    Whether or not this could have happen with your GT inverter--I do not know. But, it would sound like a service call / depot repair may be the only solution (assuming your solar array electrical connections are good--Each string has full voltage and passes current).

    If you have two (or more) parallel strings, disconnect the main strings at the combiner, and try one string at a time and see if you can get the GT inverter working. If you can narrow it down to one string that is "arc faulting", then pulling apart and inspecting connections and look for wires that pull out of crimps, signs of heat (blackened plastics, over temp contacts, charred insulation, etc.).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
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