Thoughts on Xantrex/Schneider SW 2012 system

hjohnsonhjohnson Registered Users Posts: 4
Hi Everyone,

While not technically a Solar question, this seems to be a bit of a brain trust when it comes to inverters and related products, so I thought I would ask here.

I work with a charity that operates an off-grid camp in Washington state. Our electrical power comes from a private micro-hydro setup (250kw summer, 40kw winter). Because of this, our power is rather unreliable in the winter. This, of course, has played hell with the IT systems we use to communicate with the outside world, and to run our business.

At this point in time, we have two systems built out of Xantrex SW 2012s that power our two main IT cores, and unfortunately we have been suffering some serious reliability issues. After damage to one of our databases, we're looking at resolving this issue. For the main site, housing our servers, we're probably going to go with a commercial UPS solution that will allow clean shutdown of the servers. For the other site, though, I'm looking at re-using the Xantrex units, after getting the problematic one repaired.

So based on this, I have a couple of questions:

1) Does anyone know what the reliability scenario is in this situation? If one xantrex fails, does it take both out in a parallel situation, or will the other take over?

2) Is there any way to force the systems into generator support mode when you don't have a generator? This would make it a poor man's double-conversion UPS, and avoid the transfer times on the relay. 

3) What kinds of interfaces are available with the combox? I'd love to be able to monitor the system remotely, and potentially integrate it into my system monitoring unit.

Thanks!

Comments

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 7,307 ✭✭✭✭
    3) What kinds of interfaces are available with the combox? I'd love to be able to monitor the system remotely, and potentially integrate it into my system monitoring unit.
    My combox has a web interface, I connect it to a wi-fi router and monitor all sorts of stuff remotely, over the wi-fi.   If there is a combox model that talks with the SW 2012, it likely has the same features.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 3,329 ✭✭✭✭
    The SW 2012 is no longer made or supported. The Conext series of SW's from Schneider is 24v or 48v.

    There are people who will repair but it sounds to me that you need to replace with supported products and then you could do what Mike is talking about in the previous post.

    The Combox will go out to the WEB and the Schneider web portal Insight. Outback has similar.


    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail offgridsolar@sti.net

  • hjohnsonhjohnson Registered Users Posts: 4
    The SW 2012 is no longer made or supported. The Conext series of SW's from Schneider is 24v or 48v.

    There are people who will repair but it sounds to me that you need to replace with supported products and then you could do what Mike is talking about in the previous post.

    The Combox will go out to the WEB and the Schneider web portal Insight. Outback has similar.


    Hrmm that's interesting. I still see the Freedom SW 2012 on sale from a number of vendors, and the repair depot we talked to recently thought they could repair our bad one. Are you thinking of the old Trace 2012 series inverter/chargers? Confusing that they re-used the same model number between two different product lines.

    We're on the far end of a satellite link, and I have an automated monitoring system for a lot of our current hardware on-site (everything from network hardware to the sewer pumps, boilers, hydro plant, etc... ), so I'm trying to figure out if it's possible to poke at it locally to get data and status out of it.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 3,329 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 17 #5
    You said Xantrex SW?  The Freedom gear is or was recently Marine and when I last looked their combox (different model) did not support solar. I do not think you can find a more inexpensive inverter charger with split phase than a conext SW. It does just about everything except sell to the grid. The XW+ is the top end model with 5 year warranty and sell capability, which you don't need :)
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail offgridsolar@sti.net

  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 4,873 ✭✭✭✭
    I am confused , not unusual at times... 
    You have a battery bank that powers the 2012's.  What type of Hydro do you have DC? is that 40kW or kWhr per day,  month or?
    Do you have to have another 'aged' all in one setup or can you use more modern Charge controllers as suggested, as well as having some standby Inverters to use as replacements when you have down time/problems... 
    Yes, it sounds like you also need a UPS setup for soft shutdowns.. 
    Have you thought about 24 or 48 Volt systems?    Your total consumption seems to warrant that...
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge, Hughes1100 Sat Modem
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • hjohnsonhjohnson Registered Users Posts: 4
    I am confused , not unusual at times... 
    You have a battery bank that powers the 2012's.  What type of Hydro do you have DC? is that 40kW or kWhr per day,  month or?
    Do you have to have another 'aged' all in one setup or can you use more modern Charge controllers as suggested, as well as having some standby Inverters to use as replacements when you have down time/problems... 
    Yes, it sounds like you also need a UPS setup for soft shutdowns.. 
    Have you thought about 24 or 48 Volt systems?    Your total consumption seems to warrant that...
    The hydro system is mostly incidental. We have our own private run-of-the-river micro-hydro setup that depending on flow conditions generates between 40kW (winter) and 250kW summer. (It's producing 2400VAC, 3 phase, we're running a municipal style distribution grid). The issue is that our site has about 80 year 'round residents, so that 40 kilowatts doesn't go very far in the winter, and power outages can be a daily occurrence.

    Anyhow, because of that, our critical communications and IT infrastructure is on a volunteer designed/built home-brew UPS based on the Freedom SW 2012. The system was designed to give us about 5 hours of running time before 50% discharge, but the closest we ever come to that long of an outage is when things have gone really wrong (wildfire evacuation, or the hydro intake structure freezing up). We have two of these systems, and one of them has been giving us problems.

    Because of the reliability issues (and slow relay switching times) on one of our units, we're replacing it with an off-the-shelf UPS solution, so that part is solved. What I'm wondering about is if we get the failing unit repaired, would running it using parallel stacking with its twin improve reliability, or hurt it. IE if one member of the parallel set throws an error and shuts down (say a welded relay error), does that take the other unit with it, or will the other keep supplying power.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 4,873 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 18 #8
    Well that is a bit  different from what I garnered from your first post...!

    1..  You will need to know how many kWhr's of power is needed, not the instantaneous kW that the turbine can create.  This is probably why you old home-brew  UPS failed... it was undersized...  IMHO you need to do a whole redesign and have an industrial like setup that would carry you for several days in a SHTF catastrophe. 

    2.  You didn't mention the batteries, they should probably be 2v cells and AGM type with a minimum 12 hour to 50% capacity, like the Telcom's use.... however that should probably not feed all demands just the critical ones... You will need to create Critical circuits and non-essential circuits .

    3. I cant see , from your description, how you can manage to operate without a backup generator also.  That way you have a redundant backup to the UPS, it doesn't need to run more than say , 1 hr once a month to ensure it starts when needed...

    Lots more once the basics get clarified....

    ADD:  the (paraphrased) first rule of solar design is..... once you have some solar power , you always need/want  MORE tomorrow, repeat again.......
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge, Hughes1100 Sat Modem
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 3,329 ✭✭✭✭
    On a Trace SW,  the Xantrex SW, and the Xantrex SW+ the stacking cable will communicate the failure with the other inverter charger and depending on the type of failure it can shut the AC off.  If you get a welded relay failure it is lights out. You could remove the stacking cable and use the good inverter. You need spares in my opinion as welded relays are an indication that something is stressing the equipment. The Freedom series is not really made/designed for what you are doing here. They are not designed to be serviced past the 1 year warranty.

    The Freedom series you have, I doubt they were designed for stacking, but there is a web page and you should be able to get the support phone number and call.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail offgridsolar@sti.net

  • hjohnsonhjohnson Registered Users Posts: 4
    Well that is a bit  different from what I garnered from your first post...!

    1..  You will need to know how many kWhr's of power is needed, not the instantaneous kW that the turbine can create.  This is probably why you old home-brew  UPS failed... it was undersized...  IMHO you need to do a whole redesign and have an industrial like setup that would carry you for several days in a SHTF catastrophe.

    2.  You didn't mention the batteries, they should probably be 2v cells and AGM type with a minimum 12 hour to 50% capacity, like the Telcom's use.... however that should probably not feed all demands just the critical ones... You will need to create Critical circuits and non-essential circuits .

    3. I cant see , from your description, how you can manage to operate without a backup generator also.  That way you have a redundant backup to the UPS, it doesn't need to run more than say , 1 hr once a month to ensure it starts when needed...

    Lots more once the basics get clarified....

    ADD:  the (paraphrased) first rule of solar design is..... once you have some solar power , you always need/want  MORE tomorrow, repeat again.......
    1. For most of the year, the hydro plant is running full bore. Whatever energy isn't consumed by human users and support equipment is plowed into our hot water heating boilers and/or domestic hot water tanks. We have a sophisticated load shedding system that can individually control all the heating elements across the campus. This is why we're down to only a power outage every few days, vs multiple outages a day. The UPS unit itself is only driving a 600W load (Satellite transmitter, which is about 250W, two servers, a large router, and a couple of switches). If we're in a real SHTF situation, we have a couple of diesel generators that we can fire up, and there's also a transfer switch feed that we can use to connect the SW2012 to a 3000W Honda generator.

    2. The batteries are about 1200AHr of 2V AGM cells. It's about 5 hours to 50% discharge on the batteries at the normal load, and when our load shedding hits in, shut down some non-essential servers to reduce the load. Most of our outages are only 30 to 40 minutes long (long enough for someone to get out to the power plant and restart it).

    3. For various non-technical reasons, they try to avoid running on the diesels as much as possible. Our current ones are museum pieces (1943 Caterpillar diesels, with pony engines, oh my!), so starting them is a pain in the butt, and physically dangerous. Also, due to the isolated location and the resulting transportation costs, the landed cost for off-road diesel for us is on the order of $7/gallon. Most of the time it's a pretty simple matter to restart the hydro plant, it only gets dicey during prolonged cold snaps. The diesel is being replaced next year with a modern unit that will be push-button start, and will be regularly exercised. Finally from a philosophical perspective, the folks tend to be ok with running a while with the power out, while any problems are worked. It's tough to convince them to burn diesel for a couple of conveniences.

    Here is a presentation on our electrical system:

    http://cialab.ee.washington.edu/nwess/2014/speakers/8_NWESS%202014_Holden%20Village_Rev_1_Shultz.pdf

    Since that presentation was given, we've completed the work of undergrounding our entire electrical grid and switching to pad-mount transformers and the like. The limitation we still have is the reliability thing during low flow times.
Sign In or Register to comment.