Failure of mc4 connectors

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Comments

  • mike_smike_s Registered Users Posts: 39 ✭✭
    softdown said:
    MC4 copies? I have not seen anything but MC4 connectors used for the past 1/2 dozen years or more.
    Search for MC4 on eBay and Amazon. There are lots of obvious copies. Here's one where it's extremely easy to see. Heck, click between the "1 pair" and "5 pair" choices and you'll see they're selling two completely different MC4 copies (neither is a real MC4).
  • mcgivormcgivor Registered Users Posts: 1,204 ✭✭✭✭
    Copies are probably more common than the genuine article, which promoted this discussion in the first place, the potential problems of mismatched components. I'm sure the panel manufacturers would use this to their advantage regarding a warranty claim, but personally in my location, a warranty is a bumper sticker, when they can't see it, its expired, thankfully in the western world one has specific rights to protect the consumer, in this case don't cut off the connectors before perusing a warranty claim, in my case cut them off and find a better solution, because you're on your own anyways.  
      1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider 150 60 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 8×T105 GC 24V nominal 

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 1,498 ✭✭✭✭
    mike_s said:
    softdown said:
    MC4 copies? I have not seen anything but MC4 connectors used for the past 1/2 dozen years or more.
    Search for MC4 on eBay and Amazon. There are lots of obvious copies. Here's one where it's extremely easy to see. Heck, click between the "1 pair" and "5 pair" choices and you'll see they're selling two completely different MC4 copies (neither is a real MC4).
    Interesting history on the origin of the MC4 name (Multi-Contact 4mm). I strongly suspect that the crimps made by the installer will determine how well most of the connectors hold up.

    I've worked with many contractors that liked to blame problems on the manufacturer. I'll bet most of us will agree that it is *usually* the contractor.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 150 watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,201 ✭✭✭✭
    softdown said:
    MC4 copies? I have not seen anything but MC4 connectors used for the past 1/2 dozen years or more.
    Most of what you would buy cheaply, are imported from China and are copies. I've even seen ones designed for soldering!

    That said, I've bough the cheap ones and never had a problem... Even checked out the first bunch and they seemed to have a water tight seal...

    I did think the MC/Staubi had licensed the design to others... might just be bad recall from my faulty mind...lol.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • mcgivormcgivor Registered Users Posts: 1,204 ✭✭✭✭
    edited July 30 #36
    This is one of the failed connectors, found 3 with the same problem, all female notice even the gland nut is cracked, nothing was forced, just plugged together, no major resistance, about 3 years old.
      1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider 150 60 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 8×T105 GC 24V nominal 

  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 640 ✭✭✭✭
    Whoa!  If that's not physical damage It's likely whatever they used for the body isn't up to being in the elements.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,768 admin
    Yea, it looks like bad quality or wrong plastic. I searched for what type connector Schutten used, and I cannot find anything that says that they use MC4 connectors, just "Locking connector working compatible worldwide"

    It does not look like MC4, but perhaps the fragments in your photo have obscured the actual MC4 profile.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MC4_connector

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mcgivormcgivor Registered Users Posts: 1,204 ✭✭✭✭
    The connectors  were not from the Schutten panels themselves but rather the aftermarket pigtails, used to marry the panels into the system, connected to the panels, all the Schutten connectors are intact, just the aftermarket female connectors failed.
      1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider 150 60 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 8×T105 GC 24V nominal 

  • SolraySolray Registered Users Posts: 246 ✭✭
    The plastic looks too glossy. Probably too hard and brittle. Whether that is how it was made or if it is UV damage is the question. Do you have any spares that were stored out of the light? If so, compare the shear strength and flexibility of each.
  • mcgivormcgivor Registered Users Posts: 1,204 ✭✭✭✭
    All the female pigtail connectors are either broken or have hairline cracks, today I noticed the current acting erratic, so went out to investigate, the last one still in circuit was hot, there was a measured 1.5A loss across it, probably more intermittently, will be removed tomorrow morning. The name on the connector is How Full Star, screams out Chinese, avoid using these fake, copy, high resistance pieces of garbage at all cost.
      1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider 150 60 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 8×T105 GC 24V nominal 

  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 1,428 ✭✭✭✭
    Probably made at night off the books at the NumberOneBestHowFullStar plastic toy factory >:)
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 640 ✭✭✭✭
    How many of these pigtails are there?. Really isn't a big deal to cut out and crimp new ones provided you have access.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • SolraySolray Registered Users Posts: 246 ✭✭
    > @Estragon said:
    > Probably made at night off the books at the NumberOneBestHowFullStar plastic toy factory >:)

    Lol. Yep probably right next to the line producing i Phones.
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,330 ✭✭✭✭
    OK so failed MC4 seem to be the norm even using proper tool to disconnect.  The removal of the panels here to fix the roof required the replacement of several MC4 connectors (like 6-8 out of 72), one of which was visually OK but was not water tight and caused ground fault at the inverters. That one took some doing to find it, the installers were about ready to start at the end of the string and just replace them all till they found the bad one.

    If working on your array be aware of the possibility of replacement MC4 connectors.
  • SolraySolray Registered Users Posts: 246 ✭✭
    Does anyone put shrink tube over their connectors? It might be a good idea, prevent UV damage and help with water intrusion.
    I have never seen one fail myself in 5 or 6 years, but it sounds like there are a lot of poor quality ones floating around out there.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,201 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 3 #47
    Solray said:
    Does anyone put shrink tube over their connectors? It might be a good idea, prevent UV damage and help with water intrusion.
    I have never seen one fail myself in 5 or 6 years, but it sounds like there are a lot of poor quality ones floating around out there.
    I think most MC4 connectors are out of the sun, behind panels...

    ...at least mine are, not sure when you would have a design where they would be in direct sunlight. Under panels also give some protection from rain, I intentionally clip mine to the side of the panel under the rim. Just made sense when I was wiring them.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • mcgivormcgivor Registered Users Posts: 1,204 ✭✭✭✭
    The solution to the low grade connectors was to inline  splice with tinned copper barrel compression fittings, wrapped with 3M self vulcanizing rubber splicing tape, followed by 3M Temflex insulation tape, production wise, its the highest it's ever been, 1340W from the 1500W array. So in hindsight the bogus MC4 connectors were probably wasting energy due due to high resistance, was lucky to see 1000W, prior to their elimination.
      1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider 150 60 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 8×T105 GC 24V nominal 

  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 1,428 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 3 #49
    > @Photowhit said:
    >
    > I think most MC4 connectors are out of the sun, behind panels...
    >
    > ...at least mine are, not sure when you would have a design where they would be in direct sunlight. Under panels also give some protection from rain, I intentionally clip mine to the side of the panel under the rim. Just made sense when I was wiring them.

    Mine end up getting some morning sun in summer. The array is a bit west of south because of a bit of morning shade and no evening shade, and they're a ~65° angle to shed winter snow. The result is some morning sun hits the back of the panels.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
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