Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

alyazalyaz Posts: 114Solar Expert ✭✭✭
I now have four 'charging stations' on the property. One is for the diesel gen battery (12v), and the other three are for vehicles (12v batteries).

Anyway, the most recent charging station has a 40 watt panel connected to a Morningstar SunSaver SS-6L-12V controller. The controller's charging lights have been sequencing green, yellow, red and the charging light is flashing on every five seconds. The manual doesn't provide any trouble shooting advice for this particular situation.

When I check the incoming voltage on the controller PV terminals I get 19.5v. When i check the voltage on the controller battery terminals (no battery connected) I get .129v ??? My other controllers show significantly higher voltage at the controller battery terminals under the same conditions. Does this suggest one of the FET's is gone? Any suggestions?

Thanks...
3.3 kW solar.  3 Midnite Solar controllers; 5 lightening suppressors.  Magnum’s inverter; auto gen start, BMK.  Davidson 2 v FLA’s - 24v bank.  Perkins diesel gen.

Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

    You don't have them connected to the panel with no battery on the output by any chance?
  • alyazalyaz Posts: 114Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

    if i understand your question correctly, yes there was no battery connected when i took the readings. I checked two of the other stations (panels hooked to the controllers but no battery connected) and the two other stations showed incoming pv voltage at about the same voltage as what the battery terminals showed.
    3.3 kW solar.  3 Midnite Solar controllers; 5 lightening suppressors.  Magnum’s inverter; auto gen start, BMK.  Davidson 2 v FLA’s - 24v bank.  Perkins diesel gen.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

    You should not have the panels connected with no battery attached. Without the battery in place it is possible for the panel to subject the controller to Voltage above its maximum limit. You need the battery attached to 'clamp' the panel Voltage down to Vmp from Voc.

    You may have fried a controller.
  • alyazalyaz Posts: 114Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

    Copy, how then would a person properly use these 'charging stations?' When we take out the UTV or 4x4 we have been disconnecting a pigtail from the vehicle battery to the controller battery terminals and when we return we plug the vehicle back in. The other controllers are about two years old and haven't experienced any problems... yet. Would we have to insert a switch of some type into the pv line? Disconnecting the pv each time wouldn't make any sense... thanks.
    3.3 kW solar.  3 Midnite Solar controllers; 5 lightening suppressors.  Magnum’s inverter; auto gen start, BMK.  Davidson 2 v FLA’s - 24v bank.  Perkins diesel gen.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

    Yes; get a disconnect switch on the PV line. Make sure it's rated for both the Voltage and current DC of he panel(s).

    The weird thing about this is that all the controllers could have survived for years the way you were using it, or they could have all burned up on the first day. It's a bit of a gamble just how much Voc a panel puts out and how the controller will react to that input.

    Make sure everyone using knows to connect battery then turn on PV's.
  • RandomJoeRandomJoe Posts: 472Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

    I don't have the SunSaver, but I was surprised to find the SunKeepers (also Morningstar's - 6A and 12A credit-card-sized PWM controllers) specifically tell you to connect the panel without battery as one step in the troubleshooting guide.
  • alyazalyaz Posts: 114Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

    The other thing(s) confusing about this is that nowhere in the manual does it say that a battery must be connected and nowhere does it suggest a disconnect on the pv line.... Sheesh I hate learning at my expense :-)

    Can you suggest a suitable disconnect switch that wouldn't be overkill for these applications?

    thanks...
    3.3 kW solar.  3 Midnite Solar controllers; 5 lightening suppressors.  Magnum’s inverter; auto gen start, BMK.  Davidson 2 v FLA’s - 24v bank.  Perkins diesel gen.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

    But in a lot of other manuals it does say "batteries first". :D
    A PWM controller basically conducts "straight through" meaning if there is no battery load whatever Voltage the PV gets to will be present at the output. Under the right (or wrong) circumstances this could exceed the rating of some internal component and ... fwoof! (Or other cartoon noise of your choice.)

    What are the panels at each station?
  • RandomJoeRandomJoe Posts: 472Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

    I just downloaded the manual. The first note in section "3.4 Wiring" says:
    NOTE: A recommended connection order has been pro- vided for maximum safety during installation.
    The controller will not be damaged regardless of the sequence of connections.

    Also, the 19.5V he's seeing on the input terminals is well below the 30V maximum rating of the controller. So *in theory* it shouldn't be damaged by that.

    One question, you said the lights are sequencing "green-yellow-red", just double checking, could it actually be "red-yellow-green"? That is listed in the manual as "self-test error". I assume at that point the controller would do nothing.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

    With no battery on it the output and input Voltage should be the same: panel Voc.

    Of course it's also possible someone shorted the output, which is not good.

    Regardless of how it happened it sure sounds like that controller has a problem. They aren't exactly "user serviceable" either.

    What a company says and what happens in the real world aren't always compatible either. ;)
  • alyazalyaz Posts: 114Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...
    RandomJoe wrote: »
    I just downloaded the manual. The first note in section "3.4 Wiring" says:



    Also, the 19.5V he's seeing on the input terminals is well below the 30V maximum rating of the controller. So *in theory* it shouldn't be damaged by that.

    One question, you said the lights are sequencing "green-yellow-red", just double checking, could it actually be "red-yellow-green"? That is listed in the manual as "self-test error". I assume at that point the controller would do nothing.

    hmmm... it was sequencing through from left to right, so i think it was green, yellow, red but will recheck it. any idea what a self test error is?
    3.3 kW solar.  3 Midnite Solar controllers; 5 lightening suppressors.  Magnum’s inverter; auto gen start, BMK.  Davidson 2 v FLA’s - 24v bank.  Perkins diesel gen.
  • alyazalyaz Posts: 114Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...
    But in a lot of other manuals it does say "batteries first". :D
    A PWM controller basically conducts "straight through" meaning if there is no battery load whatever Voltage the PV gets to will be present at the output. Under the right (or wrong) circumstances this could exceed the rating of some internal component and ... fwoof! (Or other cartoon noise of your choice.)

    What are the panels at each station?

    The panels are 40 watt panels with a short circuit rating of 2.34a. Two of the controllers are actually ASC; one is rated for 4 amps, one for 12 amps. Two of the others (including the one in question are Morningstars and both are rated at 6 amps.

    Soooo, could a person simply put an inline fuse - slightly less than the controller amp rating - on the pv hot?
    3.3 kW solar.  3 Midnite Solar controllers; 5 lightening suppressors.  Magnum’s inverter; auto gen start, BMK.  Davidson 2 v FLA’s - 24v bank.  Perkins diesel gen.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

    Okay a single 40 Watt panel with an Isc of 2.34 is going to be a standard 17.5 Vmp/22.5 Voc panel. Should not be able to produce over-Voltage even up here in January. Almost any automotive switch should be able to handle that low Voltage & current.

    Adding a fuse would not resolve the problem if it were over-Voltage, as fuses only act on current.

    I am now more inclined to believe that something touched a couple of terminals together that should not have been touched.

    What do you get from the 'bad' controller if you disconnect the panel, then connect a battery only? Any change in the lights?

    And I'm going to have to turn in now or face another trip to the ER. :blush:
  • alyazalyaz Posts: 114Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...
    Okay a single 40 Watt panel with an Isc of 2.34 is going to be a standard 17.5 Vmp/22.5 Voc panel. Should not be able to produce over-Voltage even up here in January. Almost any automotive switch should be able to handle that low Voltage & current.

    Adding a fuse would not resolve the problem if it were over-Voltage, as fuses only act on current.

    I am now more inclined to believe that something touched a couple of terminals together that should not have been touched.

    What do you get from the 'bad' controller if you disconnect the panel, then connect a battery only? Any change in the lights?

    And I'm going to have to turn in now or face another trip to the ER. :blush:

    haha, copy. thanks. will check into your query further tomorrow.
    3.3 kW solar.  3 Midnite Solar controllers; 5 lightening suppressors.  Magnum’s inverter; auto gen start, BMK.  Davidson 2 v FLA’s - 24v bank.  Perkins diesel gen.
  • alyazalyaz Posts: 114Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

    well i disconnected everything and then hooked it back up. this time the controller sequenced through the lights on a self test and all seems to be charging fine now. the only odd thing is that when you disconnect the pigtail to the vehicle battery, the controller shows a green light, indicating that a battery is still hooked up. the manual states that the green light should go out when no battery is connected...

    oh well, i'll just keep an eye on it and check it with a multimeter from time to time...

    thanks for everyone's help.
    3.3 kW solar.  3 Midnite Solar controllers; 5 lightening suppressors.  Magnum’s inverter; auto gen start, BMK.  Davidson 2 v FLA’s - 24v bank.  Perkins diesel gen.
  • alyazalyaz Posts: 114Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

    sorry to further beat up this thread but, i was looking for some 'double pole, single throw' switches to wire into the charging stations. the guy at morningstar thought that turning both the pv and battery would be best. anyway have checked lordco, napa, the source and sci in langley (online) and these switches don't seem that available...

    wouldn't a simple automotive on-off toggle between the pv and the controller (single pole, single throw - on the hot) be sufficient?

    thanks again.
    3.3 kW solar.  3 Midnite Solar controllers; 5 lightening suppressors.  Magnum’s inverter; auto gen start, BMK.  Davidson 2 v FLA’s - 24v bank.  Perkins diesel gen.
  • alyazalyaz Posts: 114Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar Sunsaver 'charging station' question...

    Got several DPST switches from the US, and have hooked one to each of the 'charging stations.' Works great and will hopefully prevent any possible over voltage problems.
    3.3 kW solar.  3 Midnite Solar controllers; 5 lightening suppressors.  Magnum’s inverter; auto gen start, BMK.  Davidson 2 v FLA’s - 24v bank.  Perkins diesel gen.
  • marininnmarininn Posts: 1Registered Users
    edited May 9 #19
    I have similar issue.
    My lights go right to lefy. Red, yellow, green. These 3 that indicate charge.
    I temporarily disconnected 12+ from solar n it fixes for a few mins but goes back to cycle lights.
    Other light goes to solid red.
    Battery are strong n working.
    On camper. Not connected to anything but solar now. I can draw from vehicle but that is on switch.
    What do lights mean?
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