possible starter system

13

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,814 admin
    Re: possible starter system

    It appears either will work (Voc=36.9 volts)... The controller has (if I recall correctly) a 150 VDC maximum input voltage. You can go to the MorningStar site and use their string sizing tool to confirm (based on your record low temperature--I used 0F and 90F for high temp):

    http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/strings/calc.php

    A quick check everything looks OK.



    M
    O
    D
    U
    L
    E
    S


    1
    2
    3


    1
    235
    470
    705


    2
    470
    940
    1410


    3
    705
    1410
    2115




    Note: There are both a TS 60 amp PWM controller and a TS MPPT 60 amp charge controller... For these panels, you must use the TS MPPT 60 amp controller.

    wind-sun_2202_23068365Morningstar TriStar 60 amp MPPT solar charge controller
    Price: $500.00

    You can use either 3 in parallel for 3 in series... If you choose the 3 in series, you can use much smaller diameter copper wire and/or send the power from the array to the charge controller over much longer distances with reasonable voltage drop/loses.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    Awesome. Thanks so much! That is the controller I am getting.
    No internet up there, so I'll report in Monday.
    Thanks again.
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    So I started assembling things yesterday and ran into a few snags. First is where can I locate my Magnum MS2012 inverter? It is big ( 13 X 14 inches) and needs ventilation and cannot be mounted to wood. That pretty much rules out anywhere in the trailer. The inverter and the charge controller should be outside the trailer but need to be weather proof and critter proof. The only thing I can come up with is maybe one of these steel utility sheds, like 6 X 8 feet. Then my neighbor suggested I utilize my 40 foot container. On the roof would be a great place to mount the panels, and I would have plenty of metal walls for attaching the inverter and such.

    My big question is; how far away can I have all this stuff? My container is 125 feet from the trailer. If I have the array, the inverter, the charge controller, the batteries, and the DC disconnect box all in or on the container, can I run a line 125 feet to power the trailer?

    It would make things much more secure, plus I could have outlets and lights for the container/workshop/garage.

    Is it a workable plan? How big of wire would I need to run to the trailer?
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    The next question, and related to the previous one about distance, is;
    Which power is coming from the setup at the container down to the trailer?
    Mostly what I am trying to accomplish is to get 110 AC for my TV, phone charger, minor appliances, laptop, etc.
    I need12 volt to run the fridge, the furnace, and the water pump, but it's the lack of 110 that started this whole project. Anytime I want to charge my iPad, or watch TV, or use my laptop, I have to fire up a generator. Will I need to run two sets of lines? One for 110 and another for 12?
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    Well the Magnum output is 240 VAC isn't it? Pretty easy to run that a long distance without difficulty. What is it again? 4kW?
    240 Volts @ 18 Amps peak? 10 AWG minimum should handle that over 125 feet.

    Don't rely on this; I'm not doing so well following what's going today. :blush:
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    See I didn't read that right.

    Magnum 2012: 120 VAC @ 18 Amps

    That's going to require at least 8 AWG to keep the V-drop below 3%

    This too may not be right.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    coming into this late. i don't understand why you are electing to mount the cc and inverter outside. if you have wood there then just put a metal plate onto the wood and make provisions to mount them to the metal plate. outside is not a good place for electronics unless specifically made to go outside. hopefully this can shorten some of your wiring requirements as i did not read very far back. also i don't know if this is grid tied or off grid, but if using another ac source to run into the inverter, this ac source must power not only the loads, but also the charger.
  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    I could empty the spare tire out of the storage area and that would give me plenty of room, especially for the inverter, but I'm not sure about the CC. The inverter shows installation diagrams with it being vertical or horizontal, so no problem. The Morningstar TS MPPT 60 only shows a vertical installation. It is 11 inches tall and calls for 6 inches above and 6 inches below, for a minimum space of 23 inches. My storage space is only 15 inches tall, which doesn't satisfy the minimum 6 inches above or below, let alone both.

    Does anyone know if the Morningstar can be installed horizontally? My space is 15 for height, 36 for width, and 48 for depth. Seems like enough space except for that vertical installation.

    And I am off grid.
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    ok that could be a problem and i'm not sure if you bought it already or not. i believe their reasoning for the clearances is because there isn't a fan on the tristar, only an extra large heatsink and in order to insure good air circulation one has to give it some clearance. too bad there isn't an option to have a fan on it and automatically kick on if above a set temp. there are other mppt ccs out there that have fans so no real large area of clearance needed and some will be capable of more current too. some may be a bit higher in costs though. all of the other choices have better dimensions.
  • Jim45DJim45D Solar Expert Posts: 102 ✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    If you already have the 60 amp cc mount it inside, along with the inverter in your trailer. It must be (the cc) in a vertical position. It's important that it be kept as close to the batteries as possible~ just not in the same compartment. For ventilation.....go to ebay, and purchase a 12 vlt. muffin fan. Install the fan on a switch and have it fanning the cc heatsink during the day. I just bought three of them at five bucks apiece.
  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    There's a good idea. Thanks.
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    So last weekend we FINALLY got the system installed on the trailer. A friend of mine is a Master electrician, although he is a rookie with solar. He helped me install the whole system. With the Magnum inverter I got a free remote monitor. I also wanted to hook up the Trimetric meter I bought a couple months ago, but he (the electrician) insisted it was just a duplication and waste of time. Since his labor was free, I didn't want to irritate him. But now when I go up this weekend, I would like to add in the Trimetric remote.

    Two questions;
    1) Does it give me additional valuable info?

    2) and when I hook it up, the diagram shows one wire (red) going to the battery; then one wire going to one side of the shunt; and two wires going to the other side of the shunt. I have two black wires and one white. Do the two black go to one side and the white to the other side? The installation picture is not clear on that.
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    The Trimetric will give you information you don't get elsewhere. It will actually watch the current going in and out of the battery and give you fairly accurate measure of the battery's actual state of charge at any moment.

    Okay, someone who has installed one of the latest Trimterics tell him where the wires go, please. No good my guessing that the black wires go either side of the shunt and the white is a ground.
  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    Thanks. I got it hooked and it's working fine. More than I can say for the rest of the system. I'm not getting any power through my CC. I'm using the generator to charge my batteries until I figure it out. When I put my volt meter on the solar leads, I'm reading negative .8 volts. I'll go back up to the roof and start unhooking panels and test each one.
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,814 admin
    Re: possible starter system

    Double check the polarity of the leads from the array to the charge controller... It may be possible that you have +/- reversed somewhere (especially if you have paralleled connections somewhere).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • ywhicywhic Solar Expert Posts: 621 ✭✭
    Re: possible starter system
    BoFuller wrote: »
    Thanks. I got it hooked and it's working fine. More than I can say for the rest of the system. I'm not getting any power through my CC. I'm using the generator to charge my batteries until I figure it out. When I put my volt meter on the solar leads, I'm reading negative .8 volts. I'll go back up to the roof and start unhooking panels and test each one.

    Hoping your checking the leads with the sun out and shining..

    You know you have to have the batteries connected 1st to the charge controller.. then connect the panels to it..

    The panels do not power the charge controller.. the batterty bank does..

    If you know all this, than disregard the above.. I just remember you saying someone else installed the system..

    I agree with BB some times the panel wiring goes afoul.. I've read even where some cheaper panels had the wire leads backwards on the backs of the panels..
  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system
    BB. wrote: »
    Double check the polarity of the leads from the array to the charge controller... It may be possible that you have +/- reversed somewhere (especially if you have paralleled connections somewhere).

    -Bill
    That was it! I just switched the leads and the reading went from negative .8V to positive 60V. And that is with the sun setting and no direct sunlight on the panels. I can't wait to see how it does in the morning.
    Thanks!
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,814 admin
    Re: possible starter system

    Glad you found it quickly...

    Be very careful with polarity when connecting electronic devices. Many times reversing the connection will cause the Transistors/FETs/etc. to conduct current like a diode across a battery or solar array--Possibly damaging the devices (over heating, popping a fuse on the battery bank, etc.). While digital devices are surprisingly rugged--They can be weakened and/or damaged if not connected properly or exposed to static electricity.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    Now that I have had the system working for a few days (though I'm still working on the partial charging problem), another item has come up that I'm not too happy about. I started making a list of what things use how much power, like water pump 3.8 amps, outside light 1.6 amps, television and DVD total 7.6 amps. But the worst offender is the inverter at 25.2 amps. Holy Cow that's a lot of juice. Watching a movie on DVD with a light on registered 37 amps. By the time the movie was over my meter said my battery capacity dropped from 97% down to 77%. Is that normal? Somehow I thought they were a lot less.
    When I want to use 120V power, 60 to 90% of the usage is just for inverting. The old 1K generator doesn't sound so bad after all.
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,814 admin
    Re: possible starter system

    Remember that power is:
    • Power = Volts * Amps

    And that you are typing about two (if I understand correctly) voltages here--12 VDC and 120 VAC. The 120 watt load will take 10 amps @ 12 volts, but only ~1 amp at 120 VAC... So keep track of which current at what voltage you are logging.

    So 37 amps of 12 volts:
    • 37 amps * 12 volts * 0.85 (est. inverter eff.) = 377.4 watts of 120 VAC power usage.
    • 37 amps * 12 volts = 444 Watts from 12 volt battery bank

    That is a bit on the high side, depending on the actual TV and DVD player draw.

    Get a Kill-a-Watt meter (or similar) and measure the AC loads of your devices... And look around for more efficient versions and/or for devices designed for batter power (laptop+dvd drive; portable DVD player with screen, some of the newer LCD tvs using a portable dvd player, etc.)... You can probably cut the power usage down to 100 Watts, or even down to 20-30 Watts if you look around/change your expectations a bit (smaller screen, etc.).

    Many of the portable devices even come with 12 VDC adapters--I am not always a fan of 12 VDC lighter adapters--But take your measurements and see which is most efficient (and, perhaps disconnect 12 VDC car adapters when "equalizing" your battery bank).

    Also, duty cycle is important too... Your entertainment system is taking ~444 watts for 2 hours, vs a few minutes a day for running your pump. Changing from a ~20 watt (1.6 amp) outside filament bulb to an LED that draws around 1-5 watts for "acceptable" outside lighting will save power too...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    Bill,
    Yes I know I can cut some usage. I am planning on LED bulbs for the lights. The TV & DVD only come to 7.6 amps and I'm willing to use that much for the bigger screen (31 inch), but I just didn't expect the inverter to draw so much by itself. Even if I only was charging my phone, which only draws .3 amps, it would take 25.5 (25.2 for inverter and .3 for phone) amps to do it. That just doesn't seem right. Do all inverters draw that much?
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    On a different note, the change of leads to CC was great. At 7:00 this morning the Trimetric was already up to positive .6 amps from a negative 1.4 last night. And right now (7:56), it is up to 17.4 amps! Woo Hoo!
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,814 admin
    Re: possible starter system

    Glad to hear that everything is working fine. It is a good feeling when everything comes together.

    You still are confusing me a bit with the currents... Some appear to be at 12 VDC and others at 120 VAC. It makes a 10x difference in power (Watts) depending on which is which.

    The inverter, depending on size, should only draw around 0.5 to 2 amps at 12 volts just turned on with no other loads.

    If you are drawing 25 amps of 12 VDC, is your converter still being powered by the inverter? That is 300-400 watts of power--A lot of power to "misplace" on a small solar power system.

    Double check your AC wiring and loads. Disconnect all AC loads, measure the "idle" current, then add one device/circuit at a time and log the difference for each. Something does not sound correct (a 31" TV may still draw around 100-160 watts--Adjusting the brightness down can save significant power.

    -Bill

    PS: Also double check the Trimetric Shunt settings... Many meters include the option to program for different size shunts (millivolts per amp). There is a small possibility you have the wrong shunt programmed into the Trimetric.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    Last evening I had everything turned off and/or unplugged. My Trimetric meter said I was using 1.4 amps, presumably for the CO2 detector. Then I turned on a light (12V) and the Trimetric said I was using 3.0 amps. I figure the light was 1.6 amps and add in the phantom base of 1.4 and you get 3.0. Correct?
    I did this with various items (pump, lights, exhaust fan) and got their usage.
    Then with everything off, I pushed the Inverter On switch on the ME-RC50 remote, and my Trimetric jumped to 25.2 amps. With nothing on. Then I turned on the TV and DVD and it jumped to 34.2, so I figure the TV & DVD take 7 amps plus the inverter of 25.2 to give me my 34.2. Correct?
    I checked the connections on the shunt. It is a 500A 50mv shunt.
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,814 admin
    Re: possible starter system

    Everything but the inverter at 25.2 amps seems OK... The inverter has something wrong or there is an AC load you don't know about.

    25.2 amps * 12 volts = 302 watts... That is a lot of heat if the inverter itself is dissipating it (should get pretty hot/lots of warm air). If not, then there is something else pulling/using AC power. That is 10-20x the amount of power it should pull with no loads.

    Another possibility--Is there another DC load in parallel with the DC input to the inverter pulling power?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mikeomikeo Solar Expert Posts: 386 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system
    Then with everything off, I pushed the Inverter On switch on the ME-RC50 remote, and my Trimetric jumped to 25.2 amps.
    I don't think there is any way the Magnum MS2012 is drawing that much current. Something else is connected that is drawing over 300 watts. Recheck all your wiring. Disconnect the Magnum AC line and try the test again.
  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    I'm equalizing now, so I'll try a few things later.
    One place I may have a problem: the electrician ran the 120V line from the Magnum inverter to the little inverter that came in the trailer. Is that okay? Is that bad? Or does it matter?
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system
    BoFuller wrote: »
    I'm equalizing now, so I'll try a few things later.
    One place I may have a problem: the electrician ran the 120V line from the Magnum inverter to the little inverter that came in the trailer. Is that okay? Is that bad? Or does it matter?

    Disconnect it and see what happens.

    Sounds a lot like the recent thread about inverters and converters being used together. (Inverter powers converter, converter tries to recharge batteries, batteries run inverter: current goes 'round and 'round losing lots of power, draining batteries, and accomplishing nothing.)
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,814 admin
    Re: possible starter system

    Connecting the AC outputs of two AC inverters together--Bad news. Many things can happen (waste power, let out magic smoke, etc.).

    Disconnect the smaller inverter (AC and DC) and see what happens.

    If you want to still use the smaller inverter, you have to either keep the AC outputs separate or use a "transfer switch" so that their two AC outputs are never connected together. And use a separate DC switch on each inverter input so you can turn each on as needed (and not waste power).

    Is the smaller inverter "toast"--Don't know, but would not be surprised.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: possible starter system

    I need to do some investigating. My neighbor doesn't think I have two inverters. He thinks the unit already in the trailer is just a step-down transformer to provide 12 volt from the shoreline.
    There are different possible options for hooking up my system in the RV trailer.

    Currently I have the old leads that went to the trailer batteries (for 12 volt), connected to the 250 amp breaker and the shunt, so they are getting power straight from the new batteries.

    One guy said I should just disconnect them and continue to use the transformer/converter that came in the trailer. So I would have 12 volt coming from the batteries, have my new inverter switch it to 120V, send that 120V to the transformer/inverter and have it continue to provide the 12 volt power. That would mean that the new inverter would be running 24/7 and I would have a little loss on efficiency.

    Or I could leave the 12 volt lines connected to the new batteries and run the 120 line to the 120 fuse box and bypass the original transformer/inverter altogether.

    If I run everything through the new inverter then my Magnum Remote would be giving me readings on all the power. If I do it the other way, I still should be monitoring the power with my Trimetric meter, since I connected to the shunt instead of directly to the batteries.

    Thoughts?
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

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