Big upgrade going in this weekend, advice welcomed

jcheiljcheil Solar Expert Posts: 722 ✭✭✭
I had been very happy with my 24v setup but was maxed out on my FM80 controller with a 2460w array and also pushing the envelope of 24v with 16 batteries (4 parallel strings). Although I always seemed to be in balance, I knew it was not the best way to go and figured that someday, when the need came, I would upgrade to a 48v system. That would be a difficult decision because I would have to buy a new inverter and charger for 48v.

Well, the magic blue smoke came out of my Cotek 3000ST PSW inverter Monday. It also blew the 200a fuse on the batteries/inverter. Replacing the fuse didn’t help (nor did it blow again). The Inverter is dead. It is only 14months old, and although it has a 2 year warranty, 5 days to ship to CA and 5 days back (plus “repair/replace” time) means I would have no power for 3 weeks.

So after some deep thought, I decided that this was my sign to upgrade to 48v. Since I was going to have to buy a new inverter anyways (and simply use the repaired/replaced one as a backup), I figured why throw any more money into the 24v system.

So, thanks to our hosts doing a great job of getting my order expedited and shipped out before the end of the day monday, starting tomorrow I will be installing a brand new VFX3648, Flexnet DC, Hub-4 and Mate3. I also will be installing it on a MNE175 E-Panel to make life/installation simpler. I’m rather excited about it!

It has been said on this forum a lot and I repeat again for the new readers: Plan ahead, and try to build your system for what you “ultimately” will need, because, as in my case, and many others, it costs more to “expand” a system.

When I get the new Cotek back (they said they rarely repair them, they just send a new one), I will put it on ebay along with my 14month old Iota DLSW-27-40 and DLS-27-15 to try to recover some of the investment.

So I have a few questions and value the advice of anyone with a similar Outback setup:
  1. 1) Any tips/tricks things I should be concerned with installing the E-Panel?
  2. 2) Any tips/tricks to configure the Flexnet DC (I will use all 3 shunts)?
  3. 3) Could someone explain in a nutshell how the Outback handles the output AC and battery charging when the generator is running? Meaning, is it actually running the house loads from the generator and using the extra power to charge the batteries or does it somehow share it in some other way? Reason being, I had my existing transfer switch and house panel wired so that my room AC units (all but one) would only have power when the generator was running. I am ok with removing that functionality now, for the sake of simplicity in wiring.
  4. 4) I read a few “older” threads, but I am not sure what is the latest or best PC monitoring software for collecting data from the Mate3 to store it and graph it, etc.
  5. 5) Any other advice/tips/improvements/upgrades I should consider at this point?

Thanks again to the hosts and everyone here for their continued suggestions and assistance.
Off-Grid in Central Florida since 2005, Full-Time since June 2014 | 12 X Sovello 205w panels, 9 X ToPoint 220w panels, 36x ToPoint 225w panels (12,525 watts total) | Custom built single-axis ground mounts | Complete FP2 Outback System: 3 x FM80, 2 x VFX3648, X240 Transformer, FLEXnet-DC, Mate-3, Hub-10, FW500 AC/DC | 24 x Trojan L16RE-B Batteries 1110ah @ 48v | Honda EU7000is Generator and a pile of "other" Generators | Home-Made PVC solar hot water collector | Custom data logging software http://www.somewhatcrookedcamp.com/monitormate.html

Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Big upgrade going in this weekend, advice welcomed

    Well I can answer #3 for you:

    The VFX3648 has a transfer switch built-in. When it detects AC IN is active it switches the loads to the AC power source (seamlessly) and then starts charging. It will ramp the charge up slowly, and will limit it to the maximum charge Amps AC set in the programming and limit the total of charging and loads to the maximum AC Amps set for the gen. If the load demand more the charging is reduce to make sure the loads are handled first. A sudden high load can cause the gen to be dropped. This is the only time you'll see a 'blip' in power as the inverter switches back to inverting. So long as the load does not exceed what the gen can supply you'll never notice the difference.

    You'll need to make sure that all the fuses/breakers used on the controller output and inverter input are suitable for the current and Voltage (both of which will change).

    Program the LVD of the inverter to 48 Volts to make sure the batteries never get below 50% SOC even under load.

    That's about all I can think of at the moment.
  • WillBkoolWillBkool Solar Expert Posts: 35 ✭✭
    Re: Big upgrade going in this weekend, advice welcomed

    Too bad about your inverter, but stuff happens.

    I wish more inverters had a user set LVD. I'm worried about my batteries, I can monitor them when I'm home and awake, but I would hate to overdrain them when I was sleeping.

    Let us know when you get ready to sell your 24 volt items. I need a 24 volt charger and could use another inverter for backup.
    670 Watts, 4 Evergreen 120 watt, 1 Eoplly 190 watt; M-Star 15A MPPT; 6 105 AH AGM Configured to [email protected]
    Cotek 1500 watt/24v
  • jcheiljcheil Solar Expert Posts: 722 ✭✭✭
    Re: Big upgrade going in this weekend, advice welcomed
    WillBkool wrote: »
    Too bad about your inverter, but stuff happens.

    I wish more inverters had a user set LVD. I'm worried about my batteries, I can monitor them when I'm home and awake, but I would hate to overdrain them when I was sleeping.

    Let us know when you get ready to sell your 24 volt items. I need a 24 volt charger and could use another inverter for backup.

    Go ahead and send me a PM and we'll work something out. The Iota's are available now, the new (replacement) inverter will likely be about 2-3 weeks due to shipping to and from CA.
    Off-Grid in Central Florida since 2005, Full-Time since June 2014 | 12 X Sovello 205w panels, 9 X ToPoint 220w panels, 36x ToPoint 225w panels (12,525 watts total) | Custom built single-axis ground mounts | Complete FP2 Outback System: 3 x FM80, 2 x VFX3648, X240 Transformer, FLEXnet-DC, Mate-3, Hub-10, FW500 AC/DC | 24 x Trojan L16RE-B Batteries 1110ah @ 48v | Honda EU7000is Generator and a pile of "other" Generators | Home-Made PVC solar hot water collector | Custom data logging software http://www.somewhatcrookedcamp.com/monitormate.html
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