Problem with Solar Generator

24

Comments

  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,741 ✭✭✭✭
    lc0338 said:
    That is a pretty good chuck of change though for the inverter/charger...
    <snip>
    Hope I can get more replies from others as well. 
    Personally, I like Outback inverters.  Magnum and Victron make some very good inverters.  For Victron, look at marine suppliers.

    Unfortunately, you will pay for what you get.

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
    vtmaps said:
    lc0338 said:
    That is a pretty good chuck of change though for the inverter/charger...
    <snip>
    Hope I can get more replies from others as well. 
    Personally, I like Outback inverters.  Magnum and Victron make some very good inverters.  For Victron, look at marine suppliers.

    Unfortunately, you will pay for what you get.

    --vtMaps
    I will consider all that are recommended. What's your thought's on combined inverter/converter and going up to 24volt?
  • DRickeyDRickey Registered Users Posts: 22 ✭✭
    Know you're looking for a variety of opinions, but just a quick note on inverters: They fall into various grades. Straight-up inverter-only systems like the Samlex you had are consumer grade, and work fine for limited functions (such as running tools from batteries when generators would be overkill). But as you have found, they are heat-sensitive (most have a max air temperature for operation of 104F) and they don't take well to being used 24/7 for extended periods.

    The next step up is the RV/Marine inverter-chargers, which are generally operable up to 140F, don't mind being used full-time, and are much more expensive. There's another step, 'grid-tie' inverters, but that's a whole different thing.

    It's a 'you get what you pay for' kind of situation. The Xantrex/Schneider Electric models tend to be slightly cheaper than Magnum or Outback, but also more likely to fail if they're routinely run at or near their rated output for extended periods. But they're far more reliable than any of the consumer-grade versions. "Marine" rated systems tend to be both more reliable and more expensive than RV/Off-grid systems, and so on.

    In general, you're better off biting the bullet and paying up front for more capacity than you think you need, both for the headroom, and because the longevity will be much better. If your routine loads are <1000W with occasional spikes, then 2000W will do. But if you're going to have periods of more than a few minutes where you'll be drawing 1500-1800, then 3kW is a better target, and so on. And if you're choosing between 2kW of one brand and 3kW of another at about the same price, you're probably better off with the 3kW version.
  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
    DRickey said:
    Know you're looking for a variety of opinions, but just a quick note on inverters: They fall into various grades. Straight-up inverter-only systems like the Samlex you had are consumer grade, and work fine for limited functions (such as running tools from batteries when generators would be overkill). But as you have found, they are heat-sensitive (most have a max air temperature for operation of 104F) and they don't take well to being used 24/7 for extended periods.

    The next step up is the RV/Marine inverter-chargers, which are generally operable up to 140F, don't mind being used full-time, and are much more expensive. There's another step, 'grid-tie' inverters, but that's a whole different thing.

    It's a 'you get what you pay for' kind of situation. The Xantrex/Schneider Electric models tend to be slightly cheaper than Magnum or Outback, but also more likely to fail if they're routinely run at or near their rated output for extended periods. But they're far more reliable than any of the consumer-grade versions. "Marine" rated systems tend to be both more reliable and more expensive than RV/Off-grid systems, and so on.

    In general, you're better off biting the bullet and paying up front for more capacity than you think you need, both for the headroom, and because the longevity will be much better. If your routine loads are <1000W with occasional spikes, then 2000W will do. But if you're going to have periods of more than a few minutes where you'll be drawing 1500-1800, then 3kW is a better target, and so on. And if you're choosing between 2kW of one brand and 3kW of another at about the same price, you're probably better off with the 3kW version.
    Nice summarization. Yes, you are correct...  I should have not have said open to "all" recommendations but those that can handle severe duty with higher heat tolerance. I guess though "severe" may only be quantified if I'm using power at or near the max rating of the inverter/charger. I'm kinda restricted on size since I already have the cabinet built and why I might need to stay at minimum rating I can get by with. I don't really consider my usage that extreme. When the samlex inverter melted down I was only trying to heat a little water for a cup of coffee to test the new fuse block. The water kettle holds about 1 3/4 quarts of water and is a 1500 watt 110 unit. Normally when camping I have the solar generator hooked to the RV so I'm probably looking at using the water kettle or micro wave maybe 10 minutes to heat a little water or nuke something in the microwave maybe 3 times a day.
  • DRickeyDRickey Registered Users Posts: 22 ✭✭
    edited August 2016 #36
    lc0338 said

    Nice summarization. Yes, you are correct...  I should have not have said open to "all" recommendations but those that can handle severe duty with higher heat tolerance. I guess though "severe" may only be quantified if I'm using power at or near the max rating of the inverter/charger. I'm kinda restricted on size since I already have the cabinet built and why I might need to stay at minimum rating I can get by with. I don't really consider my usage that extreme. When the samlex inverter melted down I was only trying to heat a little water for a cup of coffee to test the new fuse block. The water kettle holds about 1 3/4 quarts of water and is a 1500 watt 110 unit. Normally when camping I have the solar generator hooked to the RV so I'm probably looking at using the water kettle or micro wave maybe 10 minutes to heat a little water or nuke something in the microwave maybe 3 times a day.
    The bolded part may have decided the brand for you since it looks like that cabinet is very cramped, I think the only inverter/charger model that will fit into the same mounting footpint as the Samlex you had is the Outback:

    https://www.solar-electric.com/residential/inverters/off-grid-inverters.html?manufacturer=Outback+Power&nav_inv_input_voltage=24+Volts

    Those two appear to be identical except that the 3500W is ventilated (which allows higher sustained output) while the 2500W is sealed (no openings in the case, which reduces sustained output but would let it be used in marine or extremely dusty environments). Either will do what you need.
  • JohannJohann Solar Expert Posts: 245 ✭✭✭
    Nice summarization. Yes, you are correct...  I should have not have said open to "all" recommendations but those that can handle severe duty with higher heat tolerance. I guess though "severe" may only be quantified if I'm using power at or near the max rating of the inverter/charger. I'm kinda restricted on size since I already have the cabinet built and why I might need to stay at minimum rating I can get by with. I don't really consider my usage that extreme. When the samlex inverter melted down I was only trying to heat a little water for a cup of coffee to test the new fuse block. The water kettle holds about 1 3/4 quarts of water and is a 1500 watt 110 unit. Normally when camping I have the solar generator hooked to the RV so I'm probably looking at using the water kettle or micro wave maybe 10 minutes to heat a little water or nuke something in the microwave maybe 3 times a day.
    Maybe the cabinet was the cause for the overheat.
  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
    Johann said:
    Nice summarization. Yes, you are correct...  I should have not have said open to "all" recommendations but those that can handle severe duty with higher heat tolerance. I guess though "severe" may only be quantified if I'm using power at or near the max rating of the inverter/charger. I'm kinda restricted on size since I already have the cabinet built and why I might need to stay at minimum rating I can get by with. I don't really consider my usage that extreme. When the samlex inverter melted down I was only trying to heat a little water for a cup of coffee to test the new fuse block. The water kettle holds about 1 3/4 quarts of water and is a 1500 watt 110 unit. Normally when camping I have the solar generator hooked to the RV so I'm probably looking at using the water kettle or micro wave maybe 10 minutes to heat a little water or nuke something in the microwave maybe 3 times a day.
    Maybe the cabinet was the cause for the overheat.
    The whole front of the cabinet is a removable door. The door was off as in the picture above when I experienced a problem. It was a hot afternoon; ambient temperature was 95 deg F and from a previous trial, had measured 145 amps on the 2/0 wire between battery and inverter. 145 amps is 1.74 KW so it was probably just a little too much load for the 2000 watt samlex inverter coupled with the extreme ambient temperature. I ran into a friend who has a 3500 watt inverter he used for a little while on a 1 horse water pump. He is getting me specs on it and I may leave my unit 12 volt and first try to put a better quality inverter which higher wattage. 
  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
    In order to get the solar generator up and running again I have decided to leave as 12 volt system and just replace the samlex 2000 watt inverer with a 3000 watt unit. Are there any recommendations of inverters which fit this criteria that have an operating temperature up to 65C. Most of what I have found is 40C max. Also, would like to keep the footprint as small as possible. Also, the current wiring is 2/0 with a 200 amp fuse. Is this adequate or should I really upgrade to 4/0 and 300 amp fuse? Thanks
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,741 ✭✭✭✭
    lc0338 said:
    I have decided to leave as 12 volt system and just replace the samlex 2000 watt inverer with a 3000 watt unit. Are there any recommendations of inverters which fit this criteria that have an operating temperature up to 65C.
    I would not trust the engineering of a 12 volt, 3000 watt inverter.  If the engineer doesn't know that 3000 watts is too much for a 12 volt system, there's probably a lot of other things he does not know. 

    You need to be at at least 24 volts for power draws like that.

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
    vtmaps said:
    lc0338 said:
    I have decided to leave as 12 volt system and just replace the samlex 2000 watt inverer with a 3000 watt unit. Are there any recommendations of inverters which fit this criteria that have an operating temperature up to 65C.
    I would not trust the engineering of a 12 volt, 3000 watt inverter.  If the engineer doesn't know that 3000 watts is too much for a 12 volt system, there's probably a lot of other things he does not know. 

    You need to be at at least 24 volts for power draws like that.

    --vtMaps
    what is the limit for a 12 volt system .... to be able to use a 1500 watt kettle? Don't really have plans to pull more power and thought the 3000 watt inverter would be lightly loaded.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,601 admin
    Somewhere around 1,200 to possibly 1,800-2,000 Watts would be about the most I would suggest (very heavy current draw, and high voltage drop).

    Look at the "tare losses" or unloaded inverter (power usage "just turned on" and no loads)--The larger the inverter, the larger the losses at low power (6-20 watts is not bad, 40-80+ watts is a lot of losses if you are not using the inverter for larger loads).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
    If going to a 24 volt system would this be a good choice?

    http://www.starmarinedepot.com/xantrex-freedom-sw3024-inverter-charger-3000w-24v.html

    Of course, reason I was resisting going to 24 volt was that the Iota charger I have will be obsoleted and was thinking if I got a better inverter (than the samlex 2000) with a little more power capability it would handle my current setup.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,571 ✭✭✭✭✭
    And thus the problem of starting with 12V and trying to upsize it.  Gee, I have the nifty charger.  Inverter all this other 12V stuff.....

    And I don't think many inverters have a full power "operating temperature up to 65C".  That's pretty toasty.   You might get half power at that temp,
    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 ,

  • DRickeyDRickey Registered Users Posts: 22 ✭✭
    edited August 2016 #45
    Yeah, what the better inverter/chargers will do is gracefully derate themselves past around 100 Fahrenheit,  until they finally overtemp at 140. But as long as you aren't in Death Valley and the ventilation is decent, they'll never get there.

    Anyway, 1500W is right at the ragged edge for a 12v system, and no amount of fiddling around the edges will fix that. You'd be better off getting the 24v version of the consumer grade inverters like that Samlex, if you're looking to pinch pennies (right off the top you drop your DC amperage by half, which will make a huge difference).
  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
    DRickey said:
    Yeah, what the better inverter/chargers will do is gracefully derate themselves past around 100 Fahrenheit,  until they finally overtemp at 140. But as long as you aren't in Death Valley and the ventilation is decent, they'll never get there.

    Anyway, 1500W is right at the ragged edge for a 12v system, and no amount of fiddling around the edges will fix that. You'd be better off getting the 24v version of the consumer grade inverters like that Samlex, if you're looking to pinch pennies (right off the top you drop your DC amperage by half, which will make a huge difference).
    Thanks DRickey. If I go 24 volt I'll go ahead and get a good one. Thinking about this one http://www.starmarinedepot.com/xantrex-freedom-sw3024-inverter-charger-3000w-24v.html 

    You had mentioned that the rest of the components in the system would be OK as is to handle 24 volt. Just wondering how optimum 4ea 6 volt batteries are for a 24 volt system (1 big battery). I might be able to squeeze in 2ea more batteries into the cabinet but then would have to go to 12 volt batteries. rather stick with 6 volt batteries. Also a little concerned as BB (Bill) mentioned when going to a larger inverter the "no load" loss of power when running the inverter as the water kettle or Microwave usage will be very low percentage wise.
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,741 ✭✭✭✭
    lc0338 said:
    You had mentioned that the rest of the components in the system would be OK as is to handle 24 volt.
    Maybe.  I just reread the thread and I didn't see any mention of your solar array and controller.  Depending upon what you have, you may need to do some reconfiguration in order to go to 24 volts.

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
    vtmaps said:
    lc0338 said:
    You had mentioned that the rest of the components in the system would be OK as is to handle 24 volt.
    Maybe.  I just reread the thread and I didn't see any mention of your solar array and controller.  Depending upon what you have, you may need to do some reconfiguration in order to go to 24 volts.

    --vtMaps
    My unit has 2ea 270 watt panels. Attached is a picture of the solar generator unit and a pic of the panel detail. On the unit picture... where you see the cement block and pipe with concrete that is normally where my spare tire is mouted. This serves as a counterbalance when loading the unit onto the back of my truck. The unit is on caster wheels so once loaded it is pushed forward to butt up agains the head board on my flatbed and the panels are hovering above my cab of my truck. The panels are hinged on the front side so I can tilt them as needed for winter maximum sun.nted
  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
    Forgot to mention, controller is Morningstar ts mppt - 45amp mpt charge controller
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,741 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2016 #50
    I like that picture... nice work!   If those panels are configured in parallel, they will need to be in series when you switch to 24 volts.

    --vtMaps

    edit: If you go from parallel to series (which you must), you will be more susceptible to power loss due to partial shading...  a bird dropping will cause more loss when your panels are in series than when in parallel.
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
    vtmaps said:
    I like that picture... nice work!   If those panels are configured in parallel, they will need to be in series when you switch to 24 volts.

    --vtMaps

    edit: If you go from parallel to series (which you must), you will be more susceptible to power loss due to partial shading...  a bird dropping will cause more loss when your panels are in series than when in parallel.
    Always a downside isn't there :(
  • Marc KurthMarc Kurth Solar Expert Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭
    I'll go against the grain here and say that we see a LOT of 12v 2800 watt and 3000 watt inverter/charger packages running well for many, many years in mobile applications.

    Some folks have already said that they don't agree but in my experience, Magnum, Xantrex and Outback are pretty good at what they do. Their systems thrive in the belly of commercial/industrial trucks and buses running the southwest desert roads.

    Heck, about half of the high end motor homes that you see on the road have a one or two Magnum 2800 watt inverter-chargers. That's thousands and thousands of systems. At 4,000 watts, they go 24v.

    I can only share my experience and I realize that others may have experienced the opposite, but I am talking about hundreds of systems over the last 10 years. Please note that I am talking about good quality inverters only!

    Respectfully,
    Marc
    I always have more questions than answers. That's the nature of life.
  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
    Please note that I am talking about good quality inverters only!

    Marc, do you have a recommended inverter for 12v and 1500 watt load?
  • Marc KurthMarc Kurth Solar Expert Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭

    I like the Xantrex Prosine 1800 in that size range, but they are expensive. Maximum operating temp is 140 F and a peak output rating of 2900 watts.  In particular, I like that they stay operational up to 16v input if you happen to be equalizing your battery bank.

    If you remove the higher temperature requirement and can live with a 104 deg F limit, there are lots of options at half the price or less, but I generally do not suggest going that way - except in controlled circumstances.

    Your rig looks stout and nicely done, it deserves a good inverter :)




    I always have more questions than answers. That's the nature of life.
  • JohannJohann Solar Expert Posts: 245 ✭✭✭
    Are we talking about to heat a cup of water in a microwave or a kettle that takes a view minutes?
    If this is the only thing the inverter is used for, then the inverter could be turned on and off with an remote to save on idle power. It is not hard to add a remote switch to an inverter. It can be done with an remote wire or a wireless system for around $20 .

  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
    The solar generator is normally plugged in to my RV to recharge batteries and a occasionally the microwave would be used to nuke something a few minutes. On occasion I have plugged in my water kettle directly into the generator (when it was not plugged into my RV) to warm water to make instant coffee. The water kettle holds 1 3/4 quarts water. I have done this a few times without issue but this past April, when I plugged it in is when the issue started. The generator has an on/off switch on the side but that is not the issue. The issue is when the kettle is used it wiped out a samlex 2000 watt inverter. The ambient temperature was 95 deg F which probably didn't help the situation. here is a link to a similar kettle. 
    https://www.amazon.com/Chefs-Choice-Cordless-Electric-Kettle/dp/B0058VCYUU
  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
  • Raj174Raj174 Solar Expert Posts: 795 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2016 #58
    4480W PV, MNE175DR-TR, MN Classic 150, Outback Radian GS4048A, Mate3, 51.2V 360AH nominal LiFePO4, Kohler Pro 5.2E genset.
  • Marc KurthMarc Kurth Solar Expert Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2016 #59
    In rereading this thread:
    - Your inverter died, while running a 1500 watt load, on a 2000 watt unit. Sounds like a product defect or bad design.
    - I don't see why you need to go with a huge inverter - you just need a new inverter.
    - If you feel that the Samlex died before it should have, not by your doing - then maybe another brand.....

    You wanted to use your existing charger. The 3000 watt in your link unit also includes a 150 amp charger which you will have to program to be limited at 50-75 amps at 24v for your particular batteries. (Fullriver likes a charge rate of 20% of the battery C/20 rating, but their engineering people tell me that 30% is still OK at tightly controlled voltages and mild or cool ambient temps)

    So you would be buying a 150 amp charger that you have to throttle down to half or less. Not to mention that the 120 vac power input requirements with that charger running at higher output!

    Then add the fact that you are paying for an automatic transfer switch..........

    I typically see 3000 watt inverter-chargers applied on mobile 24v battery banks that are in the 750-1000+ AH range. This is normal for large motor coaches, industrial trucks and boats.

    Marc
    I always have more questions than answers. That's the nature of life.
  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
    In rereading this thread:
    - Your inverter died, while running a 1500 watt load, on a 2000 watt unit. Sounds like a product defect or bad design.
    - I don't see why you need to go with a huge inverter - you just need a new inverter.
    - If you feel that the Samlex died before it should have, not by your doing - then maybe another brand.....

    You wanted to use your existing charger. The 3000 watt in your link unit also includes a 150 amp charger which you will have to program to be limited at 50-75 amps at 24v for your particular batteries. (Fullriver likes a charge rate of 20% of the battery C/20 rating, but their engineering people tell me that 30% is still OK at tightly controlled voltages and mild or cool ambient temps)

    So you would be buying a 150 amp charger that you have to throttle down to half or less. Not to mention that the 120 vac power input requirements with that charger running at higher output!

    Then add the fact that you are paying for an automatic transfer switch..........

    I typically see 3000 watt inverter-chargers applied on mobile 24v battery banks that are in the 750-1000+ AH range. This is normal for large motor coaches, industrial trucks and boats.

    Marc
    I believe I will still have the issue of low voltage trying to pull that many amps (I measured 145) on a 12 volt battery system even with a different inverter. I think going to 24 volt system is the best overall to reduce temperatures. I do agree with you that the xantrex 3024 will be overkill in what i need for charging batteries. I may contact xantrex product support and see what they tell me. Someone from another forum recommended staying with separate units and going with something like a gopower 3000 watt 24 volt inverter and 24 volt iota. Going the 2nd route would not be that much less money although if something goes south it's less to replace later. May be a good time to call and speak with the people I bought my iota 12 volt from as well.
  • lc0338lc0338 Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭
    Raj174 said:
    Hey, Thanks for the link. free shipping is always good.
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