Inverter does not recognize generator power

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  • Basspig
    Basspig Registered Users Posts: 71 ✭✭
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    I solved my problem today!
    I tried switching the DIP switch from "battery priority" to "utility priority" and now it's charging the batteries and passing the generator power through to the output. I have no idea why that switch configuration would produce "ac abnormal" message, but that apparently was it.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,467 admin
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    Thank you BP for following up with the solution...

    Hopefully over time, others will find your debugging and solution here and save them a bunch of heartburn.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Basspig
    Basspig Registered Users Posts: 71 ✭✭
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    Instructions with these devices could use better explanation. It is up to the buyer to experiment to find out what works and what doesn't.
    It's a big relief to have this working.
    My next step it to contact SanTan Solar and try to swing a deal for forty 250W used panels. I'm hoping I can charge the batteries with solar and not need to use the generator in most cases.
    The roadmap ahead is to expand the Treeline Systems battery bank to the full 42kWh and buy their cabinet that holds the three sets of 14kWh battery banks.
    Final step is upgrade to the 18kW inverter which should make it possible to live normally. Then I can say sayonara to Eversource and bank that $750 a month normally spent on electric bills.
  • Basspig
    Basspig Registered Users Posts: 71 ✭✭
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    I got this response from SunGold on their Youtube channel. So it appears the battery must be depleted quite a bit before this will charge in batt priority mode:

    "Hello, in fact, when the battery voltage drops to 10.5V, (for example, when the battery standard voltage is 12V), the mains will charge the battery, and then "AC normal" will appear; when the battery is fully charged, it will supply power to the load when the AC power is not working at this time, "AC abnormal" appears. This is controlled by a logic program. There is no situation where the battery is not fully charged before it displays "AC abnormal", please rest assured. Thank you for your question and let us know your doubts."
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,467 admin
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    AC Abnormal == Battery Charged? That is "wild".  :*

    Highly recommend that Lead Acid batteries be recharge if below 75% SoC (around 12.4 volts resting) to lessen the chances of accelerated sulfation of the plates (hardening of "fluffy lead sulfate" from normal discharging will convert to hard black sulfate crystals--Which locks both Sulphur (from electrolyte) and Lead (from plates) permanently into those crystals--Causing permanent loss of capacity--And the black crystals can cause increased plate/electrolyte resistance (less surge current capacity)--Equalization charging (gassing) can dislodge these crystals to bottom of battery and at least impove current performance (lessen internal battery resistance from sulfation).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Basspig
    Basspig Registered Users Posts: 71 ✭✭
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    Fortunately, I'm running LifePo4 batteries, 16 280Ah cells for 48V and the inverter can be set to Mains Priority, which makes it work the way I like.

    Now I have forty 240W solar panels due to arrive here Monday on two palettes.
    I need to order a variety of connectors and cables to hook them all up and route the power back to the inverter. I need to do some shopping. I assume these connectors are standard?
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,467 admin
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    You need to check the specifications sheet for the panels... The "standard" is MC-4 type... But there appears to be some panels (older, few, some, ???) that use connectors that look very similar but may (or may not) fit correctly mate with MC-4 connectors.

    From the article below, it appears that companies are standardizing on MC4 connectors.

    https://www.semprius.com/solar-panel-connectors/

    If you make your own cables--Getting the correct parts and crimping tool(s) is very important. More than a few folks have problems with intermittent connections and cables that pulled out of the crmps.

    One way around it is to (for example) by some pre-made Male/Female MC4 cable sets, and cut them in 1/2 to wire into your combiner boxes (and uses as extensions, etc.).

    https://www.solar-electric.com/search/?q=mc4+cables

    Also, if you are being subjected to code/inspections--You should find out what their requirements are for remote array shutdown, possible walkways/access between panels and edges of roof line, etc... New code has made it much more complex than it used to be (and roof mounted arrays can be subjected to remote shutdown vs ground mount that may not require remote shutdown)...

    Also, many cities can require a structural engineering "wet stamp" drawing for roof racking and other local requirements (hurricane force wind resistance, etc.).

    This is way out of my area of expertise.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Basspig
    Basspig Registered Users Posts: 71 ✭✭
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    Panels arrived today, 1900lbs total on two palettes.
    Unwrapped one and got a look at the connectors. Are these the ones you're describing?


  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,467 admin
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    It does look like an MC4 connector set... But probably would need to measure/compare with a known MC4 sample set...

    Here is one mfg (Trina) that was/did transition to their new TS4 connector because they wanted 1,500 VDC max voltage--Instead of the 1,000 VDC max for MC4 back around 2018 for some of their products:

    https://static.trinasolar.com/sites/default/files/Trina Solar ECN2017001_TS4 Connector Change_2017.pdf

    One other suggestion... Is there is a special tool/wrench for unlocking solar connectors (back to UL/Safety--Tools required to access hazardous voltages):

    https://www.solar-electric.com/ditoformc4co.html

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Basspig
    Basspig Registered Users Posts: 71 ✭✭
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    I looked up MC-4 and MC-3 photos online and the MC-3 looks completely different, so I am of the belief that this is an MC-4.
    Once these are plugged together, is a tool necessary to unplug them? Is it some sort of locking connector for which the unlocking requires a special tool? If so, I'll add that to my shopping list.

    I did some more testing today, leaning one panel up against something so it is perpendicular to the noon day sun. I got just over 38V no load. With a 5 ohm 50 watt power resistor across it, I get 21.6V. That works out to about 93W for a 240W panel. Obviously, they must rate full output in an equatorial desert region at noon where the sun is 3X more intense. Real world numbers are always lower.

    I did notice some fog or a buildup of film on the panel, which I could scrape off with my fingernail. Perhaps going over the whole panel with steel wool would improve the output somewhat. Not sure how much that fog attenuates the light.

    So all told, with 40 of these panels working together, should make about 3700W at noon time in winter.
  • Wheelman55
    Wheelman55 Registered Users Posts: 238 ✭✭✭
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    They can be disconnected with a small blade screwdriver, however it’s easier with the tool. 

    To my knowledge these connectors aren’t meant to be disconnected multiple times. 
    Off-Grid in Terlingua, TX
    5,000 watt array - 14 CS 370 watt modules. HZLA horizontal tracker. Schneider: XW6048NA+, Mini PDP, MPPT 80-600, SCP. 390ah LiFeP04 battery bank - 3 Discover AES 42-48-6650 48 volt 130ah LiFePO4 batteries
  • Basspig
    Basspig Registered Users Posts: 71 ✭✭
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    Any suggestions where to buy real copper zip cord, 8-10AWG that's not copper coated aluminum wire? Every time I find wire for sale at a reasonable price, when I dig deep into the specs, I find it's copper over aluminum.