Way to automatically start gen in the morning?

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cdre
cdre Solar Expert Posts: 78 ✭✭
Trying to figure out a way to automatically start a generator first thing in the morning and run it for 30 min or so to bulk charge batteries...

My first thought would be to design some sort of circuit which would assess battery level, and run the generator if batt chg < X and time = X... Seems like a simple concept, but gathering/storing the data has to be complicated, and I'm not sure any of the auto gen start systems out there do this.

A more simple idea I came up with is to just use one of those regular 120v plug in timers, and wire a generator signal to be sent when the timer circuit closes (say at 6am) and set timer to run for pre-set period. This is probably the easiest route...

Has anyone looked at possibilities for automatically starting a generator first thing in the morning?

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  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Way to automatically start gen in the morning?

    A couple (not cheap) Battery Monitors do include a programmable output (Xantrex and Victon are two)... You could wire them up with the timer so that the genset starts a 6am only if the batteries are below XX% capacity.

    The Xantrex version can be set to "turn on" at 50% and off at 80% -- so you can charge based on bank state of charge instead of pure time. (I don't know about the Victron--it may be similar).

    I wonder if anyone makes a reasonably priced programmable Amp*Hour meter?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • cdre
    cdre Solar Expert Posts: 78 ✭✭
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    Re: Way to automatically start gen in the morning?

    Another way to approach the problem would be to take a snapshot of voltage at a given time, and turn on the generator if it is below a certain threshold... That would eliminate the shunts and amphour logging. Maybe check voltage at 6:00 and again at 6:01. If V1 and V2 <x, then run generator for x minutes... That would help to prevent quick simultaneous loads from causing the gen to run. You could even set different run times for different voltage ranges (could get complicated though).

    Thinking one could program an arduino chip with a relay to make it work... I'll have to poke around to see how hard that would be to do.
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Way to automatically start gen in the morning?

    Outback inverters have a programmable (Voltage based) gen start function.
    Mind you, they're pricey: $2,000

    I have one and yet my solution is to look at the Voltage level every morning, look at the sky, and if necessary pull the rope. :p
  • cdre
    cdre Solar Expert Posts: 78 ✭✭
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    Re: Way to automatically start gen in the morning?

    Looking around the Outback forum, it seems there may be a way to do it with 3rd party monitoring software... we shall see.
  • stephendv
    stephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
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    Re: Way to automatically start gen in the morning?

    The Morningstar relay driver is also an option. http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/relay-driver

    Or you could build a little microcontroller with an arduino and a real time clock module. www.arduino.cc. This is the solution I'm going to use to turn my generator on daily for water pumping.
  • Ralph Day
    Ralph Day Solar Expert Posts: 1,019 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Way to automatically start gen in the morning?

    cdre,
    Significant other?

    Leave things ready to go the night before and a gentle nudge with the elbow in the morning...generator starts automatically. If the significant other won't budge the automatic function fails, but no big outlay of money for technology :p

    Ralph
  • solarabcd
    solarabcd Solar Expert Posts: 38
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    Re: Way to automatically start gen in the morning?
    stephendv wrote: »
    The Morningstar relay driver is also an option. http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/relay-driver

    Or you could build a little microcontroller with an arduino and a real time clock module. www.arduino.cc. This is the solution I'm going to use to turn my generator on daily for water pumping.

    According to Morningstar tech support the Relay driver doesn't have an internal 'clock' to allow real time or specific dates to be programmed, just the usual SOC options. From my previous post and checking out the Outback Flex net, it appears it has potential to work.