MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review

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  • RegGuheertRegGuheert Solar Expert Posts: 102 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review
    Vic wrote: »
    Hi Reg,

    Just a couple of things regarding your Classic 200 installation.

    1. Regarding the RTS adhesive not sticking; It is probable that your battery has some surface contanimation -- perhaps Mold Release or something similar. You might try scrubbing the battery case at the spot you wish to install the sensor with soap, water and a bit of Sodium Bicarbonate, and rinse. Personally, I've not ever used the adhesive on the BTS/RTS, choosing to tape them down with Painter's tape, and then cover them with some one-inch Styrofoam (which has been hogged out to allow for the height of the sensors). The styro is then strapped to the battery case.
    Thanks for the tips on mounting the temperature sensor. I may follow your lead on this!
    Vic wrote: »
    The MN approach is quite standard in the industry, and MN has no real control over what may be on the surface of the battery case.
    I have no problem saying that it is time for the industry to raise their standards. The owner took one look at the battery sensor and said "That is supposed to STICK to the battery??" Seriously, given that a temperature sensor is critically important to proper charging function and battery health it is irresponsible for the manufacturers in the solar industry to provide such an insufficient mounting method. A belt and suspenders approach as you are using and as I have proposed would be much more appropriate to the task.
    Vic wrote: »
    2. And, personally, I sure would want my PV In breaker to be very close to any Charge Controller, and right next to the Battery Breaker associated with that CC. Again seems to me that your personal preference on where you happen to place your breakers should not be an issue for MN to resolve.
    It sounds to me as if you are saying that I should provide a PV breaker next to the Classic because I should expect that it will malfunction and not turn off properly on a very frequent basis. I've NEVER had my other MPPT charge controllers fail to turn off with the battery breaker, so I didn't anticipate this problem. If this problem cannot be resolved, then I suspect another breaker will be needed. If that proves to be the case, I will request MidNite to provide it to.
    Vic wrote: »
    3. The room in the wiring compartment of the Classic has much, much more room than does the Xantrex XW SCC, and the Classic can accommodate the largest wire size of any of the CCs I've seen -- #4 AWG, maximum.
    It sounds like your experience matches my own: Charge controllers tend to have limited space. I think there is further room for improvement in this area.
    Vic wrote: »
    Am not trying to pick your nit, Reg, but the Classic is a brand new product. There will always be issues for any manufacturer to resolve in any new product. These issues will always come up in the field, when the vast array of field variations get to be seen.

    I am very happy to have my Classic 150. I will need the FW update. I knew, going in that there would be some bugs etc to resolve. We early users can help others who follow. I know that you also know this. I can be a bit circumspect on this, as I can fall back to the tried and true OB MX-60, as my present Vmp is only 106 VDC.

    Good Luck, Vic
    I have already clearly stated many of these things in this thread, so I think we are on the same page.

    I will say one thing, however: If this system were my own installation then I might view it much more like you do. However, this system is located 30 minutes from my house and it is being installed in an off-the-grid house which is currently unoccupied and may one day serve as a bed-and-breakfast. As such, it is critically important that I can trust this unit to properly charge the batteries in a way that ensures long life. The owner did not pay $200 for the Classic as some beta testers did. They purchased a shipping product on the market at the going rate. I hope you do not think it is unreasonable for them to expect the product to function as advertised.
  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 720 ✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review

    First I want to say I am not going to continue giving tech support on this forum it is not the place for it we are needlessly cluttering this forum. I do encourage people to discuss our product here and even post their opinions. I would respectfully ask though if they have technical difficulty’s they contact MidNite first (360-403-7207) and get these issues fixed then if they feel like they want to post there experience here fine. In this case we have a defective Classic installed according to Reg and he has not contacted MidNite about this so we can fix it (or in this case explain to him how to use the MNGP) but instead he goes on for pages on here complaining about it? We have our own forum and Reg has all my contact info as well. The simple issues He has experienced could quickly be resolved with a simple call to MidNite or even a quick post on our forum. Something like GOT COMM? Showing on the MNGP should be a flag anything you think you are doing to the Classic you really are not. I apologize for this and will try not to let it get this bad again.

    That said I am going to point out the Flaws in his posts.

    The picture of the Classic has it set to Classic 2 that is why it says got come you can disable Classic 2 all day long it will do nothing for you unless you have 2 Classics and set the network up. Any time you see GOT COMM? this is an indication there is no communication between the Classic and the MNGP. The Classic will run just fine without the MNGP it was designed this way so users could opt to have one MNGP for multiple Classics.

    The real issue here is Reg is not really turning off the Classic if it is in Classic2 on the main screen like he thought he was so it continues running and when the battery breaker is opened the Classic continues to be powered by the array just as any other MPPT controller I have seen will. Typically one would have a input and output breaker within reach of the CC this may even be a code requirement I think (I will dig into this one). This would allow one to open the PV input as well as the Battery connection and completely isolate the CC.


    In Reg's case he needs to use the up and down arrows to select Classic instead of Classic 2 then you can disable MPPT. It will then turn off when you turn off the battery breaker.
  • RegGuheertRegGuheert Solar Expert Posts: 102 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review
    niel wrote: »
    reguheert,
    if you are having problems with any part of the classic, do not hesitate to continue to contact those at midnite solar to work out your difficulties. what you may encounter with your classic may not be what anybody else may encounter and all of the answers you look for may not lay here.
    Please note the title of this thread, Niel. This is a product review. I think it is clear that it documents my experience with the product, not those of others. You have properly moved it into the Solar Product Reviews & Opinions section of this forum. I greatly appreciate NAWS providing a venue for sharing product reviews!

    I did not post this here to find answers to the problem we are experiencing, though I welcome the generous feedback from boB and Ryan and the other posters that I have received. I put it on the NAWS forum because I learned about the product on these forums and I expect others have also. If others are like me then they go looking for reviews of products on the internet before they make any purchase.
    niel wrote: »
    when you find solutions it is very welcome for you to share this with all of us of course.
    I have done that for each issue that has had some form of resolution. I will continue to do that.
    niel wrote: »
    even i encountered something odd and i took it to them even though my encounter was minor. i do not consider all troubles, even if only ones of exploration of the product and its uses, to be note worthy of everyone to consider before buying unless something major is uncovered because it is a new product and bound to have some quarks in its infancy.
    After a product is shipping and sold on the retail market, I consider ALL troubles to be noteworthy, if for no other reason than to help others gauge product maturity. Such is the nature of a product review.
    niel wrote: »
    do not worry yourself too much as boB, robin, and the rest of the gang there have good past records with customers and will do right by you.
    Thanks for the reassurance! As I stated in the original post of this thread my confidence in the team that brought this product to market is one of the key reasons I selected this particular product for this project.

    I will go further and say that my hat is off to MidNite, and to boB in particular, for the design of the power stage in the Classic controller. As someone who has designed power electronic equipment in the past I really cannot conceive of building a power stage like the one found in the Classic! Seriously. Take a look at what it can do:

    - It can buck voltage as well as boost. (I have not tested this in boost mode, but I assume it is still true.)
    - It can accept input voltages over an extremely wide range. If I understand correctly, the Classic 250 can accept inputs all the way from 12V to 250V, which is more than a 20:1 range!! (Please correct me if I am wrong. Perhaps it is even larger.)
    - It can charge batteries with a voltage over a range of 12V (probably less) to 150V for the Classic 250KS, over a 12:1 range!
    - It can sweep the IV characteristics of a PV array and choose an operating point in 20 msec!!
    - It can also deal with the many complexities of charging from wind, which appears to be a far more daunting problem than PV.

    All that said, some serious and not-so-serious issues remain in the product when it comes to charging AGM batteries from a PV source, which is my current application. I have little doubt that these will be addressed in time and that this charge controller will be the industry dominator that it was designed to be.
  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 720 ✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review
    RegGuheert wrote: »
    All that said, some serious and not-so-serious issues remain in the product when it comes to charging AGM batteries from a PV source, which is my current application. I have little doubt that these will be addressed in time and that this charge controller will be the industry dominator that it was designed to be.

    2 questions why have you not notified us at MidNite of these "Serious issues" charging AGM battery's so we can fix these issues for everyone?

    The second question would be why have you not contacted MidNite about your "Defective Controller" that will not shut off?

    Again for all those out there we welcome all questions if you happen to be the owner of this Classic or any body else that has questions feel free to contact us here at MidNite we pride ourselves in customer support. To make it easy here is my contact info.

    360-403-7207 office
    207-416-2006 cell
    ryan AT midnitesolar DOT com
  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 720 ✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review
    RegGuheert wrote: »
    Sure it is. If the software or the hardware malfunctions, then it might think it has turned off but really hasn't.
    attachment.php?attachmentid=1646&stc=1&d=1299325413

    I will post the trouble shooting procedure for detecting a bad relay on our forum under FAQ's

    PS On a serious note you need to bolt that battery breaker in if that should get slid out a couple inches the battery positive wire will contact a grounded metal case and the results will not be pretty.
  • RegGuheertRegGuheert Solar Expert Posts: 102 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review
    halfcrazy wrote: »
    First I want to say I am not going to continue giving tech support on this forum it is not the place for it we are needlessly cluttering this forum.
    Agreed.
    halfcrazy wrote: »
    I do encourage people to discuss our product here and even post their opinions. I would respectfully ask though if they have technical difficulty’s they contact MidNite first (360-403-7207) and get these issues fixed then if they feel like they want to post there experience here fine.
    Fair enough.
    halfcrazy wrote: »
    In this case we have a defective Classic installed according to Reg and he has not contacted MidNite about this so we can fix it (or in this case explain to him how to use the MNGP) but instead he goes on for pages on here complaining about it?
    No. This is a product review. It documents my experiences with your product.
    halfcrazy wrote: »
    We have our own forum
    True, and my questions there about operation of Absorb mode and diversion loads have gone unanswered for over two days now. Those were appropriate questions for your forum and operational issues are appropriate for this review, IMO.
    halfcrazy wrote: »
    and Reg has all my contact info as well. The simple issues He has experienced could quickly be resolved with a simple call to MidNite or even a quick post on our forum. Something like GOT COMM? Showing on the MNGP should be a flag anything you think you are doing to the Classic you really are not. I apologize for this and will try not to let it get this bad again.

    That said I am going to point out the Flaws in his posts.

    The picture of the Classic has it set to Classic 2 that is why it says got come you can disable Classic 2 all day long it will do nothing for you unless you have 2 Classics and set the network up. Any time you see GOT COMM? this is an indication there is no communication between the Classic and the MNGP. The Classic will run just fine without the MNGP it was designed this way so users could opt to have one MNGP for multiple Classics.

    The real issue here is Reg is not really turning off the Classic if it is in Classic2 on the main screen like he thought he was so it continues running and when the battery breaker is opened the Classic continues to be powered by the array just as any other MPPT controller I have seen will. Typically one would have a input and output breaker within reach of the CC this may even be a code requirement I think (I will dig into this one). This would allow one to open the PV input as well as the Battery connection and completely isolate the CC.


    In Reg's case he needs to use the up and down arrows to select Classic instead of Classic 2 then you can disable MPPT. It will then turn off when you turn off the battery breaker.
    Thanks for explaining this! I think you have hit the nail on the head about what was happening!

    Still, I expect the unit to turn off when I switch off the battery breaker. That said, I also now see that you show a breaker between the DC source and the Classic with a note that says:
    Ensure the breaker between the dc source and Classic meets UL1077 standards.
    I actually purchased MidNite Solar Part Number PV50-300vdc Din Rail Breaker for this purpose when I thought the equipment would be in the house 150 feet from the PV Combiner box. But once we moved the equipment into a shed under the array, I felt that it was superfluous since the PV Combiner breakers would allow me to disconnect them whenever service was needed. I did not expect there was any need for this breaker to meet NEC requirements since I did not think the input to the Classic was also a power source. That is, I did not think this until I read this note which came on a slip of paper with the Classic:
    Congratulations on the purchase of the MidNite Classic MPPT controller. Your controller is one of the first off the production line. We are confident that the controller will operation as expected, however there are still some features that are not yet finished. The missing features can all be uploaded from our website in the future as they become available.
    Features that are in the works are:
    1. PC software to retrieve data sent to the Midnite server over the internet.
    2. Aux 2 settings
    3. More Aux 1 settings
    4. Voice and other audio features
    5. Wind learning mode
    6. Snow melting

    Please check our website for information regarding these features.
    They will be made available as they are finished.
    www.midnitesolar.com

    Thank you,
    Robin Gudgel
    Emphasis mine. The fact that snow melting is a future capability of this unit makes me believe that the input to the Classic is also an OUTPUT. As such, you are probably correct in saying that the inclusion of the input breaker is an NEC requirement. I simply had no idea this was the case. If so, I will need to purchase a different breaker since the DIN-mount breaker which I bought does not really work in the XW box we have. Hopefully I can find a panel-mount breaker that will work.

    Please note that there is no mention that I can find of "Got Comms?" or "Classic2" anywhere in the current manual for the Classic. As such, these messages are somewhat meaningless to me. If I have missed the descriptions of these features, please point me to them. Otherwise, I will suggest that MidNite needs to add them to the manual and to your FAQ as this behavior is entirely unexpected to me.

    Thoughts?

    Reg
  • RegGuheertRegGuheert Solar Expert Posts: 102 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review
    halfcrazy wrote: »
    I will post the trouble shooting procedure for detecting a bad relay on our forum under FAQ's
    Thanks!
    halfcrazy wrote: »
    PS On a serious note you need to bolt that battery breaker in if that should get slid out a couple inches the battery positive wire will contact a grounded metal case and the results will not be pretty.
    Agreed! The vendor told me that breaker would mount into the XW box, but when I got it, it was too small! They did a little research and found that you sell an adapter for the 3/4" breakers to fit into a 1" knockout and sent one out to me. It just arrived on Thursday, but it arrived without any mounting hardware. We couldn't find anything on hand, so we did the best we could.

    You should have seen it before! :blush:

    It might be a good idea to include mounting hardware with that bracket if you don't already.
  • RegGuheertRegGuheert Solar Expert Posts: 102 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review
    halfcrazy wrote: »
    In Reg's case he needs to use the up and down arrows to select Classic instead of Classic 2 then you can disable MPPT. It will then turn off when you turn off the battery breaker.
    I went over there today and took a look at how this works. It is pretty obvious now that I know how it works and what it does. It looks like a great capability! But the fact remains that I spent about 15 minutes trying to get it to shut down on Friday with no success.

    Having had a chance to play with this for a while I will say that a small change to the interface could be made to make this much more opaque to the user. Specifically, each time the user switches to a different piece of equipment like CLASSIC2 or CLIPPER the telemetry data on the screen should be cleared IMMEDIATELY so that it is obvious that this telemetry data is not coming from the unit which is displayed on the page. As it is now, the telemetry data is both stale and from a different piece of equipment, making it very misleading. Clearing the data immediately will alert the user to the fact that something major has changed and may prompt them to return to where they had come.

    Of course some documentation on how this functions will be very helpful, as well.

    BTW, all looks fine with the Classic today! The temperature sensor has even stayed attached now for two nights straight! :D It's looking like the latest firmware is working fine so far! Thanks again, Ryan and boB!
  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 972 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review
    RegGuheert wrote: »
    Specifically, each time the user switches to a different piece of equipment like CLASSIC2 or CLIPPER the telemetry data on the screen should be cleared IMMEDIATELY so that it is obvious that this telemetry data is not coming from the unit which is displayed on the page.

    I agree totally !! Making that change now. The "stale number syndrome" was left over from like, 3 years ago and I just never fixed it. That will be changed in the next version. For now, look for the "Got Comm ?" message in the lower right corner.

    Thanks Reg for booting me in the rear on that one and some of your other suggestions !!

    boB
  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,962 ✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review
    boB wrote: »
    For now, look for the "Got Comm ?" message in the lower right corner.
    boB

    From the man that brought you "Got Battery?" ... I had a good laugh when I saw that message years ago
  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 972 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review
    From the man that brought you "Got Battery?" ... I had a good laugh when I saw that message years ago


    Now I feel like I need a nice tall cold glass of milk !

    I didn't know what to put there but those words for either case were pretty much short and to the point I suppose.

    boB
  • RegGuheertRegGuheert Solar Expert Posts: 102 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review
    boB wrote: »
    Thanks Reg for booting me in the rear on that one and some of your other suggestions !!
    You are certainly welcome! Thank you for being so responsive to customer feedback!
    From the man that brought you "Got Battery?" ... I had a good laugh when I saw that message years ago
    We also got a chuckle when we saw the message! :D

    FWIW, my conception of what "Got Comms?" meant was initially incorrect. I had the impression that "Got Comms?" was referring to communication with a PC, since I had first seen this message on Thursday while updating the firmware. That misconception was the main reason I dismissed the message as erroneous when we saw it again on Friday.

    My current understanding is that "Got Comms?" is referring to problems communicating over the modbus to a particular address that has been selected by the UP and DOWN keys on the status page. Is that approximately correct?
  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 972 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review
    RegGuheert wrote: »
    My current understanding is that "Got Comms?" is referring to problems communicating over the modbus to a particular address that has been selected by the UP and DOWN keys on the status page. Is that approximately correct?

    That is exactly correct.

    I suppose that message could be more contextually correct by knowing what was supposed to be connected to that address. If it was a Classic, it could maybe say, Got Classic ? or if a PC, Got PC ? etc... Or, it could say Got Classic ? for a while if it WAS a Classic and later say Got Comm ? or Got Modbus ? if there might be something else that could be on that address. At the moment, it's most likely only a Classic.

    As far as the numbers being all zeros when no communications has stopped, it used to be useful and may still be useful to have the old numbers displayed sometimes if whatever was connected crashed or broke and one wanted to view what was going on at the time of the crash. In early development, that was sort of useful. When the address is changed, either accidently or on purpose, the numbers should definitely go to zero.

    These things are why a product is never really "done", only betterized. But, as we hear, sometimes you just have to shoot the engineer and get on with life.

    More good ideas !

    Thanks,
    boB
  • RegGuheertRegGuheert Solar Expert Posts: 102 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review
    boB wrote: »
    As far as the numbers being all zeros when no communications has stopped, it used to be useful and may still be useful to have the old numbers displayed sometimes if whatever was connected crashed or broke and one wanted to view what was going on at the time of the crash. In early development, that was sort of useful.
    I agree that could be quite useful! It's really not too difficult to tell that when the numbers are not updating. In fact, the owner noted that they had stopped changing when were having the confusion about shutting the unit down.
    boB wrote: »
    When the address is changed, either accidently or on purpose, the numbers should definitely go to zero.
    Or at least they should *change* to the last numbers which were provided by the device at the current bus address since the last reboot of the MNGP, as per above.
  • RegGuheertRegGuheert Solar Expert Posts: 102 ✭✭✭✭
    Status Update

    Over the last couple of weeks all has worked well. Most of that time the unit has operated in float service.

    The temperature sensor did fall off again and the owner replaced the adhesive with some foam tape I had provided. That seems to be working better.

    Over the weekend we managed to get at total of 16 of the 20 panels wired into the system. That's 3840 Wp of PV attached now. On Monday I spent a little time load-testing the unit by turning on some heaters in the house. The batteries drooped to about 51 volts and I was able to squeeze about 59 Amps out of the charge controller giving a peak output of just over 3000 W! I left the large load in place for more than 30 minutes and the controller operated very well. There were clouds going by and it seems to do a good job adjusting to the changing conditions.

    Very encouraging performance! I will update once I have a chance to connect the last four panels and operate for an extended period under a heavy load.
  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review

    All,

    I'm writing to address this particular comment in the OP's original message:
    - Original plan was for Xantrex XW MPPT 80 600, but that was changed after the XW GT string inverters were recalled for blowing their covers off. Apparently the new CC is based on the same front-end design as the GT inverters.
    The Schneider Electric Xantrex MPPT 80 600 solar charge controller is a battery-based charge controller for 48V and 24 V (nominal) systems. It was designed from scratch and does not share any architecture with the GT grid-tie inverters.

    I hope this clarifies any misconceptions.

    Finally, I regret that I'm not able to spend much time of the forum. As many of you know, I more or less got my start in the RE business here, and I was once a moderator. However, my job duties and responsibilities demand virtually all of my time and energy. But, I do hope to stop by for a visit now and then.

    Regards,
    Jim Goodnight
    aka "crewzer"
    Global Product Line Manager
    Backup Power / Off-Grid Products
    Schneider Electric / Renewable Energies Business (formerly Xantrex)
  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 720 ✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review

    Jim
    Good to see you around these parts again. Are you going to be in Wisconsin this summer for the fair?
  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review

    Hey, Ryan!

    I hope to make it to MREF, but it's lookin' slim... I'll need to find a way to sandwich it in between Intersolar shows in Munich and San Francisco...

    I hope you're well!
    Jim / crewzer
  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 720 ✭✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review

    Hope to see you there but if not we will drink a beer for you. If you ever find your way to Maine again give me a shout.
  • DapdanDapdan Solar Expert Posts: 313 ✭✭
    Re: MidNite Solar Classic 200 Review

    Folks,

    I am happy to inform I got my classic 150...finally. I will post as my experiences with this sweet looking controller unfolds. It sure is pretty.

    Cheers...
    Damani
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