Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
After 4 months of plain sailing, this morning the morningstar controller did that dreaded thing that involves sparks, smoke and a loud bang :cry:

Got up early this morning to increase the absorb time a bit on my controller - and as I've done quite a few times before, changed the config using my laptop and the MSView software from morningstar. New settings loaded fine and the controller went into fault mode as it always does after uploading new settings. Then I clicked on the "reset" button in the software to restart the controller and BOOM sparks everywhere and black smoke from the controller.

The only thing different about today from the many other times I've done this is the low temperatures, panels had a Voc of 111V about half an hour after the bang - but this should still be well within the 150V range of the controller. I ran the Voc numbers through temperature correction using a low of -10 (recorded temp at the coldest time of the night was only -5c) - and it came out at 120Voc.

While I was doing the settings update the controller was connected to both panels and battery and was working fine - as has been the case every other time I've done this. Anyone had something similar happen?
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Comments

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    Yikes ! I've used MSView many times, but never saw (or used) a "reset" button in the software, or a way to perform reset, other than to power off the array, battery, and then start battery and then array.
    I don't think it's suppoesd to do that! (boom, smoke). Hopefully, it's still in warranty and you can wire PV directly to keep charge going `
    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 ,

  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    If you right click on the controller while in MSView and then choose "Properties" and from there "Control" - there are a bunch of things you can change on the controller. Funnily enough I used to switch off array then batts to reinitialise it until I found the function in software - 'cause I reckoned software has got to be the safer route :cry:
    Attachment not found.

    I'd like to connect the panels directly but am not 100% sure which is the best way. I've got 4 groups of 3 panels in series. Each panel Vmp 29.5V. If I just wire it as is to the battery then I'll be looking at 88.5V which seems way too high for a 48V bank. If I drop 1 panel from each group, so I have 4 x 2, then Vmp would be 59V which is much better - but still seems like it could be at risk of overcharging? Battery is 900Ah, if I went the 4 x 2 route, that would be 1.88kW of panel.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    Without a controller, you are going to have to baby-sit the wires and battery, with a volt meter.

    You could re-wire the whole mess to 2 series panels, but have to rewire it when the controller gets replaced, so while watching it, I'd just leave them as 3 in series.

    I've never dug into the software that deeply. I'm not sure what all those settings are , and why they call them Coil On and Coil Off. I know I've never been instructed to reset by software, and I wonder if you found a bug.
    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 ,

  • n3qikn3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    "Coil" is an industry term used for the output of a control.
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    It was pretty easy to re-wire it to 2 panels in series - so for the past week I've had 8 x 235W panels in total and with this sunny weather we've had, by midday the battery monitor reports 90% SoC and the batts are at between 2.5V to 2.6V. At this point I usually turn off 3 of the strings so that I only have 2 x 235W panels connected - even so, the batteries stay at about 2.3V for the remainder of the day. Am I damaging the batteries leaving them at this high voltage for so long?
    Since I effectively stop "absorb" type charging quite early, they never reach 100% SoC during the week, so will do an EQ at the end of week 2 to make sure they're charged.
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    Stephen, whilst your in limbo without a CC two things

    2.5v x 24 is 60v
    2.6v x 24 is 62.4

    At this time of year you can knock off a volt or so for temp compensation (thats total volts) so your really just over Bulk and just under Eq. If it was me I would wait till you see 57.6v + then let them run for an hour making sure that if they get to 63 v you regulate the power a little by running a AC load . A slightly high Voltage charge for a hour may result in some excess gassing so just keep an eye on water levels. My batteries are the same as yours except 11+ years older. Plus keeping a spare cheap PWM backup like a Xantrex C40 or Tristar bog basic no display is a consideration. Unfortunately I havent an secondhand ones in at the moment or I would have leant you one !

    On the generator front, Ive had a 3000 rpm Kipor unit for over 5 years now, however its been retired to my back up unit ( come mobile power supply for welding) as I have a 6kw 1500 rpm Gesan Deutz Unit. But as I dont run more than 100 hours a year. You also are a light genny user so I would stick my neck out and advise you to source the Suntom silent diesel 6kva unit similar to the Kipor.Yes 3000 rpm but they are affordable. (drinks about 1 ltr a hour) Why the Suntom, well my colleague who covers the genny side of things services all types in this range including mine and he prefers the Suntom because its more basic on the electrical side no facny digital display , spares are cheaper and as reliable as the Kipors. Note the brand name is important when looking at Eastern Gennys they all look similar but quality varies !! . He imports from the only one Suntom importer in Uk he is on flea bay,

    Again its a hard lesson to learn, but off grid you have to have back ups, I have a 2nd backup small inverter style unit genny also, Im fortunate on the equipment side I suppose Id just take one out of the store ! But I havent had a single equipment failure in my off grid gear in six years. original Xantrex now OB and Midnite !

    Nigel
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller
    nigtomdaw wrote: »
    Unfortunately I havent an secondhand ones in at the moment or I would have leant you one !

    It's the thought that counts ;) I am considering a backup unit and may actually get another MPPT for future PV expansion. First want to see what happens under the terms of the guarantee for the morningstar. (The fact that you now support the midnite's is errrr, very tempting).


    I've gone and bought a petrol gen with a honda engine. It might become the second backup in the future - just depends on how much I end up using it. I'm really sick and tired of mechanical things, and would prefer to invest in more PV rather than more gens that end up being blackholes sucking my time and money to keep them running. We've still not had any rain so don't know how the PV produces during completely overcast weather, but if I can get 200+ W from it, I think it could see me through about 5 days without needing the gen.
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    Stephen email me your dilivery address to [email protected] and Ill UPS a C40 BNIB for you to use, unfortunately Xantrex AKA Schnieder dont reply to emails from would be promoters of thier products which Im still a fan of, so this last C40 may as well do some good, at least Midnite, OB, Morningstar and Bogart feel Im worthy across the pond so to speak ! Just send it back when your Tristarred up again.

    stephendv wrote: »
    It's the thought that counts ;) I am considering a backup unit and may actually get another MPPT for future PV expansion. First want to see what happens under the terms of the guarantee for the morningstar. (The fact that you now support the midnite's is errrr, very tempting).


    I've gone and bought a petrol gen with a honda engine. It might become the second backup in the future - just depends on how much I end up using it. I'm really sick and tired of mechanical things, and would prefer to invest in more PV rather than more gens that end up being blackholes sucking my time and money to keep them running. We've still not had any rain so don't know how the PV produces during completely overcast weather, but if I can get 200+ W from it, I think it could see me through about 5 days without needing the gen.
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller
    nigtomdaw wrote: »
    Stephen email me your dilivery address to [email protected] and Ill UPS a C40 BNIB for you to use, unfortunately Xantrex AKA Schnieder dont reply to emails from would be promoters of thier products which Im still a fan of, so this last C40 may as well do some good, at least Midnite, OB, Morningstar and Bogart feel Im worthy across the pond so to speak ! Just send it back when your Tristarred up again.

    Nigel, that's very generous of you!!! :D Have sent details in mail.
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    Thanks to Nigel at www.prismsolar.eu I'm now up and running with a C40 controller. No more cycling down to the array every 2 hours :D

    (Hope it's OK to reference the site since it's not in the US- and he's done me a HUGE favour!)
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,747 admin
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    When somebody runs across a vendor/supplier/forum member that provides excellent service and support--Active forum members are more than welcome to post the vendor's name/website and their praises (and spammers will still be deleted).

    I do like to read good news too. :D

    -Bill B. Moderator
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    Hi Bill long time no chat, Ive been busy with Prism Solar come a long way in a few years. I still read here a lot but don't contribute as much.
    Stephen Ive got a nice Classic waiting here for you, when your ready, unfortunately it wont be free:p

    Nigel
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    it's good to know you are still with us here even if only reading. post more often if you can.

    kudos on your helping stephen.
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller
    nigtomdaw wrote: »
    Stephen Ive got a nice Classic waiting here for you, when your ready, unfortunately it wont be free:p

    As the days tick by, it's becoming more and more tempting. Morningstar Spain still haven't got around to looking at my controller and it's been 2 weeks now :( Is this normal for warranty repairs?
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    Stephen

    Cant help you on Morningstar they as most manufacturer's operate through distributors and its the distributor who will handle the return repair. I havent had an issue with Morningstar yet but I would expect I would have been on your case for a result with my distributor days after they had it returned to them !
    With Outback I carry all the spares and get authority from my distributor to replace items, although I will add its been very rare with only one AC controller board on a new inverter in three years.
    Midnite Classics and Midnite Equipment, I have the all spares all instock, and should a issue arise Im the man in Europe at present.

    Nigel
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    Thanks Nigel, hopefully I won't have to resort to a new controller as there should be no reason that morningstar doesn't repair/replace it under warranty. I just posted my experience on a spanish forum, and low and behold a chap there had the same thing happen, twice, while reprogramming his controller with the solar arrays connected. I'm still finding out whether it was the "reset" button specifically, or just the act of uploading new configs that did it for him.

    [EDIT] He has confirmed that it was the same "reset control" option from MS-View which blew his up.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    do let us know what the verdict is from morningstar and their advice to prevent it from happening again. i'm wondering if this glitch has something to do with the pv power being on at the time of reset whereas simply switching the breaker or disconnect to the pvs off may have stopped the damage while resetting?
  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 1,008 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    I'm willing to bet (a nickel) that a software fix is in the works.

    boB
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    I've updated mine several times, but never tried the sw reset. I'm going to stick with the circuit breaker. When it faults after the upload, the PV array power goes to zero, and I just flip the breakers OFF then.

    MPPT - 60
    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 ,

  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    I really hope it is a software fix because I had dreams of changing the charging settings on the fly and automatically from a central server based on DoD, time of year and end amps.

    Neil, I also think it was a problem having the PV array connected at the time of the reset. The other guy's blew with a Voc of 90V, so I don't think that's the issue.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    Once you have black smoke, it's hardware to fix, not sw. A sw patch might solve the initial issue of releasing the black smoke, but once it's out, you can't put it back in.

    I'm also running my array around 90V, 5 "12V" panels in series, 130Voc on frosty mornings. no smoke yet....
    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 ,

  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 1,008 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    So, when the black smoke appeared when reset, was the MPPT 60 actually "RUNNING" and charging at that time ??

    I am guessing that it was running.

    boB
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    At the exact moment of smoke, it was in "Fault" mode. Sequence of events was:

    1. Controller in Bulk phase, working fine
    2. I plug in ethernet and click upload to upload new settings
    3. Settings go on fine and controller goes to Fault mode (It always goes to Fault mode after updating new settings)
    4. Right click on controller in MS-View, and choose properties
    5. Click on "reset control"
    6. Smoke

    [Array and battery was connected all the time]
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    Just an update, the distributor has replaced my TS MPPT with a brand new one :)
    And I had a private message from morningstar that they're investigating the issue. In the meantime, I won't be changing any settings while the array is connected.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    Glad they're replacing it for you. My info even says to disconnect all power before connecting to computer.
    Good luck with the new one
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller
    Glad they're replacing it for you. My info even says to disconnect all power before connecting to computer.

    If you disconnect all power, including battery power, then the device is completely off, so you can't talk to it using MS-View. What I was doing was just changing the settings, not updating the firmware.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    The implication was that you would reconnect the power AFTER the connection was made to the computer.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller
    Glad they're replacing it for you. My info even says to disconnect all power before connecting to computer. ....

    That's why I sprung for the the isolated USB converter. But I do not see that anywhere - to disconnect all power . Is that in the manual or from word-of-mouth ?
    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 ,

  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller
    mike90045 wrote: »
    I do not see that anywhere - to disconnect all power . Is that in the manual or from word-of-mouth ?
    Found it somewhere in some of the Morningstar online HELP stuff a couple of days ago. I may or may not be able to find it again, was searching through so much info trying to find out why my basic STAPLES adapter wasn't doing the trick and came across it. I'm sure your isolated unit would eliminate the need. Do you remember the make and model of your converter? I'm still trying to track down the Tripp Lite here in Nova Scotia. So far no luck.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Black smoke from Morningstar MPPT 60 controller

    I've got an edgeport 1 USB to 8 ser port convertor. No idea what the model # is, it's 500 miles away right now.
    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 ,

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