Morning Start HUB-1 problems

Beyond BiodieselBeyond Biodiesel Registered Users Posts: 7
Hi, I am relatively new to the forum. I have 30 136Watt Uni-solar panels going to 3 Morning Star Tri Star-60 charge controllers, 2 Tri Star meters, and a Morning Star Relay Driver, all of which go to a Morning Star HUB-1. They charge 12 6-volt golf cart batteries, and I have 3 Power Bright ML3500-24 3500W 24 Volt Portable Power Inverters connected to the batteries.

After a month of pulling out my hair I finally got the charge controllers, meters and relay driver all talking to each other. However, this morning I made some changes to my battery array, and added another inverter, which required powering down the entire system. Now, the 2 displays say "System," and never display anything else. I have tried disconnecting them from the HUB-1, and all three charge controllers function fine. I have also tried powering all of the control equipment down several times, but nothing seems to get it beyond the "System" display. So, does that sound like the hub might be dead? Or, do I need to make an animal sacrifice?

Comments

  • jcheiljcheil Solar Expert Posts: 722 ✭✭✭
    Re: Morning Start HUB-1 problems

    I know with most of the charge controllers I have seen on here you should always connect the battery first, then the solar.
    So try disconnecting both, connecting the battery first, then connect the solar and see if that "reboots" it.
    Off-Grid in Central Florida since 2005, Full-Time since June 2014 | 12 X Sovello 205w panels, 9 X ToPoint 220w panels, 36x ToPoint 225w panels (12,525 watts total) | Custom built single-axis ground mounts | Complete FP2 Outback System: 3 x FM80, 2 x VFX3648, X240 Transformer, FLEXnet-DC, Mate-3, Hub-10, FW500 AC/DC | 24 x Trojan L16RE-B Batteries 1110ah @ 48v | Honda EU7000is Generator and a pile of "other" Generators | Home-Made PVC solar hot water collector | Custom data logging software http://www.somewhatcrookedcamp.com/monitormate.html
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,741 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Morning Start HUB-1 problems
    I have 30 136Watt Uni-solar panels going to 3 Morning Star Tri Star-60 charge controllers, 2 Tri Star meters, and a Morning Star Relay Driver, all of which go to a Morning Star HUB-1. They charge 12 6-volt golf cart batteries, and I have 3 Power Bright ML3500-24 3500W 24 Volt Portable Power Inverters connected to the batteries.

    Welcome to the forum,

    I'm not sure what you have for a system... Do you have three separate solar arrays, each feeding one controller? Do the three controllers all charge one battery bank?

    And you have three 3500 watt inverters, and you've just added a fourth? That's a lot of power! What do you do with this system?

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
    Re: Morning Start HUB-1 problems

    I'm seeing:

    Ten 136 Watt panels per array, total 1360 Watts capable of 44 Amps on 24 Volt system. Times three = 132 Amps.
    Twelve 6 Volt batteries configured as three parallel strings of four to get 660 Amp hours @ 24 Volts.
    That's a 20% peak charge rate.
    Three 3.5 kW inverters each capable of pulling roughly 146 Amps or 438 Amps total which would 'flatten' that battery bank quite quickly if full power were drawn.

    I don't know why you have what amounts to three systems all connected on the DC side when it is unlikely those inverters allow stacking on the AC side.

    But I suspect jcheil is right that you disconnected the batteries without disconnecting the PV first and now you may have a problem with the HUB. If it received even a brief flash of high Voltage it may not have survived. Especially if all the other equipment still works if hooked up independent of the HUB.

    Personally I wouldn't be using a HUB here; I'd let the three systems stand independently.
  • Beyond BiodieselBeyond Biodiesel Registered Users Posts: 7
    Re: Morning Start HUB-1 problems
    jcheil wrote: »
    I know with most of the charge controllers I have seen on here you should always connect the battery first, then the solar.
    So try disconnecting both, connecting the battery first, then connect the solar and see if that "reboots" it.

    Thanks, jcheil, I have observed the same thing, so I typically connect the batteries to the charge controllers, then turn on the relay on the Midnight Solar combiner box; however, this time the hub just sits there with "system" on both displays.
    vtmaps wrote: »
    Welcome to the forum,

    I'm not sure what you have for a system... Do you have three separate solar arrays, each feeding one controller? Do the three controllers all charge one battery bank?

    And you have three 3500 watt inverters, and you've just added a fourth? That's a lot of power! What do you do with this system?

    --vtMaps
    I'm seeing:

    Ten 136 Watt panels per array, total 1360 Watts capable of 44 Amps on 24 Volt system. Times three = 132 Amps.
    Twelve 6 Volt batteries configured as three parallel strings of four to get 660 Amp hours @ 24 Volts.
    That's a 20% peak charge rate.
    Three 3.5 kW inverters each capable of pulling roughly 146 Amps or 438 Amps total which would 'flatten' that battery bank quite quickly if full power were drawn.

    I don't know why you have what amounts to three systems all connected on the DC side when it is unlikely those inverters allow stacking on the AC side.

    But I suspect jcheil is right that you disconnected the batteries without disconnecting the PV first and now you may have a problem with the HUB. If it received even a brief flash of high Voltage it may not have survived. Especially if all the other equipment still works if hooked up independent of the HUB.

    Personally I wouldn't be using a HUB here; I'd let the three systems stand independently.

    Sorry, vtmaps and Cariboocoot, I realize now that my description was not clear enough. I have 30 136Watt Uni-solar panels that are hooked up in groups of 10 in a Midnight Solar combiner box passing through 3 60amp DC circuit breakers, from there 10ea. solar panels go to 1 of 3 Tristar-60 charge controllers. All 3 charge controllers dump into one side of Twelve 6 Volt batteries configured as three parallel strings of four to get 660 Amp hours @ 24 Volts. Right now I only own 3 Power Bright ML3500-24 3500W 24 Volt Portable Power Inverters, and only 2 are now hooked up.

    Yes, Cariboocoot, there are "Three 3.5 kW inverters each capable of pulling roughly 146 Amps or 438 Amps total which would 'flatten' that battery bank quite quickly if full power were drawn." Yes, vtMaps, "That's a lot of power!" "What do you do with this system?" vtMaps, I am building a full-on small-scale petroleum refinery, which requires a lot more power than the 3168watts my solar array provides. However, it does not take 3168watts continuously to refine 5 gallon batches of waste motor oil, which is my feedstock, and batch size. My plan is to bring on each stage of the pilot plant separately. Once each stage is up its control temperature, then the duty cycle for each stage is quite low. Which means all I have to accommodate is the possibility that all of the heaters are going to hit their respective inverters, and thus the battery bank at once, but that is only for a few seconds.

    Yesterday I needed to hook up the second Power Bright ML3500-24 3500W 24 Volt Portable Power Inverter, and make a change on the hookup for the one that had been running my system. My mistake was not to turn off the circuit breakers in the combiner box, and unplug the charge controllers; however, I made the changes before dawn, so the gain would have been below threshold for the charge controllers.

    Part of working through the fault is the battery sense wire for the charge controllers is attached to the backside of the Power Bright ML3500-24 3500W 24 Volt Portable Power Inverter that I have been using. I have daisy-chained the battery sense wire to each charge controller. Additionally I needed power for the relay driver, so I tapped into the battery sense wire for that power. Also, the work yesterday was not on the positive side of the Power Bright ML3500-24 3500W 24 Volt Portable Power Inverter, it was only a replacement for the negative cable.

    After replacing the negative cable on the primary Power Bright ML3500-24 3500W 24 Volt Portable Power Inverter, I then added another Power Bright ML3500-24 3500W 24 Volt Portable Power Inverter to the battery bank. Each Power Bright ML3500-24 3500W 24 Volt Portable Power Inverter has its own bank (string) of 4 6-volt batteries to tap. All cable connections to the batteries and inverters is 0000 cable.

    I have since done some isolation of the problem. All equipment functions on the meterbus, but none on the Hub bus. Also, the relay driver does not seem to activate its channels at its control points. I have not tried communicating with it via its serial port, but I will do that soon. Right now it looks like the HUB is dead.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
    Re: Morning Start HUB-1 problems

    Some issues:
    All 3 charge controllers dump into one side of Twelve 6 Volt batteries configured as three parallel strings of four to get 660 Amp hours @ 24 Volts.

    That sounds like the batteries are 'laddered'. You don't want to do that as you won't get even current flow and thus not full capacity. Check the Smart Gauge wiring here: http://www.smartgauge.co.uk/batt_con.html You should be using method #3.
    Part of working through the fault is the battery sense wire for the charge controllers is attached to the backside of the Power Bright ML3500-24 3500W 24 Volt Portable Power Inverter that I have been using. I have daisy-chained the battery sense wire to each charge controller. Additionally I needed power for the relay driver, so I tapped into the battery sense wire for that power.

    Well the sense wires should be attached at the bus bars (as per above) not on the inverter. Their job is to send the controller accurate information about the battery Voltage. As such they shouldn't be daisy-chained either (although that is not a big issue) and the definitely shouldn't be tapped to supply power for anything else.

    You would be better off with one large inverter instead of three smaller ones if that could be done. The reason being each one of these inverters consumes some power on its own, and one large inverter will consume about as much as one small one so there is no savings here in having multiple inverters. This leads to the question "How much power is each inverter actually having to supply?" One inverter capable of the maximum total Watts would be more efficient, although you would probably need something like a Radian for this. It would also be 48 Volts which again is more efficient.

    It sounds as though you may be running heating elements. Not great from batteries. Again an efficiency issue (the amount of power you harvest needs to be nearly2X the amount you use). It would be more efficient if you could up the AC to 240 Volts.
  • Beyond BiodieselBeyond Biodiesel Registered Users Posts: 7
    Re: Morning Start HUB-1 problems

    Thanks, Cariboocoot, I found Smart Gauge very useful reading, but I do not have my charge controllers at one end of the battery array and the inverters at the other, I have my charge controllers at one end of the battery array and each inverter connected to its own "wrung" (if you wish) of the ladder. Perhaps it would be useful to have 1 of each charge controller connected to each "wrung" (if you wish) of the ladder. I connected the charge controllers at one end to dampen out any electrical noise from them. So, perhaps the latter is better than the former.

    OK, I will move the battery sense to the bus bars. It is a good idea. And I will attach a separate connection from the bus bars to the Relay Driver.

    I did hook up the Relay Driver to a PC today and ran MSview 1.5.1. The software found it and found the configuration was still the way I left it; however, the LEDs for the channels no longer light at the set points. So, I think the outputs are toast. Next step is to wire some relays to the Relay Driver to see if it will control them, but I do not have a lot of confidence in the Relay Driver at this point.

    There are a number of reasons why I have more than inverter:
    1) One large inverter was significantly more costly than buying 3 cheap inverters.
    2) Redundancy is a good thing when you are distilling petroleum distillates, so if one inverter goes belly-up in a run, then I have 2 others to fall back on.
    3) I can accidentally over-load one inverter, and still have 2 more that keep the process going until I can reset the overloaded inverter.
    4) If I smoke an inverter, then I have 2 more to rely upon to keep things here going; whereas, if I had only one, then I would be dead in the water if I smoked an inverter; and I have smoked 4 inverters.

    I keep 2 of the inverters off and only run them when more power is needed. I also have not noticed any significant losses due to having 3 inverters.

    Yes, I am running heating elements to operate my refinery. Yes, I agree, using solar power to run electrical heaters is the most inefficient use of solar electrical gain that I can think of. However, electric heating elements to fractionate petroleum distillates is a lot safer than any other way to do it. However, I do not use the batteries for powering the pyrolysis unit. I use the midday gain only for that power; however, the batteries are simply used as a ballast system to prevent overloads. At this time 120AC seems like a better way to go than 220; however, the unit could easily be operated on 240.

    The Hub-1 is dead.

    Thanks for the reply and suggestions.
  • Beyond BiodieselBeyond Biodiesel Registered Users Posts: 7
    Re: Morning Start HUB-1 problems

    OK, update on my problems with my Morningstar Relay Driver and Hub-1. I called the people at Northern Arizona Wind & Sun, where I bought the 2 items, as well as other solar gear. They recommended that I try hooking up one of the other charge controllers to the Relay Driver, which I had not tried. It worked.

    The other problem was solved when I was told to try pressing the down button on the display, when it said "system." Of course it worked, and all of the equipment works fine, and I feel kind of foolish, but the first time I started up the hub the display said "system" briefly, then went on to display the charge controller activity. I am not sure why its display cycle was different the second time I booted it, but now I know. All I have to do now is wire up some relays to the Relay Driver and I will be in business.
  • Beyond BiodieselBeyond Biodiesel Registered Users Posts: 7
    Re: Morning Start HUB-1 problems

    Today I ran the relay driver controlling through 3 relays. I programmed it to: start up and run the refrigerator all day; start the electric hot water heater, cook me a stake, and heat my office with a space heater, all by monitoring and responding to battery voltage. It worked like a charm.
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,741 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Morning Start HUB-1 problems
    I programmed it to: start up and run the refrigerator all day; start the electric hot water heater, cook me a stake, and heat my office with a space heater, all by monitoring and responding to battery voltage.

    I would never trust a voltage controlled device to "cook me a stake". I think a temperature probe would be a better control mechanism. Hmmm, I wonder how grilling affects the impedance of a steak....

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • Beyond BiodieselBeyond Biodiesel Registered Users Posts: 7
    Re: Morning Start HUB-1 problems

    I am using an electric frying pan as the stake cooker. It has a bimetal temperature controller. I just have to show up to flip it over once, then a 2nd time correctly timed to eat it. I did find that I had to make a few adjustments in the set points. So, today I expect smoother running of my off-grid solar powered electric system.
  • john pjohn p Solar Expert Posts: 814 ✭✭✭
    Re: Morning Start HUB-1 problems

    Vtmaps.."I wonder how grilling affects the impedance of a steak.... "" Well after doing a few quick calculations on the back of a slice of stale bread. I discovered if the cooking temp is between 387 and 398 deg F then the impedance will be about 8 ohms.. if you get same result just connect the speaker wires from a good tube amplifier to each side of the steak. the sizzle should sound excellent.. True HD interplanetary sound.
  • Beyond BiodieselBeyond Biodiesel Registered Users Posts: 7
    Re: Morning Start HUB-1 problems

    I found no need to measure or calculate the impedance of my stake, and I have enjoyed cooking one everyday for the last few days with my relay driver. It works great. Of course the relay driver is simply powering an electric skillet, which is doing the cooking. These days by 10AM I have enough gain to power the electric skillet, after bringing a 40 gallon electric water heater up to its set point. So, by 10AM the sound of sizzling stake is heard at even better than HD interplanetary sound, because it is real sound.
  • john pjohn p Solar Expert Posts: 814 ✭✭✭
    Re: Morning Start HUB-1 problems

    Beyond Diesel you go get that "stake" Im sure it delicious..
    It was just a slightly unusual question from Vitmaps. I thought it should be given an educated answer, I couldnt find one .But replied anyway..

    I have slighty different tastes .I prefer "steak" from animal. Cooked anyway possible as long as well done..
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