Kyocera Solar Panel problem

I hope someone can help with the problem I have with my Kyocera solar panels. I have 12 Kyocera panels. A bank of 8 x 80watt panels that are 10 years old and a bank of 4 x 85watt panels that were added 6 years ago to make a total of 12 panels connected together. I noticed that the output was down so I did some testing by monitoring my Plasmatronics regulator and found that the four newer panels are producing full output (about 5amps each) and the older 8 panels are only producing from .4amps to 2.8amps each. I have disconnected all wiring on the 8 panels and checked each panel with my multimeter and they all read about 5amps with good sun so the panels seem to be working perfectly well. Then I tried connecting just one and it only reads .4amps. Then add one by one and all are reading between .4amps to 2.8 amps. All the connections and wiring is fine and the newer four panels are connected to the same junction box and they are reading about 5.amps. I just can't understand how the multimeter test is good then the regulator reading is low. I did my testing in equalise mode to make sure I was getting maximum amps. Hope you can help.

Comments

  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    I did my testing in equalise mode to make sure I was getting maximum amps. Hope you can help.
    Welcome to the forum,

    That may be the problem... equalize mode is usually NOT maximum amps.   In order to get maximum amps, the battery must be in a state of discharge and the sun must be high. 

    What do you have for a battery, and how old is it?  If the battery is old (or otherwise has reduced capacity), it will not accept much current. 
     the four newer panels are producing full output (about 5amps each) and the older 8 panels are only producing from .4amps to 2.8amps each.
    There may be a slight mismatch in the voltage of the panels... when the battery is not accepting the full potential output of your array, the higher voltage panels do all the work.  When the battery is discharged and able to accept your array's full output, the slight mismatch in the voltages will not matter.

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • paulshea57paulshea57 Registered Users Posts: 10
    Thanks for the reply vtmaps
    The batteries are 6 x 2 volt Raylite 1000AH and nearly 12 years old that have been well maintained and in good condition. I have also done these tests with the batteries in a state of discharge and the sun high. Before I have covered each panel individually and got the same results as the test above. If I am getting 40amps in from all panels then the 4 panels are getting about 20amps and the 8 panels are getting about 20amps. With the sun high and the batteries discharged I used to get about 60amps
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,688 admin
    Ideally, if you can get a DC Current Clamp meter ($60 USD will get you one from Sears in the USA).

    Also, you can try disconnecting one panel/string at a time, and see if you can isolate it to a bad panel (or electrical connection).

    Kyocera (decade or more ago) did have some "bad" ~125 Watt panels--And did honor the warranty for a bunch of people. If you bought the panels used--I am not sure how their warranty worked.

    What is the voltage on the battery bank when you are doing your measurements? If the voltage is too high (i.e., ~14.5 volts or higher), your charge controller/battery bank may be limiting current draw from the array. Turning on your AC inverter loads+DC loads while you are doing the array output current check may help the measurement accuracy.

    Lead acid batteries, when they get old/end of life sulfate and develop higher internal resistance--Can make your panel output measurements a bit more confuse.

    If you have a circuit breaker per string. Just turn on "one string at a time" and measure the current that way--Find week panel/string(s), and lower charging current will help remove the bank as a variable.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 1,599 ✭✭✭✭
    The panels in question were/are the KC-120-1 model. They still replace them pretty much no questions asked as long as the serial numbers fall into group in question. You don't need to be the original owner.

     BTW it includes all KC-120's made from 1999 through 12/ 2002.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 540 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • paulshea57paulshea57 Registered Users Posts: 10
    I have disconnected one panel at a time and then reconnected one at a time while testing each panel as I go. The readings on the 8 panels range from 0.4 amps to 2.8 amps. These panels are Kyocera 80watt model KC80-01. The more testing I do the more I think that the panels are faulty considering the other 4 x 85 watt panels as mentioned above are testing perfectly normal at about 5 amps each 
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 1,599 ✭✭✭✭
    I would contact Kyocrea. especially if the Mfg. dates are from 1999 through 12/2002. They are very upstanding regarding their warranties.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 540 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    paulshea57 said:
    The more testing I do the more I think that the panels are faulty considering the other 4 x 85 watt panels as mentioned above are testing perfectly normal at about 5 amps each 
    Huh?  In your original post you said that you tested each of the older panels in isolation and they produced full current.

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • paulshea57paulshea57 Registered Users Posts: 10
    In that post I meant to say when I check each of the 8 panels directly with my multimeter with no wiring attached I get full current. When I reconnect the wiring and then check on my Plasmatronics regulator I get the low current readings. 
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    In that post I meant to say when I check each of the 8 panels directly with my multimeter with no wiring attached I get full current. When I reconnect the wiring and then check on my Plasmatronics regulator I get the low current readings. 
    That's what you wrote in the OP.... it doesn't sound like the panels are faulty. 

    btw, I presume you do mean full current (amps), not full volts...  a faulty panel can supply full volts.

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • paulshea57paulshea57 Registered Users Posts: 10
    Yes I did mean amps. I just can't understand how this can be happening. I seem to have isolated everything but the panels. The wiring is ok, the batteries are ok, the regulator is ok as the readings of the 4 x good panels are normal. 
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2016 #12
    By what method are you measuring the current of the old panels while they are connected to the controller?  --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • paulshea57paulshea57 Registered Users Posts: 10
    I am measuring the current by viewing the "Charge" screen on my Plasmatronics regulator
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    I am measuring the current by viewing the "Charge" screen on my Plasmatronics regulator
    Are you connecting the old panels, one at a time, to the regulator?  

    Also, you mentioned that you tested the panels with a multimeter and they all put out full current.  I presume that you connected each panel directly to the 'current' jacks on your multimeter.... if not, then how did you test them?

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • paulshea57paulshea57 Registered Users Posts: 10
    Yes I connected the old panels one at a time to the regulator to get an accurate individual reading. To test each panel I removed the positive and negative wires from the connector on the back of the panel. Using the 10amp setting on the multimeter I then placed the probes in the panel connector to get the readings mentioned above. (I'm not a technician so I hope I have explained this properly)
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    As you realize, something doesn't add up.  I presume that the Voc of all the old panels was normal (I don't recall that you explicitly said you checked voltage)
    The wiring is ok, the batteries are ok, the regulator is ok as the readings of the 4 x good panels are normal. 
    Well, something's not OK.

    How are your panels combined?  Do you have one or more combiner boxes?  Does each panel have a fuse or circuit breaker?

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • paulshea57paulshea57 Registered Users Posts: 10
    Yes the voltage was checked. All the panels are wired to the one junction box and each panel does not have a fuse or circuit breaker. 

  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    If the panels can produce full current into a short circuit, and if the wiring and connections are all correct, then there is something wrong with the test equipment... in this case you are using your regulator as your test equipment... maybe there is something wrong with the regulator or at least its display of Amps.

    If you have a DC clamp meter you can test the current both into and out of the regulator. 

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • paulshea57paulshea57 Registered Users Posts: 10
    The only thing that made me think the regulator is ok is that when I test the four good panels using the regulator, they test perfectly fine. The first method I used to test the panels was to cover each one at a time with a towel and then check the regulator (with good sun above). This also showed that each of the four newer panels would drop about 4.5 amps each and the 8 older panels would drop the same amounts as my other test mentioned above. I have been trying to sort this out before getting my installer to come out but it looks like I need him to do some more comprehensive testing than I can do. 
    Recently I was able to solve a problem with a separate system I have by joining the Outback forum site. I wasn't getting full amps on my FM80 and it turned out to be a faulty fan - all is well now. So thanks vtMaps for your interest and advice. I will get myself a DC clamp meter and will post an update when I get this problem resolved
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    Yes, please do post an update.

    By the way, having more than two panels (or strings of panels) in parallel requires (for safety) that each panel (or string) have a fuse or circuit breaker.  If one of your panels faulted, then the other 11 panels could backfeed it enough current to cause a fire. 

    A combiner box with circuit breakers is wonderful to have when troubleshooting... it is very easy to flip a bunch of breakers to connect any panel or any combination of panels to the controller.  This is what I recommend.

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 1,599 ✭✭✭✭
    As I mentioned in an earlier comment about the Kyocera KC-120's, the dates in question are all 1999 thru 2002. I recall mention of some of the 80 watt modules as having issues as well. It was the change of leaded to lead free solder which caused the problems. What are the dates of your suspect modules?

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 540 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • paulshea57paulshea57 Registered Users Posts: 10
    The 8 x KC80-01 panels were installed in early 2004. Thanks for your post littleharbour2 - this could solve the mystery. I was hoping there might be some faulty 80 watt panels distributed around this time. I will now contact Kyocera with serial numbers and details of the problem and see what happens. I did read about their warranty and I am quite sure I would be covered.  
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