Midnight Solar Classic 150 Issues Summary

DaveDave Registered Users Posts: 59 ✭✭
I installed a solar system in September 2014. The Classic 150 (C150) Charge controller and inverter came premounted and wired on a Magnum panel from Northern Arizona Wind and Sun. After learning the system, I realized there were several problems with the controller not all listed here. Two issues are annoyances more than anything but problem #1 resulted in unnecessary battery drain and I’ll describe that first. This is an off-grid, stand-alone system without generator or other back-up. All power comes from 3 kW of panels with a 470 Ah, 48V battery bank. The C150 is paired with a Magnum 4448 PAE Inverter and RC-50 Remote display.

1) Sometimes, there is a significant time lag (ranges from seconds to more than a minute) after a load is added to the system before the C150 adjusts and allows more power from the panels in to cover the load. During that lag, the batteries are carrying a large load even though there is an abundance of solar energy that is not being used. Then, suddenly, the C150 kicks in and the solar power soars and covers all the load and starts recharging the batteries (there is no change in sun availability during this time). Other times it works perfectly; i.e. power loads are met as they occur, no lag. The problem appears to be random in terms of when it will occur and a user will likely not know the problem exists without spending a lot of time watching the system monitors.

2) The “Status” display on the C150 often (some days it’s perfect all day, other times it comes and goes throughout the day) shows incorrectly low values for Wattage and Amperes. For example, the C150 shows 500W at 50V, 10A as the total energy available in the system but the RC-50 monitor indicates the same voltage with batteries charging at 12 or 13A. I have verified with a meter that the RC-50 values are correct. It is especially obvious when the C150 shows 0 watts in the system, yet the batteries are charging. If a load kicks in, the C150 displayed values increase but still under-report the amount of energy that is being used. This is annoying but also means the cumulative power calculated by the 150 is under-reported. The C150 appears to be diverting power correctly, just not displaying it. Midnite Solar has been responsive even though they say they have never seen this problem before. They sent a new display, which did not correct the problem and now an entire new charge controller that they sent does the exact same thing. This indicates to me a widespread quality issue.

3) A small glitch but I’ll mention it anyway: as you scroll across the maximum power data under the Daily Graph mode (in Logs), the displayed values truncate the thousands so all you can see is the last three digits. I made Midnite Solar aware of this and they said they would fix it in the next Firmware Update.

Midnight Solar doubted this problem #2 existed until I recorded it while it was occurring and sent them the video. Then they acknowledged the problem and said they were working on a fix. The “new” Classic 150 they sent me was a better functioning controller – did not experience the serious Problem #1 above, but had the identical display issue to the original Classic 150. More troubling was that I discovered old data files on the controller and upon pressing Midnight Solar, confirmed that they has sent me a refurbished unit. That is unacceptable in my opinion unless I agreed to that.

Months later no fix had emerged for the Classic 150 and Northern Arizona Wind and Sun graciously sent me a Morningstar Tristar MPPT 60 and I returned the Classic 150 to them. The Morningstar has performed flawlessly for more than a year. Thanks NAWS for taking care of me!

What struck me most in using the Midnight Solar Classic 150 versus the Morningstar Tristar 60 is that each of three Classic 150s had a “personality”, with its own strengths, weaknesses, inconsistencies, and oddities. They were all different. It seems to me that electrical equipment should perform the same way, as intended, each time. Lack of uniformity means lack of quality control, whether it is in hardware or software or both. The Morningstar has been completely consistent and reliable with no performance oddities or surprises, a much higher quality unit and satisfying experience in my opinion. I also appreciate the silentness of the Tristar versus the constant clicking and fan noise of the Classic 150. Seems to me that noises indicate efficiency loss and mechanical parts that will eventually wear out.
12 * 300 W (10 fixed rooftop, 2 movable pole mount), Morningstar Tristar MPPT 60, Magnum 4448 PAE, 64 200Ah CALB in 4p16s arrangement with 16 LED Balancers and a Choice BMS300 (It is lousy and I don't recommend but it provides high and low voltage cutoff)

Comments

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,511 ✭✭✭✭✭
    But the morninstar has no coin slot :o 
     I've recently set up a 3rd system, and used a Morningstar TS-MPPT-60. I never worry about firmware updates.
    I'm stuck with the C200 because of my array configuration and wire constraints
    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 ,

  • mcgivormcgivor Solar Expert Posts: 3,854 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Funny you should mention a coin slot, always thought it kind of resembles a 1950's art deco juke box. Been looking at MPPT controllers, pros and cons etcetera and it seem like ,to me anyway, that the Schneider and Morningstar are the more business like, with no fans or relays whilst some use gadgetry and programming features  as selling points. There have been some problems reported with Midnight controllers which it seems the manufacturer remidies, but sending a unit in for service or parts, such as fans, is not really an option for me as I'm not in the the US.

    Would love to hear from others, opinions, experiences and criticisms as the customer is the one who has to live with it once purchased and is the best judge, manufacturer claims are sometimes misleading. Suggestions on other manufacturers most welcome as personally I'm unbiased, having no experience with MPPT yet. 

    Thanks in advance.
    1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider MPPT 60 150 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 400Ah LFP 24V nominal battery with Battery Bodyguard BMS 
    Second system 1890W  3 × 300W No name brand poly, 3×330 Sunsolar Poly panels, Morningstar TS 60 PWM controller, no name 2000W inverter 400Ah LFP 24V nominal battery with Daly BMS, used for water pumping and day time air conditioning.  
    5Kw Yanmar clone single cylinder air cooled diesel generator for rare emergency charging and welding.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    There was no mention of 'fine tuning' of the classic settings or data reported...???  like using the offsets for voltage readings...  the other item I picked up on is that the issue did not go away with the replacement, so... if it was exactly the same , whatever was causing it was not addressed... IMO.

    I have had problems with my Classics, and with MNSolar staff assistance we dug until they were fixed, and yes I got 1) a new board  and 2) a replacement unit that had been re/& refurbished, vs wait for my unit to travel to SEA and back after repair ... and a Beta  KID that was replaced with a brand new unit.
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,729 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I've been happy with my 2 up and running, will add a 3rd shortly... I haven't been stressing my classic's, did upgrade the firmware and have rarely heard the turbo fan since. I have one that I've had a devil of a time networking. boB said send it back, but it follows the other without being switched. Unlike others, I have caught mine doing an equalizing but I have a battery cell that I check and do manual equalizing since before, I heard some were having problems with it. Really no complaints in 4 years. I'd like to run a relay to turn my water heater on and off, but I've switch to a longer absorb to keep up the SG of a bad/poisoned battery cell, so not really a long enough day during the late fall and winter months.

    I really like the wiz-bang JR and find it was the feature I was looking for in a charge controller, before anyone was measuring the current going into the battery bank. It is more matured now and I need to figure out how to wedge mine in a very crowded E-Panel. (3 charge controller breakers in and 3 out, main breaker.


    I generally trust boB and Robin Gudgel, They have a very long history in the business and were responsible for much of the equipment at Xantrex (now Schnieder) before starting Outback and now Midnite.

    Here is a history of Inverter companies in the pacific Northwest;

    http://www.midnitesolar.com/pages/frontPage/nwHistory/history.php

    Here is an older version with a picture of Robin and some of the equipment he has developed.

    http://hardysolar.com/inverter/inverter-history.html
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,729 ✭✭✭✭✭
    McGivor, I have no problem and might even suggest the Morningstar as a good unit for you, given the distance from origin.  It's pretty rock solid. I don't know enough about the Schnieder, I think they have many of the features of the MidNite's but I haven't even seen one up and running and perhaps since it's newer and more unknown, I'd suggest the Morningstar.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • kaipo_boykaipo_boy Solar Expert Posts: 143 ✭✭

    Uh oh. I've been dithering and pushing my controller purchase off into the future and now I've gotta jump, soon. AND my Kid controller just died after about a year and a half :(, I'll have to send it in for a checkup.

    I have been hearing about these 'ghost in the machine' complaints with the Classics for some time now, its so difficult to put your finger on complaints that appear to stem more from software design and implementation than hardware build.  But I think I am gonna go with the Morningstar. Do they have a sizing tool?  As a note, I have been happy with my Kid until just now... although I don't mean to hijack with thread, which is about a different model.

    aloha,

    walt

  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,729 ✭✭✭✭✭
    You can always start your own thread.

    Morningstar's sizing tool;

    http://string-calculator.morningstarcorp.com/
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • mcgivormcgivor Solar Expert Posts: 3,854 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Yes, probably the best, sometimes an imput  can send a discussion wildly off in all directions. Thanks for the link by the way. 
    1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider MPPT 60 150 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 400Ah LFP 24V nominal battery with Battery Bodyguard BMS 
    Second system 1890W  3 × 300W No name brand poly, 3×330 Sunsolar Poly panels, Morningstar TS 60 PWM controller, no name 2000W inverter 400Ah LFP 24V nominal battery with Daly BMS, used for water pumping and day time air conditioning.  
    5Kw Yanmar clone single cylinder air cooled diesel generator for rare emergency charging and welding.
  • DaveDave Registered Users Posts: 59 ✭✭
    There was no mention of 'fine tuning' of the classic settings or data reported...???  like using the offsets for voltage readings...  the other item I picked up on is that the issue did not go away with the replacement, so... if it was exactly the same , whatever was causing it was not addressed... IMO.

    I have had problems with my Classics, and with MNSolar staff assistance we dug until they were fixed, and yes I got 1) a new board  and 2) a replacement unit that had been re/& refurbished, vs wait for my unit to travel to SEA and back after repair ... and a Beta  KID that was replaced with a brand new unit.

    Hi Westbranch - yes, I tried all the 'fine tuning" I or Midnight Solar could come up with. As you know, the problem with intermittent issues is you change a setting and think you might have fixed it only to have it reappear at some random time later. I am not sure what you meant by "data reported". If you are referring to the issue of incorrect data shown on the screen and incorrect cumulative power values based on those data, I do have some spreadsheet values I could share. I didn't mention that MS first sent me a replacement screen which they said was really where the computer was. That had no effect either. With one unit showing the problem, I'd accept it's limited but with a brand new unit, plus brand new screen, plus refurbished unit all showing it, I have to believe the problem is in all their units and they were not able to fix it after several months. Here's a link to my fascinating (haha) utube showing the problem - I hope it's obvious: MidNiteSolar Classic 150 Display Issue - YouTube  The problem of delayed response to meet loads was way more serious and I was basically given the runaround by MS about that one. The refurbished unit fixed that problem and one guy at MS told me the refurbished units are better in that they go through way more extensive testing than the new units.
    12 * 300 W (10 fixed rooftop, 2 movable pole mount), Morningstar Tristar MPPT 60, Magnum 4448 PAE, 64 200Ah CALB in 4p16s arrangement with 16 LED Balancers and a Choice BMS300 (It is lousy and I don't recommend but it provides high and low voltage cutoff)
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 3,597 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2016 #11
    I am a bit concerned about brand new posters damaging the reputations of highly reputable manufacturers such as Rolls Surrette and MidNite. Isn't it a bit speculative for someone to have negative experiences and develop a brand new account to share highly detailed experiences?

    This poster seems to have made documentation a full time job. How do MidNite charge controllers enjoy such a stellar reputation in the face of these charges? How did the poster not learn the proper spelling after spending days staring at the controller?

    I may suspect an irritated ex-employee. Their first post contained these tags? Come on. "Tagged:
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,090 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2016 #12
    mcgivor said:
    Funny you should mention a coin slot, always thought it kind of resembles a 1950's art deco juke box. Been looking at MPPT controllers, pros and cons etcetera and it seem like ,to me anyway, that the Schneider and Morningstar are the more business like, with no fans or relays whilst some use gadgetry and programming features  as selling points. There have been some problems reported with Midnight controllers which it seems the manufacturer remidies, but sending a unit in for service or parts, such as fans, is not really an option for me as I'm not in the the US.

    Would love to hear from others, opinions, experiences and criticisms as the customer is the one who has to live with it once purchased and is the best judge, manufacturer claims are sometimes misleading. Suggestions on other manufacturers most welcome as personally I'm unbiased, having no experience with MPPT yet. 

    Thanks in advance.
    I am up in the hundreds of Outback and Schneider mppt's installed and along with my own have never really had problems with them, ever! The FM's had one fan failure and Schneider mppt's had one DOA and one that was flooded from an overhead pipe. My mppt-60 was a beta unit from 2006 and has banged out the kwh without a peep. The other 2 are the high voltage CC's with a 3 speed fan that only comes on in summer with cooling loads to the house.  I think I would really like Morningstar if they built an inverter as I still think they have the most efficient mppt design.I really like 600v controllers. I never mix up system components and that makes it easy for me to help my clients. It helps them also.

    Outback has a new charge controller the Ultra that has 3 models. They are 300vdc, 100amps, and one is fanless like the Schnieder and Morningstar. Should be out very soon. Too bad they could not make the leap to 600vdc but installers will love how much easier it is even at 300v.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • DaveDave Registered Users Posts: 59 ✭✭
    softdown said:
    I am a bit concerned about brand new posters damaging the reputations of highly reputable manufacturers such as Rolls Surrette and MidNite. Isn't it a bit speculative for someone to have negative experiences and develop a brand new account to share highly detailed experiences?

    This poster seems to have made documentation a full time job. How do MidNite charge controllers enjoy such a stellar reputation in the face of these charges? How did the poster not learn the proper spelling after spending days staring at the controller?

    I may suspect an irritated ex-employee. Their first post contained these tags? Come on. "Tagged:
    Great apologies for the misspelling, LOL. I waited to post this until I had significant experience with the Morningstar so that I could make a valid comparison. Check the date on the youtube and you'll see that was quite a while ago and it is the evidence that persuaded MS that they truly had a problem. Uh, no, I actually am not an irritated ex-employee, I am a consumer who has learned the hard way about products. I have no axe to grind but hope my experiences can help others. Yes, I am serious about documentation. I am a retired engineer who designed and put this system together so I was very interested in making sure I had done it correctly and the system was working right. This was all new to me and I was not comfortable with my understanding in the beginning. The documentation was to help me understand whether there was a problem or I was simply misunderstanding the system.
    Clearly, you are someone who loves Midnite Solar, bully for you. Ignore my posts but don't disparage them because you have had a different experience. Maybe even consider watching yours full time for a while and you might discover that it is doing exactly what three versions of the Classic 150 did for me. In terms of stellar reputation, I think if you look around a bit, you will see that there are quite a few folks who identify strange, hard to trace, and hard to duplicate problems. We're not all irritated ex-employees, that I know for a fact.
    Also curious what tags you think would have been more appropriate; those seemed to cover the main points to me.
    12 * 300 W (10 fixed rooftop, 2 movable pole mount), Morningstar Tristar MPPT 60, Magnum 4448 PAE, 64 200Ah CALB in 4p16s arrangement with 16 LED Balancers and a Choice BMS300 (It is lousy and I don't recommend but it provides high and low voltage cutoff)
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,511 ✭✭✭✭✭
    If one goes to the midnight forum, you find pages and pages about bricked controllers, firmware won't update, EQ starts randomly, Absorb starts/stops randomly, fans run, MPPT non-functional except in Legacy Mode.......   I won't buy another till they clean their stuff up,  Just bought a 2nd Morningstar TS-MPPT-60, could have been a C150, but I won't risk it.
    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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