My FM80's Fan is making an intermittent high pitched noise

SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 393 ✭✭✭
While doing laundry today I heard the FM80's fan (the one located on the "top") making an unusual highish pitched noise when it cycled on. I listened carefully and heard the weird noise come directly from the fan.  When it cycled on again about 5 minutes later, no high pitched noise, only the regular fan sound (trust me, I know the regular fan noise).  My presumption is that the fan is on it's way out.

There is nothing in my FM80 manual on how to replace the fan, but it doesn't seem to be rocket science.  Just get a replacement fan, take off the cover, unplug the old fan, and then install new fan.  Right?

I wrote down the fan brand name and values (12V, 0.42 amps...) and will have to order it - can I get a 'computer' type of fan with the same size and ratings?

Also, In the interim 2 weeks that it will take to order shall I reduce absorb time (it's currently set to 4 hours absorb)...just to take some pressure off the existing fan?

Outback Flexpower 1 (FM80, VFX3048E-230v, Mate, FlexNetDC) 2,730watts of "Grid-type" PV, 370 AmpHrs Trojan RE-B's, Honda 2000 watt genny, 100% off grid.

Comments

  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,970 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi Surf..,

    YES,  agree that the FM-80's fan is quite possibly on its way out.

    You are wise to have purchased the FM-80,  which should have a fan that is relatively easy to replace.

    Am certain that OB could send one to you ...  Is this this FM still under Warranty?

    I have not dealt with the FM fans,  but you might look here (I have no affiliation with this company):
    http://www.allelectronics.com/make-a-store/category/220100/fans/d.c.-fans/1.html

    The FM CC should Limit its output current to moderate its heating resulting from a fan that is slowing or completely stalled.   Using an external fan that moves air over and around the FM  should help some.

    FWIW,  Good Luck,   Vic

    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 393 ✭✭✭
    Hi Vic,
    Long time. The FM80 was purchased in 2012 (as part of a flexpower unit).  I don't think it's still under warranty.

    I looked at your link.  The fan that came with my FM80 is a YS-Tech (Chinese?), and I noticed several from this manufacturer on this page.  I will look so see if I can get an exact replacement.
    Outback Flexpower 1 (FM80, VFX3048E-230v, Mate, FlexNetDC) 2,730watts of "Grid-type" PV, 370 AmpHrs Trojan RE-B's, Honda 2000 watt genny, 100% off grid.
  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 393 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2016 #4
    What do you think about this "Instructables" how to regarding lubricating the bearings on an FM80 fan.

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Cleaning-the-outback-fm80-cooling-fan/

    While I wait for my new fan to come in (this will seriously take 2-3 weeks) do you think this is a good idea that might help to keep the old fan going a bit longer? 

    Outback Flexpower 1 (FM80, VFX3048E-230v, Mate, FlexNetDC) 2,730watts of "Grid-type" PV, 370 AmpHrs Trojan RE-B's, Honda 2000 watt genny, 100% off grid.
  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 393 ✭✭✭
    Outback Flexpower 1 (FM80, VFX3048E-230v, Mate, FlexNetDC) 2,730watts of "Grid-type" PV, 370 AmpHrs Trojan RE-B's, Honda 2000 watt genny, 100% off grid.
  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 393 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2016 #6
    This (above) is the fan that came with my original FM80
    Outback Flexpower 1 (FM80, VFX3048E-230v, Mate, FlexNetDC) 2,730watts of "Grid-type" PV, 370 AmpHrs Trojan RE-B's, Honda 2000 watt genny, 100% off grid.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,489 admin
    Fans fail. Ball bearing fans will last longer--But 4-6 years is probably a good life for a fan that runs much of the time.

    You fuzzed up the Mfg. name, so I cannot look up this fan's rated life--But say it is 6,500 hours @ 40C... That would be:
    • 6,500 hours * 1/5 hours per day * 1/365 days per year = 3.56 years of "average life"
    Fans are a weak point of any electric systems design. (plus they draw dust and fuzz into the electronics--not a good thing either).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 393 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2016 #8
    Yes, maybe surprising that we don't see more posts regarding "fan failure". 

    It is probably a little exacerbated in my case because I have:
    • Warm solar room temp averages: 25 C night 29C day average
    • ~103-105 volts array voltage
    • Tall case batteries therefore slightly longer absorb times (3.5 to 4 hrs)
    I am thinking of reducing my absorb to 2.5-3hrs in the interim and see if that reduces fan run time.  Hopefully the new fan will last longer with a little more TLC. 

    BTW The photo came blurred.  YS Tech is the maufacturer of the original fan.

    Outback Flexpower 1 (FM80, VFX3048E-230v, Mate, FlexNetDC) 2,730watts of "Grid-type" PV, 370 AmpHrs Trojan RE-B's, Honda 2000 watt genny, 100% off grid.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,489 admin
    You can look for fans that have longer mean time between failures (MTBF).

    Otherwise, fans are a consumable.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 393 ✭✭✭
    Looks like I might have to wait 4-6 weeks for the new fan to arrive.

    Vic said "Using an external fan that moves air over and around the FM  should help some."

    Not a bad idea.  Perhaps I can program the aux to activate an external 12v computer fan when the voltage reaches a certain amount (or when the controller reaches a certain temperature??).  I know this can be done, but have no idea how challenging this would be to set up.  I am pretty sure I can get my hands on a 12v fan here.
    Outback Flexpower 1 (FM80, VFX3048E-230v, Mate, FlexNetDC) 2,730watts of "Grid-type" PV, 370 AmpHrs Trojan RE-B's, Honda 2000 watt genny, 100% off grid.
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,970 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi Surfpath,

    YES,  using a 120 MM square 12 V fan,  blowing into the wiring compartment,  with its cover removed,  and running that fan off of the Aux output of the FM CC works great.  This is what I did with both OB MX60s,  after the fan in each of these CCs failed.

    Just select a fan that requires less that 0.200 Amps of current at 12 V.  Used the PV Array voltage Aux function.

    Even though Outback did replace each of these MX's fans on Warranty,  still used the large (4" square) fan at the wiring compartment,  to this day.  Now the internal fan never runs,  ever,  and the external fan is much,  much quieter that the small built-in one.

    The PV string Vmp on these two systems is also about 106 V,  so this does reduce the efficiency verses a lower input Vmp,  and does increase the heat,  as you noted.

    Good Luck,  Surf.    Vic

    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,370 ✭✭✭✭✭
    using some good motor oil (5W mobile 1) just a drop is all a fan needs.   But it may last you a month while the new one is on the way,
    My XW 6048 has a pair of low RPM 4" fans that are barely audible.   But my midnight classic has a trio of 1" turbines that scream as they move the air.
    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 ,

  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 393 ✭✭✭
    Another update.  The Outback system (and fan) was still under the 5 year warantee.  They sent me a new one (yay Outback!) and I now have a quieter fan that moves more air.  I got the impression that the original fan should have not failed.  Nevertheless I think my relatively warm ambient temps (27 degrees C), and slightly higher array voltage (~103V) makes the controller fan work a little longer each day. I will keep an eye on it and perhaps purchase another fan as a backup.    
    Outback Flexpower 1 (FM80, VFX3048E-230v, Mate, FlexNetDC) 2,730watts of "Grid-type" PV, 370 AmpHrs Trojan RE-B's, Honda 2000 watt genny, 100% off grid.
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,361 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2017 #14
    Sometimes/often a drop of lube does miracles. I may suggest WD-40 to see if lubrication puts one on the right track.

    I have an FM-80. Had no idea that it uses fans. The fan on my 3648 runs about a couple minutes/day on average. The microwave and the well pump fire it up. Guess I should clean the filter some day. Guessing it is pretty clean though.

    Edit: As was mentioned, simply using a large fan should buy significant time....for future reference.
    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
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,489 admin
    Note: WD-40 is not a good lubricant, and tends to get sticky/gummy if left to dry on the surface.

    LPS makes much better lubricants and preservatives.

    http://www.generaltoolworldwide.com/blog/lps1-lps2-or-lps3-which-is-the-right-one-for-your-specific-needs/

    -Bill

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,361 ✭✭✭✭
    BB. said:
    Note: WD-40 is not a good lubricant, and tends to get sticky/gummy if left to dry on the surface.

    LPS makes much better lubricants and preservatives.

    http://www.generaltoolworldwide.com/blog/lps1-lps2-or-lps3-which-is-the-right-one-for-your-specific-needs/

    -Bill

    Interesting....I used to say that it isn't even a lubricant. That it was designed for water displacement and tested 40 times by NASA.....hence WD-40.

    My repair guy has many problems....one is likely being a genius. He has used WD-40 for decades and absolutely swears by it. This includes lubricating typewriter keys. It would not work for that purpose if it got more gummy than others.

    Lubricants do attract and hold dust on the other hand, that is why oil is used on some of the "better" oil filters.

    I'm not convinced that we know for sure. Many swear by it, others swear at it. At any rate, it is still useful to see if lubrication is the likely issue. Thought I was hinting at that when I said, "Sometimes/often a drop of lube does miracles. I may suggest WD-40 to see if lubrication puts one on the right track"

    It is a very light "something". Good for penetration and cleaning.

    It would probably be worthwhile to see what the folks here think of WD-40. I'll bet there are haters and fans,
    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
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,370 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I've rescued many brushless DC fans. It's a matter of peeling off the sticker on the motor, exposing the bearing, and getting thin oil into it.  I use 20w mobil 1 (cause thats what I have on hand usually)  and never had to re-do an oil job, one, maybe 2 drops is all.
    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 ,

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,361 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2017 #18
    mike95490 said:
    I've rescued many brushless DC fans. It's a matter of peeling off the sticker on the motor, exposing the bearing, and getting thin oil into it.  I use 20w mobil 1 (cause thats what I have on hand usually)  and never had to re-do an oil job, one, maybe 2 drops is all.
    You have this issue figured out. At any time, did you try squirting a spray lubricant without removing the sticker first? Been awhile but I don't seem to remember stickers on both sides. Could be wrong though.

    The power of lubricant kind of boggles the mind. Think of the automotive piston and how many tens of millions of times it pumps under pressure. Yet, without lubrication, it heats up and locks within a couple short minutes. Or....how a single drop of oil allows a fan to turn for a few more years.

    Hmmmm.....maybe I should try some of BB's "high dollar" light oils that he referenced.
    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
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,370 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Brushless fans have a blade & hub on one side, no orfice.  The other side has the ID sticker and the bearing is under it, The sticker is the seal. You would have to to spray a lot of goop to get anything into the bearing without removing the sticker.
    https://goo.gl/images/FVW4PN

    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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