Outback Sleuths needed: charge controller down

SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 439 ✭✭✭
I have an all in one Outback FP1 system. I just noticed that the LCD screen on my outback charge controller is not powered, however the inverter seems to be fine, because it’s still powering the house. The Mate and hub are also operational. There are no inverter errors, nor does anything seem unusual at the pv combiner. All midnite surge protector light still on.

I think the problem could be a simple issue generated by me. Aabout 36 hours ago I turned off my PV array to the cc because I thought that we would have lightning that night. Although there was no lightning I forgot to turn back on the PV the next morning (yesterday morning). I get a reading of 49.2v at the bank

I did program a low voltage cutoff for the inverter, but I’m wondering if there is a similar thing for the cc. 

Why would the cc now be completely unresponsive, can I use the mate to determine what’s going on with the cc, and is it as simple as rebooting the cc by turning the battery bank breaker off and on?


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

  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 439 ✭✭✭
    I just now saw that the battery breaker was off, so I flipped it back on. The charge controller powered up and gave an over current warning
    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: 439 ✭✭✭
    So, when the pv breaker is switched on is where the trouble starts and the over current message flashes on the fm 80. So going back on the roof to see if there is something obviously wrong. I have fuses in my combiner box (wish I installed breakers). Anyway off I go. Will report back.
    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: 439 ✭✭✭

    Midnite combiner box is dusty, but no sign of apparent issues. No water intrusion. Pv Connections at the array seem fine.
    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: 439 ✭✭✭
    I Just have to check the fuses later when the sun goes down
    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: 439 ✭✭✭
    just to clarify
    the “over current” error I saw on the CC was not after I flipped back on the battery breaker as I stated above, but after I turned back on the PV in breaker. That’s what has us thinking that its an issue at the PV level
    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: 3,112 ✭✭✭✭
    Hi Surfpath,

    OK,  so,  you see the over current message flash on the FM80,   and the CC is NOT charging the battery at all?

    Have never used any FM CCs,  but the MX60,  had a current limit that one could set.   Even if the current limit was set fairly low on the CC,  it should still charge the batteries,  up to that nominal limit.

    It would appear that with normal derating,  2730 watts of PV,  should not have much more battery charge current available than around 40 Amps +/--.

    Later,  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: 439 ✭✭✭
    Update: the fuses look Ok. They are not clear so it’s hard to see if they are damaged inside (no rattling sounds any way).
     The only semi issue I can see is that there is corrosion at the top of each fuse where the fuse screws down/connects to the positive “plate” to combine all the positive pv to take down to the cc. But this should not result in a short….




    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.
  • wellbuiltwellbuilt Solar Expert Posts: 683 ✭✭✭✭
    You could try removing the cc from the mate and running it so low 
     I had a problem with mine , my fp1 need up dates , the units started going more and more out of wack ?
      I could not tell you why it’s not like I’m hooked to the net and it’s getting information from out side source 
      It started by not charging all the way thru a 2 hour absorb , then it would charge for a hour , at the end it would just charge all day and never go to absorb ? I needed 3 up dates and one for the inverter . And it all worked 🤗
     you could do a factory reset and then just trying to reprogram the fm80 with out the mate 
    Out back  flex power one  with out back 3648 inverter fm80 charge controler  flex net  mate 16 gc215 battery’s 4425 Watts solar .
  • wellbuiltwellbuilt Solar Expert Posts: 683 ✭✭✭✭
     One other thing , I found setting changed in the charge controller the time was off a few hours ? 
    Out back  flex power one  with out back 3648 inverter fm80 charge controler  flex net  mate 16 gc215 battery’s 4425 Watts solar .
  • wellbuiltwellbuilt Solar Expert Posts: 683 ✭✭✭✭
    I would change to breakers , I had a breaker blow my first year and the only way I new was I flipped  one breaker at a time in the combiner box . 
    Out back  flex power one  with out back 3648 inverter fm80 charge controler  flex net  mate 16 gc215 battery’s 4425 Watts solar .
  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 439 ✭✭✭
    Vic said:
    Hi Surfpath,

    1. OK,  so,  you see the over current message flash on the FM80,   and the CC is NOT charging the battery at all?

    2. It would appear that with normal derating,  2730 watts of PV,  should not have much more battery charge current available than around 40 Amps +/--.

    Later,  Vic

    Hi Vic, 
    in regards to #1 above that is correct, the FM80 display says ”OvrCurrent” as soon as i flipped on the PV  breaker and im pretty sure the CC did not initiate any charging. In fact the CC made some kind of alarm noise, beeping, if i remember correctly.

    Of course now while its dark outside, when i turn the PV breaker to ON I dont get the alarm or warning message on the CC.

    and yes, the available charging current from my array should be ~40 to 45amps. Well below the fm80s limit.

    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: 439 ✭✭✭
    wellbuilt said:
    1. You could try removing the cc from the mate and running it so low 
    2.  I had a problem with mine , my fp1 need up dates , the units started going more and more out of wack 
     you could do a factory reset and then just trying to reprogram the fm80 with out the mate 
    Hi Wellbuilt, 
    Im not sure what you mean by #1. Perhaps I need to software update my FP1. It was manufactured in 2011 I believe.

    The timing of me turning off the PV and then leaving it off for a while, is just too coincidental.

    we have also had a lot of rain recently so that may have something to do with it. Although everything I check out is dry as a bone...
    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: 439 ✭✭✭
    I wonder what else I can check? I dont have one of those fancy current clamp meters. Just a regular multi meter.
    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: 439 ✭✭✭
    I thought I’d post a photo of the CC screen right after I turned back on the PV in breaker (around 3pm today), when it gave me the over current notification. Any clues from the voltage readings?




    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.
  • wellbuiltwellbuilt Solar Expert Posts: 683 ✭✭✭✭
     Ok your fm80 can be unplugged from the mate in the back and it will run on its own with out in put from the mate .

     My system is 4 years old and I was missing 3 updates so you must be missing a bunch more , 
      The missing up dates where driving my system crazy , (it was doing what ever it wanted ? ) crazy stuff 

      My problem started when I changed the absorb setting voltage and absorb time . 
     I turned my system off and left for home on Sunday and came back on fri and on Saturday the absorb time ended in a hour instead of 2  Sunday same thing my system needs 4500 watts in and only got 3500 ? 
     I’m not sure what a 10 year old mate looks like but when I read what the up dates fixed it seamed like the problem .
     The up dates took 2 try’s but it worked . 
     
      You said the inverter was working good  BUT then said you found the main breaker was off? 
      Did the breaker pop or did you turn it off .
        Did you have the array powered on and the controler off ? ( This sounds what could of happened )
        Your panels just dump power into the charge controller and you could of burnt out the controller😵‍💫
          I have 4500 watts of solar and I get 3900watts from them . 
      May be leave the array on over night and see what happens at day break as it turns on . 
    Out back  flex power one  with out back 3648 inverter fm80 charge controler  flex net  mate 16 gc215 battery’s 4425 Watts solar .
  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 439 ✭✭✭
    Wellbuilt: “You said the inverter was working good  BUT then said you found the main breaker was off?”

    Not the main breaker but the green “PV Array GFDI breaker”. 


    When I first saw that the CC readout was blank this afternoon, this green breaker and the PV array disconnect breaker below it were off (aside: I turned the PV array disconnect breaker off at night 46 hours ago, and forgot to turn it back on). However I don’t believe I turned off the green GFDI breaker. I am confident the FP1 did this on its own. So perhaps there was some sort of event, or short, rather than a software fault.

    It’s just I don’t know what will happen tomorrow morning when I put back on the PV. Will I get the over current message again?

    ps. The inverter is working flawlessly,
    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: 439 ✭✭✭
    FWIW, from one of the outback manuals (copied below) I pressed restart, or RSTRT on the CC tonight. I don’t think this has the same effect as really rebooting it, but we shall see early tomorrow when I wake up to turn back on the PV in breaker. 

    If anybody has any other ideas, please let me know.


    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: 439 ✭✭✭
    As per Ken O from the outback power forum... This green GFDI breaker “is sensitive to both ground faults and to overcurrent. As an overcurrent device it is protecting the wires from the charge controller to the battery bus bar. The breaker is supposed to be capable of operating at 80 amps continuously and the FM80 is supposed to limit its output to 80 amps”.  
    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.
  • wellbuiltwellbuilt Solar Expert Posts: 683 ✭✭✭✭
    Hmmmm sound interesting , that did not fix my problem though? I did not have any faults ever .
      My inverter gets turned off in the mate every thing else gets the power cut  by breaker 
     I’m not sure if there is a off switch for the cc ? 
    I have 3 breakers there  allso Pv is on the bottom
     then the green breaker . 
    Top is the fndc power on . 
        I hope it turns on in the morning  , but have no clue why you would have a current surge ? 
           Let me know if it running in the am . Sun is coming up here now 
    Out back  flex power one  with out back 3648 inverter fm80 charge controler  flex net  mate 16 gc215 battery’s 4425 Watts solar .
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 1,626 ✭✭✭✭
    edited July 9 #21
    Surfpath said:
    I just now saw that the battery breaker was off, so I flipped it back on. The charge controller powered up and gave an over current warning
    The rule of thumb for CC's is power up with battery FIRST. Could your controller be acting up simply because your PV power was present first? Try turning off PV and battery, turn battery back on ... then PV.

    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.

  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 439 ✭✭✭
    Littleharbor2, interesting theory. Basically that simple sequence you propose is what I did last night. Now to turning on the pv…

    So the outcome this morning, so far, is good. I did not get the over current warning after I flipped on the pv breaker, and there is now around 6 amps coming in. I’ll keep an eye on it throughout today and report back on how it’s doing. 
    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.
  • wellbuiltwellbuilt Solar Expert Posts: 683 ✭✭✭✭
    O cool , good news . 
    Out back  flex power one  with out back 3648 inverter fm80 charge controler  flex net  mate 16 gc215 battery’s 4425 Watts solar .
  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 439 ✭✭✭
    Hopefully one last update:
    a big day of charging today, with no apparent issues, no over current messages.

    The batteries seemed more discharged than the 49.2 that I measured when the issue was first discovered, because they bulked for about two hours longer than usual (and I did not use any AC power last night which would have run them down further). Here was the harvest for the day.

    It was a learning experience, again hopefully not repeated. Nevertheless I still don’t know why the pv array ground fault breaker tripped.
      
    As part of my checking the pv on the roof I noticed that the midnite combiner box fuses were very corroded at the top of the fuse where the wires screw into the combined positive PV plate. I’m planning to shift to breakers soon to replace these fuses. So that should take care of that.

    Another reminder was how helpful and responsive this forum is. Thanks for the responses and even for following just in case you could help out.
    SP
    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.
  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 995 ✭✭✭✭
    Just an FYI for next time you turn off the PV when you think lightning might be on the way...

    Lightning will hit both the hot and the negative PV lines at the same time and it is better if you can turn off both the positive and negative PV lines.  Of course, if it is a real close strike, the arcs can jump the breaker or fuse voltage spacings.

  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,028 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Might also be good to have SPD's, just sayin......
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 439 ✭✭✭
    Hi boB,
    Thanks for the response. Curious, what do you mean by turning off both lines? I’m aware that most breakers in pv systems are placed on the positive side of circuits (perhaps like this breaker that I turn off). I wonder if there is another breaker on the negative side of my Flexpower system that serves the negative PV in line?
    SP

     Also, thanks Dave, yes we installed Midnite SPDs 


    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.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,028 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Welcome !  If your array gets hit nearby, the strike will not just come in on the breaker side. It can come in on minus and ground also.

    Not sure how yours is wired. Code can be a problem with a CB in the negative. But for those who are in really super dangerous strike zones, sometimes the best way to protect is to disconnect all of the wires coming in from outside. An 8 foot gap is often the goal to be very effective. SPD's and prayers are also good.

    We have a place that is up in the high county I monitor. Really super prone and all of the telecom gear is on pallets. Just haul the old pallet out and replace with a new one. Different strategies and professional engineers who specialize in protection often get consults.

    A case of Pacifico can be a good insulator also ;)
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 995 ✭✭✭✭
    edited July 16 #29
    I thought I had read that Surfpath had been expecting lightning and so turned off the PV positive breaker... So I thought that I would mention that for lightning hits,  both the positive and negative PV lines will likely rise in voltage so if turning things off for that reason, disconnect the negative also.

    An SPD or lightning arrestor used on the PV side will try to limit the voltage between PV positive and ground and also PV negative and ground.  The reason for this is to help keep both lines from arcing over internally across the charge controller's insulation inside.

    These charge controllers are Hi-Potted at the factory from battery and PV plus and minus relative to chassis ground at an even higher voltage than the SPD is designed to clamp the voltage to so it doesn't arc over.  For the MX or FM CC's that hipot voltage is somewhere around 1800 to 2000 V so the SPD has to clamp to at least a lower voltage than that for just an instant.

    That is how it is supposed to work anyway.

  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,028 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I thought today was Saturday :)
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

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