Newbie Solar

Any comments on this thought, please:
:confused:
8 Sanyo 186DA3 panels
Outback VFX3648 Off-Grid Inverter
Outback MX60 MPPT Charge Controller
Outback MATE Remote Monitor & control
Outback RTS Remote Temp. Sensor
Outback HUB-4 Communication Manager
16 Sun Xtender PVX 3050T, 6v, 305 ah

Comments

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Newbie Solar

    What do you want to do with it all?

    It's a lousy recipe for a boat anchor.

    --

    sorry about the "snarky reply". It's hard to assume what the
    real question is, when the quester does not know what to ask,
    because no one has educated them on the subject. Not a lot of
    people know this stuff, and I keep forgetting my own learning curve.
    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 ,

  • Richard EdwardsRichard Edwards Solar Expert Posts: 27
    Re: Newbie Solar

    I want a home system of 2K. Do you think?:confused:
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,804 admin
    Re: Newbie Solar

    I am not an expert at configuring an Outback unit... But some observations...

    The Sanyo 186 are:

    Max Power Voltage - Vmp 54.8 Vdc
    Open Circuit Voltage - Voc 67.5 Vdc
    Voltage Temp Coeff - Vtoc -0.169 V/°C
    STC Rating - Pmp 186 Wstcdc
    Max Power Current - Imp 3.4 Adc
    PTC Rating 173.4 Wptc

    So, one panel is not high enough voltage to charge a 48 volt battery bank (need, roughly 60-62 volts minimum). And two in series with Voc=67.5x2=135 volts--very close to the 140-150 volt maximum typical of MPPT charge controllers... And if you have cold weather--you can easily hit close to 145 volts DC (very near the 150 volt max exceed warranty rating, and over the ~140 volt do not start setting).

    Depending on where your panels will be installed--the Sanyo may not be a good choice for your area (one panel in hot weather or two panels in cold will be issues).

    Regarding the output, the MX60 is a very good controller but has been replaces by the FMxx family. For your needs, probably either will work just fine.

    Charge rate on batteries...

    186 watt * 8 panels / 60 volt battery bank charge voltage = 24.8 amps...

    Your battery bank 16x 306 AH 6v batteries in 48 volt bank--2 strings of 8--gives you ~610 Amp*Hours:

    24.8 amps / 610 Amp*Hours = 0.04 = 4% charge rate

    Generally, it is recommended that you run around 5% to 13% or so ratio between maximum charge rate and battery AH capacity. You are on the bottom end--but since these are AGM batteries--you will not need to "equalize" (like flooded cell batteries) and they are somewhat more efficient at storing electricity (~90% energy efficient for AGM vs ~80% for flooded cell)--it should work OK--as long as the panels themselves match your needed load (and generator backup for weather/seasonal variations--as needed).

    Lastly, me as a broken record again--Highly recommend a Battery Monitor (and kill-a-watt meter too if you are in North America). Measuring battery voltage is a pain (need to rest batteries for 3+ hours--no charging/discharging during rest period) for a semi-accurate State Of Charge reading--and you cannot use a Hydrometer--because of the sealed nature of AGM's.

    A Battery Monitor is the only piece of equipment that will allow you to see the state of charge of your batteries at ANYTIME. Under load, under charge, whatever. It is the equivalent of adding a Gas Gauge to your car's fuel tank.

    For a range of options, look at the Trimetric TM2020 Battery Monitor System for the low end in price (has been recommended on this board before)...

    And for a higher end system, I would recommend looking at the Xantrex LinkLite and LinkPro models... Both have a programmable output that you can setup to turn on an alarm and/or turn off your inverter if your battery drops below 50% State of Charge (or whatever value you like).

    In my humble opinion--if your system will be operated by people who do not have a good idea about how your system works (spouse, kids) or who won't be responsible to buy new batteries if they kill the set (renters, weekend family/friends visits, etc.)--this is the only way to go... Even if you save one battery bank--you will have more than paid for a battery monitor on a system this large.

    Lastly, if this is your first off-grid system--you may wish to look at getting cheaper flooded cell batteries (like golf cart batteries) and use them as your "training" set.

    The batteries you have choosen are very good and because they are sealed AGM, you will not have any cleaning / adding water / messes and spills issues. But AGM batteries are very sensitive to over charging. You have picked a good charge controller with a remote battery sensor--so you should be OK with the hardware.

    Lastly, you have not listed a generator/AC battery charger combination. I assume you will be using your inverter's internal charger and an AC genset...

    Have you picked the size of generator and planned on auto or manual start? Will this be a 120 VAC 60Hz system or some other voltage/frequency?

    And where are you planning on installing the system (state, nearest large town). You know how much power you are planning to use from your system? Summer/Winter, how much backup generator power you will need (if any)?

    Are you planning on installing in the Dominican Republic? Using this link, say San Juan PR is closest to you (and similar in weather).

    Using 8*186=1,488 watts of panels, using default from the program (except use 0.56 as the derating factor for an off-grid system), will generate around 105-140 kWhrs per month of "useful" power.

    Or about 120+ kWhrs per month for 9 months of the year. Or, ~4+ kWhrs per day... Is this what you expected?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Richard EdwardsRichard Edwards Solar Expert Posts: 27
    Re: Newbie Solar

    BB,

    Thanks for your great answer. Bottom line, I was hoping for 2k, so...

    We do have a very low consumption: so far it hasn't surpass 180kw month.

    1. I do want the advantage of the AGM sealed, hassle free (I hope.)

    2. I will be running Sundanzer fridge and freezer as well as 12v lights and fans, and everything else I can.

    3. I am running a Grundfos water pump on a separate system.

    Questions:

    1. I have the Outback MATE Remote Monitor & control. Wouldn't that take care of the battery monitoring?

    2. What gasoline generator do you suggest?

    3. I am in Dominican Republic with about 5.6 hours sunlight. I hope it works.

    I need all the help I can get and I certainly appreciate your answer. :D
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Newbie Solar

    > 2. I will be running Sundanzer fridge and freezer

    I've got a bad feeling about this Luke.

    While Sundanzer prints a great paper, their products leave a lot of educated folkes unhappy. Search for some Sundanzer posts , and look into repairs and actual efficiency.
    Many feel that a top of line EnergyStar rated fridge out perfroms Sundanzer for energy use.
    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 ,

  • Richard EdwardsRichard Edwards Solar Expert Posts: 27
    Re: Newbie Solar

    Ten four. Will do. Read you loud and clear. Will search posts. :D Thanx.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,804 admin
    Re: Newbie Solar

    180 kWhrs 9 months out of the year may be a bit optimistic for your system with 2kWatts of solar panels (STC rated). Play around with the sizing link and see what you find for your setup/requirements. I would guess closer to 160 kWhrs per month (just rough numbers).

    Regarding fridge--automatic defrosting / auto ice-maker and such are very nice--but you pay for them in terms of energy usage (something like 2x as much power required?).

    Only you can determine if you want a manual defrost fridge with plastic ice trays or the automatic defrost model and the costs for the extra power (no right or wrong answer). I bought a manual defrost freezer--and I am on-grid. And, I still have mixed feelings about the difference between 350 kWhr per year vs 700 kWhr per year for the auto defrost.

    My power is around $0.12 per kWhr--so that is $42 per year in savings (grid power)...

    A guess at the costs of off-grid power (using US pricing for equipment) usually runs the costs at (very rough estimate) of $1.00 per kWhr--so that is worth ~$350 cost difference per year between manual and auto defrost fridge/freezer in electrical usage.

    There is nothing out there (that I know of--high end solar charge controllers/high end inverters/etc.) that does what a true Battery Monitor does. The other tell their story about their lives in the system--and the battery monitor tells its story about the battery. You can infer information about the battery with other meters/logging/etc.... But not a true xx% State of Charge of the battery bank at this moment in time.

    Generator--A Honda eu2000i would be a very good backup unit. Fuel efficient and quiet. However, you may need a "real" generator (pressurized fuel system --intended to say pressurized oil system + filter, possibly alternate fuel--diesel, propane, whatever is appropriate for your location) for long life... I can't imagine you will want to fill and pull start a 1,600 watt generator every couple of days... Honda and Yamaha have larger electric start and diesel alternatives (and there are some Asian knock-offs too)...

    Problem with many of the "prime mover" generators is that they are big (10kWatts and bigger) and, if your home is running 90% solar (and conserving), these big generators drink the same amount of fuel at 50% load vs 25% load (or less)... Diesel may be more efficient at lighter loads for the big ones... See you you can get fuel flow vs Watts for several generator types and see what your costs/needs really work out to be.

    The other thing I would look at is RV gensets... Tend to be smaller generators with full pressurized oil and coolant. Alternative fuels also available. Very quiet. Friend installed one in his home near me as an emergency home backup (runs off of natural gas).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Richard EdwardsRichard Edwards Solar Expert Posts: 27
    Re: Newbie Solar

    BB,

    Thanks for your time and extensive and helpful answer.

    I'm thinking that going back through 8 months of electric bills, I have an average of 142 kwh monthy.

    If I want to generate 100% with solar power and have 5.36 average sun hours per day, I may need a minimum system size of 883 watts.

    If I take that and divided by 186w from the HIT Sanyo DA3, I figure I need about 4.7 panels to generate that 142 kwh. Hoping that the panels give me the minimum power of 176w, not counting that hopefully it gives more than that from the double side/back side as well and as advertised, I think I may be OK with the 8 panels even considering the variable efficiency ratings. I am the ultimate optimistic.

    Also, I am thinking I will go ahead and try the Sundanzer fridge and freezer, 12v lighting, LED lighting, 12 v ceiling fans, etc. to alleviate the load. I will be running a Grundfos SQFlex and running water by gravity.

    I will also stick to the 16 AGM Sun Xtender 305. I want to stay away from fumes, hassle of checking them, etc. I would like hear your thoughts on this, please.

    I do need the generator and I will look into your suggestion. Do you think that generator will do for the above idea in case the 16 AGMs fall under 50%.

    Please let me know what you think. I need all the help I can get!

    Thanks again:D
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Newbie Solar

    Hi Richard, just to add to the excellent detailed responses from BB,

    the 5.36 hrs is an average and included in that will be rainy and overcast day, as I am sure you are aware,
    BUT it is an average over a long period of time and your local knowledge can be put to great use in compensating for those long periods where there is minimal solar generation, to wit,
    when you may have in excess of the 'average' 3 days BB talks about as the necessary battery capacity buffer for cloudy, rainy periods.

    Also that 5.36 hrs may not be 'full strength' sunlight... I have been amazed at the effect on recharging rates when there have been heavy horsetail clouds... with 'full sun' :cry:

    as the saying goes ...your mileage may vary.. my opinion, leave a good buffer.

    HTH

    Eric
     
    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
  • Richard EdwardsRichard Edwards Solar Expert Posts: 27
    Re: Newbie Solar

    Thanks westbranch.

    You're absolutely right! I'm counting on the generator to make up for the days of no sun, and we get some of those here too! I think I can manage to get about 2.2 days before cranking up the generator. It's not the recommended 5 days, but... I'm also counting my low consumption will help.

    Any more suggestions will be appreciated it!

    Thanks again.:D
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,804 admin
    Re: Newbie Solar

    Richard,

    Sorry--had to quickly finish my last post before going out--added that if this generator will be a PRIME power source--then you would want to look at a slow turning (1,800 RPM) and pressurized/filtered oiling system.--Not a splash lube type like the smaller Honda eu2000i and eu1000i...

    There also may be some miss-understanding between you and I on calculating how much energy you can get from your panels....

    First, the name plate rating quite optimistic in anything but a cool and windy climate. Second, you have dust on panels, wiring, and charge controller losses... Also of those add up to a 77% derating factor right there--that is what is typically use for a Grid Tied system.

    The next set of derating factors... 90% efficiency for AGM batteries (80% for flooded cell). And 80% for a typical good quality inverter (assume not running at 100% load).

    That all adds up to ~0.77*0.90*0.80= 0.55 or ~55% DC panel to AC outlet efficiency... Almost 1/2 your power is "lost"... So you need about 2x more solar panels based on these losses for an off-grid system.

    The solar power prediction link also takes into account angle to sun, direction it faces, fixed, tracking, etc... You can also take a look at these PDF files (US only) and see how much variation there is in solar power--especially places where weather is highly variable. For example, over ~20 years--you may get some +/- 20% change in available solar "hours" (5 hours +/- 1 hour)...

    And, I still think that the Sanyo 186 watt panel is really close in terms of not working for your system... 1 panel is not high enough voltage to charge your battery bank (100 degrees F = 46.7 volts predicted--you need 56-60 volts minimum for the system to work). And with two panels in series--if it gets to 60 degrees F on a sunny day, you will get Voc=69v*2=138 volts--very close to the shutdown voltage of your typical MPPT solar charge controller (around 140 volts).

    Jim/Crewzer can help you better with this.

    Regarding the Sundanzer (or any "off grid" designed fridge/freezer)--in most cases, you can, with the money you save by getting a standard Energy Star rated fridge/freezer--just buy extra solar panels to make up any power usage difference.

    If you are able to power most of your needs with the solar panel--it might be easier/better/cheaper to just buy a couple Honda eu2000i and run them when you need too (perhaps only a few times a week--mostly during winter). You will need to size the appropriate battery charger (or program the Inverter if it has a Generator input--for the correct current draw so that it does not overload the relatively small 1,600 watt genset).

    You would need a larger generator if you had coffee maker, microwave, hair drier, etc... But it sounds like you don't use those much (if at all).

    I and want to revisit Mike's initial hilarious (snarky?) question... :p

    What is it that you want this system to do? Depending on how you answer--it may really change the design of the whole thing.

    1. Is this for 100% off grid (no utility lines nearby)?
    2. Is this for emergency power (hurricane/earthquake/national fuel emergency)?
    3. Going Green--carbon reduction?
    4. Saving money?
    5. Unreliable local power?

    In the end--the short answer (as you know) is first conservation... Next, making sure you have other emergency supplies too (water would be the first priority). I use the old saying you can live 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.

    It sounds like the answer to #1 is no. So--you need to compare the costs of solar power vs utility costs... With off grid power, batteries pretty much triple the costs of power because you need to replace the batteries every X years or so--and since you can only store 3 day of "sun"--you tend to loose power (you use your power or loose it) and during the winter you need to pay for fuel to run your generator. In general, it is difficult to save money making your own off-grid power vs buying from your utility.

    If for #2--you have to decide how long the power outages will be that you want to ride through... If you don't use much power (fridge, a few lights, small TV and radio, possibly a well/water pump)... A Honda eu2000i can run on 2 gallons of gasoline a day... Store 4x 5 gallon cans of gas (use fuel stabilizer and cycle the gas into your car every 6-12 months), and siphon your car's tank--and you can easily go two weeks with the Honda.

    Even though I have 3.5 kWatts of solar on my home--I have Grid-Tide solar (probably not an option for you--needs utility approval) which cannot provide any power if the utility fails (no batteries)--I chose the Honda eu2000i because a long outage (more than a day) will probably be a once-in-a-lifetime event for me (I would expect to be the "big one"--large earthquake). So--this makes economic sense for me (plus--I am not 100% sure my home and solar panels will still be standing after an earthquake--the generator is smaller and more portable).

    Hurricanes and long times to recover utility is probably a more frequent event for you--so solar+battery+inverter would be better than running generators for weeks on end every year... But, a system like this--I would suggest that you design the solar panels to only power your emergency loads (fridge, couple lights, radio)--it would cost less to install and maintain if designed for your minimum emergency loads.

    If number 3--going green. That is a personal choice. There are worst places to spend your money. A grid tied system would be ideal... Much lost costly to install and maintain (no batteries)--but if your utility does not allow grid tied solar--then Off-Grid is your only other, more expensive, option.

    If number 4--Saving Money. Solar PV Electric + battery is not going to save any money. Spending your money on location specific conservation (insulation, appliances, etc.) and--if you use Hot Water and/or some heating Solar Thermal may be something to look at... Saving money/fuel is still a savings--whether you are using less electricity or less energy to heat water/space heating. And solar thermal tends to be much less expensive to install. Maintenance--an issue--valves, tanks, water pumps, etc. can be a plumbing problem.

    If number 5--Building a "whole house" UPS (uninterruptible power supply--Outback, Xantrex, and others make very good UPS's... If you need to backup your desktop computer power--you may need a small continuous inverter type for it)... Use utility power to keep your batteries charged, switch over to battery if the AC utility fails. Use the generator/solar panels/etc. to charge the batteries supply backup power when utility really fails (such as after hurricane).

    Well--I have already typed too much... Questions? Answers?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Richard EdwardsRichard Edwards Solar Expert Posts: 27
    Re: Newbie Solar

    BB,

    Thanks for your answer again.

    I am in Samaná, Dominican Republic where a Kwh is now 0.49 USD. I am building a house in a not so remote location, but it is very expensive to bring the electricity from where it is right now: they want about 12K USD. On top of that, the power company's service, although the best in the country, leaves a lot to be desired, and it is best to stay away from it, if at all possible. Last but not least, we are a family of four very concerned about the environment and future of our earth. Our consumption is very low. Having said all this, I am trying for a 200 kwh monthly.

    I have been buying some of the components, as I mentioned in my first post:

    8 Sanyo 186DA3 panels
    Outback VFX3648 Off-Grid Inverter
    Outback MX60 MPPT Charge Controller
    Outback MATE Remote Monitor & control
    Outback RTS Remote Temp. Sensor
    Outback HUB-4 Communication Manager
    16 Sun Xtender PVX 3050T, 6v, 305 ah

    and I am about to install a Grundfos submersible pump running on solar, independently, not on the system we are discussing.

    I am fortunate that the Dominican government has recently passed a law that exonerates all import and sale taxes in alternative energy items, so I want to take advantage of this as much as possible.

    A generator will not be the prime power source. I take it you are recommending the Honda eu2000i and eu1000i, for short periods of battery recharge.

    I may be missing something from your response but I am using 8 (EIGHT) panels HIT 186 DA3, not 1 panel.

    Sanyo HIT 186 DA3, double side electrical Specifications:

    Model Number: HIP-186DA3
    Rated Power Voltage (Pmax)1: 186 Watts
    Max. Power Voltage (Vpm): 54.8 Volts
    Max. Power Current (Ipm): 3.40 Amps
    Open Circuit Voltage (Voc): 67.5 Volts
    Short Circuit Current (Isc): 3.68 Amps
    Minimum Power (Pmin): 176.7 Watts
    Maximum System Voltage (Vsys): 600 Volts
    Series Fuse: 15 Amp
    Temperature Coefficient (Pmax): -0.30 %/°C
    Temperature Coefficient (Voc): -0.169 V/°C
    Temperature Coefficient (Isc): -0.85 mA/°C
    Electrical Tolerance: +10%/-5%
    Warranted Tolerance: +10%/0%
    Cell Efficiency: 18.4%
    Module Efficiency: 15.3%
    Power per square foot: 14.2 Watts

    Regarding Sundanzer, I have to buy a new fridge anyway, and they are expensive here. A Sundanzer may be the way to go still; don’t know.

    Gasoline here is $5.40 USD a gallon approximate. Sunlight, you know.

    To answer your questions:

    1. 100% off grid
    2. No, hurricanes are part of life here. Will be better off with solar than relying on local power company after a hurricane.
    3. Going green is definitely part of it.
    4. Saving money is a priority putting together the solar system!

    What do you think?

    Much obliged!
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Newbie Solar

    1) the problem is the panel voltages AND the MX60


    Max. Power Voltage (Vpm): 54.8 Volts = Is not enough to fully charge a 48V battery bank, and will likely never complete an equalize cycle.

    Open Circuit Voltage (Voc): 67.5 Volts = if 2 panels are in series, on a cool morning, you can exceed the Max Allowable voltage for the charger.

    MX60 = PV Open Circuit Voltage 125 VDC Maximum.
    67.5 x 2 = 135V Charger will die, 10V over max allowable.

    Without a fully charged battery, they will start to sulphate, and loose capacity. in a few months, the batteries will need to be replaced, because you have killed them by not feeding them the right voltage.
    This has been said before, by others.

    2) Look into refrigerator repair shops, can they repair a Sundanzer ? Parts for GE, Whirlpool, Amana should be around for a long time. Also, how much food space is in the Sundanzer, compared to a large, Energy Star fridge.
    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 ,

  • Richard EdwardsRichard Edwards Solar Expert Posts: 27
    Re: Newbie Solar

    Thanks Mike.

    I see what you're saying. Should I get another MX60 and some more breakers or do you have another solution?

    I really appreciate your input. I want this to come out right, as you can understand!

    Thanks again.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,804 admin
    Re: Newbie Solar

    What Mike said...

    Think of each panel as a battery... With a Vmin (Vmp when panels are hot and running) and Vmax (when the panels are very cold, and the batteries are already charged)... The Vmin is too low to properly charge your 48 Volt battery bank (need roughly 58 VDC for the batteries plus ~2 volt drop for the controller = 60 volts minimum for your AGM batteries), and Vmax is very close to the maximum voltage that will possibly fry your controller (you need to check the manuals for the controllers you are thinking about--they are online and will help you properly design the system).

    The Grundfos pumps--I really like the design behind the "universal voltage in-well pumps)... A suggestion... See about having the pump powered from your 48 VDC battery bank / inverter... It may work out better if you take the panels you where going to dedicate to your pump and add them to your home's panels--that way, if you have excess panels for pumping--it can be used to charge your home battery system. (I understand there are good reasons to keep them separate too--all depends on your local needs).

    For a random portable genset--I think very highly of the Honda eu2090i. And it is very fuel efficient across a wide range of loads. It is an "inverter" type motor-alternator set... Basically, it generates AC internally and uses an AC to AC inverter to give you very stable output power (basically as good as North American 120 VAC 60Hz)...

    It is still a small genset (1,600 watts continuous)--so it will have trouble starting a single small window AC. But, with the ECO throttle turned on, the motor slows down (and draws less fuel) when running light loads.

    There are many other generators out there--and I am not sure I would recommend the Honda eu2000i with a 1.1 gallon fuel take as the end-all for a year round off grid home... People have made (and you can purchase) a siphon gas cap where it will draw fuel from a 5 gallon fuel can--so you don't keep having to refill it every time you use it. I would guess the Honda eu2000i is under $1,000, and the eu1000i is around $800 or less--of course, you mileage may vary).

    Your other generator could be one of the $300 5kW for emergency backup--and you can look around locally and see what generators are used in your area--parts, service, wanting electric start / auto start (for family, when you get older and doing everything manual is a pain after a couple years, etc.). Sizing for larger part time loads (sump pumps, table saws, etc.) may still mean that you want a larger genset for those times (cheap or expensive--your choice).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Newbie Solar

    people have difficulty keeping their homes together, as i'm sure you know, during these hurricanes so you may wish to have some idea of how to keep these pvs from flying away or having debri thrown into them. once the danger has passed is when you'd really have need of them and you don't need to see them destroyed at that time.
    regarding the incompatibility of the pv voltages and the controller max you have 2 options off the bat to either [1] trade in the 3648 for an inverter with a 24v battery input and have the present pvs in parallel to charge a battery bank of 4 batteries in series strings paralled 4 times. 4x4 for 24 battery bank or [2] send back the pvs to get pvs that can accomodate the mx60's high end voltage requirements while staying high enough to properly charge the 48v battery bank.
    running through the numbers real quickly i don't think you have enough pv to properly charge those batteries. a bank at 24v would have 1220ah in capacity and we like to state a range between 5% and 13% typically with 5% being the lowest with 61 amps. going lower than this may not guarantee the a good viable charge would be given to them and keep in mind you need to replace what you use everyday. i'm sure you know to conserve as well being you haven't power now. i guestimate you to get about 43 amps from the pvs through downconversion and with the mppt action maybe another 4 amps for a total of 47a. 47/1220=3.85%. hmm, the single mx60 may not handle this much current outputted for your 24v battery system. you may need to get different pvs or 2 mx60s to handle a 24v battery bank with a 24v inverter instead of the 48v inverter. a single mx60 can handle the power when at the 48v output level, but as stated the pvs aren't right for the controller's needs.
    i'm assuming you may have already bought those items and if not i'd feel some relief for you as it's cheaper to use thinking caps before hand.
  • Richard EdwardsRichard Edwards Solar Expert Posts: 27
    Re: Newbie Solar

    Neil,

    Thanks for your answer.

    Your solution: (...trade in the 3648 for an inverter with a 24v battery input and have the present pvs in parallel to charge a battery bank of 4 batteries in series strings paralled 4 times. 4x4 for 24 battery volt bank...) is a better option for me at this point. How does the Outback VFX 3524 sound to you

    Also, (...2 mx60s to handle a 24v battery bank with a 24v inverter instead...)
    would be choice.

    As for securing the panels from high winds, I am still working on that. There is not a lot of debris where they are going to be placed since it is country.

    Any other suggestions/changes about the system you can throw at me will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again:confused:
  • Richard EdwardsRichard Edwards Solar Expert Posts: 27
    Re: Newbie Solar

    BB,

    I am beginning to understand my problem. I have to first try to solve the issue with the MX60 and the panels, and then focus on the generator.

    I think Niel's solution may be the one to go with: change the VFX3648 inverter to a VFX3524v and add an MX60.

    However, if I need to change panels, which ones do you suggest, so I don't have to change the VFX3648 and add an MX60.

    I appreciate all you guys input and help: I am in this hole cause I was previously ill advised, but I am hoping all ends well!

    Thanks again,
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,804 admin
    Re: Newbie Solar

    Get any name brand Mono or Poly Crystalline panel where you can get a good price (make sure to include shipping costs). Check the warranty (some have some restrictions on humidity/environmental limits--like Sanyo panels in times past). Look at $$$/watt... Retail in the US is around $5 per watt (not including shipping).

    I would suggest running your selection by here... Jim/Crewzer can tell you exactly if what you want will work or not (and how to configure them).

    Regarding 24 vs 48 volt battery bank--I would prefer two 48 volt strings vs four 48 volt strings... The more batteries you put in parallel--the more difficult it is to balance current between the strings (different resistance in cables between the strings--longer cable vs shorter cable and such--can make a big difference in how well the batteries share charge/discharge currents). Also, with 48 volts, your current is 1/2--so your wiring can be smaller gauge (or if you use the same wire gauge, much less loss).

    In the end, there are many options to consider here (including how much money you want to spend)... No one right answer.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Newbie Solar

    Suitable panels:
    Mitsubishi 180 Watt Open circuit voltage (Voc) 30.6V Maximum power voltage (Vmp) 24.4V
    3 in series would work, 90/74V a good range 3 series strings in parallel (need to purchase 1 more panel)

    There are lots more panels, maybe what is better, is what other panels can you find, and then see if the specs allow them to work well. Find a brand/model and ask us.

    Evergreen ES-190-RL 190 Watt also has nearly identical specs, again, group 3 in series, 3 parallel groups, and need one more panel.
    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 ,

  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Newbie Solar

    i agree with bb that given a preference i'd stay with a 48v cc output/battery arrangement if you can and that's what will necessitate the pv change while keeping the rest of your system as you had planned originally. try to get series parallel arrangements for the pvs that will allow you to not exceed the max of the mx60 while still being able to supply the basic charge voltages required for a 48v battery system. i won't give a recommendation of any particular pvs as that'll be your decision as long as it'll meet your needs, the needs of the controller and give enough current to properly charge your battery bank. it's somewhat of a variable balancing act.
  • Richard EdwardsRichard Edwards Solar Expert Posts: 27
    Re: Newbie Solar

    I called Outback technical support, and your suggestions were right on the money. The MX60 open circuit voltage should not exceed 135v. It allows from 135v to 150v with no problem, and it shuts off at 150v to avoid damage.

    However, this problem is more likely to arise in places where temperature drops very cold and below freezing point. With a low average temperature of 66.2 Fahrenheit where I live (lowest recorded 59 Fahrenheit,) I was assured I should have no problem with this issue. If I install the Sanyo panels in series of two, with Voc of 67.5*2=135v I'm home free. It should never surpass the 135v limit.

    As for the batteries, 2 6v-string of 8 305ah for a 48v system is the best choice, as mentioned by BB, and adding the Outback FlexNet DC hooked up to the MATE will ensure proper monitoring.

    I am still not sure about the generator, and for the fridge and freezer, I will shop around for an Energy Star with the lowest consumption before jumping into a Sundanzer.

    I appreciate you guys' help. Any other suggestions you can throw my way will be greatly appreciated.

    Much obliged,
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Newbie Solar

    very good richard and i hope it all works well for you. do keep it in the back of your mind about the voltage limit as you never know as it may on a fluke happen one day. i know this may sound counterproductive given solar is so expensive and we try squeezing as much out of our pvs as we can, but you can reduce the voltage roughly by .5v if you were to have a diode with a rating of the current capacity of your pvs short circuit current rating or higher placed in series with the pvs. the placement is much like that of a blocking diode, but you can add even more diodes in series to drop even more voltage if needed. the high current diodes are usually mounted on a metal heatsink and with more than one the metal to metal contact will have to be electrically insulated or the diodes will be bridged with a short bypassing all but 1 of the diodes. an obvious solution could be independant heatsinks not in contact with one another therefore giving electrical isolation. in doing even just 1 such diode the metal heatsink should not come into contact with any energized cases, parts, or grounds unless you know what you are doing. i'm going on too far with this, but i just wanted to clue you in of the possibility to reduce the voltage and if you do wish to do this then you have an idea of what's involved. if you elect to do this then let us know and any elaborations or clarifications can be addressed.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,804 admin
    Re: Newbie Solar

    The FlexMate monitoring does not replace your need for a Battery Monitor--As far as I know.

    Given you are going to use so many expensive batteries (sealed AGM--so cannot use hydrometer)--I highly recommend getting/installing one. It will save you from short battery life from getting killed by over/under charging accidents.

    Jim/Crewzer can confirm if he believes the Flexmate system can replace a good battery monitor or not.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Newbie Solar
    I called Outback technical support, and your suggestions were right on the money. The MX60 open circuit voltage should not exceed 135v. It allows from 135v to 150v with no problem, and it shuts off at 150v to avoid damage.

    Well, then you should be safe. I looked at the PV & inverter published specs, and did not have the inside info, about 150V being the actual limit.

    > MX60 = PV Open Circuit Voltage 125 VDC Maximum.
    > 67.5 x 2 = 135V @ 70F

    The tricky part will be to get the Charger programed for AGM batteries, and confirm that the float voltage matches the battery Mfg. recommended float voltage.
    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 ,

  • Richard EdwardsRichard Edwards Solar Expert Posts: 27
    Re: Newbie Solar

    Thank you guys for all your assistance and great, great advice.

    As to the MX60, in the manual, page 7:

    MAXIMUM OPEN CIRCUIT VOLTAGE AND COLD AMBIENT
    TEMPERATURE
    The maximum open circuit voltage of the PV array must not exceed 150v DC under any conditions or damage to the controller may occur. Furthermore, the maximum voltage level is recorded in the MX60's computer, allowing this level to be checked when seeking warranty service. The MX60 will suspend operation if the PV array’s open circuit voltage exceeds 135v DC. This helps to protect the controller from damage under very cold conditions. Most PV arrays will warm up significantly once sunlight is hitting the PV array - which then causes the PV array's voltage to drop and allowing the MX60 to resume operation.


    But, the technical support engineer assured me that it really allows up to 150v and then it disconnects: we'll see, but I sure will keep it in mind. I will stay away from more complicated solutions for now.

    With reference to the Flexnet DC, the same person assured me that the Flexnet DC is also a battery monitor which works only with MATE version 4.0: we'll see. From the user's guide:

    The FLEXNet DC collects, monitors and records time-based battery amp, watt and volt data for display on the OutBack MATE series of products, allowing for more accurate set point adjustments and precise battery recharging. Five LEDs on the FLEXnet DC act as a state-of-charge indicator bar for a quick status display.

    Less lost than before: life is a beach!

    Thanks guys!
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,804 admin
    Re: Newbie Solar

    Looks like the FlexNet DC is a pretty full featured battery monitor.

    I am not sure that it is quite as sophisticated as the Xantrex Models (for example, the Xantrex supports Peukert's exponent--whereas I don't think the FlexNet DC does). The Xantrex LinkPro also includes a battery temperature sensor input/option... Not sure if the FlexNet DC makes use of the BTS (if present) on the Outback data bus.

    But--given that both the Outback FlexNet DC and the Xantrex Linkxxx both support an external contact that can be programmed to turn on/off based on battery State Of Charge--It appears that both will get the job done quite nicely.

    Read the manual/documentation for all of your options--and see which meets your needs best.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Newbie Solar

    Hopefully Crewzer will come back on this point as he is now a pro on the Outback products and also has the precursor to the Linkxxx family in his own system...

    Eric
     
    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
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