Hi all, Total noob here, not to solar but linux......
First off, I would like to appologize for draging this up again, but I am in a hurry and can't find the ***** post now, I know the MAIN person helpings name/ handel is Plonkster, so Plonkster if you could help it would be good, I've had my last straw with windows and am now on mint 18.3 Is there a way to run the VE connect for my invertor and the Victron connect app for my mppt and bmv on linux?
Also. I am using an arduino as a serial to USB between my mppt and bmv if that makes any diffarence.
Regards Charles from Namibia
Got a chance to view a friends' 100kW Trina Solar Array powering four, in parallel, Schneider Electric Inverters that help to power his factory. During an overcast day it produced 90+kW. I can only imagine a sunny days' production of power. Very impressive indeed.
I love it. At the end of this video it shows the inverter getting power directly from the sun converting it into usable AC power. I can't be more pleased. I can't wait to start a larger project. I am so impressed by this choice of inverter. I pray it continues to last and work the way it does. I do have it set up as DC Coupled, but the fact that it inverts directly from sun to AC is priceless.
I caught this inverter powering a 1.1kW water pump early in the morning. The battery was a bit low (almost at 50%), but was still operational after a long night of powering lights. 200W came from early morning light but was interested to see if anyone has a video of their own that shows this behavior in an MPP. Thanks ahead.
Hi - I have converted and constructed a number of electric vehicles (EV) over the past few years but I have yet to find someone else in this country doing the same thing. Let me know if you are so that we can get together and pursue this fascinating and practical hobby...
I have a customer with a 3-phase InfiniSolar 10K which is giving a fault code 3 = "BUS soft start time out". The unit is out of warranty. The original supplier can not help me. Does anyone know of a local business which repairs these units ?
Hi, I am new to the forum, I have a 3kw plus Infinisolar inverter. I reside in Port Elizabeth and our utility frequency continuously exceeds 50.1 hz. It goes to 50.2 and I would like to change the setting to 50.3. Is there anyone out there that can help me with he factory password to correct this situation? It would be very much appreciated.
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Having spent time on this forum I was ready to tackle the project. The bulk of the materials was sourced from Rubicon and a couple of design decisions was decided on.
I decided to do a ground mount which resulted in a slightly more expensive structure but our roofs are steep and old and suitable roof space was largely shaded and not exactly north more like NNE. The ground mount meant I could implement a seasonal tilt very cheaply and so gain a bit as my solar day is short in winter as we are nestled in a narrow valley. In winter the sun hits the panels at 8:35 am and disappears at about 3:30pm. So I need autonomy for about 17 hours in winter.
I decided to maximise our panels as we would use the bulk of our electricity during the day - washing,ironing etc. I should perhaps have put more cash into batteries but at the time batteries were scarce and I might have had to wait even longer for a second string of batteries.
I decided against having the batteries outdoors since a battery box would be on the northern side of the house with its elevated temperatures.
The install was largely uneventful with me checking polarity of connections twice before making any connection. Something that I did find strange was that with MC4 connectors the metallic male part is housed inside the female plastic portion and visa versa. It would have been very easy to have the male portion inside the male housing and the same with the female portion. Care needed to be taken not to muddle the MC4 connectors and ensure each solar cable extender was male on one end and female on the other. I built them in pairs so if one string needed a long red cable the next string needed a equal length black cable. I marked the pairs with series of Tippex dots and so could always identify each string's cable pair. Working meticulously we did not make a single wiring mistake ( inverter PV and battery connections and rewiring the old DB and installing two new ones). I found http://www.solar-wind.co.uk/cable-sizing-DC-cables.html particularly useful and collected design information in a haphazard spreadsheet which eventually gained some semblance of order. I used http://www.midnitesolar.com/sizingTool/ to work out PV string configurations. I have since written my own string sizing tool which I find easier to use http://powerforum.co.za/topic/1590-pv-array-sizing-tool/
The one incident we did have was amusing. We were re-wiring the gennie supply from the DB (behind the front door) to the northern wall of the house (against which the inverter is mounted. This new wiring needed new conduit and we were in the loft laying out wires and conduit when all of a sudden one of my employees ran over the ceiling of my son's bedroom. With our high ceilings I had visions of having to take him to hospital and having to repair the ceiling. Fortunately he is very light and did no damage. In my least tactful voice I asked what on earth he thought he was doing having previously carefully explained that we were to only walk on the beams or the tops of the internal walls. Running across the ceilings was not part of the SOP. He told me a snake had hissed at him. There are recesses in the brickwork for the chimney an sure enough there was a female boomslang curled up in one of these recesses. When we were in the loft again a couple of days later she sailed between two staff joining conduit and went and curled up in her recess watching proceedings intently.
The day we went "live" was cloudy and overcast but at least I could confirm that my PV wiring was correct. The next day dawned a glorious winter's day and I had the full benefit of the fruit of our labour.
The next purchase was a BMV 702. I was ridiculed on the "my broadband" forum for having wasted so much money but to my mind is still the a most important piece of kit. The BMV alerted me to the fact that my batteries were way out of kilter in spite of being brand new. This precipitated the purchase of three HA01s from Lithuania of all places. Within about 6 weeks the HA01s (which are not as efficient as the HA02s) had whipped my batteries into shape.
We have had two years of largely uneventful solar power. Two deep accidental discharges did my batteries no favours but I have got the rated cycles out of my batteries. My future expansion includes paralleling the Axpert and moving over to Lithium.
Many of you will have noticed that I have been absent from the forum for a while, and there are reasons, a few related to power that I will relay, but a few personal which I will keep to myself...
But anyway... I eventually after 4 months got my battery equalisers from overseas... What a headache... They might have been cheaper than the local alternatives, but the effort and chasing that had to go into simple import of balancers were a pain in the butt!
He he - You know life wants to beat you down sometimes when you have another two battery failures on the day you receive your hard earned balancing kit!
So, another two Calcium Long Life batteries have just failed on my system today... working perfectly 3 days ago on last test... but they failed dismally today.... Anyway, such is the life of a new entrant to the Solar game... Learning can be expensive...
Hopefully, this just re-iterates a previous blog, do your homework!... Batteries are expensive, but even if wrong they can still cover something... Stick to the rule I mentioned under Mistake 2! Right batteries for the right job (PS: financially I couldn't follow my own advise and just got stung again... Seriously, I am my own worst enemy sometimes).
Genuinely, I can't afford to buy R40k worth of batteries for a 2-3 hour backup system, so we, as a group here on the forum, have to try find ways to limit the cost for the Joe Blogs out there...
I am despondent at the moment about people, not about the technology, maybe it's time that a closer physical group, like a small road or complex (some have already tried, and some have succeeded)... We just need to push this model within our own neighbourhoods...
Did you ever once consider that you might be generating more than your own needs and offer the balance to your neighbour to reduce their bill????
My small rant over today, but I hope it gives you a thought about how we can use our knowledge to help in your own area... Just keep thinking... Nothing is perfect, and nothing is free. but give a few moments to think about how your excess generation can help... Then some ideas on how that excess can be given to your town/village/neighbour without stupid transmission costs....
Hi – I have a Axpert MKS 5K inverter. Spec are as below.
MODEL: Axpert MKS 5K Rated Power: 5000VA/4000W INPUT Voltage: 230 VAC Selectable Voltage Range: 170-280 VAC (For Personal Computers), 90-280 VAC (For Home Appliances) Frequency Range: 50 Hz/60 Hz (Auto sensing) OUTPUT AC Voltage Regulation (Batt. Mode): 230VAC – 5 % Surge Power: 6000VA Efficiency (Peak): 90 % Transfer Time: 10 ms (For Personal Computers), 20 ms (For Home Appliances) Waveform: Pure sine wave
BATTERY & AC CHARGER Battery Voltage: 48VDC Floating Charge Voltage: 54 VDC Overcharge Protection: 60 VDC Maximum Charge Current: 60A
Maximum PV Array Power: 3000w Maximum PV Array Open Circuit Voltage: 60 –115 VDC Maximum Solar Charging Current: 60A Maximum Efficiency: 98% Standby Power Consumption: 2 W
Can I use Sharp NA-E135l5-B panels on this inverter. Looks like the MPPT has a wide range voltage.
Spec = Maximum power Pmax 102.4 Wp / Open-circuit voltage Voc 56.8 V / Short-circuit current sc 2.76 A /
Voltage at point of maximum power V mpp 44.0 V / Current at point of maximum power I mpp 2.33 A /
Nominal operating cell temperature NOCT 46 °C
We continue on my solar journey.
The installer I was due to use had larger fish to fry so I thought to myself this cannot be too difficult and decided to proceed without him. The first thing that I realised was that when I upgraded from the envisaged 1-2 kW system I was planning to a larger system there was going to be some redundancy when I upgraded This caused me to decide to go for a larger inverter even if I could not afford a large battery bank and enough panels. I had spent 3 months looking at our consumption and had come to an average daily consumption of 11kWh for my home and 21kWh for the whole farm. I had been told that in calculating solar array size one could count on 5 hours sunlight multiplied by the array size. Having looked at the average efficiency of South African solar systems on PV Output I would put this closer to 3½. My discovery of hybrid inverters was a lightbulb moment I thought this makes absolute sense and had my heart set on a hybrid system specifically an Imeon 3.6. The one thing that irritated me was that in my situation I would want the Imeon to function in the Off-grid mode during the day and in the Back-up Mode at night. I even got my French speaking mother-in-law to help me draft an e-mail to ask Imeon to change this. At this stage I had seen Axperts specs but was concerned that it was not a true hybrid and I would not be able to combine generator and solar power for a marvellous 6kW output. Then I was quoted a price on a 4kW Axpert and I knew that I could not justify an Imeon especially as I would have no need for its grid-tie capability in a true off-grid situation. So the Axpert won me over on price alone. I would have to accept the Axpert's idiosyncrasies. I could buy 3 Axperts for the price of one Imeon. I briefly considered an Infini but the 3kW capacity and higher price had me (like the rest of South Africa) becoming an Axpert groupie.
My battery options were a bit limited. I decided against vented batteries as I wanted them indoors. I think my decision was the right one. Summer daytime temperatures hit 30oC indoors so a structure outside on the northern side of the house would probably approached 40oC. I opted for four 260Ah AGM batteries with a 800 cycle 50% DOD lifespan. I now know so much more about batteries and the next battery bank will be larger (twice the size) and may also be vented. At the time I was rewiring the house, mounting panels, inverter, and general laying of cables - an air-tight battery box that vented to the outside just seemed to be a bridge too far.
Having set the scene the next post will probably be a bit more technical.
Today is a crisp winter day and my solar system is performing well. It is lunch time and we have produced 9 kWh so far. We are likely end with 13kWh for the day, which is more than enough to power the needs of our home. We have had solar for a year now and I thought of recording my experiences, perhaps it will help others. My solar journey has been convoluted with some cul-de-sacs and eventually in June 2015 I bit the bullet and installed a system using information gleaned on this forum and the internet. My install was completed early July 2015.
I live on a remote farm and initially I was considering building a 8km powerline which looked like it would cost R 180k at the time (2007 I think) and was in the process of getting various items together when Eskom was making overtures to securing the first of their substantial increases. They asked for 25% and got 16% if I remember correctly. This caused me to stop in my tracks and abandon any ideas of grid supply. I would have got the power from the local municipality but ultimately Eskom would have been the supplier.
So I bought a small inverter and battery that would supply PC etc for a couple of hours. This was a stopgap arrangement with the ultimate goal of going solar. A friend installed a system with a turbine and panels and his success spurred me on.
I contacted a local installer and what I initially thought would be a cost of R250k spiralled to R400k and eventually R600k. To his credit the installer got me to initially reduce our consumption and we now have energy efficient fridge and deep freeze and nearly all our lights are LEDs. The price tag of his system would have meant I would have had to take out a loan and I am trying to reduce my debt. It was a step in the wrong direction.
I then considered a small system that could then be upgraded as funds allowed. I quickly worked out that with a small system there was a going to be a lot of waste in terms of infrastructure that would be redundant when we upgraded and based on this I then set about designing a system to supply ½ of the farm's requirements (A foot in the door and the start of reducing our fuel bill as up until then we were reliant on a big 10kW generator).
More about this journey later this week.
So another configuration came to mind the other day, while I was changing out power for a new geyser pump:
My new geyser pump (needed because we realised we weren't getting proper thermosyphon from the evacuated tubes) is a lightweight 8W 12V unit. So I started connecting it up to a spare 20W panel I had... Thats when the experiment thought hit - I have a cheapy Ellies solar charger, an old (but reasonably well kept up) 105Ah 12V Deep Cycle Sealed UPS battery!
So I know have a 20W panel, connected to a HUGE battery, and a basic charger that gets it back to full power every day.... Hmmmm, time to replace some connections to other things
1 x 10w direct connected panel to 14Ah battery for Gate motor - Gone - Now fed by the monster 105Ah
1 x 14Ah Alarm Power - Gone - Now fed by the monster 105Ah
1 x 10w direct connected panel to 7Ah battery for Electric Fence Energiser - Gone - Now fed by the monster 105Ah
To start with I was concerned that the small solar panel wouldn't keep the 105Ah charged, but even after the very rainy/cloudy days this week, the battery is fully charged when I get home... Time to replace some more (hmmm, what voltage does the DSTV need???). But next step is the CCTV cameras, and maybe add the 2 x 10w panels to the solar string? The cheapy charge controller should handle that and the voltages are fairly equal...
I will keep playing (the huge explosion in Pinetown might be my place, so if you don't hear from me for a while....)
Might give a few people ideas on how to start getting off grid, without breaking the bank - Seriously the most expensive items here are a second hand decent battery and the cable - Even the panels can be sourced cheap.
My Rough Cost:
1 x Battery - Free - R1350???
1 x 20W Panel - Free (had it for roof fan) - R350 max
50m of 1.5mm² twinflex - Free (had it in shed) - R400???
1 x Ellies Controller (10A) - Free (also in Shed) - R550???
Nothing stopping you using a cheaper/smaller battery...
No matter how far you've gone with your Solar installation, it's amazing the amount of improvements/tweaks and additional purchases you will end up making (this relates back to a previous post about the cost).
5 months later and I find myself still burning my credit card at both ends, adding little bits here and there. My most recent purchase (this morning) was 2 x HA02 battery balancers. Mainly out of frustration of trying to balance batteries manually. Although the Victron balancers are much better, the cost was a bit prohibitive (6 x R1200+, 3 for each battery bank), whereas importing the 2 x HA02 (only 1 needed per bank) worked out at R1250 for both, including the shipping. Then there are the blocking diodes for my shaded panels, the normal ones are R450 each, so am cheating a bit and getting similarly rated standard diodes (a bit more power lost, but small enough to warrant a huge cost saving). Those were only R40 apiece once shipping added...
Now on to find myself a better kettle, my family insist on boiling 1.7l of water for EACH cup of coffee and just refuse to think. Yesterday, kettle was boiled 8 times in 3 hours. Each time that 2200W element kicks in the Axpert switches back to utility if it suddenly detects the voltage has gone below it's minimum (Aaaarrgghh), defeating the point of Solar in the first place. So, new kettle will be a maximum of 1 litre and 800W element - Still use the same power at the end of the day (roughly) but the 2200W shock to the load, will hopefully keep the invertor happier.
One of the nice things about being forced to skrimp and save is that you get to do a lot of research, asking questions and getting feedback on forums like this is vital, but learning and doing your own homework improves your knowledge daily about all sorts of tips/tricks.
No matter the stress, I am enjoying every moment of this new lifestyle.
When it comes to choosing what you want to use for Solar, often when you start out you have no idea on the differences in the Technologies available and the crucial differences between them. And trusting yourself over the information others provide is often (in any field) a big mistake we all make, from time to time.
No matter your skills, no matter your experience, there is always something to learn. And the horrible fact about Solar, is that 80% of the information you get from "Joe Blogs" and his cronies, is going to be horribly incorrect.
Many, if not most, highly qualified Electrical Engineers (in DC and AC) will not only give you conflicting opinions, and the completely wrong approach - simply because they are making far too many assumptions about your lifestyle/habits/budget/etc. Even though you are probably the best person to evaluate your needs: Do your homework, read up on the blogs about equipment, don't make assumptions about products (I already made a few mistakes by assumption), etc... When you think you know what is the best system/best value for money system out there for you - GET HELP! Now you must ask specific questions on Blogs/Forums/Your Friends/Etc... You are getting closer...
Now is the time to bring in professionals, never accept the first quote, because quote 2 (even more expensive) might have a reason. The same way as you would buy a new/secondhand car (the cost is nearly the same), don't just assume it must/will all work. This is always a purchase where you need to know as much about the product as the salesman/technical installer, otherwise your money WILL be wasted. This is especially true if you have to replace parts of your expensive system to make it properly functional for your needs/requirements.
Batteries are Batteries are Batteries... This is what many of us understand when we enter the Solar world. The only DC stuff many of us have seen is possibly working on a 12V car battery.
But you have no idea how important batteries are to your Solar setup, not only from a cost perspective, but there is also a huge safety aspect when dealing with such high Amperage/high Voltage devices. To give you a small idea: a car battery is usually around 65Ah and 12 VDC, this can deliver quite a jolt, and for those of you that have accidentally touched something wrong, is nearly deadly (it can burn, battery explode +++)... Now multiply that by 4 just to get to the voltage, and then multiply again to get the minimum invertor Ah (usually between 100Ah and 300Ah), and you can see how much deadlier/dangerous DC power is if not handled correctly.
I myself have melted 16mm Welding cable, just through an incorrect connection, which lost not only 1 battery, but some other expensive equipment.
Then next thing to pay attention to is the type of batteries. Firstly, normal Car batteries, no matter how large and powerful, are absolutely out the question. Standard Lead Acid batteries are not able to deep cycle (go down to a 20% Capacity/80% Discharge) and recover properly. If you have to use lead acid type batteries, make sure they are PROPER deep cycle batteries.
There are multitudes of battery types and amazingly, they all have different characteristics, something which I knew nothing about, so homework is essential. Batteries are also a huge cost component of your system, AND CANNOT BE CHANGED/ADDED TO once in field (unless you replace the ENTIRE battery system). Batteries are a 3-8 year commitment to living with the same product (efficient/inefficient, Lead/Acid, LiFePo... and many more)... THIS IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT PURCHASE when going Solar.
The last item, and actually the post of the Blog: Matching batteries to the invertor...
Just like the invertor has a specification, batteries also have specifications as to how they charge, what is the minimum voltage+++... (many more)
For example: A Deep Cycle Calcium/Calcium battery is not ideal, since it's max voltage cannot be supplied by the invertor (Needs 63V charging, system can only provide a max of 58 - Ideal for Deep Cycle Lead Acid).
If you can afford, then go for the Lead/Crystal technologies, Otherwise look as the AGM type, and only as a last resort (if you don't want to go silly with pricing), look at deep cycle lead acid... After research and this location, I would really go for the Lead/Crystal (Price is high), alternatively try AGM way before you use standard Lead/Acid (even if deep cycle rated).
Edit: After comments below, I thought it prudent to make an adjustment to the statement above: Good high quality Lead Acid batteries, like the Trojans mentioned, may be a better choice than AGM sometimes. But be aware that these high quality batteries need slightly more maintenance (ok, so checking the water levels every 4 weeks is not that much of an effort, when you should be looking at your batteries monthly), so they are not "leave and forget", which you might be able to get away with on AGM and Lead Crystal. But this post is more about invertor choice, and should (in my opinion) be the second descision you make when going Solar (Batteries would be first priority - unlike most who go the other way around).
The Axpert 4kW/5kVA Unit (a rebranded product in South Africa sold by Rectron, Mecer & others, but the same unit) is extremely price competitive in todays market, but don't underestimate or overestimate it's abilities.
Although I still use a single Axpert 4KW unit, my lifestyle and usage habits have had to compensate drastically. An Axpert unit has a great feature for overload, that copes extremely well if you exceed its parameters, and will switch over to Eskom/Municipal power happily up to 8kW. But bear in mind that your normal input for a home is single phase of 63A capable power - Even in overload condition (until it stops screaming), a single Axpert 4kW unit cannot deliver more than 40A to your house/premises.
But you are not trying to run in Overload conditions (ideally you want electricity for free, from your panels or batteries), so if you regularly use more than 3kW of power (1 x Geyser is at least 1.8kW, kettle is roughly 2kW, Iron is about 2.2kW) at the same time, then you are going to put a single invertor system under pressure, and possibly even damage it.
Lifestyle changes have included:
No heating element (Stove/Geyser/Iron/Kettle/etc) can be turned on simultaneously
Aircons are absolute emergency only items and never with any heating element
In my case 3 computers had to be shut down and removed
You become a "power" or "viper" hunter - You will spend hours of your day trying to figure out what is stealing those extra few Watts (Viper - In our terminology, a device that continues to use/steal power even when turned off or hidden away)
You have a few fights with your spouse about power usages
Now that I have drifted from topic, the point is that you need to size your power requirements correctly.
The first thing to do is look at your monthly power consumption from Eskom/Municipality bill and then divide it by an average of 30 days to get a daily value (even better if you monitor it every week for a few months)
Now that figure will give you the minimum you need per day (eg: 20kWh for a smaller home)
Very Important - Have you optimised all your basic power (eg:outside lights at night all LED, Geyser on at least a timer to restrict power, Family member prepared to not use a hair-dryier while Geyser is on... etc). You need to make you power consumption as low as affordably possible.
Now try understand your highest power usage at any one time (eg: 2 geysers on at same time is about 5kW). This is important for any extreme loads, or these loads need to be considered if you are going to exclude them from your invertor power supply.
This is a basic idea on how to understand that just because you only use an average of 500W/hour, you still need to cope for the extremes and maximums with a hybrid invertor like the Axpert. Even in a small home, without physical abuse of family members, my average might only be 400W/hr but can get up to 8kW/hr for brief periods when everyone forgets and switches everything on at the same time...
There are some calculators on this forum, but feel free to ASK for advice, this can be a very expensive lesson, and not even the most expensive yet.
In closing, Solar Power is awesome, but it is rarely a leave and forget about system.
Greetings and welcome to my first Blog post.
The idea behind this blog, is to help you learn from the VERY many mistakes I made (even though I used to be a qualified electrician), regarding Solar power installations. Whilst I can only speak for the the standard Hybrid Invertor community and my own experiences, I hope that lessons learned here can be of use to you, in not only controlling some of the costs (which spiral fast), but understanding that DC and AC are very different technologies and that once you commit to Solar, you have to understand these to be able to get your value for money, or even just peace of mind.