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SolarFrans

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  1. The Mecer (Axpert) uses battery voltages as thresholds for switching to solar/grid. E.g. I've set my lower threshold to 48V and upper to 49V. If the voltage drops below 48V (which is normally when the battery has about 10-20% charge left, but read on), it will switch to grid (Eskom). If the voltage comes back over 49V (like when the sun comes up and the battery starts getting charged again), it will switch back to solar+battery. However, and this is the downside of the Mecer/Axpert inverters: a voltage drop on the battery also happens when you switch on an appliance that draws a significant load, like a kettle. This tends to temporarily drop the battery's voltage below 48V as well which then causes the inverter to think the battery is nearly discharged and switch to the grid. Once the kettle switches off, the battery's voltage recovers and the inverter switches back to solar+battery, but now you've run your kettle on grid power instead of solar/battery. The alternative is to set the battery threshold really low, like 44V, and let an external "something" do the switching to/from grid using the actual battery state of charge that it gets from the battery's BMV. That "something" can be a Raspberry Pi mini-PC with ICC software on it, and I used this for a while and it worked really well when it did. But it stopped working for me and ICC's customer support appears to be non-existent these days, so buyer beware. An all-in-one solution, i.e. an inverter that can read the SOC values from the Pylontechs itself and switch on actual SOC instead of battery voltage, is a lot more expensive, so you need to decide if it's worth it for you. If you want to absolutely minimize the amount of power you draw from the grid (with 2 Pylontechs you could theoretically run completely off-grid in the summer, assuming you already have a solar geyser and you can keep your nightly consumption to about 400W i.e. just a fridge and some phone chargers), then the Mecer isn't the right inverter for you and you'll need to look at a more feature-rich model (everyone seems really excited about the Sunsynk). However, if you want to just reduce your power consumption and protect against load shedding, this setup should do just fine. In the case of load-shedding, the Mecer/Axpert won't try to switch to the grid as it detects that there's no voltage there, so it will keep using solar+battery even when battery voltage drops below 48V. So as long as you've got charge left on your Pylontechs, you're good. There's another setting, the battery shut-off threshold (usually set a lot lower at like 45V), and the inverter *will* switch off when that is reached. Also, the Pylontechs shut themselves off out of safety when the SOC drops really low, like <5%. That's what would happen if your load shedding were to last longer than your Pylontech's charge can hold out for, and since your inverter is then running off of the battery, it will switch off, too. I've noticed that in that case the Axpert doesn't switch itself on again when power on the grid returns, you need to hit a red button on the Pylontechs which will switch them on again, at which point the inverter gets power again and switches on as well; then once it's started up it should pick up that the battery charge is low and switch to grid. You can always start with the Mecer and upgrade to a higher-end inverter in a year or two and sell the Mecer off to someone else just starting out. Hope this isn't information overkill Let me know if anything's unclear or you want even more details. ~ Frans
  2. @abeetude Do you know if SolPipLog will let you control the inverter as well, e.g. switch mode from SBU to utility or back?
  3. Thanks for the input, everyone! So I guess it's SunSynks all around I'm going to try the SolPipLog software as mentioned by @abeetude and see if that can replace what ICC was doing before it broke down... If that fails it's going to be a SunSynk. Thanks!
  4. Oh great, this is worth checking out! Their GitHub page does mention Pylontech integration so fingers crossed... And the fact that it's open source means I can actual debug it myself and fix issues if it doesn't work, a great plus over ICC which is closed source. OK, let's try this before spending 30K rands on a new inverter! Thanks!
  5. I was running the Axpert with ICC on a Pi 3 connected to the Pylontechs which worked fine for about 2 years until recently. But then ICC just stopped working at some point -- it just slows down and completely freezes and I need to restart either ICC or the whole Pi. I've had to disconnect the Pi and run the Axpert the "old-fashioned" way which basically means it switches to grid every time we turns the kettle or the microwave on as that dips the battery voltage below the 48V threshold (if I set that number any lower to prevent this, it switches off completely at night when the battery discharging actually drops it below 48V and the inverter doesn't switch back to grid in time). ICC have been completely useless. I asked them to help and they told me that they don't support my version anymore (even though it says the licence is valid until 2030 or something) and I need to upgrade for $20. I asked why I need to upgrade when I don't need new features, just need my existing version to work, and the only reply I got was "Have a nice day" and after that all my e-mails have been ignored. It appears ICC is really just one Afrikaans bloke who it seems is a better programmer than customer service person which doesn't help in my case. So you'll understand I'm not keen on paying them even more money when they're obviously not interested in keeping their customers happy. Fewer parts also means less finger pointing and easier troubleshooting if something doesn't work. Thanks for the input though, at least it means I'm making the right decision
  6. Hi all, Looking to replace my Axpert 5kVA with something a bit more feature-rich. Setup is currently 9 x 330W panels, 1 x Pylontech 3000B, looking to add a 3000C to that. At the very least I want: - direct connection to Pylontech BMS for accurate battery SOC readings (not like Axpert's let's-guess-based-on-voltage algorithm) - ability to set SOC thresholds for switching to battery / grid - ability to view metrics remotely like current consumption/production - ability to set time windows when unit should switch to grid Nice to have is ability to connect secondary loads like pool pump that would use excess power when battery SOC is over a certain threshold. GoodWe and Sunsynk both seem like good inverters and value for money. The Sunsynk 8kW is about the same price as a GoodWe 4.8 kW so seems more cost-effective. What are the experiences of people who have tried either or both? What would you recommend? Thanks! Frans
  7. Hey all, I had ICC running on a Raspberry Pi connected to my Axpert 5kVA and for nearly two years, that worked quite well. But recently ICC started "freezing" more and more to the point where it didn't switch back to grid on time at night and I'd wake up in the morning to a dark house because the inverter shut itself off due to the battery voltage dropping below the shut off threshold. I tried to contact ICC about this freeze issue but I can only say the responses have been nothing short of rude. Also, apparently he has suddenly decided to charge customers an extra $20 to "upgrade" to a new version and will not help anyone that doesn't pay for this "upgrade". I'm seriously looking at a new inverter now that can talk directly to my Pylontechs (the main reason I needed ICC) and keep track of metrics like solar usage , grid usage, and battery's SOC. It's sad because the Axpert + ICC was a nice "budget" solution. Has anyone had similar issues with ICC recently? Should we just give up on ICC? Cheers, Frans
  8. I've set my bulk and float voltage to these values and so far the inverter is doing a lot better: it's no longer switching off the PV input when the battery is full! This issue has plagued me ever since we got our solar installed and this seems to have finally fixed it! @Coulomb my man, if I'm ever in Brisbane I'm buying you a big-ass beer!
  9. Yeah, hopefully yours can be patched @WayneSi. Mine is sadly on of the models that cannot.
  10. Note that enabling Use Time for Control disables the button to manually switch to Grid or Solar/Battery in ICC. But that feature is nearly useless anyway since the Axpert will refuse to switch if it's already switched once in the past 10-15 minutes (awful design decision in these units).
  11. I'm using ICC with the cable from the my Pylontech (1 x 3.5kW) to the Raspberry Pi. My settings in ICC under Settings > Battery: - Use SOC For control: enabled - To Grid SOC: 20% (everyone recommends not letting SoC drop below 20) - To Solar SOC: 24% - Then I've got Use Time for Control enabled as well. It's set to SBU for most of the day, but SUB between 20:00 and 23:00 so that the battery can recharge to be 100% at 11pm, which in my case will last it through the night until the sun starts shining around 6:00 or 7:00. I've had to put my Back to Grid voltage on the Axpert to 44V since otherwise the initial current draw when switching on a heating appliance like a kettle or washing machine would cause the Axpert to immediately jump back to grid, even though the drop below 48V is just for a fraction of a second. 44V keeps it on Solar/Battery even when switching on a kettle. Setting Back to grid this low *does* mean that if the Raspberry fails for some reason and doesn't tell the inverter to switch to grid when SoC reported by the Pylontech drops below 20%, the voltage drop of the battery below 48V won't trigger it either (since that's now set to 44V), and eventually the battery and inverter will switch off leaving the house without power. This has unfortunately happened once or twice. Hit the red button on the Pylontech to start it up again, then switch the Axpert to grid as soon as you can and figure out why the Raspberry failed.
  12. Could this be the problem in my case as well then? The reported PV voltage goes up to ~125V, but it seems that on warm, sunny days, the unit does tend to switch off the SCC around 1pm. Could be that the voltage + outside temperature pushes it over the edge? Of course many other things also happen on warm, sunny days, such as the battery being fully charged before noon, the solar panels providing more power, etc. But just wondering if this is worth investigating? I wouldn't know how to wire 9 panels in series of just 2 panels, though....? Can I have 4 strings of 2 panels and a single panel all in parallel? Thanks again, Frans
  13. Hmm isn't that's odd? Shouldn't those just control switching from solar/battery to grid and back? Not from solar-only to battery? At least, my manual says: 12 - Setting voltage point back to utility source when selecting "SBU priority" or "Solar first" in program 01. 13 - Setting voltage point back to battery mode when selecting "SBU priority" or "Solar first" in program 02. But out of curiosity, what voltages did you set for these programs now? What battery are you using? (I'm dying to get a similar problem solved. I'd bring it in for repair, but I'm afraid they'll just change a few bits and pieces and tell me it's fixed without actually attempting to reproduce the problem and test that it's actually fixed after the repair...) Thanks!
  14. Wow, what are you doing to drain 3 3.5kWh Pylontechs? We've got a single 3.5kWh battery and *almost* make it through the night with just that. But what I was wondering: how do the Pylontechs play with Sunsynk? Does it read the SOC from the Pylontech BMS or does it "guess" based on voltage? We currently have an Axpert (or possibly a clone, who's to say) and it's been unreliable from the start so I'm looking to ditch it and get a Sunsynk. I currently have ICC running on a Raspberry which receives the SOC readings from the Pylontech and switches the Axpert from inverter to grid if it gets too low. I'm wondering how that would translate to a Synsynk-based setup. Thanks! Frans
  15. Hey Christo, How have you set up your geyser to charge from solar? Do you have a switch to switch it from your inverter to the grid and back? I assume that unless your battery is charged and the sun is shining you wouldn't run the geyser off the inverter? Thanks for any inspiration you can give Frans
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