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Life expectancy of Mecer SOL-I-AX-3MPlus48 Inverter/Charger?


Jesse

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What is the life expectancy of a Mecer SOL-I-AX-3MPlus48 Inverter/Charger?

Am I correct that it is considered a string inverter?

Someone else installed it in 2016, well ventilated and inside a home, but no regular maintenance - considering an upgrade.

Edited by Jesse
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Thanks Coulomb

You all have been very helpful in the past, and ...

My current Off-The-Grid system is:

  • Mecer SOL-I-AX-3MPlus48 Inverter/Charger [installed 2016 with three panels]
  • 8-300W 72 cell Enersol &/or Renewsys panels [hooked up 2S4P, oriented to the NE and tilted at 45 degrees]
  • 2-US3000 Pylontech Batteries [installed Feb 2020 & have not gone below two bars]
  • Yamaha EF5500FW Generator [not needed since I went to 6 panels and the Pylontechs Feb 2020]

I am considering upgrading from this existing inverter 🙂

We have just completed a small cabin with it's own kitchen, so would like to be able to run two kettles at the same time. Would a 5Kw inverter be appropriate, and do you have a recommendation as to which one?

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9 hours ago, Jesse said:

I am considering upgrading from this existing inverter 🙂

Phew! It sounded to me like you had something worse and wanted to buy one like this 🤨

9 hours ago, Jesse said:

We have just completed a small cabin with it's own kitchen, so would like to be able to run two kettles at the same time. Would a 5Kw inverter be appropriate, and do you have a recommendation as to which one?

Two kettles, must be serious tea drinkers 🫖

I'd say 5kW would be a good size, though you might need to get slower kettles, say 1800W like mine. Best not to rewire your panels, so an Axpert MKS (not II or VM), and not a 64V model because Pylontechs are only 15S. So one that comes with main firmware version 74.xx. It's always a challenge figuring out what you are actually buying, unfortunately. 

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On 2021/11/12 at 10:17 PM, Jesse said:

Thanks Coulomb

You all have been very helpful in the past, and ...

My current Off-The-Grid system is:

  • Mecer SOL-I-AX-3MPlus48 Inverter/Charger [installed 2016 with three panels]
  • 8-300W 72 cell Enersol &/or Renewsys panels [hooked up 2S4P, oriented to the NE and tilted at 45 degrees]
  • 2-US3000 Pylontech Batteries [installed Feb 2020 & have not gone below two bars]
  • Yamaha EF5500FW Generator [not needed since I went to 6 panels and the Pylontechs Feb 2020]

I am considering upgrading from this existing inverter 🙂

We have just completed a small cabin with it's own kitchen, so would like to be able to run two kettles at the same time. Would a 5Kw inverter be appropriate, and do you have a recommendation as to which one?

I would say the axpert max 7,2kw or 8kw should be minimum for running 2 kettles based on the fact that most kettles are around 2,5kw to 3kw. I realize you might not need all that power all the time but the max is only +-R3k more.

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By n

On 2021/11/13 at 7:39 AM, Coulomb said:

an Axpert MKS (not II or VM), and not a 64V model because Pylontechs are only 15S. So one that comes with main firmware version 74.xx

Are you suggesting a SOL-I-AX-5P64?

And the firmware isn't usually listed in the specs, so how do I discover this before I buy?

PS - Some are suggesting the Sunsynk inverters, since they can communicate with the Pylontech batteries and have Wifi so I can monitor it from inside my home - I believe neither of which the Axpert can do? Quite expensive, but what do you think of them?

Edited by Jesse
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4 hours ago, Jesse said:

By n

Are you suggesting a SOL-I-AX-5P64?

And the firmware isn't usually listed in the specs, so how do I discover this before I buy?

PS - Some are suggesting the Sunsynk inverters, since they can communicate with the Pylontech batteries and have Wifi so I can monitor it from inside my home - I believe neither of which the Axpert can do? Quite expensive, but what do you think of them?

If you live where there is a grid connection and you plan on connecting to it for one reason or another. The deye/sunsynk are one of the best choices at the price.

If you are on farm with no grid connection than most axperts inverters would serve you well as they can use the grid input as a generator input.

I have an axpert type with everything in my house except the stove connected to the load side of the inverter.

A true hybrid like the sunsynk can power the stove on the non essential side. But you wouldn't be able to use the stove during loadshedding. 

I know atleast one person on the forum with 2 axperts which he connected his stove to the load side and he says it works well.

You would need more batteries though which is why the sunsynk is easier since you can start with less batteries and split your loads into essential and non essential.

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On 2021/11/16 at 3:29 PM, Jesse said:

Are you suggesting a SOL-I-AX-5P64?

No, but a SOL-I-AX-5P (no 64 at the end).

On 2021/11/16 at 3:29 PM, Jesse said:

And the firmware isn't usually listed in the specs, so how do I discover this before I buy?

Yeah, tricky. Unless you take a current limited power supply with you into the shop, it's really only a way of confirming that you have the correct model and don't have to exchange it, after purchase.

On 2021/11/16 at 3:29 PM, Jesse said:

PS - Some are suggesting the Sunsynk inverters, since they can communicate with the Pylontech batteries and have Wifi so I can monitor it from inside my home - I believe neither of which the Axpert can do? Quite expensive, but what do you think of them?

I have no experience with those. I'm pretty sure that they won't work with your present panel layout. Many Axpert models can communicate with Pylontech BMS [ edit: any with a removable display ], though only the King (but not the King II) can use your present panel layout.

Edited by Coulomb
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SOL-I-AX-5PThanks Coulomb - three questions answered, but two more emerged 🙂

I see that back in January you answered my question regarding a 64V Axpert and Pylontechs:
 

Quote

 

Yes. But since it's a 64 V model, the common 15S LFP batteries (e.g. Pylontech) will be a bit marginal at low state of charge. Below a battery voltage of about 48.1 V, the output will start clipping; with 15S, that's an average cell voltage of just over 3.2 VPC. If you set the output voltage to 220 V, it's not so bad; 46.2 V and 3.08 VPC. 3.2 V is a quite low SOC with no load, but the battery could easily sag to 3.2 V from normal states of charge.

If you use a 16S LFP battery, there is no problem, or other chemistries where the battery voltage would rarely end up below 48.1 V even under high load.

The model you mentioned does not have a removable display, so it's not possible to connect directly to the BMS of popular pre-packaged batteries (again, such as Pylontech). But you can just set battery type to USE and adjust the various settings such as absorb/bulk voltage, maximum charge current, etc. Search this forum for recommended settings; if using a Pylontech or other 15S LFP battery, use the ones that suggest 52.5 V for the absorb/bulk setting. These will prolong life and avoid problems due to the inverter overshooting voltage targets.

 

which seems to say that it is ok with the right settings?

The reason I ask is that I have not been able to find any stock at a good price in SA of the SOL-I-AX-5P, only the SOL-I-AX-5P64 😞

And regarding my existing panel setup, I plan to set them up as 2S4P when I get the new inverter, based on a previous recommendation you made to me when I said I was going to add two panels, but right now I only have 6 panels hooked up 3S2P. Does that change any of your recommendations?

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On 2021/11/16 at 12:12 PM, Buyeye said:

I know atleast one person on the forum with 2 axperts which he connected his stove to the load side and he says it works well.

Thanks you for citing me. I now call my system "My own Power station". The key parameter for a more or less reliable system is sufficient battery capacity. I know - its the most costly part of any such system. It represents some 2/3 of total cost. I have lately upgraded to 4 4.8kWh battery packs from Averge, all connected in parallel. That's a theoretical total of about 19kWh. The grid is my backup. Practically I programmed to discharge no lower than approx 20% SOC in order to always have sufficient energy in case load shedding happens exactly at that moment. So I set (12) "switch to utility" (line mode) to 47V. If it happens at night it will recharge with 40A from grid. At sunlight it will recharge from PV panels (16 set to CSO). Back to "Battery mode" (13) at 50V. So far it works well to satisfaction.

Experience: If grid drops out (load shedding) while the system is in line mode, it acts like an UPS. It immediately switches to battery mode. That's why it is important to always have some reserve energy left in the battery. When power comes back it reverts back to line mode until 50V on battery is reached.

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19 hours ago, Jesse said:

which seems to say that it is ok with the right settings?

Well, South African grid is nominally 230 V, so I think it's best to stick with the default. I have no idea what the "real world" voltage is like.

19 hours ago, Jesse said:

I have not been able to find any stock at a good price in SA of the SOL-I-AX-5P, only the SOL-I-AX-5P64

Ah. Well you would not be the first or last to live with 15S LFP and a 64 V model.

19 hours ago, Jesse said:

right now I only have 6 panels hooked up 3S2P. Does that change any of your recommendations?

No. 3S is still way too low a voltage for the higher voltage SCC models. Though I suppose if you're going to change anyway... You may have to go with what you can get. 

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On 2021/11/17 at 3:37 PM, Coulomb said:

Many Axpert models can communicate with Pylontech BMS [ edit: any with a removable display ], though only the King (but not the King II) can use your present panel layout.

Thanks again Coulomb

Based on the past days of research and your most helpful suggestions, and noting that I'm happy to change to a 2S4P panel arrangement, would you agree that the Axpert rather than the Sunsynk is the way to go, especially since although I can connect to Eskom, I don't want to, and in these uncertain times I may need to run just on solar panels if my Pylontechs fail [and I either can't get or can't afford replacements, and since Sunsynks need at least a small battery if there is no grid tie]?

And if so, what you say makes sense regarding the 64 model, and even though I don't know your reasons I trust your suggestion that the MKS II or VM are not optimal. Does that narrow my options to the the SOL-I-AX-5P or the ones with detachable displays [especially since my inverter will be in an outbuilding]?

So of those, which would work well, and which would you recommend?

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57 minutes ago, Jesse said:

would you agree that the Axpert rather than the Sunsynk is the way to go, especially since although I can connect to Eskom, I don't want to, and in these uncertain times I may need to run just on solar panels if my Pylontechs fail [and I either can't get or can't afford replacements, and since Sunsynks need at least a small battery if there is no grid tie]?

Sadly, to operate batteryless, you have to have one of the higher voltage SCC models, I believe. So that would entail a bunch of panels in series.

Quote

And if so, what you say makes sense regarding the 64 model, and even though I don't know your reasons I trust your suggestion that the MKS II or VM are not optimal. Does that narrow my options to the the SOL-I-AX-5P or the ones with detachable displays [especially since my inverter will be in an outbuilding]?

I haven't checked them all, but I think to avoid the 64 V "feature", your only option is the SOL-I-AX-5P (without the -64; there is a 64 V version of that model too). This model does not come with a removable display.

Quote

which would you recommend?

I'm reluctant to make recommendations. Besides that, I only have experience with a few of them.

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1 hour ago, Coulomb said:

Sadly, to operate batteryless, you have to have one of the higher voltage SCC models, I believe. So that would entail a bunch of panels in series.

Bummer!

So if I wanted the greatest flexibility, would I get a Sunsynk with a small spare battery, and if so, how big a battery would serve?

And/or, could I use my generator to start up the inverter and then let the panels provide the power [either the Sunsynk or the SOL-I-AX-5P]?

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2 hours ago, Jesse said:

would I get a Sunsynk with a small spare battery... 

I know nothing about Sunsynks. 

2 hours ago, Jesse said:

could I use my generator to start up the inverter and then let the panels provide the power [either the Sunsynk or the SOL-I-AX-5P]?

When I said the 145V max models can't operate batteryless, it's not just starting or powering their electronics, they also can't or won't convert PV power to AC load power without a battery present. 

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Thanks for the additional info Coloumb

And I apologize for so many questions - I have spent many days educating myself, but still feel like a newbie.

On 2021/11/13 at 7:39 AM, Coulomb said:

Best not to rewire your panels, so an Axpert MKS (not II or VM), and not a 64V model because Pylontechs are only 15S

With my setup It's easy enough to rewire panels - why best not to?

And to be clear - by preferring it to not be a 64V model, you are talking about the Floating Charge Voltage?

On 2021/11/26 at 10:10 PM, Jesse said:

Sadly, to operate batteryless, you have to have one of the higher voltage SCC models, I believe. So that would entail a bunch of panels in series.

And could I arrange my 8-300watt 45.65V panels in series to get the needed high voltage for one of the high voltage inverters?

And depending on favorable answers to the questions above [fat chance Jesse :-], would the MKSIII and/or VMIII allow my offgrid system to go batteryless, or what would I need?

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50 minutes ago, Jesse said:

With my setup It's easy enough to rewire panels - why best not to?

Merely because it's a bit of work, on the roof etc. If it's easy enough, then that's fine.

50 minutes ago, Jesse said:

And to be clear - by preferring it to not be a 64V model, you are talking about the Floating Charge Voltage?

The problem with the 64 V modules is that you don't need the 64 V with the Pylontechs, and when the Pylontech gets to lower states of charge, and the battery voltage falls below 48.1 V, then because of the lower turns ratio of the transformer, there isn't enough bus voltage to make a 230 V sine wave. So the output waveform is clipped (distorted), which has effects on certain loads. See Clipping of the output waveform with low battery voltage. Fortunately, with LFP's flat voltage versus SOC curve, this isn't too much of an issue. The linked post was about an NMC battery, which has a much wider voltage range, and so the clipping issue is much worse. So it's not the floating or other charge voltage, it's the low SOC battery voltage.

50 minutes ago, Jesse said:

And could I arrange my 8-300watt 45.65V panels in series to get the needed high voltage for one of the high voltage inverters?

 Yes, 8S would be fine for any of the higher-voltage SCC models, most or all of which can operate batteryless. They're all 64 V models, as far as I know. But as I mentioned above, while that is an issue, it's not a really serious one if your battery chemistry is LFP.

50 minutes ago, Jesse said:

would the MKSIII and/or VMIII allow my offgrid system to go batteryless

Yes. The MKS III is also known as the Kodak OGX 5.48a, and the VM III as the Kodak OG 5.48. The Axpert VM III is mysteriously hard to find data on, even on the Voltronic website.

Edited by Coulomb
Added "if your battery chemistry is LFP"
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17 hours ago, Coulomb said:

the higher-voltage SCC models, most or all of which can operate batteryless. They're all 64 V models, as far as I know

Thanks Coulomb

So it's not a really serious issue with my Pylontechs, but you still suggest staying away from the 64V models if I can?

And if so, to do that I still need to know how to identify a 64V model? The only 64V spec that I can find is the Floating Charge Voltage on the SOL-I-AX-5P64, and the MKS III and VM III Floating Charge Voltage are both 54V?

20 hours ago, Buyeye said:

I'm gonna just add a growatt to the mix. I believe you can use the grid input as either grid or generator input.

And thanks Buyeye, although the specs don't specify a Floating Charge Voltage?

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3 hours ago, Jesse said:

you still suggest staying away from the 64V models if I can?

That's my personal preference. But in your case, I can't see how you can avoid it.

3 hours ago, Jesse said:

And if so, to do that I still need to know how to identify a 64V model? The only 64V spec that I can find is the Floating Charge Voltage on the SOL-I-AX-5P64, and the MKS III and VM III Floating Charge Voltage are both 54V?

Whether it's a 64 V model or not is a vital specification that they don't give you, sadly. The best way to tell is after you own it and power it up, you can see how high either setting 26 or 27 (bulk/absorb or float battery voltage) will go. It will be either 58.4 V or 64.0 V. If you know the firmware version, then I can usually tell you that value, but again, the firmware version isn't something that they advertise before sale.

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