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Thank you for the great forum, Safe Driving over the weekend. Sincerely Jason
Rick C

Lights Flickering when on Battery Mode Axpert

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I use to hire a farm and the farmhouse's supply was about 250m of dumbell cabling probably 6mm2 maybe even 10mm2. Every time one switched the kettle on the lights would dim. Fortunately I did not live in the house but would spend 2-3 days there at a time. As the kettle was the largest draw item in the house I was not going to use my cash to sort it out.The owner was not particularly worried.

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I'll just point out that the later Axperts have an inverter-output-neutral to earth relay inside of them, which (at least by default) turns on when the inverter is in battery mode, and off otherwise. These are the ones that came from the factory with firmware version 73.XX, and only happens when 73.XX (factory or patched) is running. (So you lose this facility if you regress to say 72.70 or patched versions based on that). 

Edit: And I've not seen this documented anywhere, though I could have missed it.

Edited by Coulomb

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5 hours ago, plonkster said:

Okay then... I did the test. It is not completely representative, since my incandescent lamp is connected to the same end of a 10m extension cable (that's pretty much running at its max capacity) as the large heating element (aka kettle), but I thought it remains a good demonstration: A mere 6V, or around 5% in power terms, causes a visible flicker!

Of course, when in inverter mode, the flicker is significantly more noticeable. The battery was receiving a healthy charge at the same time (to eliminate some of the voltage sag on that end), but the result was pretty similar: Drops to around 215V for about a second, and a clear dimming of the incandescent lamp.

The cell-phone camera does exaggerate the effect a bit too, it isn't quite as bad as it looks, but definitely noticeable.

It's not your inverter. My significantly more expensive inverter does the same.

My advice would be to find an LED lamp that's less susceptible to this. Should cost less money.

Great test, plonkster!

Did you prove that with a drill o and inductive load?

Today, the electrician came and the conclusion was very similar. A voltage drop occurs followed by a recovery. The inverter (s) is (are) acts with a delay when a sudden load come in. But, we had some improvement adding an additional 4 MM2 wire from the inverter to mains. I mean, cabling affects flickering a bit, but it's not the most important thing.

Could that 15V drop affect some devices in the long run? I dont know, but thats my main concern. I can live with slight flickering, or even I could install and additional small inverter just for lights.

Thank you all guys.

 

 

  

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17 hours ago, Rick C said:

Could that 15V drop affect some devices in the long run?

You should measure Eskom volts ... it fluctuates quite impressively.

Devices have a rather wide range of input volts, it is sometimes on the stickers attached to them?

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On 2018/06/14 at 1:42 AM, Rick C said:

Could that 15V drop affect some devices in the long run? I dont know, but thats my main concern.

I'm surprised that others haven't offered an opinion. 15 VAC is about 6.5% of 230 V. A lot of electronics these days have what's called a Power Factor Correction (PFC) stage. This is a poor name, really it's just a circuit to make the device look more like a resistor than a diode and capacitor. These will struggle a little to follow the mains voltage jumping about, hence the flickering LED lights, but won't be stressed at all.

Old-school devices that are a bridge rectifier followed by a large capacitor and no boost stage don't care about the mains voltage going down, but when it comes up, they'll have a bit of a surge in current. This will cause a slight hit on their life. But as others have pointed out, Eskom mains voltage can fluctuate pretty wildly anyway, so I don't think it's serious.

Things like toasters, ovens, incandescent lights, and motors won't care at all, at least in terms of life. I wonder if smaller motors might have a slight hiccup.

A stiffer battery and thicker cables can minimise the effect.

 

 

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I just wonder the same brand washing machine with the continuous running motor had to replaced after 25 years when no spares was available for the gearbox . How long is the new machine going to last with no gearbox but a motor that stop - start + - 60 times per min .

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On 2018/06/13 at 2:16 PM, The Terrible Triplett said:

But I am still at a loss why the computer at the end of a long extension lead reboots, whereas the same computer plugged in close to inverter, does not.

Because the PC at the end of long lead will see rectification sag + cable drop - close pc sees only sag.

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1 hour ago, pilotfish said:

... rectification sag + cable drop ...

You and Chris confirmed then, that both has an effect, you can mitigate some of the issue if you have thicker cables over long distances.

I have never seen lights flicker. Then it dawned on my this morning, hold on, when bigger loads come on, THAT is why the UPS clicks like mad - it picks up the voltage drops and fixes them.

 

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On 2018/06/11 at 9:21 PM, The Terrible Triplett said:

Victron started off by and still supplies the international marine industry. 

When I bought, there where no Axperts, but their was Victron. Axpert is the new kid on the block in other words.

Axpert, when they came out first in SA was via IT companies supplying the shortage of UPS'es. Some had a small PWM controller with lots of marketing hype. They are good UPS'es for a damn good price.

Since then they have upped their offering with like MPPT's etc. with a huge following internationally. Yes, they are kicking everyone else arses ito price.

Negative: Voltronic does not give after-sales services though, nor do not fix their firmware charge bug/s.
 

Here are the latest prices from Current Automation:
Quattro 48v 5kw is Ex VAT R24 264 + controller of your choice, add 3-4k = +-R30k
Multiplus 48v is ex VAT R21 819.00 + controller of your choice, add 3-4k = +- R25k

Negative is price.
But they have excellent after-sales service / support and all bugs are sorted ASAP, if you can find one.
And 5 year warranty if ever you need it.

Will I buy Axpert? No. I like after-sales support too much. 
Will I buy a 5kva inverter in the city? No.
The loads I wanted to kill where  all below 1000w. So 1200VA is perfect  = R7855 Ex VAT for 1200VA Multiplus - if I have to start over.
Or if I really want to treat myself, i.e. and my Phoenix gave up the smoke, Multiplus II for R13 960.00 - as it is Multigrid.

My point: We cannot ask why people are buying expensive stuff, for expensive for you is cheap for me and vice versa. :-) 

For a 5KW inverter you would want at least a 100A MPPT, at 150V or even 250V, setting you back about R14K. 

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8 minutes ago, SilverNodashi said:

For a 5KW inverter you would want at least a 100A MPPT, at 150V or even 250V, setting you back about R14K. 

Nope, wrong, not even close. 

150/35 - R3269 + VAT
150/60 - R4731 + VAT
150/85 - R5745 + VAT
250/85 - R8412 + VAT

I for one prefer controller separate from inverter, for if either fails, no need to have both off-line.
Also, due to years of speculation, ended up with 2 controllers that today are on the same battery bank, yet connected to vastly different arrays. Flexibility to boot.

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13 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

Nope, wrong, not even close. 

150/35 - R3269 + VAT
150/60 - R4731 + VAT
150/85 - R5745 + VAT
250/85 - R8412 + VAT

I for one prefer controller separate from inverter, for if either fails, no need to have both off-line.
Also, due to years of speculation, ended up with 2 controllers that today are on the same battery bank, yet connected to vastly different arrays. Flexibility to boot.

I said 100A, not 35A or 85A! Please compare apples with apples. The Average Joe can't claim VAT so I'm not sure what you want to prove with the cheaper looking prices + VAT

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16 minutes ago, SilverNodashi said:

The Average Joe can't claim VAT so I'm not sure what you want to prove with the cheaper looking prices + VAT

Seriously, seriously, that is your comeback? :D

18 minutes ago, SilverNodashi said:

I said 100A, not 35A or 85A! Please compare apples with apples.

You did indeed.

I chose to focus on the volts, as that is always the starting point for the best connected panel combination, i.e. 150v.

But, to be fair, you did say 100A.
The Smartsolar MPPT 250/100 12/24/48v one is R 9 989 + VAT = R 11487.35 incl VAT,  which is still a ways from R14k (incl or excl) you thumb sucked as a challenge, seeing we must be accurate to a fault and all. :P

The 150/100 is POA and it is only 24v, so I skipped it.

See, I was not aware that we have 100A chargers here on the forum, so I thought keep it at apples for apples, seeing as the average bank here maybe range from 350-450ah, so 45amps or thereabout should be fine, 100A a bit over the top, silly me.

But, you have a real price now, VAT incl, for a 250/100A now, Camel probably cheaper,  that can handle 12/24/48v systems with max 5800w array for a 48v system.

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4 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

The Smartsolar MPPT 250/100 12/24/48v one is R 9 989 + VAT = R 11487.35 incl VAT,  which is still a ways from R14k (incl or excl) you thumb sucked as a challenge, seeing we must be accurate to a fault and all. :P

Onthou net die 20% markup minimum :P :D

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3 minutes ago, viper_za said:

Onthou net die 20% markup minimum :P :D

Therein always ask Camel ... :D

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Mmmmh... I rarely see anyone have the need for a 100A charge controller. There are cases where it happens, but they are not too common.

Still, apples for apples comparison is difficult. That damn Axpert packs an 80A MPPT, which pretty much means you need to get the 150/85. That's 700 Euro (ex VAT), but in my experience it works out about the same this side (sometimes including VAT even) because manufacturing is done in India and China: The EUR price includes import already, so just translating that directly to ZAR gets you close. At the moment, 700 Euro is around 11k. If you consult some local shops, it seems they come in around 9.8k to 10k. VAT inclusive.

We've hashed this thing out numerous times now. Yes, the Voltronics are cheaper. They aren't just cheaper than Victron, they are cheaper than almost everything else too. There is a reason for that. I hope the reason is not a bad reason. So far, other than the failure number (which is difficult to quantify, because the number will be higher for such a popular item), I can't seem to see how they do it. They probably make almost no profit on them, that is about all I can say with some certainty, which likely explains why support is non-existent.

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21 minutes ago, plonkster said:

There is a reason for that.

My theory is that their core business is the UPS industry.
Seeing that a UPS is already 99% of the way towards a solar inverter, add a MPPT and some firmware, and you have 100% solar inverter.

Edited by Guest

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2 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

My theory is that their core business is the UPS industry.

That makes a lot of sense. If their strategy is low profit high volume, this fits UPS production like a glove really. Adding an MPPT really just allows them to shift more UPSes, so to speak. That would also explain why the charge bugs aren't fixed (literally not worth the time/profit ratio), and the choices made in how long it stays in absorption and so on... not that important for the UPS market.

You and I predicted a few years ago that the fallout should start when the first battery banks starts to fail. That has largely been preempted by two things: 1) ICC and glueing a BMV into the system, and 2) Pylontech batteries. In some ways I love history in that it always shows how difficult it is to predict the future :-)

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1 hour ago, plonkster said:

That has largely been preempted by two things: 1) ICC and glueing a BMV into the system, and 2) Pylontech batteries.

Yes, indeed. 

It is all thanks to PowerForum, who brought a lot or expertise together, saving a lot of people here in SA some serious "financial" headaches ito battery replacement. 
And less not we forget the Aussies efforts and contribution to the upgraded firmware, which they distribute freely, here and all over, via their sites. They saved a lot of people a lot of money.

BUT ...
How many Axpert users are not here at PF, on the Aussie site/s? My pal was one, his batteries replaced twice. His Axpert now in a cupboard, as he is onto Cyberpower UPS now.
And how many of the Axpert users worldwide do not have a BMV, my pal had one, he gave it back, was a gift from me. He refused to buy ICC.
How many of the copied "Axpert" inverters that users buy every day, do not even know there is a problem brewing? Most solar newbies (myself included) use their batteries like Eskom.

Any case, Coloumb and Chris Hobson and Powerforum, are the people and place for new SA Axpert users. That is good - and very very clever from Voltronic, for if I was them, Voltronic, I would be fully aware of all this support given free to my customers who bought my product/s. That is clever.
 

Edited by Guest

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4 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

How many

We don't know. But seriously... it's not really my concern. It's your money. I still maintain that these cheap inverters are value for money simply because it costs so little money. They are good value for the same reason Sinoteq televisions are good value for money (or so they tell me!). It's a simple division sum. Me... I already explained I don't like stuff that begs for money at inopportune times :-)

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15 minutes ago, plonkster said:

... it's not really my concern.

Nor mine ... it was a hypothetical question - is there a emoticon for that? 

in any event.
Axpert are slowly creeping up in price, and features, judging by some of the excited response now and then here on PF when a new model comes out.
Like this one: Axpert VM III Off-Grid Inverter
With Victron having dropped dramatically in price, probably because of Axpert exceptional low prices.
Therein me posting some prices see. :-) Like this: 

VICTRON-2018.pdf

Edited by Guest

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6 hours ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

I for one prefer controller separate from inverter, for if either fails, no need to have both off-line.

Like having an articulated truck with the engine in the horse and the gearbox in the trailer - I like it:D

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8 minutes ago, pilotfish said:

Like having an articulated truck with the engine in the horse and the gearbox in the trailer - I like it:D

No man, we are not talking Axperts that have the gearbox in the trailer. (facepalm)

We are talking about flexibility, as in unhooking the trailer (array and controller) from the horse (inverter and the gearbox), and connect it to another horse, or a new bigger more spacious trailer to the old horse as in plug and play and all that, seeing that all the fittings (cables) are "one size fits all" see. :P

Edited by Guest

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It remains very interesting to me that the Multi, without a bundled MPPT, weighs more than twice that of the Axpert, which includes a large MPPT. Maybe it's overengineered... maybe not.

I recently obtained one of the newer 150/45 controllers. Goodness this thing is heavy.

33384859_10156209435505619_2718721638467108864_o.thumb.jpg.4236787d70b1abf8f1d3efceba822597.jpg

But these things have no fans, so they need the big heatsink. Still, it just strikes me as odd how much bigger it is than the similarly sized 100/50.

33360556_10156211202560619_7700880781249347584_o.thumb.jpg.a4da4c0fd7d839763c7d371ca87c5e7c.jpg

As I said. Very hard to do a fair comparison. Just completely different design philosophies, target customer, etc etc. It's your money. Do whatever you want.

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On 2018/06/13 at 2:16 PM, The Terrible Triplett said:

Agreed.

But I am still at a loss why the computer at the end of a long extension lead reboots, whereas the same computer plugged in close to inverter, does not.

There is still volt drop (and possible ampere if it's a thin lead) on the long lead, and it might be just out of the SMPS tolerance. Measure the voltage at the end of the lead, witch the PC plugged in and you will see the difference. 

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