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Axpert settings urgent help


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Please somebody help.

I have an Axpert 5kva installed with x4 180amp AGM batteries and x6 330watt panels.

A Rasberry Pie is attached.

The idea is to only use as a UPS. The panels should only charge when mains are off.  Ie  charge from panels during a load shed or other interruption. In this way everything lasts maximum lifetime. I lose a bit by only using the panels during a time of crisis but so be it.

Been operating this way for a while.

Then I tested the system by flipping the mains off. All works like a charm.

Except last night I noticed the system switching between mains charging and no charging. I fear the batteries will die. See attach pictures. Each time it switches between the two states there is a slight flicker noticeable in all the house lights. The period between flickers/ switches is about 20 minutes.

What is going on??

 

 

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I can't really help you with the technical questions on Axpert, but I am sure Coloumb will come across this topic soon.

With regards to only using the solar panels to charge the batteries when the grid is down, I'm not sure this will stop the solar panels from degrading. They will probably degrade pretty much the same by just lying there in the sun?

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Usual disclaimer (caveat lector): I am not fully conversant in Axpertinese 😜

3 hours ago, Clivevan said:

The idea is to only use as a UPS. The panels should only charge when mains are off.  Ie  charge from panels during a load shed or other interruption. In this way everything lasts maximum lifetime. I lose a bit by only using the panels during a time of crisis but so be it.

Other than the premature float issue, using solar vs Eskom should not make a difference to the batteries - but with solar you are at least not paying extra for charging them. This is not your main priority at the moment so shelve it for now.

3 hours ago, Clivevan said:

Been operating this way for a while.

Then I tested the system by flipping the mains off. All works like a charm.

Except last night

Did you previously switch off the mains and all worked fine and then last night something different happened that was different from all previous tests? Or was the system sitting there after being installed and you for the first time switched off the mains last night? Without knowing I will speculate a bit....

3 hours ago, Clivevan said:

Except last night I noticed the system switching between mains charging and no charging. I fear the batteries will die. See attach pictures. Each time it switches between the two states there is a slight flicker noticeable in all the house lights. The period between flickers/ switches is about 20 minutes.

I suspect the inverter is set to "Sbu" (programme/menu 01) where it will use solar first to power loads, if solar is not enough it will use battery, and the utility will only get used to power the loads when the battery voltage reaches a certain set point. So you flipped the switch, the inverter used the battery to power the loads and the battery voltage started dropping. You flipped the main back on and the inverter used Eskom to power the loads and charge the battery. The battery reached a voltage set point (programme/menu 12& 13?) where it then stopped using Eskom to power the loads and started using the battery again....the battery voltage started going down and after 20 minutes the inverter started using Eskom to power the loads and charge the batteries... rinse...repeat...rinse...repeat...  

The fact that we have active load shedding likely also means that the grid voltage and frequency is somewhat all over the place which could also influence the inverter jumping between on grid... off grid....on grid..

I suggest you post:

your exact inverter model (especially MKS vs King etc)  - photo of the label on the side of the inverter could maybe be simplest

settings for the various programmes (numbers could be different/options different) -   especially 01 (source priority),  10 (operation logic), 12 (voltage back to utility), 13 (voltage back to battery), 16 (solar priority).

Maybe @Coulomb will then weigh in if no one else on the forum has an answer

Edited by introverter
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Or was the system sitting there after being installed and you for the first time switched off the mains last night? 

That is the one.

The battery reached a voltage set point (programme/menu 12& 13?) where it then stopped using Eskom to power the loads and started using the battery again....the battery voltage started going down and after 20 minutes the inverter started using Eskom to power the loads and charge the batteries... rinse...repeat...rinse...repeat...

How I envy your knowledge - this is exactly  what appears to be happening.

I will post the detail asap so that you can advise.  I am very concerned that predetermined point is too low and I harm the batteries.

I want to only use them during load shed - unless I am mistaken about the likely impact - reading the rest of your advice it seems I may be but as you said - we leave that for another day.

Tx so much.

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Try and be a bit more specific about what exactly is the concern, the inverter going back/forth/back/forth between eskom/battery?  Not staying on Eskom when you put the mains back on? What the best voltage settings are?

From what I gather it seems your safest bet during the weekend of loadshedding, and with your intended goal of using it as a utility based UPS is to set program 01 as "Utl" for now.

Also post your different voltage settings etc. so others can (hopefully) have an opinion on that.

The car revving type sound could be the fans that come one while it is inverting/charging (I have no idea what axperts sound like 😳)

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8 hours ago, Clivevan said:

A Rasberry Pie is attached.

Does this mean that you are also running ICC? If yes, can you please post screenshots from your inverter settings tab? That would make everything a whole lot easier

8 hours ago, Clivevan said:

Each time it switches between the two states there is a slight flicker noticeable in all the house lights.

The flicker usually occurs when the system switches between solar/battery and utility to power the loads (not related to battery charging) and especially noticeable with LED lights

8 hours ago, Clivevan said:

The period between flickers/ switches is about 20 minutes.

Did this only occur once or several times? If the latter, then your system bounced around between solar/battery and utility to power the loads, which in my view is not the ideal case. With proper setting this can be easily avoided

4 hours ago, Clivevan said:

I want to only use them during load shed

If you only want to use your system as backup, then as mentioned by @introverter your setting 01 should be on UTI to always run on utility. PV and batteries will only be used if no utility is available (loadshedding)

This means minimized use of your batteries - but also minimized use of your PV

8 hours ago, Clivevan said:

The panels should only charge when mains are off.  Ie  charge from panels during a load shed or other interruption.

Can you please help us understand your loadshedding / interruption situation? Are we talking about 'normal' Eskom loadshedding of 2.5h? If yes, then I believe there are ways to better utilize your available PV and not always charge your batteries from utility

4 hours ago, Clivevan said:

unless I am mistaken about the likely impact

As mentioned by the others, it makes no difference to the batteries if their charge comes from utility or PV. So I would recommend to maximize charging from PV as far as possible (which can be fine-tuned based on you loadshedding situation) to at least generate some savings from the panels

1 hour ago, introverter said:

The car revving type sound could be the fans that come one while it is inverting/charging (I have no idea what axperts sound like 😳)

Yup - that would also be my guess. Usually my Axperts do not run their fans while running on utility but do ramp up when running on PV or battery

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8 hours ago, Clivevan said:

I have an Axpert 5kva installed

You only have a single Axpert installed - correct? I just noticed from your pictures that your inverter is in 'Master' mode ('HS' on the display), which means that it is set to parallel use with multiple inverters. I would recommend switching it to 'Single' mode to avoid potential misbehaving. Happy to post details on how to do this if you require

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OK I am just back from earning my living. I will incorporate all the above and answer. In the middle of a loadshed right now btw.  And all seems OK . . . for now.

Tx for all the feedback - will do my best to provide answers.

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Update:

Introverter: Try and be a bit more specific about what exactly is the concern, the inverter going back/forth/back/forth between eskom/battery?  Not staying on Eskom when you put the mains back on? What the best voltage settings are?

I do not know whether I should be concerned. I have no idea what is going on but suspect that the batteries are running themselves into the ground at which point either mains or panels kick in as a last resort.  This is my main concern - the batteries are powering the load to the full extent of their charge. Let alone if that happens before the loadshed and I enter that with maybe only 50% (or less) available to begin with. That may mean I am about to run out (currently in a loadshed)

They wont last months if that is the case.  I want the batteries to remain fully charged until there is a mains failure. Only then to be utilised. (And hopefully never more than 20% used).

More medium term I fear a setting which uses battery power every time a cloud passes or every evening batteries are used until they are down to 50% SOC or whatever. At that rate they will never last.  The little bit I may save from the panels will be useful but not at the cost of destroying the batteries.

The RasberryPie bothers me as well. I suspect it is causing trouble and adds no value. I do not understand how it works at all.

 

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Wofandy: Does this mean that you are also running ICC? If yes, can you please post screenshots from your inverter settings tab?

think I am running ICC. I do not know what an inverter settings tab is. I will attach what I can see in next mail.

Can you please help us understand your loadshedding / interruption situation? Are we talking about 'normal' Eskom loadshedding of 2.5h? If yes, then I believe there are ways

Answer is yes but there is no such thing as "normal".  Load shedding may hit 4 hours or the beloved Jhb Council may trip its substation for a week or they may take 24 hours to respond to a blown cable across the road - for me my system is insurance against risk. Not a few pennies saved.  But of course, I would prefer the best possible setting to achieve that. As things stand I fear I am loosing both the insurance and the money. It has been hugely frustrating.

You only have a single Axpert installed - correct?

Correct. I have a separate system at an outside flat but that is another tale of woe for another day.

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What I see on my ICC. I know just enough to be very concerned.  

What bothers most is that this started after I tested the system. I.o.w. there was some kind of default reversion to a primitive state. Very threatening.

 

I am in your hands now.

 

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Cool - thanks for the additional info and screenshots, @Clivevan That helps to better understand what is happening

Let me try to see what we can do - and apologies if I am jumping around a bit

1 hour ago, Clivevan said:

The RasberryPie bothers me as well. I suspect it is causing trouble and adds no value. I do not understand how it works at all.

ICC on the Pi is a great tool to help you better understand and manage your system. It shows you current and historical performance data on your system as well as allows you to make changes to the settings of your Axpert more conveniently than on the Axpert itself

1 hour ago, Clivevan said:

I want the batteries to remain fully charged until there is a mains failure. Only then to be utilised.

This is definitely not the way that your system is currently set up.

If you look at the last picture that you posted, you can see that since about 09h00 this morning you have not been running on utility - as the red line (gridwatts) has been at 0. You have been running on PV (green line - pvwatts) since then. As for most of the time, your PV production (green line) was higher than your load (blue line - loadwatts), the excess PV energy was used to charge your batteries. You can tell as your purple line (batterywatts) is greater than 0. This means that energy was transferred to your batteries (charging). As your gridwatts at that time were 0, it means that the batteries were charged from PV (basically the difference between your PV production and your load then gets used to charge your batteries). When your PV production dropped below your load (e.g. clouds blocking the sun for a few mins), you can see that your battery line went negative. This means that your inverter used energy from the batteries to bridge the shortfall of PV to provide the loads. When running on PV, this behavior is normal and to my understanding not really detrimental to the batteries. After 15h00 you can see that your PV production was consistently less than your load - and hence the system has been running on battery since then.

1 hour ago, Clivevan said:

What I see on my ICC

The screenshots that you have posted are actually not of ICC itself but of Emoncms. ICC in your case is set up to upload the data to Emoncms for easier access through the web. Do you have direct access to your Raspberry PI? Has a VNC access to the Pi been set up (for you)? I do not really know my way around Emoncms but believe it is just for data representation. To make changes to your Axperts settings you need to access ICC on your Pi directly

Gotta run real quick and sort out a few things with the kids. Will continue in a bit...

Edited by wolfandy
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OK thanks for the help so far - i can comment:

This is definitely not the way that your system is currently set up. 

How did it change then? Because it was set up correctly - at least as I understood it because there was no flipping between solar and mains at all. This came about the moment I tested the system. 

Do you have direct access to your Raspberry PI? Has a VNC access to the Pi been set up (for you)?

I will have to ask the installer. He was very good with the electrics but does not understand the Axpert system very well. To date I have not managed to find one who does (been through 6).

I await your further advice. Thanks so much. 

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Clivevan said:

How did it change then? Because it was set up correctly - at least as I understood it because there was no flipping between solar and mains at all. This came about the moment I tested the system. 

I cannot answer this unfortunately. Especially not without being able to see what the settings in ICC are

9 minutes ago, Clivevan said:

I will have to ask the installer. He was very good with the electrics but does not understand the Axpert system very well. To date I have not managed to find one who does (been through 6).

Do you have a monitor or TV with an HDMI port that you can connect the Pi to (and have the Micro HDMI to HDMI cable that came with the Pi)? And a USB keyboard and mouse? First prize would be to do this while it is also connected to the inverter - then we could make the changes directly live. Second prize would be to disconnect the Pi from the inverter, connect it to the monitor/TV, set up VNC to access it remotely, and then reconnect to the inverter. How good are your computer skills? Have you ever heard of RealVNC?

Another quick fix would be to completely remove ICC from the equation for the time being and directly change the programming on the Axpert itself. You would lose detailed insight into what is happening with your system, but I am concerned that without knowing the settings that have been programmed in ICC, ICC might override whatever changes we program directly on the inverter

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 I am concerned that without knowing the settings that have been programmed in ICC, ICC might override whatever changes we program directly on the inverter

 

I suspect this is exactly what is happening. 

OK I will see what I can do to get the computer part sorted. My installer says VNC access to the Pi has been set up but I need to get it form Centurion Solar on Monday. Can we proceed without it - perhaps tomorrow? I am fearful of doing anything right now while in the middle of a loadshed.

I must again thank you again for your incredible assistance. Much appreciated.

Let me see if I can get someone in this household to help with the computer bit.

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No prob. Not sure exactly what my day will look like, but I will check in here every now and then

You do not have a Victron BMV installed in your system and connected to the Pi, correct? 

There should not be any risk to disconnecting the Axpert from the Pi and changing setting 01 to UTI. Then the inverter will run permanently on Eskom unless there is no grid available

Setting 16 on the Axpert determines what sourced is used for battery charging. I would set that to SNU for now, which means that the batteries will be charged by both utility and PV (we can look at optimizing that later). That way your batteries will always immediately be recharged after loadshedding

If you don't have the Axpert manual on hand, you can download it here

All relevant settings made in ICC are saved on the Axpert itself, so there is no risk in disconnecting it. Other than providing better insight into the performance of your system, the main advance of ICC is that it offers more options for setpoints for switching between Utility and PV/Battery - which is something that you do not want to do at the moment

So if you are still feeling 'adventurous' late in the evening (and you have power back), you can even still make these changes tonight 😉

I will also drop you a PM now

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Thanks millions.

So if you are still feeling 'adventurous' late in the evening (and you have power back), you can even still make these changes tonight 

Yes I definitely would have tried. Your advice seems spot on. But the sticky point lies in the term "(and you have power back)".  After long efforts been determined that a substation in my suburb got overloaded and tripped out. No power yet and no ETA.

This is exactly the kind of problem I want to insure against - I need to go into a loadshed with batteries 100% full and sucking up the sun tomorrow morning photon by photon.😉

thanks so much.

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34 minutes ago, Clivevan said:

But the sticky point lies in the term "(and you have power back)".  After long efforts been determined that a substation in my suburb got overloaded and tripped out. No power yet and no ETA.

Sorry to hear - but I know the problem. After we came online again after our scheduled loadshedding tonight, the power was literally on only for the split of a second - and went off again...

To be fair to COCT though, power was back 1.5h later (and this was the first unscheduled outage in my area that I can remember)

39 minutes ago, Clivevan said:

This is exactly the kind of problem I want to insure against - I need to go into a loadshed with batteries 100% full and sucking up the sun tomorrow morning photon by photon.😉

That can definitely be ensured. But if you load profile in the last picture you posted is representative of your average day, then you have more than enough PV that you will not require any Eskom for 6h or so during the day - and charge your batteries if required. And if loadshedding takes place during that time, you don't even notice 😉 

But we can sort out the fine-tuning once we have the basics in place the way you want them

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20 hours ago, Clivevan said:

Coulomb - please help

Sorry, life got in the way, and I'm behind with posts. Has load shedding recently restarted in SA or something?

Edit: but you seem to be in good hands. Essentially, you need setting 01 to be UTi, but you have to tell ICC that or it will override immediately. I know next to nothing about ICC.

I'd say it was never set up the way you wanted; you just never tested it before with the power off.

Edited by Coulomb
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Thank you for the supporting email - I now have confidence that the problem can be solved.

I have received a PM from Wolfandy and he will assist me without further burdening the group.

Yes, load shedding started this week. (Inland - at least here around Johannesburg - we are experiencing the coldest winter in years. I think that is not helping).

And the municipalities seem to have lost some of their vigour in dealing with it - in my area (in Johannesburg) the power came on for a few moments and then tripped out again. It is back on this morning. Wolfandy reports the same thing from his area in Cape Town.

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