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Re-installation : They screwed it up, so now I want to fix it


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Hi All,

First post and I need some serious advice.
We run a business from home and we rent printing equipment, 2 years ago our sales rep went, hey loadshedding, why don't you rent to own a system over 3 years, after 3 years it becomes yours, and we double it up, keep it under maintenance, fully serviced, the whole bang shoot... Sounded great on paper, until it wasn't....

We also run two houses on the property, each house having its own everything, separate stove/geyser bla bla. Each house has its own DB, and we have a DB in the garage, so 3 DB's in total before they added in their crap.

They  supplied :
8x105ah Energizer EC37 batteries, 4 per bank, with 2 banks, banks in parallel = 48VDC
2x5KVA Axperts (one mercer, one RCT)
8x270w Canadian solar panels, 138v as per
Separate DB with a double Pole Isolator (63A) + 2x32A breaker, assuming AC in per Inverter, 2x change over switches, a 40A EL, and a 63A breaker covering the entire solar load.

In theory, this is OK,  except for
Not a single fuse or DC isolator anywhere, not for the panels, nor the batteries, direct out from the batteries into the inverter, and double crimped to the second inverter
Battery wiring, I am guessing is about a 10AWG, and same wiring size as the PV voltage, what could POSSIBLY go wrong.
Oh and 2 of my garage plugs, that are not on solar, that has NO earth leakage, because they stole my earth leakage in the board for solar output... Its not like we connect welders and dodgy stuff in the garage at all, so we really don't need EL's.. right.... *vloer moer*

This was all fine, and never looked at it in detail, because it was 'professionally done' right... wrong.
2 years, all 8 batteries are swelled to epic proportions, do not hold an ounce of charge, and system is useless.

No problem, its under maintenance right, wrong, no no, we do not cover equipment... what a croc of shit.. I am not going to get into that conversation, but I am seeing the guy tomorrow morning..
Their answer, no lead acids only have a useful life of 2 years, and we should have gone Li, but they can sell me 2x pylontech US2000 for 60k.. and that will sort it out...

So we wont even get into why that's a bad idea, suffice to say... its not going to happen.

I am redoing the system, myself, so that I know its done using quality equipment, and I can expand in the future, I wont be lied to again.

I am planning on purchasing the following immediately
1x 9u floor standing cabinet
2xUS3000 pylontechs
Pylontech bracketsx2
1xPylontech battery cable
1xICC from centurion solar, with Pylontech comms cable
Jean Muller 3 blade DC Isolator KETO (2x160A fuses, and 1x40A for solar)
35mm battery cable in less then 5m.
Trunking and bits not specific here.
Current clamp, because I have no conceivable idea of load, other then adding max potential of all the breakers per DB,

Plan is not to touch the PV system other than running positive via the blade isolator. I know I need  to do much better then this, but that will be for phase 2
Further I plan to install the JM/Keto switch into the middle, from the battery to the bottom, and double terminal that out to each inverter, therefore inverters stay in parallel.

I plan on installing a third US3000 in the immediate future, and will then replicate the cabinet (3xUS3000) two or thee times over the next few years, but we will then put in DC joiner boxes ect..

So for now, the following questions
1. My battery wiring size of 35mm for 3xUS3000, is that sufficient, or should I go 50mm which becomes a PITA,
2. I assume that every setting on my inverter is incorrect, where do I even start.
3. I have surge arrestors in each of my DB boards which I put in, but nothing on the solar distribution board, and no space, is this an issue
4. my 160A fuses... too much, should I do the 120A..  ? Inverter manual says 120A use 38mm cable /2AWG
5. These R1,200 current clamps on Takealot, are they any good for sporadic use, and can they all measure DC as well as AC, or do the DC ones cost more..
6. Many more to follow

 

 


 

 



 

 

 

 





 

 

 

 

 

 


 

  

 

 

 

 

 

garage db.jpg

panels.jpg

solar DB board.jpg

wiring size.jpg

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Sorry forgot to add my costing so far.  I did this on 1 battery, but decided to stretch budget for 2
Also the Jean Muller switch, for some reason I really like these.

couple of errors on this, don't look at it too closely, its just rough work

Costing.jpg

keto breaker.jpg

Edited by Leonard
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1 hour ago, Leonard said:

2x pylontech US2000 for 60k

Jy word gerook hier... A US3000 is around 20k, maybe a tad over. A U2000 is of course less than that.

26 minutes ago, Leonard said:

Also the Jean Muller switch, for some reason I really like these.

I like the Mersen ones a LITTLE bit more... but I think they are pretty similar for the most part.

1 hour ago, Leonard said:

1. My battery wiring size of 35mm for 3xUS3000, is that sufficient, or should I go 50mm which becomes a PITA,

The batteries have a recommended max discharge of 35A per unit, or 70A for the two. 35mm^2 is ample for that. But... you have 10kVA of inverter, and the battery can deliver 1C for several minutes, or 140A. 35mm^2 is good for that too. Just ensure the cable length is as short as possible, and that the voltage drop is 1% or less.

I must say... well the folks around here know I'm not fond of the Axpert inverters. Well, truth be told, it's not a bad design... or rather, it is not the worst design in the world. But one thing I don't get, why does everyone install TWO of them, and then completely under-battery the setup? 10kVA of inverter, but only 200Ah of lead-acid battery?

I mean, it is so bad, if you walk in the door and you see two modules on the wall... you can be about 80% sure some idiot installed it with too little battery capacity. It's almost a cliche by now...

I digress. Yeah 35 should be fine.

1 hour ago, Leonard said:

4. my 160A fuses... too much, should I do the 120A..  ? Inverter manual says 120A use 38mm cable /2AWG

Size the fuse for the cable, not for the load. 160A is good for 35mm^2.

1 hour ago, Leonard said:

5. These R1,200 current clamps on Takealot, are they any good for sporadic use, and can they all measure DC as well as AC, or do the DC ones cost more..

Are you talking about these?

117965205_10158364894185619_7869806756283483121_o.thumb.jpg.f501f5e2ab7f9953a8e89b52bb9e0f28.jpg

This is the cheapest DC clamp meter I could find, at around R1500. I've had it two days. It appears to be fairly accurate, at least, it measures to 100mA the same as my battery monitor. It's very plasticky, but it has a backlight... and since I don't do this every day, it seems fine for my purposes.

Edited by plonkster
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1 hour ago, Leonard said:

or do the DC ones cost more

Let me be a bit more specific. Yes, A DC clamp meter usually costs more. That's because the cheap AC ones use a current transformer. The alternating current in the inductor, according to the right hand rule you learn in Physics 101, induces an AC current in the clamp, and you can measure that easily. So AC clamp meters can be quite cheap, even less than R1000.

DC measurements is done using a hall sensor. They cost more. A good meter is usually around the 4k mark, and I think for the hobbyist market you'd aim for around the mid 2k mark. But as I said, I got the above one for less than 2k, and it seems to be okay for hobbyist/infrequent use.

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14 minutes ago, plonkster said:

DC measurements is done using a hall sensor. They cost more. A good meter is usually around the 4k mark, and I think for the hobbyist market you'd aim for around the mid 2k mark. But as I said, I got the above one for less than 2k, and it seems to be okay for hobbyist/infrequent use.

Hmm...  UT210E does exceptionally well and it is less than R1000

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1 hour ago, Leonard said:

Pylontech bracketsx2

Am not sure why you would need the Pylon brackets. You can mount the Pylons directly into the 9U cabinet - no brackets needed for that

1 hour ago, Shockin said:

Hi, get your  icc software from Manie [email protected]

Based on from what I have read here, that seems to be the better option (I did the same and can only speak of outstanding support from Manie)

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55 minutes ago, Leonard said:

Costing.jpg

Would go with 50mm² instead of 35mm² for 5kW unit.

Apparently buying your "Monitoring system" from centurion solar means you will have a "pirated version" of ICC.  You may want to consider buying it from the guy who made the app.

Don't know what these cable kits mean, so will leave to others to comment on that.

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I have emailed Manie regarding ICC

As for the rest of the responses, I could not have asked for better responses, thank you plonkster, 

As for the current clamp, excellent explanation, i am willing to spend R1,500 on a meter, but not 4k... so I will let you. will let you know what I find.

Will keep you folks updated, Thank you so much !!!

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Yes, DC clip on ammeter is an indispensable tool for solar.

I parallel strings of different directions and slopes to try and maintain a long duty cycle over the day. I standardize configurations as combinations of two panels in series, with E an W strings combined . This is in-line with the 6mm copper and my 30A MC4 connector ratings I use.

It struck me recently that there are so many panels up there now that once I have done my final matching,  I could easily develop an open circuit of say two panels and it would go unnoticed probably for years.

So I bought 16 of these that I plan to monitor each strings contribution, just give a visual indication if an individual string starts under performing once initially set up.

image.png.43abbb7b1c2bfab701dd3a9ec3bdb275.pngimage.png.64354bd2ccbea6d56ebbdb03a4a72ce3.png

They haven't arrived yet and so I cant vouch for them.

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32967098638.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.693d4c4d4BxywE

But they where 8 USD a piece, without shipping.

Edited by phil.g00
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1 minute ago, Gnome said:

Don't know what these cable kits mean, so will leave to others to comment on that.

You need 1 Pylon cable kit to connect a set of Pylons to the breaker/switch or DC combiner box. It is rated for 120A

spacer.pngPylon.thumb.jpeg.1a9cde21b72be27f6ba5d70e84765877.jpeg

The cables that come with each Pylon are only for connection from one Pylon to another 

 

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51 minutes ago, Leonard said:

i am willing to spend R1,500 on a meter

UT210e, can't go wrong with it for current measurement.

Other kinds of measurements I would go with UT61e

When measuring high voltages (220v+) would go with Fluke 101

Each of these meters are highly regarded so you can find plenty of info on them online.  They are all really cheap but very accurate as long as they are used for the right thing.

Edited by Gnome
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50 minutes ago, Gnome said:

UT210e, can't go wrong with it for current measurement.

I was locked to Takealot for my transaction (I had a gift voucher), so that limited what I could buy. But I've never had an issue with the Uni-T meters, and my main meter is a cheap Uni-T (a UT90A, bought it for R700 over a decade ago, when that was still a lot of money). Sure, they are nowhere near Fluke quality, but at the price they are not bad. And that UT210e looks real nice...

Edited by plonkster
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5 hours ago, Leonard said:

They  supplied ... 

8x270w Canadian solar panels, 138v as per

138V Voc? Or perhaps when working?

That sounds like 4S of 60 cell panels. That's going to be trouble, you have either far too much voltage for 145V absolute max models, or too few panels for a 450V absolute max model. Solar not working well could contribute to undercharging of the battery.

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8 hours ago, Coulomb said:

138V Voc? Or perhaps when working?

That sounds like 4S of 60 cell panels. That's going to be trouble, you have either far too much voltage for 145V absolute max models, or too few panels for a 450V absolute max model. Solar not working well could contribute to undercharging of the battery.

Will explore this later, something is not right here you are correct, but I don't understand any of this yet... yet...

Thanks for all the responses guys,

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18 hours ago, Leonard said:

Sorry forgot to add my costing so far.  I did this on 1 battery, but decided to stretch budget for 2
Also the Jean Muller switch, for some reason I really like these.

couple of errors on this, don't look at it too closely, its just rough work

Costing.jpg

keto breaker.jpg

Have you checked The Powerforum store's prices yet?

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Thanks Guys,

Just nabbed this one on takealot, had a couple of rand in credit, so it wasnt that much.

https://www.takealot.com/major-tech-mtd75t-ac-dc-trms-clamp-meter-600a/PLID66380543?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwabGvp2s6wIVy-vtCh2BdQQBEAQYCSABEgISpfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

Additional Information:
DC Voltage: 600mV uF 6V uF 60V uF 600V
DC Voltage accuracy: ±(0.5% + 5d)
AC Voltage: 600mV uF 6V uF 60V uF 600V
AC voltage accuracy: ±(1.0% +5)
DC Current: 600A
DC Current accuracy: ±(2.0% + 30d)
AC Current: 600A
AC Current accuracy: ±(2.0% + 30d)
Resistance: 600OHMS uF 6kOHMS uF 60kOHMS uF 600kOHMS uF 6MOHMS uF 60MOHMS
Resistance accuracy: ±(0.8% + 3d)
Capacitance: 60nF uF 6uF uF 60uF uF 600uF uF 6mF
Capacitance accuracy: ±(3.5% + 20d)
Frequency: 10Hz uF 100Hz uF 1kHz uF 10kHz uF 100kHz uF 1MHz uF 20MHz
Frequency accuracy: ±(0.1% + 3d)
Temperature: -40 to 1000°C
Temperature accuracy: ±(1.0% + 5°C)
Continuity: Buzzer sounds at approx. 50OHMS
Diode Test: Test current 1mA, open circuit voltage 3V
Power source: 2 x 1.5V AAA batteries
Dimensions: 185 x 65 x 37mm
Weight: 280g

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  • 2 weeks later...

So a tiny bit of an update, removed existing solar setup from all 3 DB's, 

71249512_DBcottage.thumb.jpg.1ca20032a2aa3d747035fa9338868601.jpg1737644367_DBHouse.thumb.jpg.19427f23aee30772fdbf1db3542609a2.jpg1310136678_DBGarage.thumb.jpg.59c0f736c744345db0e32c7e0c8e1f2f.jpg

Clean wall

568935184_Cleanwall.thumb.jpg.1200f9103fd4e480486c7b48b859aaa2.jpg

So Step 1 in fixing solar... rebuild laundry.. 

704200420_LaundryBefore.thumb.jpg.d7f8891fb2803e3771ed4b34e1641b97.jpg1158083522_LaundryCompleted.thumb.jpg.6dd43299b5657641ef1ac69b54aed620.jpg

Then design the shelf. bit of detail here for anyone looking to do the same.
My ultimate battery config would be say 10 pylon's.. thats 300kg, plus another 50kg in dead weight, which I wanted to do wall mount, not your average shelf...

Therefore, i used kitchen board from BoardMasters,
Most guys use aircon brackets should they do this sort of thing, but I ordered mine specifically from CabStrut. Each bracket is rated for 270kg and it was dirt cheap. 

So essentially, I designed for 2 cabinets of 600 each + wiggle room so board size of 1300.
Mounted on 3xCabstrut FPA350 http://www.cabstrut.co.za/cab-strut-cantilever-arms.html
2x pieces of 10mm threaded rod, for front mounting bits. which turned into something like this. 
6 M12 rollbolts

120471164_ShelfComplete.thumb.jpg.cdbfdf5f1b6e7ec5cb28bd0ebabd55dc.jpg590397928_Shelfunderneath.thumb.jpg.d236ef3f3a6aabba6b3f6995e2fb5261.jpg

So thats is where we are today, and we shall see how far we get over the next week or so... 

However, please can I get an opinion of my DB board. 
Top row is for Panels, with a DC based surge arrestor
Second row is output, again AC Surge arrestors, 63A Isolator (out) and 2 earth leakages, split between 2 houses, I would have gone 3, but the guys that did my install lied to me, it is supposed to be individual feed to both houses, but alas, it is joined.. No matter though, so 2 external loads, EL for each, 63A

And bottom row of course is the AC Input, 63A isolator, 63A breaker for change over switch, and 2x32A for each inverter, 10mm wire for everything, which is overkill.
Whats the verdict, will this pass muster ?

1028941335_panelcompleted.thumb.jpg.08ccf4c3fd54d5a73a00bbb13282b771.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Leonard
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Hi there. Congratulations in starting the DIY route.

In your pictures above where you have changed the wiring back 

Pick 1. you have 16mm2 coming in but it looks like you have 4mm2 going out of the earth leakage change that to at least 10mm2

pick 2 on the right has a very old FUCHS breaker. - replace that with a new breaker those breakers tend to fail and does not trip when needed.

Your Pylon-tech rack looks fine but be careful of wood rot if that press wood gets water it will crumble without you noticing it and then your batteries might fall. I would rather use plywood or solid wood. 

Your DB that you are building might not pass COC, AC and DC must be in separate DB boards 

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10 hours ago, Krokkedil said:

Pick 1. you have 16mm2 coming in but it looks like you have 4mm2 going out of the earth leakage change that to at least 10mm2

Yeah that one looks odd. It looks as if the main feed (thick red and blue) feeds into the RCD. The RCD has no overcurrent protection (two green levers), and then there are two much thinner conductors looping around to what looks like a 60A main breaker (those wires look too thin for 60A). Usually the main switch comes first and the RCD second, so it seems you have them swapped.

Also, it looks as if a red wire runs from the top of the 60A breaker to the middle group of breakers. I assume these are circuits that are not RCD protected (in older houses the lights were often not on the RCD), which further lends credence to the theory that the RCD and the main switch is the wrong way round. The way this is wired, there is no overcurrent protection for that middle group of breakers (the RCD is the only thing in its line, and it has two green handlers) and you have a theoretical 80A capability downstream, with a much too thin wire providing that power...

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Thanks guys. I honestly appreciate the feedback and will act.

I will update the outgoing feed to 10mm2, there is a 16mm2 earth coming in. just not visible.

the unused 60a isolator was the income for the solar. and then the left group of breakers is non critical and right group is critical/solar

 it just looks like crap at the moment die to the very temporary disconnect. but you are correct..I at least need the 10mm to the high currents. geysers and ovens. I will fix that.

One point you raised that I would have gotten wrong. is the ac/dc thing. I specifically designed that 36 way for the dc isolation to be in there. guess you saved me from a potential oops. and I read on the forum it is a pita to change. so thank you muchly. I will act on the advice.

However. the ac/dc inside the same conduit thing. if I have proper double channel power skirting. can I use the one  channel for DC and other for ac and some data.. I was planning on doing that anyway but from a neatness perspective. not compliance. But if they can't be in the same.dounle skirting.. then this becomes messy.. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Leonard
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More on the top DB to follow, thanks for the input, and I will action recommendations.

Now based on the earlier advice, note the additional DB board top right for the DC bits.. I was not planning on doing that, so thanks muchly, would have been pissed if I had to do that after the fact. 

Question though regarding the conduit/single db CoC rule.. My trunking, which is split in the middle is fine right, I wont pick up crap from that.  ? I did plan to split AC and DC within the channels, hence the reason for buying the double trunking, but did not know about the DB distribution. 

Also, the box I have between the two inverters, will be my DC cable joining box,  essentially utilizing studs to terminate cable points. In my view far better then trying to double crimp 35mm wire. Will of course have a cover over it, with some Volt meters for the sake of nerdiness...

So route is to go from the keto disconnect to the junction box, and then out to each inverter. Also circuit 1 of the Keto, will have a 40A for panels, and 2x120A from batteries.. all squishy.. ?

Forgive the gazillion questions, but that's what happens when you let the IT nerds loose with this sort of thing

 970533490_Walljuststarted.thumb.jpg.4fd3a1610f5c481f1207bbd2e1b0ecd3.jpg

Edited by Leonard
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