New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sleep m

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New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sleep m

Postby Wilderness Man on Fri Nov 02, 2018 8:27 am

Hi I recently joined here, am a complete newbie to living with a PV system, and wasn't quite sure which forum to post these questions - so sorry if this is the wrong place.

I recently installed an off the grid PV system, using the Flexpower One, 3500 watt, 24 volt system. I'm currently using 1950 watts of PV panels. I'm in a remote location, hard to get anyone up here that understands this unit.

I had a friend that is far more experienced with PV systems install and wire the system in for me. However, he doesn't know how to operate the settings on this unit.

I'm going to have a zillion questions over the next few months, but I have two initial ones!

1) Clicking noise - I have heard an occasional "click" from somewhere in this unit in the mornings, but this morning, it was driving me crazy, clicking about very 30 - 60 seconds, starting just before dawn - waking me up, and wanting me to take a sledge hammer to the whole outfit! ;)
Like Chinese water torture! (I have a small house, the power center is about 40 feet from where I sleep with no walls or doors)

2) How to put it into "sleep mode" so the inverter doesn't draw power all night? I was told it pulls 30 watts. I have a fridge wired DC, so don't need any power at night, so I have been just turning the inverter off at night, but I imagine that big switch isn't supposed to be used twice a day permanently! I have been told I can get into setting somewhere to set the power draw that puts it into sleep mode - but need a detailed description of how this is done!

I would appreciate answers being very simplified for now, like "push this button", as I am totally clue-less about this gizmo as of now - and the manuals don't seem to have a very "newbie" type area of instructions - most of it is way over my head at this point. I know I will look back in a year at my very newbie questions grimacing - but that is where I am at now!!!

Thank you in advance for any replies! I'm happy to answer any questions about my setup.
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Re: New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sle

Postby Jorge Guzman on Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:39 pm

Congratulations on your off-grid living!

Wilderness Man wrote:1) Clicking noise - I have heard an occasional "click" from somewhere in this unit in the mornings, but this morning, it was driving me crazy, clicking about very 30 - 60 seconds, starting just before dawn - waking me up, and wanting me to take a sledge hammer to the whole outfit! ;)
Like Chinese water torture! (I have a small house, the power center is about 40 feet from where I sleep with no walls or doors)

Before you sledge hammer the entire thing...This is actually quite normal. Your Charge Controller (FLEXmax 80) will "wake up" when it senses a voltage raise due to the sun hitting the solar array in the morning so it will close the circuit by closing it's internal relay and this is the"click" you probably hear. When it closes the relay it will load down the array but if the sun isn't bright enough and voltage drops below battery voltage the unit will go back to snoozing and try again until the loaded voltage stays high. You can actually adjust the wake up settings in the advance menu.
Wilderness Man wrote:2) How to put it into "sleep mode" so the inverter doesn't draw power all night? I was told it pulls 30 watts. I have a fridge wired DC, so don't need any power at night, so I have been just turning the inverter off at night, but I imagine that big switch isn't supposed to be used twice a day permanently! I have been told I can get into setting somewhere to set the power draw that puts it into sleep mode - but need a detailed description of how this is done!

Yes you can. This is called "Search" mode and can be activated using a MATE display/controller.

Press the "Inverter" hot key from your MATE3 and turn on SEARCH.

Hope this helps.
Jorge Guzman
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Re: New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sle

Postby petertearai on Sun Nov 04, 2018 11:17 pm

you can also adjust the wake up time so it takes longer before it trys again to wake up . this will reduce the clicking first thing . Or you could get up and get on with the day !!!!
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Re: New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sle

Postby Wilderness Man on Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:29 am

Thanks for the tips! - it's a very slow learning curve with this power system, but I'm working on it!

The latest issue, is since I am turning the entire system off for now, at night, until I can figure out the sleep mode, and to reduce the clicking.....

When I turn it all on in the morning, the mate goes to "100%", when I know the batteries are around 80 - 90% - or lower. It seems the mate resets itself, when restarted to call whatever level the batteries are currently at as "100%".........I can still read the voltage on the controller - to verify I'm NOT at 100%, or look at the lights on the inverter - but how the heck to I get the mate to accurately read what I have in my batteries???????

Thanks for any continued help!
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Re: New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sle

Postby Jorge Guzman on Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:39 am

Wilderness Man wrote:When I turn it all on in the morning, the mate goes to "100%"

THe FLEXnet DC is the device that measures state of charge and is not really meant to be powered down every day. It doesn't have a SOC memory so if you power it down/up it will reset itself to 100%.

You can turn off just the charge controller without the need to turn off the entire system.
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Re: New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sle

Postby Wilderness Man on Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:47 am

Thanks for the reply!

How do I get the mate, once I stop powering up and down, to give an accurate reading of the percentage in my batteries? Will it eventually sense the voltage and give a more accurate percentage of what my system has available in battery storage?

I apologize again for these newbie questions, and as I said to begin with, I'm sure in a year or so, I will cringe at how much of an "Outback simpleton" I was during these early days of living with this system!
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Re: New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sle

Postby Jorge Guzman on Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:58 am

Wilderness Man wrote:How do I get the mate, once I stop powering up and down, to give an accurate reading of the percentage in my batteries?

Unplug the FNDC, fully recharge the batteries then plug it back in. This is a quick way to sync the %SOC.
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Re: New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sle

Postby Wilderness Man on Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:00 pm

Can you please tell me on my power system, what is the "FNDC", and SOC" - I don't understand either term at this point. I have attached a picture of my system so you can possibly tell me what to "unplug" - for now, I am turning off the three main switches on the lower left side at night to solve the clicking noise and power drain.

Unfortunately, due to my remote off grid location - I did not have help in setting up the system, or how it works - I simply had a friend familiar with wiring, wire the sucker up!!! It IS working great producing juice though! (hence me being online with my Viasat internet!!)

I have a basic knowledge of PV, more than your average guy on the street, but about .001% of the knowledge of all your PV smarties here at this joint! ;)

All I understand at this point is my panels on my roof send the juice to my combiner box, which then sends it to the Power Center where one gizmo is the Inverter, the other the Mate, the other the Charge controller, and who knows what that thing on top with green flashing lights is! ;)

Today, I have full sun, and the system is crankin' in the juice right now! I guess that's the most important thing, aye? woo hoo!

Oh and pay no attention to that blue pex line running for now right under the system - I'm in the process of getting my water system up and running, and haven't firmly attached my water lines yet! ;)

Thanks in advance!
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Re: New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sle

Postby petertearai on Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:53 pm

How bad is this clicking in the morning ?
Page 45 of the fm80 manual describes the advanced menu .
Snooze amps can be adjusted the default is .6 Maybe drop that .
also there is a wake up mode descried on page 46 , try increasing that voltage , also you can increase that time out to a maximum of 15 minutes . from my understanding that will mean clicking ony every 15 minutes.
2220 pv. fm80. 12 times 2 volt exc shoto lead carbon 450 AH 24 volts. victron battery monitor. outback fxr 2000 watt inverter
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Re: New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sle

Postby Wilderness Man on Fri Nov 09, 2018 2:20 pm

Hi,

The clicking starts at the first sign of light, long before dawn, and goes about every 15 - 60 seconds, and never stops till the sun is up. A total pain, and is the reason I'm turning everything off at night for now! It truly is torture, having this clicking wake me up, and never stop for an hour or so!!

I imagine the switches on the side of the unit, aren't designed to be used twice a day, but hopefully they don't wear out before I figure this stuff out!!!! :shock:
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Re: New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sle

Postby petertearai on Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:02 pm

do you have the manuals .
If not they can be downloaded , also you tube may give some guidance , also outback site .
2220 pv. fm80. 12 times 2 volt exc shoto lead carbon 450 AH 24 volts. victron battery monitor. outback fxr 2000 watt inverter
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Re: New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sle

Postby Wilderness Man on Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:22 am

Yes, I have the manuals, as as of now, they are WAY over my head with technical mumbo jumbo I don't understand.

I wish there was a section, sumthin' like "setup for dummies"...."click the brown button which is the blah blah button".......to get these simple, initial setup questions answered -for folks like me living on a remote property, trying to do it themselves with no previous electronic or PV experience, and no direct access to any personal help.

My latest issue, is I'm wondering if the system needs to be "set" to absorb what I have in PV coming in - which in my case is a total of 6, 325 watt panels, in series of 2 each - a total of 1950 maximum available watts - but even at full mid day sun, angled right at the sun, where I believe I should be getting at least 90% of that - I can only get 1100 watts????

I have checked my three breakers at my combiner box - alone, they each read around 550 watts - but together, never above 1100. My friend that helped me rig the system up seems to think this has to do with my batteries being above 90%, and that's all they can absorb. Where as I would think and hope and ANYTHING under 100% you would be able to get what the sun is giving you????????

Thanks for any and all continuing replies to all my questions.
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Re: New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sle

Postby petertearai on Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:40 pm

Yes the manuals can be a bit strange to start with .. Read compleatly 3 times , is a good start . If you have specific question ask , Has my idea or suggestion for reducing clicking worked ?
Sounds like watts is as to be expected ..... the way it works basically 3 stages .. Bulk , this happens first, the battery will accept all power given to it by panels and voltage will rise until it reaches the bulk voltage you have set .It will then transition to absorb , this absorb will continue until the absorb time you have set ..... or the amps comes down to the absorb end amps you have set. Once absorb is complected it will hold the voltage to the float voltage .
If you want to see want the panel's will put out max ,, then introduce a big load at optimum sun time ...ie around noon . the Big load could be a heat gun or 2 KW heater.
The nature of the off grid is that a lot of potential power is wasted , this is where you may choose to use power in the middle of day ... or around that time to Vacume or use power hungry appliances.
2220 pv. fm80. 12 times 2 volt exc shoto lead carbon 450 AH 24 volts. victron battery monitor. outback fxr 2000 watt inverter
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Re: New Outback power system - clicking noise in morning/sle

Postby SandyP on Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:53 pm

Wilderness Man wrote:Can you please tell me on my power system, what is the "FNDC", and SOC" - I don't understand either term at this point.


FNDC = FlexNet DC - this monitors the power coming into your system and the power going to/leaving the battery bank. it can also be set up to take control of the battery bank charging.

SOC = State of Charge - basically an ESTIMATE of how "full"/charged up the battery bank is.

As has been mentioned in other posts the FNDC will reset the SOC of the battery bank if you power down the system or disconnect the ethernet cable going to/from the FNDC. The MAJOR issue is that it resets the FNDC to say the battery bank is 100% charged even if it is not. So if you do this in the morning when you have used 10% of your battery capacity overnight (SOC is 90%) then this reset with make the FNDC think the battery is 100% charged. This is a major issue if the FNDC is controlling the charging of your battery bank as it will result in your battery bank being constantly undercharged!
Until you have a better idea of your system and how each component works it is best if you permanently disconnect the FNDC (unplug the ethernet cable) and just let the FlexMax charge controller (FM80) take over the charging of your battery bank.

...but even at full mid day sun, angled right at the sun..


If you are not using much power overnight then by the time it is midday your battery bank may have already reached the absorb voltage set point and when it does the charge controllers start reducing the amount of power they send to charge the batteries - hence the lower amps & watts seen on the charge controller display.
As @petertearai mentioned charging is done in phases and unless your battery bank SOC is lower or you are using power then the charge controller will throttle down its power output after the Absorb set voltage is reached.

Here is a plot of my battery bank stats for a day showing the voltage, charging amps(I[A]), battery used amps (CE[Ah]) & SOC. In the morning the battery bank SOC is ~88%.

As you can see the battery in/out amps (red line) rises as the sun angle onto the solar panels becomes more optimal but once the Absorb set point voltage is reached the charge controller starts reducing the charging amps. The maximum charging amps of ~55amps is never reached as the Absorb set point is achieved before midday.
Just after midday a large load (90amps) is switched on and this results in the charge controller increasing its output to try and cover the load and also replace any amps drawn from the battery.

SatSolar.jpg


Note: The red amps line is the power going to (if +ve) or being drawn from (if -ve) from the battery bank - it is not the amps/power being produced by the charge controller.
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