Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

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raysun
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Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by raysun » Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:29 am

I have an occasional issue with battery charging via generator/inverter
charger, combined with solar charge contoller.

A typical scenario may be a day when the solar array is not supplying enough power to fully charge the batteries, and the generator is started late in the afternoon to augment the charging process. Charging from both sources will proceed normally until the sun goes down and the charge controller enters an idle/sleep state. Of course, the CC stops charging at this point, but so does the charger in the inverter. The generator continues to provide house power.

I can get the inverter charger to start charging by initiating a bulk charge from the Mate.

I'm guessing it's a setting somewhere, but can't seem to put my finger on it.

Ironically, my neighbor's (nearly identical) system does the same thing.

Any ideas?

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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by JRHill » Mon Aug 19, 2019 11:03 am

What AGS trigger(s) do you use? Which port/device provides the output for AGS? I'm curious and was thinking about this post. I had some really strange AGS behavior before the forum went down. Curious b/c all had worked beautifully for a year and then acted up. I was asked why I used the FM80 output. I had no answer other than it was the easiest b/c of wire length, routing, etc.

Long story short, it wasn't wiring, connections or rodents, it was the 12vdc relay that triggered the AGS. I still can't correlate the malfunction with the behavior but when I changed it out, that fixed it. I posted a link to a inexpensive 12v relay on amazon previously. But I have determined, after DAYS of troubleshooting, buying the expensive Bosch 12v relay from NAPA might have been the best for reliability. On the other hand I've had a BSA, and friends with Triumphs and Nortons, a Jag, etc. So I'm still not convinced.

As an experiment, change to a different Aux. Its not that big of a deal.

Best, Jim

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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by raysun » Mon Aug 19, 2019 11:39 am

Hey Jim

My generator (Honda EU700is) is manual start, so I haven't done anything with AGS.

The generator runs fine, supplying house loads and charging the battery. The fail comes when the charge controller goes idle late in the day. At that point, all charging stops.

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FM80 - FX3048T charger not coordinating properly

Post by raysun » Mon Aug 19, 2019 9:43 pm

My system is having trouble completing a charge cycle properly when using both the FM80s (two), and the charger in the inverter. Today was a typical example.

Charging using the FM80s started around 7AM, but clouds moved in and at 2:30PM battery SOC was 75%. The Honda EU7000is (5kW) was started, took over the house loads, and supplied the programmed 14ACA charging current. Both FM80s and inverter charger brought the SOC to 85% and the 3hr Absorb cycle started. Eventually, there was enough PV charge to maintain Absorb (58V), and the inverter charger dropped charging to 100W. About 2 hours into Absorb, the the PV charge dropped low enough that Absorb could not be maintained. The inverter charger output remained at 100W, not increasing to maintain its Absorb setpoint (57.6V), nor the CC Absorb setpoint (58V). The FM80s dropped into Bulk charge. The SOC was 97%.

My question is why, when the FM80s are not supplying sufficient charge to maintain Absorb, the inverter charger does not increase its output to make up the difference?

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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by Kurt Lundquist » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:20 am

raysun,

I hope you do not mind but I'm going to merge your other post under this topic to create a single thread for the question.

Have you been able to complete a full charge from the generator when the PV isn't working?

Next time you see this happen press the CHARGER button on the Mate3. What does charger control say? Is there time left next to Absorb or Float? What is the battery voltage vs the Abs and Float voltages?

Press the BACK button then press the Inverter softkey (3rd from the left under the screen). What does it say in the top left? Does it say anything to the right of Charge past the amps? What are the AC IN/OUT voltages?

Press the NEXT button. Top of the screen should now say "Inverter Battery". What is the battery temp, temp comp, and actual?

Cheers,

-Kurt
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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by raysun » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:03 am

Thanks Kurt, I'll check this out on the next cloudy dsy.

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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by JRHill » Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:08 pm

Dang, seems like I go through this each year. Priority to the inverter or to the CC? It always changes from one to the other in Oct. But this year earlier. And it would seem that the same programming changes would happen each year at that time. Nope.

This AM the forecast was for cloudy and rain. TG, Maybe no lightning hits but some moisture. But at 10:44 I manually started the genset with 3.5k in total, .6 from solar rest from the generator. Good hit to the batteries. Not much than an hour later the panels were gone from the charge and the genset was carrying the load. I've asked myself for a long time why the CC doesn't carry more load when there is sunlight? If there is potential from the panels then why don't they offset the draw from the generator. This is not a question when Bulking. It happens in absorb.

So the question: if there is sufficient input from the panels then why the shift to gen? I think this is along the same subject.

Best, Jim

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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by raysun » Tue Aug 27, 2019 7:09 pm

"...Press the BACK button then press the Inverter softkey (3rd from the left under the screen). What does it say in the top left? Does it say anything to the right of Charge past the amps? What are the AC IN/OUT voltages?

Press the NEXT button. Top of the screen should now say "Inverter Battery". What is the battery temp, temp comp, and actual?"

Kurt, thanks for the guidance on what to check. Attached is three images from the Mate.

For Absorb, the Charge Controllers are set to 58.0V, and the Inverter Chager to 57.6V. On days (like this), the Inverter Charger reaches its Absorb set point, but the Charge Controllers may not reach theirs. The Inverter Charger keeps throttling back to maintain its temperature compensated, Absorb setpoint, and if the CC's can't deliver enough juice to rise to.their Absorb setpoint, the two charging systems don't seem to agree.

I changed the Absorb setpoint on the Inverter Charger to 58V, and all three systems quickly went into Absorb.

Question: is there a better setting to facilitate proper charging from the two sources?
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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by Kurt Lundquist » Wed Aug 28, 2019 9:09 am

raysun,

The pics you showed indicate the inverter is meeting and holding the active charge target voltage with gen power. Did you take these pictures when you were experiencing the gen stops charging issue that prompted this thread?
raysun wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 7:09 pm
The Inverter Charger keeps throttling back to maintain its temperature compensated, Absorb setpoint, and if the CC's can't deliver enough juice to rise to.their Ansorb setpoint, the two charging systems don't seem to agree.
If the CC's can't deliver enough juice to hit Absorb the solutions are more sun, more PV, or smaller battery bank and less load. Am I missing something?

Thanks,

-Kurt
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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by raysun » Wed Aug 28, 2019 9:40 am

Kurt Lundquist wrote:
Wed Aug 28, 2019 9:09 am
raysun,

The pics you showed indicate the inverter is meeting and holding the active charge target voltage with gen power. Did you take these pictures when you were experiencing the gen stops charging issue that prompted this thread?
raysun wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 7:09 pm

If the CC's can't deliver enough juice to hit Absorb the solutions are more sun, more PV, or smaller battery bank and less load. Am I missing something?

Thanks,

-Kurt
LOL! Nope, looks like the full gamut of variables.

This particular scenario is the more common of the two (and why I created a separate thread for each initially.) Looking at the stats it certainly can be classified as predicted behavior. I posted this because it was the first opportunity to explore the issue more concisely, not that it illustrated the case of the other, less expected behavior.

The other case does stem from this however. I'm not sure how to duplicate it exactly, but will try to capture it when I see it again. Perhaps disconnecting some panels in the latter stages of the Bulk cycle and engaging the inverter charger will stimulate it.

Understanding how to see the interaction between the two charging sources is very helpful. Thanks, Kurt.

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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by JRHill » Wed Aug 28, 2019 12:10 pm

Me too. I'm not sure that Raysun's and my curiosity are the same - still pondering that as his system is larger/more complex than mine. But here is what I'm trying to perceive:

If I have both solar and gen inputs operating at the same time then: Whether a passing cloud or just plain overcast, if the FM80 at some point can not supply enough power to continue the Absorb cycle then why does the FM80 and the solar potential that is available drop out completely? Granted there is a balancing act when inverter usage exceeds the gen input and it drops out and goes to battery input. But I get the feeling that the balancing act between the inverter external charge and the FM charge controller is not a contest - the inverter always wins and the FM drops out completely? Is this a settings issue or is this the way things have to go so it is not a matrix of balancing acts?

I understand there are limits but, OB stuff has surprised me many times so I have to ask if I need to fine tune or if there is a threshold to be respected.

Best, Jim

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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by provo » Wed Aug 28, 2019 3:30 pm

JR Hill writes:

"But I get the feeling that the balancing act between the inverter external charge and the FM charge controller is not a contest - the inverter always wins and the FM drops out completely? Is this a settings issue or is this the way things have to go so it is not a matrix of balancing acts?"

As I recall, FX and FM work together nicely in Bulk (they just add together), but in Absorb, I have to dial back the AC Charge Current Limit on the FX to have them share nicely. In fact, as Absorb progresses, I have to keep ratcheting the Charge Limit downward to keep the FM from dropping out entirely.

Isn't that the way it's always been :grin: ?

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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by raysun » Wed Aug 28, 2019 6:25 pm

Jim,

I'd say our systems are fairly comparable in complexity. I have two FM80s but that part is pretty transparent. They remind me of synchronized swimmers, and haven't taken a single stroke out of sync with the other.

While you have described a different manifestation, I believe we are looking at different facets of the same issue. For me, at least, it's still a struggle to articulate what I've seen, let alone reproduce it and capture metrics. Getting some guidance from Kurt was helpful in seeing the charging metrics, but I'm still confused as to how to identify what I've seen happen.

As far as I can recount my issue reads like this:
The inverter charger (IC) is set to 14DCA charge current, supplied by a Honda EU700is generator. The IC's Absorb Voltage is 57.6V

The charge controllers Absorb Voltages are set to 58.0V.

If both charging systems are on, and in the Bulk phase, both provide their maximum available current for charging.

When the Absorb Voltage is reached for the IC, it starts reducing current to maintain the set point. The CCs still show Bulk. If the CCs can provide enough additional charge, the battery voltage will continue to rise until the CC Absorb Voltage is reached. At this point, the IC will idle down to very little, or no, charge being delivered to the battery.

All the above seems to be what I would expect. Now, the tricky part I've seen, but have yet to duplicate or capture measures from.

If the CCs do not continue to provide enough charge to maintain Absorb, they eventually drop into bulk. The IC does not "chip in" any charge to keep the Absorb at the CC set point. I expect this may be because, with no load on the battery, the voltage does not drop to the IC's Absorb Voltage setpoint, yet its Absorb Timer keeps counting up. If the CCs never manage to deliver enough charge through the end of the day to complete Absorb and go idle at sunset, the IC never takes over to complete the charge cycle. Again, I suspect the IC Absorb Timer has counted up to the Absorb Time, and sees no need to contribute. Since the CC Absorb Timer didn't count up to Absorb Time, the system doesn't appear to enter Float, which makes sense.

When the system is in this state, the IC doesn't consistently respond to a manual Bulk Charge command. Again, this may be due to Timer and Voltage conditions.

*Another Random Observation
If the IC and CCs have the same Absorb Voltage set point, both enter Absorb at the same time. Eventually the CCs drop out, delivering no charge though PV charge is available. The IC appears to.win the wrestling match for priority. If, at this time, the IC Mode is set to OFF, IC charging stops, but the CCs never kick back in to provide charging current. I did not look at the state of the IC or CC Absorb Timers when I saw this happen.

This post is so long, I don't think even I read it all the way to here.

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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by Kurt Lundquist » Thu Aug 29, 2019 9:25 am

raysun wrote:
Wed Aug 28, 2019 6:25 pm
This post is so long, I don't think even I read it all the way to here.
Thanks, now my eyes hurt!

You can try changing Auto Restart in the controller advanced menu (Mate3 Controller Restart Mode menu). Default is 0 so you can try 1 or 2. I don't know why it would make a difference but hey at least it is something to try :).

It would be interesting to know what the controller MISC menu 'GT Mode' and 'State' values are when the controller is not charging but the battery charge cycle is not complete.

-Kurt
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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by raysun » Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:08 am

LOL! Sending a lovely gift pack if Visine your way Kurt.

The controllers are set to Auto Restart every 90 minutes (RSTRT 1?) That's been the setting since they were installed.

I'll check GT and State the next time the CCs drop out.

I should be able to create a low PV condition by disconnecting some panels at the proper time in the cycle so that the IC / CC charging scenario can run. Normally the condition occurs later in the afternoon, and around 4:20 I'm doing other things and may forget to check.

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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by Kurt Lundquist » Fri Aug 30, 2019 7:37 am

raysun wrote:
Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:08 am
The controllers are set to Auto Restart every 90 minutes (RSTRT 1?)
Ok then I would be interested to see if mode 0 makes a difference.
raysun wrote:
Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:08 am
I should be able to create a low PV condition by disconnecting some panel
You mean turning off a few breakers/strings in the combiner box right?

-Kurt
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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by raysun » Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:20 am

OK Restart 0 it is.

Yes, disconnecting strings by opening the 15A disconnects in the combiner boxes.

I saw an interesting scenario yesterday, still not the one in the title, but interesting.

PV charging proceeded to 92% SOC, had been in Absorb for 60 minutes, and clouds moved in, dropping the CCs into Bulk @ 54V. Started the Generator which took over house loads, the battery voltage rose to 57.6, and the CCs returned to Absorb. The IC did not activate, it wasn't needed.

At 96% SOC, the CCs went to sleep when I disconnected the PV arrays. The IC (in AUTO mode) did not activate. I cycled the PV a couple of times, waking up the CCs then putting them to sleep. No response from the IC.

I manually started a Bulk cycle from the Mate, and the IC woke up and started charging. Connecting the arrays and waking up the CCs caused the IC to go idle. Disconnecting the arrays and sleeping the CCs caused the IC to take over.

Should I expect the IC to engage without having to manually start a Bulk charge?

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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by Kurt Lundquist » Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:33 am

raysun wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:20 am
The IC (in AUTO mode) did not activate.
This is the exact time to ask the Mate what the inverter is doing per the inverter status and charger screens (screenshot you posted above). You need to know what the inverter says it is trying to do vs the battery voltage and charge targets/timers and AC load.

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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by raysun » Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:41 am

I thought you'd never ask.
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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by raysun » Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:42 am

CCs at the time.
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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by Kurt Lundquist » Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:02 am

The inverter isn't charging because the charge timers are all zeroed out. Basically it looks like the inverter is saying both Absorb and Float timers have been satisfied. If you set charger control to ON instead of AUTO it should always try to maintain Float after Absorb is finished regardless of the programmed IC Float time.

Your charge controller pics show me the GT mode isn't limiting output which is what I expected. I just wanted to be sure. I'm not sure what state 07 means though. State 00 means Silent.

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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by raysun » Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:08 am

I thought the IC charge timers at 0 was interesting. My theory is the 0 time was due to the IC never actually turning on. The IC was not needed at the time the generator was started, as the CCs, unloaded from supplying house current, immediately went to Absorb. Once Bulk was started manually, the timers showed the expected 3:00.

Seems like a boundary bug in the IC's charge timer reset routine? A carry-over condition from the previous day's charging session? Gremlins (or here, Menehune) sneaking into the equipment room and pushing buttons?

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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by raysun » Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:28 am

This morning the CCs woke up and are charging in Bulk. The generator was started and the IC activated, showing its typical 14ACA charge current in Bulk. The Absorb timer is 0.
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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by raysun » Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:31 am

Pressing the Start Bulk Charge on the Mate results in the timer being set.
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Re: Generator charging stops when FlexMax goes idle

Post by Kurt Lundquist » Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:49 am

raysun wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:28 am
...The Absorb timer is 0.
How low did your battery voltage get overnight?
raysun wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:31 am
Pressing the Start Bulk Charge on the Mate results in the timer being set.
Pressing Start > Bulk will always reset the Absorb/Float timers so that is working as expected.

-K
Kurt Lundquist
Renewable Energy Project Engineer
http://alphaenergy.us/

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