Looking to hire consultant in Los Angeles

Discussion about the FM100, FM80, and FM60 Charge Controllers

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KBUU-FM
Forum Member
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:19 pm
My RE system: We operate an FM radio transmitter on solar, now, and have no experience on this.
6 panels (3 in series each bank, 2 banks in parallel) - 1290 watts and 980 volts capacity.
2 FlexMax 80s in parallel.
Concorde PVX 12150 AGM batteries (2v) (6 in series, 1215 Amp Hours).
Samlex EVO 2212 inverter with generator and grid (priority) AC.
Hooking up OpticsRE soon

Looking to hire consultant in Los Angeles

Post by KBUU-FM » Thu Nov 07, 2019 12:00 pm

Hello all,
We operate a low-power FM broadcast station in Malibu CA. We have a small solar generating station for the transmitter, where commercial power outages are frequent. We have 2 sets of panels in parallel feeding the batteries. Each set is 3 panels in series generating 945 watts. 2 Outback controllers, 1215 amps.
Our dealer sold us an Samlex 2212 inverter.
We are lost. We have no idea how to configure the inverter and controllers.
We are looking to hire someone to do a site visit and inspection, and teach us how to configure this, monitor this, and troubleshoot this. We are not electricians and keeping the radio station running takes all of our time.
Anyone near Ventura or Los Angeles counties for hire on this?

Hans and Diane
KBUU Radio

raysun
Forum Czar
Posts: 971
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:57 am
My RE system: Flexpower One: FX3048T, (2) FM80, MATE3s, FlexNetDC
Outback 200NC batteries (8 @ 48v)
Outback IBR3 battery enclosure
Suniva 330 watt panels (12 - 6 Strings @ 2 Series)
Hyundai 355 watt panels (6 - 3 strings @ 2 series)

Re: Looking to hire consultant in Los Angeles

Post by raysun » Fri Nov 08, 2019 11:54 am

Hello Hans and Diane,

Welcome to the Outback user forum. Getting the equipment installed and configured properly is a must for safe, reliable operation. There are many users on this site with a great deal of experience with solar power systems who will be happy to give insights and advice.

You are wise to retain a competent technical consultant to configure and maintain the system.

Many of us are home and small business owners who have learned, out of necessity, to maintain our own systems. I, for example, live on the far reaches of Hawaii Island, in the southernmost point of the U.S., far from any meaningful assistance and with an off-grid system. We literally depend on it for our lives.

While you may not choose to learn all the technical ins and outs of a battery storage power system, it will be important that you understand the high-level dynamics at minimum.

I assume the transmitter is at a remote location and is unattended correct? It appears the station has grid power, but with periodic service interruptions.

The solar plus battery storage power is intended for backup power when the grid is interrupted, correct?

How much power is consumed on a daily basis?

Is the station broadcasting 24 x 7, or is there a shutdown period daily?

Is the new solar power equipment installed and operating at the site?

Some of the information listed in the profile needs clarification.

What brand and model solar panel is being used?

What type of backup generator is being incorporated into the system?

Its mentioned that OpticsRE will be enabled soon. This requires a Mate3S system controller, or AXS port, for network communications. Also an Outback Hub would be needed to connect the FM80 charge controllers to the Mate/AXS. OpticsRE is a vital management tool, doubly so for remote installations. The Samlex looks to be a capable inverter, but IMO, has a major operational shortcoming - it cannot communicate remotely, and it won't integrate into OpticsRE. The end result with the current equipment is OpticsRE would allow monitoring of solar battery charging, but not battery state of charge, or inverter operations. The FM80 charge controllers are practically "set and forget", so generally don't need much in the way of interactive control. Battery state of charge is a dynamic value that bears close monitoring for battery health and longevity. IME, remote monitoring and control of the inverter is likewise a critical activity for a properly functioning system. This would be better served by using an Outback inverter.

KBUU-FM
Forum Member
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:19 pm
My RE system: We operate an FM radio transmitter on solar, now, and have no experience on this.
6 panels (3 in series each bank, 2 banks in parallel) - 1290 watts and 980 volts capacity.
2 FlexMax 80s in parallel.
Concorde PVX 12150 AGM batteries (2v) (6 in series, 1215 Amp Hours).
Samlex EVO 2212 inverter with generator and grid (priority) AC.
Hooking up OpticsRE soon

Re: Looking to hire consultant in Los Angeles

Post by KBUU-FM » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:45 pm

Thank you! This is a good start! Excellent questions!

I assume the transmitter is at a remote location and is unattended correct?
> Yes, 15 minutes from the studio on a paved mountain road.

It appears the station has grid power, but with periodic service interruptions.
> Yes.

The solar plus battery storage power is intended for backup power when the grid is interrupted, correct?
> We would like to run on solar and use the grid when the solar batteries need help.

How much power is consumed on a daily basis?
> I believe 7,000 watts. I am not an electrician and am not positive of this. The main load is the transmitter, which says its power consumption "averages 466 watts." 8 wall warts are the only additional load, no AC or other stuff.

Is the station broadcasting 24 x 7, or is there a shutdown period daily?
> 24x7.

Is the new solar power equipment installed and operating at the site?
> Yes, and it was operating continuously for 10 weeks. We have had three instances recently wherein the inverter shut off, at all three times the batteries were above 11.7 volts at the time of the shutoff. The panels and regulators were charging the batteries. We have now switched to commercial power while we diagnose.

What brand and model solar panel is being used?
> 6x Mission Solar 310 watt modules, 3 each in series into 2 banks, then the 2 banks are into the two Solarmax 80s, which are in parallel to the batteries. The batteries BTW are six Concorde PVX 12150 AGM batteries in series at 12v.

What type of backup generator is being incorporated into the system?
> An AIMS 3200 Watt Portable Pure Sine Inverter Generator. It is not yet incorporated into the system, we will plug it in manually to the load if we lose CP and solar.

Its mentioned that OpticsRE will be enabled soon.
> It is up now.

This requires a Mate3S system controller, or AXS port, for network communications. Also an Outback Hub would be needed to connect the FM80 charge controllers to the Mate/AXS.
> All of those are in, but I have not found the FM80s on the web yet.

OpticsRE is a vital management tool, doubly so for remote installations. The Samlex looks to be a capable inverter, but IMO, has a major operational shortcoming - it cannot communicate remotely, and it won't integrate into OpticsRE.
> We have regrettably have arrived at the same conclusion. We did not know this at time of purchase.

The end result with the current equipment is OpticsRE would allow monitoring of solar battery charging, but not battery state of charge, or inverter operations.
> Regrettably, yes. When we specified our needs to the dealer, we made it clear we needed all functions to be remote status reporting. We are very disappointed.

The FM80 charge controllers are practically "set and forget", so generally don't need much in the way of interactive control.
> Good to know.

Battery state of charge is a dynamic value that bears close monitoring for battery health and longevity. IME, remote monitoring and control of the inverter is likewise a critical activity for a properly functioning system. This would be better served by using an Outback inverter.
> I am arriving at that opinion too.

raysun
Forum Czar
Posts: 971
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:57 am
My RE system: Flexpower One: FX3048T, (2) FM80, MATE3s, FlexNetDC
Outback 200NC batteries (8 @ 48v)
Outback IBR3 battery enclosure
Suniva 330 watt panels (12 - 6 Strings @ 2 Series)
Hyundai 355 watt panels (6 - 3 strings @ 2 series)

Re: Looking to hire consultant in Los Angeles

Post by raysun » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:57 pm

20191108_115549.jpg
Is this the panel being used?

How much power is consumed on a daily basis?
> I believe 7,000 watts. I am not an electrician and am not positive of this. The main load is the transmitter, which says its power consumption "averages 466 watts." 8 wall warts are the only additional load, no AC or other stuff.

You might have that information on a bill from the electric utility.

raysun
Forum Czar
Posts: 971
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:57 am
My RE system: Flexpower One: FX3048T, (2) FM80, MATE3s, FlexNetDC
Outback 200NC batteries (8 @ 48v)
Outback IBR3 battery enclosure
Suniva 330 watt panels (12 - 6 Strings @ 2 Series)
Hyundai 355 watt panels (6 - 3 strings @ 2 series)

Re: Looking to hire consultant in Los Angeles

Post by raysun » Fri Nov 08, 2019 3:58 pm

Battery stuff


Charging information from the Concorde battery technical manual.
20191108_122333.jpg
20191108_122357.jpg
Charging the battery from the solar array/charge controllers requires the proper settings be made in the FM80.

At its simplest, the charge cycle is carried out in 3 phases.

It starts in the BULK phase, which essentially pushes as much charging current as is available into the battery.
The large battery capacity requires a robust charging current, and would certainly accept all of the 160 Amps the two FM80s could provide at maximum. In fact, the tech specs imply the battery could accept nearly 4,000A charging current (but I don't think I'd try to test that!) BULK charging continues until the battery voltage rises to the ABSORB setpoint. The manual suggests 14.4 Volts as the ABSORB setpoint.

The ABSORB phase holds the battery at the setpoint voltage and continues to provide charging current, which declines until it has reached about 0.5% of battery capacity or approximately 60A. The ABSORB phase takes 2-4 hours to complete, and the Absorb Timer in the FM80s should be set appropriately. Without monitoring the actual charge flow to determine when the battery has completed ABSORB, I'd set the timer to 2 hours.

Once the ABSORB phase completes, the chargers will switch to FLOAT. The FLOAT setpoint is 13.4V. The Float Time is not specified, but for the solar charge controllers can be set to 24 hours.

For battery health and longevity, the charging must be temperature compensated. Outback has temperature probes for this purpose. One Remote Temperature Sensor (RTS) would be needed for each charge controller.


Battery capacity, system loads and battery draw.

Having the inverter shut down due to low battery state of charge (SOC), is not what's desired, of course. Drawing the battery too low can materially shorten its service life. It's best to keep discharge to no more than 50%, then recharge fully. This discharge/charge routine is called cycling the battery. The general rule is the deeper the discharge per cycle, the fewer cycles are available before the battery loses effective capacity.

Battery capacity is rated in Amp Hours (AH). The system battery is 1215AH @ 24hr rate. That means the battery can provide a consumption rate of 50A for 24 hours before being depleted completely (deleting completely is a bad thing), or for 12 hours to 50% depth of discharge (DOD).

50A x 12V = 600 Watts (W) continuous, so the estimated 500W load fits within the battery capacity at a reasonable discharge rate.

1215AH x 12V ~ 14500 Watt Hours (WH), or 14.5kWH. 50% of the total would be 7.25kWH, which represents the maximum power that should be drawn from the battery before recharging fully. If daily consumption is around 7kWH, then the battery should service the load with daily recharging.

A good battery monitor is needed to properly manage the battery. The Outback Flexnet DC is such a device, and will allow remote monitoring of battery State of Charge as well as battery input and output current. The FNDC also has some advanced functions that assist intelligent battery charging from the FM80s (and the Outback line of inverter/chargers).
Last edited by raysun on Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

KBUU-FM
Forum Member
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:19 pm
My RE system: We operate an FM radio transmitter on solar, now, and have no experience on this.
6 panels (3 in series each bank, 2 banks in parallel) - 1290 watts and 980 volts capacity.
2 FlexMax 80s in parallel.
Concorde PVX 12150 AGM batteries (2v) (6 in series, 1215 Amp Hours).
Samlex EVO 2212 inverter with generator and grid (priority) AC.
Hooking up OpticsRE soon

Re: Looking to hire consultant in Los Angeles

Post by KBUU-FM » Fri Nov 08, 2019 6:07 pm

Thank you, this is very very helpful. I will read and digest next.

raysun
Forum Czar
Posts: 971
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:57 am
My RE system: Flexpower One: FX3048T, (2) FM80, MATE3s, FlexNetDC
Outback 200NC batteries (8 @ 48v)
Outback IBR3 battery enclosure
Suniva 330 watt panels (12 - 6 Strings @ 2 Series)
Hyundai 355 watt panels (6 - 3 strings @ 2 series)

Re: Looking to hire consultant in Los Angeles

Post by raysun » Fri Nov 08, 2019 6:27 pm

Inverter stuff

The inverter, draws DC current from the battery (at 12V) and converts it to AC current (at 120V). The unit listed is capable of producing 2.2kW of power which would draw a whopping 2.2kW / 12V = 186 Amps from the battery. Of course, the station loads are nowhere near that, so the battery draw will be significantly less. At 500W, the inverter would run for 12 hours before the battery was drawn down to the recommended maximum 50% DOD.

To me, that sounds like the inverter/battery could handle the overnight loads of the station without any grid assist.

It was mentioned that its desired the battery/inverter be first priority in handling the station loads, with the grid backfilling when remaining battery capacity is low, and finally generator backup when grid is down and battery/inverter are exhausted.

This grid interactive function is easy in concept, but becomes tricky in practice. There are several different flavors of grid / inverter interaction that can be configured on many of the high-end inverters.

IMO, using grid interactive functions on an inverter that can't be remotely monitored and controlled is an open invitation to many trips up the mountainside. At least the road is paved. ;)

If the local electric company charges "time-of-day" rates, then the inverter should be configured to do some form of "energy arbitrage" where the grid is given priority when power is cheapest, and the battery is used when grid power is most expensive, and when there is battery capacity to "use up".

In the simplest grid interactive scenario, the battery/inverter would run until the battery was depleted by 50%. A target voltage will need to be determined that is based on State of Charge and Load. Once that point is reached, the inverter should switch to grid. The grid will then power the loads, and optionally charge the battery through the inverter's charger. The system should stay in grid mode until the battery is recharged.

TBH, I know a pretty penny has been dropped into the system already, but were it me, I'd seriously look to getting the vendor to take back the current inverter and exchanging it for an equivalent outback model. The FXR2012A is a candidate. You might need to pay some extra, but in the long run, you will get a system that will be far more rational to operate and maintain.

raysun
Forum Czar
Posts: 971
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:57 am
My RE system: Flexpower One: FX3048T, (2) FM80, MATE3s, FlexNetDC
Outback 200NC batteries (8 @ 48v)
Outback IBR3 battery enclosure
Suniva 330 watt panels (12 - 6 Strings @ 2 Series)
Hyundai 355 watt panels (6 - 3 strings @ 2 series)

Re: Looking to hire consultant in Los Angeles

Post by raysun » Fri Nov 08, 2019 6:28 pm

KBUU-FM wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 6:07 pm
Thank you, this is very very helpful. I will read and digest next.
If you can digest all this, you have a strong stomach!

KBUU-FM
Forum Member
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:19 pm
My RE system: We operate an FM radio transmitter on solar, now, and have no experience on this.
6 panels (3 in series each bank, 2 banks in parallel) - 1290 watts and 980 volts capacity.
2 FlexMax 80s in parallel.
Concorde PVX 12150 AGM batteries (2v) (6 in series, 1215 Amp Hours).
Samlex EVO 2212 inverter with generator and grid (priority) AC.
Hooking up OpticsRE soon

Re: Looking to hire consultant in Los Angeles

Post by KBUU-FM » Sun Nov 10, 2019 5:35 pm

Thank you again. Stomach is strong, eyes weak, brain is swimming, but this is a good lesson and much appreciated.
I think it is fairly obvious that are going to have to buy an inverter that can be remote controlled and can handle the load.
We can repurpose the other inverter for our next solar project, down at the studio, where we can adjust it easily.
Which one do you recommend?

raysun
Forum Czar
Posts: 971
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:57 am
My RE system: Flexpower One: FX3048T, (2) FM80, MATE3s, FlexNetDC
Outback 200NC batteries (8 @ 48v)
Outback IBR3 battery enclosure
Suniva 330 watt panels (12 - 6 Strings @ 2 Series)
Hyundai 355 watt panels (6 - 3 strings @ 2 series)

Re: Looking to hire consultant in Los Angeles

Post by raysun » Sun Nov 10, 2019 6:20 pm

If staying with the current battery configuration (12V) then choices are a bit limited. However, the peak power demands are limited as well.

Within the Outback line, the FXR2012A is a primary candidate. It will more than meet peak power demands, and has several (seven actually) grid interactive modes to tailor its use of battery and grid power.

Adding the FXR inverter will allow remote monitoring and control via OpticsRE.

I'd highly recommend adding the Flexnet DC battery monitor as well. Battery state of charge is a difficult thing to track accurately. This is especially true for sealed lead-acid batteries. Measuring voltage while the battery is in use can give wildly inaccurate results. The FNDC (and other top battery monitors) keep track of the charge flowing into and out of the battery. This "coulomb counting" method is not perfect, but far more effective than terminal voltage, for keeping tabs on battery state of charge. The FNDC is usually set up with two shunts to track input current and output current.

Beside tracking charge, the FNDC has several control functions related to charging from multiple sources - like solar and grid - that make the process more effective and reliable.

One final note regarding the FXR inverter. Though it can handle both grid and generator and has separate performance profiles for each, it has but a single AC Input. In order to wire both grid and generator into the inverter's AC IN, an external automatic transfer switch will be needed. These are fairly simple and relatively inexpensive items.

The total manifest for the system:

Outback:

1 Mate3s system controller
1 Hub4 or Hub10 bus controller
1 FXR2012A inverter
2 FM80 solar charge controllers
1 Flexnet DC battery monitor
2 500A shunts

Battery:
Existing 12V battery bank

Solar Panels:
Existing solar panels

Balance of system:
Circuit breakers/disconnects
DC and AC wiring panels
Wiring and cabling

Auxiliary backup power:
Existing Inverter generator
Automatic Transfer Switch

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