FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

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FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby jamesmcallister on Sat Jun 28, 2014 12:13 am

I am a completely new user to solar, my system is as follows: 15 panels, Flexmax 60, Victron Multiplus inverter, 24 Powersafe 2v batteries.

My problem is this. I had solar fitted because in my area of Spain the electricity supply can be somewhat erratic with variable voltage at different times of the day. My house can only receive 2.2 kW of electricity from the grid because of the condition of local cables. Therefore to receive enough electricity to power my house I had my solar system fitted some 4 months ago. The system is set up so that my existing 2.2 kW is used to charge the batteries as and when necessary, ie when there was insufficient charge from the sun, and this supposedly would give me circa 5 kW. Up until now it has worked fine; however, the other night the system cut out completely, the Flexmax screen went black and it has not fired up since. I called out my solar supplier who was perplexed, but then said the variable voltage must have knocked out the Flexmax! I did not think this was possible but one of you may know different. Surely if the batteries were low, the Flexmax should have gone to sleep and then woken up the next day when the Sun recharged the batteries.

Can anyone please help and advise. It would be greatly appreciated as I am a complete novice.
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby Vic on Sat Jun 28, 2014 10:10 am

Hi James,

One quick thought;

Have you measured the battery voltage with your Digital Multi-Meter? If the battery V is very low, the FM will (probably) not boot up.

I would turn off the circuit breaker on the PV input to the FM, and switch off the battery breaker to the FM-60. Wait about one minute, and switch the battery breaker on again. Did the FM start up? If so, then turn the PV breaker on again.

If there has been some lightning in the area, that could take out the FM, the inverter, and more.

More later, Good Luck, Vic
4/20/08: 18 Shell SQ 175-106 Vmpp, Stacked 5548 SW+, 1350 AH Surrette 4KS25's, MX-60, Kubota SQ-3250 25 KVA Polyphase Diesel genset. Thanks OutBack for this Forum + the great Support and Service.
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby jamesmcallister on Sun Jun 29, 2014 1:14 pm

Vic,

Thank you for this it was very helpful.

But at it's very simplest can variable voltage from the mains affect the FM or does all it's power come from the batteries?
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby Vic on Sun Jun 29, 2014 4:43 pm

Hi james,

Anything is possible, but, the FM receives the power to run only from the battery (I believe). This is the way almost all Charge Controllers operate (that is to say, that PV power usually will not be able to operate most MPPT CCs when the battery is dead).

It could be possible that the FM might be damaged by lightning in the area. PV modules, racks and cables that connect to the PVs can have large currents induced into them with a fairly near-by lightning strike. Large currents result in large voltage differentials which can damage many electronic devices.

BUT, please measure the battery voltage with a multi-meter. Perhaps the inverter can display the battery voltage. Using your DMM would be the best. If the battery voltage is very low, the FM CC may not even start up.

Are you now charging the batteries from the grid successfully?
Thanks, Vic
4/20/08: 18 Shell SQ 175-106 Vmpp, Stacked 5548 SW+, 1350 AH Surrette 4KS25's, MX-60, Kubota SQ-3250 25 KVA Polyphase Diesel genset. Thanks OutBack for this Forum + the great Support and Service.
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby klundquist on Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:49 am

If the battery voltage is above 10.5 VDC check DC voltage right at the controller battery terminals. Check at the breaker/fuse if you do not find the voltage at the controller.

What do you mean by "variable voltage"?

The FM60 controllers typically do not have a problem with operating/charging a battery bank that is being charged by other sources.

If your solar panels are rated above 200 watts the controller may be fried. The common 250 watt panels is 750 watts more solar than the FM60 is rated for. You will need to upgrade to an FM80. If this is the case you will probably want to have a candid talk with your supplier. Damage from connecting too much solar is not covered under warranty. I am assuming you have the battery bank in a single series string for 48 volts nominal. How are the solar panels wired (series/parallel)? What is the make/model?

I wonder if you have enough energy to properly charge the battery bank. Assuming you have 3000 watts of solar or less you probably get 80-90 amps DC for charging at max when grid is active with no loads on. Based on your post I guess you probably use at least 1/2 of the energy in home so the batteries get maybe 40 amps charge when it is sunny out. If the battery bank is larger than 1000 amp hours you are probably under charging. Under charging is very hard on batteries and can dramatically decrease the cycle life. If these are flooded batteries check the specific gravity of all cells and consider equalizing per the manufacturer instructions. Consider buying a battery monitor so you can see if the batteries are really getting charged each day or not.
Kurt Lundquist
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby jamesmcallister on Wed Jul 02, 2014 5:37 am

Thank you to everyone who was kind enough to reply and offer me advice and assistance. My supplier came today with a new Flexmax 60 box, fitted it, and everything is now working OK. The existing box was obviously faulty and has been sent back to find what the fault was.

this experience has taught me that it is not enough just to have the stuff fitted, you need to have a basic understanding about how it all works. I am going out today to buy a Multimeter and from now on I intend to become an informed consumer. In this way I will not be at the mercy of contractors.

Thank you all once again, I will undoubtedly be calling on everyone's expertise in the future
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby klundquist on Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:47 am

How was it determined the existing controller was faulty? I am glad the new one is working but I want to caution you that it does not mean the old one had a manufacturing defect. In my personal experience it is rare for electronics to work for 4 months then fail from a manufacturing defect. Typically internal product failures will show up right away. I'm not saying that it is impossible to work then fail 4 months later, just not probable.

I would be happy to look at your system specifications in further detail to help minimize the chance of another failure.

Do you know the Make and Model of the 15 solar panels?

Do you know how they were wired (series, parallel) when installed?

What do you see for IN on the FM60 screen when it is sunny out?

Do you know the model of the Powersafe batteries?

When you buy a multimeter make sure to get a digital one, rated True RMS, and ideally Category III or up. Use it to measure for DC voltage between negative and ground. Remove the OutBack Power Systems cap off the bottom of the FM60 for easy access to check negative and ground. It should be 0 volts. If your meter finds voltage then the previous controller failure could have been due to improper grounding. If you are unfamiliar with using a multimeter I highly suggest you read this safety article first http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/vol_1/chpt_3/9.html

Cheers!
Kurt Lundquist
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby jamesmcallister on Fri Jul 04, 2014 4:17 am

Hi Klundquist,

thank you for your assistance, this is the spec as near as I can find out:

15 German 200 watt panels, mono grade 1
Series wired, I think
the Flexmax screen today which is very sunny shows IN 110 but this varies up and down as you look at it
the Powersafe batteries are 24 Powersafe 2v batteries TVS 4 @ 900ah C100 d/c lead acid
Inverter Victron Multiplus 48 volt, 5000va, 70 amp

I have done my best to be accurate, but as I don't really understand what I am telling you, please don't hesitate to correct me or ask for more
jamesmcallister
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My RE system: 15 panels, Flexmax 60, Victron Multiplus inverter, 24 Powersafe 2v batteries

Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby klundquist on Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:27 am

With 110 VDC in I would guess your solar modules are wired in 4 parallel strings of 3 in series.

I'm surprised to see 200 watt panels on a 4 month old system. 250 watt modules are more prevalent these days. If the modules are 200 watts each they are rated for 3000 watts total which is the maximum for the FM60. On the other hand if the modules have a higher rating like 250 watts they can create too much power for the FM.

The FM keeps a daily log that can help you monitor the system for potential problems. There are four buttons under the FM screen. Press the second button from the left to get into the daily log screen. You will notice the word TODAY in the top left. The second line down shows Vp and Ap stats which stand from Volts peak and Amps peak respectively. If Vp is at or near 150 the system has too many solar modules in series. If the Ap is greater than 60 the modules are probably rated higher than 200 watts each. The MIN MAX stat is the minimum and maximum battery voltage. Continuous days with the MAX voltage under your programmed Absorb voltage indicates the batteries are undercharged. The two buttons on the right hand side allow you to go back and forward in the 128 day log. Keep an eye on the log so you can start to recognize normal system behavior.

The other stats seem reasonable to me.

Thanks,

-Kurt
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby jamesmcallister on Thu Jul 10, 2014 9:23 am

Hi Kurt,

This has been very helpful, and I am beginning to get the idea of how the screen works. It all seems to be within the ranges you have said, but just to be sure. Most days on the log the Max is shown as between 57-59, whilst the Abs is shown as 01:06 to 01:13; is this Ok or does it need to be adjusted. Is the Abs setting hours and minutes?

Best wishes
James
jamesmcallister
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My RE system: 15 panels, Flexmax 60, Victron Multiplus inverter, 24 Powersafe 2v batteries

Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby klundquist on Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:06 am

It is great to see the system is reaching the Absorb charge stage. Absorb completes the last 10-20% of the battery charge cycle. Your batteries probably need to Absorb a bit longer. If this were my system I would want to see the batteries Absorb for 3-4 hours.
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby billi on Sat Jul 19, 2014 1:09 am

With 110 VDC in I would guess your solar modules are wired in 4 parallel strings of 3 in series.


that makes only 12 panels not 15 ! When the outback display shows 110 V in warm summer in Spain (when voltage of panels are lower) than it could be 3 strings of 5 panels (with about 30 Voc) in series :evil: cause typical panels have a Vmp of 24 volt (lesser when warm) so 5 x 24 V would be 120 Volt and substract some volt cause warmer conditions ....makes it 110 V Vmp on the display ....

So my guess is, that the max allowed Voc of the Outback is exceeded and killed him ](*,)

Billi

@ jamesmcallister , if you have questions relating to the Victron inverter fine tuning to get optimal solar usage , let me know ...
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby jamesmcallister on Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:52 am

Hi Billi,

Very interesting. Given that I regularly get readings of 110 and more does this mean that the Flexmax could blow again? I am not sure what Voc is so any explanation would be helpful.

In terms of the Inverter it is literally a Blue Box that hangs on the wall, the supplier fitted it and programmed it, so it is a completely closed book to me, so any thoughts would be helpful.

Best wishes
James
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby klundquist on Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:21 am

There are four buttons under the FM screen. Press the second button from the left to get into the daily log screen. You will notice the word TODAY in the top left. The second line down shows Vp and Ap stats which stand from Volts peak and Amps peak respectively. If Vp is at or near 150 the system has too many solar modules in series


Look at the Vp stat to see peak volts into the controller. 145+ is bad.

Manual page 18 explains the summary screen information http://www.outbackpower.com/downloads/d ... manual.pdf
Kurt Lundquist
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby billi on Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:21 am

Hiya

Voc means --Open-circuit voltage--

Usually on the Flexmax display , we read the MPPT voltage (Vmp of the solar array) , that is considerably lower than the Open-circuit voltage

Ring your installer , or find out otherway for details on PV Model specs and how they are wired up

The Victron is a cool inverter (have them over 7 years now) and you can hook it up to a computer (via usb converter and Victron software VE configure on their website http://www.victronenergy.com/upload/doc ... ure-EN.pdf ) and see the setpoints of how much Grid juice is allowed and when to make sure you try to avoid grid as clever as possible , and you can utilise a relays to activate a immersion heater for hot water , when batteries are full (but, you can do that as well with the Flexmax)

Its probably not necessary for you to get this adapter (costs i think 50 Euro) and play with the software , or see how the settings are ....,
but saying this , i would ask the installer about it and the settings and perhaps take screen-shots

For me it was necessary to have self-control of my own system and not paying someone to come out into my rural area

CU
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby jamesmcallister on Wed Jul 23, 2014 1:24 am

This is all very helpful and I am reading the Flexmax manual nearly every day to try and get an understanding of all this. Is there anywhere on the secondary screen which will show me how much power I have used from the batteries each day?
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby SandyP on Wed Jul 23, 2014 2:49 am

jamesmcallister wrote:.....show me how much power I have used from the batteries each day?


To get this information you will require a shunt on the -ve cable going to the battery and some sort of battery monitor that records this information.

regards, SandyP.
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Re: FLEXMAX 60 STOPPED WORKING

Postby billi on Wed Jul 23, 2014 2:12 pm

and I am reading the Flexmax manual nearly every day
=D> you are a good christ :grin:


To get this information you will require a shunt on the -ve cable going to the battery and some sort of battery monitor that records this information.

regards, SandyP.


True , i suggest a victron battery monitor one, that works together with your Victron setup ..... or as i said connect a laptop or other computer to the Victron inverter and use the software i described above ,to see your battery usage (but its just basic information ....through the software )

The more important part is how often and when , the AC -in relay of the Victron 5000 watt inverer/charger is allowed/programmed to switch Grid units into your house .... a battery monitor will help you not too much ..... cause it will not monitor that AC grid units passed through to your consumers directly

I think ,the first step would be , you can manually read your Grid meter each day , and look at the outback controller figures ,for example if he reached absorption level on the same day , and you still have imported Grid units , than there is something wrong in the Victron inverter configuration ....

Anyway , please first find out what panels u have and how they are wired to the outback ....

Billi
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