200 Watts at idle?!!!

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mhspohr
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My RE system: 6.6 kW SolarWorld/Enphase and 2.6 kW Sunpower/SMA

200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by mhspohr » Mon Nov 04, 2019 12:45 pm

Just installed my Skybox and the inverter is reporting 200 Watt power draw from the grid with NO load! First 24 hours 5.2 kWh!
It it really this inefficient?
I have this set up primarily for emergency backup. I plan to add solar later but for now only have batteries.
This is really not going to work for me if this is true. The 5 kWh/day parasite load is a killer.
I could turn off the inverter but then the "automatic" emergency power backup would be manual.

raysun
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My RE system: Flexpower One: FX3048T, (2) FM80, MATE3s, FlexNetDC
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Suniva 330 watt panels (12 - 6 Strings @ 2 Series)
Hyundai 355 watt panels (6 - 3 strings @ 2 series)

Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by raysun » Mon Nov 04, 2019 1:05 pm

The idle power consumption on Outback inverters is pretty low, generally less than 35W, and the Skybox has similar specs. A 200W draw implies a load, parasitic or otherwise, somewhere.

Is there charging current flowing to the battery?

mhspohr
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Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by mhspohr » Mon Nov 04, 2019 1:35 pm

The battery charged when I first set it up and tested it but that only took an hour or so. Since then, the battery has been at full charge so it's not charging the battery.

raysun
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My RE system: Flexpower One: FX3048T, (2) FM80, MATE3s, FlexNetDC
Outback 200NC batteries (8 @ 48v)
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Suniva 330 watt panels (12 - 6 Strings @ 2 Series)
Hyundai 355 watt panels (6 - 3 strings @ 2 series)

Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by raysun » Mon Nov 04, 2019 1:40 pm

mhspohr wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 1:35 pm
The battery charged when I first set it up and tested it but that only took an hour or so. Since then, the battery has been at full charge so it's not charging the battery.
Not even a Float charge? No charger activity at all?

mhspohr
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Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by mhspohr » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:03 pm

Battery state is "Resting".
Grid draw is 0.2 kW... for the past day.

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BoMagluyan
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12x EnergyCell PLR batteries in an IBR3
no PV

Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by BoMagluyan » Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:00 pm

Mine does that too.

If/when PV is connected, that drops to zero, when the panels are pointed at the sun.

I don’t have PV, so my operating cost, in terms of energy consumption is 4.2kWh per day. It’s actually a bit higher than that because my PLR batteries are in continuous float.

If I had PV, that would drop to about 2.4kWh per day, from grid or battery, depending on which was cheaper.
Bo Magluyan
OutBack Product Management

OutBack Power Technologies, Inc.
17825 59th Ave NE, Ste B Arlington WA 98223 USA
www.outbackpower.com

mhspohr
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Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by mhspohr » Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:40 pm

That's interesting.
So when I add solar, this vampire drain goes away? I don't really understand why but that is good news. I can keep the inverter turned off for now since I am only using it for emergency backup power (CA fires, etc.) but I do plan to add a solar string and that's good to hear that the vampire drain won't impact solar production.

jnh
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Posts: 315
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My RE system: GVFX-3524, FM-80+FM-60, ~4.9kW PV in mixed panels on movable platforms, 300 Ah AGMs @ 24V, 80Ah @ 12V, Hub4, Mate, FNDC, Midnite E-Panel, homebrew DC-DC crossfeed to 12V system, Honda EU-1000i, Iota DLS-27-25
Location: St. Augustine, FL, US

Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by jnh » Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:38 am

Wow, I'm surprised the Skybox has such a high standby load, even floating batteries from the grid 24/7. This behavior reminds me of the old Trace/Xantrex SW-series, but I don't think even those were ever quite so high.

And to think I was upset over a 20W idle draw (0.3kWh/day) from my Outback GVFX, when it was first set up back in 2008! That issue prompted my first post to this forum (viewtopic.php?t=2590), and as it turned out this could be reduced to a very reasonable 5W through a simple settings change.

Can a Skybox be set to only float its batteries during certain hours each day? If there's zero or minimal DC load, it really shouldn't need to keep them on charge continuously. If this isn't possible natively, perhaps an attached computer (Raspberry Pi or something similarly low-powered) could be set up to command mode transitions at set times each day?

Hopefully, once PV is attached, the charge-from-grid mode can be disabled entirely, or set to kick in only if batteries have reached a very low voltage or state-of-charge?

I wonder also just how accurate that 200W reading is, if it's self-reported by the Skybox. Outback's traditional FX-series inverter line has notoriously inaccurate AC current readings, especially at lower power levels, though those tend to under-report production and consumption (truncating fractional amps) rather than overestimating. I added an external RS232-connected metering system (Brultech ECM-1240, using current transformers) at my main AC panel to get better accuracy, and allow sub-metering of the HVAC and a few other circuits.

Can you verify the 200W with a clamp-on ammeter, or better yet a utility-style cumulative power meter? If measuring only amps, you'd have to know the power factor (pf) of the Skybox (which may be very low in float-charging mode) to get an accurate wattage, but even assuming pf=1 this would at least set an upper bound.

mhspohr
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Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by mhspohr » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:08 am

I turned the inverter off over night so reduce drain but the unit then took power from the batteries... about 2.5 kWh so that's a problem there also... not just the inverter using a lot of power at idle.
I just tested the power. It's recharging the batteries now (turned the inverter on) and it shows 1.6 kW from the grid and 1.4 kW to the batteries.
I measured the AC from the grid with a clamp meter 6.7 amps x 240 volts = 1608 W which is what it reports.
I measured the DC to the batteries with a clamp meter 25.7 amps x 54 volts = 1387 W which is close to what it reports.

Looks like I'm going to have to shut down the whole unit and disconnect the batteries to keep the unit from just sucking a lot of power. I'll have to remember to turn it on occasionally to keep the batteries charged.

Mike Curran
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Posts: 1195
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:28 pm
My RE system: Outback - Garage roof:
- 8 (2x4) Evergreen 180's into one MX60 (2007)
- 6 (2×3) ALEO S79-300's into one FM80 (2017)
- 2 grid-tied GVFX3524's classic stacked for 120/240VAC (2007)
- 12 Surrette/Rolls 2V x 1766Ah (2007)
- Hub10.3, Mate3s, FNDC, RTS, OpticsRE. Tigo Energy ES maximizers on each PV module.

Westinghouse Solar - Barn roof: (2012)
- 30 (2x15) 235W panels with Enphase M215 microinverters, grid-tied.

Outback Skybox - Barn roof: (2019)
- 14 (2x7) Talesun 275W
- 2 SimpliPhi 3.8 batteries, 48V, 150Ah total
- future AC coupled input from one row of Westinghouse AC modules*
- future AC coupled input from 14 Talesun 275W, Enphase M215 modules*
* waiting for firmware update from OB

All self-designed and self-installed
Location: Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by Mike Curran » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:01 am

I have a similar issue, except my system is drawing 5-600 watts with no loads connected!
Screenshot_20191106-105448.jpg
Here's how my system is wired right now:
1573055826654-1005888653.jpg
Note the backed up loads panel is in "bypass" mode, which connects it directly to the grid, bypassing the Skybox output. This to me is a real deal breaker, except I've already made the deal :mad:

Edit: I suppose with all the PV I've got, I shouldn't complain, but still, 500watts at idle seems like a lot with the battery sitting at 100% SOC.
http://www.tigoenergy.com/site.php?95b2dca2-ca6c
https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/Hctc107221

jnh
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My RE system: GVFX-3524, FM-80+FM-60, ~4.9kW PV in mixed panels on movable platforms, 300 Ah AGMs @ 24V, 80Ah @ 12V, Hub4, Mate, FNDC, Midnite E-Panel, homebrew DC-DC crossfeed to 12V system, Honda EU-1000i, Iota DLS-27-25
Location: St. Augustine, FL, US

Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by jnh » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:50 am

Hmm, all of that standby power draw has to be going somewhere - hopefully not into your expensive lithium batteries! An LiFePO4 bank at 100% SOC wouldn't be at all happy absorbing a constant ~10A of current. Is the Skybox chassis itself getting warm or hot? Does it have a cooling fan that frequently runs?

mhspohr
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Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by mhspohr » Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:36 am

In my Skybox, it looks like it's going the heatsink in the back of the unit. It's warm all the time.
Once the battery has charged, no power to it. Just "Resting".
Looks like I've purchased an expensive garage heater.

Mike Curran
Forum Emperor
Posts: 1195
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:28 pm
My RE system: Outback - Garage roof:
- 8 (2x4) Evergreen 180's into one MX60 (2007)
- 6 (2×3) ALEO S79-300's into one FM80 (2017)
- 2 grid-tied GVFX3524's classic stacked for 120/240VAC (2007)
- 12 Surrette/Rolls 2V x 1766Ah (2007)
- Hub10.3, Mate3s, FNDC, RTS, OpticsRE. Tigo Energy ES maximizers on each PV module.

Westinghouse Solar - Barn roof: (2012)
- 30 (2x15) 235W panels with Enphase M215 microinverters, grid-tied.

Outback Skybox - Barn roof: (2019)
- 14 (2x7) Talesun 275W
- 2 SimpliPhi 3.8 batteries, 48V, 150Ah total
- future AC coupled input from one row of Westinghouse AC modules*
- future AC coupled input from 14 Talesun 275W, Enphase M215 modules*
* waiting for firmware update from OB

All self-designed and self-installed
Location: Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by Mike Curran » Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:53 pm

jnh wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:50 am
Hmm, all of that standby power draw has to be going somewhere - hopefully not into your expensive lithium batteries! An LiFePO4 bank at 100% SOC wouldn't be at all happy absorbing a constant ~10A of current. Is the Skybox chassis itself getting warm or hot? Does it have a cooling fan that frequently runs?
Haven't noticed the fans running. Just from looking at the dashboard graph, my battery is actually discharging slightly over the nighttime hours, at about 10 watts:
Screenshot_20191106-145008.jpg
Temperatures here last night were down in the mid-twenties (°F) so I doubt the fans were running. I'm not going to set my alarm for 2:00 AM to check :!:
http://www.tigoenergy.com/site.php?95b2dca2-ca6c
https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/Hctc107221

Mike Curran
Forum Emperor
Posts: 1195
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:28 pm
My RE system: Outback - Garage roof:
- 8 (2x4) Evergreen 180's into one MX60 (2007)
- 6 (2×3) ALEO S79-300's into one FM80 (2017)
- 2 grid-tied GVFX3524's classic stacked for 120/240VAC (2007)
- 12 Surrette/Rolls 2V x 1766Ah (2007)
- Hub10.3, Mate3s, FNDC, RTS, OpticsRE. Tigo Energy ES maximizers on each PV module.

Westinghouse Solar - Barn roof: (2012)
- 30 (2x15) 235W panels with Enphase M215 microinverters, grid-tied.

Outback Skybox - Barn roof: (2019)
- 14 (2x7) Talesun 275W
- 2 SimpliPhi 3.8 batteries, 48V, 150Ah total
- future AC coupled input from one row of Westinghouse AC modules*
- future AC coupled input from 14 Talesun 275W, Enphase M215 modules*
* waiting for firmware update from OB

All self-designed and self-installed
Location: Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by Mike Curran » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:11 am

So I put my clamp-on AC ammeter on the grid supply to the Skybox, with the PV breaker and the load breaker off (loads aren't connected but just to be sure). It's drawing 2.4A AC at idle, that's 576 watts!!!
20191107_124959.jpg
I climbed up to check the heat sinks at the top and they are warm to the touch, but only slightly. With outside (ambient) at 30°F, I measured the heat sinks with an infrared thermometer and it read 54°F.

With Optics down for maintenance, I couldn't verify that the battery was not being charged when I took these readings, but my previous post indicates that nighttime battery current is 10 watts or about 200 MA DC, far short of what the SB is drawing from the grid.

I'm submitting a request for tech support on this, something's gotta be out of order.
http://www.tigoenergy.com/site.php?95b2dca2-ca6c
https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/Hctc107221

jnh
Forum Guru
Posts: 315
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2007 11:56 am
My RE system: GVFX-3524, FM-80+FM-60, ~4.9kW PV in mixed panels on movable platforms, 300 Ah AGMs @ 24V, 80Ah @ 12V, Hub4, Mate, FNDC, Midnite E-Panel, homebrew DC-DC crossfeed to 12V system, Honda EU-1000i, Iota DLS-27-25
Location: St. Augustine, FL, US

Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by jnh » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:55 am

Mike Curran wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:11 am
So I put my clamp-on AC ammeter on the grid supply to the Skybox, with the PV breaker and the load breaker off (loads aren't connected but just to be sure). It's drawing 2.4A AC at idle, that's 576 watts!!!20191107_124959.jpg

I climbed up to check the heat sinks at the top and they are warm to the touch, but only slightly. With outside (ambient) at 30°F, I measured the heat sinks with an infrared thermometer and it read 54°F.

With Optics down for maintenance, I couldn't verify that the battery was not being charged when I took these readings, but my previous post indicates that nighttime battery current is 10 watts or about 200 MA DC, far short of what the SB is drawing from the grid.

I'm submitting a request for tech support on this, something's gotta be out of order.
Wow! Some of the measured amperage could be reactive power (VA minus true watts - I'd think 500+W would make for more than a 24F temp rise), but even if so, that can't be working as designed... it's hard to imagine any engineer signing off on such profligate waste in a renewable-energy product. Hopefully it's just a bad setting or software glitch that Outback can correct for you, rather than something requiring hardware repair.

Is there any current in the neutral wire? Maybe some of the current is being drawn at 120V rather than 240V line-to-line?

Mike Curran
Forum Emperor
Posts: 1195
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:28 pm
My RE system: Outback - Garage roof:
- 8 (2x4) Evergreen 180's into one MX60 (2007)
- 6 (2×3) ALEO S79-300's into one FM80 (2017)
- 2 grid-tied GVFX3524's classic stacked for 120/240VAC (2007)
- 12 Surrette/Rolls 2V x 1766Ah (2007)
- Hub10.3, Mate3s, FNDC, RTS, OpticsRE. Tigo Energy ES maximizers on each PV module.

Westinghouse Solar - Barn roof: (2012)
- 30 (2x15) 235W panels with Enphase M215 microinverters, grid-tied.

Outback Skybox - Barn roof: (2019)
- 14 (2x7) Talesun 275W
- 2 SimpliPhi 3.8 batteries, 48V, 150Ah total
- future AC coupled input from one row of Westinghouse AC modules*
- future AC coupled input from 14 Talesun 275W, Enphase M215 modules*
* waiting for firmware update from OB

All self-designed and self-installed
Location: Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by Mike Curran » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:24 pm

I've found that setting the grid AC profile to "self consumption" minimizes my grid use while also allowing me to sell back. Not sure this is the best solution but it has reduced the idle power draw from the grid, from over 500W to pretty much 0 watts. But I currently don't have any loads connected and won't until AC coupling is enabled, so when that's available I may try going back to net metering with backup. I dont really understand the difference between the two modes... :-k

Here's a screenshot of power levels now under self consumption. It does look like I'm using the (lithium) battery more and that might be a plus, if it's better to cycle it up and down a bit versus keeping it at 100% SOC all the time:
Screenshot_20191108-142056.jpg
I haven't tried checking current in the grid neutral conductor. - Mike
http://www.tigoenergy.com/site.php?95b2dca2-ca6c
https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/Hctc107221

mhspohr
Forum Member
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2019 8:56 am
My RE system: 6.6 kW SolarWorld/Enphase and 2.6 kW Sunpower/SMA

Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by mhspohr » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:48 pm

The graph looks like you're drawing 250 W from the battery all night and then it recharges the battery from the solar during the day.
The battery recharge during the day looks like it's about 250 W less than the solar generation.
So I think this is still drawing 250 W continuous (5kWh per day) parasitic.

Mike Curran
Forum Emperor
Posts: 1195
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:28 pm
My RE system: Outback - Garage roof:
- 8 (2x4) Evergreen 180's into one MX60 (2007)
- 6 (2×3) ALEO S79-300's into one FM80 (2017)
- 2 grid-tied GVFX3524's classic stacked for 120/240VAC (2007)
- 12 Surrette/Rolls 2V x 1766Ah (2007)
- Hub10.3, Mate3s, FNDC, RTS, OpticsRE. Tigo Energy ES maximizers on each PV module.

Westinghouse Solar - Barn roof: (2012)
- 30 (2x15) 235W panels with Enphase M215 microinverters, grid-tied.

Outback Skybox - Barn roof: (2019)
- 14 (2x7) Talesun 275W
- 2 SimpliPhi 3.8 batteries, 48V, 150Ah total
- future AC coupled input from one row of Westinghouse AC modules*
- future AC coupled input from 14 Talesun 275W, Enphase M215 modules*
* waiting for firmware update from OB

All self-designed and self-installed
Location: Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Re: 200 Watts at idle?!!!

Post by Mike Curran » Fri Nov 08, 2019 6:06 pm

Yes, but at least it's not 600W from the grid. Still, doesn't seem reasonable to have this much power draw with the inverter essentially idle (no external loads).

OB Tech support has suggested putting some load on the inverter so they can compare Skybox loaded vs. unloaded behavior. I'll try that tomorrow. Stay tuned!
http://www.tigoenergy.com/site.php?95b2dca2-ca6c
https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/Hctc107221

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