Flexmax 80 will not wake up from snoozing

Website & Forum Discussions
Check here for our Welcome Message

Moderators: administrator, OutBack, OutBack Moderator Team

Flexmax 80 will not wake up from snoozing

Postby ilovitt on Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:02 am

Everything has been running smoothly with our system since Outback so kindly replaced our 5 year old Mate 3 a few months ago until yesterday when i found some visual damage to the outer casing of the comms cable from the Mate to the hub, although I could not see any of the single cables damaged only the outer casing I thought it would be wise to replace the cable. I bought a new cable & connected it up to the hub & the Mate & when I went down to the Mate to check the reading's I found that no power was shown being generated from the PV panels. I checked the charge controller and it showed it was snoozing during daylight hours and had not switched onto wakeup mode correctly for some reason. I then turned off all three breakers for the batteries, inverter & PV as I have done many times before when I have needed to turn things off and to reset the system when necessary. When I switched the breakers back on all of the lights on the inverter come on correctly with no red fault light, the fan comes on as usual and goes off after a short period, the FM80 comes on fine and goes to wake up but then it goes to snoozing & won't wake up, every few minutes it tries to wake up but then switches back to the snoozing. It appears as though the settings of the FM80 have been wiped when I have unplugged the Mate & connected the new comms cable???. It is very strange as this has never happened before. We have checked the manual for the Fm80 & read the section charge controller is always sleeping and are still not any wiser as to how we should check things are still set up correctly without some assistance. We are left wondering if there is possibly another problem with our system ie the FM80 is not working correctly?. i have tried reconnecting the old cable and this makes no difference also unplugging the comms cable from the FM80 to the hub & this also makes no difference. I have also tried restart from the FM80 and it tries to wake up but then switches back to snoozing..... Fortunately we have a generator which is charging our batteries from the Mate automatically so we do have power in the interim whilst power is not being supplied from our PV panels. Thank you in advance for any advice or assistance that anyone out there may be able to supply us with. Kind Regards Ian Lovitt and Katy Goddard
ilovitt
Member
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:54 am
My RE system: Outback Vfx3024 Inverter, Mate 3 Controller, Flexmax 80, 12 X 2V Deep Cycle Lead Acid Traction Batteries, 10 X 250 Watt PV Solar Panels, Outback PV12 Combiner Box, Hub 10

Re: Flexmax 80 will not wake up from snoozing

Postby Sandra Herrera on Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:16 pm

Hello,
What are the input and output voltages on the display (directly on the FM80)?
Sandra Herrera
Applications Engineering


OutBack Power Technologies
User avatar
Sandra Herrera
OutBack Management
 
Posts: 193
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2015 8:54 am
Location: Arlington, Washington

Re: Flexmax 80 will not wake up from snoozing

Postby blackswan555 on Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:16 pm

68.6v in, 0 amps, 24.3v out, 0 amps, 0 KW 0 KWH, Aux off, Snoozing, ( Ian and Cathy are friends of mine, I am out of country)

Tim
My comments are based on my experience and research, They are not endorsed or checked by Outback.I am an independent British electrician living in Spain, So please take this into account when reading /acting on my post`s.
blackswan555
OutBack Emperor
 
Posts: 2483
Joined: Sat Aug 30, 2008 5:50 am
Location: Ibiza Spain,
My RE system: Other peoples, VFX "E" versions, FLA`s, Generators.

Re: Flexmax 80 will not wake up from snoozing

Postby klundquist on Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:39 pm

Hi Ian & Katy,

When the controller wakes up and tracks do you see any amp numbers on the in or out lines on the FM display? You can force it to track by going into the MISC menu then press NEXT then BULK.

If you turn off the PV breaker what happens to the IN voltage? IN voltage should drop slowly and eventually settle at something that is like 70% of the OUT. If IN drops to 0 there is probably an internal problem with the controller.

If the IN voltage does not drop to 0 I suggest you check to make sure the FM80 and combiner box wire connections are clean and tight.

If you're still having problems try measuring voltage between negative and ground to see if there might be a ground fault. The voltage should be 0 so if you finding some volts then the is likely a grounding problem.

Good luck!

-Kurt
Kurt Lundquist
Alpha Energy Systems Engineer
http://www.alpha.com/solar
klundquist
Alpha Energy Engineering
 
Posts: 670
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 7:23 am
Location: Arlington, WA
My RE system: VFX3524, Mate, 200Ah 24V AGM Battery Bank

Re: Flexmax 80 will not wake up from snoozing

Postby ilovitt on Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:08 am

Hi Kurt,First of all i would like to thank you for your advice. I have tried the fixes that you have suggested and unfortunately the FM80 will still not wake up from snoozing mode. There are no amps numbers on the in and out when i actioned force to track by going into the Misc menu and pushed the Next then bulk buttons. The FM80 attempts to wake up from snoozing but then switches back to snoozing again. Before turning off the PV breaker in was showing 68V and out was showing 24.1V and when i turned it off the in dropped slowly to around 24 then very slowly down to 20 then eventually settled around 19 / 19.2 . I then checked all of the connections between the FM80 and the combiner box to make sure that they were all clean and tight which they were. I have not checked the voltage between negative and ground breaker because i am not exactly sure what you mean? Although i am not a qualified electrician or solar engineer i am quite handy and very conversant with my system i do have a good quality multi meter so i should be able to check this with a little further clarification and instruction.

Thanks again Ian & Katy
ilovitt
Member
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:54 am
My RE system: Outback Vfx3024 Inverter, Mate 3 Controller, Flexmax 80, 12 X 2V Deep Cycle Lead Acid Traction Batteries, 10 X 250 Watt PV Solar Panels, Outback PV12 Combiner Box, Hub 10

Re: Flexmax 80 will not wake up from snoozing

Postby klundquist on Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:51 am

To measure between negative and ground you will need to set you multi-meter to DC volts. To verify the meter is set correctly measure your battery voltage. Next measure between a negative terminal and a ground point. Without knowing your system the easiest spot I can suggest would be in the wiring compartment of the FM80. Inside there are PV and Batt negative terminals and off to the side there is a ground lug. There should be a ground wire going to the lug that is green, green yellow striped, or bare copper. Put one of your meter probes on the battery negative terminal and the other one on the ground lug. The voltage should be 0.

When you force the controller to bulk do you hear an audible click when it wakes up?

With the information so far I would think that either the PV array polarity is off, or the FM80 input relay is welded open. Unless you have been doing some wiring/work on the PV array I would expect the PV polarity to be correct. If you do not hear the "click" from the controller your best bet at this point may be to get a backup charge controller to put into the system. If your current FM80 is less than 5 years old you can arrange for warranty service with OutBack. This will give you a spare controller. Better yet you could consider splitting your array between two controllers. 2500W is quite a bit of PV array for just one FM80 on a 24V system. The PV12 combiner box you have can be used with a split bus to handle two PV arrays so you would just have to add a second set of home run conductors and the PV input/output breakers for the second FM80. I'm sure Tim could help you figure out the best path forward.

Thanks,

-Kurt
Kurt Lundquist
Alpha Energy Systems Engineer
http://www.alpha.com/solar
klundquist
Alpha Energy Engineering
 
Posts: 670
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 7:23 am
Location: Arlington, WA
My RE system: VFX3524, Mate, 200Ah 24V AGM Battery Bank

Re: Flexmax 80 will not wake up from snoozing

Postby ilovitt on Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:42 am

Hi Kurt, thanks again for the info. I will check the reading between negative and ground shortly. When i force the controller to bulk you do hear the audible click and also when the charge controller attempts to wake up from snoozing itself you also hear the audible click but it then switches straight back snoozing mode.I have not been doing any wiring works or modification to my system other than replacing the CAT 5 comms cable from the Mate3 to the Hub as a precautionary measure due to slight surface damage to the outer protective casing as previously mentioned. my FM80, VFX3024 inverter an Mate 3 i believe were purchased at roughly the same time in May 2012 so they are just over 5 years old. I am planning on upgrading my system in the near future and adding another FM80,another PV combiner and some more PV panels to increase my charging ability and at a later stage in the near future when finances allow another inverter to increase our output capabilities so buying another FM80 was due to occur very soon anyhow. As my current FM80 is just over 5 years old does this mean i am unable to return it by post to Outback alpha or an approved repairer that you may be able to recommend for chargeable repairing as it is outside of the warranty period and will have to just throw it away?. Our system has been running absolutely fine since it was installed by Tim just over 5 years ago until around July this year our mate 3 stopped working which was so kindly replaced by alpha Outback so we very much hope that we can purchase another FM80 immediately to get our system back functioning correctly again and get the broken FM80 repaired so that we can then add it to our system upgrade as planned.

Thanks for your assitance. Kind Regards Ian & Katy
ilovitt
Member
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:54 am
My RE system: Outback Vfx3024 Inverter, Mate 3 Controller, Flexmax 80, 12 X 2V Deep Cycle Lead Acid Traction Batteries, 10 X 250 Watt PV Solar Panels, Outback PV12 Combiner Box, Hub 10

Re: Flexmax 80 will not wake up from snoozing

Postby ilovitt on Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:03 am

Hi Kurt, just wondering if you have any further response to my request for information re possible repairs? Thanks for your assistance in advance.
Kind Regard Ian
ilovitt
Member
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:54 am
My RE system: Outback Vfx3024 Inverter, Mate 3 Controller, Flexmax 80, 12 X 2V Deep Cycle Lead Acid Traction Batteries, 10 X 250 Watt PV Solar Panels, Outback PV12 Combiner Box, Hub 10

Re: Flexmax 80 will not wake up from snoozing

Postby klundquist on Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:17 am

Hi Ian,

Sorry for the delayed response. Based on the info provided it is still hard to say if the problem is the charge controller or something external. The FM80 is past the warranty period but it can still be repaired if it is faulty. The repair facility is in the US so shipping costs and transit times may be problematic. I suggest you send a message to Tim "Blackswan555" on the board for advice on what makes the most economical sense. When you have a chance try measuring voltage between negative and ground.

Thanks,

-Kurt
Kurt Lundquist
Alpha Energy Systems Engineer
http://www.alpha.com/solar
klundquist
Alpha Energy Engineering
 
Posts: 670
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 7:23 am
Location: Arlington, WA
My RE system: VFX3524, Mate, 200Ah 24V AGM Battery Bank

Re: Flexmax 80 will not wake up from snoozing

Postby ilovitt on Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:26 am

Hi kurt, i have indeed been in contact with Tim Blackswan555 throughout this whole episode during my faulty / broken Outback equipment saga that i am currently experiencing. Tim's advice and assistance has been amazing as always. Fortunately for me Tim has recommended an Outback approved sales agent and repairer on mainland Spain who also is supplying me with excellent advice and a new replacement FM80 and repairs to my broken unit. We very lucky to have the help and support from both of them because if i took the advice you have posted above i would either have to send my broken /faulty FM80 to the US as you recommended or throw it away as it would not be economically viable to return it to the US. Tim has suggested that i should consider buying another VFX3024 inverter as i would probably be needing one soon. Should we be expecting and prepare for all of our Outback equipment to break down and fail on us when it reaches just over 5 years old when the warranty expires? is this what usually happens with outback equipment? i have always believed up until now that Outback was the best out there and was very rugged and reliable? up until now i have been very happy with my Outback equipment but i cannot justify buying and holding a spare inverter, Mate 3, FM80, Hub10 etc just because my existing ones are just out of their warranty period as they are just over 5 years old and i should be prepared for them to fail?. We live on an island and as there are no Outback suppliers on the Island where i can walk into and buy a new replacement item should another one of our Outback units break down and fail us, reliability and manufacturer support is a major concern of ours? We do not want to change our whole system but maybe due to this episode we should consider replacing broken items when they fail us with items from an alternate manufacturer that gives a 10 year warranty on their equipment and that are readily available here in Ibiza.

Yours, very disillusioned. Ian Lovitt & Katy Goddard
ilovitt
Member
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:54 am
My RE system: Outback Vfx3024 Inverter, Mate 3 Controller, Flexmax 80, 12 X 2V Deep Cycle Lead Acid Traction Batteries, 10 X 250 Watt PV Solar Panels, Outback PV12 Combiner Box, Hub 10

Re: Flexmax 80 will not wake up from snoozing

Postby klundquist on Mon Oct 16, 2017 8:09 am

Hi Ian,

I can tell your frustrated and I wish there was more that I could do to help.

ilovitt wrote:We very lucky to have the help and support from both of them because if i took the advice you have posted above i would either have to send my broken /faulty FM80 to the US as you recommended or throw it away as it would not be economically viable to return it to the US

I'm glad Tim is there for you. If you re-read my last post you can see that I recommended speaking with him before making a decision. Are you sure the controller is faulty?

ilovitt wrote:Should we be expecting and prepare for all of our Outback equipment to break down and fail on us when it reaches just over 5 years old when the warranty expires? is this what usually happens with outback equipment?


Let me be clear in saying that I do not work for OutBack Power so I cannot speak as a company representative. Again I think this is probably a question that you should take up with Tim. He has years of experience with solar systems and it sounds like he is still recommending OutBack Products. I think that says a lot. Anecdotally I do know of several OutBack systems that have inverters and charge controllers well over 5 years old.

ilovitt wrote:i have always believed up until now that Outback was the best out there and was very rugged and reliable?


The controller lasted more than 5 years with 500W more solar than the max recommended array size for a 24V battery bank. 2500W Solar/24V Battery = ~104Amps on an 80Amp charge controller. Also it sounds like you are in a warm coastal marine environment. Both of these situations will tax power electronics. Mice chewing on wires doesn't help either. Also, are you sure the controller is faulty?

ilovitt wrote:up until now i have been very happy with my Outback equipment but i cannot justify buying and holding a spare inverter, Mate 3, FM80, Hub10 etc just because my existing ones are just out of their warranty period as they are just over 5 years old and i should be prepared for them to fail?. We live on an island and as there are no Outback suppliers on the Island where i can walk into and buy a new replacement item should another one of our Outback units break down and fail us, reliability and manufacturer support is a major concern of ours?

Unfortunately when you choose to live off grid you are also making a choice to become your own power utility. Many other off grid people live in a similar situation where replacement inverters, PV chargers, generators, parts, etc are not easy to come by. If power is a necessity it is a good idea to keep spare stock of each of your major power system components. This is true no matter what inverter or charge controller brand that you own. Lightning can toast anything.

OutBack is one of the only companies that I know of that allow for field repair of the inverters and sells the internal components. Many people just keep spare boards instead of spending the money on an entire spare inverter.

For redundancy your 2500W array could be split into two arrays going through two charge controller. Adding the second inverter would also give redundancy. The second inverter can increase your charging capacity if your generator and batteries can handle it. In this way adding redundant components can increase your overall system efficiency.

Regardless of the path you choose going forward it is great that you have a quality solar professional that can help guide your power decisions.

Let us know how things work out. Your post may help someone in a similar situation in the future.

Thanks,

-Kurt
Kurt Lundquist
Alpha Energy Systems Engineer
http://www.alpha.com/solar
klundquist
Alpha Energy Engineering
 
Posts: 670
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 7:23 am
Location: Arlington, WA
My RE system: VFX3524, Mate, 200Ah 24V AGM Battery Bank


Return to Website & Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron