Navitron Renewable Energy and Sustainability Forum

SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC => Solar Photovoltaic Systems => Topic started by: cliffski on July 01, 2018, 04:47:23 PM



Title: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: cliffski on July 01, 2018, 04:47:23 PM
Hi. I have a ground mount array (2.1kwp) in my driveway. It comprises 10 schuco 215w MPE215 PS05 panels and a sunny boy 2500 HF inverter. It was installed by a small, localish company which has eventually gone bust by the looks of it.
Anyway... a few years after our installation our inverter died, and they replaced it at no charge as it was under warranty. here we are about 5 years after that, and the replacement just died. Am I unlucky? or is this to be expected? The actual unit is powered on but gives an error:

 'interference device restarting in 360 seconds')
and the error number is 7701 or 77
It also tripped a fuse in box in the kitchen, and the red light is flashing. Power output is zero.

(http://positech.co.uk/cliffsblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/solar1.jpg)

Anyway... apparently its been dead at least 3 months, and I only noticed when I went to submit my FIT numbers. Such a waste of this amazing summer!. I've since contacted a solar installer (TBH not sure if navitron actually do installs?) to ask them to come take a look and maybe fix/replace the inverter.
My main question are:

1) Is this inverter an old pile of cr*p that I should be glad to be rid of? It came with a remote 'sunny boy' monitoring widget which always sucks. I'd much rather use a phone app I might actually use.
2) I am a complete solar power obsessive (multiple big investments in farms around the uk), and love generating power. Would it be absolutely totally insane to replace the existing panels with new ones with higher efficiency? I dont mind if I have to really stretch credulity to make it seems like it makes economic sense, its more about the generation than the business case for me. I can easily afford 10 new panels.

A quick check shows my existing 215w panels have 14.4% efficiency when new and are 1000mm wide. These https://www.navitron.org.uk/store/solar-panels/solar-panels-for-grid-tie/panasonic-hit-n-series-245w-black-frame-hybrid-pv-module-15mm-mc4 are 19.4% efficient, not as wide (so would easily fit) and generate 245k. I'm pretty sure I can do better, and even higher output. Note that my panels are currently 7 years old.

Presumably the old panels still have *some* value. I just want an excuse to upgrade everything :D


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: biff on July 01, 2018, 08:53:38 PM
Hi Cliffski,
         It looks like you have quite a serious shading problem at the moment so replacing those panels with bigger ones is not going to make much of a difference until the shading is sorted.
  There will be better informed PV experts along shortly who will give you the low down on the inverters.
                                                      Biff


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: cliffski on July 01, 2018, 09:34:31 PM
Actually the shading isnt too bad we lose a tiny bit at the start of the day, but otherwise its not that bad. That photo was probably taken at a really bad time :D


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: pdf27 on July 01, 2018, 10:49:05 PM
A quick check shows my existing 215w panels have 14.4% efficiency when new and are 1000mm wide. These https://www.navitron.org.uk/store/solar-panels/solar-panels-for-grid-tie/panasonic-hit-n-series-245w-black-frame-hybrid-pv-module-15mm-mc4 are 19.4% efficient, not as wide (so would easily fit) and generate 245k. I'm pretty sure I can do better, and even higher output. Note that my panels are currently 7 years old.

Presumably the old panels still have *some* value. I just want an excuse to upgrade everything :D
I'm pretty sure that new panels = new FIT, at a vastly lower rate than you'll be getting for those.


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: cliffski on July 01, 2018, 10:51:45 PM
I feared as much. I sometimes wonder if people in government are really really stupid, or are actively taking backhanded bribes to deliberately screw up the UK renewable energy sector...


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: RIT on July 01, 2018, 10:53:55 PM
I've a sunny boy 2500 HF that has been going strong for about 7 years now. When you get a new one installed it will be worth you going to their website and purchasing a warranty extension as they are a cheap add-on, which in turn indicates that they are reasonably sure about their build quality.

As for the error 7701 and or 77 you should read the following

    https://www.sma-service.com/en/faq-support/wok/Diagnosis/show.html?no_cache=1&tx_lwsmawok_pi1%5BsymptomId%5D=%3Csg%3Asymptom%3A706%3E&tx_lwsmawok_pi1%5Bsearchword%5D=Event%20numbers%2077%2C%207701%2C%207702%2C%207703%20Self-diagnosis%20%3E%20Device%20disturbance&tx_lwsmawok_pi1%5Bproduct%5D=0&cHash=b238cf1884bdb2db932e1daa3d10c784


Finally if you have an Android based device you may like to play around with this app as it's an easy way to access details of the inverter

      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=au.com.oxleyws.solar&hl=en_GB


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: Sprinter on July 02, 2018, 10:25:03 AM
what about a picture of the dead interter, i wonder if it is poorly located and has cooling issues which is in turn leading to sudden and premature death of the device.


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: cliffski on July 02, 2018, 11:30:26 AM
Pics attached. that oxley app says inverter temperature is 35 degrees, but its hot as hell today and I know it died at least 3 months ago, so likely not temperature?


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: Sprinter on July 02, 2018, 12:23:55 PM
Probably not overheating then as its getting a great deal more cooling by the breeze than mine.

Are you sure its dead? have you tried disabling it and as you have easy access to all cabling cleaning any connections/joints in the cabling? Might be worth a go, its unlikely but an easy and free thing to rule out.

looks to me like its not getting sensing any power from the panels, i would check the cabling first.


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: RIT on July 02, 2018, 12:37:21 PM
A few notes

- The Oxley app will be reporting correctly as the inverter is in shutdown mode and so is not producing any heat.

- If you follow the link I provided you will see that the error is to do with the AC link (as the screen diagram indicates with the placement of the 77), and looking at the photo I would not be surprised if it was the cable between the inverter and the isolation switch. The cable from the switch to the house seems to be thick all weather cable with a large all-weather gland, the cable between the inverter and the switch does not seem to be of the same high quality.

- The original installation of this system does not follow even the most basic of SMA's requirements, so getting an extended warranty will currently be pointless. The setup manual states the following

      
Quote
For outdoor installation make sure that the Sunny Boy has a clearance of 3 ft. (90 cm) from ground.

This is because air is pulled from underneath the unit for cooling.


Lastly, the photo of the inverter shows the perspex screen has a lot of white 'stuff' on it - is this external muck or the screen suffering for crazing?


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: Sprinter on July 02, 2018, 12:54:48 PM
In the very top left of the last picture it looks like it is sensing  0.05 kw

if thats all its sensing from the panels it might not be enough to get the inverter started, you may well have cabling issues, but reference back to the manuals as i dont have a sunnyboy so dont know what that figure is indicating.


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: sam_cat on July 02, 2018, 12:56:01 PM

Lastly, the photo of the inverter shows the perspex screen has a lot of white 'stuff' on it - is this external muck or the screen suffering for crazing?

Thats what I was about to comment on. That looks like thermal crazing of the display..


That install is poor, pull the manual down and have a look at how it should be installed. Most items will be simple fixes to make it 'right'.

Can you get a better/ in focus picture?

And as above, the AC side isolator switch to inverter cable is where I would start.



Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: Tinbum on July 02, 2018, 01:22:59 PM
In the very top left of the last picture it looks like it is sensing  0.05 kw


That's the scale. ;)


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: cliffski on July 02, 2018, 02:26:57 PM
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I have an installer coming to investigate in an hour or two, to take a look. The white stuff is cracking of the LCD, as I recall the last one (the original they installed) had the same issue, I assumed a known issue with them, but could be that the unit gets too hot. The whicker panel behind the panels (installed due to dumb demands by planning people) could happily be left open to boost the airfloww around it. I might do that from now on.
Hopefully a cabling issue, if not... a new inverter wont make me cry. I think I've made enough today on my tesla stocks to cover the cost :D


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: RIT on July 02, 2018, 03:46:19 PM
Once the visit is done and hopefully, everything is sorted you should take a good look at the Oxley app. One of it's features is that it can upload stats to the free PVoutput website - see the link in my footer.

The cracking of the LCD screen indicates a thermal issue, the installer will be able to comment more. As you will see from my PVoutput link, the tracking of the inverter's temperature is included, so you will be able to monitor things over time with little work.


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: Quakered on July 02, 2018, 04:57:55 PM
I confess I am absolutely stunned that you did not check your system in over 3 months.

We have had our SMA inverter for 7 years and (touching wood) has work faultlessly. It is installed in our loft so suspect it has to cope with high temperatures. I agree that SMA software does make you think they should have stuck to making baby milk but again it does work. You can get the Sunnt Portal for a browse on a desktop, also available as an app for iPhone and iPad (and suspect it is also available to Apple's many imitators!) - finally there is also Sunny Place that is both monitor a forum. No reason not be be in touch with you installation daily where ever you are in the world - managed to access ours from Luang Probang in the Loas jungle last year!


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: cliffski on July 02, 2018, 05:47:03 PM
Yeah I'm surprised too, but you would be amazed how stupidly busy my life is...and since the sunny beam died I just never assed...
Anyway installer confirms inverter as dead as donut, say very unlikely to be lack of air circulation. He is anti-SMA despite owning one himself, and has recomended a different model, hopefully getting installed friday.
I like the recommended app, not sure if I'll pay for the pvoutput premium thing...I may do. Annoyingly my office is maybe 3-4 feet out of blue tooth range!


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: cliffski on July 04, 2018, 04:33:21 PM
So! Inverter replaced, with a growatt inverter, which is seemingly tiny in comparison (yay for technological advance) and it cost me 489.60 including installation and VAT. which is fine by me. Actual inverter non-VAT cost was 273.
Sadly it doesn't work with any easy-to-use phone app I can find, so I've asked them to get me one of the remote monitor things for it, which is less than optimal, but I'm just so glad to have it fixed and actually generating power again. It does surprise me that there isn't a universal premium paid app for your phone you can buy that monitors solar panels of any make yet. Seems like a market that can only go in one direction?


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: sam_cat on July 04, 2018, 06:44:06 PM
Here I can help!!

You need a wifi dongle for the inverter: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/WiFi-Module-for-Growatt-Inverter/282060805007
ShinePhone on the mobile, or use their online tools: http://server.growatt.com/

The online tools have a demo mode, so you can see what it can do (example plants, bottom left). I really rate it.



Default page shows today so far in small splits (25mins I think):

(http://i.imgur.com/zsgsi8il.png) (https://imgur.com/zsgsi8i)

By day:
(http://i.imgur.com/dtO666bl.png) (https://imgur.com/dtO666b)

By month:
(http://i.imgur.com/gSbUrrjl.png) (https://imgur.com/gSbUrrj)

Can also do by year, not shown.
Double click on a period and it drills into it, so double click '2018' and its shows by month, double click may and it shows may by day, double click a day to see the part day split.

You can also do 'plant' and see by inverter, so each inverters output is overlayed:
(http://i.imgur.com/M5xtU9hl.png) (https://imgur.com/M5xtU9h)

Devices and datalogger (which is the wifi dongle bit):
(http://i.imgur.com/fJTQiGSl.png) (https://imgur.com/fJTQiGS)

Devices and inverter:
(http://i.imgur.com/G25tZLgl.png) (https://imgur.com/G25tZLg)

I have a 1kW and a 1.5kW inverter, also briefly had a broken 1kW inverter as was spotted very quickly here:
(http://i.imgur.com/YB24wvZl.png) (https://imgur.com/YB24wvZ)

Double click an inverter and you get into the logs for it:
(http://i.imgur.com/O4rgsjnl.png) (https://imgur.com/O4rgsjn)

easily exported/loaded into excel and has loads of info.

Tons of other stuff too that I haven't gone into here...

As I say, I rate the software.. have used a few and really got along with this one. Not perfect but pretty darn good!


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: Sprinter on July 04, 2018, 09:44:21 PM
the growatt should give you auto access to the growatt site, you will need to register the device then you can monitor it online

http://server.growatt.com/login.do

I have a monitor that i never used somewhere, it uses bluetooth i think, but its better to get the ethernet dongle as suggested and use the web site


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: cliffski on July 11, 2018, 02:08:04 PM
Thanks for all the tips and suggestions. I got the wifi dongle, and its all up and running and monitoring happily, this is awesome :D


Title: Re: 2nd Inverter failure. Unlucky? Also talk me into/out of some new panels...
Post by: sam_cat on July 11, 2018, 02:44:38 PM
Excellent! Its Pretty good software isnt it! :)