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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 17:10 
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youre not going to draw this out to 1st of April are ya :D

just like the climax to a good movie....
RupertofOZ wrote:
Got to duck out for a few hours... I'll post the explaination up later this arvo...

An AD break Nooo... :evil:

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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 19:15 
:lol: Sorry folks... got tied up with visitors...

Ok, some background...

The system comprises 7.6kw of solar panels and 2.4kw of wind turbine... and was installed primarily as a "back to grid" installation...

So the property remains mains power connected, with the solar/wind charging battery banks for failover due to mains power loss...

Power for the AP system was drawn from a sub-board in the studio, both because it was closest to the proposed site, and because the studio was on it's own seperate seldom/lightly used circuit...

With the above in mind, I requested that circuit be tied back to the battery backup solar controller so that the AP system would failover in the event of mains failure...

And that was the work that the solar company had done during the week proceeding... along with an upgrade of the modem/router which would allow remote monitoring and alarms.

I also wanted to be able to tie the greenhouse and fish shed into a remote monitoring system that I'll be installing shortly...

The reason we upgraded the modem/router was principally because it appeared to be under-powered and/or unstable... or so it was thought...

Grant had indicated when he called that morning... that the system had alarmed a "power fail" condition around 19:30... and successful failover to the battery bank....

This was followed by several short returns to mains power... and almost immediate fail back to battery power... followed by a "battery fail" at 20:30...

All consistant with Nicolle's observations... and the reason she relocated to the main house which still had mains power...

When there she noticed several further intermittant power on/offs to the studio... and at the same time... that the modem router was dropping out and/or resetting...

Grant also noticed about 21:00 that he was no longer receiving alarms... and couldn't maintain a connection to the router/battery controller...


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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 19:18 
Both the main house and studio are on seperate circuits as I said... and both had seperate circuits to the battery controller board...

Each circuit in the battery controller board was equipped wih a circuit breaker that had been sized to the load and current draw... or so it was thought...

And here's where the pieces began to fall into place...


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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 19:22 
A review of the controller log files the next morning revealed, and confirmed the events of the night before...

The questions that arose were...

    What caused the mains power "failure" and subsequent battery failover
    Why had the system not successfully returned to mains power.. especially when the main house power appear to be "on" and stable
    What had exhausted the battery charge in a matter of an hour
    Why had the ability to monitor the system stopped
    Why was the modem/router intermittantly failing


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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 19:27 
The answer was that the mains power was "browning out"... dropping to around 208 volts...

This was enough to "alert" the battery controller to a possible mains failure... apparantly it is pretty sensitive... and coincidentally... to cause the router (also sensitive)... to fail out intermittantly...

It also explained why the mains power was intermittantly resetting to the studio... failing back to battery.. etc...

But not why it didn't re-establish mains connection for longer periods...

Nor did it explain why the battery charge was drained within an hour... or more particularly.. why once exhausted.. the system didn't fail back to mains regardless...


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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 19:37 
The answer was quite simply... that by 21:30... the batteries were dead... and so was the entire controller circuit...

Of course, once the day dawned.. and the solar panels powerd up sufficiently... and began suppling the batteries... the studio/AP circuit became active.. around 08:10...

This only puzzled us further for a while... as we couldn't understand why the system was then only drawing less than 500w.... when during the night it was drawing closer to 2.4kw...

Then a thought dawned on me... follwed by a flash of inspiration as to what had bothered me a couple of nights before about the security lighting...

The security lighting is dawn/dusk sensored... and of course shortly after dawn the security lights were no longer on... hence the solar panels which had begun supplying power to the batteries were only supplying the studio and AP system... which we had sized to about 4-500w/h...

The reason for the 2.4kw consumption at night.... was two 1000w flood lights that illuminated a couple of impressive trees... and were tied into the security lighting system...

And that's what I'd mentally noted as I drove out a couple of nights before... and had niggled me without actually raising a direct alarm...


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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 19:41 
So that explained the event s of the night... and restoration of power to the system in the morning...

And the time frame was consistant with the battery backup airpumps in the AP system being exhausted....

Which led me to believe a similar thing had been happening all week... hence a couple of random fish deaths...

By sheer chance, Jim had been checking the system... after the solar unit had charged the batteries sufficiently to kick the systems back online... seemingly... nothing untoward had happened....


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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 19:43 
So why hadn't the system "alarmed" back to the solar company... because the router had only been upgraded/installed/configured the afternoon before events...

That just left the $$$$$ question...

Why hadn't the system restored to mains power during the night.... as the log files showed the "brown outs" to be intermittant...


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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 19:48 
According to the solar guys....

The solar controller is "super-sensitive" and the threshold had been set to 215 volts... and repeated short drops send the controller into timed battery period, rather than allowing the system to keep flicking back and forth... that timed period was an hour...

It just so happens that the batteries were essentially drained within that time period.. or shortly after...

But why did the system stay in battery mode....

Well the circuit breaker had been sized to the expected load... which was in fact nearly 5 times what had been configured... and with the brown outs due to voltage drop... the system was drawing more current anyway...

Bottom line... the circuit breaker failed during the night... leaving the system in "battery mode"...


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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 19:58 
So...

    The circuit breaker in the battery controller has been upsized and replaced...
    The flood lights have been removed from the rest of the security lighting circuit.. until it's figured out what circuit in the main house to put them on...
    The power supply is currently being logged by the power company to determine the cause of the brown outs... and power conditioning or rectification will be done
    The studio and AP system have been returned to a battery backup failover status... and temporarliy "power conditioned"
    The threshhold on the controller circuit has been temporarilly lowered to prevent failover/switch back...


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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 21:35 
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Thanks for sharing your experiences with us here.

Nothing is ever simple!

You have certainly identified many potential pitfalls. I'm sure you also have a far better understanding of the system components, how they work and most importantly many of their limitations.


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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 21:58 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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no wonder you have 17k worth of posts lol, one post becomes 9 :notworthy:

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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 22:02 
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RupertofOZ wrote:
.... was two 1000w flood lights that illuminated a couple of impressive trees...


Heck, they must be impressive trees, you could almost see into the future with those two lights. :shock: Please tell me this was a typo and you ment 100w lights?

Can you even get 1000w lights? Wouldn't they cause the impressive trees to combust? :dontknow:


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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 22:14 
Definitely 1000 watters... not uncommon at all... like these...


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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '11, 22:18 
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Wazza wrote:
Heck, they must be impressive trees, you could almost see into the future with those two lights. :shock: Please tell me this was a typo and you ment 100w lights?

Can you even get 1000w lights?


So can we assume this whole set-up has nothing to do with lowering carbon emissions, being green, saving money?

What's the reason d'etre here?

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