Well now, I'd hoped Solar LeRoy could come up to take a gander to Tanglewood's solar woes yesterday
and danged if he didn't ping me first thing this morning to come up to do just that! We spent a quality day looking at what the heck is going on...turned up some interesting things. It took several hours to suss out what was going on and get all three controllers back up and running.
As I had noted, charge controller #1 was totally "frozen"....no inputs at all worked no matter what we did. Solar LeRoy shut down the system, rebooted that particular box several times, but nothing worked. He finally swapped it out with a spare he happened to have (part of his system which had been down since last summer) and took the original back down to his house to contact Outback about what the heck it might be doing.
Once we got the replacement installed we were partially working properly, but things still weren't right. The breakers didn't seem to be connected properly, and we'd get different inputs on what was "active" based on what breakers were thrown. When left "normally" controllers #1 and #3 were pumping amps, but #2 was only showing voltage--no amperage at all. In addition #1 was still going "high" on the amperage, hovering around 70A which is MUCH MORE than those units should be getting from good sunlight.
Solar LeRoy's first thought was that something was wrong down in the breaker box, but he took off the lid and there was nothing obvious. We then checked all of the circuit interconnects along the backs of the panels as it seemed as if swaths of the panels weren't putting power on their circuits at all (the ones tied to controller #2)…..everything was tight and nicely connected. We DID take the opportunity to clean up some of the cables that had lost their zip ties due to weather and the like however, which is positive.
Our next thought was that perhaps the line driving controller #2 had a break in it, and we did some investigation along the run from the shed down to the panel breaker box. That required a bit of digging up of some of the line to make sure there wasn't another box somewhere in the line we didn't remember (there wasn't). The most annoying part was that we discovered (rediscovered) that he'd apparently used a differently colored wire on the leg heading out of the shed, so we had trouble finding the precise connection. Lots of amp testing and breakers on/off however eventually convinced us there were no problems.
So with that in mind, we took a break to get some more tools and then resumed testing, looking at the outside breaker box again--and THAT's where Solar LeRoy found the problem. Two different wires inside the breaker box had shorted, one against the cover housing and the other along the left-hand side of the box. BOTH were bad but the second was far and away the first...it was difficult to see because it was partially behind the "edge" of the box. Once we got a look at it however it was very obvious--that particular wire was bundling the panels for controller #1, had partially pulled away from the connector along the top, and it in turn was touching the bundler wire for controller #2. Controller was getting the amperage for BOTH strings of panels (24 panels in all), thus overloading controller #1 (causing the breaker to pop) and showing very erratic amperage on the daisy-chain of panels for controller #2.
Once he figured it out it was relatively easy to fix. We killed power to both controllers #1 and #2, stripped out the bad wire (which fortunately he'd left long), and tied everything back in properly. When everything was turned back on, all three controller were humming along and doing their job properly!
WELL DONE SOLAR LEROY!!!!!!!!!!!!
So at this point, Solar LeRoy is taking the bad/frozen controller back down to find out what Outback wants to do. We still have a problem with one of the legs from the 240V generator only putting power on ONE leg....the circuits for the inverter/charger are different than the charge controllers...so that still needs to be looked at, probably after finds some details about the bad controller.
But we're making progress, and that's pretty danged glorious! :)
Steven in Colorado
My Construction Website
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