Maintenance strategy for cheaper inverters

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rthorntn
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Maintenance strategy for cheaper inverters

Post by rthorntn »

Hi,

I run my whole house from my setup, my eight LTO batteries are warrantied for 20 years.

The setup has been running for two years, it has mild hiccups (check my threads), nuff said!

I have two inverters in parallel, I also have a spare inverter (better test that it works lol, but seriously, I should at least hookup a 48v supply to the battery input?). Bonus point: should I buy extra spare inverters, can all the MPP inverters that support "parallel" interoperate, or should I buy identical spares?

Also I'm reasonably handy (I repaired my 8yo LG OLED by replacing the main board) should I think about holding components of the inverters in spares?

So presumably one inverter will die first, so I need a way of figuring out the second it dies, some kind of alerting (I use ICC which feeds into emonCMS and can feed into an external MQTT server)...thoughts?

Is there a way to backup the config, so that when I replace an inverter I can upload all the settings?

Finally, when should I just proactively replace these, based on the quality of components how long should these last, 5 years, opinions sought on what you would do?

I also need to have my Latronics ACTS installed, this will switch directly to grid if the output from the inverters dies...

Thanks.
Richard
4.2KW solar
Two MPP 5048MG inverters (71.80)
15.36KWH battery (8 x Zenaji Aeon LTO)
Revlac
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Re: Maintenance strategy for cheaper inverters

Post by Revlac »

Some good questions.
I can answer 2.

Its a good idea to test the spare inverter as soon as possible, had one brand new (out of the box) that didn't work as soon as it was powered up BANG and 09 fault.
Yes it is a good to have some spare parts, but that idea only goes so far, as we don't know what or how much will fail and when.
A spare inverter will have your system up and running while you attempt to repair the other one. Good Idea and I have done this already.

A spare cooling fan or 2 is also good to have, have replaced 2 already and can be done with minimal downtime. :D

Had a fan fail in the second inverter yesterday, replaced that one in a few minuets, unfortunately that didn't work, no fan works on that connection anymore, inverter is running fine without it, no error message or beeping, I suspect a problem on the main board.......Story for another time and place. ;)
4048HS Inverter 2015.
5048HS Inverter with 200AH GFB cells
5048MS Inverter with 200AH GFB cells
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rthorntn
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Re: Maintenance strategy for cheaper inverters

Post by rthorntn »

Thanks, great info!

Are there a list of fans these thing use, how do you know the fan has failed?

How long were your inverters running before the first fan failure?

You replace the fan with minimal downtime, how?

Have you reversed the direction of your fans, apparently on my model the fans pull hot air down, from the top to the bottom of the inverter...?
4.2KW solar
Two MPP 5048MG inverters (71.80)
15.36KWH battery (8 x Zenaji Aeon LTO)
Revlac
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Re: Maintenance strategy for cheaper inverters

Post by Revlac »

Fan failure is 01 fault on the screen and some Beeping, On the 2017 5048HS the inverter cut the output power to avoid overheating when the fan stopped, I'm not sure it it was left or right fan first, this was almost a year ago, fans were ADDA

The second inverter 2018 5048MS (Fans work much harder in this machine) fan failure found yesterday although I had heard the beeping on and off days before, Inverter never stopped working.
Fans on this one are M DA08025B12UH
All fans are blowing air upwards into the main board section, one was like that from new.

The left side Fan replacement was easy (on MS Inverter), power down inverter, remove cover, remove 2 wire connector from com board, remove 2 screws that hold the com board and move the come board out of the way to the left, now have easy access to the 4 screws.
The fan on the right hand side is a little more tricky, perhaps a short angle driver would be better for its removal and replacement.
The HS inverter, I think the PWM board had to be removed as well.
Easy job to do.
The old 2015 4048HS inverter still has original fans running, but the don't run fast and don't run at all with loads less than about 80 Watts.

The fans are sometimes listed as 4 wire PWM fans, no list of fans that I am aware of, fans have different wire colour codes so the pin outs must be Checked to be sure they are correct.

Not all fans will be compatible, there is some details about fans somewhere on the forum.....perhaps the Moderator can put in a link to it. [ Moderator: see this and this post, and perhaps other fan related posts, see the index of that thread. ]

These inverters have several different brands of fans, it seems that some are better than others.

Hope that helps a little bit, other forum members may have some more info about them.
4048HS Inverter 2015.
5048HS Inverter with 200AH GFB cells
5048MS Inverter with 200AH GFB cells
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coulomb
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Re: Maintenance strategy for cheaper inverters

Post by coulomb »

rthorntn wrote: Fri, 17 Jun 2022, 17:07 can all the MPP inverters that support "parallel" interoperate, or should I buy identical spares?
No. This is a problem when looking forward as you are now. To parallel inverters, they have to be identical in most respects: certainly the battery voltage (duh), power (kW and kVA), maximum battery voltage (can't parallel a 64 V model with a 58.4 V model), and they have to be the same family (can't parallel different SCC types, for example). The firmware version doesn't have to be identical, but practically speaking, if they're not, you're asking for trouble. Every 3-15 years or so, there is a fairly major upgrade, e.g. PF0.8 to PF1.0, 58.4 V to 64 V, fixed mono to removable to colour fixed displays, and so on. I think that your plan of keeping one inverter spare and repairing any that fail is a good one, as long as you have the expertise to repair the failed ones.
should I think about holding components of the inverters in spares?
Before the general semiconductor shortage, I would have said no, no need. Hopefully, we'll be over the worst of it in a few months to a year. So I think the answer is still no.
So presumably one inverter will die first, so I need a way of figuring out the second it dies, some kind of alerting...
Generally, there is no problem realising that one inverter has failed. The monitoring you have now sounds fine.
Is there a way to backup the config, so that when I replace an inverter I can upload all the settings?
In the removable display models and later, yes there is, and it's not a generally acknowledged or used facility. Search your manual for "Export data log". This writes a file of commands to a file on a USB stick. I'm not totally clear on how to restore using those commands, but at worst, you could read the file contents and manually restore settings.
Finally, when should I just proactively replace these, based on the quality of components how long should these last, 5 years, opinions sought on what you would do?
I assume you mean replace the whole inverter. But you never know if it will chug on for another 5 years after any given point. I do recommend pro-actively replacing the battery-side capacitors with long life components even when the inverter is new, but at any age if not already done. Both my inverters are so upgraded (and MOSFETs as well, but this doesn't seem to be a burning requirement any more, so to speak). See the index of the PIP-5048 etc thread for details.
I also need to have my Latronics ACTS installed, this will switch directly to grid if the output from the inverters dies...
Yes, I find something like this is invaluable. It means that you can work on both inverters if necessary without disturbing the household. I have a 63 A rated 4-pole changeover contactor (2 x NO, 2 x NC contacts, made by Hager) taking up a lot of space in my switchboard for just this purpose. It has a 240 VAC coil, powered by the inverters' outputs, that selects the inverter output, and if not present, grid input. At around $100, it's probably a fair bit cheaper than a Latronics or other automatic transfer switch. Running 24/7, I've had to replace it once, though it might have been a second hand contactor that had a hard life switching once a day before I owned it. Replacing it was a chore.

My system is 5½ years old now. Apart from one incident apparently caused by near-by lightning, it's been totally reliable. Just today, there was a scheduled power outage; it seems that a section of underground cable had to be replaced following the (now not so) recent flooding in Brisbane. For many weeks, there had been a piece of ground level cable, well protected over driveways and the like, stretching over several houses on the other side of our street. It joined two "toadstools" (green boxes housing "low voltage" connections and fuses to individual premises). The replacement took them many hours, and involved two days of a noisy diesel powered vacuum suction truck removing water from the trench, fed by nearby saturated soil. Today is 4 days from the shortest day of the year, so while I had to be a little careful with power, it really didn't affect me much.
MG ZS EV 2021 April 2021.
Nissan Leaf 2012 with new battery May 2019.
5650 W solar, 2xPIP-4048MS inverters, 16 kWh battery.
1.4 kW solar with 1.2 kW Latronics inverter and FIT.
Patching PIP-4048/5048 inverter-chargers.
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Re: Maintenance strategy for cheaper inverters

Post by coulomb »

Revlac wrote: Fri, 17 Jun 2022, 19:46 Not all fans will be compatible,
The main problem that caused Weber to have to replace the original fans for one of his customers is possibly understood now.

This post explains that some Noctua fans (Weber was using this brand) have a "stops at 0% PWM" feature. It may be that if you get one of the many fan models without that feature, that the intermittent "locked rotor" fault won't happen. However, soon after 2016, most firmwares run the fans at 30% minimum PWM, which may prevent this problem, even if your fan does have the "stops at zero PWM" feature. Any of the Axpert VM models may be an exception to this; I believe that at least one of the fans is always fully on or fully off. So for these "value" models, it may be necessary to use a fan without that feature.

Thanks to PowerForum reader LionKing for that explanation and suggestion.
MG ZS EV 2021 April 2021.
Nissan Leaf 2012 with new battery May 2019.
5650 W solar, 2xPIP-4048MS inverters, 16 kWh battery.
1.4 kW solar with 1.2 kW Latronics inverter and FIT.
Patching PIP-4048/5048 inverter-chargers.
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rthorntn
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Re: Maintenance strategy for cheaper inverters

Post by rthorntn »

Thank you @Revlac!

Thank you @coulomb!

I need to process all of this and map out my strategy!
4.2KW solar
Two MPP 5048MG inverters (71.80)
15.36KWH battery (8 x Zenaji Aeon LTO)
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