1. Do I need batteries with your inverters or charge controllers?
Yes, all our products are battery-based and designed to work with batteries. All our inverters and charge controllers require a DC source at the correct voltage in order to operate as designed.
2. What kind of batteries can I use with these products?
The most typical renewable energy batteries are deep-cycle flooded lead-acid, absorbed glass mat, or gel-cell technologies. Automotive or “starting” batteries are not considered a good fit as the cell plates are thin and designed for high current, short duration applications. Lithium batteries are sometimes used for special applications and can work with the products as long as the battery management system (BMS) is compatible with the product’s constant-current/ constant-voltage battery charging algorithm.
3. How does your battery charging algorithm work?
Both the inverter and charge controller’s work by first delivering a constant current charge to the batteries until a target voltage is reached. This is called the “bulk” charging stage. Once the batteries have reached the approximate target voltage, the charger then switches from constant current to a constant voltage mode. This is called the “absorb” mode. During this phase the charger slowly reduces the charging current to maintain a steady charging voltage. The last stage of the charge cycle is called “float”. This is when the charger reduces target to a pre-set lower voltage and delivers a “trickle” or “maintenance” charge to keep the batteries at a “full” or “charged” state. These inverters can also enter a “Silent” mode and shut the charger off completely at the end of a charge cycle. This allows the battery voltage to naturally drift down to a preset level at which point the inverter will begin “Float” charging the batteries again. This mode will save small amounts of energy and depending on the technology is sometimes more effective at maintaining a battery. These voltage set-points are battery dependent and are obtained from the battery vendor.
4. I want to go off-grid from the utility. What do I need?
Minimum requirements for an off-grid AC system are: battery bank and inverter(s). Additional items dependent on specific need and geographic location: AC/DC generator, charge controller(s) solar panels, wind turbine, micro-hydroturbine, diversion load, propane appliances. First step is to determine your load
profile, power requirements, available renewable resources and available budget. Based on your findings the battery bank, inverter and renewable energy sources can be balanced into the optimum system for your needs. A professional system designer/installer can be a great resource for system sizing and budget pricing.
5. How do I know if my inverter is working?
If you suspect that your inverter is not working, there are several easy troubleshooting steps to verify this. Check to see that the correct DC voltage is present on the black and red DC input terminals of the inverter. If the correct DC voltage is present then verify that there is no AC output from the AC output terminals of the inverter. If not then check screen or LED to see what the indicator is displaying. Last step is to try cycling the DC input breakers on the inverter. If there is still no power up, then call our tech support team at: 08027924288.
6. My generator is running but my batteries are not getting charged, why?
First step is to verify that the AC input breaker is closed. A quick glance at the display should reveal and give idea what could be wrong. You can also confirm that AC power is present by measuring directly on the AC Input terminals of the inverter. If power is present on the AC input then verify what mode the inverter is in. If it says “Charged” then that means the inverter has completed a charge cycle and has deliberately shut off its charger. To force a bulk charge and verify that the charger is working there are several options. One method that works with the off-grid inverters is to simply cycle the AC Input breaker. Once the inverter
reconnects it should reinitiate a full charge cycle.
7. How many solar panels can I connect to your charge controller?
The quantity and configuration of solar panels depends on several factors: Battery voltage, panel specifications and geographic location. Sizing of a system is not that difficult if certain parameters are understood and factored into the configuration. Many people use a “string-sizing program”.
8. Do you have certifications for your products?
Our products comply with certain regulatory requirements that vary depending the product and country it was designed for.
9. How do I size the breakers and wires within my system?
Contrary to popular belief breakers and fuses are not designed to protect a device but rather to protect the conductor that they are connected to. Therefore, it is important to size the breakers and wires so that the breaker will trip and open before the conductor(s) overheat. Wire and breaker sizing should be done by a qualified professional. In order to size breakers and wires, the first step should be to determine the appropriate wire size for the installation and load carrying requirements. Another factor to wire sizing is to ensure that the voltage drop on the conductors is within an acceptable range. Depending on the type of application a conductor voltage drop from 1% to 5% can be deemed a suitable match. There are various reference tables and online tools that can be used for sizing of both the conductor and breaker. All our inverter systems and wiring kits have breakers that are correctly paired to the appropriate size of wire. All wiring external to the product system will have to be factored carefully for safety and maximum system performance.
10. What kind of inverter do I need?
We have many flavors of inverter. Everything from a 0.8kVA single phase unit and all the way to 100kVA three phase inverters. The first step in choosing an inverter system is to determine what your requirements are. There are many types of applications but four main categories: backup, grid-interactive, off- grid and mobile. Back-up type applications are designed to backup the utility grid power only. This takes the place of a generator and can act in a UPS-like fashion with transfer speeds less than 20mS. Grid-Interactive applications provide the same benefits as Back-Up. This is typically done using a renewable source like: solar, wind, water or even biomass. Off-Grid is relatively self explanatory and allows you to create your own utility grid when none is available. This can be accomplished with just an inverter and battery bank, but usually includes a generator and maybe solar, wind or water to help recharge the batteries. Mobile is the fourth category and is very similar to the Off-Grid or Back-Up applications. It allows you to take the grid power with you on a trailer, boat or RV. If you are unsure of what your system needs are we can help point you in the right direction. Give us a call 08027924288
11. How do I size a system?
This is a great question and very common. There are many factors to be used when designing a system. Considerations have to be made for: application, budget, location and load requirements. The first step is to decide on your application. The four main applications are: Back-up, Grid-Interactive, Off-Grid and Mobile. Once you have determined that, the next step is to determine what your requirements are. This includes: load requirements, inverter and type, battery bank size and technology and accessories like generators, charge controllers, wind turbines and solar panels. There are many experienced individuals in the renewable energy industry that make a living by designing and installing such systems. We can help point you in the right direction. Give us a call at 08027924288
12. What kind of battery maintenance do I need to do?
Batteries are a very important part of an Inverter system because they are at the heart and integral to the system’s operation. Depending on battery technology the maintenance schedule will vary. FLA or flooded lead-acid batteries require distilled water to be added at intervals. They also vent hydrogen gas when charging above certain voltages and this requires some kind of venting measure. Absorbed glass mat or gell cell batteries have special vents installed that ensure the release of pressure and gas during a charging cycle, but are not designed for active maintenance such as adding water. Because of this inherent design, AGM and gell-cell batteries require less maintenance than a flooded-lead-acid battery. All batteries should be installed in temperature stable and clean environments if possible. Covering the exposed battery terminals with an insulative rubber coating like liquid electrical tape can help reduce corrision. Also, keeping the battery tops and terminals clean from build up of electrolyte and dirt on the case is prudent as well. If possible, verifying that the battery terminals are torqued to the specified amount. This is more critical in a mobile application that has the potential for vibration. Last but not least the three most common causes o f early battery failure are repetitive over-discharging, repetive under-charging or not charging at all. Batteries self-discharge on a continuous basis and must be charged regularly.
13. Why does my breaker keep tripping?
A breaker is designed to open when a certain amount of current for a certain amount of time passes through it. Every breaker is rated to carry a certain amount of current and has a specified trip curve that plots current versus time. Although it does happen, a breaker failure is very rare. The more likely cause is from excessive current through that breaker. If a breaker immediately trips and when reset instantly trips again, there is most likely a direct electrical short. At that time a qualified professional should be involved to ensure safety and proper repair of the short. If a breaker trips occasionally or during certain events then it could be caused by excessive current. This could be anything like too much current through a charge controller when peak sun conditions occur to someone turning on too many household appliances that are on a common circuit.
14. How much battery capacity should I have for my grid-interactive inverter system?
This is a common question with folks looking to install a grid-interactive inverter, but want a small and low cost battery bank. There is no one right answer, but there are some good guidelines to follow.
DO NOT: use starting or automotive batteries. These will quickly fail and will
bring down system operating efficiency through their internal charging losses.
DO: use a deep cycle battery. Deep cycle batteries have thicker cell plates and are
designed for longer life.
DO: use a minimum of 100 amp-hour batteries for 1.4kVA of grid-interactive
inverters. And 200aH deep cycle batteries for much higher capacity inverters.