Outback communication cables

Mate3 and Mate3s communications devices for Outback Power
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EA6LE-ONE
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My RE system: System 1:
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2 x EnergyCell 48V 2700RE,
1 x FLEXnet DC, 6 x FLEXware ICS Plus,
78 x PANASONIC VBHN325SA17 325W

System 2:
MATE3s, Radian GS8048A,
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1 x EnergyCell 48V 2700RE,
1 x FLEXnet DC, 2 x FLEXware ICS
21 x PANASONIC VBHN325SA17 325W
Location: Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Isl.

Outback communication cables

Post by EA6LE-ONE »

I just replaced 6 outback communication cables on my main system and just for curiosity I dissected one and not a big surprise:
cable2.jpg
It seems that are not built like network cables and that why many had problems with them.

It not twisted and the conductor is not copper.

For comparation I took the picture next to a proper CAT6 shielded cable.

So will probably be the best to change all the cables between the HUB and devices, specially the ones from the inverters. Also just go for good quality shielded ones.

I will keep an eye on my system with the new cables to see if I still see get the config messages. was suggested by outback support to change the cables with shielded ones specially if in proximity of power cables.
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Re: Outback communication cables

Post by JRHill »

Because OB has its own proprietary communication I wonder if it really matters. Or maybe there are conductors that could be twisted but aren't. Since OB allows for such a long cable between the hub and Mate I have to wonder. One thing is for sure and barring a connector/conductor problem a good cable built for networking seems to work just as good as the OB cable. But Mr. Eagle-One I think you know much more about this stuff than I do.
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Re: Outback communication cables

Post by raysun »

I'd think, while UTP Cat5/6 cables would work as substitutes for the OB "Green" cables used for device/Hub communication, it isn't necessarily an improvement.

I suspect the communications protocol is some form of current loop. Similar protocols, like RS422, are pretty robust on a wide variety of distribution circuits.

The twisted pairs would serve to add capacitance to the line. Not sure that would make much difference.

Shielded cables always sound good on paper, but in practice cause more problems than they cure in many installations. Being able to connect the drain wires to a "solid" ground point is not the least of the issues most folks wrestle with.

No harm in putting in "clean" cables. Especially in salt-air and other corrosive environments, where the connectors are subject to corrosion.
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Re: Outback communication cables

Post by fcwlp »

EA6LE-ONE wrote: Sun Apr 11, 2021 2:14 pm ...the conductor is not copper.

For comparation I took the picture next to a proper CAT6 shielded cable.

So will probably be the best to change all the cables between the HUB and devices, specially the ones from the inverters. Also just go for good quality shielded ones.
My guess is the conductor is a tinned copper. I have found on FLEXPower 2 systems that shielded Ethernet cables from hub to inverters eliminate the firmware mismatch errors.
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EA6LE-ONE
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My RE system: System 1:
MATE3s, 3 x Radian GS8048A,
6 x FLEXmax 100, HUB10,
2 x EnergyCell 48V 2700RE,
1 x FLEXnet DC, 6 x FLEXware ICS Plus,
78 x PANASONIC VBHN325SA17 325W

System 2:
MATE3s, Radian GS8048A,
2 x FLEXmax 100, HUB10
1 x EnergyCell 48V 2700RE,
1 x FLEXnet DC, 2 x FLEXware ICS
21 x PANASONIC VBHN325SA17 325W
Location: Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Isl.

Re: Outback communication cables

Post by EA6LE-ONE »

fcwlp wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 12:31 pm

My guess is the conductor is a tinned copper.
I tried to scrape it but is too thin to really see if there is copper at the core. I don't think is aluminum as is not that soft.
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Re: Outback communication cables

Post by raysun »

fcwlp wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 12:31 pm
My guess is the conductor is a tinned copper. I have found on FLEXPower 2 systems that shielded Ethernet cables from hub to inverters eliminate the firmware mismatch errors.
That's interesting to note. If I ever have a firmware mismatch error on my FP2, I'll keep this in mind.

Did you ground the drain wire?
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Re: Outback communication cables

Post by fcwlp »

raysun wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 3:36 pm Did you ground the drain wire?
no
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Re: Outback communication cables

Post by raysun »

fcwlp wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 9:00 pm
raysun wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 3:36 pm Did you ground the drain wire?
no
Hmmm... so its just foil jacketed cable then?
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My RE system: System 1:
MATE3s, 3 x Radian GS8048A,
6 x FLEXmax 100, HUB10,
2 x EnergyCell 48V 2700RE,
1 x FLEXnet DC, 6 x FLEXware ICS Plus,
78 x PANASONIC VBHN325SA17 325W

System 2:
MATE3s, Radian GS8048A,
2 x FLEXmax 100, HUB10
1 x EnergyCell 48V 2700RE,
1 x FLEXnet DC, 2 x FLEXware ICS
21 x PANASONIC VBHN325SA17 325W
Location: Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Isl.

Re: Outback communication cables

Post by EA6LE-ONE »

I think the bleeder wire will be benefic on long cables specially if they are in the same conduit with power cables. and also good for outside runs in case of lightning and EMP events.
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REC Alpha 440W panels - 2 arrays: each of 4 strings of 2 in series
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Re: Outback communication cables

Post by raysun »

This particular topic has the potential of being one of the deepest rabbit holes known to man.
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My RE system: System 1:
MATE3s, 3 x Radian GS8048A,
6 x FLEXmax 100, HUB10,
2 x EnergyCell 48V 2700RE,
1 x FLEXnet DC, 6 x FLEXware ICS Plus,
78 x PANASONIC VBHN325SA17 325W

System 2:
MATE3s, Radian GS8048A,
2 x FLEXmax 100, HUB10
1 x EnergyCell 48V 2700RE,
1 x FLEXnet DC, 2 x FLEXware ICS
21 x PANASONIC VBHN325SA17 325W
Location: Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Isl.

Re: Outback communication cables

Post by EA6LE-ONE »

raysun wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 6:11 am This particular topic has the potential of being one of the deepest rabbit holes known to man.
I guess is good to try shielded cables if you encounter problems with normal cables. let stop at this and forget about Alice.
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My RE system: System 1:
MATE3s, 3 x Radian GS8048A,
6 x FLEXmax 100, HUB10,
2 x EnergyCell 48V 2700RE,
1 x FLEXnet DC, 6 x FLEXware ICS Plus,
78 x PANASONIC VBHN325SA17 325W

System 2:
MATE3s, Radian GS8048A,
2 x FLEXmax 100, HUB10
1 x EnergyCell 48V 2700RE,
1 x FLEXnet DC, 2 x FLEXware ICS
21 x PANASONIC VBHN325SA17 325W
Location: Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Isl.

Re: Outback communication cables

Post by EA6LE-ONE »

just a piece of advice, if you have more than one inverter you should shut them down before change the communication cables. maybe will be smart to switch all the system off if you change all the cables. I didn't and luckily was no big load at the time and went ahead with only a short stacking error. with the FNDC I had to reset it once more when battery reached 100%.
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Re: Outback communication cables

Post by sbrownian »

And watch out for ground loops..

(Tripping over the edge of the rabbit hole..)
Information, you get not; if incorrect question, you ask..
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6 x FLEXmax 100, HUB10,
2 x EnergyCell 48V 2700RE,
1 x FLEXnet DC, 6 x FLEXware ICS Plus,
78 x PANASONIC VBHN325SA17 325W

System 2:
MATE3s, Radian GS8048A,
2 x FLEXmax 100, HUB10
1 x EnergyCell 48V 2700RE,
1 x FLEXnet DC, 2 x FLEXware ICS
21 x PANASONIC VBHN325SA17 325W
Location: Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Isl.

Re: Outback communication cables

Post by EA6LE-ONE »

sbrownian wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 8:15 am And watch out for ground loops..

(Tripping over the edge of the rabbit hole..)
I was thinking the same if you use the bleeding wire should be connected only to one end of the cable.
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REC Alpha 440W panels - 2 arrays: each of 4 strings of 2 in series
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Re: Outback communication cables

Post by raysun »

EA6LE-ONE wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 8:46 am
sbrownian wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 8:15 am And watch out for ground loops..

(Tripping over the edge of the rabbit hole..)
I was thinking the same if you use the bleeding wire should be connected only to one end of the cable.
That's the correct way to ground a shield.

Ungrounded = Antenna
Grounded both ends = Current loop

I like my rabbit stewed and served over polenta.
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