Skybox user feedback

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wahlmanc
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Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2021 6:19 am

Skybox user feedback

Post by wahlmanc »

Hi, I'm new to the forum, and was looking into purchasing a Skybox to update/upgrade my small off grid setup. Pretty much starting over, as my old system was 24v based, and my flooded lead acid batteries have reached the end of their life. I want my new 48v system to operate in a grid zero config and occasionally use the batteries down to a certain voltage, while keeping a portion of capacity in reserve for power outages. Have already ordered 10kWh of LiFePO4 batteries.

Can any of you share the pros and cons you've experienced with the Skybox? Did it meet your needs / operate as advertised? Will it work for the needs I've stated above? If you had to do it all over again, would you purchase? Just looking for some real user feedback to help with my decision. Thanks!
wahlmanc
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Re: Skybox user feedback

Post by wahlmanc »

Quiet group.... :grin:
fcwlp
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Posts: 877
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:40 am
My RE system: GS8048A, FM80 w/3,600W PV Fixed, FM80 w/2,700W on Zomeworks tracker, Mate3, 24 Trojan 2V L16 1100AH @ C20, Grid-Tied with Kohler 14RESA LPG Generator and MEP-803 Diesel if needed.

I install and maintain grid-tied and off-grid systems in my area and consult on solar system design/operation.
Location: 80 miles NE of Phoenix at 5500'

Re: Skybox user feedback

Post by fcwlp »

What do you need to power? The Skybox is a 5,000VA system with limited surge capability.
sbrownian
Forum Czar
Posts: 655
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2020 9:23 am
My RE system: GS8048 FM80 FNDC Mate3 4 port HUB
4kw solar
7kw Kubota propane gen
Off grid.
Originally installed with 1200 AH of FLA Locomotive batts.
Replaced after 9 years of service with 2 x 300 AH ReLion Lithium packs.
MUCH more efficient!!
Location: Central Washington State

Re: Skybox user feedback

Post by sbrownian »

No requirements mentioned, other than 'small' and "have 10kwh of LiFePo" ordered.
Information, you get not; if incorrect question, you ask..
raysun
Forum Emperor
Posts: 5622
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:57 am
My RE system: Flexpower Two: (2) FXR3048A-01, (2) FM80, MATE3s, FlexNetDC
SimpliPhi 48-3.8 (6 @ 48v)
Outback IBR3 battery enclosure
REC Alpha 440W panels - 2 arrays: each of 4 strings of 2 in series
Honda EU7000is gas fuel generator

Re: Skybox user feedback

Post by raysun »

I'm not a Skybox user so have little specific to add, but there are lots of posts on the subject that will turn up by searching for "Skybox".

One nugget I've gleaned from scanning the posts is Skybox seems particular about battery models used. Hopefully the battery on order is compatible.

Skybox has several "smart" operating modes. Much of the discussion on the Skybox threads seems to center around the differences between what the user thought the Skybox does (or should do in their view) and how it actually operates.

I'd suggest detailing your proposed use case as completely as possible, including expected loads, charging capabilities, etc., so that the experienced Skybox users can have a clearer picture to work with.
wahlmanc
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Re: Skybox user feedback

Post by wahlmanc »

Ordered 2.4 kW of solar panels (8 panels) with Voc of 40V - wired in series gives me 320 V - string1
Currently have 1.2kW of solar on existing string (6 panels) with a Voc of 22.5 - wired in series give me 135V - string 2

EG4 Lithium batteries w/ BMS at 48v - 5.2kWh - 2 wired in parallel

Minimum critical loads are 2 deep freezers and 1 refrigerator

Want to offset grid power without selling back to utility and have backup battery power for occasional power outages to power the above critical loads. Want ability to also hook up a portable generator to assist when grid is down and inclement weather occurs

Hopefully that gives some background info. I do have some concerns with how the skybox may work with my battery. Is it battery agnostic? Can it operate well with custom defined battery settings and not talk to the BMS? Seems like the unit is geared towards compatibility to the more expensive battery manufacturers. Does anyone have a homemade battery or Chinese off branded battery in use with their skybox?

I see a lot of posts of folks rebooting the unit to clear unexpected errors. Is this a regular occurrence? How often are firmware updates released?
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Mike Curran
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Posts: 2479
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:28 pm
My RE system: Outback - Garage roof:
- 8 (2x4) Evergreen 180's into one FM80 (2007/2020 - replaced MX60)
- 6 (2×3) ALEO S79-300's into one FM80 (2017)
- 2 grid-tied VFXR3524A-01's series stacked, replaced GVFX's (2020)
- 12 Surrette/Rolls 2V x 1766Ah (2007)
- Hub10.3, Mate3s, FNDC, RTS. Tigo ES maximizers on each PV module.

Westinghouse Solar - Barn roof: (2012)
- 30 (2x15) 235W panels with Enphase M215 microinverters, grid-tied

Outback Skybox - Barn roof: (2019)
- 14 Talesun 275W in series (DC array input to SB inverter/charger)
- 3 SimpliPhi 3.8 batteries, 48V, 225Ah total
- AC coupled input from 14 Talesun 275W, Enphase M215 microinverters

Battery systems operate in grid-tied, battery backup mode
All self-designed and self-installed
Location: Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Re: Skybox user feedback

Post by Mike Curran »

Skybox will accept 2 separate PV array strings, but the arrays must be of identical modules because Skybox applies just one MPPT algorithm to both arrays. Also, each array must have a minimum 250V open circuit voltage, else Skybox will not "turn on". Your string 2 would not work with Skybox. Maximum 5000 watts of DC PV input.

You can set up custom battery parameters with skybox. It also has pre-programmed parameters for those expensive lithium options you referred to. It will operate without a connection to your battery's BMS.

Skybox has inputs for both grid and generator. The current firmware does not allow the generator to recharge your battery unless there's a minimum 600W load - a "feature" I dislike, and for which I haven't seen an explanation. The generator will support your loads during an outage.
Want to offset grid power without selling back to utility and have backup battery power for occasional power outages to power the above critical loads.
Skybox will certainly meet your operational needs using "non-export" mode, as described here (along with other options):
Screenshot_20210720-212009_Adobe Acrobat.jpg
The last firmware update was in August, 2020.

This webinar may be informative: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=G4C8JVWeqgg
https://smart.tigoenergy.com/p/pZXn7SZQyO45?date=2021-04-19
https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/Hctc107221
Ampster
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Posts: 211
Joined: Sat Apr 11, 2015 5:14 pm
My RE system: 7.9 kW self installed Enphase system in application for PTO. Phase Two will include a Skybox, a heat pump water heater and two heat pump/AC systems plus more PV panels. The Skybox will be powered by a 42 kWh pack of LFP batteries and will be used in self consumption mode for load shifting and backup.
Location: Kenwood, Northern California

Re: Skybox user feedback

Post by Ampster »

raysun wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 8:47 pm .....

One nugget I've gleaned from scanning the posts is Skybox seems particular about battery models used. Hopefully the battery on order is compatible.
.........
I have been using a Skybox for three years with two different battery chemistries and have had no issue with battery compatibility. It is simply a matter of setting the correct constant current and constant voltage for the battery configuration being used. It may be important for Skybox users to rely actual experience from other Skybox users rather than compound hearsay.

However the Skybox was designed to be grid interactive and if the OP is off grid another Ouback product would better suit his needs. The OP talks about being off grid in one post but in another post mentions a grid connection.
Drive Tesla Model X and Model 3 which are charged at Super Off Peak rates.
Electrictrauma
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Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:18 pm
My RE system: Skybox 24 260 watt panels, 2 12 string kong 48 volt 233 amp lipo4 battery 12k watts

Re: Skybox user feedback

Post by Electrictrauma »

I got some different answers from tech support when I started, until I was referred to a consultant ….you are kinda on your own. And yes the faults can be mysterious, especially if they seem to occur randomly and cause you to have a reboot. I installed a new battery bank and still get a fault every few days. I experiment with the settings and hopefully will get it dialed in.
So that is my biggest complaint…alot of little quirks and sometimes no answers as well as being an early adopter and paying way more than todays list price!
mhspohr
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Posts: 115
Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2019 8:56 am
My RE system: 6.6 kW SolarWorld/Enphase and 2.6 kW Sunpower/SMA in Main house
4.4 kW REC string into second Skybox in detached Cottage
Skybox "Bristlecone" with 14.3 kWh LiFePO4 (used for power outage backup)
Skybox "Bristlecone2" with 5 kWh SLA (not currently active since "stacked" operation not working)
Skybox "Cottage1" with 14.3 kWh LiFePO4 (used for power outage backup)
Tesla 2015 Model S 85D and Tesla 2016 Model X charged from the sun.

Re: Skybox user feedback

Post by mhspohr »

To your battery question.
I have used both SLA and LiFePO4 batteries with my Skyboxes. You have access to a lot of battery parameters which you can customize to your batteries. There are several battery threads to get you started on setting parameters. The defaults provided are limited to several brands of batteries but you can modify just about everything about the batteries.
I've set up my LiFePO4 batteries (Chinese 280 ah cells 16S) and they seem to work well with the parameters I've set. I started with the Simplifi preset and then modified a few things (size, ah, etc.). Some of the things like min and max voltage can be changed... it seems these batteries have longer life if you keep them between 20% and 80% rather than fully charging them.
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