Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Discussion about the FM100 AFCI Charge Controller
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The Electron
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Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by The Electron »

Hello all:) Have 2 new units, firmware 2.0.1 AFCI version, that i need to patch in to replace a couple burnt controllers.

First off, one had a jumper on the (aux) terminals, (the other didn't), the unit with the jumper faulted out with fault for that, removed jumper, now it's happy just booting up (Outback installing those little wire jumpers from the 2nd to the 3rd terminals from the right? How's come? Just curious:)

The CT for AFCI simply generates current if the the PV inputs become imbalanced, correct? So, will the controller work without routing the PV wires thru it? (not routed thru the CT for now due to stiff cold wires that barely reached the terminals, upgrade to bigger yet more flexible wire forthcoming)

Will it work with the BTS unplugged?

Had to install these last night in the dark, they happily connected to the mate3, and i can see them on optics remotely. But the status says they are "Silent" - before i head up there, any settings i am unaware of keeping these chargers asleep?

Tnx much!!
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Re: Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by fcwlp »

The Electron wrote: Tue May 09, 2023 2:06 pm The CT for AFCI simply generates current if the the PV inputs become imbalanced, correct? So, will the controller work without routing the PV wires thru it? (not routed thru the CT for now due to stiff cold wires that barely reached the terminals, upgrade to bigger yet more flexible wire forthcoming)
The coil is attached to chassis with a zip tie that you are supposed to cut. Should be easy to reposition even with short wires.
The Electron wrote: Tue May 09, 2023 2:06 pm Will it work with the BTS unplugged?
No issue with BTS unplugged
.
Your profile sounds like some of my customers. :eek:
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Re: Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by JRKsolar »

Unit will work without wires through the donut, but won't have at afci function. If you can get one wire through it'll work with lower sensitivity. If you use both wires, check the manual because they have to go through in opposite directions.
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Re: Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by EA6LE-ONE »

The Electron wrote: Tue May 09, 2023 2:06 pm Hello all:) Have 2 new units, firmware 2.0.1 AFCI version, that i need to patch in to replace a couple burnt controllers.

First off, one had a jumper on the (aux) terminals, (the other didn't), the unit with the jumper faulted out with fault for that, removed jumper, now it's happy just booting up (Outback installing those little wire jumpers from the 2nd to the 3rd terminals from the right? How's come? Just curious:)

The CT for AFCI simply generates current if the the PV inputs become imbalanced, correct? So, will the controller work without routing the PV wires thru it? (not routed thru the CT for now due to stiff cold wires that barely reached the terminals, upgrade to bigger yet more flexible wire forthcoming)

Will it work with the BTS unplugged?

Had to install these last night in the dark, they happily connected to the mate3, and i can see them on optics remotely. But the status says they are "Silent" - before i head up there, any settings i am unaware of keeping these chargers asleep?

Tnx much!!
The jumper between 2 and 3 is needed for the CC to function. is removed if you have OutBack Power RSI or another protection system. all CC should come with a jumper between 2 and 3, i had one that came without, just installed a jumper and was working fine.
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Re: Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by The Electron »

Thanks Eagle, strangely the one with the jumper was the one registered a fault, removed it, fault cleared, so not sure why that was occuring, but will def try that next trip up there!

Anyone run into this before?
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Re: Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by EA6LE-ONE »

The Electron wrote: Fri May 12, 2023 7:01 am Thanks Eagle, strangely the one with the jumper was the one registered a fault, removed it, fault cleared, so not sure why that was occuring, but will def try that next trip up there!

Anyone run into this before?
Be sure the each CC has its own PV array, you can't connect 2 CCs on the same array.
I don't have the FM100 with AFCI. Read the manual how multiple CCs should be installed. I think only one FM100 should have the GFDI fuse installed. I don't see any use for CTs with the FM100afci in the manual.
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Re: Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by The Electron »

Oh, they def have their own arrays. Some inconsistency with that jumper for sure, any info OB? I'll hit the book tonite, on a road trip, tnx much guys
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Re: Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by raysun »

I don't see any use for CTs with the FM100afci in the manual.
Is it possible the "CT" is an RF sensor for the AFCI function? Most arc fault detectors are actually detecting low frequency AM RF emitted by the arc and impressed on the conductors.
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21 x PANASONIC VBHN325SA17 325W
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Re: Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by EA6LE-ONE »

raysun wrote: Fri May 12, 2023 11:57 am
I don't see any use for CTs with the FM100afci in the manual.
Is it possible the "CT" is an RF sensor for the AFCI function? Most arc fault detectors are actually detecting low frequency AM RF emitted by the arc and impressed on the conductors.
There is a sensing coil inside the FM100AFCI. no other external sensor.

From the manual:
"The AFCI function requires the PV wires to pass through the sensing coil. The AFCI function performs optimally with positive and negative wires inserted in opposite directions through the coil. If only one wire fits, it should be the non-grounded conductor. "
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Re: Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by raysun »

Thanks for the clarification.
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Re: Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by The Electron »

Sorry for the delay in updating this. Yep, they both just needed the jumper in the rapid shutdown terminals....yet there is indeed a ghost in the machines. (the unit with a jumper was throwing a fault that day on initial power up, the unit without the jumper was not, so i def had the jumper (between terminals 2 and 3) backwards in my mind. Haste made waste that day by not reading simple directions in the box;)

Both of these units get stuck in silent mode (yet unlike the other examples I have seen here, these 2 stay in the hub10 network and are still in optics as well) Here is what i posted about this today:
viewtopic.php?t=17407

Here are a few related threads:
viewtopic.php?t=17352
viewtopic.php?t=15953
The Electron
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Re: Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by The Electron »

Update: Pulled the afci cards for now, kept getting seemingly false trips that are odd(never showed on optics, and only one CC showed on the mate). So far so good after 4 days, dialing in the mppt. BUT crazy wild false erroneous bits and bytes displaying in Event History. Next time up to site, will look closer at that. (Ground jumper(J4) is on right position (not connecting "A-GND"). At least it 'seems' that the existing 5 radians(with AGS) and these 2 new cc's are happily doing their thing...
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Re: Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by raysun »

Reminds me of all the consternation amongst the yachting crowd when marinas were forced to upgrade dockside power pedestals to AFCI. Suddenly, onboard power systems that had been working without issue would trip AFCI, and disconnect shore power for no discernable reason.
Turns out, AFCI, the latest in circuit protection, relies on one of the oldest detection schemes possible. Arc Faults generate Radio Frequency impulses. AFCI circuits detect RFI on the conductors, assume its an arc fault, and open the circuit. Unfortunately, RFI can be impressed on circuits by sources other than Arc Faults. Often, grounding issues can lead to stray RF pickup. That's not the only cause, and AFCI continues to be a boon and bane in somewhat equal measure. Home installations trip spontaneously. Yachters continue to be vexed. Now, solar power generation is "enjoying the benefits" of AFCI. Don't take it wrong, AFCI is a valuable protection mechanism. However, externalities can cause it to misbehave. Sounds like there may be something to explore down this avenue.
If in a jurisdiction that doesn't require AFCI, then perhaps just making sure the PV array wiring is in good condition may be sufficient.
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Re: Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by The Electron »

A great summary Raysun! This installation has multiple pole mounts for the array, buried conduit all the way, and a locked cinder block room for all the controls (ALL the controls.... yep a plethora of spurious emissions in that room! I feel like that photoshopped pic of Nikola Tesla reading next to his arcing coil in there;) :cool:

Now to poke around in here and see who all else has had the mate report numerous false/non-sensical Config messages with a Mate3S, Radians (GSA's), and these new(made late winter)100's. I do have the little ground jumper set for playing well with all 3 devices.....
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Re: Just To Get an AFCI model up and running

Post by raysun »

I was helping a friend who was helping a friend with a truly "ghetto" solar PV installation. I won't go into the ways this system was bogus, did unintionally wow the onlookers with some fancy "spark magic". The 500W PV array is a bit trivial in "danger" terms, but the complaint was when it was hooked up to a cheap PWM controller and 12V battery, the charger fried. Taking a fast voltage read of the PV +/- yielded 125VDC. The 5 100W panels were wired in series. Not wishing to navigate the roof, be witness to a wire-nutted nightmare, I was going to tell the owner she needed a 150v MPPT controller. But what current rating? It was a sunny day, and I assumed the array was in the neighborhood of max power, so set my trusty Fluke to 10A to measure I(sc). Getting the expected 7A, I slowly disengaged the PV- lead, drawing an amazingly intense blue arc. Carefully replacing then withdrawing the lead allowed me to create a 2" arc.
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