FM 100 Arc fault

Discussion about the FM100, FM80, and FM60 Charge Controllers

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guerrillasolarguy
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My RE system: Flexware 500 with two FX3648 Grid tied with a modest battery bank. 7200 watts of Solarworld. One FM80 wired two panels in series, the other wired in three. Mate 2.

FM 100 Arc fault

Post by guerrillasolarguy »

There seems to be a learning curve every time I use a new outback product. Off grid system on an all metal building (home). Factory pre-wired Radian 8048 is a year old with two FM100's (300V). Arc faults began happening about a month or two after instal. They were easily reset and sporadic in their occurrence. The last time I was there, I was going to re-wire the charge controllers to be outside the loop that detects arc-fault. Found several FACTORY connections that were so loose, I could have pulled the wires loose from their lugs so I figured that was the major cause of the arc faults.
Side note....I've NEVER installed an inverter or piece of electrical equipment that came with loose factory connections. Don't tell me they got that loose in shipping. They were not torqued properly from wherever they are put together.
I was told by technical support that the arc fault detection is very sensitive and can be tripped by nearby AC current. Any chance the arc fault detection level can be adjusted on future models (or like Midnite) so they won't keep on nuisance tripping? Not on optics re. I was hoping to talk about this issue at SPI. Have to wait till next year.
"Every home should be built with a critical loads panel and an Outback" The mate 3 should be thrown overboard.
raysun
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Re: FM 100 Arc fault

Post by raysun »

Hmmm.... New equipment, learning curve. The two seem to go hand in hand.

Loose connections are always problematic. Ascribing blame to an assumed source is an age-old venting technique, hope it helped. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the pre-wired panel installation guide states that every connection should be checked for proper torque during installation. Was this step skipped? In any event, copper cabling has a vexing tendency to "reorient" under usage, and the terminal connections should be rechecked after a short period of operation.

Arc Fault is a two-edged sword in any application. Its inherently sensitive radio-frequency detection scheme is subject to "false positives" on many noisy circuits. In some cases, it takes a lot of "circuit sanitizing" to get it to behave. Adjusting the sensitivity? That sounds like a recipe for negating the effectiveness of AFCI altogether. Seems akin to turning the car radio up full blast so as not to be bothered by that annoying engine knocking.
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guerrillasolarguy
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My RE system: Flexware 500 with two FX3648 Grid tied with a modest battery bank. 7200 watts of Solarworld. One FM80 wired two panels in series, the other wired in three. Mate 2.

Re: FM 100 Arc fault

Post by guerrillasolarguy »

Your comments are not lost on me. Maybe that is why so many other inverter companies use terminals that are spring loaded and cannot be tightened. The criticism was for Outback. The arc fault seems to happen in the morning when the charge control comes on at around the same time the television and coffeemaker are being used. I have gone through and checked all the connections (factory and mine) and some were fine and others were super loose (on the factory side) My next off grid project has FM 80's. I hope they haven't changed. I will from now on, double check all connections. Somehow, when making connections on the hundreds of wind turbines I've installed, they hold up just fine without having to take down the turbine to tighten the connections. I expect the same from stationary electrical equipment.
"Every home should be built with a critical loads panel and an Outback" The mate 3 should be thrown overboard.
raysun
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My RE system: Flexpower Two: (2) FXR3048A-01, (2) FM80, MATE3s, FlexNetDC
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Outback IBR3 battery enclosure
REC Alpha 440W panels - 2 arrays: each of 4 strings of 2 in series
Honda EU7000is gas fuel generator

Re: FM 100 Arc fault

Post by raysun »

A reasonable expectation to be sure.
santafedave
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Re: FM 100 Arc fault

Post by santafedave »

One of my charge controllers received the "arc fault" and the positive wire burnt pretty bad. Outback has replaced the damaged CC and my system is working as planned. My question is does high temperature cause the wire movement stated above and what maintenance schedule timeframe should be followed torquing down the leads?
raysun
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My RE system: Flexpower Two: (2) FXR3048A-01, (2) FM80, MATE3s, FlexNetDC
6 SimpliPhi 3.8-48 (48v @ 75AH. 450AH total)
Outback IBR3 battery enclosure
REC Alpha 440W panels - 2 arrays: each of 4 strings of 2 in series
Honda EU7000is gas fuel generator

Re: FM 100 Arc fault

Post by raysun »

I'm not aware of a maintenance schedule for connections (though I'm sure many industries have them). My seat-of-the-pants schedule is to check torqued to specification connections after 50 hours of use. (This requires use of a torque screwdriver or wrench for installation.) For torqued "to feel" connections, check after 10 hours, then again after the 50 hour mark. In this latter case, I'm always suprised by the loose connections I find.
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Re: FM 100 Arc fault

Post by sbrownian »

At a food processing plant I used to work at, every yearly shutdown was preceded by an "open all the cans" and scope them with the infrared camera while the plant was running. (Well, all the ones that we could and still maintain the "keep the water out of the works...")

I was always surprised by the stuff they found.

Even connections that were tight but had gotten slightly oxidized showed up in the IR scans.

The company initially squawked about the cost of the camera and operator to the plant engineer, but quickly realized how much it was saving on unexpected shutdowns...
Information, you get not; if incorrect question, you ask..
MaxPotti
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Re: FM 100 Arc fault

Post by MaxPotti »

Hey All, I'm new to the forum and new to the solar game. I installed my system last spring at our off grid cabin so I would have some understanding of how it all worked. It came factory prewired and everything powered up and worked flawlessly....until it didn't. Around September 21', I received an Arc fault error via email through optics and the incoming power from the PV array stopped. I'm located 100miles away so I had a neighbour (solar installer) go check it out. He inspected all the connections and then the array where he found a damaged panel.
IMG_0384.JPEG
He took it out of the array and everything worked. REC solar panels called it "white line artefact" they warrantied the panel claiming it was most likely a manufactured defect in the back-sheet. Fast forward to last month, I received another arc fault error @ 5:45am when there was no daylight/sun on the panels. I shut down and reset the system and everything functioned normally until the arc fault error returned again three days later @ 5:38am, still no sunlight on the array. I shut down and reset the system again and another arc fault error four days later @ 5:45. With a bit more time at the property, I inspected the array and found several of the panels are showing a similar white line artefact marking. Does anybody have experience with damaged panels causing arc faults?
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