Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery bank

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inMichigan
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Re: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery ban

Post by inMichigan »

chugging along...

Image
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Xeroiv
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Re: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery ban

Post by Xeroiv »

After your 3 years experience with this setup would you recommend someone else interested in a grid tie system with future off-grid potential to go with the radian or potentially go with a skybox? I have the desire to start with a 15 kw system and potentially scale up to 23.5 if I wanted to cut from the grid in a few years. I like the seemingly easy nature of the skybox and it would save space by not needing as many devices. I am just uncertain to as how I feel about the lack of surge capability.
inMichigan
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Re: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery ban

Post by inMichigan »

Xeroiv wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:53 pm After your 3 years experience with this setup would you recommend someone else interested in a grid tie system with future off-grid potential to go with the radian or potentially go with a skybox? I have the desire to start with a 15 kw system and potentially scale up to 23.5 if I wanted to cut from the grid in a few years. I like the seemingly easy nature of the skybox and it would save space by not needing as many devices. I am just uncertain to as how I feel about the lack of surge capability.
Gosh, time flies when everything is working correctly. It's been 7 years since our system came on line. I'm still running the same 17 CALB cells described above with over 2500 day/night charge/discharge cycles. Now being grid-tied, I'm am very lightly cycling the batteries, but, that was my intent all along. Maybe 1 or 2 times a year they get some real exercise. If the power is out at night, I raise the charging voltages closer to the cell limits to push in enough power to sleep thru the night without a generator running on my little 5kWh of energy. If we shed every practical load, we just barely make it these days, so, I have lost some capability over time (as expected or we have more things that we think need to be on).

Sorry, I haven't studied the newer systems in great deal. I was recently helping a friend review a different brand. I did think of one advantage of having functions split into separate 'units' is long term upkeep like I have with FM's and GS's. I have 4 FM80's (plus I have a spare put away). I have two GS8048's which means I have 4 4kW inverters in the system. I can run on just 3 of the 4 which I did during an early failure that was quickly covered by warranty. I swapped the inverter sub-unit myself. I assume someday those will be available on eBay. Had all of this content been crammed into a single more complex unit, will it be as easy to maintain for 30 years? (dream big, its expensive) The only feature I feel is missing in my Radians is more control over the low voltage cutoff. I can not set it where I would like to, so when I go low, I get very nervous and try to avoid that situation. It's because I have FLP and 17 cells. It's been a very long time since I've flashed any software updates, so, maybe that's changed. It's running, been running, and why rock the boat.

I have collected another 40 CALB cells as these are now discontinued. Half are new, half are used (probably less than mine). This fall when farm life slows down, less sun is shining, I plan to shut down by using my master system bypass and rebuild all my cells into 17P3S.
Located in SE Michigan
formail127
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Re: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery bank

Post by formail127 »

I am in the market for a DIY solution to add battery backup to my solar system. I have 365W panels with micro inverters. I am looking for a bi-directional inverter that will allow me to take AC power from my panels and convert back to DC to charge LiFePO4 batteries and also send back excess power to the grid once the batteries are fully charged. I have ran across the Sol-ark and was wondering if there were any others that are out there that can be used for this applications.
inMichigan
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Re: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery bank

Post by inMichigan »

formail127 wrote: Sat Aug 13, 2022 1:09 am I am in the market for a DIY solution to add battery backup to my solar system. I have 365W panels with micro inverters. I am looking for a bi-directional inverter that will allow me to take AC power from my panels and convert back to DC to charge LiFePO4 batteries and also send back excess power to the grid once the batteries are fully charged. I have ran across the Sol-ark and was wondering if there were any others that are out there that can be used for this applications.
I assume you will keep your AC microinverters. I know that a Radian in AC coupled mode plus a bank of batteries would create what you seek. The Radian is an inverter and a battery charger, hence, can do what you describe. I helped set one up ~6 years ago. Seems like the AC coupled side (what you already have), has an upper limit, maybe 6 kw or perhaps 8 kw. You don't mention how many panels you have. I am not familiar with the newer Skybox series.

Someday, when my net metering agreement expires, I plan to add another set of panels via the AC Coupling mode.
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pss
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Re: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery bank

Post by pss »

There is a lot to read here and I have not done it yet.

But, not to throw water on your fire, but there are a couple of layout issues I just don't like. In my humble opinion, the wire raceways are too low and could be a potential victim in a flood. Is there any possibility of flooding where you live? And also I do not like the placement of the charge controllers. They should have been closer to your battery bank and most importantly the charge controllers are often used when the Optics RE is not available or to check system settings. They have a small display and this installation puts a person up on a step stool or ladder to program, reset, check connections, etc. Also, the inverters especially under any loads will turn on their fans and exhaust hot air out the top, directly into your charge controllers who are trying to keep cool. I think charge controllers should always be installed at an easy working height standing on the ground and close to the battery bank and one piece of equipment should not heat up another.
On the other hand, the inverters have no display and therefore do not need to be at eye level. Only the breakers in the GSLC need to be easily reached.

It also looks like you put that yellow wall up that the inverters are mounted on as a new wall for this project. I say this because I see the insulation on the other wall. I this was the case, I strongly suggest to future builders that you consider doubling up your studs so instead of a 2x4, screw in another to make it a 2x8 or if already with a 2x6, make it a 2x10. It's cheap and adds a lot of important wiring space behind the wall for a clean hidden look of all the wires and conduits. They lay out your equipment on the wall board (plywood, etc.) while it is flat on a table or the ground. Outline where everything goes and where holes for conduits and wires should be placed. Run the wires through the studs to where they will go, put up your wall board, bring the wires through any holes, mount your hardware and connect. Most everything will be hidden. And if you need to, you can use a good saw and cut your panels so that if you ever need to remove a panel you do not have to take a large panel down, just a smaller access panel.

Its just my 2 cents so don't dwell on it much.
inMichigan
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Re: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery bank

Post by inMichigan »

Good questions, and will help others at the beginning of their project. I spent several years researching and reading forums before doing this project in 2015.
pss wrote: Tue Aug 16, 2022 9:52 am In my humble opinion, the wire raceways are too low and could be a potential victim in a flood. Is there any possibility of flooding where you live?
There is 10 inches from the bottom of the raceway to the floor. There is zero change of flooding in this location due the elevation of the barn's floor above the yard. The yard is well above the rest of the property. Somebody was wise in their placement of this 1885's farm's site.
pss wrote: Tue Aug 16, 2022 9:52 am And also I do not like the placement of the charge controllers. They should have been closer to your battery bank
wall markup.png
The power flows "purple" from the barn's 2nd floor loft where the 4 DC breaker panels terminate the 42 panels. Those wires are within the wall and not visible. Then, on the "orange" wires, it flows to four DC breakers within the left GSLC. So, the CC's need be close to the GLCC, not the battery. Each inverter has a run to the battery bank on the heavy "brown" path, via the raceway. That was an old photo, now, there is a fuse and set of bus bars that make the battery house safer. If I could go back in time, I'd put two DC breakers into each GLCC, as the wiring in that one is a nightmare as shown here:

Image
pss wrote: Tue Aug 16, 2022 9:52 am They have a small display and this installation puts a person up on a step stool or ladder to program, reset, check connections, etc. Also, the inverters especially under any loads will turn on their fans and exhaust hot air out the top, directly into your charge controllers who are trying to keep cool. I think charge controllers should always be installed at an easy working height standing on the ground and close to the battery bank and one piece of equipment should not heat up another.
On the other hand, the inverters have no display and therefore do not need to be at eye level. Only the breakers in the GSLC need to be easily reached.
In 7 years, I've only once needed to read the LCD screens on a ladder. Although I have used OpticsRE to make changes to settings, if I'm in the room, I prefer to use the MATE3. I do occasional vacuum and blow out the air intake. That would be easier if they were lower.

To get 8kW from each inverter, they must be kept cool. They derate themselves quite quickly, so, it was a tradeoff on their height. Also, these Radian's exhaust their air out the front (not the top).
pss wrote: Tue Aug 16, 2022 9:52 am Also, the inverters especially under any loads will turn on their fans and exhaust hot air out the top, directly into your charge controllers who are trying to keep cool. I think charge controllers should always be installed at an easy working height standing on the ground and close to the battery bank and one piece of equipment should not heat up another.
On the other hand, the inverters have no display and therefore do not need to be at eye level. Only the breakers in the GSLC need to be easily reached.
That room has a 'high ceiling'. The yellow dashed line shows the location of the yellow wall that was built to create the 'power room'.
air flow new.jpg
There is an automatic fan up high that blows heat from the room in into the main part of the barn.
pss wrote: Tue Aug 16, 2022 9:52 am It also looks like you put that yellow wall up that the inverters are mounted on as a new wall for this project.
This 'room' was created by a different contractor several months before the solar installation began. I already had the solar installer selected so I could get his input, and they wanted the wall finished first The equipment spans several sheets of the plywood. The Outback equipment came with nice mounting brackets that were easily screwed to the wall. I don't see any advantage of working horizontal and then lifting it up. By the way, we played quite a bit with the cardboard cuts that represent the equipment. Moving them around, discussing pros and cons.

You are the first to ever ask questions about the wall itself! In fact, I don't think I've ever posted a photo of the back side. This was shortly after the wall was built, but before I added important structural details.

Image
pss wrote: Tue Aug 16, 2022 9:52 am If this was the case, I strongly suggest to future builders that you consider doubling up your studs so instead of a 2x4, screw in another to make it a 2x8 or if already with a 2x6, make it a 2x10. It's cheap and adds a lot of important wiring space behind the wall for a clean hidden look of all the wires and conduits. They lay out your equipment on the wall board (plywood, etc.) while it is flat on a table or the ground. Outline where everything goes and where holes for conduits and wires should be placed. Run the wires through the studs to where they will go, put up your wall board, bring the wires through any holes, mount your hardware and connect. Most everything will be hidden. And if you need to, you can use a good saw and cut your panels so that if you ever need to remove a panel you do not have to take a large panel down, just a smaller access panel.
It is a 2x6 wall. Thicker wouldn't hurt. Everything hangs on that wall. Since I had a generous amount of scrap, I cut and installed dozens of blocking strips. This was wood glued to the plywood, and screwed into the framing. I did this in an alternating pattern, both against the room's wall, and the outer side as well. This created a number of very stiff box beams. By gluing the blocking to the plywood, my goal was to further exploit plywood's strength in shear as part of my wing spar (by schooling, I'm an aerospace structural engineer).

Image

The barn's columns in that area are 6 inches, so this let the wall builder stay flush. We could have made it thicker. Even if I had made it thicker, I still would have used blocking to make the box beams.

We thought about putting the wire runs between the charge controllers within the walls. But, since I went wild with dozens of blocking within the wall, the installer preferred to stay on the surface.

My plan to finish the 'backside' of the wall was to screw whatever sheeting I used in a way that made it easy to open up the wall from behind. Someday.

The 'tall' wall of the room is here:
Image

That would have been ideal, BUT, that wall was claimed by my wife. She now has floor to ceiling shelves. The highest shelves are for very rarely used items. She uses the rest of the room for starting young plants. So, the waste heat from the solar equipment has a purpose too.

inMichigan
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Re: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery bank

Post by raysun »

That would have been ideal, BUT, that wall was claimed by my wife. She now has floor to ceiling shelves. The highest shelves are for very rarely used items. She uses the rest of the room for starting young plants. So, the waste heat from the solar equipment has a purpose too.
Another config may have had some advantages, but there's no compromising the W.A.F. (I have a great design for a solar carport to charge a BEV we don't have. Its in an ideal location, which unfortunately is right in the Domestic Goddess' field of view when she has her morning tea. That would be a "No go" on that plan.)
Nothing succeeds like success. Running for years without coming to the forum with a tale of heat-induced woe smells like success to me. 😉 It would appear the mounting arrangement, while unorthodox, is working.
Nothing exceeds like excess. I pity the future worker who has to tear down that stud wall! 😆 Wing wall? Maybe for a B52.
Speaking of aeronautics, how's your solar powered aircraft design progressing? 😀
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Re: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery bank

Post by pss »

I was raised in suburban Detroit. It was cloudy all winter long and in the summer there were only a handful of days with sunny skies, otherwise lots of clouds of all types. And it seems to me that during the winter months your panels need to be like close to 45 degrees or more elevation and in the summer more like 20 degrees. And when you have the most daylight in the summers your panels would do best facing southwest. So can you please post what was your best kW output day in March, April, May, June and July so far and monthly outputs? Knowing these values may help to optimize your system and is important to know year after year for performance changes due to weather and not due to weather as well as for tweaking system settings.

Also, would it not be helpful to integrate a windmill into your system to help on cloudy days.

I think persons in Michigan could actually benefit more from solar power by installing a system onto someone's home or ground in a sunny state and collecting 75 percent of the daily output value and giving 25% to the homeowner instead of installing expensive systems into a cloudy, rainy environment that has deep freezes and near 100 temps in the summertime.

Soapbox: what ever happened to geothermal system installation in Michigan?

Lastly, I do love the building, very nice!
inMichigan
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Re: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery bank

Post by inMichigan »

pss wrote: Wed Aug 17, 2022 11:36 am I was raised in suburban Detroit. It was cloudy all winter long and in the summer there were only a handful of days with sunny skies, otherwise lots of clouds of all types. And it seems to me that during the winter months your panels need to be like close to 45 degrees or more elevation and in the summer more like 20 degrees.
This roof is 6/12 pitch, so 27 degrees. To be honest, the roof pitch was defined by getting the 'look' and function of the barn, not by solar optimization. In the end, 27 seems ok for solar as a compromise between 'some' power during the winter vs greater harvest during the long summer days. A little steeper would help with sliding the snow off. But to maintain the aesthetic proportions, it would need to be taller. Height was a problem with the township. Even as built, I had to get a variance (two months delay and some $).
end view.JPG
pss wrote: Wed Aug 17, 2022 11:36 am IAnd when you have the most daylight in the summers your panels would do best facing southwest.
After the barn was built, I did play with settings in https://pvwatts.nrel.gov/ It does appear that slightly bias to the west is a little bit better. By curve fitting solar harvest vs time, and use of some astronomical websites, I determined that my roof is actually 181 degrees but only because I made measurements relative to our house to set the corner stakes. I was attempting to maintain the relationship relative to the house. In hindsight, a better orientation could have been with roofs facing east and west. This would have given me the opportunity to have more panels overall. I could have put half the panels east and the other west, and then done a phase 2 in the future. As built, 14 kW of panel was the maximum allowable by my electric company for grid-tied. I would have needed zoning variance approval to put the barn in a location where that would have worked with the driveways. With the drop in panel prices, a south facing roof is not as critical as it once was.

I've studied adding a set of ground mounted, west facing panels as a future project. My thought was to try and boost production during the setting sun as a last chance to top off the batteries before night. This has to wait until my grandfathered 1:1 Net Metering expires in a few years.

My favorite sun path calculator is: https://www.suncalc.org/

It's amazing during the summer how much of time the sun is north of the east-west line. I ran the pvwatts on 'panels' mounted on the north face roof. Seems like the yearly output was something like 70% of the south facing side. Pretty amazing.
pss wrote: Wed Aug 17, 2022 11:36 am So can you please post what was your best kW output day in March, April, May, June and July so far and monthly outputs? Knowing these values may help to optimize your system and is important to know year after year for performance changes due to weather and not due to weather as well as for tweaking system settings.
Here is the full year of 2021:
2021.JPG
It's pretty typical. Sometimes April is really good: good solar angle, cold, bright blue skies, but some years rain... Not sure what kind of optimization I can do. The roof is fixed. What did you have in mind?

I do lose a few days in Dec/Jan from snow. The roof is too high for any scheme using a water hose to wash the snow off. Too high for any kind of brush I've seen. At least the days I lose are not worth very many kWh per day.

Here is the day by day results for June 2021:
june21.JPG
Our design target was an average of 41 kWh per day (electric stove, electric hot water, plant starting lights in the spring, canning in the fall, etc.)

pss wrote: Wed Aug 17, 2022 11:36 am Also, would it not be helpful to integrate a windmill into your system to help on cloudy days.
I have a neighbor a few miles away with solar on the roof, a tracker panel in the backyard, and a pole mounted wind generator. He said the windmill was a complete waste of money. We just aren't in a windy enough region. He said, he wished he'd spent the same money on more panels. Still, I want one for some night time auxiliary power. I've read the township's recent rules related to wind turbines which are clearly aimed at controlling (or preventing) 'big systems'. I don't think any affordable home scale system could meet the rules and regulations. I also look longingly at the water flowing over the dam that forms our pond. But alas, the drop is only 8 feet, and not enough GPM based on articles from the old Home Power magazine.

pss wrote: Wed Aug 17, 2022 11:36 am I think persons in Michigan could actually benefit more from solar power by installing a system onto someone's home or ground in a sunny state and collecting 75 percent of the daily output value and giving 25% to the homeowner instead of installing expensive systems into a cloudy, rainy environment that has deep freezes and near 100 temps in the summertime.
Interesting idea. I'll let the power company fund that. I don't believe power companies really have any interest in 'home mounted' solar anymore.
pss wrote: Wed Aug 17, 2022 11:36 am Soapbox: what ever happened to geothermal system installation in Michigan?
I have a colleague with geothermal. His first house had it too. He has more solar and a larger DIY battery system than me. He said his experience has been the maintenance and reliability of the geothermal system has been disappointing, both times. Another colleague had one in Kokomo, and had a very expensive black mold experience due to a small water leak in the geothermal system.
pss wrote: Wed Aug 17, 2022 11:36 am Lastly, I do love the building, very nice!
Image

The "north" roof during the winter:
Image
I had planned to put 4 panels on that roof over the west facing porch. However, the trees would have to go...but they provide shade to our poultry and some privacy.

Thank you. It was built by Morton. There is almost nothing I would change, except built it bigger.

inMIchigan
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Re: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery bank

Post by pss »

I have some sympathy for you because first you are a great solar enthusiast and seeker of clean energy. But the sympathy is that your longing and desire is hampered by the rules of your state and utility as well as your climate.

I am located in San Diego. Sunshine here is like clockwork every day. No snow or ice for the panels. Panel tilt here is 27 degrees and facing south. Some persons also face southwest. The penetration of solar in the county is about the highest in the state because county government is very progressive towards the climate instead of conservative. Unless unable to, all homes have solar on the roof and ground too. You would have a field day with your system if it was installed here. Just shop for a farm in the county and wear fast shoes to run from a wildfire!
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Re: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery bank

Post by inMichigan »

As a gather more cells to expand the bank to prepare for impending TOU rule changes, I am continuing to study how we did. I purchased a EBC A40L to evaluate the new and slightly used cells I've purchased, and I planned to test each of my 2015 cells to see what capacity they lost. Unfortunately after 2 days of working great, the battery tester no longer functioned properly and a return/replacement is underway.

Meanwhile, last night I crept out to the 'power room' to measure the cell voltage after 10 pm and updated my tracking spreadsheet. I last bottom balanced these cells in Oct 2015 to 3.021 Volts per cell. Nearly 7 years later, the range across the 17 cells when measured at their working voltage is a mere 1 mV.

I couldn't be more pleased!
2022-08-30 cell voltages since last balancing for Apollo.JPG
I'm sure I've lost capability, but stunned that they aged so uniformly. I eagerly await the arrival of the new EBC A40L and the downtime to test the old cells.

Why do I think this happened?

Well, being grid-tied, the cells were not exposed to many highs and lows, just a handful. And, I recall two times the system went into Low Voltage Cutoff and I moved as quickly as possible to get home and fix the situation.

Caution, I have 17 cells, so, pay attention to the cell voltages, not the bank value. My duty cycle was specifically designed to avoid either end of the charge state:
2022-08-30 voltage programming.JPG
Also of interest, this entire run was done without an BMS. And, for two GS8048's, I only have 5 kWh of CALB LFP.

Why did I not follow the various guidelines for a much larger lithium battery bank per inverter size? Well, I took the advice of planning on crashing your first set of batteries...and they were so expensive, I figured I'd get a few years out of them, learn some painful lessons, and buy a newer larger set.

Some saga advice mentioned the 120 Hz AC signal that rides on top of the DC voltage because of the inversion of 60 Hz power. I was able measure a small amount with my Fluke. I really needed an oscilloscope, which I don't own, nor could I justify to my wife. Perhaps our qualityOutback inverters have sufficient capacitors to smooth out the bulk of the damage. From studying my previous power consumption, I only expected <= 12 kW of inversion needed, so, 2x8 had a safety factor when I went from one GS8048 + one GS4048 to two GS8048's. And really, rarely was more than 6 ever needed. During these last 3 days, we were using the electric stove to can tomato paste, electric hot water to wash stuff, which caused two events where the draw was ~5.5 kW. The CALB cells have tremendous charge/discharge capabilities.
CA100 specs.JPG
The final story won't be written until I measure how much of the 100 AH is left in the cells. But so far, I like how things are looking.
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Re: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery bank

Post by EA6LE-ONE »

A good BMS will be great for a battery system. Being able to track the voltage and the cell temperature while charging or discharging will help a lot to find the best values to keep the battery going for long.
just installed a BMS system for my batteries and I think it makes a lot of difference.
this are some of my screen shots on one of my batteries:
BMS1.jpg
BMS2.jpg
BMS3.jpg
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Re: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery bank

Post by inMichigan »

EA6LE-ONE wrote: Tue Aug 30, 2022 3:50 pm A good BMS will be great for a battery system. Being able to track the voltage and the cell temperature while charging or discharging will help a lot to find the best values to keep the battery going for long.
just installed a BMS system for my batteries and I think it makes a lot of difference.
this are some of my screen shots on one of my batteries:
BMS1.jpg
BMS2.jpg
BMS3.jpg
I see your BMS is measuring impedance/resistance, which brand is it?

Your cell voltages threw me for a loop (I'd be panicking at < 2.5 V per cell) until I googled: EnergyCell 2700RE, ah AGM. It's neat to see how many different systems can be constructed from the Outback tool box.

My first initial build had a BMS, but because I didn't push the charging voltage hard enough, it never triggered sufficient flow. Then, the differences in parasitic current draw to the power the little boards, drug each cell to a different value. Fortunately, my making Fluke measurements in the spirit data analysis caught the problem before it got too out of hand. So I was faced with the decision to charge higher than I wanted to (to improve life) in order to make that BMS work in order to protect life. I removed it.
Located in SE Michigan
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EA6LE-ONE
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Posts: 841
Joined: Tue May 05, 2020 7:51 am
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: Build of grid-tie hybrid Radian with lithium battery bank

Post by EA6LE-ONE »

inMichigan wrote: Tue Aug 30, 2022 4:05 pm
I see your BMS is measuring impedance/resistance, which brand is it?

this is where I got it from.

https://dfuntech.com/product/lead-acid- ... pbat-gate/
everything works fine, just the CTs are not great at keeping the SOC in line with FNDC. might need to play a bit with the settings there.
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