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solar panels VS solar flare activity

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by dragonfly, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Recently up in northern Az., there was quite an anomaly, and I'd like some information as no one seems to be able to even guess what's happened.

    1) a set of 5 of those el-cheapo amorphous panels, Harbor Freight types, (15 all total) were wired to a single lead in wire....A couple weeks back the lead in wire suddenly vaporized and melted all over the roof of one person's house. They had been in place for some 3 years and suddenly the wire melts?

    2) A set of 10 year old blue silicon panels that had been functioning perfectly ( warranty is good for 20 years) 2 on one building, 2 on another....1 panel of each set suddenly went beserk...by that I mean they started to exceed their rated wattage and amperage outputs.
    Some tell me they have a diode which can go bad and cause the panels to do strange things, worse case scenario: fry your batteries! They almost did that!
    Evidently these diodes are to prevent reversing current flow when the sun goes down, but isn't that the job of the charge controller? And why would the panels be able to suddenly exceed their ratings and the new digital charge controller saw this and yet did nothing?

    3) A brand new set of 2 Kyocera panels, ( less than 1 month in service)suddenly went from their normal wattage and amperage, to near their output limts (according to mfg.) The dealer in Flagstaff, Az., cannot explain it, and Kyocera has yet to return the emails or calls....

    Now all of this happened in a 2 day time period and "supposedly" there was a solar flare in that time frame.....?
    Is that even a possibilty to have such an event or should I say a number of very starnge coincidences all happen in such a short time frame and all in locations within a mile of each other?
    I got nuthin'!
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Was this a continuous and verified Increase in Power Output, that you registered on your metering, or just some figuring after the fact, and not an OBSERVED Phenomenon? I would be more likely believe that the wire was blown by a Static, or Lightning Strike, rather than an Increase in Solar Output. Are all these Panel Frames GROUNDED? Just wondering.....
    Nadja likes this.
  3. TheEconomist

    TheEconomist Creighton Bluejay Site Supporter+

    tulianr likes this.
  4. Mechwolf

    Mechwolf Monkey+

    My theory corresponds with BT's question. I have seen lightning strikes do what you are describing. It does not necessarily have to have been a direct strike either. It could have been a close ground strike. Your strongest ground is of course on the main power coming into the house, while I don't know much about solar power i'm assuming it is utilizing the same ground as your power meter.
  5. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    The increase was seen all at once and continued for 2 days...on the newest Kyocera panels, it was monitored every hour during the daytime. ( digital readout systems)
    The 5 panel set is mounted and grounded to an all metal building, the new Kyoceras are mounted on a metal roof with separate grounding and lightning arrestors for each...The 4-10 year old panels are on two separate buildings, one has a corrugated metal roof, grounded and has lightning arrestors for each of the 2 panels and the other 2 are mounted on a fiberglass roof, with no grounds and no lightning arrestors.
    I was wondering, how these different and separte systems could all have problems, all in the same time frame, and have little in common....Some with and some without grounds, some with and some without lightning arrestors, and one set mounted on a non-conductive fiberglas roof....

    All I know for certain is, that they all had some sort of strange increase in their wattage and amperage outputs, and other than the wire leadin thing, all seemed to override their respective charge controllers and almost overcharge/boil their respective batteries.

    No weather at all anywhere near the area at the time this happened...High Sonoran Desert area....
    These solar systems are all stand alone, as the nearest powerlines are over 7-8 miles away.
    The nearest town, ( pop.400 ), is over 7 miles distance.
    No one has any grid connections at all up there. You have to use solar or generators.
    The winds are too powerful for most wind generators...We have one we paid $400 for, and an additional $240 for the tower and just can't use it.
  6. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey Site Supporter

    The post does not provide enough information to give a profesional answer.

    How about, wire sizes, fuse sizes, charger mfg and part number, just to start and rated output of all components.
  7. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Hey Dragon, Since I live up here close to you, just letting you know that we had a smallish lightning storm last Sat 4-21 Lightning can do bad bad things. Could it be possible that is what happened in your area ? Nadja
  8. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

  9. techsar

    techsar Monkey++

    About all I can say is it did not affect my solar system.

    I don't quite know what you are saying when you mention "went from their normal wattage and amperage, to near their output limts (according to mfg.)" When my solar panels are in the sun, they produce near their output specifications. This is normal - it is how they are designed to work.

    If one of the diodes in the panels were to fail, it would not on its own fry your batteries. I don't know where you got this tidbit of disinformation, but you should stay away from them. What it will do is allow a shaded part of the panel to drain power from the non-shaded part, reducing usable output. It will also cause a parasitic drain in dark hours. The combination of low charge and excessive drain can damage the batteries, but no more than running the bank down too far.

    You mention a "new digital charge controller" but didn't mention if it had ever worked properly. Was it a replacement for one thought to be bad? Is it one of the Chinese ebay offerings?

    It really sounds like someone or something shorted out their battery banks and everything went wide open trying to charge the shorted circuit.
    Nadja likes this.
  10. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    I guess I should have worded it more correctly...
    The panels actually EXCEEDED their maximum output as designated by mfg.
    Both in voltage, and in wattage....I can't say how that is possible....I have no idea!
    Following a double failure of 2 panels out of 4, 2 new ones ( kyocera) were put in place, to replace the failed ones ( the old ones still have output in the ranges specified by their mfg), but they are basically "wide open" and have (upon experimentation later on) boiled 4 batteries over......Not good!
    The new digital meter ( charge controller) is US made,and cost nearly $240.00.
    It is in service right now and monitors battery conditions, wattage input, voltage input, usage of wattage (output) , and has several "safety" features to protect from overcharging and keeping batteries frombeing drained beyond a certain level.
    The whole system, including 4 new batteries, 2 panels, the digital carge controller and heavy gauge cables,( 1 size over recommendations) including lightning arrrsetors, have cost well over $1600.00.
    IF there were a lightning strike, it would surely have been noticed by the 5 people that live in a 1 mile square area....?
    We buy 90% of our equipment from Northern Arizona Wind and Sun, in Flagstaff....
    To date they have NO answers for us.....
    The one owner/installer is currently a student at NAU, a retired Navy veteran, and has had his PV "instructor" review the systems in questions and their problems, and no answers....yet.....
    Allcircuits were tested repeatedly and with the exception of the one with the melted wiring, there were no apparent faults.....
    The one thing that may have contributed to that problem was haveing a series of 15 panels ( 5of the 3 panel units) wiretogether and the wire was ofsuch asmalldiameterit may have overloade by wattage or amperage alone. The wires are tiny, I'd say in the range of 18-20 gauge. They are designed to handle the 3 panels, with the maximum of some 3 watts.....coupled, that would put a load on that wiring of some 15 watts....That system alone has up to 12 batteries in it.....
    Since the previous epsiode, we have had no further problems nor any spkes in voltages or wattages....?
    I personally have no idea.....I was told that IF the diodes go bad in the older panels, that can cause problems such as battery power being drained back into the panels...which I felt was strange, since that is one of the functions of the charge controllers....Those specific (blue silicon) panels were made by a company here in the US some 10 years ago and they have since gone out of business......diodes are still available locally....
    Once, we had a charging problem with 2 separate types/designs of panels, the blue silicon type and the amorphous ones....
    We chose to replace our $80.00 charge controllers, as we felt they could be the cause...After having tested them, they were NOT the problem.
    WE even took out batteries that were only 6 months old and replaced them...
    Again, is was not the batteries....
    All wiing was tested and retested again and again, for any and all possible faults...
    Batteries are monitored for specific gravity ( charge) and all connections ( terminals) were removed, checked, cleaned, and replaced...
    Using wet cell batteries, we constantly check and replace water as needed , with only distilled water....
    1 system is in my travel trailer with the amorphous panels...1 system is in use on a wood cabin and is integrated into an invertor, wired directly into the cabins 110 wiring...1 system is in a mobile home, also directly wired (via invertor) into that homes 110 wiring...
    All have backup generators, that are isolated from the solar systems, and can be turned on by remote to either power the 110 wiring directly, or to charge the batteries...
    Your guess is as good as anyone's at this point....
    It happened once, all systems in 4 separate locations were affected, some worse than others, and it hasn't happened again....???
    The one system with the 15 panels, I can see there was an overpowering of the wiring for any variety reasons....especially IF there was a decent power draw at the time and caused the wiring to fail....
  11. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    The Boiling of Batteries, is a Charge Controller Issue, and NOT a Panel Issue. That is what the Charge Controller is supposed to deal with, when the Batteries are at Full Charge, but the Panels are still dumping power out the Input Connection. Apparently your Charge Controllers are not the MPPT type, but Shunt type, and thePower dumping mechanism didn't work correctly, causing the Batteries to Overcharge. With an MPPT type Controller, they use a SwitchMode Inverter that is Processor controlled to take incoming Power, and do whatever voltage conversion, is required, to feed a Three Stage Battery Charging System, which monitors the Battery State of Charge, and brings the appropriate Power from the Input to service the connected Battery Bank. This is a more recently developed, and more reliable, technology, than a Shunt type controller. Yea, they cost more, but they do a much better job and are significantly more efficient. ...... YMMV....
    dragonfly likes this.
  12. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    That's why we recently dumped the $80 ones and went with something vastly more reliable, even though 3 x as expensive! Batteries are expensive to replace!
    BTPost likes this.
  13. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey Site Supporter

    Spend a few more bucks and purchase a NEC Manual.

    Check all your wiring for size, type (insulation quality and proper type for wet installation and out doors exposure) and voltage limits.

    FUSE your circuits. Fuses protect the wire and the batteries.

    Use the proper DC Breakers for your battery banks, it does matter.

    Add a ground rod at each building, per NEC Code.

    Ground all your racks and other componets per NEC.

    Check the NEC section on your system type and wire accordingly.

    Many bitch about code books, except those who use them and avoid fires and damaged equipment.

    If you purchased the equipment and installed it on your own and not with the sellers techs then they "Cannot" comment of all the variables.

    An onsight Forensic inspection of the original, as installed and damaged equipment, is the best way to detrmined what happened

    Remember DC systems kill too. High amps and low voltage still equal a heart stopper.

  14. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    80 $ PWM controller was from the china brand ?

    Now 80$ controller for 600$ of battery bank is not making any sense.
    18-22 gauge is fire starter and HUGE voltage drops.
    The bigger the cable the lesser the number of AWG but piece of mind for less fires.
    Bought in USA maybe , my morning star MPPT is made in Taiwan , and the sure sine 300 is also. (whats not nowAdays).

    As for Lighting strikes , they do weird things. Our Sailboat was hit in 1989 while on shore power. We also lost copper inside a sheathed cable 8awg , and no signs of burns. Lost the Antenna on the top of the mast, a few other small things. But in all , radios & all the electronic gismos still worked after the internal shore system was repaired. melted silver solder was in a splat on the top of the mast head right under the splintered antenna. Ya Got's me ????

  15. alicegarrett

    alicegarrett Monkey

    Anticipate to keep the solar power systems clean. The dirtier they get, the less capable they're at generating power here. While it is true that rain and wind may be aware of a lot of this to suit your needs, you should get out of bed there sometimes and dirt them off yourself.

    When your solar-powered system has generated energy, how does one store it? A great battery can store plenty of energy for lengthy routines. Alternately, you can sell your excess energy for your local power. By staying connected to the power grip, you will be able to work with the power it offers inside the unlikely event this is required.
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