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Solar Gurus.Riddle me this.

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Solar Gurus.Riddle me this.

Postby Tom Bergstrand » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:34 pm

We have some friends that live on what here in AZ a "dry 40". That is to say they have no water or electric. They do have a solar array with a bank of 6-6V L-16 batts. The array feeds into a Trace system from about 1998. They have a generator to pick up the slack on the dark times since the array is only about 800W. All of a sudden there is a problem with using the generator to suppliment the batts. After about 15 seconds the red light goes on. Someone told him that there might be a problem in the generator. I brought my generator down and the only difference between them is that mine produces 20 A @ 240V while his did 30A. When we plugged mine into the system (after changing plugs since the 30A didn't fit into my 20A recepticle) after 15 seconds the red light came on. This would indicate that the problem is not in the generator but rather in the unit itself. They have tons of paperwork that came with the property but it all relates to troubleshooting immediately after instalation. There is nothing about test points to find where the malfunction is. Of course, Trace is no longer so there is no way of obtaining the needed manuals. So my question is: Is there any way of following a path and checking voltage and current so as to find out when it fails to do what it should? He tells me that he had the cover off once and it is a solid state system but perhaps it is a replaceable part whereas a simple componant change will make it "all happy" again. Any help is appreciated as they are not exactly long on money.
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Re: Solar Gurus.Riddle me this.

Postby grouster » Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:49 am

It sounds like the charger side of your inverter is dead. If the inverter is still working (inverting), I would first start by checking to see if the solar side is still charging. If the solar side still works I would disconnect the solar input (or wait till night), then check your battery bank voltage with the generator off, then with it on, to see if it is starting to charge before it alarms. You might also check the AC voltage coming in at the inverter side, to ensure there is no problems with the wiring between the generator and inverter (cracked wires or critters love to chew wire and variations in input voltage can cause problems). Trace/Xantrex inverters are still available but I don't know who works on them to be honest. Good luck.
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Re: Solar Gurus.Riddle me this.

Postby grizz » Sun Jan 06, 2013 4:51 pm

Red light is on the Trace inverter? What model is the trace inverter. This is typical of the red light & what it means on Trace: Search this document for "Fault," which is the red light.
http://www.xantrex.com/documents/Power- ... 1-01_Rev-B).pdf

Do a google search on the trace model number for a better description of the fault indicator.

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Re: Solar Gurus.Riddle me this.

Postby jackqm » Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:12 pm

Most trace models have a similar model on the xantrex line. Probably not a direct model match from 1998 but xantrex does have old manuals available I believe.
If it works for a while then quits it is most likely a bad solder joint, pretty common on the bridge rectifiers that some trace units used or one of the wire jumpers from transformer to the circuit board. Open it up and check for obvious signs of arcing or burnt spots on circuit boards or wires.
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Re: Solar Gurus.Riddle me this.

Postby grizz » Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:34 pm

1998 through 2008 were also the years when cheap Taiwan-Chinese electrolytic capacitors invaded the market. Examine components on the circuit board, looking for electrolytic capacitors that have blown open or vented. See this for examples. Capacitor tops should be perfectly flat. If there is any rounding or discoloration at all, the capacitor is BAD ! If one is bad, replace them all. They will all go bad sooner or later.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsS8A_2LAVQ

Vented or blown capacitors is the 1st thing to look for in monitors, TV's & computers and anything electronic. Including car computers. This has been a plague in electronics for [b]many years ! [/b] Anything electronic manufactured between 2008 & 2010 is suspect.

This should be clear - if your TV, computer, monitor or anything electronic is giving problems, look for vented or blown capacitors. They are easy to find, and easy to replace. Notice they have polarity. A PLUS and MINUS just like a battery. So don't install them backwards or they will explode.

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