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azhaque
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Posted: 05 October 2018 at 10:11pm | IP Logged Quote azhaque

Hi all,

I am using EpSolar VS6048 PWM (pic shown below) Charge Controllers for my 12.5 KW solar array. The CC is rated max 48VDC and 60 Amps.





There array is divided into two parts for redundancy. The picture below shows the 24VDC 3KW inverter, with its accompanying battery bank (next picture). Two charge controllers can also be seen in the pic, that provide solar power to the inverter/battery.








The system is mounted on a wall in the garage. It is pretty inconvenient to go to the garage, unlock the gate and then check up the system. So a need was felt to get the data wirelessly.

VS6048 CCs provide a MODBUS port where data about the current, voltage and other parameters can be read. I plan to utilize this for implementing a wifi based monitoring system. I will log progress on this thread from time to time.

Regards



Edited by azhaque on 05 October 2018 at 10:13pm



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azhaque
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Posted: 05 October 2018 at 10:41pm | IP Logged Quote azhaque

I forgot to post the pics of other inverter and battery (the sun is shining on the inverter thru the garage ventilator). This is 48VDC system with the inverter rated 5KW. 7.5KWs of solar power is fed to this inverter/battery pair using 2 nos. 6048s (can be seen in the pic). This system is dedicated to run the fridge and the deep freezer and other power devices in the house.

Incidentally its all off grid.








Regards
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lizby
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Posted: 05 October 2018 at 11:11pm | IP Logged Quote lizby

Nice-looking setup. How long have you had it running and what kind of charging input are you getting per day over what period of time?

Are the lugs on the batteries so that each cell may be separately monitored?


Edited by lizby on 05 October 2018 at 11:13pm
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azhaque
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Posted: 06 October 2018 at 11:53am | IP Logged Quote azhaque

lizby wrote:
Nice-looking setup. How long have you had it running and what kind of charging input are you getting per day over what period of time?


Hi there Lizby,

Many thanks for the kind words.

The house was occupied March this year. So that makes it about 8 months.
Currently I am not formally metering the energy harvested. The batteries are drained to 0% SOC when checked early morning. However by about 11:00 AM the CCs have the batteries at 100% SOC. In fact this is the rationale for this project.

Initially I had only one CC per battery bank. That proved to be inadequate.So I added one more CC on each battery bank. The arrangement seems to work nicely.

lizby wrote:
Are the lugs on the batteries so that each cell may be separately monitored?


No. Please note that these batteries are series-parallel strings of 12 VDC, 160 AH tubular plate units. In the 24 VDC sub-system, these are strung in 2 units/series string, and 4 such strings in parallel. In the 48VDC sub-system, it is just one string of 4 series connected units.

Your question about monitoring each battery separately would make a cumbersome and complex system. Whilst ideally it should be like this so that one can monitor each unit separately, however the complexity of it would be formidable.

I plan to just monitor battery statistics on this wifi system including battery current, both in and out, SOC temp. etc. Hopefully with this info plus visual inspection and keeping the water topped up should keep the batteries warm and cozy. I have already fabricated an ACS758 based sensor for that
purpose (pics below).

Regards












Edited by azhaque on 06 October 2018 at 11:56am
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lizby
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Posted: 06 October 2018 at 9:40pm | IP Logged Quote lizby

Thanks for the additional info.

Do you have plans for what to do once the batteries are at 100% SOC?

By "so that each cell may be separately monitored" I was talking about what appear to be screw posts (but maybe not) next to each of the 6 openings for water on each battery. I've never seen that, and wondered what they are. They look like heavy duty batteries.

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azhaque
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Posted: 06 October 2018 at 11:00pm | IP Logged Quote azhaque

lizby wrote:
Thanks for the additional info.

Do you have plans for what to do once the batteries are at 100% SOC?



Hello again Lizby,

I haven't the foggiest as to what to do when SOC=100%. For now these just sit and wait for the sun to go down and power the house during the night.

I would certainly appreciate any pointers.



lizby wrote:
By "so that each cell may be separately monitored" I was talking about what appear to be screw posts (but maybe not) next to each of the 6 openings for water on each battery. I've never seen that, and wondered what they are. They look like heavy duty batteries.


These screw posts are just level-gauges for the electrolyte. I have added a pic of the same. Sure helps to avoid peeking down the water hole of the cell to ascertain whether it needs a top up.




The batteries are Tall Tubular deep cycle batteries. The plate geometry is tubular instead of the usual Flat one. Locally manufactured by a company called VOLTA ( volta.com.pk ). My son has a friend who works for the company. So we get a price with a nice discount. The factory is also not very far away so cartage cost is minimal. We lugged two of these in the back of our van and brought these home. Pics with measurements attached. About twice as high as a normal 200AH car battery and about the same width.

Regards and good wishes.










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lizby
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Posted: 07 October 2018 at 12:21am | IP Logged Quote lizby

Ok, I see--so visible electrolyte gauges--nice touch.

Re pointers about what to do when SOC=100%: don't know, personally, other than more batteries. I guess some people dump to heating water (and that may be with wind, where they have +lots+ of excess after charging is done), but I don't know specifics.
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azhaque
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Posted: 07 October 2018 at 12:31am | IP Logged Quote azhaque

My quest for a wifi based monitoring system started when I received my CCs. I had ordered the ones that are packaged with the e-wifi box (http://www.epsolarpv.com/en/index.php/Product/pro_content/id/731/am_id/139 ). Epsolar market the e-box packaged with its full range of CCs, both PWM and MPPT.

When the e-box is connected to the CC, one can read the CC's data on a mobile phone, using a free utility provided by Epsolar. However the utility is of limited use, as there is no possibility to add or subtract parameters. So I started my search on the Net for a replacement.

The first thing that turned up was a youtube video by Adam Welch (http://adamwelch.co.uk/2017/12/build-your-own-rs485-to-wifi-adapter-for-epever-solar-charge-controllers/ ). This was a designed as a replacement for the e-box wifi. However this also has limited functionality. The design was by another diyer Colin Hickey, whose youtube videos proved to be excellent guides.

Further research led me to paulca's thread at eevblog (http://www.eevblog.com/forum/projects/nodemcu-esp8266-rs485-epever-solar-monitor-diy/msg1404831/#msg1404831 ) where he has implemented a system for his Tracer MPPT CC, using the Arduino environment, and NodeMCU. Since I am familiar with Arduino I decided to follow this example, with the following additionalities.

1. Add another RS485 port for the two CCs as per my system.
2. Add capability to read output from an ACS758 for battery current.

You may ask that the paulca system is implemented on a Tracer series MPPT CC. Will it work on a PWM CC such as the 6048 model that I have?

I believe it would. I have concluded this because EPSOLAR use their e-box wifi as well as MT50 system across all their products. So I believe that the Tracer that paulca is using and my 6048 should have similar configuration as far as the MODBUS o/p is concerned.

Thanks for now.

Regards

azhaque

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Boppa
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Posted: 07 October 2018 at 11:08am | IP Logged Quote Boppa

The old exide batterys had a similar float on them (built into the watering cap) and they are indeed a huge timesaver, I had a set back in the 90's, the monthly checkup took literally seconds in most cases... walk into shed- look along floats- if all blue, do nothing, if red, top up (they even had flip open lids rather than the screwin style)
These are similar, but lack the top up flip open lid
water level caps
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azhaque
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Posted: 07 October 2018 at 9:59pm | IP Logged Quote azhaque

Hi all,

First the progress this weekend.

Got the veroboard populated. Got it to run BLINK . Here is the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbtMSwUkMJs

The module on the left side of the board is the power supply which provides both 5VDC and 3.3VDC. Very convenient to put onto the veroboard.

Next board with the blue blinking LED is the NodeMCU with BLINK loaded and running.

The small red thing in the middle is the bi-directional level shifter. Another one is yet to be installed.

The connectors on the right are for the MAX485 modules. I did not have these plugged in when I made the video.

--------------

To return to the design.

As I submitted above I had planned to follow paulca's conceptual design, given in his post in eevblog (link provided in an earlier post). The conceptual design is given in the schematic copied below.





The variation in my design, from the above is, that there would be two streams of MAX485 instead of only one in paulca's design given above. The only issue is whether I would be able to swing two serial ports on the ESP8266. Research on the Net shows that it IS possible despite the fact that the example videos are very very rudimentary.

Secondly it has to have the capability of reading the output from an ACS758 thru the on board the ESP8266's a to d converter.

Wish me luck.

Regards


Edited by azhaque on 07 October 2018 at 10:05pm
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bigmik
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Posted: 09 October 2018 at 3:13pm | IP Logged Quote bigmik

hi azhaque,

looks great.. Err except some of your wiring looks a bit `how you do it'.

I hope the HV and LV wiring is separated and not all in that ducting.

Comments (critical but only on a constructive intent)

Ducting is too narrow (looks like 25mm)
Ducting looks like it is mounted at angles in places and too many cables inside.
Some wiring on your batteries from `GND' pass through the `12V' wires at the terminal (keep these in neat runs apart from each other)
The wiring to the current sensor could be cleaned up so there is no chance of shorting (not that it would cause an issue if it did) maybe mount the sense PCB 180degrees rotated.

I am rather jealous of your setup but IMHO it doesn't look as good as it deserves to.

Please take those comments as I intend them .. I am not CRITICISING just pointing out some simple things to make it a better project over all.

Anyway we are all hobbyists keep up the good work.

Kind Regards,

Mick

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Bryan1
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Posted: 09 October 2018 at 5:36pm | IP Logged Quote Bryan1

I run 24 volt ex forklift batteries here on the farm 600AH on the house and 735AH on the shed. The easiest way to check the SOC on a wet cell batterybank is measuring the Sg of the electrolyte. With my forklift batteries fully charged is 1024 on the guage and they don't mind going upto 1028 once a month.
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