Author Topic: Charge controllers  (Read 26295 times)

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mconley

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Charge controllers
« on: March 03, 2013, 10:37:47 PM »
So I am going to be building a wind generator, adding a few solar panels and maybe adding in micro hydro as a start to a battery system with a a small battery bank. Is there a a charge controller that will let me connect the all incoming voltage from the various places to a singe battery bank?

Flux

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2013, 01:13:33 AM »
If you have mixed charging sources the simplest way is to use a diversion or dump controller.

All charging sources connect to the battery and as the battery becomes charged, excess power is dumped to a resistor to maintain the ideal battery charging voltage.

Many of the common controllers can be configured this way, you need to choose on on the basis of how much current you expect to dump. For a small start up system you may well look at Ghurd's charge controller, you should find references to it if you search the board or he may see this post and comment.

Morningstar, Xantrex , Stecca and others produce diversion controllers and for bigger set-ups The more advanced controllers can ususlly be configured for dump but that may not be the best use of an expensive top end controller with mppt.

Flux

ghurd

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2013, 07:25:50 AM »
Yes, what Flux said.

Couple links;
Original ghurd controller post-
http://www.fieldlines.com/index.php/topic,129060.html
and
http://www.ghurd.info/

Can make it small or large, or expand it later.
http://i701.photobucket.com/albums/ww20/ghurd1/Stray%20Pics/IMG_0310.jpg
and
http://i701.photobucket.com/albums/ww20/ghurd1/Stray%20Pics/WWresBox.jpg


The expensive controllers still need a dump load.  The dump load cost gets many people by surprise.

Time to go to work,
G-
www.ghurd.info<<<-----Information on my Controller

mconley

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2013, 12:43:05 PM »
Ok, sort of lost me here.
Mechanical I know, Electricity I am comfortable with, electronics only in specific instances. So lets assume I know not the first thing about the electronics of a dump load and a charge controller.
I understand in general what the controller is doing and what the dump load is doing. I guess my question is, why? 12v + to the batteries to charge, does not a charge controller simply open the circuit when the batteries reaches full charge and close when needed? What is the purpose of the dump load?

mconley

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2013, 12:50:38 PM »
Ok, sort of starting to get it through some reading. So, for reasons I do not understand wind and hydro can't just be "disconnected" from the batteries.
How do I know what load I can anticipate needing to dump?
Also, can you recommend a charge controller (Not interested in building one, not my gig) that will divert the over charge power to say some heating coils I could use to heat water or air?

Oh, and why do I have to put in captcha and spam questions for every post? Is it because I am new or is that forever?

Flux

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2013, 01:34:12 PM »
With solar you can disconnect when the battery is full or short the panels. With wind or hydro it is a bad idea to disconnect the load, the turbine runs away and volts get out of control.

You can use a solar controller but that still leaves you with the problem of dealing with the wind and hydro. If you want only one controller than you can use diversion control on the lot.

If it is a large system then it may make sense to try to use the waste heat but for small systems there may not be enough heat to be really worth the effort. Dumping 50W to a hot water system is probably not worth the effort but 500W is a different matter.

The size of controller depends on your source of power, you can easily get 60A controllers so unless you have a lot of power they should do all you want.

If you have solar and hydro you may easily be able to size your installation so that you don't need to dump a great deal, unless you can use the heat, there is little point in having more input power than is needed to get the batteries up on a daily basis. With a bit of luck the wind and solar compliment each other and the hydro should be fairly constant .

With only one source you need battery capacity to last several days and you need a lot of potential charging power to get them back up after a lean period so you may need more dump than with a multiple power source where long periods with nothing are less common.

If you do go for using the heat you can either dump to low voltage heaters, simple and effective but heaters are not standard items, or you can use the controller to turn on an inverter and dump to mains voltage heaters. In that case you need an on/ off controller and not the usual pwm type.



ghurd

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2013, 07:47:27 AM »
Mconley,
Might be able to help a little more.  Looks like I am only 50 miles east of you?  A to Y-town.
Shoot me an email.
G-
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Frank S

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2013, 12:42:55 AM »
I was reading about the diversion controllers that Flux was talking about and came across this
http://www.ebay.com/itm/440-AMP-12v-24v-48v-Solar-Wind-Charge-Controller-HV-/181090265022?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a29d227be

Now I have a question for the experts. given that I am contemplateing setting up a system for my RV which may later become the baseline core system for a more permanent setting Anything such as this is a huge overkill for a RV system I know I'm just wondering if anyone knows about it or if the specs and test tell ay of you the quality versus price.
 Testing page
http://www.ebay.com/itm/440-AMP-12v-24v-48v-Solar-Wind-Charge-Controller-HV-/181090265022?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a29d227be
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Frank S

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2013, 12:59:44 AM »
If you cannot get the links to work try  http://www.colemanair.us/
 look on the left then scroll down to the top sellers catagory

http://www.colemanair.us/vp_asp/scripts/shopexd.asp?id=650&bc=no
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ChrisOlson

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2013, 06:30:40 AM »
If you cannot get the links to work try  http://www.colemanair.us/

That's not a charge controller.  It's a diversion controller.  There's a difference.
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Frank S

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2013, 07:34:20 PM »


That's not a charge controller.  It's a diversion controller.  There's a difference.
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Yes Chris I realize that it was a diversion controller.
Perhaps I should have rephrased the question.
 Flux had mentioned a diversion controller in 1 of his posts so I looked them up.
 I admit to being dumb as a box of hammers with half the handles broken when it comes to electronics, mechanical is a different story. I can get my head around most electrical well enough when it comes to 3 phase and industrial circuits. Split phase and 110/120v has always seemed ludicrous to me, and as long as there are not too many components ending in "isters' I can comprehend some of the electronics
 I was wanting to know about the when and why or at what stage in life a system would reach the point of requiring a diversion controller.

 It is possible that I may be traveling near Coleman TX in a few weeks  if I do I will look up those guys
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ChrisOlson

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2013, 08:45:46 PM »
A diversion controller is used to turn on an aux load when you have the power to operate the load, based on battery voltage.

A charge controller does bulk/absorb/float functions (and sometimes equalize).

Some people try to use diversion controllers as a charge controller (and some outfits try to sell them as such).  That's bad for the batteries.  Real bad.  Like these guys here that don't know their a$$ from a hole in the ground selling this outfit as a "charge controller"
http://www.mwands.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=4&products_id=450

Basically what you have there is a relay turning on power to two hot dogs in a cage.  In some circles that's a "charge controller".  Where I come from it's called a "fire hazard".

If you notice, this outfit in Coleman, TX has the same thing that's mounted on that hot dog cooker in the above link:
http://www.colemanair.us/vp_asp/scripts/shopexd.asp?bc=no&ccode=C40-12SG

And you see, here's your "S3P3G Brake Switch" that's mounted on that hot dog cooker contraption:
http://www.colemanair.us/vp_asp/scripts/shopexd.asp?bc=no&ccode=S3P3G

If you want a charge controller don't waste you time stopping in Coleman, Texas.  You can get one of these if you plan on having any sort of decent sized system eventually:
http://www.midnitesolar.com/productPhoto.php?product_ID=256&productCatName=Charge%20Controllers%20for%20Solar,%20Wind,%20Hydro&productCat_ID=21&sortOrder=1

You'll notice there's a difference in price between the real charge controller and the hot dog cooker.  You can spend the money on the charge controller up front and be done with it.  Or you can buy the hot dog cooker, find out it don't work, wreck your batteries, then buy new batteries and then buy the charge controller.  The choice is yours as to how much money you want to spend and the rate you want to get rid of your money at.  If you want to get rid of lots of money over a long time, buy the diversion controller.  If you want to get rid of a lot money real fast get the charge controller.
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« Last Edit: April 08, 2013, 09:09:22 PM by ChrisOlson »

Frank S

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2013, 11:45:21 PM »
A diversion controller is used to turn on an aux load when you have the power to operate the load, based on battery voltage.

A charge controller does bulk/absorb/float functions (and sometimes equalize).

Some people try to use diversion controllers as a charge controller (and some outfits try to sell them as such).  That's bad for the batteries.  Real bad.  Like these guys here that don't know their a$$ from a hole in the ground selling this outfit as a "charge controller"
http://www.mwands.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=4&products_id=450

Basically what you have there is a relay turning on power to two hot dogs in a cage.  In some circles that's a "charge controller".  Where I come from it's called a "fire hazard".

If you notice, this outfit in Coleman, TX has the same thing that's mounted on that hot dog cooker in the above link:
http://www.colemanair.us/vp_asp/scripts/shopexd.asp?bc=no&ccode=C40-12SG

And you see, here's your "S3P3G Brake Switch" that's mounted on that hot dog cooker contraption:
http://www.colemanair.us/vp_asp/scripts/shopexd.asp?bc=no&ccode=S3P3G

If you want a charge controller don't waste you time stopping in Coleman, Texas.  You can get one of these if you plan on having any sort of decent sized system eventually:
http://www.midnitesolar.com/productPhoto.php?product_ID=256&productCatName=Charge%20Controllers%20for%20Solar,%20Wind,%20Hydro&productCat_ID=21&sortOrder=1

You'll notice there's a difference in price between the real charge controller and the hot dog cooker.  You can spend the money on the charge controller up front and be done with it.  Or you can buy the hot dog cooker, find out it don't work, wreck your batteries, then buy new batteries and then buy the charge controller.  The choice is yours as to how much money you want to spend and the rate you want to get rid of your money at.  If you want to get rid of lots of money over a long time, buy the diversion controller.  If you want to get rid of a lot money real fast get the charge controller.
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Chris
  Personally would rather use something like a morningstar to control the panels I am bidding on. I have a schumacher 6030  dumb charger I can run off of the generator to equalize the bank in the RV no bigger than its current size Also have a DUK 1800 PSW retired from an AT&T service vehicle powering the RV for now
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ChrisOlson

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2013, 07:12:27 AM »
The Morningstar uses a PWM function to divert power to a load and thereby maintain correct absorb and float voltages.  That will work.  Just stay away from the relay-based ones.  They're hard on batteries and only really useful for turning on an aux load (like water or space heating) based on a high voltage set point.  With a system with a lot of incoming power a relay-based diversion controller will hold your bank at absorb voltages all day and cook your batteries out.

The theory is that you match the resistor to the load and then it maintains a steady voltage.  But that only works when you have steady incoming power.  Steady and stable incoming power hardly ever happens with RE power sources so the relay is constantly cycling on and off, varying the voltage from the high set point to the cutout point (or timer) and the system never does drop into float and just keeps gassing the batteries and gets them hot.  That shortens battery life.  Since batteries are way more expensive than a good charge controller, spending the big bucks on a good charger controller is generally the best way to go.

Diversion controllers based a relay have their uses.  But not for battery charging and maintaining the precise voltages for the length of time recommended by your battery manufacturer for best battery life.
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bob golding

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2013, 04:10:04 PM »
Yes, what Flux said.

Couple links;
Original ghurd controller post-
http://www.fieldlines.com/index.php/topic,129060.html
and
http://www.ghurd.info/

Can make it small or large, or expand it later.
http://i701.photobucket.com/albums/ww20/ghurd1/Stray%20Pics/IMG_0310.jpg
and
http://i701.photobucket.com/albums/ww20/ghurd1/Stray%20Pics/WWresBox.jpg


The expensive controllers still need a dump load.  The dump load cost gets many people by surprise.

Time to go to work,
G-

dump loads can be very simple. mine is  nichrome wire wrapped around an old electric fire element. i have it outside as the noise from my morningstar tristar can get annoying at 3 in the morning. just work out the resistance you need based on the voltage of your battery bank and buy some nichrome wire.  then wind it around an old fire element until you hit the current you need. simple. you can  do it other ways, but i would rather spend the money on the controller. i think someone on here uses 2 stainless stell plates on a barrel of water. lots of ways to do it.  use thicker wire as that wont get too hot. think mine is about 16 gauge or there abouts.
if i cant fix it i can fix it so it cant be fixed.

ChrisOlson

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2013, 08:01:05 PM »
The expensive controllers still need a dump load.  The dump load cost gets many people by surprise.

I'd like to point out that not all expensive controllers require a dump load.  The high-end MPPT controllers don't need it.
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ghurd

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2013, 06:02:46 AM »
So I am going to be building a wind generator, adding a few solar panels and maybe adding in micro hydro

Wind needs a dump load.
Usually hydro does too.
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ChrisOlson

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2013, 06:27:54 PM »
Wind needs a dump load.
Usually hydro does too.

Not with the high end controllers like the Classic 150.  The Classic simply unloads the power source if it puts out too much power to maintain charge stage set point, and in the situation of a wind turbine, stator brakes it on the AC side of the rectifier to prevent over-volting the controller.

No "dump load" needed.

MidNite Solar has a voltage clipper available that will "clip" the top end off the controller input voltage and regulate it at the maximum set point if it attempts to over-volt the controller.  Using the clipper is smoother than just stator braking it.  But either way works.  With the Classic you have the choice of either using a mechanical relay on the AUX1 output, or PWM with a triac on the AUX2 output for the stator braking signal.

If the controller inadvertently over-volts it doesn't hurt anything other than stopping the battery charging, so I run 'em right up 148 volts before I slam on the brakes.
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boB

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2013, 07:07:40 PM »
Wind needs a dump load.
Usually hydro does too.

Not with the high end controllers like the Classic 150.  The Classic simply unloads the power source if it puts out too much power to maintain charge stage set point, and in the situation of a wind turbine, stator brakes it on the AC side of the rectifier to prevent over-volting the controller.

No "dump load" needed.

Chris, I suppose you could call that a dump "short" ?


MidNite Solar has a voltage clipper available that will "clip" the top end off the controller input voltage and regulate it at the maximum set point if it attempts to over-volt the controller.  Using the clipper is smoother than just stator braking it.  But either way works.  With the Classic you have the choice of either using a mechanical relay on the AUX1 output, or PWM with a triac on the AUX2 output for the stator braking signal.

If the controller inadvertently over-volts it doesn't hurt anything other than stopping the battery charging, so I run 'em right up 148 volts before I slam on the brakes.
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I would certainly call the clipper a dump load.

Normally need something except in some fairly rare cases where
the turbine can keep itself in check.

boB

ChrisOlson

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2013, 08:11:01 PM »
Chris, I suppose you could call that a dump "short" ?

Yeah, because sometimes it makes you dump in your shorts when the turbine is screaming at 147.9 volts and you're wondering just when is that braking relay going to engage?

I got the AUX1 set on my turbines to tickle it for 2 seconds and that works good.  I've burnt so many clippers up I gave up on 'em.  I got one with an oil-cooled clipper on it that hasn't burned up yet.  I built a clipper out of a garage door spring one day and that was so close to dead short that I may as well not even used the spring.  But I found out from that experiment that simply dead shorting the stator works pretty good too.  There's usually enough resistance in the AC lines that it's not too severe.
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ghurd

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2013, 06:46:23 PM »

I would certainly call the clipper a dump load.

Normally need something except in some fairly rare cases where
the turbine can keep itself in check.

boB

I would too.


Chris, I suppose you could call that a dump "short" ?

Yeah, because sometimes it makes you dump in your shorts when the turbine is screaming at 147.9 volts and you're wondering just when is that braking relay going to engage?

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Chris

"relay"?  "147.9 volts"?
A voltage actuated relay is not a controller.
No decent controller would use a relay.

And what happens if the turbine's self control fails?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFU5XiMUrNw

And what happens when the turbine is shorted?
http://www.fieldlines.com/index.php/topic,140523.html
www.ghurd.info<<<-----Information on my Controller

ChrisOlson

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2013, 07:44:11 PM »
"relay"?  "147.9 volts"?
A voltage actuated relay is not a controller.
No decent controller would use a relay.

Sorry dude, but they been working that way for going on two years and 7,163 kWh on three turbines.  And that don't count the 47 kWh they've produced today, so far, because the logs haven't rolled over yet.

There's a difference between junk and good equipment.
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boB

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2013, 08:22:52 PM »

I thought you were using a SSR, Chris ?

What did you break ?  (not brake)

boB

ChrisOlson

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2013, 08:54:31 PM »
I originally used two SSR's and one with a mechanical relay.  I burnt, IIRC, 5 clippers up and usually what causes the clippers to go on the SSR ones with PWM on AUX2 is the fact that the system goes into Float so the controller unloads the turbine and lets it run up against the clipper voltage setting.  So the turbine is leaning on the clipper in 30-40 mph wind and it burns it up because there's not enough load on the turbine otherwise from the battery charging end.

I never once burnt a clipper with the mechanical relay on AUX1.  Why?  Because I set the hold time to leave the brakes on long enough to stall the rotor.  Once you stall the rotor the shaft power drops really fast and usually all it takes is a 2 second "tickle" on the relay to get the job done and stall the airfoils so they quit putting out power.  It takes a little bit for the turbine to recover and come back online when you do that and if it screams right back up against the clipper voltage again, then hit it again.

I got mechanical relays in all three of 'em now - I'm using SquareD two-pole 100 amp, 600V contactors with 24V coils in them.  And aside from one turbine that I got an oil-cooled clipper on, the other two I just dead short 'em just like I've been doing with the one since I built it.

You don't need that clipper resistor in there for protecting from over-volting the controller.  In normal charging during Bulk the controller will never unload the turbine.  During absorb it can unload it from time to time if the power becomes excessive, but even then it's rare for it to lean on the clipper unless it's running at close to rull rated output.  If it hits 148 volts I brake it for two seconds to kill it.

It's the Float charge stage that's the problem.  If the wind is blowing good and the bank drops into Float you got a turbine that's going free-spin up to to the clipper voltage and the turbine develops WAAAY more power there than it does when it's being held back by the programmed power curve during normal charging.  I like to leave a little gap between that curve and the clipper so the turbine isn't leaning on the clipper all the time when it doesn't need to.

As I told you the other day, I've now gone to shutting the turbines down with the AUX1 and a mechanical relay in Float.  Just waiting for the next firmware with that delay and hold timer for the "AUX1 on in float" function that we talked about.
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boB

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2013, 01:07:43 AM »

As I told you the other day, I've now gone to shutting the turbines down with the AUX1 and a mechanical relay in Float.  Just waiting for the next firmware with that delay and hold timer for the "AUX1 on in float" function that we talked about.
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Yes, that Beta is out now with the extra delay (2 or 3 seconds) but I forgot to add the new Aux 2 force float to the MNGP menu so I need to compile that change up.  But that part is just the MNGP code.  I believe the code with the delay in the Classic is up on the MidNite forum beta thread now.

boB

ChrisOlson

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #25 on: April 12, 2013, 08:39:01 AM »
Yes, that Beta is out now with the extra delay (2 or 3 seconds) but I forgot to add the new Aux 2 force float to the MNGP menu so I need to compile that change up.  But that part is just the MNGP code.  I believe the code with the delay in the Classic is up on the MidNite forum beta thread now.

Cool!  I ordered a Classic Lite for our newest solar array because I had some glitches with the XW-MPPT60 not following the rest of the controllers on charge stage.  Ryan said the Lite does Follow-Me so I'm going to put that on the 2 kW solar array so it coordinates with the other ones with Follow-Me.

I ran out of AUX1 ports, being they're used for turbine overspeed braking on the turbine controllers, and I'm using AUX2 on the solar Classic 150 for water heating with a SSR.  So I used the AUX1 on the solar controller to run a ice cube relay that turns on 24V power to all the clipper/brake contactors on the turbines in Float.  I'll grab that beta and throw it in that solar controller and see how it works    ;D

Side Note - when you do a firmware update and reboot the controller it loses the day's data and doesn't add it to the lifetime or daily logs because the logs haven't rolled over.  I've been forcing a rollover of the logs by setting the clock ahead to a minute before midnite, then wait for it to roll the logs before I do the firmware update so I don't lose the accumulated data for the day.  Then the next day (or whenever I think about it) set the clock back.  Is there a different way to force a rollover of the logs?
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boB

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Re: Charge controllers
« Reply #26 on: April 12, 2013, 11:24:39 AM »

Side Note - when you do a firmware update and reboot the controller it loses the day's data and doesn't add it to the lifetime or daily logs because the logs haven't rolled over.  I've been forcing a rollover of the logs by setting the clock ahead to a minute before midnite, then wait for it to roll the logs before I do the firmware update so I don't lose the accumulated data for the day.  Then the next day (or whenever I think about it) set the clock back.  Is there a different way to force a rollover of the logs?
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Well, there is an undocumented way (I know... There's a lot missing from the documentation),  to force a
new day and transfer that data over.  Go to LOGS, DAILY, and then hold the Left-Arrow key down and then press the ENTER
key (hold it for a moment) and it should display  "New Day".  This should not change the date and time in the Classic and is a way around
doing what you were doing.
And, "just in case", you might take a look at the lifetime kW-Hours before and after doing this to make sure that
it did what is said it did.  Once in a great while I find that I had to do that 2 button salute twice.

  Unfortunately, The latest firmware also keeps the automatic daily logging from logging double-days like it used to
do sometimes.  BUT, I believe that when you force the new day by using the two buttons that this will allow it to
 do a double day if you updated your firmware in the middle of the day and had a lot more energy to log into the lifetime.

The new firmware also allows you to clear logging data so you can clear the old bogus lifetime Amp-Hours data if
it was an old enough Classic to have not had the amp-hours logging correctly.

boB