Author Topic: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)  (Read 1095 times)

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bergmanj

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"Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« on: January 07, 2018, 06:12:59 PM »
Folks,

I'm in the "great white north" near Duluth MN USA, where winters can be especially rugged (very cold can be prolonged at 30F below 0, and occasionally -45 F with once at -65 F, sometimes during Dec., Jan., Feb., and March), lots of snow, high winds, etc.).

We've a totally "off-grid" retirement home which we operate with energy from 2.5KW of solar P. E., with a single set of 8 Rolls S-605 batteries in series for a 48V system. Backup is from a propane-fired, liquid-cooled, Kohler generator who's waste heat is dissipated within our utility shed (inside) to keep the shed warm during cold weather.

In this part of the country, it's not uncommon for old farmsteads to have a separate "utility" shed about 1/2 way 'tween house & barn for easier distribution of water, electricity, & fuel.

Because of those considerations, and of property/homeowners insurance, we took the lead from the old farms and decided that a separate utility shed was a good idea (spouse has horses & barn for same 175' away from house for sanitary vs domestic water well & other reasons); the insurance co. liked it as well.

This has worked-out great!  Shed is superinsulated (structural insulated panels) for heat loss; but, has no external heat source other than our propane-fired backup generator.  Issue for us now is that we upgraded from running a modified APC 3000 UPS to a new XW+ 5548.

"How is that a problem?", you say:  Old system was much less efficient at charging batteries from generator, when needed. New system charges batteries much more efficiently - thus, less total heat from generator into shed causing some recent problems with water system freeze-ups!

I wanted to use the XW+ "Bat Temp" triggers to start/stop generator in case of low shed temperatures to simply put heat into same.  But, XW+ AGS triggers are only adjustable from 0 C to +10 C (32 F to 50 F); and, I would like to adjust closer to a nominal of 65 F.  As of now, I'm hooking-up a separate thermostat to use the AGS' Temp 1 input for gen start & stop, instead.

Under other conditions of gen run due to charging needs, the shed can overheat - even in -30 F weather; so, I've also implemented an outside air cooling shuttered vent fan with cooling thermostat to handle that situation separately.  Obviously, these two thermostats need some "space" between their settings so as to not cross-operate. That, I can handle.

I'm specifically interested in learning of others' "unique, unpublished, out-of-the-box", etc. uses beyond those which are listed in the XW+ installation and operators' manuals for the various input/output/programming options.

Anyone here; or, links to elsewhere???

Thanks in advance, JLB


SparWeb

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2018, 01:34:01 AM »
Can you put an electric heater in your shed?
It's not relevant if the heater is run from the propane generator or the batteries, you just need heat when you need it, and a lot of electric heaters have thermostat switches built in.  There's one in the crawlspace under my house for basically the same reason.
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XeonPony

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2018, 11:37:46 AM »
As said electric heater is way more efficient in terms of energy conversion, why run gen when not needed?!

If the gen does need to come on, then let it do so to charge batteries, then the heater will drop out once the gen is on so room stays warm!
Ignorance is not bliss, You may not know there is a semie behind you but you'll still be a hood ornimant!

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bergmanj

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2018, 07:10:29 PM »
Hi.

Thanks for the responses: I am charging batteries when gen is running - to me, it would be a waste to not use the available power.  Let me explain further, though; as, I have the feeling that my actual query was misunderstood too narrowly [not well explained by me].

So, am I misunderstanding both of your comments?: Prime Mover waste heat is already being used for heat when needed - so how is using electric heater more efficient in the whole scheme of things?  Yes, I'm aware that electric heat is 100% efficient when converting electric power to heat.  But, to me, using gen waste heat is even more efficient fuel use for heating; especially when I can use the electric output too.

As an example: Utility power is typically generated by burning coal to make steam to drive a turbine to spin a generator to supply electrical power to "the grid" (I've previously worked at a 1,000 MW utility plant as an Instrument and Controls Tech.).

In this process, the stoichiometric "efficiency" of burning coal (a chemical oxidizing process) is typically around 38% (and burning coal at home to extract it's heat would typically be around 25%), the boiler/turbine power conversion is about 50%, Generator around 95%, various transmission and distribution losses typically bring the coal's heating efficiency down to between 7 to 14% efficiency by the time it hits your home power outlet as available electricity.  [Scientific American and several others have had many referenced articles published over the last 40 years on this very subject.]

My use of propane as fuel for my generator "wastes" about 33% as heat and water vapor out the exhaust, another 33% as dissipated [radiated] engine heat, and about 33% to drive the generator. with the generator at ~70% efficiency. So, my over-all fuel efficiency from propane to electricity is about 25%  -  somewhere near double the efficiency of the utility's power.  The only reason that utility power is several times less costly per KWH than my own fuel-generated power is that the coal is very cheap for them to buy. 

So, if I want heat, my most efficient use of fuel is to directly burn it, without any intermediate energy conversions.  For my shed, I would best use propane by installing a propane heater.

In the absence of that option, I use the generator's prime mover [IC engine] waste heat when needed.

My original point here is to find out if anyone else, or anyplace else, is another source for various "unorthodox" use of the new XW+ controls I have available - the need for heat is not my sole basis for my initial query - just a starting point for "unorthodox" use discussion.  I'd really very much prefer to not "re-invent the wheel" if others already have.

Further comments from you two, others?

Thanks much, JLB





jenkinswt

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2018, 08:59:52 PM »
There's nothing wrong with using the generators waste heat but if your not needing it to charge then why not use a ventless gas heater or electric on a thermostat just above freezing? That way it should be less fuel waste on the generator, less wear and tear, etc.

How big is your shed? If it's well insulated and small, etc. Then it probably wouldn't take much to keep it above freezing. I have a similar situation where I have running water in a shed that I need to keep above freezing. It's currently a very drafty shed but I have a heat exchanger running from a wood boiler and its working for now but I plan to tighten the shed up some. I'm off grid as well but I despise running the generator and avoid it as much as I can.

SparWeb

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2018, 01:05:54 AM »
Hi Bergmanj,
It seems you're already capturing a lot of the generator's heat in the shed, so this seems to be chasing 20% more effect with 80% more effort.
What would be the harm in trying a small electric heater in there?  50 bucks at Home Depot.
You can buy them at ratings anywhere between 100W to 3600W, and you can trim the thermostat anywhere between 1 degree above freezing to a sauna.

I can't say much about the balance of energy except to check that I understand correctly:  The improved system is more efficient, but you were previously relying on a certain level of inefficiency to release heat needed to keep the pipes thawed, and makes sense that the times needing the most vigorous pipe thawing were cold times that would also see the generator run a lot.  Then running an electric heater might seem inefficient, but I think that depends on your point of view.  Indeed if you take measurements and do lots of math you could possibly prove it uses as much heat as the generator used to supply.  But it would be doing the same job, right?  So it's actually serving a function for you, and in my books that's a purposeful use of energy.
No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

System spec: 135w BP multicrystalline panels, regulated by Xantrex C40, DIY 8ft diameter wind turbine, regulated by Tri-Star TS60, 800AH x 24V AGM Battery, Xantrex SW4024

bergmanj

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2018, 10:41:13 AM »
Sparweb,

I completely agree.

That was only an example: I'm looking for info. from others as to how "unorthodox" use of my new XW+ controls can be used / have been used, other than what's "in the book".

In what region of Canada do you reside?  I suspect our climates are more similar to each other's than mine to much of the rest of the U. S.

According to "sources", 90% of your country's population lives within 10 miles of your border with us; and, 90% of that is in lower Ontario; so, 81% of your population lives SOUTH of my location near Duluth MN U. S. A!  And northern MN has Lots of connections with the likes of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Regards,  JLB

bergmanj

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2018, 04:36:46 PM »
Sparweb,

I was somewhat incorrect in my previous response:

My very best solar P. V. harvest is during very cold & sunny winter days because of the increased efficiency due to decreased internal resistance of the panels [inversely proportional to surrounding air temperature].  Additionally, I typically get a good deal more P. E. output due to solar reflection from winter snow below the panels.

Three winters ago here, we had a very cold [on average] winter. As a result, most days were very clear and sunny.  Because of substantially less need for the backup generator, our propane fuel use was cut into 1/2 of "normal" for the whole season (October -- April); but, I still had to run said generator for a short time daily for shed  heat.  Incidentally this situation of substantially reduced fuel use was "counterintuitive" to my propane supplier!  He's finally "getting-it" after several & repeated explanations: Our most prominent use of fuel is for the generator, with house heating being a long second - as I found out that particular season.

Our poorest P. V. harvest is typically during the November/December time period due to annual prevailing cloudiness.

Still looking forward to any comments from you regarding my previous post ("unorthodox" controls use, "Canada", etc.)

Regards,  JLB

XeonPony

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 10:22:23 AM »
Sparweb,

I completely agree.

That was only an example: I'm looking for info. from others as to how "unorthodox" use of my new XW+ controls can be used / have been used, other than what's "in the book".

In what region of Canada do you reside?  I suspect our climates are more similar to each other's than mine to much of the rest of the U. S.

According to "sources", 90% of your country's population lives within 10 miles of your border with us; and, 90% of that is in lower Ontario; so, 81% of your population lives SOUTH of my location near Duluth MN U. S. A!  And northern MN has Lots of connections with the likes of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Regards,  JLB

I'm in Sk first year here it was -62c (Real numbers, wind chill is a fake number and I never use it as for engineering it is worthless!) Atm it is -35c

Like you I use generators when needed, For mine I built an insulated house for it, rather then run it every day to warm up the house a small 500w base-bord heater that runs off the inverter comes on when required.

ATM I don't have the option but when I do I'll start using thermal mass heated by the exhaust of the gen set to get max benefit from that, but over all the solar panels do all the leg work.

As for odd ball uses pick one! with a micro controller and a bit of time on the net you have near infinite options, but in the end of the day KISS (Keeping it simple and stupid!) Now days I want it to just work, and do so with minimal involvement from me! Slowly getting there.

So control scheme is: Solar panels do main work, generator is kept warm enough to start by electric heater, when batts are low enough or I need the extra power gen kicks on, doing so drops the heater out and runs the house and provides its own heat. That's it!

Generator has a time delay of 5 minutes to let it heat up fully and get good and stable rpm be for a contactor closes connecting the house. heater is controlled by its own simple mechanical thermostat, but I added a cold stat, if it is any warmer then 32f out side it doesn't allow the heater to run (I just use a defrost thermostat for a domestic fridge!) 32f they open, below 28f they close)

So this way you only have the heater on when it is really needed, so minimal power usage. You can get them in any range you desire. I prefer mechanical and analog controls my self, simple reliable and take allot of abuse.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2018, 10:35:15 AM by XeonPony »
Ignorance is not bliss, You may not know there is a semie behind you but you'll still be a hood ornimant!

Nothing fails like prayer, Two hands clasped in work will achieve more in a minute then a billion will in a melenia in prayer. In other words go out and do some real good by helping!

bergmanj

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2018, 03:27:22 PM »
XeonPony,

Yikes! -62 C!  That's -79.6 F  --  coldest I've seen near here is -65 F  / -48.3 C, plenty cold enough.

If I may ask: What area of SK are you located?

Majority of folks here ("south of the border") think that it's cold when just below freezing; except for us "northern" folk, also along "the border" (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, N New York, N Michigan, N Wisconsin, MN, N & S Dakota's, Montana, N Wyoming, N Idaho, NE Washington, & other colder mountainous areas; obviously, Alaska too).

KISS is always good.  I tend to make more "sophisticated" controls, with KISS controls as "backup".

"Sophisticated" can be very nice; but, terrible when failed/failing. Retired now; but, worked in many many very sophisticated commercial / U.S. Federal Civilian, and Military systems right down to the component level - did manufacturing and test engineering for some years a while ago.

Being retired now for a few years, most of the newer "stuff" has passed me by. But, the KISS controls are usually analogue and/or individual components such as [digital???] bi-metallic switching thermostats, etc.

Once, I re-wound a reactor coil on my air-cooled "backup standby" Onan 12.5JC 3-phase 240/240/240/120/120 generator to get the magneciter going again (shorted turns don't do magnetic amplifiers any good!). and, have re-wound several transformers for specific uses too.  [The Onan reactor coil re-wind description is over on Smokstak forum / "Magneciter" sticky.]

Still looking for "out of the box" uses specifically for my new XW+ control inputs.

Good to converse.

Regards, JLB

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2018, 12:23:26 AM »
I guess you really want to be open to unusual ideas... I'm always reluctant to leave behind the solution that's cheap, simple and reliable all at the same time.  Very little room for improvement, so any idea I come up with will be too easy to ignore or reject... more expensive, more complicated and so on.  Unless you, too, commit to pursuing the out-of-box ideas yourself.  Do you have any specific things in mind to do this? 

Everything I come up with seem to cost 100X more than the electric space heater:
Ground-source earth heat pump?
Heat exchange from house waste water?
No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

System spec: 135w BP multicrystalline panels, regulated by Xantrex C40, DIY 8ft diameter wind turbine, regulated by Tri-Star TS60, 800AH x 24V AGM Battery, Xantrex SW4024

hydrosun

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2018, 12:57:02 PM »
You wee looking for an unusual idea to turn up the heat.
I haven't used the temperature settings on the XW to AGS so take this with a grain of salt. The remote temperature sensor is essentially a 10k ohm resistor. It's resistance changes according to temperature. By putting a fixed resistor either in parallel or series will change the range of resistance that the inverter senses. So you can trick the inverter into thinking it is cooler than reality.  That way you can set the inverter to start the generator when it is below 65 instead of 50. The reason I say series or parallel is I'm not sure which direction the resistance changes when the temp goes down. Just try one and see if the inverter is triggered. I'm not sure if there is a screen that will show the temperature number so you can see exactly what changes and how far.
I've done this with a heat pump sensor to turn it on and off when I had surplus power. I had a relay controlled by the aux on a FM 80 connect a 10k ohm resister in parallel to the thermistor to make it appear that it was colder and the heat pump turned on. When it was disconnected it appeared to be warmer and shut off.
I've done the same trick on a sensor for a solar hot water heater to trigger the pump at a higher temp to prevent freezing.  So it's a simple trick to change the range of temperature control.
Chris

XeonPony

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2018, 01:34:33 PM »
Manufacterurs are lazy I can near guarantee it is a 10K NTC (negative temp coefficient

temp goes up resistance goes down.)

If I may ask: I'd like if you could snap some pics of the install especially inside the inverter as I'm planning on getting a 6548 Xw in the near future
Ignorance is not bliss, You may not know there is a semie behind you but you'll still be a hood ornimant!

Nothing fails like prayer, Two hands clasped in work will achieve more in a minute then a billion will in a melenia in prayer. In other words go out and do some real good by helping!

bergmanj

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2018, 02:12:14 PM »
Hydrosun,

The idea of "fooling" the Battery Temperature Sensor would work for "heat"; but, it would also affect the charge rates in modifying temperature compensation - won't work for me, but a good idea.  Thanks; those are exactly the kinds of ideas for which I'm looking.

Xeon,

For what kinds of photos are you looking?  Internal; but, what internals? My XW+ 5548 is pretty well "sealed"; and, I would love to get to the insides, but don't want to jeopardize the warranty.  Please let me know more specifically what you would like to see, and I will try.

It certainly seems well enough built & thought-out; though, I do wish that Schneider would "widen" the "battery temperature" auxilliary output options to allow for "battery cold" to be set up to 25 oC (77 oF - standard battery ratings temperature) to enable what I wanted to try; i.e., using that function to trigger the Automatic Generator Start [AGS] to maintain a reasonable building temperature/prevent freezing.  As of now, that setting is limited to 1 o C adjustments of from 0 o C (32 o F) to +10 o C (50 o F). I believe that a very simple firmware adjustment could allow what I need (Hint, hint, to any Schneider design folks out there!).

For your info: The XW+ inverters come with a simple control panel already installed; I elected to also get the System Control Panel (SCP), along with the AGS.  For a very basic system, you don't need either of those options; and, you can still do a rudimentary (2-wire) generator start from the inverter's Auxillary outputs - you don't necessarily need the AGS - though it's nice to have some additional functionality.

You might also consider the Comm box in lieu of the SCP, if you're comfortable using a PC, Laptop, etc. to communicate with the system instead.  All of these options become very much more clear when going through their installation and operations manuals.  All of these suggestions may help you save some money, dependent on your requirements/wants for operability.

Xeon, I also sent a PM to you several days ago - did you get it?

Regards,   JLB


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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2018, 03:24:46 PM »
I have all my stuff networked all ready, for the system I'm making will be using the 6848, scp, ags, batt monitor.

charging side for solar sticking with morning star, the combox is a bloody shameless cash grab as that should be built into every dam inverter IMO is a tcp/ip interface!

just the wiring box is all help to plan lay out n such, not finding to much on the web atm.

don't think I did.

I have an Onan AJ3.0 Vacuflow genset I'll be integrating into the system by putting on an auto start system.

I'm doing a large over hual of my power system and going to be engineering it into a skid designed to fit on a standard box flat bed so it is mobile. As this house I plan to sell so I can get remote acreage cheap, catch is cheap + Acreage usually = remote and squat for services)
Ignorance is not bliss, You may not know there is a semie behind you but you'll still be a hood ornimant!

Nothing fails like prayer, Two hands clasped in work will achieve more in a minute then a billion will in a melenia in prayer. In other words go out and do some real good by helping!

bergmanj

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2018, 04:13:18 PM »
Xeon,

Wiring area inside XW+ itself is VERY TIGHT (approx 2" deep x 3" wide x 2" high with 3 3/4" or 1" wiring/ strain-relief knockouts)!  Especially since they did an add-on by also stuffing two toroid "O"-cores in there with In and Out wiring going through them - must be an "RFI" afterthought.

I'd advise that you get the bottom wiring box, if you can: will give more room for i/o & gen. wiring than available in inverter.

Am sending another short PM; please verify back by PM if you get it; by this board if not.

Thanks, JLB

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2018, 05:44:15 PM »
I am really interested in the XW+ and because it has a modbus interface it sounds like our software platform could connect to it. bergmanj are you using the ComBox to control setpoints? that device sounds like it has some flexibility but mostly from a modbus register level.  we have an open client (SolarNode) that runs on a raspberry pi that talks to a lot of different hardware, can take remote instructions or operate its own logic independent of the internet,  so conceivably could be interesting to try with the XW+. 

bergmanj

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Re: "Nonstandard" uses & hookups for Schneider XW+ 5548 (& co.)
« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2018, 08:50:21 PM »
Not using the combox.  Upgraded to the SCP only.  It'll be interesting to see what you do with the combox.

JLB