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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / It Was A Day.....
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Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 10 Nov 2020 18:54
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Got up at 5AM as usual this morning (yeah I know my neighbor says I don't do retirement right!) Turned on the faucet to wash my hands and the water trickled to a stop. We had put a heat tape on the plumbing and pump in the pump shack... but I had only one of those cheap outdoor styrofoam faucet covers on the faucet that is connected directly to insulated box where the water enters the cabin. Knew I needed to remove that faucet and plug it, the pipe and the hole through the inlet box. Too late. It wasn't supposed to get that cold last night, forecast 10 - 15. Well it was 6*F. But wait, that's not all!

So decided to put a little heater in the pump shack (the "shack" is a well insulated box on the side of my cistern house about 4' x 2', a small space), and because it has been snowing for a couple of days the batteries were down to 43.1v... LBCO is 42v, I figured I should start the generator so as not to deplete the batteries any further. Came back in the cabin to finish my coffee and there is an error code on the inverter...l "dead battery detected "... yikes! Went into the mechanical room and the light doesn't work. Further checking, one leg on the load center is dead. Turn off the generator, fault goes away and both legs of the load center work. Check the lithium modules... all of them read exactly the same, 43.3vdc, no dead battery. Fire up the generator, same results.

Call the solar company where I bought the equipment, the tech tells me that although I can feed this 240v inverter with a 120v input, if the batteries are too low the inverter will pass through current on L1 but will not pull from the batteries to energize L2... so will throw a dead battery fault, except it's not supposed to do that at 43.1v.... or at least he didn't think so but had no other advice. (BTW this is not low battery cut off, completely different parameter.) It might be a fixed parameter or adjustable, he wasn't sure on that either. I apparently have some reading to do. We shut off everything as it was a blue sky day and knew we would charge, just needed time (most of the aforementioned took place before 8am.)

Got the water thawed out, very small chunk if ice. Then pumped 50 gallons from the cistern up to the winter potable water tank in the loft, and 55 gallons up to the barrel in the loft plumbed to fill the toilet. Then hooked up the water trailer and made two, 2 mile round trips to the spring to fill the cistern again.... weather is supposed to moderate...

Somewhere in there I looked at the System Control Panel and we were up to 44.9v so tried the generator and jo problem, immediately powered up the cabin and started charging the batteries... I shut it off and let the sun continue to do that job. Still don't know at what voltage the inverter thinks the batteries are too low to pass through AC from the generator.

Cistern full, rig and equipment put away... walk in the cabin and it was 2:45pm.... no wonder we were hungry.

So how was your day?

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 10 Nov 2020 19:09
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Yeah, cold was coming, so we had to drain the koi pond, catch the fish and move them and the pond plants into the basement winter-over tank. All was going well and almost done when I took a step in the upper level of the pond liner and the algae slime took me down. Dislocated left shoulder, tweaked my back and neck, various tender spots and banged me bean....and still was flat on my back in the bottom of the pond. My wife asked if she should call a wrecker. I popped my shoulder back in, let the pain dissipate and worked my way out. Still had to change a flat tire on the car too. I'll be 68 in a few months if I make it that long........maybe I shouldnt try to clean the gutters this week.
Never did make it to the cabin.

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 10 Nov 2020 19:35
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Gcrank... sounds fun!... not! I'm a couple months away from 66 so becoming acquainted with aches and pains I just shouldn't have... or should say didn't have. Uncle Aurther is visiting the knuckles on my hand (I only have one arm... other one amputated 30 years ago), my mother had horrible arthritis in her hands, she always said "I just keep'em busy and they stay usable." Hope I can be that tough!

We enjoy winter up here in the Rockies but it can be hard living. Our other home is 9-10 hours away in north central AZ so we kind of have to choose to live one place or the other.... with all this virus stuff going around, we choose the mountains.

Take it easy a few days and you'll be back to the cabin in no time!

paulz
Member
# Posted: 10 Nov 2020 19:55
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Went to bed at 10pm. Fire dept. pager went off at 1am, Covid patient with breathing issues. I was at my city house but watched TV for 2 hours before falling back asleep. 4am my wife had a seizure, not uncommon but kept me up until 5. 6am the dog is on my chest for his morning walk. Why do I have bags under my eyes? Fairly easy day though, packed the truck, got to the cabin before noon, got a fire going, fried up some ham and potatoes, took a nap, worked on a few small things. Training tonight. Full day at the cabin tomorrow, plumbing, electrical, winter tarps, firewood..

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 10 Nov 2020 20:24
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Paul.... Apparently sleep is over rated! 16 years on volunteer FD... I remember those calls! Why is it fires/calls are nearly always at night?

Get some rest!

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 10 Nov 2020 23:06
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Long ago someone said something to the effect of, "only those who do things get things done", and, "the award goes to the man (and woman) in the arena".
From the tales here I say we are a pretty formidable crew!

rachelsdad
Member
# Posted: 11 Nov 2020 04:34
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From the tales here I say we are a pretty formidable crew!

Yup, inspiring group...and good folks too.

Could not have done what I've done w/out the people on this forum.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 11 Nov 2020 06:05
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The inverter dosnt transfer the AC load to the generator if the batteries are low? Isnt that a major time when you would want it to? This sounds odd.

DaveBell
Member
# Posted: 11 Nov 2020 06:43
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Quoting: paulz
Fire dept. pager went off at 1am


Friend of mine is a paramedic, license plate SAVURAZ.
LOL. He told me they call the women on the radio speaker in the firehouse at 1 am, the bitch in the box. Sleep interrupted.

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 11 Nov 2020 08:40
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Quoting: Brettny
The inverter dosnt transfer the AC load to the generator if the batteries are low? Isnt that a major time when you would want it to? This sounds odd.


Well, it does transfer the AC load to the generator but only on the leg that is actually hooked to the generator... L1. If I had a 240v generator then I would also have a 120v feed to L2.... but I don't. Apparently you can run this inverter off a 120v generator and output 240v, BUT... one leg is being fed from the battery bank. I do think that while the generator was running it was also throwing a charge into the battery bank. But because it felt the batteries were too low to create power from them it allowed 120v to pass through on L1 but would not energize L2. This left us with only one side of the load center energized and a dead battery fault. Again, I think it WAS charging the batteries but we shut it down.

My LBCO is set to 41vdc, so I know it is not reading that parameter as the point to call dead battery fault. I just haven't had the time to study the SCP manual yet to figure it out. On a couple of other occasions we have gotten low and kicked on the generator to bring the bank up, usually just before bed.... normally we won't do that if we are pretty sure we won't hit LBCO before morning and the next day is forecast to be sunny. If we know we are facing another day with no sun, we will charge with the generator, that's why it's there. I just don't recall at what voltage we were setting at these times. Apparently more than 43.1v! We use about .5-.6 vdc overnight between the freezer, fridge, heat tape and the Dish receiver. The LBCO alarm goes off 1vdc above the cut-off... don't want to hear that at night!

I'll figure it out, but if not there are other Techs at NAZWS that likely know more than the guy I got on the phone. The engineer that helped us design the system is pretty knowledgeable on Schneider equipment and in the past when I've asked a question he didn't know the answer to he would call an engineer at Schneider and get me an answer.

Sorry... long answer for a short question.

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 11 Nov 2020 09:04
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Well, we left just a gh ood steady drip at the kitchen faucet last night and the water didn't freeze.... almost but it didn't. Turned on the faucet this morning and good strong flow, that tapered of to a pencil sized flow, then slowly came back up to a full flow. Yay!!

Going into town tomorrow so hoping to find a 6' heat tape to put on the lines in the water entry box. I see a 6' heat tape only draws 17amps... the one in the pu ml p shark pulls 84amps, BUT they have thermostats so it is not a continuous draw.

So today I'll go under the cabin and wire the receptacle end of an extension cord directly into a junction box I know is right on the other side of the foundation from the water entry box. Of course leaving the actual receptacle end accessible to the water entry box. Maybe, just maybe we can keep water flowing this winter from the main water system... the loft winter system is almost ready to switch to if not. Still need to plumb from the 55 gallon barrel a faucet over the toilet tank for filling... might get to that today as well.

Oh..... I've got a ground fault breaker I can install on that circuit... which also feeds the receptacle in the pump shack so have been meaning to do that anyway.... it just got away from me... too many other fires to put out!

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 11 Nov 2020 09:53
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Heat tape off a battery bank..I would def make sure you insulate over the heat tape. Where is the thermostat on these? I have never been in a situation where I needed heat tape.

Your inverter is a Schneider product? Mine is too, a freedom x1200 with transfer switch although I have never used the transfer side of it. I do want to try and start an AC on the inverter and run it off a 1kw generstor.

Keep us informed on what you figure out.

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 11 Nov 2020 11:16
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Quoting: Brettny
Heat tape off a battery bank..I would def make sure you insulate over the heat tape. Where is the thermostat on these?


Yeah I had my doubts too but we have a 12kw lithium battery bank. The long heat tape in the pump shack (again this is a big box) isn't draining the bank badly overnight, maybe added .1-.2 volt drain. I can live with that. It was 5*F last night... brrrr! Yes.... we wrapped foil backed fiberglass pipe wrap over the heat tape. Interestingly when we started our investigation to where the pipes were frozen yesterday, after taking the 2" rigid foam from the box and lifting the fiberglass bats out, it was fairly warm in there.... pretty much knew right then there was no freezing in there.

The thermostat is the little black "button" just where the actual heat tape begins. This is placed against the pipe, taped down to make contact. Turns on at 38* off at 45*. See picture.

Yeah, matching Schneider Conext SCC and SW 4048 inverter/charger. No transfer switch as... supposedly when the generator is running it will power the cabin as well as charge the battery bank. I think it is great equipment but not perfect. Victron would have been a better choice in hindsight. Victron plays better with Lithium. Schneider will but has limitations. The inverter/charger wants to ALWAYS when charging with generator input charge to its default 48v battery bank voltage of 52vdc.... way too much for my lithium modules. You can adjust the parameters a little but not low enough, 52v is where it wants to go. We watch it closely when charging with the generator... which fortunately is very seldom. Creeky had advised me of this issue... maybe Schneider has fixed this but I haven't asked/looked for a firmware update.

Will let you know what I find...l just need time to sit and study. Supposed to snow again Friday so maybe then!
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