New Temp Help Desk Page - Off-Grid Energy Australia Skip to content

General

System User Manuals

The user manual for your specific system has been provided to you at the time of installation. If you need a replacement copy, please send an email to info@offgridenergy.com.au detailing your name and address, and we will send you a pdf of the manual for your specific system.

Warranties

Info correct at time of writing, may change without notice – please check with the manufacturer for up to date information.

Off-Grid Energy Workmanship:

  • 2011-2015 2yrs
  • 2015 onwards 5yrs

Inverter Manufacturer Warranty:

  • SMA 5yr + optional 10yr
  • Selectronic 5yr + 5yr with Certified Installer
  • Fronius 5yr + 5yr with registration
  • Outback 5yr

Batteries Manufacturer Warranty:

  • BAE PVV 3yr + 2yrs pro rata
  • Sonnenschein A602 2yr + 3yr pro rata
  • Sonnenschein SB6/330 1yr + 1yr pro rata
  • BMZ 7yrs

Solar Panels Manufacturer Warranty:

  • 25yr performance guarantee (80% rated output)

Generator Manufacturer Warranty:

  • Various – please contact manufacturer

Going on Holiday

  • Leave the PV Array DC Isolators switched on
  • Leave the battery bank connected
  • Leave the Inverter / Chargers switched on
  • Leave the “Main switch (Solar supply)” circuit breakers switched on (AC Coupled systems only).
  • Leave the “Main switch (Normal supply)” circuit breakers switched on.
  • If you wish to isolate particular AC loads you can switch off any selected AC load circuit breakers in the system load centre (switchboard) or at the house.
  • If your power system is to operate with no electrical load connected e.g. house not built yet or AC fully isolated, you should partially power down your solar arrays by switching off 50% of the number of PV Array DC Isolators switches installed, but you must remember to switch them on again when the system comes back into use again.
  • If you leave the AC consumer power switched on, you should make sure all unnecessary electrical loads are switched off.

Troubleshooting

The most common reason for a system shutdown is due to system overload or low battery levels.  To get power going again, switch off the AC subboard circuit breaker (so the system isn’t immediately overloaded upon restarting), start your generator and follow the system startup procedure (Reverse of shutdown procedure).  Gently re-introduce loads as the system powers up and batteries are above the minimum charge levels.

System Is On, But No Power

When your Off-Grid system appears to be ‘ON’ (Eg. green lights, sufficient battery SOC) but no power is being delivered through to the property circuits, this may mean a couple of things.  Either a circuit breaker has tripped, disconnecting power from the system for safety reasons or your Inverter/Charger has gone into ‘standby’ mode for self-preservation (Eg. following an overload event).  Follow these steps to identify where the problem may be:

  • Is the Inverter/Charger in ‘standby’ mode for no apparent reason?  A system may do this to protect itself and the connected equipment so it is important to understand why this has happened (Eg. System overload, low battery SOC)?  Investigate and rectify the issue before attempting to restart the Inverter/Charger.  Read ‘Reasons for power outages’ instructions below for more clues.
  • Check the circuit breakers in the switchboard above your Inverter/Charger are in the ‘ON’ position
  • Check the circuit breakers of any sub-switchboards (Eg. at the house) are in the ‘ON’ position
  • If a circuit breaker continues to ‘trip’ when switched ‘ON’, this indicated there is an issue with this circuit.  Reasons for this can include high power load/s are exceeding the circuit breaker capacity, water ingress into cables or the switchboard, damaged cables (rodents chewing cable) or a faulty circuit breaker.
    • Turning off all loads connected to this problem circuit breaker at the power point, does the circuit breaker now stay in the ‘ON’ position?  If so, turn on powerpoints one at a time.  If the breaker trips when a particular powerpoint is switched on, this appliance/powerpoint is the cause of the issue.
    • If there are no obvious identifiable issues and/or safe rectification, contact an electrician to investigate the cause.
    • The powerpoint on the Inverter/Charger board can be used as a temporary source of power until the external circuit is rectified (Assuming this powerpoint sn’t the cause of the issue).

Preventing Power Outages

Blackouts are the last thing you or Off-Grid Energy want when you’re living off the grid.  With your own, independent power system, you have more control and responsibility for your energy than most others that are connected to the electricity network.  There are some simple, proactive steps you can take to minimise the chances of a full power outage experience:

  • Ensuring you have a solid understanding of the equipment and operation of your off-grid system.  Unlike grid customers, off-grid users need to be actively engaged with their system equipment and understand the key operations of their system.  We don’t want to make living off-grid burdensome, but the more knowledgeable users have about their system, and what to do in certain events will help make living life off-grid stressfree.  It may seem like a big task, but reading the user manual thoroughly, and this online helpdesk portal topics we highly recommend.
  • Close management of your energy consumption – Your system has been designed to deliver a certain amount of daily energy and instantaneous power as outlined in your load profile, keeping within this energy usage will reduce the possibility of things going wrong.
  • Off-Grid Energy Australia does take a firm approach to system ignorance, if general maintenance, the site infrastructure changes or poor user knowledge and system engagement has resulted in system issues, the repairs will be at the user’s expense.

Preventing for Power Outage

Please give advance consideration to what might be needed in the unlikely event of system equipment failure and how you will get by until help arrives. Due to long distances and scheduling, assistance might take some time. Like your bushfire plan, check and review your preparations annually to avoid getting caught out. Rest assured that Off-Grid Energy Australia prioritises the most urgent cases first.

It is vital that a phone service will work reliably from inside your standalone power equipment room. Poor communication may considerably delay our ability to service or diagnose system issues effectively, and access to a computer with an SD card input and internet access will assist with routine maintenance or system troubleshooting. Consider doing a test to make sure you can make and receive reliable calls from your equipment room.

Suggestions to help prepare in the event of an unscheduled outtage:

  • Complete a test phone call to make sure you can make and receive calls of good quality from your equipment room.
  • Keep all of your system manuals grouped together in a safe place where they won’t get lost; especially make sure you don’t lose any generator instruction manuals.
  • Carry important spares for the generator set. At minimum carry spare fuel, oil, coolant, maybe a fuel filter, spark plug for petrol generators, and some suitable hand tools.
  • Carry a spare set of battery bank fuses (fuses should be replaced in sets only)

Reasons for Power Outages

Maintenance

Off-Grid Power systems of today typically need less ongoing maintenance than systems of the past.  Having said that, there are still regular system checks, updates, and tests that should be performed.  General maintenance and tests assist to identify potential issues before they become major problems (Eg. generator not starting).  Along with the physical system checks listed in the maintenance table link below, checking and testing other parts of the system should include:

  • Is the generator in functioning condition?  Does it start? Does it Sync with the system? Does the Generator start Automatically through the inverter/charger?  Instructions to complete these tests can be found in the generator section of the portal below.
  • Firmware updates – Just like a computers operating system, manufacturers of inverters and communication devices regularly release new firmware versions for their equipment.  It is the user’s responsibility to update the firmware as it becomes available, Off-Grid Energy can assist with advice over the phone if required.  Instructions for firmware updates are listed below.
  • Parameter updates – From time to time, manufacturers will release updated parameter settings to be loaded into systems.  This can sometimes require additional assistance from Off-Grid Energy Australia to make system adjustments.  Please see instructions below for parameter updates for SMA Sunny Island systems.  Off-Grid Energy will advise when new parameters become available.

Parameter Updates

December 2017 – None required

System Monitoring

SMA Sunny Remote Control

The full SMA Sunny Remote Control operating manual can be found at the link below.  This manual is quite detailed and can seem complex, but is a good source of information to understand precisely what your system is trying to tell you! SMA Sunny Remote Control User Manual

Interpreting Navigation Instructions:
“Scroll” = Right turn of knob
“Scroll Back” = Left turn of knob
“Enter” = Press knob

Menu Options:

  1. Inverter (2 pages)
  2. Battery (2 pages)
  3. Generator (2 pages)
  4. SI Charger (1 page)
  5. System (1 page)
  6. Time (2 pages)
  7. Identity (1 page)
  8. Password (2 pages)
  1. 100# Meters
    1. 110# Inverter
    2. 120# Battery
    3. 130# External
    4. 140# Charge Controller
    5. 150# Compact
    6. 160# SlfCsmp
  2. 200# Settings
    1. 210# Inverter
    2. 220# Battery
    3. 230# External
    4. 240# Relay
    5. 250# System
    6. 260# SelfCsmpBackup
    7. 270# Authent
  3. 300# Diagnosis
    1. 310# Inverter
    2. 320# Battery
    3. 330# External
  4. 400# Report
    1. 410# Error active
    2. 420# Error history
    3. 430# Event history
    4. 440# Error Grid
  5. 500# Operation
    1. 510# Inverter
    2. 520# Battery
    3. 540# Generator
    4. 550#MMC-Card
    5. 560# Grid
    6. 570# Inst Test
  6. 600# Direct Access
  7. 700# Operator Level

Victron Equipment LED Indicators

On the front of your Victron device (Solar MPPT or Inverter/Charger) are Green, Red and Orange LED lights.  These lights turn ON/OFF, Blink fast or slow to corresponds to actions or errors of the device.  The meanings behind these lights can be found in your user manual, or alternatively, Victron has a Smartphone App where you can match the LED lights displayed on the equipment to the App.  The Victron Toolkit App is available for all smartphone operating systems and is found in your app store.  A link to the Victron software page is found here.

Victron BMV Battery Display

The Victron BMV 700 and 702 battery monitors are a simple yet powerful monitor for managing your off-grid system.  Toggle through the display to view different values of the current system status.  For a more interactive display, the BMV with the add-on Bluetooth dongle allows for information viewing through the VictronConnect app.  Click on this link for explanations and information about each value displayed on the BMV LCD display.

Victron Colour Control Display

The Victron Colour Control (CCGX) display offers excellent user visualisation of your systems current status and deeper level information when required.  The front main screen displays battery, solar, inverter and generator status/values (Click on image for larger view).  For customers with Fronius AC coupled solar arrays, you will see an additional ‘Fronius’ solar icon with solar production displayed. 

When the CCGX is connected to the internet, system data can be viewed online through the Victron VRM remote monitoring portal.  Off-Grid Energy highly recommends where possible to connect the Colour Control to the internet.  If a connection to the internet has been done after the initial installation, please advise Off-Grid Energy so it can be added to our portal.  Basic steps to get started with VRM setup/connection can be found here.

Selection Know Your SP Pro

The Selectronic SP Pro Inverters have a clever and informative front user panel with LED indicators to explain and communicate current functions or errors of the system  An instruction label for these LEDs should be stuck to the front of the inverter for quick reference.  It is recommended to familarise yourself with the meanings and system operation associated with these LEDs.  Click on the image to the left to expand.

Efergy Home Monitor

Systems supplied by Off-Grid Energy between 2011 and 2015 often included a wireless energy monitor to display current and historical power and energy information consumed.  It is common for these devices run out of batteries either in the display or transmitter if it is no longer working (Replace AA and AAA batteries as required).  Click on the image to the left for instructions how to get the most out of your monitor. Understanding current and historical energy consumption is important, if you feel you need a simple device to assist with this, these small Efergy Energy monitors can be purchased from Efergy Australiasia.

Inverters

Sending SD Card data for Sunny Islands

Please use these instructions when Off-Grid Energy tech support request your SD Card data for technical review.

SD Card location

 Sunny Island 5048: On the front of the inverter

Sunny Island 4.4M, 6.0H or 8.0H: On the right hand side of the Sunny Remote Control (SRC) unit.

Procedure

You will need a computer that has a SD card slot.

  1. Remove the SD card from the slot in your Sunny Remote Control display (or from the front of older model Sunny Island inverter/chargers), and insert the card in your computer.
  2. Find the SD card folder on your computer
    1. PC computers: via the ‘Start’ menu > Computer folder: SDcard3
    2. MAC computers: it should appear on your desktop, but if not then check your ‘Devices’ list in a new Finder Window
  3. Copy and Paste the folder to your desktop. Please Do Not move or delete the content. SDcard4
  4. Once this copying is completed, eject the SD card and reinsert it to your system.
  5. To compress or “zip” the folder to make the files small enough for emailing, right click the folder and select ‘compress’ (Mac) or ‘Zip’ (PC).
  6. Send the compressed/zipped file to service@offgridenergy.com.au along with any comments or specific concerns. (try to note any approximate dates/times of relevance)
  7. Don’t forget to put the SD card back into your system.
  8. We will examine the files and report back to you as soon as possible.

Victron Equipment Firmware

For Victron systems that are not connected to the internet, there is often no need to update firmware unless prompted by Off-Grid Energy Australia or the manufacturer.  Unscheduled or unplanned system firmware updates can unintentionally change settings and parameters with adverse effects.

For Victron systems that include the Colour Control CCGX monitor and are connected to the internet/VRM portal, the CCGX will automatically download and install as they become available from Victron.  There is no user action required.

Selectronic Equipment Firmware

For Selectronic SP Pro systems that are not connected to the internet, there is often no need to update firmware unless prompted by Off-Grid Energy Australia or the manufacturer.  Unscheduled or unplanned system firmware updates can unintentionally change settings and parameters with adverse effects.

Updating Sunny Island Firmware (SI 6.0 and 8.0)

Please use these instructions only when asked to by Off-Grid Energy tech support.

On the Sunny Remote Control (SRC), scroll right until you see the heading “SYSTEM”, under that heading scroll down until you can see the Firmware number, if the firmware version number is version 3.xxx these instructions apply to your system.

  • Do not install level 3 firmware in machines which are operating on level 1.000 or 1.100 firmware. No action is required if your Sunny Island is running on level 1.100 firmware.
  • Do not insert other SD memory cards containing foreign files.

Procedure

  1. Do the following procedure in daylight hours only; the power will need to be switched off to install new firmware.
  2. Remove the SD memory card from the right rear side of the SRC and insert into a computer with an SD card slot.
    • Data from the SD memory card ‘LOGGING’ folder should be saved to the computer for future reference.
  3. The SD memory card ‘LOGGING’ folder must be cleared/emptied after being saved to the computer. The Firmware files also need to be removed.
  4. The firmware update may have been sent as an attachment via email, in which case, save the files only attachments (not the folder or zipped folder) to the computer OR Download the latest 3.xxx level firmware version (e.g. FW3.110) from SMA’s website (see steps below).
  5. Save the firmware files (not the folder or in a folder) to the Sunny Island SD memory card.
  6. Remove the SD memory card from the computer, and re-insert back into the SRC.
  7. The question UPDATE AVAILABLE Start update now? appears in the display.
  8. Confirm with YES. This process can take up to five minutes.
  9. The Sunny Island switches to standby and updates the firmware, this may take up to 5minutes. The update via SD memory card is also described in detail in the SMA Sunny Island operating manual.
    1. If update does not appear after a few minutes, simply turn off the SI (press ‘dc-off’ button = O button). After 10 seconds, turn it back on. The firmware update should then begin.
  10. When the update is finished, restart your Sunny Island inverter (hold the ‘AC on’ button down again until it starts again)
  11. Your Sunny Island now has current firmware.

Downloading firmware from www.SMA-Solar.com:

  • Click on the SMA site Service and Support tab toward the top of the page.
  • Click on Downloads under the heading of Online support.
  • Under the heading Category, look down the list and click on Battery inverters.
  • Under the heading of Product Family click on SI6.0H-SI8.0H
  • Under the heading of Document type click on Firmware.
  • Toward the bottom of the page you will see firmware zip folders come up, click on Firmware update 3.xxx to download.

Saving New Parameters to SD Card (SI 6.0H and 8.0H)

Please use these instructions only when asked to by Off-Grid Energy tech support.

WARNING: Do not save parameters to the SD card unless authorised by an Off-Grid Energy Technician or SMA Australia. This fully overwrites previous parameters saved to the SD card with the current parameters set in the inverter.

  1. Using the Sunny Remote Control (SRC), rotate the control knob clockwise until you find “Password level”, press the knob to ‘Enter’ or ‘Select’ the option.
  2. Read and write down the system “Runtime” hours displayed. Add each number together to calculate the password.
    • Eg Runtime = 330, password = 3 + 3 + 0 = 6
    • No other adjustments are permitted using this password
  3. Immediately go to the Password function and press Enter, rotate the knob until the correct password number is displayed then press Enter again, this should allow access to the “Installer level”. Note: If this doesn’t work the password may have expired, try entering the number again but add “1” onto the number.
  4. Rotate the knob to find “500 # Operation”, when the cursor is lined up with “500 # Operation” press Enter here.
  5. Rotate the knob to find “550 # MMC Card”, when the cursor is lined up with “550 # MMC Card” press Enter here.
  6. At menu item 550:01 # ParaSto (Parameter Store) rotate the knob until you see “Set 1” displayed, press Enter here and wait for the new parameters to save to the parameter set 1 on the SD card.
  7. Once “Set 1” is saved, unless there is a known reason not to; Rotate the knob until you see “Set 2” displayed, press Enter here and wait for the new parameters to save to the parameter set 2 on the SD card. Note: This action also ensures any parameters that may be wrong in “Set 2” are overwritten with current parameters.
  8. Finished.

Solar

Maximising Available Solar

When the battery bank is more than 80% charged in the afternoon, surplus solar energy may become available, confirmation can be made by checking that the SOC% is continuing to rise at a good pace. Running certain appliances in the daytime when surplus solar power is available means you can efficiently collect extra solar energy during the day, and your battery bank will be cycled less.

Batteries

My Battery Capacity Seems Smaller in Winter

This is a common observation in cooler weather, and SMA Sunny Island inverter/charger customers often notice ‘SOH’ percentage decline when it gets cold.

Your batteries typically lose a few percent capacity each year due to normal capacity degradation (more in heavier cycling systems and less in shallow cycling systems). But in addition to this normal degradation, you will notice additional capacity and SOH% decline in winter – sometimes quite suddenly. On the other hand capacity and SOH% often climb in warmer weather.

When batteries are warm (e.g. >30C) their available capacity expands. However this needs to be managed as prolonged heat exposure decreases a batteries cycle-life.

In contrast, when your batteries are cold their available capacity contracts (READ MORE), but unlike heat the cold does not damage batteries.

Your battery management system notices this reduction and it re-adjusts its battery capacity estimations in response.

This affect is often also compounded by a common secondary phenomenon during cold weather: many properties start using heavier wattage base loads in winter (e.g. electric heaters or circulation pumps/fans; hot water heaters must work harder/longer; and even the extra lighting adds to base-load power usage compared to milder times of the year).  This higher rate of draw from the batteries impacts the so called ‘c-rate’ capacity of batteries.  Essentially, the faster the rate at which you draw power from your batteries then the lower their available capacity (READ MORE).

Thirdly, battery demand is generally heaviest in winter due to the shorter daylight hours (because of things like more lighting runtime, TV usage time, heating related loads including hot water working harder, even longer pump runtimes due to longer showers etc….). This coincides with much less available solar recharge, and a corresponding increase in generator runtime.

Battery Bank Commissioning Process

IMPORTANT: This new battery bank requires completion of an initial chemical formation process before it can operate at rated capacity; during the initial two-week formation period please refrain from deeply discharging the battery bank, and make sure the battery is recharged right up to 100% a few times. During this time, it may be necessary to use the generator, or reduce electrical consumption as necessary so these important cycling / recharging goals can be achieved. Correctly commissioning the battery bank helps it achieve its full rated storage capacity, best performance and greatest life expectancy.

When the initial formation process is complete the power system / battery bank can be cycled normally but, even in normal service please be keenly aware, especially lead VRLA batteries must be regularly recharged (about weekly) to 100% State of Charge (SOC) or otherwise short term, or eventually long term capacity loss can occur. Amp hour capacity loss due to sulphation build up, or increasing SOC divergence between series connected cells can be avoided by making sure the battery bank is regularly recharged to 100% SOC.

If you find your battery bank will not recharge to 100% SOC even with generator support please contact Off-Grid Energy Australia for technical advice.

WARNING: Operating the battery for extended periods in a partial state of charge (not recharging to 100%), or repeatedly deep discharging the battery bank is considered battery abuse or neglect; the Off-Grid Energy Australia or the battery manufacturer’s warranty do not cover the battery against user neglect or abuse.

Equalisation

Why might a VRLA battery bank need equalising?  When a battery bank has not been able to reach full charge (100%) on a regular basis e.g. approximately weekly, the internal battery plates can become impaired by sulphation and the state of charge of individual cells can also begin to diverge which also causes loss of overall battery capacity and result in poor system performance. The equalising process delivers a controlled higher than normal charge, it cleans off the battery plates and rebalances the individual cells and helps to maintain as much usable battery capacity as possible.

Most off-grid systems will complete the equalisation and other required battery charging cycles automatically with no input required from users.  However it is still important to understand battery charging processes, to ensure the correct charging of the batteries is being successfully completed.

When is equalising needed?

  • If your battery bank has difficulty reaching full charge in winter then at minimum activate and complete the Manual Equalise process at the beginning and end of winter.
  • If your battery bank is subject to daily deep cycling, or often cannot normally reach 100% SOC (State of Charge), or is frequently subject to shallow cycling where the SOC typically does not dip below 70% SOC, then manual equalising may be required on a monthly basis to keep the batteries healthy.
  • If you are experiencing an erratic SOC indication (reading jumping around) this is a sure indication that equalising is needed.
  • If your battery bank SOH (State of Health) indication on the battery page is low, or declining faster than anticipated, activate the Manual Equalise process as necessary to raise the SOH figure, repeat as necessary until the SOH figure levels off.
  • In winter there isn’t enough surplus power or daylight hours to enable the battery bank to reach full charge or to equalise the battery bank regularly – without the generator.
  • The generator is only being used to top up the batteries and not to recharge them to 100%.
  • If you start the generator gets started when the battery SOC is above the 70% detection threshold (not adjustable) a Boost cycle will not be triggered, so if the system remains in Float mode it will be impossible to fully recharge the battery bank using the generator.
  • For SMA Sunny Island systems, in summer the battery bank may not cycle with sufficient depth to trigger the Boost cycle often enough, (e.g. The system stays in Float mode too much)
  • For SMA Sunny Island systems which are often in a high state of charge status.  Systems with batteries regularly cycled between 80-100% SOC a manual activated equalisation charge at the beginning and end of Winter (Sometimes more) is required.

Manual Equalisation Charge with a Generator (SMA SI 6.0 and 8.0)

Preparation:

  1. At sunset make sure the generator is fully fuelled up and ready to run
  2. If you have an auto-start generator make sure the auto start controller is set to auto mode, the auto-start disable switch is set to the normal Enable position and there is sufficient fuel to run for up to 8hrs continuously.

Recommended Procedure:

  1. In the evening when the sun angle is low, at the Sunny Remote Control (SRC) scroll across to the Battery pages, press the knob to enter.
  2. Find the Equalise function, scroll the cursor to line up with the equalise function and press the knob.
  3. Inside the Equalise menu scroll the cursor to “START” and press the knob there to start the process.
    1. If you have a manually controlled generator you should manually start it up now, or if you have an auto-start generator it should start itself up.
  4. On the SRC, scroll anticlockwise until you see “BACK” displayed, press the knob here to exit the equalise menu
    1. This will take you back to the home screen where you can see and confirm the generator power delivery.
  5. In the Battery display page area find the “Remain Time” display to see the time remaining in hours, minutes and seconds for the equalising process to complete. It’s very important to verify the counter goes right down to zero to make sure the process has completed.
    1. Note: the Equalise countdown may not start immediately, but will after a high state of charge (SOC) is detected. The most effective equalising begins after 100% SOC is indicated, after this the equalising should continue for some time before the equalise countdown timer expires.
  6. Once the equalisation process is complete, auto-start generators will automatically switch themselves off.  For manually controlled generators, after the count down has reached zero, the generator needs to be manually switched off.

Notes:

  • When commencing the equalise process, if there is still solar production, and the battery bank is reading 100%, the generator and solar power may conflict with each other.  Temporarily switch off the solar DC isolators at the solar inverter, once the sun has gone down completely or the equalisation has completed the solar DC isolators can be switched back on.
  • During the colder months the generator may be required to do full recharging or equalising cycles, at other times of the year it should be possible to do equalising with solar power alone (See equalise via solar power notes below).

Manual Equalisation Charge via Solar Power Only (SMA SI6.0 and 8.0)

  1. In the morning of a predicted long sunny day (Usually Summer only), temporarily disable the auto-start generator (if you have one) at the auto-start disable switch or key switch.
  2. At the Sunny Remote Control (SRC) scroll down to the Battery pages, press the knob to enter.
  3. Find the Equalise function, scroll the cursor to line up with the equalise function and press the knob.
  4. Inside the Equalise menu scroll the cursor to “START” and press the knob there to start the process.
  5. On the SRC, scroll anticlockwise until you see “BACK” displayed, press the knob here to exit the equalise menu (this will take you back to the home screen where you can see and confirm the generator power delivery.)
  6. In the Battery display page area find the “Remain Time” display to see the time remaining in hours, minutes and seconds for equalising process to complete. It’s very important to verify the counter goes right down to zero to make sure the process has completed.
    1. Note: The Equalise countdown may not start immediately, but it will after a high state of charge (SOC) is detected.
  7. Once the equalisation process is completed, the system will return to its normal operating mode.  Remember to turn the generator autostart diable switch back ‘ON’.

Full Recharge Notes (SMA SI6.0 and 8.0)

When using the backup generator to fully recharge a battery bank normally (not equalising), only begin this process once the battery state of charge dips below the 70% Boost cycle trigger point.  Run the generator until the battery bank is fully recharged and showing 95-100% SOC.  Only full battery recharging (close as possible to 100%) helps to keep batteries healthy – partial top-ups do raise the state of charge and typically don’t help maintain battery health over the long term.

Manual Equalisation Using a Generator (SMA SI5048)

Preparation:

  1. At approx. sunset make sure the generator is fully fuelled up and ready to run
  2. If you have an auto-start generator make sure the auto start controller is set to ‘auto’ mode and the auto-start disable switch on the wall near the genset is set to the normal Enable position

Procedure:

  1. On the Sunny Island Master inverter/charger press DOWN until you come to # 500 OPERATION then press ENTER,
  2. press DOWN again until you come to # 520 BATTERY and press ENTER
  3. at item # 520:01 ManChrgSel press Enter, then press DOWN to find the START option (i.e. Start Equalising) and press Enter to activate this function
  4. Start the generator, or if you have an auto-start generator the generator should start itself.
  5. Check the length of time remaining and regularly monitor the progress to ensure it completes:
    • Go back to the home screen by pressing the ESC button twice.
    • Press DOWN until you come to METERS # 100 then press Enter,
    • Press DOWN until you come to BATTERY METERS # 120, then press Enter
    • Press DOWN until you come to # 120:04 AptTmRmg – This is the count down timer until the equalisation process is complete. Keep the generator operating until this counts down to zero. Note the count down will not start straight away but will begin when a high state of charge has been attained. Keep the generator running until the remaining time display counts down to zero.
  6. Once the countdown timer reaches zero the generator can be shut off and the process is complete
  7. On the Sunny Island Master inverter/charger press DOWN until you come to # 500 OPERATION then press ENTER
  8. Press DOWN again until you come to # 520 BATTERY and press ENTER
  9. At item # 520:01 ManChrgSel press Enter where it says ‘Idle’, then press DOWN to change from Idle to START, and press Enter to start the equalise battery function
  10. Now check the length of time remaining, and regularly check on the progress to ensure it finishes:
  11. Find the METERS # 100 menu, then press ENTER
  12. Press DOWN until you come to BATTERY METERS # 120, then press Enter
  13. Press DOWN until you come to #120:04 AptTmRmg – This is the countdown timer until the equalisation process is complete.
  14. Keep the generator operating until this counts down all the way to zero (automatic generators will automatically stop after a short warm down period).

(Note the countdown may not start straight away but will begin when a high state of charge has been attained. Keep the generator running until the remaining time display counts down to zero)

Click here to download instructions with picture guide

Manual Equalisation Using a Generator (Outback Power Systems)

Note these instructions are applicable to Outback power systems which typically do not have a Mate 2 display/controller installed.

Recommended Procedure:

  1. In the evening, or during daytime overcast weather, start the generator up and observe how the battery voltage rises as displayed on the FM60 or FM80 charge controller.
  2. When the battery voltage levels off at the system absorption set point (above 28V for a 24V nominal battery bank, and above 56V for a 48V nominal battery bank) start timing the run time of the generator; continue running the generator for another 5 to 6 hours after the absorption set point was reached.
  3. It is recommended that this equalising procedure should be done at the beginning and end of winter at a minimum.

Manual Equalisation Using Solar Power (Outback Power Systems)

Although manual equalising can be activated on the FM60 or FM80 charge controller this should be unnecessary. Where sufficient solar power is available, equalising will occur automatically at regular intervals according to the pre-set parameters, no user intervention should be required.

Full Recharge Using a Generator (Outback Power Systems)

Recommended Procedure:

  1. In the evening, or during overcast daytime weather, start the generator up and observe how the battery voltage rises as displayed on the FM60 or FM80 charge controller.
  2. When the battery voltage levels off at the system absorption set point (above 28 volts for a 24 volt nominal battery bank, or above 56 volts for a 48 volt nominal battery bank) start timing the run time of the generator; continue running the generator for another 3 hours after the absorption set point was reached.

Generators

Generator Automatic Run Triggers

If your generator is running, it is always for a good reason. Please do not interrupt its operation.  Your generator is programmed to trigger under certain rules. Some common rules are:

  • Less than 60% State of Charge (SOC) between the hours 5pm and 11pm, and it will run until the batteries reach 85% SOC or 11pm (whichever is sooner). This ensures you have enough storage to last until the sun comes up again.
  • Less than 50% SOC at all other times, and it will run until the batteries reach 70% SOC.
  • If your combined loads are more than the power (kW) rating of your inverter charger/s for sustained extended periods, then your system will request generator assistance to help meet this ‘peak’ demand, stopping when loads reduce under the peak power rating again. Note: Usually this is only relevant at night. During the day your solar inverter feeds the loads first, so there is a lighter load on the battery inverter.
  • Every 7 days the generator may be requested to help complete a FULL maintenance charge cycle (a forced Boost/Absorb charge to make up for any perceived undercharging during the proceeding week). This can initiate at any time, and can last up to 6 hours. However, the system will cancel this run if other conditions are met during the week.
  • Every 30 days the generator may get requested to help complete an EQUALISATION maintenance charge cycle. This maybe canceled if other conditions are met and the batteries needs have been met during that period.
    • There is a benefit in manually initiating this cycle on a semi-regular basis especially for SMA Sunny Island systems. Instructions can be found in battery section of this helpdesk.
  • A short test cycle is programmed to start each Saturday morning at 8am (3-5mins). This is to ensure that it is working, and serves as a reminder to check fuel, oil, etc.

Each system is unique and your system’s rules might vary slightly from this.

Generator Is Not Working

Refer to your specific generator instruction manual for help, or contact a generator service center or Off-Grid Energy Australia for general advice. Common causes of generator problems often include:

  • The auto-start enable/disable switch near the auto-start generator is set to “disable”.
  • The fuel tank has run out of fuel.
  • The generator starter battery is flat
  • The generator autostart controller is not in the AUTO or ON position.  Correctly set or restart the controller as required (may require disconnecting power to the auto controller to restart)
  • The generator start key is not in the correct position. Generators have different key positions that enable auto mode operation.  This could either be OFF, ON or AUTO key positions.  Test the generator in each position to confirm which position works and label this position.
  • The engine has run out of fuel and filled the injector lines with air.
  • The generator engine or alternator has overheated, causing the engine watchdog to stop the engine to prevent damage.
    • This could be caused by improper ventilation/installation: Rectify as required to keep the engine cool.
  • The engine has run out of oil causing the engine watchdog to stop the engine to prevent damage.
  • The engine air filter may be clogged with soot or dirt starving the engine of oxygen.
  • Engine exhaust gasses may be being drawn back into the engine because of incorrect installation.

Generator Synchronisation/Power Transfer Issues

A manually adjusted or faulty generator may fail to synchronise in with a inverter/charger.

Symptoms often include:

  • Power transfer will stop or not take place at all;
    • For SMA Sunny Island System this will be confirmed on the Sunny Remote Control (SRC) because the indicator arrow will not point to the battery icon and an exclamation mark warning will display on the SRC remote control.
    • For Selectronic SP Pro systems, the ‘TRANSFER’ LED and ‘CHARGING SOURCE AC’ LED’s will not be illuminated.
    • For Victron Systems with Colour Control (CCGX) monitors, the generator icon on the home screen will not be displaying power input values to the inverter/charger.
  • The generator won’t sound like its working under load.  It is good to know the sound of the generator idling (not supplying power) and when it is under load as the difference in sound is usually noticeable.
  • If the generator is an auto-start version the generator may start and stop in repeated cycles as the Inverter/Charger starts the generator, stops it due to it being unable to connect to the system and then retries again later.

Likely Causes:

  • The generator circuit breaker is switched off either on the generator set or on the AC switchboard. Switch on all applicable circuit breakers if this is the case.
  • The generator circuit breaker keeps tripping because the total generator load is too high (the CB may be an auto reset type too), or the load is connected to the wrong circuit breaker.
    • Are there other loads connected directly to the generator powerpoint?  If so, remove these loads immediately as this can result in serious damage to your generator.
  • The load may have been connected to a “Demand start” circuit on the generator, often the “Demand start” circuit is not marked on some generators.
  • The generator speed is out or unstable because the generator is not running well.
    • For SMA Sunny Island Systems – With the generator running check the generator output frequency using the Sunny Island meters, on the SRC under the Generator Menu check the:
    • Generator Frequency Hertz (Hz), the frequency should be 51 to 53 Hz when the generator is warm and unloaded.
    • When the generator is fully loaded by the Sunny Island (battery bank less than 80% charge) the generator frequency should be 49-51 Hz.
  • The generator output voltage may also be out of range (if non AVR type) because the generator speed is out or because of a fault.
    • For SMA Sunny Island Systems on the SRC under the Generator Menu check the:
    • Generator Voltage, the voltage should be 230 to 255 volts when the generator is hot and unloaded.
    • When the generator is fully loaded by the Sunny Island (battery bank less than 80% charge) the generator voltage should be 230 to 245 volts.

Rectification:

  • Make sure everything is plugged in and switched on correctly as it should be.
  • Make sure the generator is in good running order e.g. all fluids and levels are good, the air and fuel filters are clean and the unit can run smoothly.
    • If the generator will not run smoothly and steady then you must get it repaired by a service person.
  • Make sure the generator is very well ventilated.
  • If the generator frequency or voltage is out of range try trimming up the generators speed adjustment. Follow the generator manufacturer’s safety and adjustment instructions:
    • For petrol powered generators there will be a speed governor rod near the carburetor that may have an adjustment screw on it, often this screw is out of sight under the fuel tank, adjust the screw a small amount at a time to correct the frequency, and then recheck voltage and frequency. Do not adjust anything on the carburetor!
    • For a diesel generator slightly adjust the throttle stop screw on the fuel injector pump on the side of the engine (refer to manufacturer’s instructions) and then recheck voltage and frequency.
  • If a generator reverse current flow has occurred during the fault the Inverter/Charger will have locked out the generator, you can wait 20 minutes to clear the lockout automatically. For SMA Sunny Island Systems you can go to the Generator menu and select Generator > Press knob> Acknowledge and press enter to clear the lockout.

Generator Hertz vs Engine RPM

DANGER! Make sure all personnel are clear of the generator before making a remote start. Do not work on an auto-start enabled generator; disable the unit at the auto-start disable switch and key switch before working on. Remove the battery terminal if working on the engine itself.

Check Auto-Start Generator Status for Victron systems with BMV monitor

  1. Press ‘SETUP’ button for two seconds to enter BMV functions menu
  2. Press ‘+’ button until item ’13’ is showing (Relay State)
    – CLSD = The BMV is requesting the generator to start via the auto-start controller
    – OPEN = THE BMV is not requesting the generator to start

Test Auto-Start Generator with Victron systems via Colour Control (CCGX) Monitor

Instructions coming soon!

Test Auto-Start Generator with Selectronic SP Pro systems

  1. Check the generator is prepared and ready to start safely
  2. Firmly press the ‘GENERATOR’ (#13 on the Know Your SP Pro Instructions) button in the top left corner of the Inverter display panel.
  3. The generator should start and commence its warm-up period (1-3mins).  After the generator warm-up period, the ‘TRANSFER’ LED (#2) and the ‘CHARGING SOURCE AC’ LED (#11) will illuminate.
  4. Remember to switch off the generator (It will not stop its self when manually started).  Switch off the generator by firmly pressing the ‘GENERATOR’ button.  The generator will then disconnect from ‘TRANSFER’ and ‘CHARGING SOURCE AC’ and commence its cool down period (1-3mins).

Test Auto-start Generator with SMA Sunny Island systems via the Sunny Remote Control (SMA SI 6.0 and 8.0)

Requirements:

  • The off-grid inverter must be able to control the generator via a control cable and auto-start controller.
  • The Sunny Remote Control must be in standard mode or user mode.
  • Any auto-start disable switch if fitted must be set to “Enable”, the generator set must be ready to run.
  • Battery state of charge % (SOC%) must be below 80% or if SOC% is above 80% temporally turn off solar inverters during test (Remember to turn on after test).

Starting Procedure:

  1. On the Sunny Remote Control (SRC) turn the control knob and scroll to the Generator display page, then push the control knob.
  2. To start the generator line the cursor arrow up with the Mode parameter line press the control knob here, then rotate the knob set to find Start, press the knob here to confirm. After a short delay the generator should start if it is working. The generator starts and runs until you stop it again.
  3. To start the generator and run it for one hour, select the Mode parameter and set to Run1h.
  4. The generator starts. If there is no generator request after one hour, the off-grid inverter stops the generator.

Stopping Procedure:

  1. To stop the generator line the cursor arrow up with the Mode parameter line, press the control knob here, then rotate the knob set to find Stop, press the knob here to confirm. After a short delay the generator electrical load should come off, after the cool down time period had expired the generator should stop.
  2. Note the generator is temporarily stopped, the generator restarts if a new generator request is issued in automatic generator mode and the minimum stop time has elapsed.

Manually Controlling an Auto-start Generator set via a Sunny Island 5048 model

Requirements:

  • The off-grid inverter must be able to control the generator via a control cable and auto-start controller.
  • The Sunny Remote Control must be in standard mode or user mode.
  • Any auto-start disable switch if fitted must be set to “Enable”, the generator set must be ready to run.

Starting Procedure:

  1. On the Sunny Island press the Down button several times until you find #500 Operation, press Enter here, then press the Down button several times until you see #540 Operation Generator, press Enter here, use the Up or Down buttons to select the required function such as Start then press Enter.
  1. After a short delay the generator should start if it is working. The generator starts and runs until you stop it again.

Stopping Procedure:

  1. At menu item #540 Operation Generator, press Enter here, use the Up or Down buttons to find and select Stop then press Enter. After a short delay the generator electrical load should come off, after the cool down time period had expired the generator should stop.
  2. Note the generator is temporarily stopped, the generator restarts if a new generator request is issued in automatic generator mode and the minimum stop time has elapsed.

Generator Run Time Remaining (SMA SI 6.0 and 8.0)

Your generator runtime firstly depends on the above reason for it running.  The generator will operate until the relevant objective is met.  For example, if your generator is running due to a low SOC% trigger point, then it will start at the programmed low SOC% point, and will stop once the programmed upper SOC% point is reached again (refer to Generator Run Triggers above for more details). Remember, your generator must simultaneously run your appliances while recharging batteries, so the more you have running at the time then the longer your batteries will take to recharge.

For SMA Sunny Island Systems the reason the generator is running can be viewed any time via your Sunny Remote Control, scrolling to the GENERATOR screen and looking at ‘Request by’.

  • Bat = The batteries have asked for help – either low SOC% or a periodic maintenance cycle (See Note*)
  • Lod = your Sunny Island asked for help due to heavy appliances exceeding it’s output capacity
  • None = The generator has not been requested by your system
  • Start = The generator has been started manually
  • Time = a scheduled time-based request (e.g. Saturday morning genset test run)

You can further verify the exact ‘Bat’ charge request on BATTERY screen (2/3), under ‘Charge mode’.  If your generator has been triggered by a battery FULL or EQUALIZE maintenance charge cycle, then Battery page (2/3) will tell you the estimated remaining runtime of this charge cycle.

Clearing Generator Errors (SMA SI 6.0 and 8.0)

Caution – By clearing the error the generator may start immediately

Acknowledging and clearing a generator error:

  1. Rectify the cause of the error e.g. the generator ran out of fuel
  2. Once the cause of the error is known and corrected clear the error out of the Sunny Island 8.0 by scrolling across the SRC screen with the rotary knob until the Generator menu is found and press Enter
  3. Scroll down one position to Error mode, press Enter here, scroll down one position here until you see ‘Ackn’ come up, press Enter on Ackn to confirm and clear the error out.
  4. Scroll back until you see come up, click on here to get back to the main screen.

Service Issue Form