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Adding a third aspect to a two MPPT inverter?

  • 10-09-2020 8:33pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 737 ✭✭✭ Zenith74


    I had a 14 panel 5kW East/West system put in this year including a 5kWh battery, loving it so far. Dual MPPT 5kW hybrid inverter. Peak generation is somewhere around 3.5kW but this is rare, so plenty of headroom in the inverter. Generating 6AM-10PM on nice days.

    We went East/West because the South facing roof is fairly small. But with the battery, two EVs and both of us working from home we have no problem sell consuming all we generate, even on the best of summer says. So I’ve been wondering about getting some panels up on that South roof.

    I’ve been reading various articles stating that in the right circumstances, there is very little loss connecting two aspects to a single MPPT. Anybody any experience with this kind of thing? Or should I just look at trying to squeeze some more onto the E/W?


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Comments

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Yes if there's no hard shadows dual MPPT is completely pointless.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,861 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    This is a very interesting thread. I have most of my panels facing south on one string on my inverter, but I also have 3 panels facing west, on a separate string on my dual MPPT inverter. I found this west facing string a bit weak and the voltage is below the minimum for the inverter string at times (although it does produce all day), so I connected my single east facing panel to this string as well (with an optimizer - it does get shadow later in the day). This improved the performance of the string throughout the day. So:

    Yes if there's no hard shadows dual MPPT is completely pointless.

    I would tend to believe that :D

    Why are there dual MPPT inverters then? Is the only reason for their existence that it doesn't completely kill production when one of the strings is shadowed at times?

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    unkel wrote: »
    I would tend to believe that :D


    As with most things I say Unkel I've measured it




    unkel wrote: »
    Why are there dual MPPT inverters then? Is the only reason for their existence that it doesn't completely kill production when one of the strings is shadowed at times?


    Steep rooves with chimneys. Multi aspect with partial tree shadows. Marketing asking for more features to make the product attractive.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Panels producing Vmp at zero current do not pull the array down. You have to reverse bias the cells with a hard shadow to justify isolation.
    Panels will produce Vmp in almost all light conditions.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,861 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    Panels producing Vmp at zero current

    Eh? I thought Vmp was the voltage at maximum current by definition? Maybe I got that wrong

    Anyway I have measured something this time too. The voltage of my west facing string on its own (not shadowed at any time) varies significantly depending on the situation. At a minimum I get about 84V (about 27-28V per panel) and as a maximum (when the panels produce their full rated wattage) I get about 108V (about 36V per panel).

    My inverter has a minimum of 90V per string, and my west facing string was under that regularly (but the string still produced amps so my inverter was nowhere near as fussy as the specs said). I added the east facing panel and obviously the voltage was well over the minimum 90V at all times

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Voltage max power

    power at zero current = 0W but not negative

    The array voltage will vary when connect to an inverter it's adjusting the load to suit max power output; that's what MPPT is.

    If you're too borderline on the input specs the inverter will not perform very well. It's like playing 25 with 4 cards. There's no voltage to play with to boost the current.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    unkel wrote: »
    Eh? I thought Vmp was the voltage at maximum current by definition? Maybe I got that wrong


    I think you are thinking Vmp @ STC (standard test conditions) 1000W per meter and 25°C cell temperature.


    Vmp normal every day is the under load voltage (varies with input and load).
    Voc is the no load voltage.


  • Registered Users Posts: 737 ✭✭✭ Zenith74


    When does a shadow become a ‘hard’ shadow, a panel completely shaded out?

    I noticed there’s a bit of shading on the East array early in the morning from the top of a tree, and some on the West late in the evening from a neighbours house. There would be no shading on the smaller South facing roof.

    So is it realistic to just feed my East and West strings into the one input on the inverter and run it for a few days, see how the generation compares? Any gotchas to this? I’ll have to look at how things are connected, see what is involved junction box wise.

    If you did end up with say two 7 panels strings (East and West) and maybe a 4-5 panel string (South), which two strings would you connect together on the one MPPT?

    Also wasn’t aware that optimisers could be added to a small number of panels without other changes to the array/inverter etc. Should I consider some for those panels that catch a bit of shade, if the guys were back up on the roof anyway? Any downside (other than cost)?

    Really interesting discussion thanks!


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    A hard shadow is one which has a defined edge. Sundialesque. A soft shadow is uniform.

    Sure connect them all together for science. Stay within the input threshold parameters of the inverter most importantly Voc -20%.

    I've a dual string I'm using one input, my array is east & south west.

    I'd put 9 panel string one 9 panels string 2 in your scenario.

    Optimisers are a bittova gimic. Don't put panels in silly places and you don't need them. When they fail they are very hard to get to or flag they are not working.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,861 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    If you're too borderline on the input specs the inverter will not perform very well.

    I must be on the ok side of borderline so. System is performing well and I do get current from the west facing string even early in the morning. I'd say the specs of the inverter might be a bit cautious?

    Maybe you could glance your eye over them?

    Here's the datasheet:

    https://static.solartricity.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Solis-3.6.pdf

    MPPT voltage (I presume this is per string?) 90V-520V and I didn't always get the 90V on my west facing 3 panel string (until I connected the east facing single panel)

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    I expect it'll perform better with a 410Voc input.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,861 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    It has about 360V on the south facing string too

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    You can't really put them all together as there's no overhead for cold temp uprating. 50:50 split might work but you'll probably have cabling issues.

    Arah sher knowing you you'll have more panels before I finish typing. Bung them in the east or don't worry about it. The more voltage the more of a range you give the MPPT to play with the easier it is for it to tune the array to conditions....it'll also help with bird poo instigated inverter dropping out.

    When I say it'll perform better with a higher voltage...well of course it will that takes more panels. What I meant was it'll perfrom better per watt installed.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,861 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    Better if I put 10 * south + 3 * west + 1 * east all on the one string?

    The east panel gets some shading, but I have an optimizer attached to it. Or 10 * south + 3 * west on the one string? In that case I can use my east panel for some other projects :D

    And yes, I wish I had the space you have. I'd probably have at least 30 panels up :o:p:D

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    You know what!? I'm confusing hard shadows with nightime! (I must be getting old) :pac:

    I remembered my experiment about 2 posts ago.

    Nah don't put them all together you'll cook the inverter in cold weather if theres a cloud lense.
    Parallels in arrays are not so straight forward especially when they're different breeds of panels. It's difficult to implement right.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,861 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    I wasn't planning on going parallel. Just series. You have me confused now. Is it, or is it not a good idea to have all my panels (that don't get shadow) into one series string? Or would it make little difference?

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    There's two things at play Unkel.
    Shadows will not pull down the array anymore than the loss of the panel(s) output that are under shade and MPPT cannot help with this.
    Dual string inverters...I don't know what their function is.

    Yes you can in theory put them all together but in your particular case you cannot because you do not have enough overhead on the inverter tolerance.
    Yes they will be more efficient with a higher voltage but 13 panels over one strings will not be as effective as 14 panels.

    Have a read of the clicky. School of I have tried this myself is unanimous.


  • Registered Users Posts: 737 ✭✭✭ Zenith74


    A hard shadow is one which has a defined edge. Sundialesque. A soft shadow is uniform.

    Sure connect them all together for science. Stay within the input threshold parameters of the inverter most importantly Voc -20%.

    I've a dual string I'm using one input, my array is east & south west.

    I'd put 9 panel string one 9 panels string 2 in your scenario.

    Optimisers are a bittova gimic. Don't put panels in silly places and you don't need them. When they fail they are very hard to get to or flag they are not working.

    Thanks!

    I’m a bit limited on roof space and the shading is only at certain times of year/day, and of course the panels are already up now :-). Guess I was wondering if I was getting somebody back on the roof to add more panels, should I have them toddle over there and add optimisers to the couple of panels that sometimes see shade?

    On the 9+9 panel setup, you’re suggesting 7East panels plus 2South panels on one string, 7West plus 2South ok the other right? Are those 2South panels in each case going in series or parallel with the 7 existing panels?

    In terms of sticking the two strings on one inverter input for science :-), presume I can get a junction box of some sort that takes the four DC connectors from the two strings and gives me a pair of outputs? Before or after the fireman switch I guess makes little a difference? And yeah before I go mad, check the voltages.

    I’ll have a chat to the installers (NextGenPower) and see what it would cost to get a few more panels up there anyway.


    Thanks again!


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,861 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    Zenith74 wrote: »
    Are those 2South panels in each case going in series or parallel with the 7 existing panels?

    You shouldn't parallel connect a series string of 2 panels to a series string of 7 panels, they have very different voltages :)

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    All series legs ought to have identical Imp...unless like me you don't really care because it was close enough and your array has 7 breeds of panels because they were such a good deal.
    The lowest Imp will current limit the array.

    Forget about the optimisers they're not going to do anything significant except add complexity, expense and a failure point.
    Probably all you need Zenith is a pair of branch connectors at the inverter.


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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,861 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    Dual string inverters...I don't know what their function is.

    When I say it'll perform better with a higher voltage...well of course it will that takes more panels. What I meant was it'll perfrom better per watt installed.

    Tried that and nope, performs way worse when I combine both my south and my west strings into the one string in series.

    Producing 1600W at 10:30 this morning in hazy sunshine as separate strings and producing 700W as one string. None of the panels had shadow

    And before anybody mentions it: I know it's not a great idea to connect and disconnect panels to your inverter when they are under load. I risked my life for science here :pac:

    So now we know that indeed you should put different orientation strings of panels on separate inputs on your inverter...

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Me too. New tree shadow is pulling down the array 50% for the sake of two panels outtov 10.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    unkel wrote: »

    And before anybody mentions it: I know it's not a great idea to connect and disconnect panels to your inverter when they are under load. I risked my life for science here :pac:


    :rolleyes: Get a PV disconnect switch dude! You're not supposed to pull the MC4 apart because they arc like bejaysus....err...you could not touch it if you start one...that works too.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Oh and while I'm eating my own words. My latest new genset is 79% round trip efficiency.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,861 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    :rolleyes: Get a PV disconnect switch dude! You're not supposed to pull the MC4 apart because they arc like bejaysus....err...you could not touch it if you start one...that works too.

    I've connected many MC4s, never seen an arc. But indeed I should get my finger out and get a few DC disconnect switches between the strings and the inverter. Rather than learning this lesson the hard way :D

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Put a blanket over the sunny side first.

    It's a highly youtoobable scenario.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,861 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    I tend to only connect / disconnect them in the evening / when it's (almost) dark and when the amps are (near) zero anyway

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,820 ✭✭✭ air


    Zenith74 wrote: »

    If you did end up with say two 7 panels strings (East and West) and maybe a 4-5 panel string (South), which two strings would you connect together on the one MPPT?
    Put the 2 strings of 7 panels in parallel into 1 input, put the 4-5 panel South array into the other input.
    I'd recommend instaling a diode in series with the East & West strings before the inverter, you can buy them pre installed with MC4 connectors so plug & play.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,820 ✭✭✭ air


    There's two things at play Unkel.
    Shadows will not pull down the array anymore than the loss of the panel(s) output that are under shade and MPPT cannot help with this.
    This is incorrect, the shaded panel voltage will not be pulled down, but it's current output will be.

    If Unkel puts 2 panels from a different orientation in series with the Southern array, the current of the entire series string will be clipped to that of the panel with the lowest output current.
    This is the whole reason that optimisers exist.
    Dual string inverters...I don't know what their function is.
    .
    Their function is fairly clear, they allow independent MPPT tracking of 2 completely independent arrays that do not have to have anything in common in terms of orientation, panel type, count or characteristics.

    They reduce the need for a second discrete inverter in very many scenarios.


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  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 1,306 ✭✭✭ bobbyy gee


    change the tilt of panals and add panals on south roof

    https://www.energysage.com/solar/101/impact-of-roof-orientation/


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