How NOT to install Midnite Solar Equipment
We really like working with Midnite Solar products, made in the USA, but the best part is the people who run the place. boB, Robin, Ryan, Walter, Roy, Tom, Doug, the list goes on... they even have a shop cat.
We recently seem to have a booming business in fixing Midnite installations thanks to a certain PV company in Denver who shall remain unnamed, and has since gone out of business - for good reason. They didn't RTFM (Read The Fascinating Manual). It's a very good manual. Here are some tips for RE installers who are not willing to read.
- Midnite Classic controllers can monitor your battery bank State of Charge for about $50 bucks if you install their Whizbang Jr and a shunt (included in their power panels, or add $20 bucks), and send the data to the internet so you can watch your system SOC from anywhere. There is no fee for the web monitoring service.
- Use the Midnite online PV string sizing calculator before you buy a controller. It will tell you which controller (150, 200, 250 volt) you need for your series PV strings without zorching anything from too-high Voc, at what temperature it will start to clip, the PV array size at which you need to add another controller...everything.
- "Clipping" means when your PV Voc (open circuit voltage) is increased by cold weather, the Midnite Controller goes into what they call "hyper-Voc" mode, which gives you a voltage buffer of the controller maximum plus your battery bank voltage. If their string calculator says "marginal" and it will clip at 34 degrees F, you need to look at your climate conditions. Fine for Florida, not for Otherpower HQ here in Colorado where -20F happens. When the string calculator says it will clip at -50 degrees F, you should be fine. Though we are not counting out the possibility of glaciers in Miami in the future.
- When you need more than one Midnite Classic to meet your amperage needs, please don't just parallel them on to one PV array. Zorch. Configure the array into sub-arrays that each feed into their own Classic.
- With multiple Classic charge controllers in a system, please wire the "Follow Me" networking cables right, and set one as Master and the others as Follow. The cables have to be a LOOP - out from the Master to each Follow controller, and then a cable back to the Master. This is just RJ-45 old fashioned landline telephone cable, not rocket surgery.
- Short blue LED blips means your controllers are talking to each other. Long blips means they are not. RTFM, and check your RJ-45 cables and where they are hooked up to make a loop.
It seems very silly to us that "professional" PV installers had all these problems with Midnite products due to NOT doing the RTFM, but we are slogging along. Un-named Denver company that made these installations FUBAR, thanks for the business. Some of your ex-customers would like a nice cage match, but would probably settle for criticizing your manners when you ring up their coffee and donut at the local Kum and Go.
And finally, we have not had to make a single tech support call to Midnite Solar on these troubleshooting jobs. It's all RTFM. Doh!!