Sol-Ark confusion

jmzorko

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Jul 1, 2021
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62
Hello, all ...

The installer installed the CTs for my Sol-Ark 5k today, and after that (at least, earlier today) the Sol-Ark was indeed showing the power draw from my home.

Now, though, it's dark outside and yet my Sol-Ark 5k shows that there is no solar (expected), but i'm still feeding the grid (??), my home is consuming nothing (??) and the batteries are doing essentially nothing (??).

I'm sure this is a configuration problem, but I don't know how to fix it. I basically want the Sol-Ark to act like the Tesla system did at my previous home - that being, power the home from solar when available (with any extra solar going to charge the 21kwh battery bank), the battery bank when not (for instance, now when it's dark outside), the grid only if absolutely needed (for instance, if the batteries are completely discharged).

Any assistance would be quite appreciated. It's such an interesting piece of equipment, but a bit difficult sometimes to understand the UI.

Regards,

John
 

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jmzorko

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... even stranger. Very early this morning (around 3am or so) I looked at the Powerview app. It indicated that:

1. my home was apparently drawing 0w (??)
2. the Sol-Ark was _still_ feeding the grid. In the dark. (????)

I went into the garage, and the Sol-Ark itself showed the same. As a test, I plugged in the charger for my EV and started charging it, bc if it really _was_ feeding the grid from the batteries, I wanted to draw a lot of current to see the battery amp indicators. However, this is not what I found.

The "chargingEV" image shows what the Sol-Ark was displaying as my EV was charging. It seems to indicate that the Sol-Ark was _feeding_ the grid 8.18kw. However, it was dark outside (and my current PV array is only 3kw) and the batteries didn't show any large amp readings, which shows that the 8.18kw wasn't being drawn from the batteries ("batteryReadingsWhileCharging" image). The third image shows the grid settings on the Sol-Ark, and that I don't even have Grid Sell turned on.

The installer finally did install the CTs yesterday. Did he install them incorrectly? Are they upside-down?

So, questions:

1. Why is the Sol-Ark drawing power from my batteries to feed the grid at night instead of drawing from the batteries to feed my home?
2. Why is the Sol-Ark confusing sending power _to_ the grid when I obviously was drawing power _from_ the grid (charging the EV)?
3. Why is the Sol-Ark continuing to send power to the grid even though I have "Grid Sell" turned off, and "Limited Power to Home" turned on?
 

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XO4001

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Feb 13, 2021
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35
I have 2 Deye 5K (no batteries yet) installed recently and they draw about 40 Watt in night mode.
That give me the impression that the CT's or the leads from the CT's need to be reversed.
 

jmzorko

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That was exactly the problem! It's operating much better now.

There are a couple of points of confusion left. The first is I think illustrated by the attached image, which shows the Sol-Ark getting 750w from solar, the home drawing 270w, charging the battery with 820w and getting 320w from the grid. Why does it need to get anything from the grid? What I would like is for the Sol-Ark to feed the home with solar first, batteries second, grid last. If the batteries need to be charged, charge them _only_ from any leftover solar, not the grid.

The second point of confusion is that even though I have 4 batteries (each 48v, 115ah) in parallel, for whatever reason the Sol-Ark seems to only draw a max of about 2kw from the battery bank. Each battery can discharge up to 175a, and even if each battery is limited to 50a, 4 of them is 200a ... yet the Sol-Ark doesn't seem to draw more than 50a even if the loads require it - any extra above 50a is drawn from the grid. I don't ever want to draw from the grid unless I have to.
 

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jmzorko

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OK, this is somehow even stranger now. If I setup the Sol-Ark TOU to draw from the battery from 8p until, say, 9p until the battery reaches 85%, what is happening is that at 7:59p, my house will be drawing, say, 0.3kw from the grid. At 8p, though, the Sol-Ark seems to show that suddenly my house is drawing 3.2kw - loads are appearing out of nowhere that start drawing from the battery, until the battery charge reaches 85%, when these magical invisible loads will disappear, and the Sol-Ark returns to feeding my house from the grid (and showing .3kw).

This is _not_ what I want. Where are these magical loads coming from? All I want is for the house to draw off of the battery at night instead of the grid. If it's consuming 300w from the grid, it should be consuming the same 300w from the battery. Quite frustrating, this is.
 

houseofancients

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Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
554
... even stranger. Very early this morning (around 3am or so) I looked at the Powerview app. It indicated that:

1. my home was apparently drawing 0w (??)
2. the Sol-Ark was _still_ feeding the grid. In the dark. (????)

I went into the garage, and the Sol-Ark itself showed the same. As a test, I plugged in the charger for my EV and started charging it, bc if it really _was_ feeding the grid from the batteries, I wanted to draw a lot of current to see the battery amp indicators. However, this is not what I found.

The "chargingEV" image shows what the Sol-Ark was displaying as my EV was charging. It seems to indicate that the Sol-Ark was _feeding_ the grid 8.18kw. However, it was dark outside (and my current PV array is only 3kw) and the batteries didn't show any large amp readings, which shows that the 8.18kw wasn't being drawn from the batteries ("batteryReadingsWhileCharging" image). The third image shows the grid settings on the Sol-Ark, and that I don't even have Grid Sell turned on.

The installer finally did install the CTs yesterday. Did he install them incorrectly? Are they upside-down?

So, questions:

1. Why is the Sol-Ark drawing power from my batteries to feed the grid at night instead of drawing from the batteries to feed my home?
2. Why is the Sol-Ark confusing sending power _to_ the grid when I obviously was drawing power _from_ the grid (charging the EV)?
3. Why is the Sol-Ark continuing to send power to the grid even though I have "Grid Sell" turned off, and "Limited Power to Home" turned on?
are you sure you have the ct's installed in the right direction ?
the are directional
 

jmzorko

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Messages
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The installer installed them and i'm not comfortable near high-voltage stuff, but I did reverse the leads inside the Sol-Ark. That fixed that issue. I do still have the other issue of the Sol-Ark seemingly insisting on drawing from the grid even if TOU periods are active and there is battery capacity.
 

Firebird

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Jul 17, 2020
Messages
21
I was looking at sol ark 12k for $6200 new to upgrade my current inverter. What was price on 5kw sol ark??
 

solardad

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Apr 13, 2020
Messages
305
The installer installed them and i'm not comfortable near high-voltage stuff, but I did reverse the leads inside the Sol-Ark. That fixed that issue. I do still have the other issue of the Sol-Ark seemingly insisting on drawing from the grid even if TOU periods are active and there is battery capacity.

In the software there is an Auto Detect feature for the CTs, enable that and it should fix any issues.
The 50a discharge sounds like a setup item also, look under the battery screen and discharge tab you can manually set the amp charge / discharge values.

Study the manual, both of these scenarios are covered in the FAQ section.
Also use Sol-Ark support, they should be able to answer your questions and log in remotely into your setup to confirm what was setup.
 

solardad

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Messages
305
... even stranger. Very early this morning (around 3am or so) I looked at the Powerview app. It indicated that:

1. my home was apparently drawing 0w (??)
2. the Sol-Ark was _still_ feeding the grid. In the dark. (????)

I went into the garage, and the Sol-Ark itself showed the same. As a test, I plugged in the charger for my EV and started charging it, bc if it really _was_ feeding the grid from the batteries, I wanted to draw a lot of current to see the battery amp indicators. However, this is not what I found.

The "chargingEV" image shows what the Sol-Ark was displaying as my EV was charging. It seems to indicate that the Sol-Ark was _feeding_ the grid 8.18kw. However, it was dark outside (and my current PV array is only 3kw) and the batteries didn't show any large amp readings, which shows that the 8.18kw wasn't being drawn from the batteries ("batteryReadingsWhileCharging" image). The third image shows the grid settings on the Sol-Ark, and that I don't even have Grid Sell turned on.

The installer finally did install the CTs yesterday. Did he install them incorrectly? Are they upside-down?

So, questions:

1. Why is the Sol-Ark drawing power from my batteries to feed the grid at night instead of drawing from the batteries to feed my home?
2. Why is the Sol-Ark confusing sending power _to_ the grid when I obviously was drawing power _from_ the grid (charging the EV)?
3. Why is the Sol-Ark continuing to send power to the grid even though I have "Grid Sell" turned off, and "Limited Power to Home" turned on?

Your TOU settings are screwy.

Ex. EV charge at 11am but your TOU says keep your battery level at 100%, so the battery will not discharge. You need to lower the percentage of how far you want the battery to discharge like 0%.

Seeing the screenshots makes me wonder on the installer competency. I would strongly suggest a walk through with sol-ark support to make sure everything is setup correctly. Not an issue with the inverter but with the installer’s knowledge.
 

jmzorko

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Messages
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In the software there is an Auto Detect feature for the CTs, enable that and it should fix any issues.
The 50a discharge sounds like a setup item also, look under the battery screen and discharge tab you can manually set the amp charge / discharge values.

Study the manual, both of these scenarios are covered in the FAQ section.
Also use Sol-Ark support, they should be able to answer your questions and log in remotely into your setup to confirm what was setup.

Yes, Sol-Ark support has been very helpful. I cannot credit them enough. After switching the leads of the CTs inside the Sol-Ark, the unit displayed the power the home was drawing. The only issues they've not gotten back to me yet on, though, are the ones I described most recently:

1. The Sol-Ark draws power from the grid even though the TOU settings suggest that it shouldn't if the battery has sufficient charge. As I understand the TOU settings, each time slot draws _up to_ X watts from the battery if the home requires it, until battery reaches Y%. What I'm seeing, though, is that for each slot, the Sol-Ark immediately starts drawing the entire X watts until the battery reaches Y%, even if the home _doesn't_ require it. It's as if loads appear out of nowhere. I've a video demonstrating this.

2. The battery max discharge is currently set to 100 amps, but the Sol-Ark only seems to discharge up to 50.

I'm also confident that it's a configuration problem (at least, I really hope so, otherwise I'll need to pay the installer to uninstall and reinstall). That's why I'm describing the issues, posting this in the Beginners Corner and asking people for advice on how to configure it to work like I want. I've learned quite a lot here already!
 
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solardad

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1. The Sol-Ark draws power from the grid even though the TOU settings suggest that it shouldn't if the battery has sufficient charge.

Per your screen shot the TOU setup limits the power that is being produced by the inverter.

ex: @ 13:00 (1pm) your setting limits the inverter to only 2000 watts. that means anything above 2kw from the house will come from the grid vs. battery or solar.
 

jmzorko

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Messages
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That screenshot was from yesterday morning. Since then, i've reversed the CT leads inside the Sol-Ark, which corrected some of the issues I was seeing (appearing to feed the grid while charging the EV, for instance).

This is a different issue. I've a video demonstrating what i'm seeing. This site doesn't seem to allow videos as attachments, but if you like, i'll happily send it to you. I really want to get to the bottom of this because, so far, I really like the Sol-Ark.
 

jmzorko

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Messages
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Here are another 3 photos I took just now of the Sol-Ark. Context: it's quite cloudy outside, and I have the TOU setup to charge the batteries during the day. The first photo shows the power flows, the 2nd shows the TOU settings, the third shows the battery charge settings. In the first photo, it shows PV generating 610w, the home consuming 220w, while 270w are being drawn from the grid and 670w are being used to charge the battery. The third photo shows that Grid Charge is off. My question is simple: why is it drawing from the grid at all? The current PV (610w) is enough to power the home (270w) and the extra 340w could be used to charge the battery, but the Sol-Ark insists on drawing some from the grid even though it's unnecessary. I only want the Sol-Ark to draw from the grid when it has no other option, but right now it's basically _always_ drawing from it.

The Tesla system at my previous home only charged the PowerWall from solar unless the user specifically allowed grid charging (i.e. enabling Storm Watch). I want the Sol-Ark to operate the same way: _only_ charge the batteries from solar, _never_ from the grid unless I specifically enable grid charging. What am I missing?

UPDATE: It may be that I had "Battery First" chosen instead of "Load First". I was interpreting "Battery First" as "use the battery first" but Sol-Ark support tells me that it actually means "charge the battery first". I'm going to see if this indeed fixes the issues i'm seeing.
 

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solardad

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I think the challenge with your testing is that you have a very narrow discharge % window. Try your test with 0 and 100% windows. That way there is no question if the battery should be charging or discharging (an MPPT charge controller is not on or off depending on the state of charge it may slow the charge even though you are not at that specific limit). Also confirm the following:

Check TOU 'setup' option and ensure the days of the week are checked otherwise the TOU will not run.

Under grid parameters 'sell control' window 'zero export power' it should be set to 10w. This is needed to ensure you do not pull power OR accidently sell power back to the grid when limited to Home

Your battery settings seem off also. not sure what they should be not knowing your chemistry or overall setup but they don't seem right


Lastly watch this video before you do anything else:

It is a menu and settings overview by a solar system installer who has installed a Sol-Ark as a DIY in their home. He goes over the basics and mentions some things to look out for. He has other Sol-Ark setup and usage videos that you might find interesting.
 

jmzorko

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Many thanks for the hints, they're appreciated. The TOU days of week are all selected in the Powerview app, that was one of the things I made sure of right away. The issue isn't that TOU isn't running, it's that when it _does_ run the Sol-Ark shows that it's drawing the # of watts configured for that time slot and battery percentage, even though there are no loads drawing anywhere near that much - it's as if loads magically appear to draw the battery down to the selected percentage, and magically disappear when that percentage is met. The video I made shows this, and I will gladly, happily and enthusiastically send it to anyone who thinks they can help.

I was on the phone with Sol-Ark support yesterday for an hour or so, and we tried a few things, none of which worked. They sent a firmware update to the Sol-Ark, but that didn't fix it, either. They said they would do some more research and get back to me. They're _very_ responsive, cordial and truly helpful, so I've every confidence that they will.
 

robby

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Here are another 3 photos I took just now of the Sol-Ark. Context: it's quite cloudy outside, and I have the TOU setup to charge the batteries during the day. The first photo shows the power flows, the 2nd shows the TOU settings, the third shows the battery charge settings. In the first photo, it shows PV generating 610w, the home consuming 220w, while 270w are being drawn from the grid and 670w are being used to charge the battery. The third photo shows that Grid Charge is off. My question is simple: why is it drawing from the grid at all? The current PV (610w) is enough to power the home (270w) and the extra 340w could be used to charge the battery, but the Sol-Ark insists on drawing some from the grid even though it's unnecessary. I only want the Sol-Ark to draw from the grid when it has no other option, but right now it's basically _always_ drawing from it.

The Tesla system at my previous home only charged the PowerWall from solar unless the user specifically allowed grid charging (i.e. enabling Storm Watch). I want the Sol-Ark to operate the same way: _only_ charge the batteries from solar, _never_ from the grid unless I specifically enable grid charging. What am I missing?

UPDATE: It may be that I had "Battery First" chosen instead of "Load First". I was interpreting "Battery First" as "use the battery first" but Sol-Ark support tells me that it actually means "charge the battery first". I'm going to see if this indeed fixes the issues i'm seeing.
Your system is acting normally when Battery first is selected. It will charge the batteries first and use the grid to power the house. The TOU settings can change this behavior without going to Load first. If for instance you set the the TOU at 9am to a SOC of 35% and 700W then once the battery charges to 35% it will start to supplement the the PV power with up to 700W of battery power and once the house load drop down or the PV power goes up to the point where there is excess PV power it will use that to start charge the batteries again. This thing is absolutely beautiful thing to watch in action, mine goes back and forth during the day to keep the grid consumption near zero. Word of warning, I did try this at 35% and while it works there is no telling if the weather will go south later in the day and you might end up never fully charging the batteries.

BTW setting SOC in TOU to 100% means that it will not use the battery at all during that time period. So 7am to 1pm in your photo it will never draw power from the battery and between 1pm and 5pm it can only draw 5% of the battery power, that is assuming the battery is at 100%

I did a compromise and let mine go up to 60% by 10am before letting it do any power draw from the batteries. Typically by 11am I have put back about 13KW into my batteries and they are charged to 100% and I drop the SOC down to 80%and 2.5KW at 11am, so it can use 20% of my battery to boost power between 11am to 5pm. At 5pm I set it to 100% so nothing will be drawn and I am on the Grid. At 11pm I set it to 20% so it will use the batteries all night down to 20% SOC, typically running out of power by 7am and going back to the Grid until the sun starts to power the panels again.

Also worth noting is that Sol-Ark told me that the Load First option does not seem to work for everyone, they think there is a bug in it that effects some people systems and it still behaves like Battery first. They told me they are working on an update to fix the problem. Honestly I don't want to use the Grid First option anyway because early morning weather is typically the most reliable sunny time.
 
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jmzorko

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Your system is acting normally when Battery first is selected. It will charge the batteries first and use the grid to power the house.

I'm not sure about this. I turned off Battery First a couple of days ago at Sol-Ark's suggestion, but the issue remains. Consider the following images, taken just now (3:34a PST).

Image 1 shows the current that my home is drawing (~500w) and that I'm getting it from the grid. The battery is at 98%

Image 2 shows the current TOU settings, with TOU not enabled. Notice that between midnight and 7a, I have TOU setup so that, if enabled, it will draw from the battery _up to_ 2510w to power the home until the battery reaches 85%. My home consumes nowhere near this, but larger max wattage settings make the effect I'm trying to demonstrate much easier to see. Since right now said home is using ~500w, which is well under 2510w, my understanding is that if I enable TOU now, the Sol-Ark will _stop_ drawing from the grid and draw the ~500w that the home is currently using from the battery.

Image 3 is me enabling TOU.

Image 4, taken just a few seconds after I enabled TOU, shows what the Sol-Ark _actually_ does. Notice that it's _still_ drawing ~540w from the grid, but now suddenly it shows that my home is drawing 2.84kw, though nothing in my home turned on to account for the load increase. Also notice that the Sol-Ark now reports that the battery is supplying 4.66kw to ... something, somewhere (the indicators one the batteries themselves also show this). It's as if the Sol-Ark _created_ a "phantom" load to consume from the battery. The size of the load it created (~2300w) is approximately the size of the max wattage I have setup for this TOU slot (2510w). I've verified this with different experiments using different max wattage settings for the TOU slot.

Image 5, taken just a few seconds after image 4, is after I once again disabled TOU. The Sol-Ark goes back to displaying that my home is drawing ~500w, and the grid is supplying it. The load-from-nowhere is now gone.

So, my questions:

1. When I enable TOU, why does the Sol-Ark continue drawing from the grid even though there is plenty of battery?
2. When I enable TOU, why is the Sol-Ark creating this "phantom" load to draw 2.84kw when my home was only consuming ~500w just seconds before?
3. When I enable TOU, why is the Sol-Ark drawing even more from the battery (4.66kw) than the "phantom" load (2.84kw) requires?
4. If my home is actually drawing 2.84kw (it's not), why does it suddenly return to only drawing ~500w as soon as I disable TOU?

So far, Sol-Ark support hasn't been able to answer, though they are honestly trying their best. I'm on the phone with them every day and they are very courteous, personable and helpful - seriously they rock and are really doing everything they can to help. They're telling me that my system shouldn't be doing this. They've tried 3 different firmware versions, but the behavior is the same. The current diagnosis suggests that the CTs are not operating correctly or are installed incorrectly. They've had me switch the CT leads inside the Sol-Ark (I'm not touching anything inside the main panel - I let the installer do the high-voltage stuff) and tell the Sol-Ark to detect the sensors multiple times, to no avail. I believe we're going to schedule a Zoom call later today so I can show them how the installer wired the CTs, as well as anything else they need.
 

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