Sol-Ark Installers Experience - All Common questions and answers

HighTechLab

Solar Addict
Moderator
Hello everyone!

Those who have worked with a Sol-Ark inverter knows that their manuals can be confusing at times. I am setting out to create an all-inclusive Q&A/Explanation document that should help all Sol-Ark users and DIYers get their systems setup quickly and optimally.

Please reply to this thread with some of the issues/experiences you faced when installing your units to help others looking to DIY install a Sol-Ark. I know these units are rising in popularity, so having good information for the DIY community is essential for us to be successful!

Some of the issues that I faced when installing my inverter were the following:
  • Do I need a resistor to pre-charge the capacitors?
  • During testing before install my inverter gave me an F03 or F04 error (GFDI Failure) and wont turn on!
  • Where should I ground my neutral and ground wires?
  • My batteries don't have closed loop communications with the inverter. Are they still compatible?
  • I'm off-grid! Should I use the "GEN" input or "GRID" input for my backup generator?
  • How do I setup generator peak shaving when the generator is connected to the grid input? Should I now use "GRID PEAK SHAVING" or "GEN PEAK SHAVING"
    • Is peak shaving per-leg or is it on both legs combined? Does the inverter balance the load on the phases of the generator?
  • With my generator running, why aren't my batteries starting to charge?
  • Can I run loads directly off my generator, but still use the Sol-Ark for Generator Peak Shaving?
  • My transfers from generator power back to inverter take a long time; my lights are flickering! Why?!?!?!
  • What direction should I be installing the hall-effect current transformers? Where should I install them? Do I need them?
  • What does the big ferrite cores go? Should they go over both wires? Do I need them for Non-EMP hardened inverters?
  • My house used to run fine on a 8kw transformer-based inverter, now the sol-ark is showing overloads! Why!
  • How does phase-balance effect a transformerless inverter?
I will be breaking these down in the next couple of days as time permits, with great detail with diagrams and very thorough explanations, so the next 4 posts will be reserved. Please comment any of the issues/problems you faced - I will update these posts to contain as much information as possible right up front!
 
Last edited:

Mouse

Solar Enthusiast
Some issues I've noticed so far...
1. Over-the-Air firmware updated are supposed to be coordinated from tech support. This doesn't always happen and the result is your load panel is shut off while the system updates and reboots.

2. "Battery-Optional" is not an accurate statement. If you have AC-coupled PV into the gen breaker, this REQUIRES a battery for Sol-Ark (SA) to enable the grid-tied inverter to power up. A work around is to connect the grid-tied inverter to the grid breaker until suitable battery is available (assuming you weren't already landing into the critical loads panel).

3. Battery charging and time-of-use settings are conflicting. A typical use model would be appreciated to understand exactly which screen/setting takes precedence when. ie. TOU+limit to loads+grid_sell+grid_charge, ... how do I force ac-coupled solar to grid? SA wants to charge the battery.
 

bixelps

New Member
Regarding:
"What direction should I be installing the hall-effect current transformers? Where should I install them? Do I need them?" .

Regarding if you need to install these or not depends on the mode of the inverter you intend to use. This is pretty well covered in the manual. If you have wires in your "Grid" breaker the you will need to install these and I would recommend to install them whenever you can regardless as you always get more data.

Speaking specifically of single inverter Grid-Tie mode you need these installed. The required installed location in this mode is well covered in the manual as is the direction which is with the arrow on the CT pointing from your main panel to the meter. Speaking now of the standard CT's that come with this unit there is a white and a black wire coming out of them. Which is "+" and which is "-" turns out to be interesting. I believe that white is specified as positive and should go in the "+" connection points in the inverter. The youtube videos I watched shows exactly that. But in my case it was not working and my information from Sol-Ark tech support was that their vendor had constructed some number of these CTs backwards.

So my recommendation is to point the arrow towards the meter and put the white wire on the left. If that does not work the remedy is to simply swap the white and black which will fix it regardless of if you installed it upside down or have a backwards wiring in your CT.
 

bixelps

New Member
Regarding:
"Where should I ground my neutral and ground wires?"

The unit has a Neutral bus for termination of all neutral wires and a ground bus for termination of all ground wires.
 

fisherus

Solar Enthusiast
My number one problem has to do with updating my Sol-Ark 12k as I am using it on my off-grid farm that doesn't have internet service. To do the updates, I have to disconnect the unit and bring it to my grid-tied property, along with a battery, almost 500 miles away from the farm. If the updates could be downloaded on a thumb drive, or something similar to plug in to the Sol-Ark 12k, it would make the downloads easier.
Really appreciate what you are doing!
 

Mouse

Solar Enthusiast
My number one problem has to do with updating my Sol-Ark 12k as I am using it on my off-grid farm that doesn't have internet service. To do the updates, I have to disconnect the unit and bring it to my grid-tied property, along with a battery, almost 500 miles away from the farm. If the updates could be downloaded on a thumb drive, or something similar to plug in to the Sol-Ark 12k, it would make the downloads easier.
Really appreciate what you are doing!
If your farm has cellular service then perhaps a mobile hotspot or a tethering contract with your cell phone would do the trick.
 

bixelps

New Member
It looks to me like you could update firmware without the internet by using the web interface of the Wifi Dongle. Below I show the screen I see.

A procedure that might work would be to get the file from Sol-Ark tech support onto a laptop.
Bring a router with you setup your inverter to connect to it and your laptop as well.
Then figure out what address your inverter has and access this screen from your laptop and upload the firmware.

I have not done this myself but it looks like it could be done.

1612737105964.png
 

fisherus

Solar Enthusiast
It looks to me like you could update firmware without the internet by using the web interface of the Wifi Dongle. Below I show the screen I see.

A procedure that might work would be to get the file from Sol-Ark tech support onto a laptop.
Bring a router with you setup your inverter to connect to it and your laptop as well.
Then figure out what address your inverter has and access this screen from your laptop and upload the firmware.

I have not done this myself but it looks like it could be done.

View attachment 36321
I'm a little confused about what you are telling me. I'm assuming you are saying that I can connect to the router using Wifi with my laptop and the Sol-Ark 12k as well but I don't understand how I get the programming changes downloaded for transfer from my laptop to the Sol-Ark?
 

ArthurEld

Photon Sorcerer
I'm a little confused about what you are telling me. I'm assuming you are saying that I can connect to the router using Wifi with my laptop and the Sol-Ark 12k as well but I don't understand how I get the programming changes downloaded for transfer from my laptop to the Sol-Ark?
You can make your phone into a hotspot and connect the Solark to it. Solark tech support should be able to help you do that.
You probably have to connect your laptop to the hotspot too.
Your phone hotspot will provide wifi
 

bixelps

New Member
I'm a little confused about what you are telling me. I'm assuming you are saying that I can connect to the router using Wifi with my laptop and the Sol-Ark 12k as well but I don't understand how I get the programming changes downloaded for transfer from my laptop to the Sol-Ark?

If you look at the screenshot I posted you can see in the middle there is a selection that allows uploading of a firmware image from your laptop to the Sol-Ark. It least that is what is says which makes me think that with a phone call to Sol-Ark tech support you could get the lastest firmware image, bring it to your site and upload it using this webpage.

I understand from your previous post that you do not have a cell signal at this site so you cannot do the hotspot thing.
 

Mouse

Solar Enthusiast
I'm a little confused about what you are telling me. I'm assuming you are saying that I can connect to the router using Wifi with my laptop and the Sol-Ark 12k as well but I don't understand how I get the programming changes downloaded for transfer from my laptop to the Sol-Ark?
The sol-ark wifi dongle is a wifi access point, meaning, it broadcasts a wifi network named "EAP-xxxx". You can search for it from your cellphone/laptop. Connect your cell/laptop to this wifi network and then open a browser link to "10.10.10.1" which is the dongle's gateway address. This should display the screen shot @bixelps referred to.

No telling if this is firmware for the dongle or for the sol-ark itself.
 
Last edited:

fisherus

Solar Enthusiast
The sol-ark wifi dongle is a wifi access point, meaning, it broadcasts a wifi network named "EAP-xxxx". You can search for it from your cellphone/laptop. Connect your cell/laptop to this wifi network and then open a browser link to "10.10.10.1" which is the dongle's gateway address. This should display the screen shot @bixelps referred to.

No telling if this is firmware for the dongle or for the sol-ark itself.
Only problem is that I don't have any cell phone service either on my farm.
 

dweick

New Member
Probably a good idea to note which model Sol Ark you are using, sounds like you have the Sol Ark 8k (edit: I see elsewhere you have the 12k, strange because the error messages below are for the 8k and should be different on the 12k if you believe the manuals)

F03/F04 in pre-installation testing is probably due to you not having ground and neutral connected somewhere. Since you say you are off-grid you will need to have your own earth ground and connect neutral and ground inside your Sol Ark if you don't have neutral and ground connected elsewhere.
 
Last edited:
Top