Saturday, 12 April 2014

SAMIL Solar Inverter - NO MORE!

Next Post in this series

Its been a long while since I posted on the subject of our solar power experience and all the hassles I was having with our SAMIL® inverter ... June 2013 in fact!
Why so long?
Well really because I got totally frustrated with the manufacturer not supplying a fix for what I believe amounted to a poorly designed product.
It reached the point I was too scared to touch the inverter because when I did, something else would stop functioning correctly.
After having it "off-the-air" for several short periods where it would go into this perpetual rebooting cycle, taking upto several days to recover, I just gave up and manually recorded each day's generation!

The final straw came following a local power outage when the unit yet-again would not come back on-line for days!
I didn't even bother with the manufacturer, I just went straight to the vendor and (unfortunately for them) gave them my feelings in no uncertain terms, telling them to rip it out and replace it with a different make as this would have been the third SAMIL® we had if they just "replaced" it again.
To-boot, we had lost potentially several hundred dollars of generation since the very first unit was installed!
As it turned out, the vendor themselves had gone away from supplying that brand of inverter!

The vendor contract with the Manufacturer was that they could NOT simply remove a Samil without  visiting the site and going through SAMIL® approved recovery procedures. The vendor was very good about fitting us in, but none-the-less we had to wait nearly two weeks (with no generation) before the visit. During that time I resisted the urge to turn the unit on as I'd tried umpteen times and I figured it was best just to leave it in it's non-working state for them to see.

Naturally Murphy's law applied!
The vendor shows up, powers up the inverter and ... it comes on-line!!

Thankfully the tech was thorough, so between us we were able to provide SAMIL® enough evidence that the unit was indeed faulty.  (Log entries ... and the firmware had corrupted itself again so it no longer showed the version) This meant SAMIL® gave the OK to remove the unit.
With the unit gone and the vendor no longer supplying SAMIL® units, I was upgraded to a much more expensive model at no cost to me.

We are now the owners of a much physically bigger (and more noisy) AURORA® inverter which has operated flawlessly since Christmas.

Interestingly, although we might simply have had more sun-hours compared to the same time last year, we have consistently produced more power in these three months!

Last year kW totals for Jan, Feb, Mar

This year totals
 +148kW, +279kW, +73kW
So far this month (to 11 April) we've generated

vs 212 for the same number of April days last year, that's a further +64kW
 That's over 500kW more so far this year!

Was there consistently more sun this year or has the new inverter simply been operational more of the time when we're not around to see the old one going off-line?? 

The one down-side of the new inverter is it's limited interface for obtaining stats from the unit.
It does NOT have either LAN or WiFi connectivity, only RS485 connectivity is available which requires an additional converter to interface to a PC ... which I haven't got around to doing yet!
While this doesn't seem complex, I haven't fully researched this yet, so if anyone reading this post already has their AURORA® inverter connected and collecting statistics, I'd love to hear first-hand, how you went about it.

I note that I made comment about the noise of the new inverter.
The SAMIL® was almost totally silent.
The AURORA® has an inverter buzz which increases in volume as the output increases.
This is really only ever going to be an issue if you have the unit mounted inside the dwelling (as we have), but having said that, it really doesn't bother us at all, even at full-power output as the unit is not near bedrooms or directly adjacent to primary living areas.

One other little quirk of the AURORA® is that because I am still manually collecting statistics off the display panel every few days, selection and display of past history is "cumbersome" in that the start-of-reading date constantly defaults back to 01 JAN {currentYEAR}between each individual reading, so for each daily reading you have to first Escape back to the Statistics menu and scroll all the way to the very bottom entry for User Period and press return to then;
  • scroll through the days to the desired start-of-reading date;
  • press return;
  • scroll through the months to the desired {current} month;
  • press return;
  • press return again to accept the current year and move to the end-of-reading values;
  • scroll through the days to the desired end-of-reading date;
  • press return;
  • press return to accept the current month;
  • press return again to accept the current year and display the output for the chosen date;
  • press return to arrive back at the User Period display and do it all again to obtain data for the next day.
Obviously when set up to capture this data remotely, this wouldn't be an issue either.

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