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Industrial Solar Power System Troubleshooting

Solar Power Systems are used in remote industrial applications where there is no line power. Properly designed, installed, and maintained industrial solar power systems will have  high uptime and low maintenance.

SCADALink has successful supplied 1000’s of green and brown field solar power systems for remote instrumentation and control systems. Often our clients have commented about challenges they have had with their existing solar power systems.

In this blog we will discuss solar system problems; steps to diagnose problems; and solutions.

Potential Problems

Possible Problems include:

  • Indequate Solar Charging Capacity
  • Inadequte Battery Bank Sizing
  • Battery Overcharging
  • Extreme Battery Temperatures
  • Solar Panel Shading
  • Improper Installation
  • Oversized Solar Power Systems

Solar Power System Troubleshooting and Analysis

  • Get Accurate Load Profile – Accurately estimate or measure system loads.  Measure functioning equipment if possible.
  • Properly Sizing Solar Array –  Charge 1.25 to 1.5 x average load at lowest season of solar isolation.
  • Properly Size Battery Banks – Size to 10 to 15 days for autonomy at -40 degrees C. More required days for critical application and northerly environment with lower temperature, and lower sun.
  • Site Visit to assess existing installation.
  • On larger battery banks – Minimize number of parallel batteries strings.
  • Proper Installation
  • Make sure Solar Panels are oriented in optimum direction.


Solar Panel Mounting and Orientation

Mount Panels high enough to prevent shading from vehicles, nearby structures, or trees. Angle solar panels suitable for environment to maximum solar isolation. In northern climates, install solar panels in vertically (near 90 degrees elevation angle) to shed snow and prevent snow build up.  Typically solar panel arrray are pointed 180 degrees S of N in the azimuth (directly south) unless that direction is shaded.

Solar Power System Monitoring

Incorporate remote voltage and current monitoring to can give an indication of power system health and warm of impending problems.  Many RTU, PLC,  and modems have integrated supply voltage monitoring.  For sites without existing voltage monitoring capacity one can use the SCADALink RIO100.  New larger solar regulators mady have these integrated features.  For larger solar power systems, battery management systems should be deployed.

Monitoring trends of voltage and current over time can help indicate proper solar system operation.


Insulated Battery Enclosures

The use of insulated enclosures or buildings can help maintain temperature of battery bank to maintain its load capacity.  AGM batteries at -40 degrees C will have 50% of the AH capacity at 0 degrees C.

Solar Charge Regulator Selection

Use Solar Charge Regulators with Low Voltage Disconnect to prevent batttery damage.  Utilize MPPT Charger optimize charge batteries during lower sunlight conditions. Ensure voltage input specs for solar regulators match the solar panel array voltage output. Excess solar array output voltage can result in shut-down or regulator damage. Shutdowns will result in lower total charge from solar panel array. Inadequate voltage will result to lower charge from solar panel array.

Solar Hybrid System incorporating Generators and Fuel Cells

For remote sites with larger loads, it may be necessary to integrate additional  charging mechanisms such as generators, fuel cells, and wind turbines into a solar hybrid system to provide adequate charging capacity such as that deployed in SCADALINK SOLARIS 3000.