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MIDNIGHT CLASSIC WENT TO 24VOLTS & BOILED BATTERIES


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Thanks to many kind souls and lots of patience with me last year we were able to get a 1000 watt solar system 880ah battery solar install done on our RV. With new fridge, new flat screen TV etc we were so excited to now be able to utilize our rig fully off grid. As this install wasn't completed until Nov 2014 we knew we wouldn't see the true benefits until we started her up again in the Spring. Had 3 trips out in her during May/early June for long weekends and it was fabulous. Last trip 7th June weekend, then put aside here by the house until early last week checked on her to find couldn't get any digital readings either on the Magnum monitor inside or on the Midnight Controller in the bay. Started Generator to see if that would help and it flashed Low Battery, after hour and half same thing. Moved her into more direct sunlight, unplugged fridge totally, and made sure rocker switch to disconnect batteries was on. Checked over next couple of days on and off and low battery light went out, saw on charge controller under IN said 0 ah, then 42 ah then 397ah to next day go back down to 227 ah. Anyway, after 5 days we get that low battery light on again. In between seen it reading 16.? volts, 18 volts at one point and so on even spotted 8 volts. Took it in locally to establish that the darn thing had phantom changed to 24volts.

 

Now I called Midnight and spoke to a Jim Parish to be told on a general enquiry that it was impossible for that to happen as there was a protection in place. We even in this instance took it to a local Solar dealer who said, they had a terrible time trying to get it off the 24volts to 12 volts, and have done so by doing a factory reset as well had to put in almost a litre of distilled water in each (these were brand new batteries at the system install time). They are now saying they are doing an equalization and hoping that all will work well, but for sure some damage has to have occurred to the batteries. They are also saying that we will have to watch out for this occuring again, and in turn this is now making them nervous of using components that could fry third party components in installs they do!

 

On speaking with Jim after him being adamant that there is a computer inside for protection and it couldn't boil the batteries at Midnight, he informed me for the classic there is a 5 year warranty but if a failure of their controller caused damage to other components there was no compensation for that other than possible litigation.

 

Naturally right now we are far from happy campers about all this. Really would value any comments from you guys in the know. We were told from the get go that the Midnight Classic recognizes whether it is a 12volt or 24volt system and obviously even technical support folks are adamant that this couldn't happen, but it did and it did to us.

 

Jack, Chas, Stanley. In layman's terms, really would value yours and others in the know what you would do in this instance.

 

Many thanks as always.

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Since none of the experts have responded, I will even though I have no solar experience, since I do have some knowledge of RV electric systems and batteries. Let me say first that if your batteries were boiled dry or even low enough to expose the plates to the air, there was damage done to them and completely dry or nearly so would have done major damage. If your batteries were exposed to 24V for very long, it would cause them to boil and to loose water rapidly. Doing so would also tend to get acid from the batteries all around inside of the battery box and so will need a complete cleaning if it has not already been done as it will cause a corrosion issue.

 

Perhaps my short comments will call attention to your post by some of those who have actual experience with solar systems since I spend little time in research on them since I find them interesting but something which I have no need for.

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Who did your solar install? If it was someone new to MidNite's Classic, then there might be the problem as Classic's have many, many parameters to set.

 

For example, when I first powered up my Classic 150 and my Magnum MS2000 together, the Magnum would occasionally throw a high voltage fault. The Classic would charge to over 15V and the Magnum saw that voltage as a fault. I ended up capping the max voltage of the Classic to 14.9V.

 

I can't speak to your 24V issue, but it may not be a defective Classic.

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Since none of the experts have responded, I will even though I have no solar experience, since I do have some knowledge of RV electric systems and batteries. Let me say first that if your batteries were boiled dry or even low enough to expose the plates to the air, there was damage done to them and completely dry or nearly so would have done major damage. If your batteries were exposed to 24V for very long, it would cause them to boil and to loose water rapidly. Doing so would also tend to get acid from the batteries all around inside of the battery box and so will need a complete cleaning if it has not already been done as it will cause a corrosion issue.

 

Perhaps my short comments will call attention to your post by some of those who have actual experience with solar systems since I spend little time in research on them since I find them interesting but something which I have no need for.

 

Thanks Kirk, appreciate your efforts. Yes there was a little spitting showing on the top of a couple of the batteries but nothing to indicate a major spill out. Yet when they were checked each of the 8 batteries took around three quarters of a litre of distilled batteries. I don't know much about much but I believe that we would have lost most of our acid and it now needs to "hopefully" remake itself. (Sorry for the non-tech terminology I use!). There is one battery now showing a very very slight bulge but the others seem exteriorly to look the same albeit that bit of spit for want of a better description.

 

 

Well, that is one I have never seen or heard of before. I'd be wanting to return that to MidNite for diagnosis. I'd also want to be SURE that it really was set to 24 volts...is this something you saw yourself, or is it someone telling you that?

 

Ironically Jack, that is the response I've had from others that have "apparently" installed hundreds of these. As it turns out there appeared to be other things that the "experts!" weren't happy about the Classic ie; weird noise on switching on and off etc, so it is now on it's way back to Midnight and a new one is in it's place already. The new one is currently reading 13.4 amps on Float last night when I checked. One quick question if I may, how with this midnight and magnum monitor can you tell for sure how full your batteries are charged to in AHrs? I can't find any reading on the monitor that surprised me to indicate when the batteries are full with 880ahrs or thereabouts and upon usage how much they have dropped to through usage to ensure we don't pull down to less than 50% at any point in the future. I've been told and would value your concurring this, that we shouldn't let the volts drop below 12.1 when drawing from the bank, as that indicates it's getting to around 50%. I'm just a little confused as to how I can now check to see how much the batteries are charging to now to ascertain what kind of damage may have occurred. Everything was brand new for this set up last year.

 

 

I agree with Jack. I don't have any personal experience with MidNite solar chargers, but I know they are quality units. I would want it checked out professionally by the manufacturer. It should never go to 24v on a 12v system. Sorry I can't give you anything more.

 

That's what I thought Chad, and whilst I have heard this from the tech at Midnight, with it being computerized I guess there must be instances as with all things in life where the components, computer boards or whatever can be faulty or fail???? I don't have enough understanding to know so rely on you guys sharing what should and shouldn't be/occur. Believe me, my experience in life is that most of our things ie; trucks, vehicles, electronics usually go wrong just conveniently outside of warranty = Of course they do! So this time it's good to know that it occurred under warranty but it's sad that a company "if" providing a faulty component that causes damage to other components only replaces under warranty and accepts no liability for damage to the other components it's failure affected. That personally to me doesn't bode well.

 

 

Who did your solar install? If it was someone new to MidNite's Classic, then there might be the problem as Classic's have many, many parameters to set.

 

For example, when I first powered up my Classic 150 and my Magnum MS2000 together, the Magnum would occasionally throw a high voltage fault. The Classic would charge to over 15V and the Magnum saw that voltage as a fault. I ended up capping the max voltage of the Classic to 14.9V.

 

I can't speak to your 24V issue, but it may not be a defective Classic.

 

 

Thanks as well Zulu. Based on your comments that's raised some other questions of everyone for me if you'd be so kind (believe me I've tried googling and Utube watching for hours), as I've personally found the booklet that came with the controller, inverter, monitor etc going "whoosh" over my head for the most part.

 

So the folks I took it to commented when I told them at one point we saw it up to 18+ V, that it was way too high, and shouldn't ever go above 15.4. I believe they said they'd set this new one so it can't go above 15.6 V for us. To that end can you confirm for sure where it should be as you've set yours at 14.9 cap Zulu so .........

 

Can you please advise any other specific settings and what they should be so I can double/triple check. Sky is rather overcast and some spotty black clouds right now and it's BULK MPPT 14.3V, seeing it go from 13.9 to this in a couple of minutes observing right now before clicking send here.

I've taken some photos on my iPhone of the components and their readings but not sure how to upload them here. FYI: We have a MS2812 Pure Sine Inverter, Magnum Advance Remote ARC50, 4 x 250Watt Jinko Solar Panels, and 8 Costco Golf Cart 224ah batteries.

 

Thanks to you all as always :)

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The only reliable and easy way to tell your battery state of charge (SOC)is with a cumulative amp hour meter. The Magnum BMK (battery monitor kit) is one such component that will report cumulative amphours on your Magnum monitor. The Trimetric monitor is another such device - and has a separate display panel. There are others as well.

 

Every system that is being used for more than just casual boondocking should have a cumulative amphour meter IMO.

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A what a WHAT!? :o :o I've never seen.. let alone heard of anything like that happening before. Just on the side.. the Midnight will go to 15.8v, but it takes some doing to get it out of the default 12v mode.

 

Are you running the RC50 on your Mag? Ohhh.. sorry. I just read up. Gottcha.

 

Wow. I'm at a complete loss. Honestly, with properly operating gear I would be hard pressed to even 'intentionally' recreate a charge scenario like that.

 

I will say that while your RC50 is fairly accurate once you have the sensors in place, it doesn't really play well with others. It's easily confused, but I don't really see anything from your original post that might have caused any type of interference (but that's certainly the least of your worries isn't it). Usually, I would expect to see erroneous data when folks are trying to mix sensors and trying to use the RC50 and battery module with a trimetric (or similar) at the same time... or an undersized shunt.

I'll chime in a bit along with Zulu. If you had someone else do your install, Midnights do have a lot of programmable settings (which is why they are so attractive). But the input voltage settings are fairly 'deep' in the menu system and you would almost have to go looking for them to make any changes.

 

About all I can offer is a bit of commiseration. Is there any chance of filing a claim through your homeowners? I can offer a cold beer and a smile if that helps at all. :P

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Thanks again Jack. I'll go research this BMK Battery monitor kit. Assume there's only one choice and it's easy to install after the fact? I really would like to be able to monitor with ease how many AHs are in the batteries so I know what condition they are in before and after drawing down during our travels. We just aren't CG people, we are way more happy being at one with nature besides a river/lake/ocean or in the mountains for the mostpart.

 

Yarome, it actually made me feel a bit better reading that you were at a loss with what occured, as believe me you have way more knowledge and experience than us. We honestly thought we'd done something really wrong ourselves, hence why we took it to someone that's supposedly done a lot of solar installs when what happened, happened. Mind you I'm not sure how much confidence I have in that either as when we collected it the next day, hubby noticed a green light that was red when problem and usually green, wasn't lit at all - when he queried it the boss said "oh Fred put it on the wrong terminal and something about 6volts"!! Thanks for the smile :)

 

Something else that's come up, is we have two battery disconnect rocker switches above the entry door AUX and MAIN. When we had two batteries for previous years in the steps that had a solar trickle charge to them (they lasted 8/9 years and were still working well when we removed them to do this new solar install) - we used to always switch those two rocker switches off to avoid battery drain when she was not in use for any length of time. Appreciate things were a lot different back then, RV fridge, no inverter etc. However, we have been told or read conflicting information: i) Don't press the battery disconnect as your batteries won't charge and you'll ruin them. ii) Doesn't Matter whether Battery Disconnect Switches are left in the on position or off position when parked up as won't affect the charging of the batteries from the solar system. Hubby says that whenever the ignition key is put in it over rides the battery disconnect automatically to come on FWIW.

 

We know we are on a huge learning curve in all this, and I'm sure there are a lot more expensive lessons to be learned the hard way, but we ain't ready to give up just yet :)

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Thanks again Jack. I'll go research this BMK Battery monitor kit. Assume there's only one choice and it's easy to install after the fact? I really would like to be able to monitor with ease how many AHs are in the batteries so I know what condition they are in before and after drawing down during our travels. We just aren't CG people, we are way more happy being at one with nature besides a river/lake/ocean or in the mountains for the most part.

 

A BMK is easy to add to your system. I just went through our old PM's and thought you were going to install a battery monitor as part of your original install? I would definitely recommend having one to help monitor your batteries. The BMK will let you know your battery's state of charge as a percent of full, how many amp hours have gone in and out of the batteries, how many cumulative amp hours have been used and many other readings. It is definitely a good investment for a boondocker.

 

Something else that's come up, is we have two battery disconnect rocker switches above the entry door AUX and MAIN. When we had two batteries for previous years in the steps that had a solar trickle charge to them (they lasted 8/9 years and were still working well when we removed them to do this new solar install) - we used to always switch those two rocker switches off to avoid battery drain when she was not in use for any length of time. Appreciate things were a lot different back then, RV fridge, no inverter etc. However, we have been told or read conflicting information: i) Don't press the battery disconnect as your batteries won't charge and you'll ruin them. ii) Doesn't Matter whether Battery Disconnect Switches are left in the on position or off position when parked up as won't affect the charging of the batteries from the solar system. Hubby says that whenever the ignition key is put in it over rides the battery disconnect automatically to come on FWIW.

 

The only thing I can say to this is, "It depends." What it depends on is how your system is wired. Those battery disconnect switches you describe can stop the batteries from being charged from your original converter and most likely do so when they are disconnected. What they are typically wired to do is isolate the coach from the battery bank so a light or the frig or something can't accidentally be left on and kill your batteries. One switch will isolate the house batteries and one will isolate the chassis battery.

 

Now with your new set up, your solar charge controller is most likely wired directly to your battery bank and does not go through either of these disconnect switches. (I say most likely because I have not seen your set up and can't say for sure.) Also, your converter (I believe) has been taken out of the system and has been replaced by the charger built into the Magnum inverter/charger which is also most likely wired directly to the battery bank. If what I have stated about your new system wiring is true, then the disconnect switches will now have no effect on the charging of your batteries. Your batteries will be charged by either the solar charge controller or the charger in the Magnum when plugged into shore power or running off generator power. This can easily be tested with a meter to be verified.

 

The disconnect switches should still isolate your coach from the battery bank though. In other words when the disconnect switch is activated, there will be no 12 volt power passed to the coach. Your 12 volt lights and appliances will not work because no 12 volt power is being passed by the disconnect switch into the coach. This is how I wired my system up. I still have the disconnect switch in place and can kill all 12 volt power in the coach, but it has no affect on the charging of my batteries because the disconnect switch is "down stream" from the charging connections now.

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Nothing really for me to add about your issue. The other comments covered it. Some non-related comments, though:

 

  • For completeness, you CAN have multiple meters on a single shunt. At least in most configurations - I won't get into the exceptions because they are rare, and specialized. Both "should" be accurate if wired correctly and they will not affect one another.
  • The Magnum panel is pretty easy to use once you get used to it. So adding the BMK is something you should do, for sure, if you intend to boondock a lot. In use, the Trimetric is probably easier to read, but it is far harder to set up for most people. The trimetric will be slightly cheaper, but not significantly given total system costs.
  • If you are really curious about your solar harvest you can (later) add a network (Ethernet) line to your MidNite and manage your solar data on your computer (wirelessly via your router). That is for later - don't confuse any issues right now.
  • It is REALLY hard to get the MidNite to do what you describe. Something has to be radically wrong with it or someone really screwed up some programming.....but I'm of the belief something is wrong.
  • On your experience with the service provider.....Don't feel bad - it is incredibly difficult to find anyone that *really* knows what they are actually doing with this stuff in general. Let alone with a MidNite controller. There is merit to some of the better installers position of not wanting to use a Midnite because customers cannot understand them. They are excellent controllers and sometimes the only reasonable option for a higher output system....but they can be complex to program beyond the "norm". John Palmer and I have had several lengthy discussions on the tradeoffs between the MidNite and other "easier" controllers for the "average" customer.
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Chad, thanks again, you are correct we had every intention of putting in a BMK, but then so many folks said to us it was overkill as the Magnum monitor would give us all the info we would need. Alas, I was disappointed when there were no AH battery state info (remember all these components totally alien to us), and voiced that to be told just watch your volts and if they drop to 12.1 then you are at about 50% battery. As soon as we can find the time and our horrendous on/off stormy weather stops we will for sure get and install a BMK.

 

Jack, thanks for the heads up on ease of the BMK install versus the trimetric. We'd rather spend a few extra dollars and go for the better/easiest/most reliable than cut corners at this stage now. We are already in for an extra $2K over and above an out of the box system because we tried to listen and install quality/reliability versus price point, so a hundred bucks here or there right now in the big scheme of things seems irrelevant. Mind you saying that with quotes for AGM's at $3200 versus our $800 costco cheaper ones we couldn't justify that and based on what happened we are oh so glad that $800 got damaged and not $3200 in this instance!! Maybe in a few years down the road after we know how we are rolling more in FT mode, we'll go the AGM route investment.

 

To all, thanks for your comments - it truly has been peace of mind to read that what happened in our case has baffled more than just us. So far so good (up until last night!) on checking the read outs on the controller/monitor now a new controller is in place. Alas there'll come a time where we don't keep going out and checking on it every day, human nature being human nature, so hopefully we'll never experience that again with this new one.

 

Have a great weekend folks, hope your weather is drier and less windier than ours = if it keeps up our house insurances will go up on claims again next year (2014 we had a 70% increase in that one YOY due to flood, wind, storm, fire claims prior). Another bonefide reason we are offloading our assets, and relocating our @sses :) :) :)

 

Thanks to you all as always.

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  • On your experience with the service provider.....Don't feel bad - it is incredibly difficult to find anyone that *really* knows what they are actually doing with this stuff in general. Let alone with a MidNite controller.

 

2nd this.

 

For OP, try MidNite's Forum -- that's how I found the fix to my Classic ignorance.

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Nothing really for me to add about your issue. The other comments covered it. Some non-related comments, though:

 

  • For completeness, you CAN have multiple meters on a single shunt. At least in most configurations - I won't get into the exceptions because they are rare, and specialized. Both "should" be accurate if wired correctly and they will not affect one another.
  • The Magnum panel is pretty easy to use once you get used to it. So adding the BMK is something you should do, for sure, if you intend to boondock a lot. In use, the Trimetric is probably easier to read, but it is far harder to set up for most people. The trimetric will be slightly cheaper, but not significantly given total system costs.bzttrt bankj.

 

I'll take ownership on that one. But I don't think I'm going to touch on that one. I will respectfully disagree.

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I'll take ownership on that one. But I don't think I'm going to touch on that one. I will respectfully disagree.

Which one do you disagree with?

 

I've done many multiple panels on a single shunt. There are some things to watch out for, but, it can be done with (for example) multiple trimetrics on a shunt. Putting a Whizbang Jr or other "board" on the shunt as well as a (example) Trimetric is tricky but "can be done". Putting a BMK and Trimetric on the shunt would be one I have not done and may be difficult.

 

On the ease of use of the Magnum panel - OK, maybe it is not as easy as the Tri....but it is doable for most people,especially if they use the Favorites buttons. You only struggle through the setup once...(hopefully)

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