Sunny Boy parameter change eases grid tied battery backup process

From on 05/19/2014 in Category Technology with 21 Comments

Good news to off-grid installers: SMA is happy to announce that starting this month, all approved Sunny Boy inverters will be shipped with the Backup Mode parameter installed to the “On_all” setting.

In a grid tied battery backup application, the relationship between a Sunny Boy and a Sunny Island is like nothing else. Each inverter is in tune with the other and responds precisely when the other makes a request. However, advanced communication protocol is only available when a specific parameter is set within the Sunny Boy.

Previously, the default Backup Mode parameter had been set to “off.” Changing this setting at the factory will simplify installations since installers will not need a communication device to change the parameter setting when installing and commissioning AC coupled systems. One less concern for installers and one more step closer to commissioning and making clean, renewable power.

How it works
A Sunny Boy configured to receive commands from its "master" Sunny Island. Photo: USA Solar.

A Sunny Boy configured to receive commands from its “master” Sunny Island. Photo: USA Solar.

In a battery backup AC coupled application, the Sunny Island will increase its bus frequency to reduce the output power of the Sunny Boy. The Sunny Island performs this frequency shift to prevent the excess PV from overcharging batteries and only increases the frequency when these three conditions exist:

  1. The grid is out
  2. All batteries are fully charged
  3. There is no demand on the protected loads panel

When the Backup Mode parameter is set to “On_All,” the Sunny Boy will respond to the Sunny Island command to enter into “backup mode” when the grid goes down. Once in Backup Mode, the Sunny Boy will open various voltage and frequency windows that are wider than the limits which the inverter is normally constrained to. However, with the Sunny Island as the gatekeeper to the grid, no PV will back feed when the grid is down—the Sunny Boy can operate in this UL approved mode all it wants!

Communication is the key

It’s important to note that the Sunny Boy will only open these windows when the Sunny Island gives the command and it will return to the original default values when the Sunny Island sends a command to go back to the original values once grid is operational. These commands are sent via RS485 wiring that must be installed with the system.

The communication abilities between the Sunny Island and Sunny Boy via RS485 are crucial to the system’s success. Without it, the Sunny Boy would not be able to switch to Backup Mode when the Sunny Island sent its commands. Since the Sunny Boy wouldn’t open its voltage and frequency windows it’s still restricted to the preset frequency limits of 59.3 to 60.5Hz. When the Sunny Island increases its frequency the Sunny Boy will trip off just like a regular grid tied scenario with a bad grid. This same reaction would occur in a system using a non-SMA inverter in an AC coupled application.

To view a list of approved SMA inverters that can ship with Backup Mode enabled, click here.

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21 Comments

  • avatar

    Mike Messick

    05/23/2014 at 7:14 am

    Great article. This is exactly what I was looking for !
    What is the design process? Is this something you can assist me with?

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Justin Dyke

      05/23/2014 at 9:32 am

      Hi Mike – thanks for the kind words! We have webinars from time to time that focus on system configuration with Sunny Island, Sunny Boy and battery banks. Check out our Solar Academy page for the latest updates on those webinars and to register for any that are of interest for you.

      All the best,
      Justin

      Reply »
  • avatar

    Gerhard Kotze

    08/11/2015 at 10:47 am

    I need to change the backup mode parameter on my Sunny Boy urgently. I’ve requested a Grid Guard code and have been waiting for weeks, in the mean time my batteries aren’t charging properly. Please help!

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Justin Dyke

      08/11/2015 at 11:43 am

      Hello Gerhard,

      Which model Sunny Boy do you have? To change the Backup Mode parameter you shouldn’t need a grid guard code; simply access the inverter via Sunny Explorer to make the change. Are you seeing the wrench icon at some point in this process? If so, let me know where and I’ll conduct some more testing to see what is happening.

      Best,
      Justin

      Reply »
    • avatar

      Gerhard Kotze

      08/11/2015 at 10:32 pm

      Hi Justin,

      It’s a Sunny Boy TL5000-21. I see the wrench icon in the top right corner, but I don’t see Backup Mode in the Settings tab. When I log in with installer code 1111 settings are locked.

      To give you a bit of background, the problem I’m trying to fix is to stop the Sunny from shutting down when the batteries reach a certain voltage. It’s connected to a Victron Multiplus inverter and I’ve been told the Grid Frequency Disturbance errors would go away if the Sunny is in Off Grid mode.

      Regards,
      Gerhard

      Reply »
      • avatar

        Justin Dyke

        08/12/2015 at 9:46 am

        Hi Gerhard,

        If you’re logging in with installer-level credentials and the settings are still locked then there might be an issue with your login settings or password. If that’s the case you’ll need to contact your local Service Line for a Personal Unlocking Key to access those settings. The best way to proceed will be to contact the Service Line in your area. Since your Sunny Boy is a TL-21, it’s not a North America product. Can you tell me where the system is located so I can determine the best contact information for you?

        Thanks,
        Justin

      • avatar

        Gerhard Kotze

        08/13/2015 at 2:23 am

        Hi Justin,

        I’m in Cape Town, South Africa. I think SolarWorld is the local distributor?

        Regards,
        Gerhard

      • avatar

        Justin Dyke

        08/13/2015 at 9:48 am

        Hi Gerhard – We have an SMA subsidiary in South Africa that offers a Service Line. They can be reached at 08600 SUNNY (08600 78669) and are likely the best way to help get your system running properly.

        Best wishes,
        Justin

  • avatar

    James Vaca

    09/03/2015 at 3:12 pm

    Having issues with Sunny Island and Sunny Boy shutting down. twice in 12 days. after a 25 mins the Sunny Island display screen shows “to start press enter” then system resets itself. second time the display showed T- Batt high. i assume this means battery temperature. Checked outside of temperature of batteries, between 76 -79 degrees depending on the location in cabinet.

    is there service in Jackson, New Hampshire?

    Sunny Island – Ser. # 125500163 Type – S14248 U
    Sunny Boy – Ser. # 2000084863 SB6000U
    Acme Transformer Cat.# T-3-53545-S Style SR

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Justin Dyke

      09/04/2015 at 3:02 pm

      Hi James,

      Due to the type of issue you’re having, the best way to find a solution is by calling the Service Line. They’ll do a deeper diagnostic dive and resolve this much more efficiently. Please call them at 877-697-6283.

      Reply »
  • avatar

    Joseph Savage

    02/15/2016 at 7:26 am

    Good Day

    Can you clarify a point for me. I have been thinking about a SB SI MULTI CLUSTER system in Florida but in reading the SI operation manual I found section 16.10 states that a multi cluster system is not certified for GRID TIE OPERATION, is this correct?

    I assume the issue is possible communication errors between clusters and insuring a non-islanding condition.

    If so the only work around I’ve dreamed up would be two separate systems, a SB Multi Cluster GRID TIE system to backfeed to the utility and a smaller seperate non Multi cluster SB SI system as backup.

    This would not be a very desirable situation.

    Thank you for your time.

    JD Savage

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Justin Dyke

      02/15/2016 at 8:54 am

      Hi Joseph,

      Yes, that’s correct that the Multicluster system is not certified for grid-tied operation. It is a strictly off-grid system that is UL certified to UL 508 and not UL 1741. As such, the 300A contactors are not rated to isolate within 160ms.

      You’ll have to confirm any workarounds with your local AHJ, but something like ATS (3 phase, 300A rating) to isolate from grid on grid failure might be acceptable.

      All the best,
      Justin

      Reply »
  • avatar

    Joseph Savage

    02/15/2016 at 2:22 pm

    Correction to previous email. I must have had my thinking cap on sideways, both systems would have to be non Multi cluster.

    The only solution I visualized would be two separate systems, a stand alone non Multi cluster SB set of inverters to back feed the utility and a smaller non Multi cluster SB SI system for backup.

    The maximum size of backup system as non Multi cluster I could build would be 18,000 watts SI as a 120/208 3 phase backup and still be able to back feed as Grid Tie.

    I was thinking of larger backup with the ability to back feed Grid Tie to recoup system cost.

    JD Savage

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Justin Dyke

      02/15/2016 at 3:36 pm

      Hi Joseph,

      It is allowable to have multiple three-phase clusters as long as each has its own isolated protected loads panel, but they can each back feed the same grid. You are correct in the maximum size of a single cluster though. Hopefully this helps with your system design, feel free to ask anymore questions as you move along with the design phase.

      Best,
      Justin

      Reply »
  • avatar

    Joseph Savage

    02/15/2016 at 2:28 pm

    Ok. Understand the ATS concept but doubt locals would accept non UL 1741, then again they might not get it, but anyway my integrity would not allow it.

    Thank you for your time.

    JD SAVAGE

    Reply »
  • avatar

    azi

    04/19/2016 at 6:00 am

    Hi, I’ve a question, may you answer it as a professional in inverters.
    I’m looking for a grid tied inverter with this option: if there is no longer grid for the moment, we can activate Islanding feature and use the output for local purposes in grid pv farm?! Can you help me, if there is a something in the market for this reason? I appreciate.

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Justin Dyke

      04/20/2016 at 9:41 am

      Hi Azi –

      We have a feature like what you’re looking for in our Sunny Boy tranformerless inverters, those sold only in North America, called Secure Power Supply. It enables up to 2,000 watts of power from the solar array (1,500 watts for the TL-US series) during grid outages. If you’re looking for more power you’ll need to begin reviewing grid-tied battery-backup systems using a Sunny Island and a Sunny Boy inverter all with a battery bank. Can you let me know what area you’d be installing the system and what type of power demands you have?

      Best,
      Justin

      Reply »
  • avatar

    ganjar

    05/23/2016 at 4:48 am

    hi, i have one question

    for your information , I am using the Inverter SMA Sunny Island 5048 , and I had to change some parameters to get the setting that suits my purposes

    the problem is, now I want to restore my custom settings back to the default/ factory setting , how do I do that?

    thanks

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Justin Dyke

      05/25/2016 at 1:30 pm

      Hi Ganjar –

      If you have not stored the original parameter set (using parameter 550.01 ParaSto) on the SD card, then you can restore the default values by entering the Quick Configuration Guide (QCG). During startup when you turn on the circuit breaker, wait until the display screen shows “To init system hold “. At this point if you press and hold the Enter key, the Sunny Island will beep three times and you will start the QCG. Select “New System” to tell the Sunny Island that you want to reset the system parameters.

      This is the process you went through to commission the system originally, and you will need to re-enter the battery, grid and/or generator parameters again. All other parameters will be set to the appropriate defaults based on this information.

      If you did not do the commissioning, or do not remember, it is outlined in the manual of the Sunny Island – available online for the 4548 and 6048 devices. Also, the QCG is covered in this tech tip video:

      https://youtu.be/n0cYWfk8wXQ?list=PL840A5336CAC32332

      Once you have restored the default parameters, you may want to save this set. You can save two parameter sets on the SD card, so you can also save another modified set if you are happy with the performance with the modified set.

      Best,
      Justin

      Reply »
  • avatar

    Lynne Bannen

    11/03/2016 at 5:41 am

    Hi Justin,

    I am installing 2 Sunny Islands adding to my current system of 2500 watts w/2500 Sunnyboy on L1 and 2000 watts w/2500 Sunnyboy on L2 on load panel in splt series. Just want to make sure I am reading manual right. For my battery bank I just need to hook up the DC battery to the Master? It is unclear if you need to run positive to Master and Negative to slave. From my take the master runs it all, right? It has been 9 years since I have installed a system so want to make sure I have it right. With the old Sunnyboys they need to each be on the load panel and will come on line when grid goes down, right? I am in USA, Indiana

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Jessica

      11/03/2016 at 10:31 am

      Hi Lynne, thanks for your question. A member of our service team will be in touch with you to answer your question.

      Reply »

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