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Thread: Earth leakage unit problems (trip) after solar installation

  1. #1
    New Member Dries's Avatar
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    Earth leakage unit problems (trip) after solar installation

    Hello All,
    This is my first post. I’m sure you have heard this one before but here we go..

    The house it 30 yro and in a good nick…and we are in the Bothasig area in the WC

    I had an R132k solar system installed. It’s a Goodwe invertor system with 16 solar panels. From the first day of the solar installation I had this Earth leakage unit problem. The installer doesn’t think it’s the solar panels installation (DC) but rather a fault in the house.
    My tripping problem is only when it starts to rain. Switching everything off and then switch on the system 1 by 1 doesn’t work, the ELU will reset just to trip a couple of seconds later and then boem als oor and it will not trip again for days till it starts to rain again and the story will just repeat itself.

    The installation works as follows…I use Eskom power at night. During the day and with sun power the house is run on solar…when load shedding kicks in the DB will only supply electricity to the emergency side of the DB, at night time this will be supported by 4 x 200ah batteries. The emergency side of the DB will only supply power to a few plugs for tv, fridge, freezer, garage and PC room. The stove geyser swimming pool and out room is off.

    The Solar system side of the DB has its own ELU and never tripped when it rains only the main ELU trips. The ELU did not trip for weeks but last night when it rains it tripped again. So here we go….any takers to solve my problem, don’t know if I am allowed to say this on the Forum but while I have money I need to solve this problem.

    To eliminate the problem I have done the following

    • Contact an electrician (qualified) to replace the ELU (don’t know if it’s the top quality one and or if it will be different) don’t mind to go buy the best
    • The electrician also install 2x iso switches on the DB and pull 2 cables to, 1 to have a plug on the stoep and second one to the garage for an outside LED light and to charge the garage door motors.
    • The stoep is not on the emergency section of the DB but the garage supply are
    • I’s switched off the swimming pool pump at the DB and outside at the pump switch off the white and green switch
    • Pull out a light plug that feed from the stoep, thought it might be the bugger
    • Pull out the light plug to the side of the house that feeds from the garage
    • Pull out the bed lights plug in the bedroom
    • Pull out the plug for the TV and DSTV decoder in the room
    • Switch off the out room on the DB
    • Replace the fluorescent light in the kitchen with LEK light strip (sealed unit)

    Regards,
    Dries

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    Good day Dries.

    What I can gather from the information you provided is the following and please correct me if I am wrong :

    -Earth leakage tripping started after solar installation
    -Earth leakage tripping only during rainy days
    -Nonessentials (normal) DB earth leakage tripping only, not the essentials (solar) DB earth leakage

    Now a few questions :

    -Is the non-essentials (normal) DB earth leakage tripping during rainy days only when power is being fed from the essentials (solar) DB or is it at any given time when it is rainy out ?
    -Is both the earth leakage on the nonessential and essential DB separated from each other, thus the one now feeding through the other thus making it more sensitive ?
    -Did the qualified electrician test the loop impedance of both the nonessential and essential supply ?
    -Did the qualified electrician test the resistance of earth continuity conductor between the consumer earth and each point of consumption and switch (including the earth terminal of each socket outlet) ?
    -How is the earthing arrangement done on the inverter/solar installation?

    The CoC the installation electrician provided for the solar installation will have the values of tests required for installation of alternative supply. If these tests where done correctly it will show if the earth loop impedance is within given limit, thus indicating a correctly installed earthing arrangement. Also further more the resistance of the earth continuity conductor is a good way of determining for any possible floating earth's and earth arrangements with high earth resistance.

    We had a situation with one of our alternative supply installations where a certain circuit would cause the earth leakage to trip while generator was supplying power.
    It was found that the circuit originated from the kitchen and with further investigation it was found that one plug point did not have an earth and 2 other points the earth resistance was to high.
    After rectifying this, the earth leakage tripping problem seized.

    Also another case study of alternative supply installation, from a fellow installer, it was found that while generator was supplying power, with the change over switch having cut out both neutral and live from the supplier, the earth leakage would trip. With investigation it was found that the supply system from supplier was an TN-C system, thus the neutral and earth was combined from the star point of the transformer and then separated at the meter box before supplying the consumer DB. An earth spike was installed at the generator which was connected together with the neutral at a junction box before supplying the consumer DB. The problem was that this fellow installer never did the earth loop impedance test and it was not picked up that the earth spike wasn't giving enough earth continuity thus creating a weak earth with high resistance. This was resolved by adding another 2 earth spikes in line with the original one not less than 1.5m from each other (therefore creating a crowfoot earth arrangement)

    I might not be able to respond soon as I am going in for a back opp this week, but will get back to you soonest I get time after you provided further information.

    Regards

  3. #3
    New Member Dries's Avatar
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    Dieter,
    Thanks for all the questions and interest. I will try and answer you to the best of my ability but be warned, what I know about electricity is dangerous. Plz note the electrician who did the solar installation is not the same electrician who replaced the ELU. I do have a COC from the installer and would like to get the installers electrician just to run through his installation but it's impossible to get him here, that said who knows what will happen when I really get desperate..anyway here is my answers on your questions, hope it makes sense..

    What I can gather from the information you provided is the following and please correct me if I am wrong :

    -Earth leakage tripping started after solar installation Correct
    -Earth leakage tripping only during rainy days Correct
    -Nonessentials (normal) DB earth leakage tripping only, not the essentials (solar) DB earth leakage Correct

    Now a few questions :

    -Is the non-essentials (normal) DB earth leakage tripping during rainy days only when power is being fed from the essentials (solar) DB or is it at any given time when it is rainy out ? At any given time
    -Is both the earth leakage on the nonessential and essential DB separated from each other, thus the one now feeding through the other thus making it more sensitive? Both ELU are in the same box. I don’t know how they are connected wire wise.
    -Did the qualified electrician test the loop impedance of both the nonessential and essential supply? No he did not do any trouble shooting, he just replace the ELU and install 2 new plugs with wires and ISO switches on the DB for me, as I requested. He did however test his new installations. I am not sure if the Solar installers electrician did the necessary testing.
    -Did the qualified electrician test the resistance of earth continuity conductor between the consumer earth and each point of consumption and switch (including the earth terminal of each socket outlet)? No
    -How is the earthing arrangement done on the inverter/solar installation? All the Solar panels are earthed (grean/yellow wire) and it goes to the DB. I don’t see a green/yellow wire from the Goodwe invertor to the earth peg and tap

    The CoC the installation electrician provided for the solar installation will have the values of tests required for installation of alternative supply. If these tests where done correctly it will show if the earth loop impedance is within given limit, thus indicating a correctly installed earthing arrangement. Also furthermore the resistance of the earth continuity conductor is a good way of determining for any possible floating earth's and earth arrangements with high earth resistance. The following is on the COC from the solar installer…Alternative power supply connections : 1x4kVa under the main dist board section pg 3. Under Test Continuity of bonding 0.2Ω, Resistance 0.2Ω, Earth loop imp test 0.33Ω, Megga 00.2, Volt at Main board no load 230v, Volt at Main board with load 228v, Volt at Avail load (worst cond) 228v.
    TEST section at bottom of Pg 3 No.13 to 16 all YES…

  4. #4
    New Member Dries's Avatar
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    Replaced the electrical wire to the gate motor. It started to rain 5 min ago and "click" the ELU tripped...I gave up...

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    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    I think you're going to have to get a competent sparky in to test the installation. There's a good chance this is a man-made fault and I think you're going to need test equipment to localise it.
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    New Member Dries's Avatar
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    Hello Andy, ja, that's my problem, to get someone is not that easy..

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    Platinum Member SilverNodashi's Avatar
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    Are the solar panels earthed? Ideally the PV earth spike should be at least 3m away from the house earth

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    Ok so the summary I can make from information at hand is that the earth leakage trips on rainy days and at any time whether or not you are using solar and this has only been happening since the solar system has been installed.

    Both ELU are in the same box. I don’t know how they are connected wire wise.
    -Strange that both earth leakages are in the same box with being that the essentials and non-essentials DB's are split from each other

    No he did not do any trouble shooting, he just replace the ELU and install 2 new plugs with wires and ISO switches on the DB for me, as I requested. He did however test his new installations. I am not sure if the Solar installers electrician did the necessary testing.
    -On the long term I suggest you have a CoC inspection done on the original installation and while doing such also on the solar installation just to confirm they did a proper installation (I am skeptical about their test report since all that appears are 0,2ohms for earth resistance and continuity of bonding and also their loop impedance being 0,33ohms showing me they did not get a proper earth (not worryingly high, but with the other concerns well worth retesting), hence it would be a good idea implementing the crow foot earth spike. Since you are in Capetown, maybe these guys can assist with an independent inspection to your current installers http://eaiasa.co.za/

    All the Solar panels are earthed (grean/yellow wire) and it goes to the DB. I don’t see a green/yellow wire from the Goodwe invertor to the earth peg and tap
    -Most cases there should be an earth wire from the inverter to the main earth terminal. Suggest as also mentioned by SoftDux-Rudi to have an separate earthing supply, crow foot earth spike installation done.

    At this point and saying this not having physically been to your installation I would install additional earth leakage units, separate the circuits as to isolate where the problem is originating from and also to have a CoC test and inspection done (you can just have the tests done as to see if the loop impedance is to high and to to find out if you maybe also you have high resistance on circuits being fed from under earth leakage.

    A simple things such as when they installed the solar and having earthed onto the main earth bar on your original installation, causing maybe a loose connection from your main earth or when they rewired to have essentials and non-essentials separate, that they maybe wired one earth leakage into another or caused an disturbance to the original installation which in turn is creating an un-grounded path. It would be at least fair for them to come and isolate the cause of the problem since it only started occurring since their installation, but it would then also be fair for them to charge you if it is found to be a problem on the original installation, so be prepared for that and just make sure they take the necessary pictures as to provide proof of such.

  9. #9
    New Member Dries's Avatar
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    Hi All,
    So the installer send out his trouble shooting SME electrician...He went up on the roof, check the panels and came back with... "It's ok as per standard"...he ask to see the DB and open the front cover...he check all the black wires above the ELU and CB and withing 15 seconds find the lose Neg wire...the lose wire is from the 2 cables running from the inverter to the DB...The white cable consist of a black, red and earth and the black wire was lose...

    He tighten up the wire and on checking the DB he indicated that the Inverter's ELU is incorrectly wired and apparently running in series with he house ELU....He change the wiring of the inverters ELU took out a couple of instruments and test the DB and then check every wire to make sure its tight and ok...

    He reset everything and off he went...we had light rain that night and so far everything is holding

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