[RE-wrenches] Sol-Ark/Fortress charging issue

Ray Walters ray at solarray.com
Thu Nov 17 14:14:16 PST 2022

I really think that the Fortress battery could easily be the top battery 
choice right now, if......they could vastly improve their customer 
support.  Tom has been great now that he contacted me, but it was weeks 
of frustration and no communication before that. Completely 
unacceptable, especially for a new emerging technology that we are going 
to have extra issues integrating into old systems.  I second your 
assessment of the integration guides as well.   I have a 4 hour round 
trip to change some voltage settings.................RETURN TRIPS is 
LOSING $$$!!!

However, once they cure those issues, the product itself is way beyond 
others such as Simpliphi or Blue Ion.

Blue Ion = half a day of assembly and cell wiring, monitoring is by 
E-gage (AC only) through the customer's router, price way too high

Fortress = remove crating material from pallet and roll into place, with 
built in color touch screen for monitoring, price much better.

Simpliphi = no monitoring at all, have to parallel ridiculous qty of 
batteries to do a normal off grid home, but integration guides are the best.

Ray Walters

On 11/17/2022 1:16 PM, rich at solartechvt.com wrote:
> We’ve started to use Fortress batteries for off grid installations 
> lately as well. The tech support has been very frustrating and the 
> integration guides are ridiculous – the Magnum guide was the worst – 
> absolute nonsense, I believe most of which has been pulled from the 
> Fortress site now. The variation in charge parameters for the inverter 
> vs the charge controller for the Outback guide doesn’t make sense 
> either. Lack of generator start/stop parameters in the integration 
> guides have resulted in trial and error programming on our part to 
> zero in on what works best.
> Poor tech support on battery based systems is one of my biggest pet 
> peeves in the industry………off grid customers rely on their equipment, 
> unlike net metered installations it’s not just a matter of reducing 
> their electrical bill it’s about keeping the lights on and the fridge 
> working.
> *From:*RE-wrenches [mailto:re-wrenches-bounces at lists.re-wrenches.org] 
> *On Behalf Of *Ray Walters via RE-wrenches
> *Sent:* Thursday, November 17, 2022 1:43 AM
> *To:* re-wrenches at lists.re-wrenches.org
> *Cc:* Ray Walters
> *Subject:* Re: [RE-wrenches] Sol-Ark/Fortress charging issue
> Talk to Thomas Honey.  He is the Fortress rep, nice guy, and 
> knowledgeable wrench.   He has stepped in on my issue.
> Ray
> On 11/16/2022 10:58 PM, Howie Michaelson via RE-wrenches wrote:
>     Good Evening,
>     I have a frustrating charging issue involving 2 Fortress eVault
>     Maxs connected to a Sol-Ark 15k. Commissioned the system last
>     week, replacing a legacy off-grid Dual Stack SunnyIsland 5048s and
>     2-volt Rolls battery system.  Initially, we connected one of the
>     eVaults to the Sol-Ark, programmed it to Fortress' and Sol-Ark's
>     specs, setup closed loop, and things seemed fine.  The battery
>     charged at around 95 amps off the 20kW Kohler. The next day we
>     connected the 2nd eVault, went through the procedures as Fortress
>     suggested, made the necessary settings changes in the Sol-Ark, and
>     that is when the issue started.
>     Ever since we connected the 2nd eVault, we have not been able to
>     get the charge rate much above a combined total of 35 amps. 
>     Fortress has pretty much said that it can't be anything on their
>     end (although the communication with them has been very much
>     limited and frustrating). They say that nothing on their side
>     would limit the charge rate to that low, especially if the
>     batteries were in a lower state of charge.  We've talked to at
>     least 3 different Sol-Ark technicians more than once.  We have
>     changed the setting between closed loop, % SOC, and Battery
>     Voltage multiple times.  We've tried dropping back to a single
>     battery, both the first one we had connected and the second one
>     (changing the battery setup and the Sol-Ark parameters, but have
>     only seen at times a moderate increase in maximum charge rate (up
>     to about 40 amps total).
>     This small increase happened after a Fortress technician suggested
>     that we turn on both the generator and the grid charging toggles
>     (the generator is connected to the grid port on the Sol-Ark as per
>     Sol-Ark's recommendation.  Sol-Ark has run out of suggestions at
>     the moment, and are having us cycle the batteries tonight and they
>     will start another charge cycle in the morning to see if having a
>     lower SOC along with the firmware reload will change anyhing (I
>     don't think it will - it didn't the last several times.
>     Has anybody seen this type of behavior before?  I don't think it
>     is a settings issue, as several technicians have gone through
>     them, I have gone over them many times using the Fortress/Sol-Ark
>     integration white papers. Hoping to get higher level  tech
>     involved ASAP, since I don't feel like the lower level techs know
>     enough to provide useful ideas.
>     Thanks,
>     Howie
>     *Howie Michaelson
>     **Sun Catcher*
>     */NABCEP Certified Solar PV Installer™
>     /**Image removed by sender.**
>     **Solar Electric Systems Sales & Service
>     **802-272-0004*
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