Author Topic: @#&%! Sky Sparks...  (Read 1602 times)

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Offline tomw

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@#&%! Sky Sparks...
« on: April 15, 2012, 05:31:56 PM »
Our farm seems a target for extreme sky spark hits. Lost tens of thousands of dollars in electronic gear, freezers, refrigerators and submersible pumps over the years. Mostly covered by insurance. Once, we lost pump, fridge, freezer and 4 computers as well as all the network gear in one hit. We added a LOT of grounding and surge suppressors all over the place after that one which we got a fair % of the replacement costs for the loss from the property insurance.

Our Outback FX2524T got hammered last night along with the cordless phone system plugged into it during a violent thunder boomer. A close strike woke me about 4 AM and the first thing I noticed after all the flashing and booming like an artillery attack (BTDT) was the string of LED lights that illuminate the stairs were out. They run on the inverter 24/7 so I get up to check it out. Torrential rain and all that gear is in the garage / office / workshop across the driveway.

Get to the equipment room to find the fan running on the inverter (it never runs unless the water heater is running on it) , no lights and an inverter that was not inverting. I throw the manual transfer switches to get everything to the grid which is up in the house. Still no lights. Grab a rechargeable flashlight out of the outlet and check the panel for the building. Every breaker is tripped including the main.  That is a first on me here. I reset the breakers and everything comes back on except the Outback. Shut off the DC feed and AC in to the Outback, take a mini tour to check that the other electronics are good.  Freezer is running, TV, network gear, Sat receiver, etc all fine.

I have surge suppressors all over the place and enough grounding that I should be fairly well protected. Nothing diverted whatever happened. Must have been pretty wicked to pop the main and all the sub breakers most of them do not have any real loads just power tools waiting  to be flipped on. They all fired up when switched on.

This should be a bump in the carpet as I know how to swap the boards and I think it is a $450 or so fee for reworked boards? Won't kill me but will hurt. We recently upped our deductible on the property insurance so even if we got a new FX and phone system we will barely hit the deductible. Certainly have to eat it on a DIY board swap.

Anyway, on the positive side, this FX failure combined with the 12 foot turbine coming down gives me some time to upgrade some stuff in the equipment room. This system has grown in place so is disorganised and built around ease of install of new gear at the expense a lean and clean install. Plus allow my batteries a few days of floating without taking the inverter offline to do that since it is bricked already.

Obligatory photos:

The gutted case:



The guts:



At the risk of looking like a whiner I wanted to share this and show when one door closes another opens.  ;D

Tom
Do NOT mistake me for any kind of "expert".

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24 Trina 310 watt modules, SMA SunnyBoy 7.7 KW Grid Tie inverter.

I thought that they were angels, but much to my surprise, We climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies

Offline rossw

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Re: @#&%! Sky Sparks...
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2012, 05:42:15 PM »
Not a lot of evidence of magic smoke escaping there, Tom. Not sure would would have gone, but at least it looks pretty repairable.

Are you on the "end" of a long, rural run? My experience has been that people on the ends of the lines tend to get the worst deal - not only from the power companies, but also from mother nature.


Offline tomw

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Re: @#&%! Sky Sparks...
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2012, 06:10:40 PM »
Not a lot of evidence of magic smoke escaping there, Tom. Not sure would would have gone, but at least it looks pretty repairable.

Are you on the "end" of a long, rural run? My experience has been that people on the ends of the lines tend to get the worst deal - not only from the power companies, but also from mother nature.

Yeah, nothing obvious. Toasted electronics smell but that was present on the first replacements.  :o

We used to be on the end of a long run that swung around the back of our property and served a dozen homes / farms and we were the termination on that line.

Recent power company upgrade puts us off the side of another main line but one of the last 3 on that leg. Less distance and over open ground compared to the old line that ran through several woodlots getting here and they abandoned the last few hundred yards of the worst for maintenance issues with an off grid landowner who refused them access regularly to trim trees or other maintenance work. One of those JacquesM types who sawed off the meter pole and told them to get their junk off his land when he went off grid.

Not sure if this came in on the grid lines or rode in from one of my wire runs from the lightning rods (towers) on the high ground. We also have nearly 100 foot pines in the house yard that tower above most everything else on the land. Some years those add 6 feet to their tops. All the towers are as grounded as I could make them as well as surge diverters on  the cables.

When lightning comes calling you can't really keep it out.

Tom

Do NOT mistake me for any kind of "expert".

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24 Trina 310 watt modules, SMA SunnyBoy 7.7 KW Grid Tie inverter.

I thought that they were angels, but much to my surprise, We climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies

Offline rossw

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Re: @#&%! Sky Sparks...
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2012, 06:42:20 PM »
When lightning comes calling you can't really keep it out.

Even when it DOESN'T come, it often gets the blame.
March, 2001, we had a storm come through. It was shortly before I left the old grid-connected place in town and moved out here to "the bunker".

According to the power company, this was lightning.


I popped the lid on the generator feed - the interlocked contactors for the generator backup were toast:



The fact that there were no lightning strikes within 3km of me (a fact I was able to prove, since I'm part of the national lightning-tracking system), and the fact that I *SAW* the branch which blew into the HV wires and brought the 22KV lines down onto the 240/415V wires is irrelevant!

(The rationale was that if it was "lightning" damage, each affected homeowner had to claim it through THEIR insurance, less the excess, whereas if it was the power companies infrastructure, they'd have to wear the lot - so they chose instead to lie to everyone even when presented with the facts - how typical is that?)

Offline ghurd

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Re: @#&%! Sky Sparks...
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2012, 07:20:13 PM »
Personally, I always believed lightning always goes where God puts it.
The guy with nothing grounded says "I wish I would have grounded it properly".
The guy with everything grounded properly says "Thank goodness everything was grounded properly".

And Tom, you must have noticed the end result is a toss up as to who comes in 2nd or 3rd place (lightning always comes in 1st place).

My parents home is in a 'recently upgraded area' (1970?).
The grid was crazy for a while, and the A/C company insisted on a chart.
Grid guy came out with a paper recording thing-a-bob.
Came back later to take it away.

I can read a paper chart, and this one was all over everywhere.

Day or a few later, grid crews were out doing 'work'.

Few or several days later, grid said the charts (the ones I saw as all over everywhere) were stable.
Total BS.
I KNOW undervoltage smoked the A/C, etc, but whoever read the charts I saw said they were fine (which is total BS).

Can't fight lightning or the grid...
G-

Offline tomw

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Re: @#&%! Sky Sparks...
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2012, 10:41:46 PM »
With this local wind report I shut down the 2 remaining turbines to be on the safe side:

Gust: WNW 51. Sustained 25 to 30 MPH all day here.

With the dead inverter I am just burning up the power so no sense in beating the equipment.

Zubbly's 2 meter conversion has flown head on (no furling) with 75 MPH sustained winds on several occasions.

Tom
Do NOT mistake me for any kind of "expert".

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)


24 Trina 310 watt modules, SMA SunnyBoy 7.7 KW Grid Tie inverter.

I thought that they were angels, but much to my surprise, We climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies