issue with Franklin Electric SolarPAK SubDrive controller, anyone using this system?

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schmolze

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I have an off grid well using the Franklin Electric solar powered SolarPAK SubDrive system. Recently I've been getting a "controller overheating" error code (note: NOT the pump itself). Usually this happens right after powering on the system, but sometimes it will pump for a few seconds first. The controller is clean, in the shade, and cool. I replaced the small fan inside the controller, to no avail.

I can't find anyone who is willing to troubleshoot the system. Franklin Electric recommends replacing the controller, which is ~$6K (!). I'm considering switching to a standard AC powered controller powered off an inverter since that would be much cheaper, but does anyone have any ideas for troubleshooting my issue? Thanks!
 

Valveman

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Sorry for your problem. But a VFD or any inverter is just a computer that handles high power. Computers are fairly reliable these days, but handling the high power adds another degree of burden on them. Not any more likely to repair a VFD or inverter than you would a regular computer. Even if you could the technology changes so fast that even after a short time the parts may not be available and/or work with the latest software or upgrade.

However, an inverter is an inverter. There are other much less expensive options available than the one made by the pump company itself, which will be the most expensive. Try driveswarehouse.com.
 

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And/or a bigger fan or an AC unit. I have seen some VFD's in the south where there was more energy used for the air conditioners to keep the VFD's cool than the pumps were using.
 

schmolze

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Thanks for your thoughts, and especially the links to alternative hardware, I appreciate it! I have made double sure the fins on the back are clean, and I've tried blowing compressed air in there, but no luck.
 

Fitter30

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They have different kits don't know what ur needs are and just the drive call the last place
 

schmolze

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Any reason I couldn’t use a control box like this one?:


I have access to a nice Growatt solar inverter that I could use to power it (I’m decently knowledgeable about off grid solar, but wells are a new world to me).
 

Valveman

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Any reason I couldn’t use a control box like this one?:


I have access to a nice Growatt solar inverter that I could use to power it (I’m decently knowledgeable about off grid solar, but wells are a new world to me).
That is just the standard old capacitor start box, which has no electronic circuits, just a contactor. So yes it would be much less expensive and last many times longer than a VFD. However, I am pretty sure the solar pack thing uses a three phase motor as most VFD's do. You would need the standard old reliable single phase motor on your pump to switch from the VFD to the regular capacitor start box. Most people replace the expensive VFD/inverter a couple times before they figure out switching back to the single phase motor is the best solution.
 

schmolze

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That is just the standard old capacitor start box, which has no electronic circuits, just a contactor. So yes it would be much less expensive and last many times longer than a VFD. However, I am pretty sure the solar pack thing uses a three phase motor as most VFD's do. You would need the standard old reliable single phase motor on your pump to switch from the VFD to the regular capacitor start box. Most people replace the expensive VFD/inverter a couple times before they figure out switching back to the single phase motor is the best solution.
Thanks, this makes a lot of sense. I think my best bet may be to replace the motor with a single phase unit and use the capacitor start box. I'm off grid, but I can power it using the Growatt inverter I have.

I think this one should work?

 

Fitter30

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That is just the standard old capacitor start box, which has no electronic circuits, just a contactor. So yes it would be much less expensive and last many times longer than a VFD. However, I am pretty sure the solar pack thing uses a three phase motor as most VFD's do. You would need the standard old reliable single phase motor on your pump to switch from the VFD to the regular capacitor start box. Most people replace the expensive VFD/inverter a couple times before they figure out switching back to the single
Need to investigate your system and starting amps ( locked rotor) of a single phase motor
www.jcalc.net/generator-current-calculator
 

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The inverter, no matter where it is, is the part with the electronics and heat that will fail. A single phase pump with a capacitor start box is just a dumb pump, That is, there is no electronics so give it power and it will run. However, it will take locked rotor amps to start this way, which with a 1.5HP is like 52 amps. As long as the inverter can handle a quick start of 52 amps then a load of 11.5 amps or less, a dumb pump will be much more reliable and longer lasting. Using an inverter to run the pump directly, it is no longer a dumb pump, meaning all the electronics have to work or you are out of water. But the inverter can soft start the pump, which requires about half the amperage and half as large of an inverter as direct starting. There are lots of choices of inverters and the price range varies greatly. But you can probably purchase a large inverter of a good brand for much less than the smaller brand name inverter dedicated to run just the pump. Then you can use a much less expensive and longer lasting dumb pump.
 

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Yeah, I realized this will be an issue. I'm looking into the Grundfos SQ line with the soft start as a possible option.
The SQ type pump was introduced in 99. After a few changes the pump has proven to be fairly reliable. It is the CU301 variable speed control box and transducer that causes most problems. The 5 second soft start thing does help with inverters and generators. But the soft start part is built into the motor, not the CU301 box. This makes it a partially dumb or smart pump. Lol! The SQ is a little pricey, but maybe worth it if a smaller inverter can be used. The amps of the SQ pump also drop almost as well when using a Cycle Stop Valve for constant pressure control as it does when using the variable speed CU301 controller. The Cycle Stop Valve has no electronics which could also be considered a dumb valve. But the CSV only has one job to do anyway, so it doesn't have to be very smart to do it better than any of the so called smart pumps on the market.
 

Fitter30

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Id check with Grundfos tech just to make sure the electronics sq pump are compatible with the inverter. Because they might be square wave.
 
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