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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi - I have a small battery pack + inverter setup for keeping some critical items powered at home.

120 vac / 10 amps continuous duty type setup.

Examples - home refrigerator and phone charging.

Most of the time it runs on solar, but I would like to add the functions to auto start a generator when the battery state of charge / voltage is getting low.

Once the battery pack is charged (or mostly charged is ok ) then have the generator auto shut off.

This particular battery pack is a nominal 24 volt but I also have a 48 volt based one.

I have not purchased a generator yet but probably something in the 3 - 5 kW range. Quiet as possible of course.

Actual charging rate will be ~ 1 kW so the larger generator would be just to have a larger fuel supply and some headroom in case I want to charge 2 of them at a time.

The generator could be DC or AC, but I am guessing that the AC versions are more common.

_

I am looking for suggestions on exactly what is needed to communicate with the generator to have it start / run / stop.



Thank you.

Harry
 

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Best if you can rely on the inverter-charger logic for when the batteries needs to be charged. Some comes with a 2-wire generator auto-start/stop control.

Check out Aims. They have a 3.2kW charger/inverter + generator bundles that might work for you.

Part 1:

Part 2:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for the reply and information.

The inverter + charger setup that I have is quite a bit higher quality than the AIMs products but it is interesting that their generator auto start seems to work pretty easily with just a 2 wire contact closure.

I will watch some more of that guy's videos to see if it auto shuts down as well after charging.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Looks like I should have just continued with this thread which already existed.

 

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Thank you for the reply and information.

The inverter + charger setup that I have is quite a bit higher quality than the AIMs products but it is interesting that their generator auto start seems to work pretty easily with just a 2 wire contact closure.

I will watch some more of that guy's videos to see if it auto shuts down as well after charging.
It's the first video I found that pretty much describes what you need. But I agree that there are better brands out there. I suppose Victron is on top or at least one of the sought-after brands in this space.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It's the first video I found that pretty much describes what you need. But I agree that there are better brands out there. I suppose Victron is on top or at least one of the sought-after brands in this space.
Thanks.

Victron is a well known company in the inverter space. A lot of people talk about them, but between my older son and I, we have had an 80% DOA or failed within 30 days, so I am not really a big fan like a lot of others.

They do have an accessory that essentially is a low voltage on / off relay that could be adapted but I have put a great deal of effort into building the over all product family with nearly all domestically (North America ) produced products and am attempting to continue that path.

There is also midnight solar that has a product called the Kid and it includes an auto generator start function. It is pretty well built but for size and thermal reasons I have not (so far) been able to use it.


As far I as I can tell, these are just on / off relays though. I guess if the generator selector switch is in the "on" position already, then it might be a matter of modifying the starter switch aspect ?

In my work with customers, quite a few times the incoming power quality has been poor or unstable from their generators. If I feed this into a Victron inverter / charger, it may or may not sync up because it tries to just pass it through and if it is outside of the acceptable quality band - it just will not connect.

Instead I run dedicated chargers and a dedicated inverter. 100% of incoming power is turned into DC - fed to the battery pack - and then the inverter puts out a clean sine wave. (assuming that you have a good quality inverter)

There is an efficiency loss using this approach, but the dedicated chargers can take in really terrible power, 50 / 60 Hz, etc, surges, etc and output nice clean DC so it fixes a lot of issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Perhaps more simplistically, looking at the 3000 ish size yamaha or honda types with electric start and at least trying to get that size to work.

Will operate them at 600 -1000 watt charge rate to help keep the noise down and ideally run in the eco mode as the load will be pretty stable during operation.
 

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A possible workaround is to use a 2nd charge controller in parallel on the DC side that has a 2-wire generator remote start support (or some other control methodology). And then you're back to finding a generator that can start and stop itself based on an input from this charge controller.
 
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Without knowing model info of your current setup, my guess is that you need:

1. smart inverter (knows how to signal gen to start/stop)
2. smart generator (has a port or other mechanism to receive start/stop)

I used to have a Generac 22kw, and an auto-start module for my Magnum ms4024pae inverter; this was good to start/stop gen on values I programmed into inverter's control panel. Don't have this genny any longer, for other reasons.

I currently use/test a Westinghouse wgen9500df, which sports an ATS "smart port" (many of their models, inverter-gens or otherwise, have these ATS ports); it also has auto-choke and remote fob start, for a fraction of the Generac cost. For details of that project, look at this thread:

programmable ATS project w/ wgen9500df

This doesn't start/stop according to inverter, and I only used a programmable switch for on/off times, but OrlyP suggested a home automation type smart switch. You might be able to read the state of your inverter, and relay start/stop to smart switch, and it then flows as in the ATS thread above.

According to Magnum, I could wire up the wgen for 2-wire start/stop ... but not using that method. The above worked great, and adds programmable start/stop for me.

If not using a smart inverter that can signal a generator over 2-wire, you may be stuck with some "home automation" integration effort ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Without knowing model info of your current setup, my guess is that you need:

1. smart inverter (knows how to signal gen to start/stop)
2. smart generator (has a port or other mechanism to receive start/stop)

I used to have a Generac 22kw, and an auto-start module for my Magnum ms4024pae inverter; this was good to start/stop gen on values I programmed into inverter's control panel. Don't have this genny any longer, for other reasons.

I currently use/test a Westinghouse wgen9500df, which sports an ATS "smart port" (many of their models, inverter-gens or otherwise, have these ATS ports); it also has auto-choke and remote fob start, for a fraction of the Generac cost. For details of that project, look at this thread:

programmable ATS project w/ wgen9500df

This doesn't start/stop according to inverter, and I only used a programmable switch for on/off times, but OrlyP suggested a home automation type smart switch. You might be able to read the state of your inverter, and relay start/stop to smart switch, and it then flows as in the ATS thread above.

According to Magnum, I could wire up the wgen for 2-wire start/stop ... but not using that method. The above worked great, and adds programmable start/stop for me.

If not using a smart inverter that can signal a generator over 2-wire, you may be stuck with some "home automation" integration effort ...
Thank you. I will do some more research on your path / thread.

The exact components that I use in it right now does not really matter. It has:
  • Dedicated inverter (not an inverter / charger) (in this particular unit - 1100 watts )
  • dedicated solar charger ( 700 watts)
  • dedicated 120 vac charger ( 600 watt )

None of these will be used to trigger the generator to turn on.

It is not a whole house setup - just for a few critical loads.

I am looking to add on a trigger based on battery SOC (or voltage could also work) and use that to trigger the generator.

The use of the timer for it to run a specific amount of time is a great idea.

It looks like I need a generator that has auto choke and the ability to turn on / off with a relay closure or perhaps by supplying 12 volts to some pins on a cable. Those are both viable approaches.

Appreciate the inputs.
 
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