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Basic system troubleshooting is safe and easy - even for the novice system-owner.
Not only that - it’s a great way to get to know your system, and to be able to describe problems if you need to get help from a more knowledgeable technician who isn’t on site.
If you don’t have the confidence to undertake these tests yourself, find someone who does. Ideally someone who has a bit of power system experience - or some experience of DIY electronics in a boat or vehicle. They’ll help you to be able to do it yourself.
You’ll need a digital multimeter; a Phillips head screwdriver with an insulated handle; and small slot-head screwdriver. You may also need a spanner or socket set, and a torch.
It is a good idea to wear gloves if you are working on wet-cell batteries - and to wear eye protection. It’s also a good idea to remove metal jewellery.
The first thing to do is a basic observation.
With a notebook handy, write the date, and the system location. If you have a camera, take a quick photo as this can be useful later if things change.
Photos should include as much as possible of the system in a single frame …then a close up of any specific components you might be working on, or have concerns about.
If you are doing a system report to present to another technician, get photos of the major component ID tags, showing serial and model numbers.
Make the wiring between components visible if you can, by carefully removing covers.
Only go as far as you feel safe. Never work on AC voltages unless you are qualified. DC systems of up to 48V are generally safe to work with if you take sensible precautions.
Looking at the system:
Note them all down - particularly if you don’t know what they mean!
Are there any sounds - buzzing or ticking that you haven’t noticed before …or silence where there used to be sound?
None of these necessarily indicate a problem, but they should be noted as they’ll help you become more familiar with normal operation.
You should be able to gently tug on all the wires and have them stay securely in place.
Loose wires are a common source of faults. If you feel a wire might be loose, or has some wiggle - or obviously if it comes free entirely - you will need to secure it properly. In this case it’s best to shut the system down. Loose wires can lead to electrical arcing or sparks. And exposed wires may have the potential to give you an electric shock.
The safe way to shutdown a system is to first begin at the loads and work toward the batteries:
Now you should be able to safely tug on all the system wiring connections to make sure they are firmly in place and making a good connection.
If a wire does come loose, inspect it closely: Does it have damage to the copper strands? If so, use some pliers to remove the damage, peeling back some of the insulation.
Wherever there are plugs and sockets, or lugs and bolts, check their connections. We want to make sure that all connections are good and without any corrosion.
Before asking a question on an existing installation, make sure that all firmware has been updated to the latest official version. Write down the exact firmware versions have those numbers available.
See https://professional.victronenergy.com → Firmwares for the versions of all our products.
You should always direct system design questions (for example “which MPPT should I use with panels such and such”) to a Victron distributor or installer.
Another example: “I want to design system such and such, what should I buy?”, also contact a dealer or installer. They are trained and can provide you with information and support.