Sky Drops off of reporting. Battery Levels seemed good

My unit has been performing great for the last 1 1/2 years. I upgraded the Sky to Solar about 4 months ago and the performance has been steady. However; in the last month, I have noticed several times the SKY just stops reporting (it is in that state right now). It is in a remote location, the rest of the unit works fine except the Sky. MTNYE6 on version 3.40 (380)

Can you post your station ID or a link to it so we can have a look?

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If you aren’t aware of Station ID, have a look here:

Request to add your weather station share link in your profile

And follow the link :wink:

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Thank you both for the quick replies. Station id is 1765 ???

It looks like to me that the SPA battery has died, several times maybe, and is not charging the battery either due to not enough sun and/or too cold of temperatures inside of the SPA. The SKY only checks battery voltage every 10 minutes and it is a really low priority process so it is entirely possible that the battery dropped too low too fast for the SKY to report it. Can you get to it to try the SKY on batteries instead?

Also, the AIR batteries don’t have much life left to them, either.

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I am headed up there this weekend, and I’ll swap the batteries.

I have a suspicion you are right on the cold weather front. The batteries worked great last winter and it was a much more brutal winter than what we have had this year. The only thing that has changed between this year and last is the SPA.

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If you haven’t already, please open a ticket with support@weatherflow.com and they will get you a new, cold-rated solar panel accessory. Thanks!

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David; thank you for the advice. I emailed support this a.m. Rick

“new, cold-rated solar panel accessory”

How do we know if we have a cold rated SPA? When did they start shipping?

Is the battery different?

Thanks!

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Only a few have been sent out yet. If you weren’t told by support that you’re getting one, then you wouldn’t have one.

If you are having a problem with your SPA, please contact support@weatherflow.com and they will take care of you

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ah, kind of a “catch 22” situation here. I think at least a few of us did not bother to install the replacement SPA (because so many reports were that the replacements were failing in cold wx), rather we purchased (or, used stock on hand) and installed 8 AAs. (I had suggested earlier that a credit towards the purchase of the 8 AAs might make more sense than continuing to send out SPAs that just similarly fail in cold weather (and/or because of successive cloudy days with a low sun angle)).

So, I have no SPA installed to fail. Worse yet (okay, this one is on me), I sent back my first failed SPA, and have been experimenting with my replacement SPA (not installed, because they fail in cold wx anyway, so looking to help understand the problem if I could). Guess it’s out of warranty now :slight_smile:

I was told that the new SPAs have a better weather seal than the original. I got a new one to replace my old, waterlogged one, and it died in less than two weeks. I put the AAs back in it just before a snowfall that will keep me off of my roof for a few weeks. This is the first I’ve heard that the new battery can be charged at colder temperatures. Now I don’t have an explanation for the repeat failure.

The explanation is that the electronics in the SPA are/were setup to not charge below freezing. This is because LiFePO4, and possibly other forms of Li-ion batteries, will plate out Lithium metal if they are charged too fast below freezing. They have no damage when they are discharged below freezing, it is just that the power output is reduced. The problem is that there are no known studies on what safe charge rates are as the temperature drops. I think this is primarily due to the fact that many LiFePO4 battery applications are such that charging happens in a relatively short period of time. In the case of my trolling motor LiFePO4 batteries that charge rate is 0.5C which roughly translates to 2 hours from empty to full. Or in the case of an electric vehicle I installed some in where charging from empty to full was anywhere from 4-10 hours, depending on what charger(s) I used. Given this, I think people just didn’t see the need to figure out safe charge rates for temperatures below freezing. After all, who wants to take a week or more to charge their EV?

In the case of the SPA the charge rate is significantly slower. I don’t know what it is exactly but when you consider that for most locations, when freezing temperatures are encountered, that it is winter and sun is lower in the sky so the solar panel output will be less than its maximum. Furthermore, the SKY is still taking some energy to operate further reducing the charge rate of the batteries. It may be that the charge rate in freezing weather is so low that any damage to the battery is minimal. Given that I have LiFePO4 batteries over 10 years old still working just fine, shortening the life of the SPA battery by a year or two still has it lasting longer than the 5 year design life. If this is the case, all WF has to do is disable the low temperature charge shutoff and the SPA will work just fine. That testing is going on right now.

In case it got lost in my long reply, the repeat failure you are seeing is predominantly due to the low temperature charge cutoff and not due to a faulty battery. The replacement SPAs which are failing in the cold weather still have this protection still in place.

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As someone who has two EV’s in the driveway (because 12 seemed greedy), :rofl: let me add the additional point that EV batteries come with both heaters and cooling to keep them in the temperature sweet spot for charging without degradation. If you program a departure time into the car, my BMW will also power up a few hours early to warm the batteries for the drive in the winter. If it is plugged in to the charger, it will even pull that heater power from the power grid and not the traction batteries.

The intelligence for charging is located in each vehicle. The charger (EVSE) is nothing more than a glorified GFCI relay with control electronics to tell the car how much power it can provide. Look at the light blue line on this chart (from June) to see how the BMW automatically tapers the charge rate as it approaches full, along with the 7:30 AM blip where it powered up for a programmed departure time:

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I know this is a little OT but @vreihen started it! :laughing:

This definitely depends on the EV. The original generation Nissan Leaf had none of these. My Gizmo (pic in my avitar) had none of these so I used an outdoor thermometer in the middle of the pack to determine if it was too cold to charge. A trip down then up my hill was enough to warm them up to safe charging temperature. The 2016 Kia Soul EVs I have/had had air from the cabin to cool/heat them and heaters incase of extreme cold where they could be heated when plugged in, otherwise the heaters never get used. The 2018 Kia Soul EV I have has no battery pack heaters (it was originally destined for California) so charging slows down when the pack is cold until heating due to charging warms them up enough.

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Two EVs here as well (same reasoning about more)! Must be something about WF and EV enthusiasts!

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I received my cold-rated solar panel accessory, many thanks!

Running okay on batteries, but still looking to change out for the new SPA while there is still chance for some cloudy cold periods to give it a good test run. Sun angle is coming up, but still relatively low at peak 28 degrees above horizon at noon (43 degrees North Latitude, sun angle 23 deg. Dec 20).

Might possibly get a break this afternoon if the freezing rain and snow flurries would let up, tried doing some roof raking to see if I can get a clear melted path to SKY. (normally, we don’t roof rake until accumulated four + feet, but there has been so little snow this year, so far)

Later - Okay, we hit 37F! No ice, got the low temperature SPA installed and running. We are getting more sun now, so not as good as a Dec/Jan test, but Feb can bring either early spring, or weeks where it never goes above 20F, so we’ll see what happens. This should help test the low temperature fix for cold temps and cloudy days, but not a test of the weather seals, I used some pretty good 3M electrical tape wraps at all seals, and a bit more Dow Corning 4 dielectric grease this time.
https://smartweather.weatherflow.com/station/11912/grid


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