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Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1054
Experience:  27 years as a Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, 5 year college Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma in Digital Electronics, Former Illinois Licensed Home Inspector
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I have a Square D 8 pin relay 12 VDC that is part of my solar

Resolved Question:

I have a Square D 8 pin relay 12 VDC that is part of my solar power system, connecting to my 16 batteries. I had the batteries disconnected to clean all the corrosion off the cables, when we connected everything up this relay just keeps clicking? What does that mean?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Hello.....my name is XXXXX XXXXX X will be happy to assist you with your electrical question. My goal is to exceed your expectations on Just Answer!

 

1) A relay has a coil side and the contact side. When voltage is applied to the coil side of the relay, the Normally Open or Normally Closed contacts will click and make a noise to open or close that portion of the circuit.

 

2) Is the contact clicking continuous or intermittent?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

It is continuous, it must control the power going to my Flexware box and other electronics because all the lights are dead. So I am thinking is the relay bad, or is there insufficient power running through it....I am really an idiot when it comes to these things. The box that the 8 pin relay is in says 60 Amp contactor on the outside.

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) Since the relay is a 12VDC type, I assume your battery bank is 12 volts?

 

2) It is physically possible to temporarily disconnect the wires coming off of the contact portion of the relay, ie, the common and either the NO or NC contact? Are these connections soldered or just plugged using a crimp-on connector?

 

 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

No, there are eight 6 volt deep cylce batteries in series giving me 48 volts, then there are two strings of these connected together ( still 48 volts but giving us higher amps)

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) OK, very good.. thanks for the replies.

 

2) If the relay is 12VDC, somewhere in the circuitry, you should have (2) two 6 volt batteries wired in series in order to provide 12 volts to the relay?

 

3) Can you temporarily disconnect the battery string and apply a 12VDC voltage source to the coil side of the 12 VDC relay? If you have a digital volt meter, you should be able to measure 12VDC coming off of the contact side of the relay. This will prove if the relay is working correctly or not. When applying 12VDC to the coil side of the relay and a good connection is made, the relay should only click once to open or close the contacts.

 

4) Have you double-checked all of the relay and battery connections? A loose wire on the coil side will cause clicking proper contact is not made.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

It is a good question why it says 60 amp contactor and it has a 12 v. relay in it...I am sorry but I do not really know how to do this testing you are talking about. I think it is best for me just to ask the local electrician that wired it...there are no batteries other than the 8 wired in series

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) Thus the reason I was asking as to why the relay is rated at 12VDC when you have a 48VDC string? Relays come in various voltages. It is possible that somewhere in the circuitry, 12 volts is being broken out in order to provide 12VDC to the coil side.

 

2) The contactor is basically the same thing as a relay except a contactor is rated for higher amounts of current such as yours that is rated at 60 amps. Relays are not rated that high in current, only contactors are.

 

3) It is possible that the relay is just faulty or the contactor is faulty or not wired correctly. If the relay is easily removable, you can try swapping out with a new relay. If that does not correct the problem, I would suggest a faulty contactor or loose connections.

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) I looked up the model of your relay and it is a removable type of cube relay that is plugged into a socket and should be easily removable. This is a double pole double throw relay which is a very common type. If you would like to test the relay, you would just need a couple of alligator jumper wires and a Digital Voltmeter. You can connect the coil side of this relay directly to your 12 VDC automobile battery and this will test if the coil side is good and if the contacts are opening and closing correctly. If you would like to procede on testing it, just let me know...... thanks.....Kevin!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Kevin,


 


Larry Meyer back, we are in the Atlantic time zone here in the Virgin Islands and I fell asleep during our discussion last night. Yes, if you go back in our dialog, this is an 8 pin plug in relay. There are two wires going to the 60 amp contactor that register no voltage. Then right next to it are two wires coming into the relay that register 124 AC. and then the bottom two wires that seem to run to my Flexware controler read 3 volts - I am thinking that is DC of course but it also reads 3 volts on the AC side of my meter. You may well be sleeping at this hour, but the electrical store opens in a few minutes and I think I will run out and see if they have another of these relays on the island. We did just get a HomeDepot (whoo whoo!) so I will try them, too.

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) Hello Larry, just saw that you replied this morning. No problem on the time as I believe you are 1 hour ahead of us. I am on Central Standard time.

 

2) You will be better off trying to purchase the relay at an electrical supply store. None of the Home Depot's that I've been to here sell relays. However, your new HD may be different.

 

3) Just curious, is your PV system grid tied or are you just using an AC inverter and your PV system is a standalone?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

It is grid tied...the portion we are concerned about here is the battery/inverter side. Oh, about the 3 volt reading on the bottom two posts can you explain that to me? It is not a steady reading - it bounces on and off just for a millisecond each three seconds as the relay clicks on and off.


 


So what powers the relay? The 3 volts on the bottom ( and is that DC or AC? ) or the 120 volts at the top. The two wires running to the contactor show zero voltage, but I suppose that is because the relay is not engaging.

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) Since the relay is rated and labeled at 12VDC, some where in the circuitry, it is requiring 12VDC to open or close the output contacts. 12VDC is required to power the relay and not AC voltage. Relays are either designed for DC or AC input voltages and not both, they are one or the other.

 

2) If the volt reading is bouncing around, that typically indicates a faulty wiring connection or the relay itself is faulty. Thus the constant clicking noise. The clicking noise that you are hearing is that voltage is being applied to the input (coil) side of the relay and the output Normally Open or Normally Closed contacts are making a constant repeated closure. A normally functioning relay will only click once as soon as voltage is applied to the coil and the output contacts either open or close depending upon how it is wired. The voltages should not bounce around, they should be a constant voltage.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I am sorry Kevin, I guess I am not being clear. I am out of my element here. I was a manager behind a desk for 30 years and took early retirement to the Caribbean, I thought solar would be cool because we pay 54 cents a KWH and the sun is always shinng, so I got this fancy solar system that I do not really understand. B


 


But I have a logical mind, so I can figure things out if you work me through it.


 


The bottom two posts are being fed a steady 3 volts AC?DC? . You didn't answer the question on why my meter also shows 3 volts AC, but I assume it is DC.


 


The 3 volts DC comes from one of the 8 mini-power terminals on just one of the 8 inverters. I checked all 8 inverters and they ALL read 3 volts.


 


So the power is a steady 3 volts , it is just the bouncing 3 volts comes when the relay is plugged in, then the measurement bounces on and off with the relay.


 


Since you say it is the 3 volts DC that is powering the relay, I don't get why that is happening, but I guess I do not need to know.


 


So what is the 120 volts coming into the relay powering????


 


Or is that just the 120 V. power supply then moves over to the 60 amp contactor IF the relay would stay in place?


 


Please answer each of these questions and I think I can figure this out.


 


Also for some reason my island power is 124 Volts - so substitute 124 wherever I say 120.


 


My final question - it will take me at least a week to get this piece here on the island. To determine if this thing would actually work on 12 volts, if I could power 12 volts, could I just buy two of those big square 6 volt lantern batteries at the hardware store , wire them in series to give me 12 volts and see if that holds the relay shut?


 


At least I would know if the relay is bad, or if the problem is the 3 volt feed.


 


 

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) Nice place to retire Larry......... I'll trade you places...... lol

 

2) Here is a quick summary as to how your PV system works. You have a series of PV panels that are eventually wired in to a string with a 48 VDC output, same as your 48 VDC battery string. From the PV's you most likely have a disconnect switch and possibly a lightening protector. Then the 48 VDC connects to a Charge Controller (CC). The CC is basically a high tech voltage regulator similar to what an automobile has. The CC regulates the amount of voltage so as not to overcharge or undercharge the battery string. The output of the CC is connected to the 48VDC battery string. The battery string is connected to Inverter which changes the output voltage to a nominal 120VAC or 124VAC. Coming off the inverter, you are grid tied to the island electrical system via a connection to a circuit breaker at your main electrical panel which feeds to the electrical system.

 

In order to prevent back feeding to the grid in the event of a power outage, your system should also have a transfer switch which will stop any AC voltage going back to the grid and potentially shocking a utility lineman working on a pole during a power outage. Inside the transfer switch is circuitry that senses the loss of grid power and will automatically prevent the inverters from sending out AC voltage upon the loss of commercial power.

 

3) I would not be aware if the 3 volts are a DC or an AC voltage level unless I had a schematic diagram. I don't know where the 3 volts are coming from.

 

4) Is the relay built inside the inverter or inside a transfer switch?

 

5) The labeling that I saw for your Square D relay was shown as 12VDC and not AC. Since the relay is clearly labeled as 12VDC, that tells me that a 12VDC power source is required to activate the coil and not AC voltage or no other voltage level. A 12VDC relay will operate with a voltage value being a bit higher or lower, but not by that much of a voltage fluctuation.

 

6) A relay is nothing more than a glorified combination electrical/mechanical switch. Voltage is applied to the coil side or input of the relay. At the contacts (Normally Open or Normally Closed) there will be some type of circuitry that will perform a function by either opening or closing the contacts. The opening or closing of the contacts is dependent upon voltage being applied to the relay coil and if the coil voltage is ON or OFF.

 

7) I suspect that you have an AC Transfer switch and that the 60 amp contactor is installed inside the transfer switch unit? The contactor acts similar to a relay but it is used in applications of higher amounts of current. Since you are grid tied, you are generating higher amounts of current so the use of a contactor switch makes sense.

 

8) You can test a 12VDC relay directly off of any automobile 12VDC battery. The wiring (2) two 6VDC lantern batteries in series may or may not work. Even though the relay is labeled as 12VDC, many relays require a minimal amount of current to turn them ON or OFF. I would recommend to test a 12VDC relay using an automotive battery. Inside any vehicle are numerous 12VDC relays. You know that the car battery will work.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

OK Kevin, Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX information I understand on how my solar system works and how a relay works, and you are right on, this is exactly the way it operates. I know this general info but not the specific details of these components, like why does my relay keep clicking..


 


I thought I had already told you, the relay is in combination with the 60 amp contactor..., no where near the auto transfer switc, but a little closer to the eight inverters.


 


So I am going re- ask my questions again in hopes of getting an answer because it appears that is the part of the information that, evidently, we are both struggling to understand:


 


So again, my questions if you could answer just these, please:


 


 


 


So what is the 120 volts coming into the relay powering????


 


 


 


Or is that just the 120 V. power supply then moves over to the 60 amp contactor IF the relay would stay in place?


 


 


 


Please answer each of these questions and I think I can figure this out.


 


 


 


Also for some reason my island power is 124 Volts - so substitute 124 wherever I say 120.


 


 


 


My final question - it will take me at least a week to get this piece here on the island. To determine if this thing would actually work on 12 volts, if I could power 12 volts, could I just buy two of those big square 6 volt lantern batteries at the hardware store , wire them in series to give me 12 volts and see if that holds the relay shut?


 


 


 


At least I would know if the relay is bad, or if the problem is the 3 volt feed.


 

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Larry......... my answers are in italics and underlined. See below... thanks!

 

OK Kevin, Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX information I understand on how my solar system works and how a relay works, and you are right on, this is exactly the way it operates. I know this general info but not the specific details of these components, like why does my relay keep clicking.

 

Relay keeps clicking either due to a faulty relay, a faulty wiring connection or an insufficient voltage source applied to the coil.

I thought I had already told you, the relay is in combination with the 60 amp contactor..., no where near the auto transfer switch, but a little closer to the eight inverters.

 

So I am going re- ask my questions again in hopes of getting an answer because it appears that is the part of the information that, evidently, we are both struggling to understand:

 

So again, my questions if you could answer just these, please:

 

So what is the 120 volts coming into the relay powering????

 

The relay is rated and labeled at 12VDC and not 120VAC. A 12VDC relay requires 12VDC coming into feed it and not 120VAC. A 12VDC relay will not work on a 120VAC voltage to feed the relay coil. Coil voltages on all relays are either rated as DC or as AC. You cannot mix and match relay coil voltages, they are one or the other.

 

Or is that just the 120 V. power supply then moves over to the 60 amp contactor IF the relay would stay in place?

 

That is what I would also assume, but would need to reference a schematic diagram to be able to determine if that's the case or not.

 

Please answer each of these questions and I think I can figure this out.

 

Also for some reason my island power is 124 Volts - so substitute 124 wherever I say 120.

 

120 volts AC is referenced by the National Electrical Code as a nominal AC voltage. There is no such thing as a constant 120VAC circuit or a 124VAC circuit. The voltage can fluctuate from 110VAC up to 125VAC. Your reading of 124VAC means the same thing as a 110, or a 115 or a 120 VAC. The voltage is constantly changing. Not sure if the island adheres to the National Electrical Code, but most likely they do to some degree. In the National Electrical Code we always use 120 or 240VAC as the nominal voltage levels in a home.

 

My final question - it will take me at least a week to get this piece here on the island. To determine if this thing would actually work on 12 volts, if I could power 12 volts, could I just buy two of those big square 6 volt lantern batteries at the hardware store , wire them in series to give me 12 volts and see if that holds the relay shut?


You can test a 12VDC relay directly off of any automobile 12VDC battery. The wiring of (2) two 6VDC lantern batteries in series may or may not work. Even though the relay is labeled as 12VDC, many relays require a minimal amount of current to turn them ON or OFF. Two 6VDC batteries wired in series will provide the required 12VDC but may not provide the minimal current the relay requires. I would recommend to test a 12VDC relay using an automotive battery. Inside any vehicle are numerous 12VDC relays, therefore a car battery will work.

 

At least I would know if the relay is bad, or if the problem is the 3 volt feed.

 

Agreed. temporarily removing the relay and testing it will prove if it is functioning correctly or not. Once again, I would not be able to tell you where the 3 volts is originating from and would need to see a schematic diagram. If the 3 volts is DC, this may be used to light up an LED. Without being able to reference a schematic diagram, we are only guessing as to the purpose of the 3 volts. The 3 volts may not even be a proper voltage, it could be a higher voltage is required and the reason you are measuring 3 volts may be due to a fault in the wiring, connections, insufficient voltage source, etc or some other internal electronic component failure.

Kevin, Licensed Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1054
Experience: 27 years as a Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, 5 year college Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma in Digital Electronics, Former Illinois Licensed Home Inspector
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