Troubleshoot My Windcharger

Want help with troubleshooting your wind turbine system?

For all models, start with these basic system checks if you are experiencing low or no power production

Is sufficient wind blowing to charge?

Usually when the blades of a Rutland become a blur the voltage, which rises with the turbine revolutions, has been reached to start charging the battery.

Windspeeds reported on weather forecasts are not necessarily the windspeed that is sweeping across the blades of your turbine.  In particular on a boat, speeds measured at the mast head can be up to 2-3 times what is seen at the deck-mounted turbine especially when at a sheltered mooring. 

Is the turbine mounted high enough to be in the free flow of air?

Whether on land or sea the free flow of air at the turbine itself is important in determining its speed and thus potential generation.  Location and height are major factors in the performance of the turbine.  .

The smooth flow of wind over land and water is often interrupted by obstructions causing wind sheer and turbulence but both diminish with height.

Wind Sheer describes the interference between the fast moving upper air and slow moving air close to the ground and the resulting decrease in average windspeed as one gets closer to the ground.

Turbulence is caused by the wind passing over and around obstructions such as moored boats, trees and buildings.  Wind speed decreases and turbulence increases where obstructions exist whether they are upwind or downwind of the turbine.

Locate your turbine in an area as free as possible from disturbed wind flow.

Check the system components are Voltage compatible

The wind generator and nominal battery voltage should be the same. Do not connect 24V turbines to 12V batteries and vice versa, performance and normal operation are severely affected if components are incompatible.

Our regulators are usually self setting to the battery voltage, for this reason it is essential that the battery is the first live connection.  In practice this means that turbines should be restrained and solar panels covered until the regulator is connected to a battery to avoid a false setting. Never connect a running turbine or exposed solar panel to a controller, damage will occur!

To check the turbine voltage rating

Find the serial number label usually on the generator hub, this is also found on the manual and packing box provided. All turbines start with a single letter followed by 1 or 2. 1 indicates a 12V unit and 2 a 24V unit. Keep a note of the full number handy as you will need it if contacting us.

Is the regulator switched to the run position?

Most Marlec regulators are fitted with a run/shutdown switch. Check this is set to run.  In the shutdown position the blades are stalled and turn very slowly.

NB. Rutland 1200: note that the buttons have a 3 second hold down delay to avoid nuisance activation.

Check the operating mode of the regulator?

Check the status of the LED’s against the advice in the manuals. You can find manuals in this Support section.

Marlec regulators work intelligently to multi-stage charge the batteries and keep them in good condition. Once the bulk/absorption charging regime brings the battery up to full charge (14.4V or 28.8V) the regulator adopts regulating mode to maintain the batteries at (13.8V or 27.6V)  In regulating mode the turbine runs slowly as it stops charging or is partially braked as it trickle charges, prolonging battery life and minimising gassing.

As the battery depletes and the voltage falls the turbine will be seen to speed up and commence charging again when wind is available.

Is the turbine actively self limiting?

Each turbine has some individual differences:

Rutland 500 series and the 914i models do not have any self limiting features.

Rutland 913 – in persistent high winds the turbine can be seen to speed up and power to the controller will be temporarily disconnected.  It will reconnect automatically but you can slow down the turbine and temporarily tie a blade to the pole if preferred until high winds subside.

Rutland 1200 – the turbine will be seen to self limit when a current of 35A is reached at around 15m/s.  The turbine will slow to an idle for approximately 5 minutes before returning to normal operation.  A secondary feature is Over Temperature Protection that cuts in, typically in prolonged high winds, which disables the turbine to an idle until a lower level temperature is reached before returning to normal operation. No power will be detected during any “idling” period and in prolonged winds both of these features will cycle in and out.

FM910 series and FM1803 series – in high winds the tail fin will orient the turbine away from the prevailing wind direction to slow down the turbine .  In prolonged winds this will cycle in and out.

All Marlec regulators use PWM technology (pulse width modulation) to limit the speed of the turbine and slow it down to an idle operation as the batteries reach full charge.  This extends the service life of the turbine and avoids the need for large resistive loads to shed excess power when the batteries are full.  Take a battery voltage reading if you find that your turbine is braking as they may be charged, interpret the reading by referencing the installation and operation manual.

Wiring Check 1 - Cable Dimensions

Check that the cable size specifications in the manual have been followed.The use of thinner cable conductors than specified for the currents transmitted in high winds or solar generation will cause high resistance and overheating will occur. Danger of fire.

A further effect of insufficient cable thickness is voltage drop which will cause inaccurate voltage sensing and abnormal operation.

Wiring Check 2 - Cables & Connections

If you are experiencing power problems trace and check the integrity of ALL the wires running between the turbine and controller, controller and batteries. At the connections ensure that there is good surface contact between the terminals and wire strands, be sure you have not clamped onto the wire’s sheath.

Wiring Check 3 - Use our Schematic Diagrams to check your system wiring

Visit our support page Schematic Diagrams to find the diagram that is most representative of your system and check that your wiring complies. Check for any short or open circuits that will be preventing energy from being generated.  If any wiring issues are identified take care to make the system safe before commencing any works:

  1. Shut down the turbine and/or solar panel to prevent them from generating power.
  2. Disconnect the batteries.

My batteries aren't holding charge

Check the condition of the batteries. A simple test is to shut down any charge sources and appliances running. Take a battery voltage reading, wait 1 hour and re-read. If the resting voltage is below 10.5V the battery is probably at end of life and should be tested by a battery specialist or replaced.

My battery Voltage is getting too high

All Marlec regulators incorporate temperature compensation to ensure that batteries charge to the correct levels wherever used in the world. This means that the readings may appear high in cold conditions and low in hot conditions. Where supplied with the regulator/controller we recommend installation of the remote temperature sensor to improve charging efficiencies.

Check that the cable size specifications in the manual have been followed.  The use of thinner cable conductors than specified for the currents transmitted in high winds or solar generation will cause high resistance and overheating will occur.  Danger of fire!

Check that the battery was the first live connection to the controller.  Marlec regulators automatically set themselves to work at the appropriate battery voltage.  If you have connected a running turbine or exposed solar panel first the voltage may have risen higher than your system voltage.  Damage to the components may have occurred.

Still require assistance?