January 6, 2008


Solar stuff, mice and smoke


Life is good! We finally got all the solar panels set up yesterday, it was too late in the day to benefit from sunlight, it was nearly dark. Bob wired up the Xantrex charge controller, this device is wired between the solar panels and the batteries, it makes sure the batteries don’t get overcharged, it does other things too to make sure the batteries are maintained at peak performance. I created an image to show our solar setup, it’s a very simplified image, but it shows basically what we are using.

We have:

  • four 55 watt solar panels
  • three 15 watt solar panels
  • four Trojan Deep Cycle batteries
  • one commercial grade cut off switch
  • one Xantrex C35 Charge Controller
  • two 1000 watt (2000 peak) inverters

It goes basically like this, the solar panels are on the roof at about a 30 degree angle facing south, they have a positive and negative wire running to a cut off switch (this is like a large on-off switch), from there the wires go to the charge controller (this regulates the amount of power that goes to the batteries, and maintains the batteries at peak performance), from this the wires go to an inverter, this changes the power from DC (direct current-battery power) to AC (alternating current-this is what comes out of your wall), from there I have an extention cord with multiple outlets and I can plug in whatever I want as long as it doesn’t exceed the voltage or amperage allowed by the inverter, the inverter is one of my bigest bottlenecks, it can do 1000 watts sustained, and 2000 watts surge (when you first turn on anything, it usually requires a surge of higher power then it settles down to a smaller power requirement), and it can handle up to 8.5 amps, so I can’t run any single item or sets of items that requires more than that.

Click on the image below to see the full size picture.

For the most part, I am running small items, a couple of low wattage fluorescent lights, a small radio/CD player, a laptop computer and charging my cell phone. I have a dorm room size refrigerator, but so far we haven’t needed to plug it up, it stays fairly cold, even during the day when it warms up, in the shade it’s still pretty cool, we keep our milk, eggs, cheese and butter in a 5 gallon bucket, we keep it in the cabin most of the time, if it gets too warm inside during the day, we set it outside in a shady spot and it stays cool enough. Right now we are using our refrigerator to store foods outside and protect them from animals, I expect this spring & summer we will actually plug in the refrigerator and use it for what it is supposed to be used for.

Sometime …

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