Category Archives: Solar

Off grid solar is, luckily, improving rapidly.
I started my build in 2010. In my area there were no good resources so I had to head to the internet and hack away on my own. I made a few minor mistakes, but mostly my 1kw system has performed above, way above, expectations. I have most of the amenities of modern life … I just can’t use them all at once or whenever I feel like. Luckily I don’t need air conditioning when the weather is cloudy. And if I have to wait for a sunny day to do laundry … well I’m drying my clothes on a line anyway.
These posts will document some of my trials and tribulations. I try to keep it light, hope you enjoy.

Battery charge/discharge testing

Will flames erupt?

Testing of the charge / discharge performance begins.

Ammeter install complete. Time to monitor some discharge loads. Movie night it is.
Ammeter install complete. Time to monitor some discharge loads. Movie night it is. Note that the idle current of 11.9 w is a combined inverter and TV “off” load. The inverter is measuring at over 10 w idle.
  • Added: Victron 48-1200 inverter. Would have preferred a slightly larger/parallel design. But this will suit for a year or two.
  • Cheap chinese ammeter/voltmeter.
  • Hooked up the TV for a load. And watched a movie. Perfect testing conditions.

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Lithium: Tear it down, bolt it back

Batteries get locked up

In this installment of the lithium build I will install threaded rod. Use the sawzall. Get a little, er, nutty. All to bolt the lithium batteries back together.

Fancy high tech threaded rod assembly routine.
Fancy high tech threaded rod assembly routine.

What to do? When you take the packs apart they expand. The top cap holds the top of the battery together, but the bottom spreads.

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Morningstar solar controller test begins

TriStar MPPT test begins

The Volt battery pack build has been predicated on the idea that I could use a custom charge profile for my twin Morningstar MPPT-60-150s. Research shows a variety of experiences. Huh?

Test #1. Here's the controller showing the voltage of the battery. And tomorrow morning we'll see how the new programming works.
Test #1. Here’s the controller showing the voltage of the battery. And tomorrow morning we’ll see how the new programming works.

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Lithium landings

The start of a beautiful relationship, I hope

I’ve been talking about lithium for some time now. Its just a better battery. Did it come time to put my money where my mouth is?

Or did I decide to bravely go where few have gone before?

Either way: I’ve taken a calculated gamble. I found a 2014 chevy volt battery from a wrecking yard. Untested. And I bought it.

The nitty gritty?

The wrecking yard in far far far north Quebec was nice enough to deliver the pack 1/2 way to my house. They drove for 3.5 hours south. I drove 3.25 hours north. We met. Slid a pallet between two truck beds.

The eagle has landed. The pack is in the back.
The eagle has landed. The pack is in the back.

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