The solar shed

My off grid solar experiment

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 Creeky’s solar system:
Or how I live the life of Riley off grid
Check out the coming Solar posts for more information about how I built my solar system.
Background:

When I started building my solar system in 2010 there were very few resources available in my part of the world. So I took the “build it and hope” approach.

  • First I built a solar shed with a rack that allows the solar panels to be easily adjusted for spring/fall, summer, winter, and big wind storm in the forecast. You can read more about the shed in the shed post.
The first cladding of the solar shed is complete. Let the rains come.
The first cladding of the solar shed is complete. Let the rains come.
  • Then I got some good batteries configured for 12 volts
12vbatterypack
These are Crown 395s. I have 6. 3 sets of two, in serial, in parallel strings. Works for me. And gives me about 1200 amp hours at 12 volts or 15kw of power. Which, with lead acid battery packs means about 3kw of reserve power.
  • I installed 1kw of solar panel power. Panels were in the 4 to 6 dollar a watt range. I was very fortunate to find high quality mono crystalline panels for $2/watt from a solar provider clearing inventory of demo panels.
    • As I’ve grown my needs I’ve upgraded to two mppt controllers so that I can have 2 kw of panels to charge those batteries. Currently (ha ha) I have 1.5 worth of panels
The solar shed
This is me spring of 2012. 1kw of panels working away.

More stuff I use
    • I use 48v “grid tie” panels. There are a lot of advantages to higher voltage panels and I recommend going this route.
      • The primary advantage is cable size. These panels are very close to the controllers. But my second set is 50 feet away. At 12v you would need better than 4 gauge wire. At 96v 10g is fine. 10g you can buy at a big box store by the roll. Have a look at the per foot cost of 4g and you’ll understand why high voltage is good.
    • I use Crown batteries. They’ve been excellent so far. See my post on the new LFP batteries that became available this year. The cat’s meow.

mppt-controller

    • I use Morningstar MPPT-60 solar controllers. There’s a reason they outsell everyone else. The -60 has built in lightning protection. And more importantly, web connected monitoring. I probably watch my solar output a little to closely (coughOCDcough).
solar-controller-pic-01
This is a sample of what I see on my computer through the magic of the server based something or other. I don’t know. I typed in the address and now it shows me what state my batteries are at and how much power I’m making.

Since 2010 I have created and used over 2 megawatts of power.

For  more on this build see:
Solar Shed: Part One
and Solar Shed: Part Two

You might also want to come back for: Solar Design Considerations (currently in the Draft cue)

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