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.
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.
Then I got some good batteries configured for 12 volts
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
Off grid life has it’s moments. I love my critters. I know some folks are afraid of racoons and skunks and even ground hogs. But I’m not. We don’t have rabies in my area and I have found that a real “live and let live” ethos exists between these guys. And now between these folks and me.
Sometimes though, sometimes you need to get creative.
Winter 2013 I ran into trouble. Two bargain finds combined to create a power overload that tripped the circuit breaker and blew the inverter. The inverter still inverts, I can hear it working, but it won’t output power, instead displaying a “OLP” error.
I went cheap starting out on my solar experiment. So this time I thought, get an inverter that has specifications that matched my environment.
Match your need
For my climate I needed to operate well into the -°C. Like minus 20.
My battery bank when cold regularly needs 15.5 v in absorb charging. And I equalize once a month. Voltages can exceed 16v. So ability to handle a wide voltage range is required.
Voltage spikes, harsh conditions, I needed a tough inverter that was built to handle worst case scenarios.
After some shopping around I realized I would be spending twice the money I had originally planned for.
Your first quandry with any solar system is where the heck to put it.
You have to hang panels that are 3 feet by 5 feet in my case and weight 50 lbs each. You have to store batteries: 720 lbs of lead for me. And you need a safe dry spot for your charge controller, your inverter, your combiner boxes. And, if you’re like me, cheap, you have to do it on a limited budget.