Author Topic: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...  (Read 561152 times)

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Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #450 on: June 22, 2010, 07:53:10 AM »
http://www.theinverterstore.com/the-inverter-store-product.php?model=pwric150012s#

Found this today and wanted input.  It's a little more then the inverter/charger I found on the sun site but this one has more information on it and is a 1500 watt inverter.

Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #451 on: June 22, 2010, 02:16:06 PM »
SunElectric tells me they will remove the batteries and inverter from the 615 watt system and sell it as a package including discount.

That system is so close to what I am building that I'm thinking it might work for me.  Then I go get the Costco batteries and a different inverter and I'm in business :)

We're so close to making this buy that my fingers are getting itchy!

Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #452 on: June 23, 2010, 05:44:26 AM »
SunElectric tells me they will remove the batteries and inverter from the 615 watt system and sell it as a package including discount.

That system is so close to what I am building that I'm thinking it might work for me.  Then I go get the Costco batteries and a different inverter and I'm in business :)

We're so close to making this buy that my fingers are getting itchy!

I should note that I'd like the Xantrex inverter but can't afford it.  Perhaps someday I can afford a much better inverter but with me not working I've got to be cautious of the bills in order to complete the cabin.  So I'm looking at saving $300-$400 on the inverter with the hopes of someday getting a True Sine wave inverter in the future (when I get work etc).

In the meantime, this package is basically what I had been trying to put together to begin with so it might work out.  I don't save much money on doing cables myself but hey, every little bit counts!  The only other area might be the boxes??  I've been looking at Home Depot and wondering if I could make some of the Square D's do the job.  Would save me a couple hundred if I can I'm sure.

Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #453 on: June 23, 2010, 11:39:11 AM »
Ok Here goes!  I hope I've not beed too rash!!!!  But I was convinced to go a different route on my inverter/charger and decided it made sense.  Not being an electrician I'm not 100% certain but it seemed like a good idea...so here goes:

55 AMP Charger: http://www.theinverterstore.com/the-inverter-store-product.php?model=chg-dls-55
2500 watt Modified Sinewave inverter:  http://www.theinverterstore.com/the-inverter-store-product.php?model=pwrinv2500w-top-rgb

The thinking is that lower priced inverter/chargers often only have 3amp chargers which could take a week to charge up a 660ah battery bank (assuming the math is close to 660/3 and the batteries are basically dead and you've got 220 hours of charging to do :o ??? )  on the other hand this charger gives 55amps and should do the same job in 12 hours....my thinking is that I don't mind running the genny for 3-6 hours at a time if I have to but don't want to rely on it for days on end just to have to do it all over again in 3 days if the weather  is bad!

The inverter is modified sine wave but with 2500 watts is more power then I felt I needed.  On the other-hand it's got a lot of features and apparently AIM has been making them for over 10 years....let's hope I don't need the 1 yr warranty :P  But honestly, at $229 if it doesn't work out I can take a look at a xantrex with no charger on it in the future :)

I also ordered 3 205watt panels from Sun Electric plus boxes, lightning arrestor, breakers and some cables.

Next I'll get the batteries from Costco and make the battery cables and get with a friend to plan, prewire what we can, plan some more and then hopefully by the end of July we will be powered at the cabin! :D  [cool]

Offline MountainDon

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #454 on: June 25, 2010, 09:14:33 AM »

55 AMP Charger: http://www.theinverterstore.com/the-inverter-store-product.php?model=chg-dls-55

I have had that exact charger for several years in the RV. I bought the optional IQ Smart controller for it. That allows the unit to switch between two rates of charge automatically. There's a plug/jack on the charger that allows one to change the rate manually. The only thing that charger does not do is an equalization charge. It's a well made unit. Mine was made in AZ, I think they still are.

http://www.iotaengineering.com/
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Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #455 on: June 25, 2010, 09:47:05 AM »

55 AMP Charger: http://www.theinverterstore.com/the-inverter-store-product.php?model=chg-dls-55

I have had that exact charger for several years in the RV. I bought the optional IQ Smart controller for it. That allows the unit to switch between two rates of charge automatically. There's a plug/jack on the charger that allows one to change the rate manually. The only thing that charger does not do is an equalization charge. It's a well made unit. Mine was made in AZ, I think they still are.

http://www.iotaengineering.com/


Cool :)  The one I bought appears to have a controller in it which allows it to adjust the charging rate from a bare trickle to full 55amps automatically.  So perhaps an updated version?

Either way it sounds like I've learned a thing or two from you Don! hehe even if subliminally!

Erik

Offline MountainDon

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #456 on: June 25, 2010, 10:12:31 AM »
Yes, they sell a model with the IQ built in.


Just a side note; same outputl Iota chargers can be paralleled to double the current output. They sell a plug in controller for that.

The Iota people were very helpful when I had several questions a few years back.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

Offline NM_Shooter

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #457 on: June 25, 2010, 12:31:15 PM »
Make sure to check the operating temperature range on your inverter!
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Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #458 on: June 25, 2010, 12:48:34 PM »
Make sure to check the operating temperature range on your inverter!

I'll go check but I thought it was something pretty extreme on both sides of the fence.

Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #459 on: June 25, 2010, 12:57:48 PM »
Quote
# No load minimum operating temperature: -15 degrees Celsius
# Full load maximum operating temperature: 55 +/- 5 degrees Celsius (automatic shutdown)

The books says 30 degrees F to 150 F operating range.

Kinda surprising because running below 30 degrees will just keep it cooler.  Not sure why they would suggest that actually - though laptops have issues down there but that's more of a Hard Drive thing I suspect.

It sounds like I should probably install this in the wall below the service panel INSIDE the cabin.  I can bring in the battery cables to a Square D or similar box (cheapest one I can find) which I can insulate the back of with fiberglass and/or foam and then run from there to the service panel above it.

That leaves the Charger and batteries in the battery box outside.

Has the added benefit of making it harder to steal the inverter.

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #460 on: June 28, 2010, 07:08:49 PM »
Just a comment about batteries.  I just went through the spaghetti lines and checked all of my battery cells for specific gravity.  A good indication of bad cells.

About 6 months ago when refilling the batteries water I added EDTA - I found it at a chemical supply for mining and had read that it would chemically desulfate with some pretty good testing that I posted somewhere here earlier.

To my surprise, nearly all of the cells aside from 2 bad batteries, were over 1300 - top of the scale - and that has never happened before.  I had one marginal one - added EDTA and threw threw pulse charger onto it - it also came up to over 1300.  I have two that seem to have shorted cells, but not bad out of 12 batteries dating back to 2004.

I swapped out batteries to get 8 good ones running together - two sets of 4, and even using extra pumping, my power is better at night than it has been in ages.  I also have 8 new batteries in another bank so running 16 batteries - L16's right now.

"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

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Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #461 on: July 11, 2010, 03:45:29 PM »
Went through my system today and did some diagrams etc but one thing I have to figure out still is where to install the Iota Battery charger (55a)?  I'm assuming that I can't run it in parallel with the solar power so need to figure out how to disco the solar when running the genny and Iota charger.

Otherwise, I'm pretty good to go :)  The 10amp cables I bought will be within spec for a 45 foot run from the panels to the PV box which will be mounted next to the load control box (not sure if that is what it's called -- it's the one with the main disconnect and connections to charge controller and inverter).

I'm planning something similar to what Don put in.

Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #462 on: July 11, 2010, 06:24:04 PM »
I'm also looking at installing the panels in a fixed installation until I can afford something else.  So, here is my thought:

Build Carport Roof over Camper that we use on the Property and install Solar panels on a steel frame that I can tilt between 63 degrees in the summer and 33 degrees in the winter (we are at 48 degrees latitude and I read somewhere that you can add 15 degrees in the summer for more efficiency and subtract 15 degrees in the winter).  My thinking is to install two different length 'legs' to the top of the panel rack and stack the panels one above the other (so three panels laying sideways -- I'll draw it).

I'm hoping this will have the added benifit of being somewhat secure and even hidden a little from view at ground level).

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #463 on: July 11, 2010, 06:26:43 PM »
I just hook it to the + and - of the batteries, OJ.

As long as you are using a proper charger the other stuff should take care of itself, just as multiple charging sources - wind , more separate solar etc. can be hooked to the batteries.

Now I use a welder for a charger - running 160 amps sometimes - haven't blown anything yet but I try to be careful and keep my overcurrent device handy.



That should be steeper in the winter as the sun is lower - I guess that depends on where you are measuring your angle from.  About 45 degrees works pretty well for fixed.
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Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #464 on: July 12, 2010, 06:36:11 AM »
I'm also looking at installing the panels in a fixed installation until I can afford something else.  So, here is my thought:

Build Carport Roof over Camper that we use on the Property and install Solar panels on a steel frame that I can tilt between 63 degrees in the summer and 33 degrees in the winter (we are at 48 degrees latitude and I read somewhere that you can add 15 degrees in the summer for more efficiency and subtract 15 degrees in the winter).  My thinking is to install two different length 'legs' to the top of the panel rack and stack the panels one above the other (so three panels laying sideways -- I'll draw it).

I'm hoping this will have the added benifit of being somewhat secure and even hidden a little from view at ground level).

Got them backwards.  63 degrees in Winter and 33 Degrees in Summer.

Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #465 on: July 12, 2010, 06:38:50 AM »
I just hook it to the + and - of the batteries, OJ.

As long as you are using a proper charger the other stuff should take care of itself, just as multiple charging sources - wind , more separate solar etc. can be hooked to the batteries.

Now I use a welder for a charger - running 160 amps sometimes - haven't blown anything yet but I try to be careful and keep my overcurrent device handy.



That should be steeper in the winter as the sun is lower - I guess that depends on where you are measuring your angle from.  About 45 degrees works pretty well for fixed.

So you just connected your charger straight to the battery buss?  Thinking about this I'm wondering if when you begin charging the Xantrex C40 detects that the batteries are 'charged' and backs off?  Also the Xantrex is supposed to be able to protect the panels from power being backfed into them at night...I'm wondering if that works the same way when the charger is on?

I saw this today: http://www.interlockkit.com/squareDmain01.htm -- seems like it's $150 for a $5 part???  Probably approved by some bureaucrat but I'm thinking I could make the same thing for a few bucks...anyone make there own?

Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #466 on: July 12, 2010, 07:51:56 AM »
I called Xantrex customer support and this is what I was told:

"The Xantrex C40 Charge Controller will sense the voltage of the buss at 13.6vdc (supplied by the Iota) and shut down charging from the Solar Array as it will detect a 'fully charged' condition.  It should be fine in this application and I don't see any reason it would be damaged."

So seems like Glenns idea will work nicely :)

I may toss in a break (60amp ought to do it I think) for the Iota charger so I can disconnect it positively when not in use but otherwise I think directly wiring to the battery bank is the answer!  WhooHoo!

Now to get some wire, some batteries and start powering our cabin....oh wait, first things first, Chimney, Roof, siding and wiring THEN bring the solar and install....*chuckle* if I could do it all in one week I'd so be there!

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #467 on: July 17, 2010, 08:43:25 PM »
The DC current can makea much longer arc than an AC current normally would hence only a few of the smaller AC breakers work on lower DC loads.  So therefore the higher price tag for the breakers.  There are some battery disconnect switches that may not be approved for solar but would be effective to their rated amp level - not automatic though.

I have been doing the welder charging in conjunction with the inverter charger for around 6 years now - many of the same 2004 batteries still in my bank - I haven't blown them yet.
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Offline Dave Sparks

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #468 on: July 21, 2010, 05:42:10 AM »
Glen is right, of coarse! The DC arc also tends to burn thru the contact much faster! An AC arc is reversing polarity and the contact area can be smaller and of a lower quality alloy. The Square D type QOU line is what you want for low voltage solar. It has a din rail mount to allow you to fabricate your own panel or modify an existing. They also have wiring set screws on both input and output. They are harder to find than the type QO. There are series tricks for QOU's to get them over 100vdc also.

It hurts to hear about "blowing batteries" but you are that kind of guy! How about the inverters Glen? They are getting harder to fix (no parts) My repair guy in Oakland retired so I am looking for spare SW's. A replacement XW is near $3K now. It is all I would use though if pushed that way.
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Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #469 on: July 21, 2010, 08:29:15 PM »
I haven't had any problem with the inverters at all, Dave, but in constant current, the welder voltage drops to some rate near but above the batteries.  24v systems and DC welders (on Constant Current)  are a pretty good match.  The massive amount of batteries buffer the charge current from the welder protecting the inverters.  The problem with the DC welder is that it is not a tapering charge thus as the batteries continue to come up in charge, the welder still keeps pumping full amps into them therefore I monitor the charge on meters and only do it when I am there to monitor them.

There is a DC, Constant Voltage mode but it is a bit more scary as if the batteries are low it could put up to 300 amps into the batteries as the amps go full blast to bring up the voltage.  I prefer CC and have spent a lot of time monitoring with meters to learn how to do it. I started around 60 amps and worked my way up to what I feel is a good combo of Inverter charger to provide tapering charge and welder at 160 amps for horsepower in bulk charging.   Use meters and understand the system and what you are doing if you are dumb enough to try to do what I am doing......    By that I do not mean to imply anyone is dumb.... I mean that a screw up could have serious consequences even for me...... [ouch]     :)

Without a pretty good knowledge of what is going on and what you are doing I am afraid I would have to say, Don't try this at home, kids...... [waiting]

Considering that I am charging 16 - L16 batteries, I have a bit of room to play.  To equalize I am planning to disconnect sets of batteries and do them offline.  Sparks are a big no-no around heavily charging batteries.  They could fly all over spewing sulfuric acid and plastic shrapnel on anything within reach of their hydrogen/oxygen explosion.

I haven't screwed up and blown anything up on my system that I recall, but I do take great care to keep sparks away from the batteries.  Connections are done at the other end of the cables away from the batteries.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2010, 08:44:02 PM by glenn kangiser »
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Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #470 on: July 24, 2010, 08:19:39 AM »

This is my proposed cabin solar power system.

Thoughts?

Note:  Done in visio, the bus bars don't show actual connections.

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #471 on: July 24, 2010, 03:43:04 PM »
Nice job -I was too cheap to buy Visio- :)

A couple things come to mind - make sure the charge controller you get is capable of taking the higher voltage from the panels and dropping it to 12 volts - not all controllers will do that.  BZ MPPT will.

Some of the automotive modified sine wave inverters commonly only last about a year -

Possibly a Harbor Freight one with their added warranty could be a solution as I have had them fail in less than a year and some don't fail. [ouch]

If spending more then a good name brand inverter is best for reliability. 

I only use sine wave inverters for the house and limit modified sine (really modified square wave)  to automotive and field power uses.  I have blown up a lot of things that don't like modified (square) wave.
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Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #472 on: July 24, 2010, 04:04:01 PM »
Nice job -I was too cheap to buy Visio- :)

A couple things come to mind - make sure the charge controller you get is capable of taking the higher voltage from the panels and dropping it to 12 volts - not all controllers will do that.  BZ MPPT will.

Some of the automotive modified sine wave inverters commonly only last about a year -

Possibly a Harbor Freight one with their added warranty could be a solution as I have had them fail in less than a year and some don't fail. [ouch]

If spending more then a good name brand inverter is best for reliability. 

I only use sine wave inverters for the house and limit modified sine (really modified square wave)  to automotive and field power uses.  I have blown up a lot of things that don't like modified (square) wave.

Visio was a perk from my work :)  I didn't have to pay for it!  Or I wouldn't have it.

The Xantrex C40 is rated to take up to 125 volts in and kick out 12/24/48 as desired :)  Xantrex tells it's the right one for the job and will shutdown during auxiliary charging off the Iota.

I'd like a True Sine inverter but cost was a factor so I went with the AIM (American Inverter Manufacturing I believe) -- they tell me that's all they do but I don't recall the warranty.  However, for $200 I figure it ought to do -- one thing I wonder about is whether CFL bulbs will be OK with Modified wave?  They don't like dimmers and I wonder if the square wave might blow them -- guess I'll find out!

I mostly only intend to run small appliances (TV radio maybe a toaster) on it.  My neighbor runs Modified (has for 30 years) and tells me it will run a fridge and freezer and small MW but the MW will run slowly....if it gets me by until I can afford a True Sine Wave inverter I'll get a Xantrex probably :)

Got my batteries and was hoping you could tell me what you used to recondition yours (I know it's in here somewhere)....

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #473 on: July 24, 2010, 04:48:04 PM »
I have a pulsing charger that will recondition them if they are not too bad.

Best thing I did I think was to use EDTA to chemically break down sulfation.  There are methods draining - charging and refilling them, EDTA added in the make up water was enough to bring them back decent.

I think the Xantrex charge regulator is already a pulsing charger so it should work with the EDTA to stop sulfation.  I have a C40 but have not checked the input specs on it - got it before I studied up and added MPPT controllers.

My batteries from 2004 have been on the C40 since that time.  Most of them are still alive and well.

One thing I do know about the C40 is that it does have an equalization mode that is pretty decent so when you want to equalize at a higher voltage, set it to equalize and tune up the batteries.
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Offline OlJarhead

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #474 on: July 25, 2010, 06:41:14 AM »
I have a pulsing charger that will recondition them if they are not too bad.

Best thing I did I think was to use EDTA to chemically break down sulfation.  There are methods draining - charging and refilling them, EDTA added in the make up water was enough to bring them back decent.

I think the Xantrex charge regulator is already a pulsing charger so it should work with the EDTA to stop sulfation.  I have a C40 but have not checked the input specs on it - got it before I studied up and added MPPT controllers.

My batteries from 2004 have been on the C40 since that time.  Most of them are still alive and well.

One thing I do know about the C40 is that it does have an equalization mode that is pretty decent so when you want to equalize at a higher voltage, set it to equalize and tune up the batteries.

Thanks -- do you wait a few years to ad the EDTA to bring them back or is it something you run all the time now?

 

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