Author Topic: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...  (Read 557138 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,926
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #475 on: July 25, 2010, 06:50:58 AM »
I just added it this year with my oldest batteries being from 2004.  I lost one from 2004 and one from 2005 I think.  Possibly a bit of EDTA added earlier may have prevented that loss.  The two had shorted cells and I haven't recovered them - but I just pulled them out of the lineup, and haven't tried to do any more serious work with them.  

I left the EDTA in them once I added some.  I put a couple tablespoons in a gallon of water and just used it to replace water as the batteries needed it.  I went back to normal rainwater or distilled water after that except if a cell still showed signs of low specific gravity then it got another dose of EDTA water added.  I monitor battery condition with the hydrometer and that is when I found that the EDTA had improved the batteries.  I had never seen the specific gravity that high consistently before the EDTA.

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

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline OlJarhead

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,825
battery care
« Reply #476 on: July 26, 2010, 10:05:09 AM »
I just added it this year with my oldest batteries being from 2004.  I lost one from 2004 and one from 2005 I think.  Possibly a bit of EDTA added earlier may have prevented that loss.  The two had shorted cells and I haven't recovered them - but I just pulled them out of the lineup, and haven't tried to do any more serious work with them.  

I left the EDTA in them once I added some.  I put a couple tablespoons in a gallon of water and just used it to replace water as the batteries needed it.  I went back to normal rainwater or distilled water after that except if a cell still showed signs of low specific gravity then it got another dose of EDTA water added.  I monitor battery condition with the hydrometer and that is when I found that the EDTA had improved the batteries.  I had never seen the specific gravity that high consistently before the EDTA.



Thanks again for that post -- I plan to make use of this info :)

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,926
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #477 on: July 27, 2010, 08:05:45 AM »
My pleasure, OJ.

On another note Sunelec messaged me that my new panels are on the way and I see that they once again dropped their prices with a sale.

http://sunelec.com/

I haven't found anything to beat them so far.  They have thin film a lot cheaper too if you have lots of room for panels.  Freight may cost more than more expensive panels though - I haven't worked that out - just went for the 190's
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline Tickhill

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 237
  • Look up ^
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #478 on: August 03, 2010, 02:51:05 AM »
I put this post in the Off Grid section because the panels glenn and I ordered have the MC3 connectors. According to what I have read they are legacy connectors and the new standard is the locking MC4. For warranty purposes I read also that the factory ends must be left intact. Do you order the adapter cables and then cut the ends off of them to do your series or parallel connections into a combiner box??? Thanks in advance for all the info. Also, Mtn Don and Glenn if you have time to do a layout diagram like OJ did, that would be great for us first timers. God Bless
"You will find the key to success under the alarm Glock"  Ben Franklin
Forget it Ben, just remember, the check comes at the first of the month and it's not your fault, your a victim.

Pray while there is still time

Offline MountainDon

  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 16,875
  • Jemez Mountains, NM; that's pronounced HEY-mess
    • My 15.75 x 30 Jemez Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #479 on: August 03, 2010, 03:29:09 AM »
If connecting in parallel the connection to the combiner box is usually done by purchasing a premade cord with a female plug on one end and a male on the other. The cable is cut at the appropriate spot. The plug end attaches to the panel connector and the cut end wired into the box terminal like any other electrical box connection.

For series connections the panel plugs simply are plugged together in a series pattern.

You can also order custom made cables with an MC3 on one end and an MC4 on the other  if needed. Places the TheSolar.Biz can do that.

You should still be able to use the MC3 panel connections. If you tape them with silicone tape they will be more weather resistant as well.

If in doubt and faced with an inspection, ask the inspector what he wants to see.


If you'd like to see a wiring schematic I can draw one and post in in a week or thereabouts. (off to the mountains today).

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,926
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #480 on: August 03, 2010, 07:07:30 AM »
Tickhill, the way to keep your warranty intact is to order an extra cable and cut it in half using one end for the connection at the end of your string and same  for each set of panels you must parallel.

I live in the boonies - such things are not available here - they didn't have them when I ordered my panels, so I take my chances and chop off the ends hoping the company has enough faith in their panels that it likely will not fail.

Likely you will have to void the warranty on at least one panel if you take the cut off end and put it on the other panel (cut off the female - plug it onto the male at the opposite end of the string or opposite way) for a connector....why didn't I think of that earlier..... [ouch]

Combiner box I guess is ideal and probably required for code, but I use wire nuts most of the time.  Seems any box with a cover should meet code.  I haven't checked it out.

Free Code suggested practices.

http://www.nmsu.edu/~tdi/Photovoltaics/Codes-Stds/PVnecSugPract.html
« Last Edit: August 03, 2010, 07:26:33 AM by glenn kangiser »
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline Dave Sparks

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 814
  • Offgrid Solar
    • Offgrid Solar
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #481 on: August 03, 2010, 08:13:31 AM »
Tickhill, the way to keep your warranty intact is to order an extra cable and cut it in half using one end for the connection at the end of your string and same  for each set of panels you must parallel.

I live in the boonies - such things are not available here - they didn't have them when I ordered my panels, so I take my chances and chop off the ends hoping the company has enough faith in their panels that it likely will not fail.

Likely you will have to void the warranty on at least one panel if you take the cut off end and put it on the other panel (cut off the female - plug it onto the male at the opposite end of the string or opposite way) for a connector....why didn't I think of that earlier..... [ouch]

Combiner box I guess is ideal and probably required for code, but I use wire nuts most of the time.  Seems any box with a cover should meet code.  I haven't checked it out.

Free Code suggested practices.

http://www.nmsu.edu/~tdi/Photovoltaics/Codes-Stds/PVnecSugPract.html


Glen I use the Mariposa True Value hardware store!  They have everything!!!  ??? Fuse your parallel strings gentleman! We don't need a wildfire caused by a bad panel.  It is rare but possible! Ow on the wire nuts for DC
but I like the spirit...
"we go where the power lines don't"

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,926
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #482 on: August 03, 2010, 09:05:40 AM »
Thanks, Dave.  Wire nuts... I guess they are not the best, eh?

What would you suggest as best? Crimp butt connectors?  Terminals in the combiner box? Always a combiner box?  Exceptions to a combiner box?

I'll check out the True Value - they have solar stuff too?  The special cable end adapters for the panels?
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,926
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #483 on: August 03, 2010, 09:17:01 AM »
Looks like I found some of the answers in the code I posted above - Though I haven't read it all, what I did read was both clear and interesting.

I highly suggesting downloading it.  Looks like the big file and small one look the same - maybe resolution difference as far as I have seen.  Many pics included.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline Dave Sparks

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 814
  • Offgrid Solar
    • Offgrid Solar
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #484 on: August 03, 2010, 12:09:46 PM »
If I could double the money i have recieved from troubleshhooting wire nuts I would get a newer vehicle. That is truck for you guy's in the trailerhood! New song for me!

I crimp or use the torqued square driver/slot terminals. You can buy them at home depot in a 10 or 20 screw strip. Just hack saw cut what you need, tape them, and pass inspection. I like the midnite combiner boxes if I am billing and build my own out of the weather tight comex boxes also H depot.

Oh yea, True value has it all ! They try! They have had some good people in there, at times! :-\
"we go where the power lines don't"

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,926
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #485 on: August 03, 2010, 03:36:10 PM »
Thanks for the tip on the nut problem, Dave.

I'll look for the items you mentioned.  I stayed away from True Value for a long time as things there were costing about three times what they were at Coast but they are better now I think under the new owners.... most of the time.... [waiting]
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline Tickhill

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 237
  • Look up ^
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #486 on: August 05, 2010, 12:36:46 AM »
Mtn. Don, I would like to see a drawing/layout of your setup. I patterned my inital setup after yours, although I will probably go with the SUN 3024 inverter/charger when sunelec gets them in. The panels and Outback FM60 arrive this afternoon, I have camera in hand to document. Thanks
"You will find the key to success under the alarm Glock"  Ben Franklin
Forget it Ben, just remember, the check comes at the first of the month and it's not your fault, your a victim.

Pray while there is still time

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,926
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #487 on: August 05, 2010, 07:34:25 AM »
That is sure a deal on price for a pure sine wave inverter, Tickhill.  I note a pretty good efficiency difference between it and a Xantrex, but there is no comparison in cost if it holds up well.  I would go with it over a modified sine myself if money was a consideration (I don't mean that it is not for me---  [ouch].  I haven't seen any reviews yet.

http://sunelec.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6_40&products_id=791     87% efficient max.   $525

http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/47/p/143/pt/18/product.asp    94%  efficient  (peak)  $2773
http://sunelec.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6_40&products_id=583


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

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline Tickhill

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 237
  • Look up ^
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #488 on: August 05, 2010, 01:27:42 PM »
Glenn, just got the panels and the FM60. No damage, now the work begins by removing the old panels and building a frame for the 190's. Also Elizabeth with sunelec emailed me today and said that the SUN 3024's have arrived and ready to ship out. I wish I could download a manual first, and yes $ is definitely a consideration!
I took one panel out and set it in the sun for a quick voltage check and it was 30.0 vdc just leaning against the shop. If prices stay this low, I will probably get another 3 this fall. I am going to build my frame to hold 6, it will just look a little empty till I fill it up with the other 3.
"You will find the key to success under the alarm Glock"  Ben Franklin
Forget it Ben, just remember, the check comes at the first of the month and it's not your fault, your a victim.

Pray while there is still time

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,926
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #489 on: August 05, 2010, 07:15:42 PM »
Cool.  I have been having a bit of a communication slow down with Phoenix.  Maybe Miami is better - I emailed Miami today. 

Parts have arrived on time once I got the last order in, but getting it ordered if you have a question seems to be a bit slow.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline OlJarhead

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,825
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #490 on: August 06, 2010, 06:45:17 AM »
http://www.alphapower.com.au/aps_ProductsContent.php?mid=2&lid=6&nid=104

Would you use these?

Specification
AlphaCell Gel GXL
> Service Life: Long
> Runtime (minutes): 210, 180 & 165
> Sealed VRLA: Valve regulated lead acid
> Heat Resistant: High
> Hydrogen Emission: Low
> Terminals: L-type with .28" hole

> Silver Alloy: GXL-HP (on 210 and 180GXL)
N/A (on 165GXL)
> CA/SN Alloy: GXL
> Cells Per Unit: 6
> Voltage Per Unit: 12.8

Operating Temperature Range
> Discharge: -40 to 71°C
(-40 to 160°F)
> Charge (with temp compensation): -23 to 60°C (-9.4 to 140°F)
> Float Charging Voltage: 13.5 to 13.8VDC
> AC Ripple Charger: 0.5% RMS or 1.5% of float charge voltage recommended for best results. Max. allowed = 4% P-P

A friend has a pair for sale (to me) for $75 (total).....

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,926
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #491 on: August 06, 2010, 07:03:41 AM »
Not me.  I won't touch a gel cell. 

Lead acid for me.  L16 or Golf Cart only pretty well.

Gel cells will not take any abuse.  Charge them wrong - they are toast.  They can also lose the moisture in the gel rendering them useless unless you pop them open if possible and try to work in the proper amount of distilled water to restore them - only practical in small aplications such as my gold detector... and even then they may not come back.

A special charger is required to keep from damaging them.  Equalizing may damage them.  Too unforgiving for me because I am a bit of an abuser.....[waiting]

One golf cart battery should be in the area of $90 to $100.  Two are necessary for 12v
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,926
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #492 on: August 06, 2010, 08:49:02 AM »
Cool.  I have been having a bit of a communication slow down with Phoenix.  Maybe Miami is better - I emailed Miami today.  

Parts have arrived on time once I got the last order in, but getting it ordered if you have a question seems to be a bit slow.

Still no response to e-mail questions on prices and sizing so apparently they are too busy to check e-mails or respond.  

They still have the best pricing and selection for my needs for the solar pump for a customer so I put the order in with their automated online system.

Rec'd their (www.sunelec.com) automated response receipt with the following note: 8-6-10 appx 10:30 am

Quote
Thank You! We Appreciate your Business!
Your Order Number is: xxxxxx

Checkout Success!...

Your order will be processed and shipped out to you shortly. For Solar Panels

Please allow up to 3-4 business days for your order to be processed and prepared for shipment
Thank you for shopping. Please click the Log Off link to ensure that your receipt and purchase information is not visible to the next person using this computer.
Log Off

Please notify me of updates to these products
SUN-75 $2.48/Watt

Recorded this to report to you on their follow through.  I have never had a problem with order fulfillment from them.  It looks like you mostly need to just figure out what you want from their in-stock items and order online.  With lowest pricing available that I can find, they are probably too busy for the small stuff.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,926
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #493 on: August 06, 2010, 11:19:47 AM »
Forgot to mention that I got the Grundfos SQ Flex from the Solar Store in Bend, Oregon.

They have had every shipment of parts to me in about 2 days - maybe one on some of it.

http://www.thesolarstore.com/grundfos-m-50.html

Their e-mail and backorder notifications have been near immediate even to taking care of the Grundfos level switch I missed ordering. 
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,926
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #494 on: August 06, 2010, 02:36:35 PM »
So... received notice that UPS rec'd information to pick up the panels from Sun for shipping 3:23pm - about 5 hours elapsed time on this order.  Not bad.

Looks like no problems with the online ordering and shipping if you know exactly what you need.  Nice that they post complete panel specs online.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline OlJarhead

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,825
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #495 on: August 07, 2010, 04:16:24 PM »
Cool.  I have been having a bit of a communication slow down with Phoenix.  Maybe Miami is better - I emailed Miami today. 

Parts have arrived on time once I got the last order in, but getting it ordered if you have a question seems to be a bit slow.

Call Tucson :)I found that talking to them was completely different!  Very nice and curtious and very helpful.

I could never get through to Phoenix.


Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,926
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #496 on: August 07, 2010, 07:44:38 PM »
Thanks OJ - I was thinking Phoenix would be the one with their stuff together.  I think I have it handled now.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline MountainDon

  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 16,875
  • Jemez Mountains, NM; that's pronounced HEY-mess
    • My 15.75 x 30 Jemez Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #497 on: August 08, 2010, 08:42:52 PM »
FWIW, as requested, a schematic of sorts.  The drawings are not my best, most careful and neat work, but I believe it gets the idea across. Feel free to ask questions make comments or laugh....

It's in two parts, the first all the stuff down at the PV panels in the meadow...



... and the rest up at the cabin, 325 feet distant...



Please note that if the panels and the balance of the system had been closer together like most systems will be, there would have been a #2 AWG ground wire running from the panels combiner box to the balance of the system.

« Last Edit: August 09, 2010, 04:16:15 AM by MountainDon »
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

Offline Tickhill

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 237
  • Look up ^
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #498 on: August 08, 2010, 11:52:48 PM »
Thanks Mtn. Don! Easy understood drawing, it helps greatly. What is the voltage/amp rating of the CB in the combiner box. I am only 30' max from where the panels are mounted to the FM60.
I currently have a 4 conductor 10 AWG SJ cord buried from the shop to the panels.
Thanks for the drawing,  God Bless
"You will find the key to success under the alarm Glock"  Ben Franklin
Forget it Ben, just remember, the check comes at the first of the month and it's not your fault, your a victim.

Pray while there is still time

Offline MountainDon

  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 16,875
  • Jemez Mountains, NM; that's pronounced HEY-mess
    • My 15.75 x 30 Jemez Cabin
Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #499 on: August 09, 2010, 04:31:07 AM »
The breaker at the panels is rated 150 VDC.

Also note I made an error on the second drawing and corrected the values for the breakers listed there. I got most of the breakers from solarseller.com; some from affordable-solar.com
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

 

Templates: 5: index (default), Ads (default), Portal (default), Display (default), GenericControls (default).
Sub templates: 12: init, html_above, adsheaders_above, body_above, adsindex_above, portal_above, main, portal_below, adsindex_below, body_below, adsheaders_below, html_below.
Language files: 3: SPortal.english (default), index+Modifications.english (default), Ads.english (default).
Style sheets: 1: portal (default).
Files included: 38 - 1132KB. (show)
Cache hits: 13: 0.00194s for 40,899 bytes (show)
Queries used: 29.

[Show Queries]