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Old 03-19-2011, 02:29 PM   #1
2 for Him
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Solar test

Finished the first stage of our solar install last weekend, thought I would test it tonight.
A few pix here http://cid-a673f2d3b1d06efb.photos.l...olar%20project Hope that works, first time I've done it.
Anyway, 3 85 watt panels on the roof, tiltable, one portable 60 watt homemade panel for shady areas or my boat battery. The 4" electrical box next to the disconnect is a home built PWM charge controller from a kit. http://www.cirkits.com/scc3/index.html Easy for me to repair on the road, already have all the spare parts that normally go out in electronics.
So, now running the inverter and TV this evening with the Fantastic fan and several lights, for about 3 or four hours, depends on how the two new 6 volt, 232 AH Interstate batteries are doing.
Going to let the panels try to charge the batteries tomorrow, even though they are badly shaded and not tilted, just the portable will be in direct sun.
If they get it done I will be one happy boondockin' camper.
Normally on the road we ran the generator in the evening, now if we need it I guess we'll run it in the mornings to get a large amount of amps in the batteries, then let the panels top them off.
This is so fun! Feel like a kid waiting for CHRISTmas morning.
Almost have the tracking mount done for the portable panel, just got to finalize connections and encapsulate the electronic controls. I'll take a few pictures of it tracking tomorrow.
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Old 03-19-2011, 04:37 PM   #2
2 for Him
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OK, I'll reply to myself. At least you aren't arguing with me about the proper charge voltage for my Interstates like they did on the solar forum. http://www.batteries-faq.com/activek...p?questionid=1 direct from Interstates website. Haven't had the guts to crank my controller up to 15.5 volts for absorb for long though.
So far so good, 3.25 hrs at 11-12 amp draw from the inverter, fans and light plus parasitics. 12.29 volts with loads on, 12.48 with only the fan and parasitics. Looks like I still have 80% charge to run the fans and parasitics all night, at most a 2 amp draw when the refer runs.
Now to see final voltage in the morning and let the panels charge away.
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Old 03-20-2011, 03:32 AM   #3
Ozz
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Wow! Sounds like all your planning is paying off. What loads do you normally run off grid? Like you stated, lights fans, how about TV and computer? I haven't clicked on the links yet, will do that now.
Keep us updated.
Ozz
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Old 03-20-2011, 05:38 AM   #4
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I think I cheated. This is working too good. Should have ran more loads longer. After sitting with just lights, on and the four 5" computer fans I put in the front vent, plus refer ect. for a couple of hours the batteries had risen back to 12.61 volts. I had only ran the bunch of lights and the inverter for 3.25 hrs. at 11.5 amp draw total. Since it was 10 pm I let everything I still had on run overnight, this morning batteries were 12.51 volts, just after dawn the solar panels were putting in 1.3 amps. Granted the small portable was moved to the sun and tilted towards it. 9:00 AM charging at 3 amps, only the small panel in the sun and tilted, batteries are at 13.6 volts. By the time we get home from church will be at the cutoff for the float voltage. I tried to use most of the things we normally do when dry camping, but we have learned to be conservative, have switched to LEDs, cook mostly outside (don't get me started on cast iron cooking) and camp in the north in the summer to escape this unbearable heat and humidity here in S. AL., two or three hours of tv or a movie, maybe 1 hour on the internet to check e-mail or pay bills.
Not much of a test or else things are working better than I ever hoped. I will give credit to Solar Bob for his ideas on setting up a system, his site http://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/about/ really opened my eyes on a lot of obscure points. Big wire, short runs, charging voltages at the MANUFACTURERS specs, not a solar panel salesman. As we all know, salesmen are the most honest people out there, they would never stretch the truth to make a sale.
Looks like I could get 2 more batteries if I think we need the extra amp hours, but think I'll wait on that to see how actual use works out. Trying to get DW to go to a NFS cg in FL before it gets hot to do a real test, but it seems she just expects something I have engineered to work. Man do I have her fooled. I read of another guy who used a separate battery just for the inverter, easy enough to set up an isolation circuit to charge it then keep it from discharging the main batteries, might use my portable boat battery for that.
Sorry about the long post, having too much fun.
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Old 03-20-2011, 05:43 AM   #5
Jolu
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Tom I know how you feel when you flip the switch and there is no smoke and things start working. It even gets better when you get to put it in action. It's really good when you can push a button and brew the coffee without going outside to start the generator on a cold morning.
Joe
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Old 03-20-2011, 01:19 PM   #6
2 for Him
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Well, not as good as I first thought, still charging 3+ amps at 13.5 volts, sun is starting to go down. Still better than everyone said it would be, guess I need to get those big panels in the sun. Overall very pleased, away from this big old live oak tree things should work great. If I wasn't so lazy, I'd change clothes and check the batteries with a hydrometer.
So many toys, so little time.
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