Energy Sloth, we are ready for step two... Solar Install

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by MountainMariner, Apr 5, 2016.

  1. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

    Got 4 275 watt 24 volt panels ready for your expertise in PV setup.


    Pm me at your convenience please. Have the Whizbang JR, shunt and combine box with two 15 amp breakers. Ready to wire.
  2. stg58

    stg58 Monkey+++ Founding Member

  3. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

  4. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    I'm inpressed with this @MountainMariner looks great and has functionality!
  5. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    A bit off-topic. But, what kind of weather station are you running?
  6. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

    It's an Acu-Rite 634. Works very well.
    The old solar panels will just run my electric fence and keep one 12 volt battery charged.
    chelloveck likes this.
  7. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    Yes Sir , I'll be calling .
    Next week , But I also have inverter info & other stuff . Im in travel / work mode .
    Nice Job , now see if you can install below , metal mirrors for summer reflection & make sure winter winds have stanchions support from blowing out/off the panels , they are wind deflection units , not a push & pull on the glass =(wiggle) & since we are so frigging green , lead that was malleable , is now gone so vibration causes hard solder joints & opens .Deflection top curve & a hard backing / coverup ..etc.
    I'll pm my E-mail & Arlington info .

    Sry Mod
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2016
    chelloveck likes this.
  8. AD1

    AD1 Monkey+++

    What direction are the facing and what is your Lat?
  9. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

    My brain is fried from several days of carpentry and electrical work. Much tweaking left to be done. I'll pm photos tomorrow Sloth.

    180 degrees exactly and Lat is 62.
    chelloveck likes this.
  10. GrayGhost

    GrayGhost Monkey+++

    Nice job! Reflectors will help as stated already. Don't know if you're in an area prone to hail storms, but mounted vertically as you did could save you some grief down the road.
    chelloveck and Motomom34 like this.
  11. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    Well after the call , I took some pictures and I'll display here and WHY.
    We have Codes for this wiring & electrical stuff for reasons , and the way we are to do the work & treat the next guy who looks at it with respect . You go against the norm and then the problem multiples and many are hurt via $$$ or death.
    Now each different installation has the same rules & you must work within them while thinking whats the best for you .
    I will ASSUME lengths & spec's of numbers for the setup , NO TWO SYSTEMS are alike !!! and they have there own idiosyncratic way of working. Using Ohms Power laws we get close to the math that we should of done to begin with .Rules are One wire is to be full length without any breaks till a junction box or a terminal end .(meaning no joins between runs from BOX to BOX).
    Wire sizing is selected off a amperage(size of muscle) for the length of run that carry's that amp muscle .
    Fuse's or breakers are for PROTECTING THE WIRE !!! Not the appliance or load .
    Tearing your walls apart to replace a wire is Nut's.
    Power , DC (direct current ) Flashlights /car batterys ,Lightening etc,,AC (alternating current ) house plugs , fridges etc have similar attributes but have different breakers & fuses but similar rules . You MUST know what you are working with & label / post that info & use the correct way so 10 years later , one can still decipher. When a problem occurs , the time spent is huge & for a re-appearing bug & your following your tail only to find out you did a sloppy job or skimped out.
    We also use the MATH to figure the max power (Watts & that is Voltage X Amperage ) and then we use a Loss of power over distance called Voltage Drop =

    We are changing "Harvested " solar /Hydro /Wind RE and then normally "Inverting " it back to 120Vac 60hz or 230Vac 50hz HZ= (Hertz ~) the wave of alternating voltages =(voltage is how hard the muscle can hit).
    One Very Important rule is double the voltage , equals half the amperage but always the same WATTS used .
    These rules apply to all power on Earth man made.

    When we connect wiring there are ways to make it last years without trouble , Soldering is good for some (no vibration or flexing ) Crimp (fine strand wire & minimal vibration) , So we mostly do Crimp with PV wire to Primary transfer wire.
    PV wire is heavy insulation & sun / chem resistant ,tinned or silver looking outside with a copper core , that style of wire is green corrosion BEST , while primary wire is not to see sun or crap , and is stiff copper only & can handle voltages up to it's rated .
    Normal PV wire from most panels are 10 Gauge tinned that have a end connector that is polarized ( Pos +or Neg -) terminal of MC4 Style (also UV good) .
    Most Panels come with PV wire & MC4 ends with enough length to join together or a wire run . so here is the first picture >

    This is a small primary wire that is crimped between two 10 gauge wires that overlap , NOT butted & then SDG greased (silicone dielectric grease [bad for eyes ,so limit touching]) & then heat shrinked with a YELLOW cover showing the joint EZ
    That is a 10g PV to 10g tinned wire that will feed a Solar Controller . And the next is to have my joints in a PVC conduit junction right down to the ending spot in ONE wire . Conduit is sized by how many wires it can house & carry . So I always figure & then like wire size increase for later updates and NEVER SKIMP . price is 5-10% more but wait till you get caught on skimp . Conduit 3/4" over a inch but allows ROOM and expansion if ever you need to do a wire change .
    here is a waterproof stress relief that has primary wire in the conduit box and the junction of splicing is found in that conduit box away from UV sun & the PV wire is outside with a weatherproof stress relief. IMG_4448.JPG
    We are trying to stop any moisture from wicking up the wires & having a resistance connection or corroded wires.This will need to last 30 years plus outside in all weather . Were trying to keep the moisture away from getting into the solar panels by NOT CUTTING the MC4 ends off the panels & causing a no warranty on the panel & a place for water to enter the splice. Below is new un-crimped MC4 ends that will be put on the outside exposed PV wire in + & - ends to pick up the panes mc4's while the splicing to 10gauge primary wire in just inside the conduit and then the Conduit is PV resistant protecting all the wires from sun & water . EZ to check joints if you Ever have a problem , But done right you will get years . IMG_4435.JPG
    With this 3/4" conduit houseing 4 wires for MM he can still add another pair.
    Wire crimpers below can be rented from real solar stores , I own all my tools & toys.
    So now we have the solar panel wires that should always be dry & carry the max amount of current with no losses .The other end of that conduit may be open in the house , but I like to end the conduit in a combiner box or a combiner & DC box like this .Manual & Wiring of the Box . IMG_4441.JPG
    I was semi getting ready if MM was moving that way & have a box that houses the Solar Panels breakers as combiners , has the shunt shown with the Whiz Bang Jr and the main breaker for the inverter all in one box . From here your charge controller & all dc wiring is dealt with in a INDOOR dry area . Out side breakers & such don't like wet etc.
    You can use real thick wire 4 ogt if needed in this box , But for MM 24Vdc and a small outback sealed unit (because he is not home 365 , so the house gets chilled ) . This is JUST the DC .
    Ac needs it's panels & breakers etc. But the VERY PROVEN Outback sealed with AGS Auto Generator Start > as like Myself & Mr Chris Olsen (on U-tube) setup has.If your load is greater than the Inverter can handle It will start & stop the generator when it's needed & will charge the batterys while it's in run as whats set with the Outback .
    Your DC batterys cables are Huge , largest is for 12Vdc system , smallest is for 72-96 Vdc , but most stop at 48Vdc due to dc shocks . so twice or four times the 12Vdc is 48V and then it's 4 times less in wire size due to less amps but more volts and same watts . So this is why many try to up the voltage for the harvest watts in on less spent copper wire . Here is my Crimpers & cables for Battery / Cell packs IMG_4450.JPG IMG_4449.JPG
    That is 2 ogt gauge and 4 ogt gauge cable. 5 bucks a foot . So this is why many try to up the voltage , for cheaper wire runs.
    NEXT is SPD's or Lightning protection :
    here is I good Video on this :

    Raechel & Tom have done a good Video on this , And the solar Flares of EMP's or a storm can wipe out all your work , So I always install a few on the White DC box that has Combiner breakers for the panels , main DC breaker for the Inverter and a Charge control breaker while having a few SPD's for the panels .
    IMG_4451.JPG This is one of 3 SPD's on the system , this one is just for the panels , the other two are on the controller area. Plus now Grounding is so Important , and with this many have different ways till our new codes were released in 2015 . So that is what & where each persons area needs to be checked .
    HTH's all


    I had no idea that MM had bought any panels or stuff other than a KID & BTS .
    Still working , but life & work
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016
  12. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

    The system is working well but it's still a work in progress getting it as close to perfect as I can for my situation. Before this year is up it will be safe and efficient. Right now it seems to be recharging my 4 6volt batteries very quickly.
    Asia-Off-Grid and Ganado like this.
  13. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

    So here is my combiner box, mounted outdoors centered on my 24' porch between the two left and two right 24v 275 watt panels.


    And the inside wiring:


    And underside where my wiring runs into the combiner box:


    Electricians please critique and offer suggestions on how to make this correct and safe. I assume the system should be grounded? It is NOT right now. Next trip home I need to have my shopping list completed and supplies on hand as I can't just run down to the store like most people.
    chelloveck, Asia-Off-Grid and BTPost like this.
  14. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    That Combiner is Inside ? YES
    Mark all ends of wires with colour/color , so red for the + and noting on the blacks because it is assumed as it is NOT marked as - , but Green for a ground is needed & required for the SPD's to stop the lighting death !!!!

    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
    MountainMariner and chelloveck like this.
  15. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

    I'll make corrections. The combiner box is outside but I can and will move it inside. That would be great to have you on site. We will work something out for sure. I will need you to compile a shopping list for me so I have everything there. Need to get the 24v inverter you suggest and I would like to tie in a generator too. Will need compatible make/model for that also. Amongst the other smaller items like battery cables, AC breaker boxes, etc etc.

    Will PM you now with gps and dates available in August.
    chelloveck likes this.
  16. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    @MountainMariner, @Cruisin Sloth, @ all the others in this thread who have contributed.

    Thanks MM & CS for sharing well documented and well illustrated info about your energy self sufficiency installation. You could have shared that in PM, but sharing it in an open forum makes us all the wiser, and offers much by way of inspiration.

    My only contribution is minor and I think has been broached in earlier posts.

    The panels fixed vertically along the balcony is a creative way of making use of the vertical space, and would avoid issues of snow weight loadings, I wonder how much it would reduce solar panel efficiency by not being at the optimal angle for collection, relative to solar orientation. There seems little flexibility for adjusting to accommodate variations in the panel's seasonal angular orientation to the sun.

    Some mention of reflectors was made, I think,...I wonder about that as a practical work around as the presence of snow might indicate more northern latitudes where the sun travels somewhat lower in the sky, perhaps the installation might not be as much of a problem as if it were located in the tropics where the angular orientation issue might be more critical. What of the vulnerability of the reflectors to wind,and snow weight loads?
  17. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

    Winter time the current orientation is ok, probably could kick the bottoms out 5 degrees or so. Summertime I would need to kick the bottoms out more like 30 degrees. I'm working on a hinge system so I can do that.

    That would bring my efficiency up. But...I only run 4, 6 volt 235 amp hour batteries and use very very little power each day. And the reason for such large solar panels was to harvest what little wintertime solar energy I get, quickly. I found out that in the first few days after installation the current orientation of the panels charges my batteries back to 100% in a hurry. So I'll continue to run it as is for now.
    chelloveck likes this.
  18. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    That is also useful knowledge for site planning purposes.
  19. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

    Everyone's system is different. Where your at on this planet and your daily usage of your stored energy determines what configuration system you should have. I'm happy to say on an overcast April day my batteries were fully recharged quickly. Pretty confident that even on my 4 hours of daylight in Dec this system will keep my 4 batteries at 100% even on overcast days. Main reason might be that I use an incredibly small amount of electricity everyday. But I plan to add a small chest freezer soon.

    I also need to replace the two Kyocera 60 watt panels, put a new charge controller and batteries on them and I'd like to run my constant draw appliances on that system only. (Freezer and electric fence)

    The Kyocera panels still work so I'll move them to my workshop solar system which has 4 6 volt 235's being trickle charged by a very small panel now. I don't even know what that panel is but I'm guessing 25 watts. That system only runs my shower pump and two small lamps which are used for maybe 1 hour a week.

    So in the end I'll actually have four systems. The cabin at 1,100 watts, freezer and electric fence at around 200 watts and then the workshop/shower/sauna system at 120 watts. I'll move the trickle charger panel to my ATV shed and keep that on my ATV battery.
    chelloveck likes this.
  20. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    There is no reason to kick the panels on any angle in the winter , We would use the snow as a reflector of the sun , so having a upright panel that stays clear Is perfect .
    I would have design the panels so they were above the snow line but lower than the the top rail so the wind / storm would not effect the back side of the panel . Top hinge the panel at 2/3rd down if possible so long as snow line is below.
    For this system , I would use a MNDC Box panel IMG_4503.JPG for all the breakers , It can house the combiners & main inverter breaker , with the WBjr & shunts plus the SPD & grounds . One breaker panel for all. Ran 4 PV wires in & one ground wire # 6 for the entire house .
    Use that for the neutral bonding as well . Im shooting for a ref & freezer full time & then what ever is spare. Being - cold in winter outside deep freezer hardly work , while were only on the fridge & water pump for the winter , the harvest should be more than enough.
    Summer harvest is less & now both coolers are working full time.
    chelloveck and MountainMariner like this.
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