Saturday, August 4, 2012

Installing the Battery Box for my Solar Power System

Yesterday was Friday - Sauna Day here! This is the day where we all make a push to do some dirty, sweaty work, knowing that at the end, we can traipse over to Mummu and Grandpa's to enjoy their sauna. 

Kenny took this opportunity to try out my masonry hammer on some of the more stubborn rocks that poke up through our pathways. He really enjoyed pounding them into dust, and after his first few swings, I insisted that he put on the face shield I used when I ran the table saw. He was tickled pink to knock off a few sheets of mica, thinking that perhaps he had discovered some gold leaf!

 

In the end, it appears that he was feeding his inner native - fashioning a rather impressive stone axe, sans bindings.

 

His father, on the other hand, decided to buckle down and get the solar power system upgraded. Earlier in the morning, the onset of the freezer compressor had been presaged by the inverter screeching out a low voltage alert again. We have had a number of overcast days, and so the batteries had again been drained down, in spite of the doubled solar panels. Luckily I had purchased two new batteries and cables, and they were fully charged and ready to step up.

 

I managed to lever the box onto my trailer, and, using the tractor, hauled it over to the collection of plastic totes and tubs that had been serving as my power centre up until now. I lowered it carefully to the ground, waddled it into position, and then set off searching for appropriate rocks to level it out. This was a fun process, rather like tetris. Finally, with Donna's assistance, we had it reasonably level, and I started setting in the components again, this time with double the batteries. The charger I opted to just store in the box, rather than hardwiring it in, as I had originally planned. I hope that I don't have to use the charger very often, so I'm thinking in a pinch I will charge up one of the vehicles if required, and this way I don't have to do a major operation to unwire it.

 

My meter suggested the panels were still putting out a little over five amps, which was okay, considering how overcast the day was. The batteries were up to around 12.5 volts - pretty low, but good for a day or two of powering just the freezer (fridge? - we still haven't gotten our head around what to call it...)

 

Donna and I muscled the roof into position, and that's when I discovered that it was slightly askew. I'm sure it was just because I had rolled it around so much while installing the insect screening and vinyl roofing. I weighed down opposite corners with some rocks, and already today I can see that it has tightened back up.

 

Today is also a bit of a blessing at the moment, as it started out with heavy rain and thunder on the yurts but now it is sunny and the panels are basking in it.

 

Two problems that I will have to address with the new setup - I can no longer easily monitor anything about the system. The electronics are all boxed up! I think I will just purchase a cheap multimeter and permanently wire it up to the batteries, so that I can monitor voltage more easily.

 

The second, more challenging issue, is that the box is close to the pole mount, and the roof is steep, so the bottom of my frame actually hits the roof when I rotate it to face the morning sun. I will likely saw off the bottom edge of the frame, which is unneeded anyway, and also perhaps raise the pole a few inches to accommodate the winter angle of the panels, which is steeper, and takes up more vertical space.

 

As an aside, today I purchased much of the materials to get water pumped from our well up to the yurts/cistern/sauna. Again, Dave at Maier hardware is the man! I can't speak enough to his knowledge and willingness to share it, as well as his patience at listening to my crazy ideas. I'm sure there will be much grist for a future blog post in how I eventually get water from our well.

 

Now it's almost time to start our bedtime routine here, as we are serenaded by Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap.

 

2 comments:

  1. You have done your project well. It is great to hear that private citizens like you really take time to make solar power installations better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It can be challenging, but I try... The learning curve is steeper than I expected!

      Delete