Sunday, October 21, 2012

Winterizing my Solar Power System

I decided to get cracking on winterizing my solar power system, and it seemed to open up a can of worms that I am annoyed to have discovered.

I was having more and more trouble keeping up with my power requirements. The third panel helped briefly, and I am certain that it will give me a large surplus come summer, but at the moment I can use some help.

Using the generator on a regular basis is something I would have rather not done, but seeing just how low the sun has gotten, and how briefly it makes its appearance, I have resigned myself to running it through the winter to power our washing machine and water pump, and to boost our batteries.

To help our batteries and charger, I added a few inches of insulation around the batteries, as well as a temperature sensor for the charger so that it could boost the voltage when the temperature dropped.

Surprisingly though, the first time I ran the generator it was unable to give the batteries more than a cursory charge.

I purchased a much larger charger and ran the generator again. This charged the batteries, but they rapidly depleted again after I shut it down.

After a few phone calls, it appears that none of my equipment is able to equalize my batteries. This is disappointing, but likely my own fault for not listening carefully enough to the limitations of my system.

At this point, I have actually taken my batteries to town to have them equalized over the course of a few days. I will perhaps repeat this in the spring. I am told that I am approaching quickly the time when I may want to upgrade to a 24 volt system rather than a 12 volt one. This will require a larger up-front investment, but is overall cheaper per watt. Sigh.

In the meantime I have some 117 pound loaner batteries that required the tractor to deliver to the yurts. I'm tickled that my box seems to hold them well!

 

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