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Old 03-05-10, 06:49 PM   #41
Lex Parsimoniae
 
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OK! Gathering some electrons!

It wasn't Too bad here today. But tomorrow, I'll be out working on the tracker mount..
It's going to be Mostly-Sunny and up to 50F.. But due to the wind, it won't feel it..

If things go well, I'll be checking out one of my little 12V chargers with my tiny panel, very soon!

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Old 03-06-10, 11:59 AM   #42
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Default Computers have bugs, PV has mice!

I checked my single-panel PV test panel setup this morning.

When I opened the garage door, a rodent scurried away - he was small, some sort of vole or mole.

I pulled out the voltmeter to check the batteries.
The four batteries are not perfectly matched, so the voltage was a little higher on two batteries than the other two.

I was also surprised that the number of times the LED was blinking on the solar charge controller indicated that the batteries weren't fully charged. I assume that the settings on the charger were for flooded batteries. I am using gel batteries, which run at a little lower voltage.

I opened up the charge controller to adjust its settings.

Inside, right on the circuit board, was one small mouse poop!

Apparently, the rodent had crawled inside to keep warm! There is only one conduit knock-out hole removed from the controller. All four wires run through it. There is about enough room left for me to stick my little finger through.

Note to self: In finished PV system, use connecting rodent resistant conduit, and mount controls on wall instead of floor.

I have heard that a "computer bug" comes from the early days of electro-mechanical computers. The first time one of those systems didn't work right was from a moth being stuck in a knife switch.

So, maybe computers have bugs, and PV systems have mice!

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Last edited by bennelson; 03-06-10 at 12:09 PM.. Reason: photo - Note that it is a dramatic re-enactment
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Old 03-06-10, 05:29 PM   #43
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When I used this plastic box with a radio astronomy rig, it had a nice warm LNA line driver amp inside.
One cold night, I went out and unlocked the box to find a whole colony of field mice
had made their home there. There was about a pound of lint and little pieces of whatever they could find with an R-factor.

Anyways, I had to fatten up the wires going into the box, so there weren't any little cracks they could squeeze into.

If you look closely at the old coax cable on the left side,
you can see that I wrapped the big ball of metal duct tape around the cable.
Since they never came back, I figure that field mice don't like the feel of shiny metal on their little rat-teeth..
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Old 03-08-10, 08:58 AM   #44
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A couple of people were asking about the overall feel of quality to these Kaneka 60 watt panels.

I am not an expert, as I don't have all that much experience with solar panels, but here are my general thoughts..

The frame is extruded aluminum. It seems solid-enough without being overly heavy. The panel is 38" x 39" and weighs about 30 lbs. It is not so big or heavy that one person can't fairly easily move it around, although I wouldn't want to be on a roof with it by myself on a windy day.



The corners are held together by two screws. I assume these to be stainless.


The power connectors and cables feel solid. This uses "MC3" connectors, which have a nice rubber boot on them, and feel like they seal up nice. Apparently, this is the older style connector and the industry is going to MC4 connectors now. The wire inside the cable feels very solid.

One the panel, one lead is a male connection, and the other is female. To connect panels in series, you simply have to plug one panel into the next, into the next....
Running in parallel means you are going to have to buy a bunch of MC3 cables, which can get expensive fast.

The power lead cover is plastic, and it caulked in - appears to be some sort of silicone caulk?


Here's the specs on the back of the panel.


The side rail extrusion folds to the inside, so any bolts that go through it are hidden. I am not sure what the best way to mount using those side-rail holes would be. The shape of the top and bottom rails would be easy to use some sort of "clip-on/clamp-on" fastener.
Just to test this thing out by having it leaned against my garage, I just ran one bolt through the panel to an angle bracket and a screw going into the wall.

(No that is NOT how I am permanently mounting these...)
Here is some video showing the panel.


Hope that helps answer any questions anyone had about these panels.
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Old 03-08-10, 12:30 PM   #45
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Thanks for posting this valuable review!
The movie shows they have hardly any flex to them.. Good job!
I like the over-all quality. I think those ends are open for drainage.?.

It looks like they anodized the frame rail and then sawed it to fit. IMHO, it should have been anodized on the ends too.

I believe that holes in the center back rail is for grounding. (And maybe an area around it should not be anodized).?.

Just about everything I've seen on the web about mounting, shows them using clamps.

Unirac - Solarmount - DIY Solar Panels & Renewable Energy @ AltE Store

With Unirac being the most popular. They make a 40mm style that should fit your panels.

To my eye, those kind of clamps would make the panels easier to steal..



I only used two nuts & bolts for this test setup, but they are 1/4:20 SS with SS flat washer on the outside and a nylon lock nut (SS) on the inside.
The bolt is 3/4" long, so it can't hit the under-side of the thin-film..



My theory is, you not only need a socket wrench on the outside, but an open-end wrench on the inside to remove this hardware.
That locking nut will be kinda hard to get at and remove..

Plus, you don't have to worry about the nuts falling off because of wind and weather.
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Old 03-08-10, 01:30 PM   #46
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Yes, that smaller hole in the middle back if for grounding.

It DOES appear that the rails are anodized, THEN cut. I suppose a person could put a little black touch-up paint on the end.

I do also like the idea of all stainless steel mounting bolts and hardware.
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Old 03-08-10, 09:35 PM   #47
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I've seen panels installed vertical and sideways on the same roof before,
so I'm wondering why these panels have to be installed This Side Up?

Does the connector box have an opening in the bottom of it?
(Which could allow water inside)?


Thanks,
Rich
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Old 03-08-10, 10:14 PM   #48
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The wires come out the bottom of the plastic box on the back of the panel.

Also, in the frame rails, I noticed there are seep holes in the bottom frame, but not the top, to let water out, but not in.

I don't think it would be a big deal at all if a person had some good reason to mount these panels sideways.
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Old 08-15-10, 08:26 PM   #49
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Hmm, with just a little monkeying around, I can take my garage off-grid!

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Old 08-15-10, 11:34 PM   #50
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Neat setup. That thing is powerful! I've never seen a 48v UPS..
Mine in work is 24v. with two smallish 12v sealed LAs. I think they are around 8Ah..
Your EV batteries must be pretty hefty eh?.?


Anyways, at work we have some AC cords with terminal lugs (also alligator clip versions)
that we use for testing items before installing the AC wiring (filter, fuse, switch & etc).

We have a name for these test cables, we call them Suicide Cables..

We never leave them on the bench after we are done testing.
They go back on the cable hangers. Too much chance of Murphy showing up..

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