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Old 01-28-10, 10:19 AM   #1
bennelson
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Default Ben is going Solar!

Well, I finally threw my hat over the fence...

I just ordered 480 watts of PV panels.

Where am I going to put them? I don't know exactly....
Do I have the best solar access of anyone in town? Not really.
Am I going to live totally off the grid? Heck no.

However, I am the type of person who has found that it is best to just get into something. Just start it. I can fantasize about something all I want, but once I just start something, it becomes real and takes on a life of its own.

So, here's what I have for a plan so far.
I need to rebuild my two-car detached garage. It's practically falling down. So, I will rebuild it with the roof facing south, so I can mount solar panels on it.

I already have a number of deep cycle batteries from my work on electric vehicle projects. The solar panels that I ordered are 48V nominal. I can't run a single PV panel to a single battery. I will have to gang up batteries in sets of four.

I don't have good enough solar access, or enough panels to make "Net-Metering" worth-while, but I have most of the parts needed for a battery backup system. I found out that many industrial UPSs run as 48V, the same as the panels. I wrote my buddy, Tom, who works insalvage, to keep an eye out for one for me. I immediately got a reply of "Yep, I got one right here for you..."

Combining the PV panels on the roof, with the 48V UPS, and existing batteries, I will have almost a turn-key power backup system for my house. The UPS is over 2KW, so it will easily run my fridge and (blower and controls of my natural gas) furnace.

These panels are pretty big - about three feet square each.
I also let the woman down the street know about the panels. She has a pontoon boat she is interested in converting to electric. Two panels would mount great on the roof of her boat. They would charge the batteries all week in the sun, and even add a little power to the boat while cruising around during the day.

I just mailed in a check to pay for the panels. It's a $1.50 per watt, plus a bit for shipping. I am actually splitting a pallet-full with two other people, which significantly reduces the cost of the panels and the shipping.

Once the panels actually arrive, I'll take some photos and post them.
Rest assured, I will keep you all up to date on the project.

Want to know what else is cool about 48V panels? They are perfect to charge a 48V EV with. That's right, in my fleet of wacky vehicles, I have a 1977 Citicar, which was originally designed to run on 48V of deep-cycle batteries. I should be able to charge my electric car and electric riding lawn mower straight from the sun!

-Ben

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Old 01-28-10, 11:45 AM   #2
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Awesome Ben! Did you get them through Swee?
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Old 01-28-10, 12:26 PM   #3
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Yep, that was through Swee.

I will be getting 8 60-watt Kaneka PV panels.
I still don't really know what I am doing. However, I do have a subscription to HOME POWER, and if I built an electric car, I am pretty sure I can figure out how to set up a few solar panels.
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Old 01-28-10, 03:24 PM   #4
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I was going to buy some of those panels..

http://ecorenovator.org/forum/solar-...llar-watt.html

http://ecorenovator.org/forum/solar-....html#post5360

But, after about a week, they canceled my order and jacked up the shipping
so that the shipping cost more than the panels..

I've heard these are cheap right now, because the manufacture has come
out with a brand new model and cleaned out their US warehouse.

Even with high shipping, these still seem like a pretty good deal.

Please keep us posted on how your project works out..

Cheers,
Rich
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Old 01-29-10, 05:13 AM   #5
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Great news! I hope you get the solar electrons pumping power asap
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Old 01-29-10, 01:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daox View Post
Awesome Ben! Did you get them through Swee?
What's Swee?
I couldn't find Swee with Google..

Thanks,
Rich
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Old 01-29-10, 03:16 PM   #7
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Haha, Swee is a member of the local EV club. He owns a shop that deals in green stuff.
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Old 02-11-10, 04:05 PM   #8
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Swee is the first name of a friend of ours. He runs the FUTURE GREEN store.

I got the call from Swee yesterday that the solar panels were in.

We did a bulk order of three pallets between 4 or 5 people. The store doesn't have much of a loading zone - only the meter street parking directly in front of the store.

I wanted to get there as soon as I could, knowing the the panels were most likely just leaned up somewhere, taking up space.

Being used to "consumer packaging", I almost expected every panel to be completely covered in inches of styrofoam and cardboard boxes. Nope! These were pallet-shipped - nothing but solar panels stacked on top of each other with some heavy-duty plastic wrap to pin them all in place.

We loaded up my share of the panels into the back of my truck. They fit well between the wheel humps in the back of my Chevy S-10 compact pickup truck.



Today, I tested one of the panels, and then stacked them all in my garage.

In cool, sunny weather, this panel was sending out about 95 volts DC open-circuit! I'm not used to working with HIGH-VOLTAGE panels. Most of my experience with PV has been on 15 watt or smaller 12V units.



If anyone cares to know the specs of the panels, here's a photo of the sticker, right on the back.

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Old 02-11-10, 05:48 PM   #9
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Wow! Great looking panels! I am so jealous!

My little battery 12V battery charger panel came into and it's only about 1'x1'.
But, it should do the job of charging up an old car battery.

http://ecorenovator.org/forum/projec....html#post5677

And, it's UL approved! LOL!


You already know this, but just as a friendly reminder,
I want to warn you about that 97.2 VDC.. It can KILL you.
If you have to work on bare leads from a panel, make sure it's got
a sun-proof cover on it, or you are indoors.


If you decide to change the connectors (to Anderson Powerpoles?),
I would advise doing all the soldering indoors.

The reason I'm hooked on Powerpoles, is I've used them before,
Anderson Powerpoles & Accessories:
And I'm looking to use some on the charger wiring for my tracker project.

Cheers,
Rich
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Old 02-11-10, 09:45 PM   #10
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Always be careful working with electricity!

This is a step up for me. Mostly, my electric car has been running at 96V or so.
Chances are that this solar system will be somewhere between 250 and 500 volts or so. That means being a "real" electrician. No shortcuts - actually do things right. It will end up having several disconnects, etc.

This is HIGHER than household current, and DC to boot! (more sparks! More Fun!)

Covering panels when working on them is always a good idea. I learned that working with solar hot water. On a sunny day, ten minutes in the sun made panels hot enough to burn your hand on!

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