Category Archives: Solar

My various solar projects.

Yet another solar update kind of….

I haven’t posted much about my solar setup which in a way is a huge kudos to the system. The reason I haven’t posted about it is because I FORGOT about it. That’s the ultimate compliment to something I can think of. When it works so flawlessly that you take it for granted and don’t even remember its there its doing a GREAT job.

I did make a few changes over the last few months since the last time I posted about it. I added another large 24 volt panel thinking I needed a bit more power. Heck you always need “more power” so that wasn’t something I could get wrong. But it didn’t fix the issue I thought I had.

What was actually happening had more to do with bad connections (rust) and poor design on how I had the batteries connected to the system.

Like most people I had used diagrams found on the net showing how to run the battery cables in all kinds of complicated ways to get the most power out of the batteries. But what I found was that all I needed was to have a common bus bar and have each paired 12 volt battery (they are wired in series to produce 24 volts for each pair of 12 volt batteries) connected directly to the bus bars.

This change DOUBLE the how much power I got from the batteries each night. That’s not a factual math thing as much as what I saw the next morning before the sun came up.

Again part of the problem was corroded connections but even after cleaning those I was almost running out of power before the night was out. Also of note when I say running out of power I actually mean down to 1/2 power since I wont let my battery bank get below 50%.

After moving the cables to a common bus bar I now only show to be using 15% of my battery power each night tops and that’s after adding more load too.

So I highly recommend using bus bars for your batteries with solar power.

A friend is making a battery box for me and I plan on setting up a shutter system to protect my panels in the event of hail. When these get done I will post more pictures of the system.


More Solar updates and car shopping

This entire month has been a mad house work wise so I haven’t had time to do much on my various projects. I did get a free day one day to install two 255 watt 24 volt panels to my system bringing to primary bank to 1 kilowatt or 1000 watts. I’m running multiple controllers so I’m way above that total but its nice to start switching over to the 24 volt panels vs the 12 volt panels for the house.

The 24 volt panels are more efficient since its a single panel at 24 volts and not two 12 volt panels in series. Also 255 watts is better than 200 watts of two 100 watt panels in series.

The only drawback if there is one is the size of the 24 volt panels. These suckers are HUGE. Almost the size of 4 of the 12 volt panels combined.

I still have a bunch of new parts to add to the system just no time to install them right now.

Hopefully I will be adding two more vehicles to the stable soon. I have my wife’s BMW 528i and a BMW 318i up for sale and both are supposedly spoken for. If they both sell shortly I will be picking up a BMW X5 for myself and a Corvette C5 for the wife.

The X5 will handle the driveway far better than my 323i does and my wife wanted a civilized corvette for her to drive. The C4 is a bit much the way its built for normal driving.

I also managed to get the 24 volt to 12 volt step down converter installed on the house solar setup. With that installed I was able to wire up the in wall usb plugs to power phones and such to do away with all those wall-wart power supplies running up the power bill.

Even went with a 12 volt car cigarette type plug on a few on them and bought a 12 volt version of the power supply for my wife’s notebook computer so its charging and running off the solar setup now.

One annoying thing is I increased the size of the solar setup charging wise but I can’t buy anymore batteries for the system. It seems walmart is having a battery shortage or something. All of their marine batteries are out of stock across the entire country from what I can tell. I checked all over Alabama and surrounding states and then randomly across the country. All out of stock. Since you basically have to use the exact same batteries across your entire battery bank to work right I’m stuck till walmart gets more in.

I searched for news stories or even anyone else commenting on the shortage but couldn’t find any information anywhere. Oh well I will just have to wait it out.

Well that’s it for now.

Catcha laterz !


Solar Update 12-30-2016 Mower to Generator Conversion

Almost the end of the year and looking back on the progress of my solar setup over the year I think it turned out pretty good.

I’m at 900 watts total power and I’m producing around 2 kw a day with that which isn’t to bad.

Most of the 110 volt needs are met with solar now. I still have to purchase a 220 volt inverter to handle the 220 volt appliances. That will happen later in the coming year.

I will be adding a section on my new generator solution for charging my batteries. Most people use a gas generator to power their home when their batteries are low from bad weather and general heavy clouds. I own a gas generator with the idea of using it as a back in the same situation. But this struck me as kind of a stupid way of handling the issue when you think about it.

The norm is to make AC power with a gas generator to supply your AC needs during cloudy or bad weather and then use that same generator to run an AC battery charger to charge the DC batteries. Not only does this not work that well it makes you go through gas very fast.

My solution? Simple. Don’t use the AC generator at all. I don’t need AC anyway. I need DC to charge the batteries. I already have inverters that are far more efficient than a gas generator so I just need my batteries charged. So all I need is an alternator like a car has to charge my batteries back up in the event of clouds or bad weather. So I took an old mower I had that the deck had rusted out.

I think you will have to agree its yard mowing days were over without a new $700 deck and it was cheaper to just by a new mower when all was said and done.

I removed the deck and I’m in the process of mounting a 24 volt 100 amp alternator where the deck was. Presto killer power to charge the battery banks back up.

Also it will use far less gas running the 15.5 hp riding mower vs the 6 hp gas generator.

That may not make much sense at first but you have to take into account the mower is basically idling since the alternator is run thru a belt on pulleys and the generator is direct drive so the motor has to spin at whatever rpm is required to make 110 volts. An alternator will make power from 800 rpm on up easily but the generator has to spin at 3600 rpm to make 110 volts.

So even though the mower has a larger displacement engine on it the gas generator is using a ton more gas because its having to spin so much faster.

I will have a howto page on the conversion soon showing how I did it and how my inverter will crank the mower when the batteries need recharging without me even being here.

It sure is nice DRIVING my generator to the battery bank now and charging them up vs lugging that AC generator around by hand.

Not to mention DRIVING it back out of the way when I’m done with it. But I actually have setup a spot beside the battery bank in the last few days so it can be remote started and stay connected.

Well here’s wishing everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

See you in 2017 !


Solar Power

Well I haven’t posted much lately from lack of free time. I kind of went overboard playing with solar power.

What started out as a simple method of charging my cars and trucks that I don’t drive that much turned into powering my home with solar power.

I’m going to add a section on the site covering my solar endeavors shortly.

Well that’s all for now.