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My Solar System Upgrade

hoarder

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#41
solar shingles were available 5-6 years ago when i was checking into them......
I remember reading about them. Seemed impractical (electrical connections). I guess they never took off.
 

ttazzman

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#42
I remember reading about them. Seemed impractical (electrical connections). I guess they never took off.
i was needing to reroof a house in town and seriously looked into them......the electrical connections were excessive and impractical ..they were relatively expensive at the time....they were untested as to durability as a roofing product with no lifespan guarantees...and they weren't very efficient....for me they just weren't feasible at all.......

for overall feasibility and practicality its damn hard to beat your setup.....metal roof and mounted panels
 

tigerwillow1

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#43
Having both roof and ground mount panels I can say I greatly prefer the ground mounts. Easy to push the snow off, easy to clean, less risk of microinverter failure due to heat, and easier to work on if the need ever arises. The only downside I see was previously mentioned, they look a lot more inviting to a vandal. On the other hand, words can hardly describe the frustration of the snow covered panels producing zero-point-zero on the cold sunny days following a snowfall.
 

hoarder

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#44
Having both roof and ground mount panels I can say I greatly prefer the ground mounts. Easy to push the snow off, easy to clean, less risk of microinverter failure due to heat, and easier to work on if the need ever arises. The only downside I see was previously mentioned, they look a lot more inviting to a vandal. On the other hand, words can hardly describe the frustration of the snow covered panels producing zero-point-zero on the cold sunny days following a snowfall.
If you keep the panels 2 or 3 inches above the metal roof there is no issue with heat, at least not up here in Montana. The snow buildup is an issue, but with a 10 in 12 pitch it seldom stays up there for long, never for 48 hours. I don't expect to need to repair any panels in my lifetime. If I do, I can always disconnect the offending panel without climbing the roof, then hornswaggle some nimble young buck to climb up there when the opportunity arises in milder weather.

Having panels mounted anywhere else in a 40 MPH wind does not seem enticing to me.
 

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#45
FWIW.... I am using 16 @ Dekka 8L16 batteries. Plenty of power storage in our completely off-grid home. Looked at Trojans but did not think the additional expense was warranted. Previous set lasted of 8L16's lasted 7 yrs..... and were highly abused due to experimentation. I anticipate 10 yrs or longer from the new set....hopefully!
 

nickndfl

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#46
FWIW.... I am using 16 @ Dekka 8L16 batteries. Plenty of power storage in our completely off-grid home. Looked at Trojans but did not think the additional expense was warranted. Previous set lasted of 8L16's lasted 7 yrs..... and were highly abused due to experimentation. I anticipate 10 yrs or longer from the new set....hopefully!
+1 on Dekka batteries. Great for diesel trucks and not overpriced!

How about burying wires in a pole mount installation much like installing a satellite tv system? In Florida most of the solar is for heating water with little electrical involved.
 

mtnman

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#47
I remember reading about them. Seemed impractical (electrical connections). I guess they never took off.
Long ago Automobiles were considered "impractical" too.
 

hoarder

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#48
My battery box is now 6" taller and will accommodate eight L-16 batteries. While I was at it, I built a swivel boom to hoist the 120 pound batteries in place.
 

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ttazzman

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#49
.......lol.....you must like to weld and grind......i think i woulda just laped it and stitched a filet weld on it ......you worked your arse off on that....

++++1 on the boom pole
 

hoarder

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#50
.......lol.....you must like to weld and grind......i think i woulda just laped it and stitched a filet weld on it ......you worked your arse off on that....

++++1 on the boom pole
I figured the results would look best this way, besides, I already had a long

piece of 1/8" x 6" and I wanted to raise it the full 6" since the L-16's are about 7" taller.
 

mtnman

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#51
My battery box is now 6" taller and will accommodate eight L-16 batteries. While I was at it, I built a swivel boom to hoist the 120 pound batteries in place.
Ah yes, a swivel boom, MUCH cheaper than Hernia surgery!
 

hoarder

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#53
LOL........the main thing is to NOT turn the whole contraption over hoisting the first battery into the box.....:)
There's about 5" of concrete in the bottom. I originally built it with a rebar bottom, then filled it with dry bags and watered it. It frost heaved a little and isn't completely level any more.
 

blueice

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#54
Hoarder, interesting thread!

Could you share the price of each of the new panels and what percentage
of power they would supply to your nice looking home.:questionmark:
 

hoarder

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#55
Hoarder, interesting thread!

Could you share the price of each of the new panels and what percentage
of power they would supply to your nice looking home.:questionmark:
The panels cost me $350 each. They can be had cheaper, but I get my major components from a local solar place who provides hours of free expert consultation with their senior installer which prevents me from making expensive mistakes. Also such large components are undeliverable at my home and I avoid shipping/return headaches by buying locally.

Since I am installing eight panels, each one will provide 12.5% of the total solar power. In the winter, they provide about 75% (guessing) of the power to my home and the rest is provided by a gasoline generator.
 

<===Foolsgold

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#56

hoarder

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#57
Hoarder are you able to get any tax break from the Federal govt?

I live in the great state of NY (:puke:) and I must have a contractor build mine to qualify for the rebates. The rebates are very generous 55%.

I'm also interested to hear what Elon Musk will announce about his home battery program - http://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-april-30-battery-announcement-2015-4

http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/NY-Sun-Initiative
As I understand it, I will qualify for a Federal rebate. I'm told I don't have to have it done by an installer to qualify. The panels need to qualify as "made in USA". I guess that means they get made in China and come here for decals to qualify as such.
Montana also has a rebate of 35%, I don't know the details.
 

Mujahideen

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#59
Thought you might find this interesting.

 
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hoarder

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#60
Thought you might find this interesting.
By the time my next set of batteries are shot, something better may be feasible. There is a lot of energy storage technology out there now that's amazing and interesting.
Right now, dollar for dollar, there is nothing more cost effective than FLA batteries. That stands for flooded lead acid. Basically the same technology cars in the thirties had.
 

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hoarder

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#61
I got the two panels installed which are on the West side of the gable, along with the Outback FM-80 charge controller. This new system is nominal 24 volts, the old was 12 VDC, so I had to replace all the DC light bulbs in the house and shop, which set me back another $300. I'm also going to replace the DC bathroom fan, range vent fan, booster (water) pump and a gearmotor that operates a casement window in a high inaccessible gable.

The six panels that go on the East side of the gable are not installed yet, but the new system is otherwise operational with the two West panels and the old 12 volt panels are still in place but out of service..

The new panels are wired two in series, eventually four sets of two in series, as the new controller can handle a wide variety of input voltages.

All the electrical work was simple and worked fine the first time around. The only WTF moment was when I hooked the batteries back up (which are now wired in two 24 volt strings), the wires arced when I went to connect them to the new system. I had every breaker off and the panels unhooked. It turned out that the output leads of the old 12 VDC Iota battery charger was putting a load on the system.

As you see, I use Square D "QO" type boxes and breakers for all my distribution, as they are compatible with both AC and DC and much less pricey than distribution systems offered by solar component manufacturers. I'm even using one of these cheap $24 boxes as a combiner box where all the panels come together. I just hook up the panels to the "load" terminal of the breaker and they operate in the "backfeed" mode.
 

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Ishkabibble

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#62
and the old 12 volt panels are still in place but out of service.
I am just North of you friend, and planning a road trip to Montana in the next month or two. If you are interested in selling the panels, please PM me a price and the specs. If they match up with my system, I might just take them off your hands.

:)
 

hoarder

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#63
I am just North of you friend, and planning a road trip to Montana in the next month or two. If you are interested in selling the panels, please PM me a price and the specs. If they match up with my system, I might just take them off your hands.

:)
I'm planning to use them on my shipping container camp.
 

Ishkabibble

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#64
Ah, no worries. It's good to know they'll still be of use.

I'll be moving out of my RV at the end of this month. After two years living within, my solar panels have paid for themselves a dozen times over. Not in power, but in the convenience and comfort they have provided. May your system provide similar dividends.

I don't think many go solar and then revert back. My solar experience was a one-way trip. Sustainability is something to cherish.
 

hoarder

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#65
All 8 new panels are now up and operational.
 

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hoarder

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#67
I found a good deal on Trojan L-16 REB flooded lead acid batteries, $325 each outright for eight of them and installed them in the battery box. I made up cables from some welding cable I had and ebay solder terminals, then shrink tubed the ends.
These batteries should last 8 or 9 years in this application. The 7 year old T-105's I took out are still good according to voltmeter and hydrometer, but not as strong as they were the first couple years. I'll transplant them to my shipping container cabin.
They are a tight fit in this battery box. In hot climates you don't want to do this. With summer loads and charging it's best to have air space between them to keep them cool.
 

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squirk

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#68
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread and appreciate your time and efforts in updating your progress. You mentioned no TV but I was wondering what your off-grid internet options are and what you use? Or for all I know you may just be updating this from a wifi hotspot somewhere in your area. Just curious. TV is something I think I could eventually live without but an internet connection would be a tough one to leave behind.....news, information, family contact, etc.
 

hoarder

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#69
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread and appreciate your time and efforts in updating your progress. You mentioned no TV but I was wondering what your off-grid internet options are and what you use? Or for all I know you may just be updating this from a wifi hotspot somewhere in your area. Just curious. TV is something I think I could eventually live without but an internet connection would be a tough one to leave behind.....news, information, family contact, etc.
Although I'm off the electrical grid, I am connected to a phone landline. I paid to have 7000 feet of cable run to my house so I have DSL.
 

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#70
Update on this project. I installed a Schnieder Electric inverter/charger and switchgear to finish the system. The inverter is a bit complicated but it works fine.

This house is sold new.
 

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southfork

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#71
Awesome, it's been my lifes dream to move off grid at least part time since I was a child, grew up on the South side of pittsburgh, people used to put chairs in front of their house on the street to try to reserve their parking spaces, there were many physical altercations as only one car could pass the streets were so narrow, a friends parents used to have a cabin in the mountains they frequented and took me with them all the time, it was truly heaven.
 

hoarder

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#72
I'm building another off grid home now, I just installed eight 285 watt Solarworld panels on the roof of the garage yesterday (with young people helping me)
solar 009.jpg
solar 008.jpg
.
 

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#74
Nevermind
 
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hoarder

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#75
My favorite color roof, aren't you concerned about heat loss with so many windows?
The windows are going to be triple pane acrylic. South facing should warm it up (passive solar gain) in those rare instances when the sun shines in the winter. It's only the garage so as long as I keep it 40 or 50 degrees I'm happy.
 

Lt Dan

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#76
I'm building another off grid home now, I just installed eight 285 watt Solarworld panels on the roof of the garage yesterday (with young people helping me) View attachment 94028 View attachment 94029 .
Are those rough lumber boards on the porch end of the house and will you be leaving them or covering with metal? If so, what type of wood is it?

I know, you may have stated these answers earlier, but I just found the thread.
 

hoarder

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#77
Are those rough lumber boards on the porch end of the house and will you be leaving them or covering with metal? If so, what type of wood is it?

I know, you may have stated these answers earlier, but I just found the thread.
The vertical boards are 1 x 10 full dimension rough cut local pine. It will be board and batten. Some of the pine has blue streaks. The South wall is steel because that's where the garden will be and I've seen what hard water does to wood siding.
 

Lt Dan

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#78
Sorry for the stupid questions, but what pitch is the roof? I've worked a few that steep, but only in my younger foolisher days. Kinda brings out the pucker factor. These days, even a 4-12 is as steep as I want.

BTW, I do have my own small bandsaw sawmill. Supposed to be able to saw a 21" log, Log would have to be super straight to get the saw to work it, but would still be cutting the first slab off at 17-18 inches. All I get here unless I order logs is hardwood. I saw mostly either 1" or 5/4 boards. Once in a while thicker for something special. I'm in Ohio, so hardwood is very common and easy to get.

Oh, I do like the rough board siding, but most of my buildings are metal or vinyl sided.
 

hoarder

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#79
Sorry for the stupid questions, but what pitch is the roof? I've worked a few that steep, but only in my younger foolisher days. Kinda brings out the pucker factor. These days, even a 4-12 is as steep as I want.

BTW, I do have my own small bandsaw sawmill. Supposed to be able to saw a 21" log, Log would have to be super straight to get the saw to work it, but would still be cutting the first slab off at 17-18 inches. All I get here unless I order logs is hardwood. I saw mostly either 1" or 5/4 boards. Once in a while thicker for something special. I'm in Ohio, so hardwood is very common and easy to get.

Oh, I do like the rough board siding, but most of my buildings are metal or vinyl sided.
The roof is 8 in 12. I admire guys that have sawmills, running them is quite a science. The guy that cut these has a big new Woodmiser. It's all pine, fir or larch around here. They always cut the one byes at full thickness 1", I think they do this for stability. I noticed variation between 7/8" and 1 and 1/16" on mine, but most were 1".
The pine we get around here is either lodgepole or ponderosa, both of which are good for making one byes, but beware of southern pines that warp like crazy.
Some of the boards I got from my supplier were dry and others green. I built a pole barn a few months ago and the fashia boards lost 1/8" in length, which didn't look good. You can get by with green boards but the battens and fashia needs to be dry.
I'm not going to put anything on my boards to protect them. Our ancestors didn't and you'll see many old barns over a hundred years old that never had any stain or sealer and they look weathered but fine. If you stain rough sawn it drinks stain like a sponge and turns much darker than samples so you have to thin it about 50%.
 

Lt Dan

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#80
I admire guys that have sawmills, running them is quite a science. The guy that cut these has a big new Woodmiser.
I have one like this, except mine is on a concrete slab. My dad had a circular bladed saw run by a straight eight Packard engine. Mine is a Hud-son bandsaw, uses Woodmiser blades, and runs on a B&S 10HP gas engine.

bandsaw-mill-saag.jpg