Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Solar power: more installation

Well, I changed what I installed previously. I was going to have components on two walls, but as I looked at it and figured things, I decided it would work better to put it all on one wall. So, I moved the two components I put up last week and added some more.

Last week I bought some wire and other supplies from Richardson Electrical and Plumbing Supply in Glasgow, Kentucky. There were a couple more items I needed that I bought at LS Supply, and there are a couple more I need to get. Even when I figure ahead of timeinstalled components, it always seems that I forget or overlook a few things.

I set the disconnect box and charge controller first. Then, I mounted the inverter. The directions for it said that the preferred method was to mount it fan down. That also works best for running conduit straight from the disconnect box to the inverter. I had some heavy gauge cables I was going to use for the previous 3,000 watt inverter (which I just sold on Ebay for about $40 more than I paid, including shipping). These were too big for the new inverter. I was able to use 6 gauge wire, according to the Exeltech specifications.
Inside the disconnect box
I am still waiting to receive the Iota DLS 27-40 charger that I ordered. It will mount to the left of the disconnect box. I’ll run 6 gauge wires from it into the box and connect them to where the positive and negative battery cables are connected.

I’m endeavoring to keep the wires neat inside the box. I’ve routed them carefully and zip-tied them together. Since the 2-inch conduit for the battery cables isn’t connected to the battery box, I was able to route the wires for the battery meter out through it. I also ran the wire for the battery temperature sensor through the disconnect box and out the 2-inch conduit on the bottom. This is preferable to running it outside the box.
12 volt panel and 24-to-12 volt converter
One of the options I’m building into the system is a panel for 12 volt applications. I don’t know what I’ll use it for yet, but I want the option. Since the battery bank is 24 volt, I have a step-down converter that will output 12 volts to a Square-D QO breaker box (the QO line is rated for AC and DC). I’ll be able to wire off of the breakers in this box to outlets I can install in the house to run 12-volt fans, appliances, or lights as desired.

I rewired the battery bank. Previously, I wired it into two banks of six batteries each at 12 volts in order to put a 12-volt charger on the batteries. It’s now wired to be 24 volts. I temporarily connected it to the box to check the inverter. It worked!

I’m going to run wires out to the combiner box I made, which I’ll mount just outside the wall where these components are mounted. Then, once I mount the panels on the roof, I’ll just have to wire them into the combiner box for the batteries to be charged by the sun.

From the inverter, I still have to run a wire to hook into the AC panel in the house. This will be a short section that will go under the storage room where the components are and up through the floor into the kitchen behind where the electric stove is sitting. In a junction box, I’ll tie the lines from the inverter to the wires for powering the electric stove. In the AC breaker box, I’ll disconnect the main lines coming in from the power company (the power will be disconnected outside at the disconnect breaker during all of this) and attach the wires that were previously for the electric stove. We won’t have 200 amp service, but it will be sufficient to run our refrigerator, lights, computer, sewing machine, washer, and other loads.

Before I get the solar up and going, I think I ought to install the propane on-demand water heater I have still in the box. I don’t like cold showers, and our system certainly won’t power an electric water heater.


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