Sunday, February 7, 2010

We’re harvesting electricity from the sun

Although it’s been cloudy here, I’ve been watching the solar charge controller for evidence that we’re getting power from the panels. I thought there should be some power even with a

few clouds, but there was nothing. Nada. Zip.

I’ve been concerned that something was wrong,

that maybe I wired things incorrectly when tying the panels together, although I was careful when connecting them.

This afternoon, the sun actually peaked through the clouds. Still, no power. Hmm. I have a separate panel I want to install on the barn.

So, I put the multitester on it to see if it really was too cloudy.

It was putting out over 20 volts when I pointed it toward the sun.

First power reading

We definitely ought to be getting power from the array on the roof.

I climbed up on the roof to check the wiring on the panels. I disconnected on string and put the tester on it – over 90 volts. They were working. So, I came back down and opened the combiner box. I pulled the wires from the panels loose and tested them in pairs to be sure that each of the three strings was working properly. They were.

I decided to check the continuity between posts on the bus bars inside the combiner box. That’s when I discovered the problem. They aren’t really bus bar. Each terminal is only connected to the one on the opposite side; they aren’t all connected together. So, my strings of solar panels were not connected together and not connected to the charge controller.

Once I redid the connections inside the combiner box, the solar charge controller began to register power coming in and to charge the batteries. There isn’t a great deal of power at this point. I think I should be seeing more, but it’s hard to tell. It’s still partly cloudy, not direct sun. I’ll keep an eye on it. If it continues to register lower wattage than I believe it should, I’ll check a couple of things to see if it makes a difference.

Anyway, it’s exciting to have power from the sun flowing in to the batteries for the first time.


small farm girl

Congrates! You should be proud! I have dreams about going off grid. Maybe down the road.


We're excited! It was past the peak time for harvesting power when the sun started peaking through and by the time I figured out what needed fixed. I watched it this afternoon as it put 320 watts (11.2 amps) into the batteries -- not much but considering the clouds and angle of the sun to the panels, it was good. I'm hoping for some good sun tomorrow to see what it will do. Once we get the batteries all charged, we're pretty much ready to flip the switch on the grid.

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