Bad Idea? Now We Want Even MORE SOLAR POWER!

Not even noon yet so today I think we’re, going to work on some forward direction with our solar system. It’s, not perfect, but we’re going to do some subtle upgrades, Alyssa’s. Grandpa super generously, a year ago, sorry grandpa sorry grandpa gave us 750 watts in solar panels, but they’re, the wrong voltage for our system.

So they’ve, laid in storage all this time, and we’re, trying to make incremental improvements to the solar setup that we have to try to grow into a system that will work with our future home. That said, things are still a bit temporary, so we’re trying to make the best of what we’ve got right.

Now our system is inadequate, the heat is making our freezer run too much, which is just unfortunately, out running the small 480 watt solar setup. We have right now, if you haven’t seen that video, I think we’ll link to it over here.

We kind of talked about the system that go power was kind enough to let us test drive and it’s been great. Would you agree? Alyssa, like we’ve not had to run the generator a lot. I think it has been great.

I mean our goal was to really offset our generator usage, which I feel it’s done really well for the past year. Yes, we still have to run our generator because we have a freezer now, but last summer we really didn’t have to at all yeah and if you haven’t already seen the video we talked a little bit about.

I think in our battery cables, video where we made our own battery cables, we talked about the used battery bank that we have and, of course that will light a fire under all the solar, solar, pupu heads out there who want to take a crap on used Solar or battery banks, but that battery bank has served us well charged the battery on this camera in our drone and our laptops and everything.

So I think we really want to understand the solar, so we feel that having less than ideal components actually has been good for us, because we understand the limitations of them. That said, we’re looking to upgrade, and I don’t.

Think it’s, bad to always be looking for a little waste upgrade yeah, and now we know what this upgrade means like it does it even mean, but to go from here to there so yep. So we really actually want to be out picking, huckleberries or at least checking our huckleberry picking spots.

But today we want to make some quick changes to the setup. So we recently decided to acquire an Outback flex max 80 charge controller, because this unit will be able to grow with us into our future solar setup.

We & # 39, ve also got a breaker to add to that and we are going to use those on 200 or those 750 watts in panels. The only reason we can even do that is because the Outback charge controller has what’s called step-down capability, so the voltage on the panel & # 39.

S will be coming in pretty high and then the controller will step that voltage down to match our battery bank down the road we’re, going to have to upgrade quite a few components in order to up the voltage on our battery bank.

Like our inverter, for example, is a 12 volt inverter, so we can’t just fiddle for it with the batteries and bump Baba. We’ve got a higher voltage battery bank because the inverter right now will become the bottleneck.

So this will give us around 60 to 70 % more power, and it’s, just power we can use to try to offset the generator. So we’ve got to get this mounted to the panel. Get the breaker wired in Alyssa is going to move some pallets around because it’s summer.

The Sun is almost directly above us. I really don’t have much of a shadow, so we don’t need to build some sophisticated panel mount today. We just need to get the panels out in the Sun and get them plumbed into the controller, and then we’re, going to have to run all the cabling to get everything hooked together and then hopefully we get free power, [, Music ], so That was fast.

That was fast hey. What do you think? Is it cool under there focus boo, boo, mmm, [, Music ]? Oh no. What are you doing, yeah time to say your goodbyes? Should we have a little farewell really retiring them? I am retiring them.

I think it’s time. We’ve outgrown these panels. I think they helped us a lot. Last year I mean we didn’t have any solar at all right. Well, we were able to keep just the RV battery. Horsemen will use hop-up, which is which is huge, that’s.

How we power our internet is off of our RV battery. We’ve got an inverter, so we can shut it on and off, but we used to run the generator for what three four hours to charge the battery RV battery up and with this little panel boom, didn’t run the generator.

Hardly at all, so thank you for your service little panel man, but your days are numbered and so probably another family that you can open. Yeah we’ll, have to see what we can do with this. I’m sure somebody out there that we know needs a set of panels to get started on their off-grid system.

I think in the solar world there’s, a lot of people who are just idealists and perfectionist, and I and I’m, not going to fall people for being that way. Whoever you folks are you guys, build amazing systems, but for less than I on our project, we have to juggle many many different skills.

So we find it comical that when we publish a video about solar, solar people come out of the woodwork and they & # 39. Ve got a million things to say about everything that we’re doing wrong, but a lot of those folks haven’t.

Any idea about running back hose plumbing timber, framing canning, a lot of other things that we have to learn to be good at too so we are, unfortunately, spread quite thin with our system. But I guess what we’re, trying to say to those folks out there who have a level head this lifestyle for us has been about making do with what you have ish.

We try to upgrade systems as we can, and solar is one of those things that’s. Frustrating because upgrading solar is not easy, because the ways are engineered and designed for this project. We happen to have quite a bit of materials and supplies sitting in storage that are doing no good in the component was a charge controller so that’s.

What we’re, going to do, we’re, going to use what we have to make this project work, so we happen to have quite a bit of extra cable with mc4 connectors on it and then from the last project. I don’t even know how this happened, but I must have purchased quite a bit of extra number for cabling, so we’re going to use those today Outback specifies that number four is the minimum size on the cable that you Can use for that battery to charge controller connection? We also had this small 250 amp DC breaker and I think it’s adequate for the solar, because we’re running going to be running such high voltage.

It’s. Rated for 600 volt, so it should be fine for this situation, so that will go in line from the solar panels to the charge controller so that we can shut the array off with a niche like off grid or homesteading.

The lure of the expert is so strong, but I think one thing that’s, really resonated with Alyssa night. With these projects, especially solar. I don & # 39. T know why people get hung up on solar, but they do is that you don’t have to be a genius and you don’t have to be an expert.

You know. Every system has inefficiencies, whether you know it or not. So even if you hire an expert to do this job, you just believe in your mind that they’re, an expert and that they did it perfectly listen.

I always say just because you buy a house that’s already built doesn’t mean that there weren & # 39. T mistakes in that house. You just don’t know what they are, and so with these systems. When we’re building them like we mentioned earlier, we’re learning, how solar works and why different components when they do different things.

Why upgrading that component means a difference in our household, whereas if we were simply just to have a professional come out wire up our entire system? Yes, we would have power, but we have no way to maintain it or service that we would have no clue how it works, and we feel like a lot of folks who have solar or that way there’s, a magazine out there called home Power magazine, which ironically, is geared toward people like us who do these projects ourselves, but when you look at the projects, the vast majority of them are done by contractors, not the homeowner, so the homeowner stands there in front of the house.

Like oh, look at my system, it’s. The best system never was, but they don’t even know how it works. So we’re, not looking for a trophy for being a DIY couple. What we’re saying is don’t, be afraid to start solar is not rocket science, but there is a learning curve to different battery voltages and different.

You know charge controllers and different panel sizing, but the best suggestion we can give to people is first of all try to ignore the heavy critics. There are people out there who want to help, but most people just want to sit in their air-conditioned apartment.

While we’re standing out here in 95-degree heat and point the finger and criticize and that’s, fine, there’s, always going to be armchair quarterbacks who want to criticize but get started start today and you’ll learn start with a small panel.

If you have to you’ll figure out how much power that is in your world and realize that there are so many factors that make solar panels and solar systems efficient. For example, latitude. We’re very far north and so that’s, going to be a factor.

Even if you look at the rating on the panel that’s, going to be an issue with the angle of the Sun, etc. So I’ll get off my high chair, but I just wanted to share that, especially when it comes to power and water.

There’s, so much criticism out there and our recommendation would be get started. You’re, going to make mistakes, but you’ll, learn from them. One thing I learned from our past solar projects is that creating kind of this board type layout before you mount things on the wall is really nice.

So as long as you & # 39, ve got room for this board. You know that you & # 39. Ve got room to do the work that you want to do, and so I’m, actually going to lay everything out here on this board and make some nice measurements so that I feel like you know, things are kind of tidy and I feel Like that’s, more of just a mental thing, but a lot of times systems do work better if they’re built with efficiency kind of layout in mind.

So we might have to run wires, say here or here, but then we can bring this wire down underneath and up and in we can route the wires for the batteries up through here. So I’m, leaving myself plenty of room and what’s nice about this is that you & # 39.

Ve got a nice organized layout, [, Music, ], and so we’re, really close to being able to set this panel in and attach it and then what I’ll do. Is I’ll feed these out to you at the battery box and you’ll feed the solar cables in to me.

Then we’ll work on getting the solar panels connected and all that stuff. We have to hook this to the battery first, so that the the current from the solar panels has a place to go. You always power the controller on first then.

You turn your solar panels on. So we’ll work on getting this powered up to the batteries. First, then we’ll hook. The solar panels in we should be in business, mmm-hmm level, baby [, Music ]. So I already turned the other array off and now we’ll shut the battery bank off and now we can feed our cable into our battery bank and we’re, going to just hook on the lugs to the controller lead.

We got to trim all this because we don’t want all this excess cabling and then that will power up the charge controller and then you & # 39. Ve already got the panel’s all set out. So we’ll connect all those run these wires inside and connect them to the charge controller.

Once we get the charge controller powered on and all the settings correct will flip the array on in the meantime, if you’re bored, those need cleaned. That’s. Why I didn’t bring them over here, but if you want to give them a wash even just a bucket [ Music ], all right all the charge controller battery cables are all wired in looks like with summer.

Here definitely going to have to keep on top of these batteries because you’re, getting pretty hot like a hundred degrees. Today you know they’re, going to start eating up, as we start putting juice to them.

So, just one more thing to add to the to-do list: okay, I’m ready. Okay, I’m, not going to pull it all the way in because we may want to actually put the panel’s farther from the cabin. So I have way more than enough to do what I need to do it’s.

Georgia so line everyone else’s, that home phone and here’s, us well. Who knows when I turn this on, we might make fire might make fires calm down there’s, not going to be any fireworks. I would like to say a couple of things here.

I am super excited, and I know a list is too even for a girl. This is kind of exciting, but a couple of major reasons that the Outback ad was a buying decision for us is that our go power. Stuff is good, but it’s, not great for what we’re.

Doing really. The biggest problem is the distance between our panels and our charge. Controller simple, these pulse-width modification or PWM charge controllers are meant for very short wire runs, which, on an RV, you’re, going to have that maybe 10 or 15 feet, and I think ours is probably closer to like 60 feet.

Maybe 70 feet. That’s, a problem with low-voltage one of the reasons that this is inadequate. Also for what we’re doing. Is it doesn’t? Have any data logging, so it’s purely speculation about how much solar you’d, get in a given day.

The Outback has the ability to create a data log, and it keeps a hundred and twenty eight days worth of data on what happened that day. So there’s, not a lot of like on tour. Now, if it got any solar today and the days where that’s, really critical is on partly cloudy days because the sun’s out and it’s gone it’s out in it’S gone, and so this will help us to start to understand our usage more and our production more one day’s not going to help us much, but over the course of a year you’ll, start to find the ebbs and Flows in what’s available.

Another reason that this charge controller is important for us in the future is that it’s called an MPPT or maximum power point tracking. It allows us to wire the panels out in the field differently so that, instead of sending a lot of amps or current down the wire, we’d, be sending a high voltage down the wire and voltage doesn’t mind going over Long distances, but current or amps starts to run into resistance within the wire and it starts to create heat, and you’re, losing your power, so this system will help us to lose less power over the the run of wire that we need.

So if the panel & # 39, s were the same on both controllers. We would probably be getting maybe 15 20, maybe even 30 percent – more power from this charge controller than this one. If everything were the same as far as distance goes so our panel breaker is installed and we’re going to be breaking the positive wire, so we can close the loop or press this button and open the loop.

This is a 250 amp breaker. So it’s more than adequate for what we’re, trying to support everything’s, all wired in so we’re ready before we put this panel on. I want to just go through the setup on the charge controller.

We need to tell it a few things, one. What English will English, what language got? Those roots? What language you receive? Sorry, we know the rest of the world doesn’t, yet all speak. English que pasa.

So we need to set our language and then we need to tell it what the battery bank voltage is. I’m, pretty sure it auto detects, but let’s just make sure already, but not the Quick Start Guide. Besides, I’m on engineers.

Make this stuff intuitive was just alright, so system voltage. So we could change it to up to sixty volts. We’re, going to be using 12 volts, real, quick that’s. One of the reasons that we chose this charge controller is because it’s of all of working with all of these battery bank voltages.

So in the near future, we’ll, be moving up to probably 24 volts, and so we wanted a charge controller that could do what we needed to do now and later so 24 volts. So it looks like our controller powered on correctly looks like our voltage in is 9.

3 volts. That doesn’t, make any sense, and out is 12.3 hmm. Does it make any sense? So I’m gonna have to figure out what’s going on here. But of course we don’t. Have our panels hooked up yet so we’re, not producing any energy, and it hasn’t gone through its power point tracking.

Yet so let’s, get our panel hooked up and see. If we can get some power coming in, we will need to go through and set some of the other parameters like the float and absorb voltages. I realized we don’t, have the temperature sensor for this controller, which we need to get especially with summer.

It doesn’t really matter, you need it, because it will help to change the algorithm for charging. We learned that harsh lesson over the winter with our inverter charger. So we don’t have that today, but we can at least get the panel’s turned on and set the the voltages to a conservative level.

So let’s, get the panel hooked up with almost Eckelberry 30, almost so time to power on the solar ooh. Look at that says! Wake up morning! So now it’s, trying to figure out the maximum tracking point, which is a really complex thing, have fun researching that it’s an algorithm, and it tries to figure out how to get the maximum amount of current that you can.

For the voltage that the system has where it really shines, I think, is in partial, Sun, so partly cloudy days like that, all right, so it didn’t, take very long, and the controller has already already jumped into its bulk stage an MPPT bulk Which means it’s just doing its power tracking and it’s in bulk stage.

We’re, generating 71 Jewish volts coming in, and the controller is putting out 13 volts at almost 40 amps. So we’ve, already almost tripled the amount of production they were having on our other system.

Now, of course, our panels are Farkle, sir, but that wouldn’t be as big a factor with this charge controller, but this current coming in is three times the amount of current that we’ve, been getting out of our current systems.

So that means that, even though we didn’t quite double the size of our panels, we’re, actually producing almost four times the amount of power confusing right. I’m very happy that, on a beautiful blueSky day, we’re now generating around half the current that our generator puts out when it’s running the difference.

Is this can run all day long right? So it’s, probably what noon? Something like that! So if we can get this much power for the next five hours, that’s, a lot of power that’d, be like Jenna running our generator for almost four hours.

Three and a half to four hours huge upgrade for us. Did you say the solar projects like this, even though we do them in the heat of the day they’re pretty tolerable, given the return that we get. I’d, say so yeah.

I think, like with anything Mel’s good. When you’re done yeah. The good news is when we’re picking, huckleberries later battery’s getting charged heck. Yes, angry sure go do that. I think it’s good enough [, Music, ], [, Music, ]