Friday, August 6, 2010

Solar Upgrade

We had a old 12V solar system when we moved in, the only way you could realistically use it with refrigeration was if you had a gas fridge. So we had to either upgrade the solar or get a gas fridge, the latter didn't appeal, we would be using more gas (above cooking requirements) for ever ! and no, we don't have a generator for a backup, if we get lots of rainy days, we simply cut way back on all optional power uses (ie no computer etc)

The old 12V system had 15x70 W panels (1kW), a 1000W inverter, with 2 x 830Ahr batteries (cough !) for storage.
Old panels

Old batteries

We managed to sell the above system to a local who wants to put a small system on a cabin he owns.
The new 48V system has 12 x 170W panels (2kW), with a 5000W inverter and 8 x 1050AHr batteries for storage. That's a 100% increase in generation capacity, a 400% increase in battery storage and the batteries themselves are 20% higher in capacity. Remembering, we have decided NOT to go with a generator backup, which nearly everyone seems to do (seems odd to me that people have a too small a solar system and run the "gennie" often, capital outlay I guess ) and ouch, aren't those batteries expensive, to all those observing the "high" cost of mains electricity. It would have cost me about the same to get the mains connected as the solar install. We had to get the house completely re-wired as well, it was a real mishmash of 12V and unsafe 240V.

New panels, shed with electronics (inverter, regulator etc) and battery storage

New batteries in shed (awaiting steel frame door)

The batteries are very heavy, each 6V battery weighs 143 kg, are 1050 Ahrs  and there are 8 of them.

The bigger inverter lets me run power tools to do chores; like drill holes in the self harvested logs for the stirrup mounts to repair rotting logs in the chicken run, use the microwave instead of the gas oven/cooktop to reheat things, use an electric toaster instead of the gas griller, electric kettle instead of a stove top gas kettle etc etc, the power is of no extra cost.

The new system has been running for 3 weeks, hell we listen to the radio now (we don't have a tellie) :)
So we are self sufficient in power, water (which is pumped via an electric pump from our solar system in the day to a tank on the hill) , heating, more and more self sufficient with veggies, any roosters we breed will be killed for meat, and maybe rabbits next year (legal down here) for meat, albeit Toni is thinking of guinea pigs as they are VERY low maintenance, can run around in the enclosed orchard and can be eaten, Peruvians love 'em apparently ! Me, I am not so sure but will try most things once.
and for something completely different, a pic of the eggs I collected when I was taking pics of the new solar panels :)

It's been a big move from city living in tropical North Qld, to rural living in northern NSW. Here's a pic of our little cottage, looking back across the Dam
That's the "office" at the upstairs loft window


Nice setup, what's the go with the solar mount - looks like wooden stumps with gal pipe attached?

Cheers, "affable" (from whirlpool)

They are four treated poles, about the diameter of a powerpole, with angle iron supporets, attached to a galvinised box steel frame that the panels are attached to.

Looks great, can you give some info on the batteries. Cost and manufacturers name etc.



Wayne. It was a few years ago now. The entrie thing would be changed, running Li ION batteriess for example if I was doing it again and prices of panels change regularly as well but thanks for reading :)

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