Monday, October 11, 2010

Solar panel acquired...Charge Controller input needed...

This 230 watt panel made by Canadian Solar was added to the collection over the is HUGE at 39" x 66". The other pics are of my energy storage system...two 6 volt golf cart batteries made by Energizer (great price at Sam's Club), battery charger, LED lighting, 80 and 200 watt inverters, digital multimeter...all from Harbor Freight. And, the 12 volt splitter is from Radio Shack.

I've been playing with the batteries, charger, lights and inverter for the past few weeks to get a feel for the setup. At night my home office is brightened using three of the yellow LED lights. It does not compare in brightness to a standard 60 watt incandescent bulb, but it is very good lighting when you consider how little energy they use. The cell phone is charged using the pictured car charger (plugged into the splitter with the blue light illuminated), and after the laptop gets occasional use its battery is topped off using the 80 watt inverter. I'm pleased with the 200 watt inverters performance, but it has a noisy fan that comes on as soon as you place a load on it. The 80 watt inverter has no fan and functions without noise pollution, a definite bonus (both inverters have a USB charging port as well). I was planning to log detailed data on the batteries capabilities, but after the first three nights of usage I quickly realized this small battery bank is everything I need for now. My office currently has the ability to keep running during prolonged power outages and this setup will make life in Montello civilized during multiple days of cloud cover, without running the backup generator.

Last April we spent four days and three nights in Montello. The entire trip was largely cloud covered due to a storm front...Solution: AIR X wind generator ( Accompanying the storm front was persistent and high speed winds. I'm expecting this combination of solar and wind generation will be ideal for keeping our electrical needs supplied year round in Montello. (Thanks again to Guy for the AIR X sourcing!)

The AIR X is a sweet little unit because it comes complete with an on board charge controller. Simply add a pole for mounting and a battery and you're off-grid. On the other hand, the solar panel did not come complete with a charge controller and I am open to any input towards product selection before I place the order later this week. With the higher voltage solar panel I feel it necessary to utilize a charge controller with the MPPT technology to harvest every bit of energy produced. The question comes down to which one. I'm leaning towards the Outback FM60. This unit has the ability to handle 900 watts of solar panel input and is extremely oversized for my setup, but it will allow for future expansion if needed. The only downside is the cost...$508 plus $40 for shipping. I've looked into the Morning Star MPPT units and BlueSky as well. While I'm leaning towards the Outback model, I'd love to hear any input on the subject, especially if you have a less expensive MPPT unit that works well for you.

I'm very excited to get all the pieces connected in a portable system that will allow dual site usage at my home and Montello.

The dream is being fulfilled!!!


  1. Awesome, JT might be able to answer any questions. He would love to help if he can.