Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Solar Panel / Power Center Pics and Video

So, I'm still getting familiar with my phones video capabilities and more often than not I forget to hold the camera the right way. So, just turn your monitor on end 90 degrees to get the intended effect. I didn't think the viewpoint was that bad, so I choose to have you guys deal with it instead of making another trip to the roof to re-shoot - I am not in love with heights!!!

This is a 230 watt Canadian Solar panel. It measures 65" x 39" and is a beast to manage alone.

The two bus bars in the video where the lights and cigarette lighter are wired into are the main hubs that distribute electricity to appliances. This is also where the inverters will tie into the system to power the occasional AC appliance. I am trying to purchase 12 Volt DC appliances to reduce power loss associated with the inverters and keep the system as small as possible. By selecting the proper 12 Volt DC energy efficient appliances up front you can save many dollars in the end by requiring fewer solar panels.

Case in point, the LED lights in the video use 1.2 watts per hour each. They will run for 50 hours on the same amount of energy one incandescent will require for one hour. To be transparent, it will probably take about six of the LED units to equal one incandescent from a brightness factor, so apples to apples you're looking at about 8 times more efficient. That said, in the evenings I have come to enjoy the softer light of one or two LED units running compared to a bulb that replicates lighting conditions at high noon.

Running 8 LED lights for five hours in the evening, 5 hours of laptop usage, cell phone charging, and cooking dinner in the crock pot for six hours (on an inverter), I require about 800 watts of power. I'm planning on the panel supplying around 1000 watts per day. The snap shot shows the panel kicking out 260 watts per hour (see pic below....volts x amps = watts), which is 30 watts above its rating....which I LIKE!!! Thus, with four hours of direct sunlight I have met and exceeded my quota.

Solar systems are interesting beasts. Batteries don't like the cold so much, but solar panels are most productive in the cold, as is evidenced above. And, the panel is probably 15 to 20 degrees off from facing the sun directly. I think it's time to build the brackets that will allow the solar panels to tilt and face the sun at the best angle at all times of the year! Did I say I'm loving this project????

a few more pics of the panel mounting...


  1. Looks awesome! You did a great job.

  2. I'm going to have to hit you up for information one of these days!!

    Question though... I've heard that the batteries in these systems can produce toxic gas - is that true?

  3. Hey Koda, it could very well be true that the batteries produce toxic gas, but I haven't come across anything in my limited research detailing any toxicity under normal operating conditions. The batteries do produce hydrogen while being charged, which I'm pretty sure isn't toxic, but is flammable. Thus, the protocol for dealing with this is housing your batteries in an almost airtight box with a vent that expels the hydrogen. Hydrogen is lighter than air so it will naturally rise if given a path to do so, but many systems will incorporate a fan for mechanical assistance and peace of mind. That said, I do not have my two batteries in a box or vented...I have read that a battery or two will not produce enough hydrogen to worry about. And, my old house is very drafty so I don't give it a second thought. However, in the 160 square foot container that is almost air tight, you can bet your ass they will be in an appropriate box and vented with a fan to assist! Feel free to hit me up anytime for information. I'll freely share everything I have learned, which is at least enough to get you up and running and probably just enough to be dangerous!!!