Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

It's been a good six months since we last posted, so we figured that we should provide an update on how our system has been progressing.

We ended up installing a smaller 1.2 KW system down near the cabin we're renovating, instead of going for a larger system closer to where we're ultimately planning build our home. We wanted to get a feel for the technology first. Getting help from a local installer was key, and we're very happy both with the resulting system and the learning experience of getting it all installed, commissioned and operational.

We placed six Sharp 224 watt modules on a fixed-angle pole mount rack, connected through a Outback charge controller to a Magnum MS4024 inverter and two strings of Deka II batteries at 24 volts.

While we haven't crunched the data yet, we're seeing over 5 kwh through the charge controller on a sunny day in October, so we're pretty happy given our high latitude.

But first, some photos:
attachment.php?attachmentid=2153&stc=1&d=1318833330 attachment.php?attachmentid=2154&stc=1&d=1318833330
The inverter, and the view inside the e-panel. Nice and tight.

attachment.php?attachmentid=2155&stc=1&d=1318833330
The battery strings, ready for the covering wooden box.

attachment.php?attachmentid=2156&stc=1&d=1318834157
Mounted solar panels, with the shed for the electrical equipment in the background.

As we approach the rainy season, the next project will be to get the waterwheel hooked in. We're also going to switch over to a TriStar MPPT to replace the older Outback, and plan to add a Magnum ME-MW-W monitoring kit, along with a power consumption meter to allow us to monitor our power use and generation.

Given our preliminary power consumption numbers, we figure that we're going to need to add some panels, especially given that we're leaning towards purchasing a less expensive refrigerator (we'd rather invest in more panels instead of a Sunfrost). We'll have more hard numbers in November when we're moved in, hooked everything up, and we can more accurately measure our consumption. Plus, it often is overcast for weeks on end, so the coming months represent the worst of the year, solar-wise.

It's been very exciting, we've learned a lot, and we are looking forward to operating our system, expanding it, and at some point in the next few years, embarking on constructing a larger one.
House: 2x SMA SI 6048 w 24x 2V DEKA Unigy II; 2x SMA SB 3000TL-US w 24x Sharp ND-H235Q2
Cabin: 1x Magnum MS4024 w 24x 2V DEKA Unigy II; 1x Morningstar TS-MPPT-60 w 6x Sharp ND-H235Q2; 1x 200 Watt Harris microhydro
Intertie: 1x SMA WB 3800; 1x Lambda GEN-600 DC Supply; 2x PSL pQube

Comments

  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Posts: 3,009Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    Looks really good and sounds great. And the fact that you might harness water power along with it is awesome! I've got that combination and am extremely pleased with it!
  • icarusicarus Posts: 5,108Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    Very nice,

    My only concern at quick glnce from far, would be wind loading on the panels and thpole mount.

    I was just in Newfoundland last week and saw some similar sized pole mount arrays tht had been bent like pretzels, with a number of panels that had been destroyed du e to torquing.

    I know that thE Gulf island don't get the exposure of the west side of Vancouver Island, (or Newfoundland) but it might be worthy of a thought.



    T
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Posts: 3,009Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2
    icarus wrote: »
    I was just in Newfoundland last week

    T

    Very interesting that so many of us on this form are from, or have connections to Canada. Too bad NAWS wouldn't set up an outlet up this way.
  • BB.BB. Posts: 27,348Super Moderators admin
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    They can call it Northern Alberta Wind & Sun. ;)

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2
    BB. wrote: »
    They can call it Northern Alberta Wind & Sun. ;)

    -Bill

    That would be Northern Alberta Wind & Snow.
    Trust me on this one. :p
  • techntrektechntrek Posts: 1,366Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    LOL, Cariboocoot.

    David & Laura, if I remember right you were going to put your PV on top of the hill and there was some debate on going with high-voltage DC or AC to make the run down to your house. Wasn't there going to be a cell phone repeater, too? Hard to tell from the one pic but it doesn't look like the top of a hill. How did your placement & system choices work out?
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • David and LauraDavid and Laura Posts: 139Solar Expert
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    Re #2 — We see from your sig that you're running your microhydro through a tristar MTTP. How do you find that is working? What are you using to control your diversion load?

    Re #3 — It's a 6 inch steel pole embedded in a four foot deep concrete pad, so we're pretty confident that it's not going anywhere, at least not until after those trees come down first... Fortunately we're somewhat sheltered from the wind, a luxury we won't have at the other location, but even there it doesn't get too bad —*not at all like on the west side of Vancouver Island where there is nothing to protect you from the Pacific storms that sweep in.

    We picked up a Davis weather station we're be to be installing later this year, so we'll get some visibility into the wind strength and direction, but so far, so good.

    Re #7 — You are correct. We ended up setting up a smaller system closer to the cabin we're renovating. It's in a bit of a depression, so it doesn't get as much sun as the ridge does, but it's close by, and there was a shed we re-purposed to hold the power equipment and batteries.

    Longer term, we'll be setting up a larger system up on the ridge where we will be setting up the communications tower.
    House: 2x SMA SI 6048 w 24x 2V DEKA Unigy II; 2x SMA SB 3000TL-US w 24x Sharp ND-H235Q2
    Cabin: 1x Magnum MS4024 w 24x 2V DEKA Unigy II; 1x Morningstar TS-MPPT-60 w 6x Sharp ND-H235Q2; 1x 200 Watt Harris microhydro
    Intertie: 1x SMA WB 3800; 1x Lambda GEN-600 DC Supply; 2x PSL pQube
  • icarusicarus Posts: 5,108Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    D&l,

    It is not the pole that would worry me, but the leverage of the PV being worked on b y the wind away from the center of the pole. As I said, I have seen the racking on a number of pole mounts bent to pretzels from wind, of course damage to th e PV as a result.

    I'm no engineer, and I am sure you have thought this through,, but just my observation from afar.

    Tony
  • KeithWHareKeithWHare Posts: 140Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2
    ...
    and two strings of Deka II batteries at 24 volts.
    ...

    From the picture of the batteries, it looks like both the positive and negative connections are on the same batteries rather than the usual recommendation of using the positive connection at one end of the string and the negative at the other end.

    If I understand correctly, this will result in uneven charge and discharge.

    Keith
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 3,630Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2
    icarus wrote: »
    D&l,

    It is not the pole that would worry me, but the leverage of the PV being worked on b y the wind away from the center of the pole. As I said, I have seen the racking on a number of pole mounts bent to pretzels from wind, of course damage to th e PV as a result.

    I'm no engineer, and I am sure you have thought this through,, but just my observation from afar.

    Tony

    Most definately the weak point in a pole system that needs to be adressed is the transition from the center or pole, to the array. The next thing is panel bolts loosening on a tracker and in a blow and coming off and damaging the rest of the array. The next is someone using below schedule 40 pipe. All the engineered strength calculations are based on schedule 40.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • David and LauraDavid and Laura Posts: 139Solar Expert
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    Re #9 & #11 — Here's a photograph showing the transition from the pole to the rack. It's designed so that the system can be adjusted in angle and orientation by loosening the bolts, rotating the frame, then tightening them again.
    attachment.php?attachmentid=2158&stc=1&d=1318974473

    Hopefully this provides a little more visibility into the transition structure.

    Re #10 — The cells are arranged as follows:

    DC - => Cell 1 => Cell 2 => Cell 3 => Cell 4 => Cell 5 => Cell 6 => Cell 7 => Cell 8 => Cell 9 => Cell 10 => Cell 11 => Cell 12 => DC +

    DC - => Cell 13 => Cell 14 => Cell 15 => Cell 16 => Cell 17 => Cell 18 => Cell 19 => Cell 20 => Cell 21 => Cell 22 => Cell 23 => Cell 24 => DC +

    The string loops around at the end:
    attachment.php?attachmentid=2159&stc=1&d=1318974926
    House: 2x SMA SI 6048 w 24x 2V DEKA Unigy II; 2x SMA SB 3000TL-US w 24x Sharp ND-H235Q2
    Cabin: 1x Magnum MS4024 w 24x 2V DEKA Unigy II; 1x Morningstar TS-MPPT-60 w 6x Sharp ND-H235Q2; 1x 200 Watt Harris microhydro
    Intertie: 1x SMA WB 3800; 1x Lambda GEN-600 DC Supply; 2x PSL pQube
  • solarvicsolarvic Posts: 1,045Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    Them racks look like the Zomework ones I have. I think they are preety solid and hefty. :Dsolarvic:D
  • icarusicarus Posts: 5,108Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    Are the clamp bolts on the elevation and azimuth through bolts or just friction bolts?

    Tony
  • solarvicsolarvic Posts: 1,045Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    If they are zomeworks like mine, bolt just tightens against pipe. :Dsolarvic:D
  • David and LauraDavid and Laura Posts: 139Solar Expert
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    Re #14 — They are friction bolts, in order to allow the mount's orientation and angle to be adjusted.
    House: 2x SMA SI 6048 w 24x 2V DEKA Unigy II; 2x SMA SB 3000TL-US w 24x Sharp ND-H235Q2
    Cabin: 1x Magnum MS4024 w 24x 2V DEKA Unigy II; 1x Morningstar TS-MPPT-60 w 6x Sharp ND-H235Q2; 1x 200 Watt Harris microhydro
    Intertie: 1x SMA WB 3800; 1x Lambda GEN-600 DC Supply; 2x PSL pQube
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2
    Re #14 — They are friction bolts, in order to allow the mount's orientation and angle to be adjusted.

    Add some good, strong wind and they will be "self adjusting". :roll:
    It would be better if the pivot points were equipped with flanges, with fixed holes on one flange and slotted holes on the other. That way the bolts would tighten the flanges together, increasing the over-all friction area to resist unauthorized changes made by Mother Nature. Depending on the friction available just from bolt ends is not very reliable.
  • Fe-WoodFe-Wood Posts: 96Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    How are you liking the Magnum inverter? I just baught the PAE version of yours- Any tips you would like to pass on?
    Thanks-
    Nice system and location by the way...
  • solarvicsolarvic Posts: 1,045Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2
    Add some good, strong wind and they will be "self adjusting". :roll:
    It would be better if the pivot points were equipped with flanges, with fixed holes on one flange and slotted holes on the other. That way the bolts would tighten the flanges together, increasing the over-all friction area to resist unauthorized changes made by Mother Nature. Depending on the friction available just from bolt ends is not very reliable.
    I have had winds that blew over trees and the end of a hurricane and they never moved yet. been up for 7 or 8 years now. There are 2 bolts that hold the elevation and 1 bolt to keep the mount from spinning. Maybe the posers racks aren,t the zomeworks but sure look a lot like mine. With all the bolts on his I dought if he will have any problems. Inspector that onspected mine thought mine were preety beefy. Also I have probably installed a few big satelite dishes for friends and none of them have moved. :Dsolarvic:D
  • icarusicarus Posts: 5,108Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    The windage presented by a large sat dish is pretty small compared to the shown array.
    I don't mean to be stirring anything up, merely pointing out what I see that might be a problem, having seen similar arrays damaged by wind in other places.

    T
  • solarvicsolarvic Posts: 1,045Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    Guess I can,t worry about what happens, Why I have insurance. My roofs are facing east and west and aren,t pitched enough for mounting on roof. The racks are close to south end of garage and the woods is west and south of me so I get a windbreak from all that. I have to keep the trees trimmed far away from the panels to avoid shading. It is a side hill where my garage is so the pipe holes had to be dug by hand and so did the ditch that conduit is burryed in. It is a bugger trying to keep the weeds cut with a weed whip. I think I want to plant something on the bank that will keep the high weeds away and don,t get high enough that I have to mow anymore. I have a friend that is the president of her mastergardener club. To become a certified mastergardener you go thru a process kind of like the boy scouts do. I might see if she wants to get a crew to plant all this stuff if I buy it. I am worryed more about the new racks I plan to install that is more in the open, but I don,t have enough space where the present ones are without cutting down a half acre of trees. I hope I get some response about my posting on the fork truck batterys. :Dsolarvic:D
  • David and LauraDavid and Laura Posts: 139Solar Expert
    Re: Gulf Island Off-Grid System — Part 2

    First Megawatt!

    Attachment not found.

    It took us over two years to consume this much power. Our average power consumption is around 1.5 KWh per day, and includes cooking with an induction cooktop.

    We've actually generated more then this, but we have a diversion load that burns off all any excess power from the waterwheel as heat. At some point, it would be useful to add a DC power meter to measure how much power is thrown away.
    House: 2x SMA SI 6048 w 24x 2V DEKA Unigy II; 2x SMA SB 3000TL-US w 24x Sharp ND-H235Q2
    Cabin: 1x Magnum MS4024 w 24x 2V DEKA Unigy II; 1x Morningstar TS-MPPT-60 w 6x Sharp ND-H235Q2; 1x 200 Watt Harris microhydro
    Intertie: 1x SMA WB 3800; 1x Lambda GEN-600 DC Supply; 2x PSL pQube
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