First Install - Remote location - Don't let me forget something!

Wbuffetjr1Wbuffetjr1 Registered Users Posts: 86 ✭✭
I would really appreciate some help! Going to be doing my first solar install this July.  I do have a friend that is fairly well versed in solar coming out to help me so not totally alone. I have been reading on all this for the last 7 months.  Had the folks at NAWS help me spec most everything out so I should be mostly covered. The system is going in at 10,000' in Colorado.  A trip to town is approximately 1.5 hours one way. I would love some input from you guys on a "don't forget this" list so I could avoid as many 3 hour round trips to town as possible. What are the common things needed during install that are forgotten or the little things you just never have enough of???

The system will look like this:
-3 strings of 3 Solar World 345 panels
-Top of pole mount with adjustable tilt. Bottom of panels will be 7' off the ground.
-Combiner box with room for expansion if ever needed. Extra lightening protection added at combiner box. 
-NAWS prewired MS4448PAE
-Classic 200
-Auto gen start
-Magweb
-Cummins ONAN 5,500watt propane generator - 1,000 gallon buried tank
- 3 strings of golf cart batteries all connected with 2/0 welding cable (planning on killing my first set of batteries)

I am sure you guys will need to know about use so here you go.

The loads we use in the cabin are fairly light and simple.  Unfortunately, for the next three years we will only get to spend about 8 weeks per year at the cabin.  In 3 years, we will be moving out there and will live within ATV range of the cabin.  While we are staying in the cabin, we run things like LED lights at night, flat screen TV, Ceiling fans at night and Cpap at night.  Refrigeration, hot water and oven all run off propane. 

I have one big variable load that needs to run as much as possible all year long..... an electric motor. I plan on setting a timer for it and just running it as much as the system will allow on average. Maybe that is 6 hours per day or maybe that is 16 hours per day. To further complicate, I have three motors to choose from. I have a 1/3hp motor that draws 230 watts at the PSI I need that I plan to switch over to in September or October and run it through May/June. For June through Septmber I have a 1HP motor that I would really love to run as much as I can.  If 1HP ends up being too much for the system to handle then I have a 1/2HP unit that will have to do. 

Other year round loads will be the wifi/internet equipment plus a davis weather station reporting to weather underground. 

I know 3 strings of batteries is not ideal.  One, I need the extra AH the third string provides to hopefully get me through a couple cloudy days. Two, while I am not living out there, I will be relying on a couple friends to take a snowcat up and periodically check on the batteries/add water for me. Needless to say, the batteries will probably get  abused a little over the next three years so I don't want to spring for an expensive set. Although the generator will keep them from ever getting drained too far. 

Future plans for expansion:
I am currently having a "Chris Olson style" wind turbine built to his specs. Will be putting that up on a Rhon tower with a separate classic, etc.  That will either be this fall or next summer.  Depends on how much time this solar install eats up. We get quite a bit of wind at 10,000'.

Comments

  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,044 ✭✭✭✭
    I always seem to need a bit more wire of one type or another when wiring things up, by 'prewired' I'm guessing the inverter is already setup with an E-Panel for breakers?  ...and you had breakers installed for a breaker ahead of and behind the charge controller? So you should be set. I'm guessing/hoping you have scaffolding? with levelers, shovels, sledge, what ever it takes to level out the scaffolding, not a lot of 'flat at 10K feet.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,870 admin
    edited April 2017 #3
    One suggestion... Get a 4x4 sheet of 1" thick plywood (or whatever size you need), and mount+wire+test the system at home (wire up some panels + batteries + loads). And verify that everything works at home.

    Unhook the batteries+panels, and take everything to the site and hang the plywood.

    If you have significant loads (motor) that you want to run without anyone there--You might want to get a battery monitor that has an "alarm output". For example, set the alarm to turn on at 75% state of charge and off at 85% state of charge and connect to the motor/inverter power control.

    https://www.victronenergy.com/battery-monitors/bmv-700

    Battery monitors are not ideal--And prewiring+testing at home to make sure all is working before going to the remote site can help ensure that you have fewer surprises.

    Or, if you are using a Midnite Classic--There is a "waste not" output function. You might be able to program that to run the motor when the battery bank is full/floating. Outback also has a float indicator output that turns on when the bank is floating.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,323 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Stuff that's easy to forget

    - Bill's idea of setting up inverter etc on a board at home is a good one. I didn't because everything had to be trucked and barged out on a timeline. If it was practical though, I would have. I went through the wiring forgetting all about ampacity etc and just considered exactly how and where each wire connected and what was needed to do it. Junction boxes, connectors, knock out sizes, etc.

    - it's the little stuff. Extra lock washers, bolts, etc. for connections. Some always drop where I can't find them. I still need to find out what size the teeny little bolts on the midnite aux ports are so I can replace the ones I dropped.

    - disconnect thingy for mc4 connectors
    - Anti-corrosion goo.
    - battery water
    - more wire than you think you'll need, and some extra connectors in case you need to make unplanned splices.
    - good wire strippers, and crimp tools if using.
    - spare filters, oil, etc for the generator.
    - a tape labeller might be helpful for wires, breakers, etc.
    - Magnetic pick-up tool and mirror can be handy.
    - extra multimeter and battery.
    - uv stable zip ties.
    - extra fuses if any used.
    - old garden hose or whatever to put over socket handles. Rubber gloves and eye/face shield.
    - cheap 6/12v car battery charger just in case.
    - headlamp.
    - band-aids
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,044 ✭✭✭✭
    Band-Aids! always good to have around!
    I came back to say that you might want to be sure you have all the 'strain reliefs' you'll need for your combiner box and E-Panel... Something easy to over look. Even if you can't pre-setup your system, you could 'pretend wire' the boxes.

    Along with Band-Aids, I really like the idea of having some zip ties, might look around for some UL ones, usually black, higher UV resistance and I hope longer life. I had never realized you could get UL zip ties until I saw them at an electrical supply place...
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2017 #6
    Baking soda in solution for emergency eye wash.
    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, ICF House Construction, all appliances, Central A/C, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
  • Wbuffetjr1Wbuffetjr1 Registered Users Posts: 86 ✭✭
    Thanks for all the pointers! Unfortunately I do not have a way to set everything up in advance.  I am in Atlanta and I am having all my components shipped out to a buddies place in CO.  I appreciate all the help here and in the MANY posts I have read from you all. 
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,044 ✭✭✭✭
    I take it it's a pole mount with tracking? Think about how you will access and mount the panels, Scaffolding, if it's a tracking setup and you can set to level to ground, and even a bucket if you will have a single plane. A ladder would just be frustrating.

    I suspect Dave could ad some advice here.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • Wbuffetjr1Wbuffetjr1 Registered Users Posts: 86 ✭✭
    It is an MT Solar pole mount.  Hopefully the install is as easy as their videos LOL.  You assemble the panels on the ground and then hoist it all to the top of the pole and lock it down.  No tracking.  It has a hand crank tilt adjustment (from 5 degrees to 90 degrees) for the summer and winter angles. Only thing you need a ladder for is to install the last panel. Like I said, SOUNDS easy......
  • just startingjust starting Registered Users Posts: 229 ✭✭✭
    What county can I ask.
    200ah LiFePO4 24v Electrodacus Sbms40 quad breaker chest freezer to fridge- Samlex PST 1524 - Samlex pst3024  - 1hp shallow well pump-Marey 4.3 GPM on demand waterheater - mama bear Fisher wood burning stove, 30" fridgarair oven ,fridegaire dishwasher  Unique 290l stainless D.C. Fridge-unique 120l portable fridge/freezer 
  • Wbuffetjr1Wbuffetjr1 Registered Users Posts: 86 ✭✭
    Montrose County
  • just startingjust starting Registered Users Posts: 229 ✭✭✭
    Good luck I'm in teller it's cold over there. I'm also above 10000'.
    200ah LiFePO4 24v Electrodacus Sbms40 quad breaker chest freezer to fridge- Samlex PST 1524 - Samlex pst3024  - 1hp shallow well pump-Marey 4.3 GPM on demand waterheater - mama bear Fisher wood burning stove, 30" fridgarair oven ,fridegaire dishwasher  Unique 290l stainless D.C. Fridge-unique 120l portable fridge/freezer 
  • Wbuffetjr1Wbuffetjr1 Registered Users Posts: 86 ✭✭
    Thank you! I could be wrong, but I think you might actually get colder than we do! 

    I have heard a lot about production possibilities at higher altitudes but have never talked to anyone with real life experience at 10,000'.  How do your panels perform at that elevation?
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,502 ✭✭✭✭✭
    It is an MT Solar pole mount.  Hopefully the install is as easy as their videos LOL.  You assemble the panels on the ground and then hoist it all to the top of the pole and lock it down.  No tracking.  It has a hand crank tilt adjustment (from 5 degrees to 90 degrees) for the summer and winter angles. Only thing you need a ladder for is to install the last panel. Like I said, SOUNDS easy......
    If you are hanging more than a couple panels on the rack, you need a crane to lift it and take the weight as you position it.  For my 2 pole mounts, scaffold was used to assemble the frame, and then panels mounted on it. 
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • Wbuffetjr1Wbuffetjr1 Registered Users Posts: 86 ✭✭
    Mike,

    In the MT Solar videos they show leaving out the center panel in the array, using a chain hoist to raise it into position, lock it into position and then use a ladder to install the last panel in the center.  I have a chain hoist and was planning on doing it just like they show.  Are you saying it is not as easy as they make it look? 
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,044 ✭✭✭✭
    I went and looked when you said that earlier, it's pretty good design.


    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • Wbuffetjr1Wbuffetjr1 Registered Users Posts: 86 ✭✭
    Thanks Photo.  That's why I went with them.  I felt like I definitely needed to be able to adjust the tilt for the winter up there PLUS I didn't want to have to get equipment involved to raise it.
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