Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!

RandomJoeRandomJoe Solar Expert Posts: 472 ✭✭✭
I sure am happy I decided to put in my solar-power / backup-power system. Once again this morning I found it invaluable in keeping my day on track as the power failed for the third time in the past couple of months! Each time it has gone out at a most inopportune time - twice early morning just as people are trying to get around to work/school, the other right around dark one evening, staying out for 2-4 hours at a time.

While the rest of the block was dark, I carried on as usual! :p My computers and Internet connection stayed up, (a few) lights on, even using the garage door opener so I could head off to work.

The only downside so far has been the eventual loss of the Internet connection. My gear was still running fine, but the cable company's equipment gave out around the 2-3 hour mark this morning. Perhaps I should offer to back up the local node! :D

The grid here used to be incredibly reliable, I could count the number of multi-hour outages in the past decade on one hand - with fingers to spare! Now I'm not sure I have enough fingers on both hands for just the past couple of years. Although these last three outages may not be "grid" per-se, I suspect a nearby pad transformer is getting flooded by runoff when it rains - the lights blink repeatedly accompanied by a loud "shorting transformer" sound nearby! Hopefully they can fix that soon - I'd rather not lose any appliances to that sort of abuse...

Anyway, no real point to this except to say how sweet it is... Thanks in part to the help and information gleaned from the forum! ;)

Comments

  • Fe-WoodFe-Wood Solar Expert Posts: 96 ✭✭
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!

    Its a nice feeling to walk outside and see that the neighbors are w/o power and you didn't even know the power went out! Sometimes I feel a little guilty... but it never last too long...
  • RandomJoeRandomJoe Solar Expert Posts: 472 ✭✭✭
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!

    ...and the grid just went down again! Not even a storm right now, the rain stopped hours ago...
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!

    joe,
    i know what you mean about all that as i can relate. when i moved into my place 25+yrs ago or so i never had an outage until one day a landslide occurred and took out the substation about 4-5 blocks away. no power for several weeks because of that. from that point on the power has been unreliable as they located it about 3/4 miles away. if it storms, there's a house fire, a car accident, or even somebody sneezes it seems it can go out here. most times it's between a few minutes and a half hour, but there are times beyond a day or 2 as well. if you'll remember the winter before last we had many snow storms here in the east and coming off the last one did many areas in and not just mine. after the storm came and knocked out the power we were heading downhill in temperature fast and that darn generator of mine didn't want to kick over.:grr power came on in the early hours that morning about 1 or 2 am right as it went below 0 degrees f.:cry: it was still about 60 degrees inside the house when power came on. the boiler here is gas, but i had no power to activate it and the pump on it.

    i now have a backups system here as i vowed to not go through that again. i just need to buy and mount some more pvs and i'll be set.:roll:
  • n3qikn3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!

    I also like having a solar battery backup system. This winter had lights and heat during a two day outage.
  • solarvicsolarvic Solar Expert Posts: 1,053 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!

    I need to use both fingers and toes to count my power outages this year. Every year it seems to get worse. The Aldi grocery store has a cheap 2000watt generator for $149.95 this week. 2000 watt surge and operates at 1200 watts. Kingcraft from china. If I thought it would last awhile I would buy it to run my fridge, a light and maybe watch tv or listen to the radio. I mostly am concerned with keeping the fridge from losing food. I want to build a small off grid system as I already have most components. Guess I should sell off the renewable items I will never use. :Dsolarvic:D
  • RandomJoeRandomJoe Solar Expert Posts: 472 ✭✭✭
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!

    Power has been restored. My neighbors sure were jealous though - went over and talked with them a bit, one lady was about to grab her laptop and connect to my wireless signal so she could get online! :)

    It was clearly a larger issue than I thought. I figured it was flooding of the pad transformer next door that powers about eight houses - we're right at the bottom of a hill and there's a veritable river running through the back of our yards with any rain. But there were neighbors from across the street who also had no power. Who knows... (We never will, since the power company doesn't bother to tell us! :roll: )

    Anyway, the grand total for this storm was 5 1/2 hours with no grid power today. To be fair, the storm that came through was LOADED with cloud-ground lightning as well as very heavy rainfall in areas.

    It was a two-day outage after an ice storm that convinced me to put in my system. (I was lucky - many were out a whole week!) Oh, what a miserable time that was... Don't want to have to experience that again!

    It's so tempting to add another batch of panels, I even caught myself pricing things up the other day, but probably shouldn't right now. I figure I'll start setting aside the cash for "upgrades" and when I'm ready to replace the battery bank (now 2 years old, still going fine) I intend to go from T-105s to L16s which will pretty much necessitate adding panels to keep the charge rate in range. That'll be a pretty big upgrade, might even be able to take all my loads off-grid except the AC and electric stove/oven. (If I haven't redone the kitchen by then - I'd rather have a gas range anyway!)

    Ah, nothing quite like an expensive hobby to keep me occupied... :D
  • RCinFLARCinFLA Solar Expert Posts: 1,280 ✭✭✭
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!

    During the last hurricane the neighborhood was without power for almost a week.

    I have a whole house UPS system with 1000 AH / 48 volt battery system and 19 kVA inverter capability. I ran my central A/C on batteries during the night.

    When I walk the dogs at night I turned on the outside lights which drew a lot of attention from neighbors. I turned them off after walking dogs to avoid flaunting the capability.

    I have a Generac portable 15kW generator to recharge the batteries. Funny thing is weather got a little cool after the hurricane in October. Everyone was complaining about having to take cold showers. It started with my next door neighbor when I offered to hook up my gen to heat their hot water if they supplied the gas. The word spread and I got several other neighbors showing up on my door step with full 5 gallon cans of gasoline asking if I would hook my gen to their hot water heater.

    I ended the week with 40 gallons of gas more then I started the week with on my original stock I bought before the hurricane struck, and I didn't have to stand in line for couple of hours at the few gas stations that had generator power to pump gas.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!

    rc,
    i know you just did them a favor and was being neighborly, but when word spreads you wind up with your genny being used quite a bit by others and the gas, although nice for one or 2, gets out of hand. a fee should've been there for them in addition to the gas for wear and tear on the genny. they aren't cheap in that power capacity. you invested in your stuff for you and they will get off very cheaply if all they need do is buy a few gallons of gas for you when the time comes for an outage.
  • trkarltrkarl Solar Expert Posts: 33
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!

    RandomJoe glad to hear your system is working good for you. Please post the specs of your system if you don't mind.

    Our power always fails several times during the summer thunder storm season here in SW Fla. A lot of times we don't even know until we see the clock on the stove is out.

    The system came in real handy early one morning about 5 a.m. when dw had to take a shower before work and the power suddenly went out.
    Just went out to the garage and flipped the well pump transfer switch from grid to the inverter and instant shower capability.
  • RandomJoeRandomJoe Solar Expert Posts: 472 ✭✭✭
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!

    I have more details and some pictures on my website, link below. But in summary: 1080W in Kyocera KD135 panels, Outback system - FM80 CC, VFX-3648 inverter, FlexNet DC battery monitor, Mate interface. 8 Trojan T105 "golf cart" batteries wired for 220AH 48V.

    The inverter has grid power on the input, so I can switch back and forth at will (or, when using grid it instantly falls back to the inverter). It then feeds a 6-breaker subpanel from which I ran circuits to various parts of the house.

    The Mate is connected to a Linux computer on which I have scripts running to siphon all the data continuously. That is then fed to my home automation system - thus the "live" displays you can get to from my website too. It also lets me program different ways to use the solar power - I tinker with it from time to time, trying out different things.

    I've been slowly expanding my use of solar power - today I was mowing the lawn via solar! :D I have an electric mower, and went to the trouble of plugging in to one of my inverter outlets instead of the usual outside one. May have to add an outdoor outlet now. I'm really itching to increase the battery bank size and solar array too...!
  • trkarltrkarl Solar Expert Posts: 33
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!

    Nice website. Very informative. My system is not grid interactive either and never will be for the reasons you mentioned on your site. It has been up and running for a little over 3 years. The last time I upgraded it was last year when I added 6 more panels and the Sunny Island inverter.

    A funny thing happened the other day. I got a call from the electric company that said they see that I have a solar electric system and am backfeeding into the grid illegally and need to either fill out the agreement or shut the system off or they will disconnect me. They said I am making my meter spin backwards.

    I called them up and said that would be a neat trick since my system isn't connected to the grid. I said they can come out and have a look at it any time they want to. They scheduled for the following day.

    Well the supervisor and a lady came out for a visit. I got to give them a good education of a stand alone solar system and how it works HAHA!! They were really nice and asked a lot of questions because they had never seen one before.

    We ran different loads and watched the battery voltage go up and down. I asked how is it spinning my meter backwards and who said it was? He said no one saw the meter going backwards it's just that the power software that reads the meter every day couldn't figure out my usage and was trying to estimate the usage. He said this is the first sign of power theft which they have a big problem with. So someone investigates and sees the panels and thinks I am backfeeding.

    Well on sunny days most all of my power comes from the panels. Then on not so sunny days it comes from the grid so that was confusing the computer which looks for steady usage. Seems like they need to tweak that software LOL!!
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,497 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!
    trkarl wrote: »
    ....Well on sunny days most all of my power comes from the panels. Then on not so sunny days it comes from the grid so that was confusing the computer which looks for steady usage. Seems like they need to tweak that software LOL!!

    Actually, they like it just fine, because it will catch every bootleg install, single and multi inverters.
    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 ,

  • XRingerXRinger Solar Expert Posts: 529 ✭✭✭
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!
    mike90045 wrote: »
    Actually, they like it just fine, because it will catch every bootleg install, single and multi inverters.

    They didn't really "catch" anybody this time. It was a false alarm, based on the observation of some PV.

    I guess this means when a household switches to all CFLs or buys a new
    heat-pump hot water heater, they should avoid having any PV, that's visible from the street.?. :roll:


    Sometimes I have trouble with over-voltage from the grid.
    On the weekend they really zapped us. (That's 300v on my 220v heat pump)!
    overvoltage.jpg

    So, when NStar guys were here last winter, and saw my 500w tracking
    array in the backyard, they just assumed the PV was the problem..

    It took over a month for the "engineers" back in the office to pour over
    the records and notice that someone had accidentally turned up
    the voltage too high for a few thousand customers. :grr
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,497 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!
    Originally Posted by mike90045
    Actually, they like it just fine, because it will catch every bootleg install, single and multi inverters.
    XRinger wrote: »
    They didn't really "catch" anybody this time. It was a false alarm, based on the observation of some PV. ..

    I didn't say there would be no False Positives. Eventually, the accountants catch up. 30 years ago, when I was in an apartment, the neighbor jumpered his power to my meter shortly after I moved in, took edison 6 months to figure out the neighbor was stealing from me, but never gave me a rebate.
    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 ,

  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!

    "Sometimes I have trouble with over-voltage from the grid.
    On the weekend they really zapped us. (That's 300v on my 220v heat pump)!

    So, when NStar guys were here last winter, and saw my 500w tracking
    array in the backyard, they just assumed the PV was the problem..

    It took over a month for the "engineers" back in the office to pour over
    the records and notice that someone had accidentally turned up
    the voltage too high for a few thousand customers. :grr"

    xringer,
    i'd send them a bill for all of the abnormal wear and tear on your household appliances and fixtures. got any blown out fans or compressors plus the labor to fix or replace them to add to it? they do this stuff more often than people realize and most don't know why things are going bad prematurely on them as they are thinking it's either the appliance or the manufacturer that is at fault and they have no idea the electric company is doing this and the damages that it incurs.
  • XRingerXRinger Solar Expert Posts: 529 ✭✭✭
    Re: Sure am getting use out of my "backup system" lately!

    I'm not sure if they blew up my Sanyo mini-spit or not.
    I suspect that extra high voltage makes the compressor run at excessive
    RPMs and may have caused over-pressure that eventually popped a pin-hole
    and vented a few pounds of R410A into the air.

    It wasn't until afterwards, did we start remembering replacing so many CFLs.
    Normally, they last for many years. Ours were burning out like incandescents.
    Turn it on, see a bright flash subtract a few bucks from the wallet..

    Can't prove anything. Need to have a voltage recorder going 24/7,
    since it peaks randomly. Many times, early in the AM.
    I guess when the load is lightest. Folks leaving for work & school..?.



    Now that the voltage has been lowered somewhat close to normal,
    we have not had to replace any CFLs. Plus, we have a life time supply of spares! :blush:

    Anyways, we are happy that we likely saved thousands of CFLs
    (and maybe some HDTVs) in the towns of Lexington, Burlington and Woburn MA..

    Sadly, they plan to turn up the juice back up, when the AC season hits (soon I hear).

    If it gets too high (over 126v or 252v for the 220), I'll be calling them again..
Sign In or Register to comment.