Small effective off grid RV system for 1 Full-Timer experience with off-grid living

Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭
For the past 3 years I've lived quite happily in a nice off-grid house set up with a 24V system with approx 4000 watt array. I am accustomed to working with the weather, doing laundry in daylight hours, using propane appliances and watching the trimetric battery monitor. Said house was lost to fire this past March. (No fault of the solar system)

Skipping a lot of unnecessary details that have nothing to do with houses or solar energy, I will be going it alone and living full time in a good quality 4 season travel trailer for the foreseeable future, starting mid June. Finances are an issue. I will have shore power available from friends but would prefer to be independent asap.

A quote for 600 watt array with 4 Crown L16 370Ah batteries and 2000W inverter was over 6K for parts alone. (The inverter being nearly 1/3 of total.)  I feel like this system is a bit larger than I need but the bigger issue is it's way out of my price range. I was hoping for a good quality functioning system in the $2000 - $3000 range....installed. (I need to stay debt free.) I'd like to do at least some of the install myself. I'm no electrician...but am willing to learn and have built things and helped wire a house. Power tools, hand tools and hard work don't scare me. Screwing up and costing myself more $$ is a concern. Math is NOT my strong point so many of the calcs done for electrical systems will take me a while to fully understand and I'd like to have this system up and running before then.

The real question is can I get away with only two batteries and a 1000w inverter? What components do I need...or more accurately, what size components do I need? (I've read Handy Bob's brand recommendations but don't know what size stuff I need.)

My RV is "solar ready" supposedly. The generator compartment is 20" deep, 29.5" wide by 17.5" tall. I'd like to put batteries and everything but the inverter in here. I've measured and looked everything over to see what I have and how it's configured. I even got AC and DC wiring diagrams from the RV manufacturer but don't know if I really need them. I plan to put solar panels on small ground mounts that can be manually adjusted for optimum gain as seasons change.

AC loads include:
Desktop computer (just a few hours/minutes per day or even none if it's cloudy or if I'm away)
650W hair dryer less than 5min/at a time and not every day, curling iron about the same. (I know not to use these if I don't have the juice)
Cell phone battery charger (I also have a tiny solar panel thingie just for this purpose and a car charge so wouldn't HAVE to use the RV system)
Recharge battery for drill. (when the sun is shining and my solar system has excess energy)
Stereo/radio that came with RV....doubt I'll even use this.
Spin dryer for clothes: 190watts and used for about 5 min/load only on sunny "laundry" days.

DC loads:
Lights (I hope to convert to LED's but that's phase 2. For now my 3 watt led desk lamp I found for $5 at WM should serve me well.)
Water pump (which I think needs to be replaced...anything I need to look for since I'm off grid or are these all pretty much the same?)
Fan for composting toilet

Other necessities and details:
Water heat via propane (or AC but I know that's a big NO unless I'm hooked to a generator or shore power) but I suspect this water heater requires a bit of electric to re-light. I'll research that. It has a switch on the wall and auto lights so it is easy to keep it off until I need it.

NO AC use

Winter heat via "My Buddy" propane hooked to larger tank (Yes I know to vent the RV and use a battery operated CO2 monitor.)

Cook stove is gas with piezo ignitor for top and pilot for oven. (I don't think this uses any electric at all)

Water pumping to fill fresh water tank will be accomplished by water hose or if necessary hand pump from portable water tank. (no electric required)

Fridge is Propane but has electric "monitor" panel that I don't think i can disconnect without rendering the fridge non-functional. I hate that as this is one of those 24/7 phantom loads I'd love to eliminate. Suggestions? 

One last comment: I can get Crown batteries and some other solar energy components "locally" (Hour or so drive) When I know what components I'll choose for my system, I'll check to see if I can save on shipping by buying locally.

Thank you to anyone that can help.
Lora

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Comments

  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,623 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Having a 1000 watt inverter on 2 6 volt batteries is not a problem, it's how long you intent to run heavy loads. When sizing a system I shoot for sustained loads no larger than 1/20th of my battery capacity. You Trimetric would like it better also! So 2 - 6 volt 210Ah batteries at 10% would be 21 amps at 12 volts or about 250watts. Not a lot of wattage and if your shooting to run a fridge, your in the ball park, but you wouldn't have enough storage for long cloudy periods, in my opinion.

    I guess you lost your solar system in the fire...

    If I, personally was setting up a system, your loads look reasonable for a 600 watt array, 12 volt, system. If I was setting one up, I would likely buy a 4 or 6 of the 12 volt 165 watt panels here for just over $1 a watt;

    http://www.amazon.com/Solar-Panel-Battery-Charging-Efficiency/dp/B00G2IZ1VW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1464175789&sr=8-3&keywords=solar+panels+165+watt

    I would go to eBay and look into a used ExelTech 1100watt inverter, they have a good reputation and it appears that the company still offers a $100 repair/refurbish policy for their inverters. A guy was selling several used units for $250 each. I recently picked one up offering $200, I likely got the ugly duckling. I didn't ask, but these are likely pulls from some type of mobile ap or Telecommunications installs.

    I'd go with a PWM charge controller, perhaps a cheap import with a voltage screen. You have some experience so you could have an idea of your system storage with out the Trimetric. PWM are pretty simple, so I might trust a cheap one, though I'd keep an eye on it for a while.

    I'd go with inexpensive Sam's club or Costco batteries.

    If you made a simple wood ground mount I can see a functioning system with 660 watt array, 1100 watt inverter, charge controller and a couple batteries for @ $1500 Not perfect, but not bad.

    If you wanted to push the limits, you could shoot for a 1000 watt array, 1100 watt inverter, and 4 golf cart batteries and might be able to run an Air conditioner for a few hours a day, I'm not sure the 1100 watt inverter would start one. though I might try for you over the weekend. I won't run the RV's unit which is likely 9000 btu, but would likely run a small window unit.

    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,324 ✭✭✭✭✭
    What is the insulation in the RV like?  That's often a weak spot, covered up by lots of heater and air conditioning.
    As to the rest, it all depends on how you manage your loads.  You are used to having 4Kw of power, now moving to a lot loss.
    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 ,

  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭

    Thank you Photowit for the technical info. I know not to run heavy loads for long...that's why I mentioned not using AC or the RV furnace system at all.

    I'm not sure if you had time to read my entire post but I will use propane for all appliances (fridge, cook stove and water heater) other than that, there's just small DC loads like lights and one 12 fan that runs continuously. (The composting toilet vent fan.) There are 3 other 24/7 loads due to small "monitoring" systems and I will disable these if I can without affecting the functionality of attached systems. Any other loads will be at my discretion and can be timed appropriately.

    In my previous off grid house, we had a battery bank of 16 430 Ah Rolls batteries. If I could have changed one thing about that system, it would be more battery storage. (Or reduce loads but there was two of us to please so the system wasn't as efficient as it could have been.)

    The only thing left from the house solar system is the array and I will not be able to use the panels. (They're very large, 245W, for one thing.)

    That said, I DO want storage for cloudy days....I'd love to be able to go 3 or so days without sun, using minimal loads. (I watch the weather! :-) For this reason and since I don't have money to redo if something fails to function as needed, I plan to go with good quality components as much as possible.

    Here's what I've got in mind but I'm not 100% sure they will all play well together and if there are more frugal but comparable options:

    150W 12V Vikram panels from Backwoods for 150 ea plus shipping with comes out to $1.44/watt ($862.00 total for four)
    Crown CR430 (Ah) locally $249.95 plus tax or CR390 (Ah) for $219.95 + tax so about $240 ea x 2 for $480.
    Bogart Charge controller (2025RV) but NAWS has the 2030 for $121
    Magnum 1000W 12V Pure Sinewave Inverter 50A Charger is $960 from Backwoods.
    Trimetric battery monitor kit $230 at backwoods
    This total is $2653 so I'd probably look to save on panels first ...Which makes the amazon ones worth checking into...then perhaps the exceltech inverters. Do I really need a 600w array though? Also, is a PWM controller OK if I'm running my desktop computer?

    I know I'll need other cables, shunts, fuses, boxes? etc but don't know exactly what.

    The home-made wood rack sounds quite doable. 

    THANK YOU for the input!!



     


  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,324 ✭✭✭✭✭
    are you keeping a generator for cloudy weather or converting that space for batteries?
    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 ,

  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭
    mike95490 said:
    What is the insulation in the RV like?  That's often a weak spot, covered up by lots of heater and air conditioning.
    As to the rest, it all depends on how you manage your loads.  You are used to having 4Kw of power, now moving to a lot loss.
    Hello Mike95490
    The RV is an Artic Fox. The insulation is block foam in walls and I think ceiling and the underbelly is fully enclosed and insulated though I will go over it to spray foam the small 'leaks" in order to eliminate my current mouse problem. I can get storm windows I think but right now they're all single pane. The RV has a slideout (wish it didn't) but it has a triple seal I believe. I can use tekfoil to supplement insulation if necessary. I also hope to have an RV cover over it by winter with a solid "back" side to block north wind and open south front for passive solar. I've considered underpinning of some sort as well.

    I think the tanks have heaters but I will not use them as I don't need a gray or black tank and if fresh water becomes a problem, I can just haul small quantities of water for 1 or 2 of the coldest months. I even have a tiny tub and not just a shower. :-)

    My former home did have 4000w array and 400 to 600 is MUCH smaller I agree BUT I'm the "crazy" one that is a minimalist by nature and there were many loads added to the system that I didn't think were necessary. (mini split ac....3 in fact!, standard small upright deepfreeze, phantom loads not removed, etc) My desire to stay debt free is intense. I value my time and hope to get by with only a part time job (in renewable energy I hope!) So I'm motivated and that's half the battle right? :-) 

    I just want to be sure I don't make any serious mistakes in the design and set up of this system. I can live with it being small but not so small I can't meet bare minimum requirements. Hopefully I won't cut it that close though.

    Thank you for your comments!
    Lora




  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭
    mike95490 said:
    are you keeping a generator for cloudy weather or converting that space for batteries?

    using gen compartment for batteries. Hope to get by without a generator for the time being as I have no funds for it at the moment and shore power is available to me if need be. If finances allow in the future, I'd like to purchase a 3000w Honda and have a little "shed" for it. (This RV application is different in that it's stationary so the shed is a non-issue)
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,623 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As to "Quality Components" Solar Panels are pretty simple. If they work they are likely to continue working. I have done business with Backwoods Solar, before they changed hands, I love that they promoted solar education with their catalogs back in the 90's before there was much education.  ....but I've never heard of Vikram panels, they are likely fine as are the panels from Amazon, which I was surprised are made in USA (if I read correctly)

    I take it you intend to travel in your camper? I thought it was a fixed, location? "I have shore power available" If this is the case and you have usable panels from your previous system, I would use them! While awkward, they aren't unduely heavy, likely around 60 lbs. and a ground mounted system won't have you lifting them very high. Indeed, if you have room, I'd recommend only placing them high enough for the common grass cover not to obstruct them, and maybe 2 high.

    We use to have a moderator here who liked to point out that one of the things people tended to do was have too large a battery bank for their array/system.  Chronic under charging kills a lot of battery banks.

    A good balance of battery to array would have an array that can produce a 10-13% charging rate, for the battery bank. So your 390 Ah 12 volt battery bank would want a minimum charge rate of 39 Amps, solar panel tend to produce 75% of there rated wattage, so if you choose a PWM charge controller, you are looking for about 52 amp rating at VMP, If you choose a MPPT type charge controller, you can have a slightly smaller array. This translates into about a 850-900 watt array.

    Bogart has a single charge controller rated at 30 amps, That said it can limit the amps to 30 though I'd check with Bogart before attaching an array capable of 50+ amps even if it will only produce 39 as a max normally. I'd rather you went with a Xantrex or Morningstar PWM, or if you can use your old panels, a Morningstar Charge controller if hooked up inside your RV or a Morningstar, Outback or Midnite if mounted outside.

    I have 2 ExelTech inverters, both purchased used, but minimal experience with them. What I do have is Northern Arizona Wind and Sun's experience;

    • "We have been selling Exeltech inverters for over 15 years, and we have never had one single report of any failure of any type. In fact, we have never even heard of one going bad that was not grossly abused"

    And ExelTech;

    • ...We also still support and repair units from 20 years ago, and do so for a flat fee. Case in point: If you accidentally reverse connections on an XP1100 inverter you bought in 1994, or an MX module from 1993 .. or even an old SI1000 from 1991, and blow it up .. if it's repairable, we'll fix it for $100 and (if possible) upgrade it at the same time. Turn-around time generally averages less than a week.

    I don't know your location, I like that you understand load shifting and unless you are somewhere ugly for solar (Pacific Northwest) You will figure things out.

    So a couple questions?

    1. Will you be traveling with the system/
    2. Are you old panels serviceable?
    3. What is your local solar isolation?
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭
    Photowhit said:

    As to "Quality Components" Solar Panels are pretty simple. If they work they are likely to continue working. I have done business with Backwoods Solar, before they changed hands, I love that they promoted solar education with their catalogs back in the 90's before there was much education.  ....but I've never heard of Vikram panels, they are likely fine as are the panels from Amazon, which I was surprised are made in USA (if I read correctly)

    I take it you intend to travel in your camper? I thought it was a fixed, location? "I have shore power available" If this is the case and you have usable panels from your previous system, I would use them! While awkward, they aren't unduely heavy, likely around 60 lbs. and a ground mounted system won't have you lifting them very high. Indeed, if you have room, I'd recommend only placing them high enough for the common grass cover not to obstruct them, and maybe 2 high.

    We use to have a moderator here who liked to point out that one of the things people tended to do was have too large a battery bank for their array/system.  Chronic under charging kills a lot of battery banks.

    A good balance of battery to array would have an array that can produce a 10-13% charging rate, for the battery bank. So your 390 Ah 12 volt battery bank would want a minimum charge rate of 39 Amps, solar panel tend to produce 75% of there rated wattage, so if you choose a PWM charge controller, you are looking for about 52 amp rating at VMP, If you choose a MPPT type charge controller, you can have a slightly smaller array. This translates into about a 850-900 watt array.

    Bogart has a single charge controller rated at 30 amps, That said it can limit the amps to 30 though I'd check with Bogart before attaching an array capable of 50+ amps even if it will only produce 39 as a max normally. I'd rather you went with a Xantrex or Morningstar PWM, or if you can use your old panels, a Morningstar Charge controller if hooked up inside your RV or a Morningstar, Outback or Midnite if mounted outside.

    I have 2 ExelTech inverters, both purchased used, but minimal experience with them. What I do have is Northern Arizona Wind and Sun's experience;

    • "We have been selling Exeltech inverters for over 15 years, and we have never had one single report of any failure of any type. In fact, we have never even heard of one going bad that was not grossly abused"

    And ExelTech;

    • ...We also still support and repair units from 20 years ago, and do so for a flat fee. Case in point: If you accidentally reverse connections on an XP1100 inverter you bought in 1994, or an MX module from 1993 .. or even an old SI1000 from 1991, and blow it up .. if it's repairable, we'll fix it for $100 and (if possible) upgrade it at the same time. Turn-around time generally averages less than a week.

    I don't know your location, I like that you understand load shifting and unless you are somewhere ugly for solar (Pacific Northwest) You will figure things out.

    So a couple questions?

    1. Will you be traveling with the system/
    2. Are you old panels serviceable?
    3. What is your local solar isolation?
    Thank you again Photowhit for the detailed response!

    The short answers:
    1) no. 2) yes 3) isolation? do you mean location? if so it's S Central MO

    Longer answers:
    1) Trailer will be moved from where it is now to MO and will likely be moved once more when I buy my own land. (Don't know when that will be but likely up to a year.)
    2) Not using the existing panels has nothing to do with the panels and everything to do with the fact I'm moving. (Long story...lots of personal stuff that doesn't need to be shared.)
    3) location will stay in the same general area most likely, even if I buy land of my own.

    Thanks again for the technical info! This is what I have trouble wrapping my mind around but it's so necessary to the proper design and function of the system. (now I'll go read that info yet again....I think my brain has a float, bulk and absorption rate for different data. LOL)

    Lora

  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    edited May 2016 #10
    there is a plus side to using the RVs furnace , inefficient as it usually is, it is that it pulls fresh air in and exchanges the air inside constantly, so no CO2 buildup, nor CO as you do run the risk of that with the BUDDY heaters...

    btw my neighbour subdivided his 10 acres, sold his house off, post marital split, and now lives year round in his 10' Arctic Fox camper, truck mounted, here in central British Columbia, temps down to - 30F in winter...  he cheats with a grid plug in...

    ps value those PV at ~ $1.00 per watt...  =~ $245 per that saving can go towards a MPPT CC that you would need  probably for GTie PV's, plus you could use more than the few 12 V panels you mention...
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • South AfricaSouth Africa Solar Expert Posts: 295 ✭✭✭
    Lora, I hear you re. spending wisely.

    You can always start with a smaller array and batteries to match the array, and add later. The parts I found that bites one is the MPPT controller being too small, or the inverter to weak for the continuous peak loads at certain times. 

    If the RV is stationary, have a small array on the ground which means the panel sizes do not matter. If the RV moves, put the panels in the back, move it, then set them up again other side. Plus, you can clean the panels easily.

    Have seen panel mounts where you fill containers with water so that the wind does not blow them away.

    So to sum up:
    1) Get as big a MPPT Controller as you can. You need room to move.
    2) Spec inverter for peak loads, plus the bigger the inverter, the less it will be strained, longer it will last.
    3) Get enough panels to match the battery bank, with option to expand said panels because MPPT can handle it.
    4) Get a smaller battery bank, field test it, with the option to add more batteries within 3-6 months if it is too small, for the MPPT again can handle it.

    Regards
    Jaco




  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,623 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Welcome to the neighbor hood! I'm near Williamsburg, MO. 30 miles East of Columbia. We have several Missouri people here.

    I CAN imagine living in Missouri with out air conditioning in the summer! I did it for 5-6 years. It wasn't a lot of fun, but sufferable. When you are setting up your camper, find a place in the shade!

    If you choose to move some of those old panels I have some Corners so they can be safely stacked and moved, if you could bring 8 or 10, You could be pricing 4 batteries and a MPPT charge controller, and a slightly larger inverter. If you are bringing the camper, you could strip the bed and they would stack there!

    I've got to run, more later.

    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭
    there is a plus side to using the RVs furnace , inefficient as it usually is, it is that it pulls fresh air in and exchanges the air inside constantly, so no CO2 buildup, nor CO as you do run the risk of that with the BUDDY heaters...

    btw my neighbour subdivided his 10 acres, sold his house off, post marital split, and now lives year round in his 10' Arctic Fox camper, truck mounted, here in central British Columbia, temps down to - 30F in winter...  he cheats with a grid plug in...

    ps value those PV at ~ $1.00 per watt...  =~ $245 per that saving can go towards a MPPT CC that you would need  probably for GTie PV's, plus you could use more than the few 12 V panels you mention..

    Thanks for the concern...you are right...co2 is a killer....but I will use a co2 detector and crack windows for fresh air. (We heated with wood and propane in the off grid house so it's very similar) To me, these precautions are more preferable to using more electric. My goal is to have minimal monthly expenses (utilities and such) so I don't have to work full time but can still save a bit for later in life.

    Wow your truck camper friend has my respect!  I don't think I could fit all my stuff in a 10' camper...in fact I doubt I could get all my clothes in there. LOL Mine's a 25' that seemed to have lots of closet space before I filled it up. Don't know where that all went. ;-)

    Thanks for the suggestions on where to save! I'll do some shopping for panels....are you saying you think I also need more total watts? (400, 600...or more?)

    Lora


  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭
    Lora, I hear you re. spending wisely.

    You can always start with a smaller array and batteries to match the array, and add later. The parts I found that bites one is the MPPT controller being too small, or the inverter to weak for the continuous peak loads at certain times. 

    If the RV is stationary, have a small array on the ground which means the panel sizes do not matter. If the RV moves, put the panels in the back, move it, then set them up again other side. Plus, you can clean the panels easily.

    Have seen panel mounts where you fill containers with water so that the wind does not blow them away.

    So to sum up:
    1) Get as big a MPPT Controller as you can. You need room to move.
    2) Spec inverter for peak loads, plus the bigger the inverter, the less it will be strained, longer it will last.
    3) Get enough panels to match the battery bank, with option to expand said panels because MPPT can handle it.
    4) Get a smaller battery bank, field test it, with the option to add more batteries within 3-6 months if it is too small, for the MPPT again can handle it.

    Regards
    Jaco





    Great info here Jaco! Thanks!!

    Question on #3: Are you referring to the panel wattage being 1/20th of the battery's AH rating? (At 20hrs I presume?)

    I have witnessed first hand the difference a clean glass can make on a PV panel! Lord willing, I'll always have mine tilted and within cleaning distance. Great tip on the water filled base for stability.
    Lora
  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭
    Photowhit said:

    Welcome to the neighbor hood! I'm near Williamsburg, MO. 30 miles East of Columbia. We have several Missouri people here.

    I CAN imagine living in Missouri with out air conditioning in the summer! I did it for 5-6 years. It wasn't a lot of fun, but sufferable. When you are setting up your camper, find a place in the shade!

    If you choose to move some of those old panels I have some Corners so they can be safely stacked and moved, if you could bring 8 or 10, You could be pricing 4 batteries and a MPPT charge controller, and a slightly larger inverter. If you are bringing the camper, you could strip the bed and they would stack there!

    I've got to run, more later.


    Oh well hello future neighbor! LOL I'll be a bit east of a line between Springfield and Kansas City.

    I've lived in AR without AC and for most of the summer it's fine. The humidity can be a bugger though.

    Ok you've got me to thinking about taking some panels. After pricing everything...I need ways to cut costs and still end up with a workable system that won't need to be upgraded right away.
    The PV panels are pole mounted, 12 of them on some sort of frame system. How easy would they be to unbolt and disconnect wires? I think they're all hard wired in. I'll look tomorrow......and I presume that would best be done after dark when no electric is being used. I don't know if I can accomplish it but two panels would be nearly 500W, 3 would be over 700W and there's actually four on the bottom row so I think I can reach all of those. (They're REC 245 W and only 3yrs old).

    As for moving them, would a shipping blanket work? They're really not that fragile are they?
    Lora

  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭

    Photowit...forgot to ask...how long can cables be from panels to RV? (Thinking of RV in shade and panels in sun....

    Lora

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,919 admin
    The longer the distance from the array to the battery shed/charge controller/battery bank, the more money you will have to pay.. 10-20 Feet for a small system can be least expensive.

    Less than 100', even a medium sized system, you will pay a $500 "extra" per solar charge controller for the "privilege".

    For other 100', probably a lot more. Probably $1,000+ per charge controller.

    In the end, it is less confusing if we focus on a design (your loads, battery bank, amount of sun, distances involved, etc.).

    There are some trade-offs that can be made between equipment choices and siting of equipment to keep costs down.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    there is another thing I forgot to mention here...
    Thanks for the concern...you are right...co2 is a killer....but I will use a co2 detector and crack windows for fresh air.

    That is humidity in the winter, it can rot out the framing in campers and trailers if not purged...  I've woken up many a time in our camper, having forgotten to crack the vent above the bed and there was condensation on the fiberglass surfaces above me ...  didn't expect the subfreezing temps in the early fall, so heat was left off......  and then there are moulds that grow in back corner cupboards...
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,623 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 2016 #19

    Sorry I didn't get a chance to get back to the discussion during the day, an odd day at work where I stayed busy all day and didn't get anything done...lol

    First, It's Carbon Monoxide you need to worry about! CO

    Solar Isolation is the amount of sunlight you can expect. For your area, here is Springfields averages, minimums and maximums for a 30 year period 1961-1990, with variances for angle, and tracking

    http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/old_data/nsrdb/1961-1990/redbook/sum2/13995.txt

    There are a couple ways to do camper in shade and panels in sun, Both require you to send higher voltage the distance between the sunny area and the shade.

    I've chosen three times, to have my panels, batteries, charge controller and inverter located at the array/ under the panels. This has worked well for me. I then send the AC to the camper or cabin. It's not idea, it does make things more tempting for a thief. I think I've had a few minor problems from this arrangement. Twice it was in a gated playground for adults where I worked security. I'll bet I've collected over a dozen beer cans from in front of my array and one beer bottle! No damage to the array, not sure they were thrown at the array. I also think I had my current battery poisoned. Someone dropped something in one of my cells and it has always been very dark colored electrolyte since 2 months in. It's a forklift battery with a potential life span of 15 years and it's 5 years old now and seems okay.

    The distances have been about 70 feet on the first system and 50 feet on the second. The second was a small cabin that was well insulated so I could run an air conditioner.  The batteries getting hot in the summer time will shorten their life some, and them being cold in the winter will lengthen the life a bit. but 4 golf cart batteries, cheap Sam's Club, lasted 5 year 4 of which they ran an air conditioner over the summer. I am happy with that length of time. 3-5 years is what I use to tell people to expect form inexpensive golf cart batteries. Both time I used inexpensive PWM battery charger. I have continued with my current system, but my Tin Can (Mobile Home) was already in location when I purchased it.

    The other method of having a long distance between the array and the residence, is to use a MPPT type charge controller and send Higher voltage DC electric from your array to the batteries, charge controller and inverter at the residence. This works out pretty well if you are running higher voltage battery bank (48 volts) but requires a lot of loss in heat when converting 100+ volts to 12 volt charging current. I would recommend, if you have a secure area, even if just reasonably secure, to leave the batteries, charge controller, and inverter at the array and run the AC to the camper. 

    I like the idea of you bringing the panels, all of them if you can! it would make the start of a very good sized moderate system. Be aware that they will require a different type of charge controller, a MPPT type. They aren't cheap but the trade off for a good sized moderate system is well worth it in my opinion. Starting around $500 for a 60 amp.

    Solar panels are very durable. Mine have survived 1" hail, though coming form the north so a glancing angle. The hail cracked windows in 4 or 5 of 7 cars in the neighborhood and left my car looking like a golf ball. That said the back side can get torn, and glass should be protected from hard solid objects. I guess you might have an open system yet, were your batteries and charger in the fire? REC panels should have MC4 connecters, They can be a pain to get them to release even with the proper tools. It's DC electric and they are likely in long strings.

    I personally would take some well insulated wire cutters and cut them and leave as much wire as possible. It might come in handy. You might be cutting live circuits, so doing this at dusk when there would be very little available current would be less likely to catch a spark. Wear really shoes or boots, don't stand in standing water... Simple precautions.  There is a slim chance the panels might have been damaged due to back feeding, but properly setup, they should be fine.

    Moving blankets will help, setting them on edge on a couple inches of foam might be good, Try not to let one panel come in contact with the back of another. Unbolting them might be simple or interesting. Mounts come in 2 designs, with a pole mount, They may well be mounted from behind and just removing the ground and 4 bolts might well free the panel. The other panel mounting method is from the top into rails, The panel is held in place by a bracket that is tightened down from the top. The nut is held inside the rail.

    I would do this myself, but it's more of a 2 person job. I'm sure I've forgot a bunch... Good Luck! Think of that pole mount array as a money tree, and just pick to your hearts content!


    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭
    Photowhit said:

    First, It's Carbon Monoxide you need to worry about! CO

    Solar Isolation...

    http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/old_data/nsrdb/1961-1990/redbook/sum2/13995.txt

    There are a couple ways to do camper in shade and panels in sun, Both require you to send higher voltage the distance between the sunny area and the shade.

    ...Think of that pole mount array as a money tree, and just pick to your hearts content!

    Photowhit, I hope it's not bad netiquette to abbreviate your original message in my reply....if it is just let me know!

    It's been a while since my Chem class but I should have caught that! LOL CO2=carbon dioxide, CO=Carbon Monoxide....Right....I knew that but it sure didn't look like it. LOL

    Thanks for the link on solar isolation. It's very interesting to study but I'm not sure what I'm looking at. I'm hoping that my solar experience will be similar in MO to what it is here in NW AR since the areas are not that far from one another.

    Great thoughts about shading camper and giving the panels all the sun they need. I've heard it's harder on a camper roof to be under trees though...but really I see no other practical way. Hopefully I'll move in 6 months to a year and at least be able to put my camper under an RV cover...if not build a small cabin.

    Thank you for suggesting (and suggesting again) that I use existing panels. I looked them over and they look quite simple to remove. prob a 7/16 wrench top and bottom to get them off the frame. The panel wires have obvious "joints" that I think may be a good disconnect area without having to cut wires. I'll do a bit more research but I'm thinking to take 4 of these now. I will request the rest at a later date. Four x 245 watts will give me just under 1000watts of panels so that should be plenty for the camper, even on mostly cloudy days.

    Lora
  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭
    there is another thing I forgot to mention here...
    Thanks for the concern...you are right...co2 is a killer....but I will use a co2 detector and crack windows for fresh air.

    That is humidity in the winter, it can rot out the framing in campers and trailers if not purged...  I've woken up many a time in our camper, having forgotten to crack the vent above the bed and there was condensation on the fiberglass surfaces above me ...  didn't expect the subfreezing temps in the early fall, so heat was left off......  and then there are moulds that grow in back corner cupboards...
    Thanks for the reminder Westbranch!
    Humidity is a big issue, even in homes since we as a culture have gotten more and more determined to seal everything airtight for "efficiency". Honestly I think there's a lot to be said for fresh air....even outside the safety issues of low oxygen and CO poisoning. But that aside, burning propane gas produces humidity...so venting when using a propane heat stove is certainly a necessity. I can't do mold. :(
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,623 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 2016 #22

    I posted a couple photos of my little cabin in another thread of a guy trying to much the same as you are. He's already purchased some things, that might not serve him well. I think you have a bit more experience with solar than he does.

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/discussion/350763/what-can-i-expect#latest

    The cabin is purpose built to be air conditioned with solar. thick well insulated walls roof and floor. built in the shade. Took the photo just before I sold the place. The other photo is from the front door with the power center and battery box behind/under the array. I never had more than 1600 watts of panels setup what I could safely charge my 6 golf cart batteries at...

    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭
    Ok, so I'm still researching, trying to catch up with the posts here (THANKS for all the feedback!) and fussing over the amount of panels and batteries I'll need and how to be sure they "fit" each other when I do finally decide how many and what size.

    But first a (hopefully) simple battery question:
    Say a person had 800Ah of battery storage. Is it better to have that in four batteries (at 200Ah each) or will two 400AH batteries perform just as well assuming they are wired the same way. (Series/parallel to increase both volts and capacity.) I know it's cheaper to purchase the two but they are larger and would require pre-planning to handle and set up in a way to make maintenance possible.

    If I'm understanding the rule of thumb info at the link below correctly, a battery bank with 800Ah would be matched with 800Watts of solar panels. Is this right?
    ...http://www.jackdanmayer.com/rv_electrical_and_solar.htm#The Inverter/Charger
    ......Rule of thumb: 1 amp of storage for each watt of solar panel.

    Then...there's Handy Bob who gets by with NO generator and only 345 W of panels and 450Ah of storage (in 4 batteries) The key is being sure the batteries are 100% charged and of course the rest of the system set up optimally. He also says they usually discharge them only 15% which would be down to 85% capacity.
    ...https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/the-rv-battery-charging-puzzle-2/
    ...We have only 345 watts of panels (that is less than three new 130 watt panels), which we tip up to 50 degrees in the winter and four golf cart batteries giving us 450 amp hours of storage, so we can get through a few cloudy days.


    SO for my system, I'm thinking 1000W of panels could be a bit of overkill....but that's a good thing if I want to get by without a generator so really OK for my situation. I still like idea of the two 6v Crown Batteries I mentioned earlier....L16 type with I think about 430Ah each. (But they're so tall, I'll have to make a slide out tray to service them in my RV's generator "box". Is that doable for two batteries that weigh just over 100lbs each?...and there's NO way I'm moving those by myself (they weigh nearly what I do!) so I need a good plan to manage them.) So 860AH batteries and 980 watts of solar panels is a good match right?

    Finally, The RV came with an Intelli-power model PD 9245C coverter/charger. This is useless to me but would there be a market for it? Could I sell it? Not asking if I can pawn it off as something it's not but if there is really a use for it in a different system. Here's a link to the specs for this item: http://www.progressivedyn.com/prod_details/rv_conv/rv_converter_pd9245c_2.html

    Thanks!
    Lora

  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭
    Photowhit said:

    I posted a couple photos of my little cabin in another thread of a guy trying to much the same as you are. He's already purchased some things, that might not serve him well. I think you have a bit more experience with solar than he does.

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/discussion/350763/what-can-i-expect#latest

    The cabin is purpose built to be air conditioned with solar. thick well insulated walls roof and floor. built in the shade. Took the photo just before I sold the place. The other photo is from the front door with the power center and battery box behind/under the array. I never had more than 1600 watts of panels setup what I could safely charge my 6 golf cart batteries at...

    Pretty little cabin there! Neat and tidy PV set up too. Hated to hear of the robbery at the A Frame. LOOSERS taking what doesn't belong to them and what they didn't work for. Gets my hackles up.

    For AC have you checked on a mini split? We used Fujitsu brand that had a DC inverter and it SIPPED the power in ac mode. (Don't recommend trying to heat with it at all though! LOL) These mini-splits are super easy to install in existing buildings too so great for remodels. I think our units ran about $1500 for all parts but not installation though we got a great deal on that too. Best part in my opinion....they don't take up a window. :-)

    Sounds like you found a gem in your 3ac with mobile. I hope to find a similar deal or bare lot and build a cabin....but would love to have well water and not have to pay to put it in. LOL

    The Off grid house we lived in had 6" ext walls with foam insulation around the entire outside envelope. We heated in winter using ONE unit of a propane radiant heater with the white brick tile thingies most of the time. (Granted we shut off the back room which faced the north, had double glazed and gas insulated windows and were mindful to design for passive solar gain in winter.) Still not bad for a 3 story home in the 1800 sq ft range. We also had wood heat from a wood cook stove which was nice to cook with and all but due to manner of install it required quite a bit of management while in use.

    Lora
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Well as you are stuck with a small batt cave, you will be better off the the 4 GC batteries,  they will be easier to woman handle than the 2 that  should be twicw the weight...  Best would be 2 V cells but they will not fit from the sounds of it...
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭

    Well as you are stuck with a small batt cave, you will be better off the the 4 GC batteries,  they will be easier to woman handle than the 2 that  should be twicw the weight...  Best would be 2 V cells but they will not fit from the sounds of it...
    Actually, I could choose to keep batteries outside in a secured box or some such arrangement so the gen compartment isn't my only option. I'm concerned more about best system performance first, then maintenance (but I believe maintenance to be critical so will plan for it.)
    Being smaller makes me have to work smarter. :-)
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,623 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Well a few things about batteries, I'm going to start very basic.

    A battery is a electro-chemical reaction between an electrolyte and a metal. Each of these has a base voltage, lead acid battery cells are all around 2.12 volts when fully charged.

    So when you say you have a 6 volt golf cart battery, what you really have is 3 - 2.12 volt batteries all strung together in one case. Have a 12 volt battery? 6 - 2.12 volt batteries all strung together in one case. Each of the cells has the same potential Amp available, but at 2.12 volts. Once you understand this, I think the math get's easier.

    So if you have 4 - 6 volt batteries, each rated at 215 amps and you put 2 together in series, you have created a 12 volt battery bank. Since each cell still has the same 215 amp potential so you have created a 12 volt 215 amp hour battery bank, it's all in one string. Now if you do the same thing to the other 2 batteries, you have 2 strings of batteries with 215 amps. The amps do not change so long as there is only one string.

    Now if you add the 2 strings in parallel, You have 2 strings of 6 cells, each string has 215 amps so the amps double and the voltage remains the same.

    Much of what Handy Bob says has to do with running an undersized solar array for the battery bank. If you read your battery instructions, they will call for a 10 - 13% charging rate. For a full time off grid person, I would recommend this as a minimum. You will rarely charge at that high of a rate! Normally you will have discharged the batteries 10-20% and in the morning before you have the potential to charge at that high of a rate you will reach absorb and the batteries will start accepting less current! But after a cloudy day or 2. You can charge at that higher rate and you will be happy you are able to...

    So the normal way we look at building a system, would be to figure out your loads, decide what amount of storage you need based on loads, amount of available sun, and the desired amount of autonomy (if you will need more storage, to live with out another charging source, like Bob and I) Once a load and storage has been established, you figure out how best to charge the battery bank. As a starting point look for 10-13% charge rate. So if you have a 390 amp hour 12 volt battery bank, you want 39 amps minimum available charging current. I think I broke down the math for you in the past.

    I believe Handy Bob is a good guy, I think he must be pushing his system closer to capacity than I do. I have not had near the number of failures he has experienced.  He's on his 6th battery manufacturer. I might be at 6 sets of batteries, but most have been cheap batteries from Sam's club. With no failures caused by manufacturers. I think I've had 1 - inverter failure and one that the fan died(I replaced it myself and it's running now 2years later), a sealed charge controller that died after 2 years on a boat in salt water it was already 4 years old before being installed. I think Bob has been off grid for a couple years longer than I have, but 15 vs 17. I too have built systems for other people, with similar 'no problems/ no events'.

    I actually understand his reasoning for wanting higher charge and float voltages, but would much rather have a larger array. He's not wrong just different.  If you read his "Forms are Dangerous" You may go away and never come back. I believe I was the guy he who discussed heating water with photovoltaic panels (electric solar panels). I've not missed a shower yet this year, though I just run a standard heating element off my array, though at 120 volts rather than 240.

    You would not be too over panels with a 1000 watt array, into a 400 amp hour 12 volt battery bank. The array will normally put out 750 watts, you have the 750 / 12.6 or about 60 amps at bulk charging voltage. You will need an MPPT type charge controller so you can limit the amount of output amps to 13 % or about 51amps. I think Crown says 10-15% 60 amps would be close enough to 15% and you are likely to lose some current (amperage) in the wiring and 2-3% in the charge controller.

    A mini-split is very likely in the future. I really have to decide if I want to build a small home and sell the tin can. I'm not a huge fan of Mobile homes, but ugly as this is, it has no leaks, above or below, pex water pipes and so maybe a roof over for more insulation and an extended roof for a long porch/ covered area. I left a job of 10 years shortly after purchasing this place and have never finalized my plans. I'm still on my small inverter from the cabin, which I've adapted life to it... Sunny day, air conditioner, water heater, refrigerator, washing machine, pick 2... or 3 if it's air, washer and fridge, hope I cooked water in the morning!

    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭






    Exeltech XP1100 12-volt 1100 watt sine wave inverter XP-1100-12V

    $568.35                                   

    Morningstar TriStar 60 amp MPPT solar charge controller TS-MPPT-60

                 $499.00

    Trimetric TM-2025-RV Battery Monitor System TM2025RV

                $152.00

    Samlex PST-1500-12 1,500 Watts 12 Volts DC Pure Sine Wave Inverter PST-1500-12

                $486.20
    Well I can't get this message formatted like I wanted but here are the items I'm looking at getting to go with the (3) or (4) 245W REC panels. I don't need both inverters of course but it seems both have good reviews and I'm thinking it would be OK to go with the Samlex and get more watts for less money.

    I learned that my panels put out 36 volts...and now I understand more why I must have an MPPT Charge Controller. I'll try to get pics today of the connections at the back of the panels. I'd rather disconnect them safely than cut wires if I can. Perhaps someone here will be familiar with the way it's wired and can advise how to disconnect them.

    Photowhit: I appreciate the detailed reply! I've read it several times but not had the quiet time needed to study it in detail but should later this evening. I do understand a little about wiring battery banks in both series and parallel to increase volt & capacity but still don't know if it's best to have 4 smaller capacity batteries or 2 larger ones. For the money, I think the Ah/$ are better for the larger ones but they are more difficult to accommodate space wise and handling.

    Thanks to everyone who has taken time to advise. It's appreciated much more than words can say. This is a very stressful time for me with many things to think over and plan so it's taking me longer than I would like to learn about and select my off grid rv system. I had hoped to have it in place here and test it but it looks like it will not be put into place until it's in the new location....but that's fine. Having a well thought out plan is much more desirable to me than a rushed and botched up job to be sorted out later requiring even more time and $.

    Lora
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,919 admin
    In general, I suggest "fewer" parallel strings of batteries.
    • 1x parallel string is "ideal" from maintenance/things that can fail point of view.
    • 2x parallel strings is "OK"... 2x the maintenance, smaller/lighter cells/batteries, if one cell/battery fails, still have a second string to use.
    • 3x parallel strings is about the "maximum" number of strings I would suggest. Costs more, 3x more cells to water, more wiring (should be fuse/breaker per string), etc.
    Comes down to size of loads (and other needs) which drives -> battery bank -> solar array -> backup genset.

    If you don't know your loads (always hard to "start" somewhere with no information)--Loads are the best to start with, but if you have other limitations (physical size of battery bank, physical size of array, physical size of your wallet/bank account, etc.) we can start there instead.

    For a starting system, sizing around 6 volt @ ~200 AH "golf cart" batteries is a good start.... You can find "decent" quality batteries (Walmart, Costco) for ~$90 or so (or name brand from our host for ~$151 each). They will usually last ~3-5 years--Then you can look at your next bank/re-sizing.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,623 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2016 #30

    Lots of things to think about, I'll back Bill up, I'd always prefer a single string of batteries.

    At 1000 watts, you are on the verge of being better off going ahead and doing a 24 volt system. Things work better with higher voltage systems, you don't have to have as heavy a wire for the same amount of wattage/power. For most of us here 1000-1500 watts is as large an inverter I would like to run at 12 volts.

    Also The charge controllers are based on current, so the MorningStar TS-MPPT-60 (a very good CC!) will handle about a 1000 watt array at 12 volts, a 2000 watt array at 24 volts and a 4000 watt array at 48 volts. You will be maxed out at 1000 watts, actually slightly 'over paneled' for your charge controller. In general that is a good thing.

    Your panels likely have MC4 connectors, Disassembly is easiest with a tool designed for this. They are available at Amazon and other places, not likely at local hardware stores, though they might be able to order them. Here's a video;

    In practice, once they have been together for a while they don't come apart as easily, and cheap tools break at times, I say cut the wires since they lead to a burned building? and you will need some of this wire later.  The panels are very likely in strings, so don't cut the leads/wires coming off of the panel! Just the long leads running to the house. They can be disconnected with some needle nose pliers or some type of retaining ring pliers might work well. If you are shopping for such a tool...

    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • Pic_ChicPic_Chic Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭
    edited June 2016 #31
    This is the array. I think there's a shut off switch in that box that someone flipped after the fire.  I believe you are right Photowhit, those connectors look like the MC4 in the video. (Thanks for that link!) So if I cut the wire in the right place, does the electric flow stop because it's only flowing one way. (From the panel I removed to the box basically?)
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