Another fire n' back to ground zero

I haven't posted here in a while cuz my solar has been doing so well lately......til last Sunday evening. All my solar shed, including panels, controllers, inverter and batteries were caught up in a rather large fire. Also, took out three generators and about 400 gallons of fuel. It was either started by my running generator or arson. The Bagdad fire marshal said there was just too much fire and heat to be sure.

What did I learn from this? My generator, solar equiptment and fuel storage will be kept in 3 completely different areas. At least if sometimes goes up in smoke, it won't be a complete loss. Lesson #2 is not to wait to cover the solar with insurance.

I did have six of my panels on a pole mount that were not engulfed in flames, just lots of heat. Cables were melted on 4 of them and 2 of the panels are complete devoid of any kind of backing. 4 of the best panels are showing 17-19 volts which is correct and the 2 with the missing backing are still showing a little over 16 volts.

Because of the totality of the loss, I'm going to have to maintain the use of the 6 panels that are left. Anyone know what they use for the film they use on the back side? I was thinking that it might bring the voltage up a little.

Life is good and God will supply and strengthen. Just going to take some time to rebuild. One step at a time. Currently runing on a 3000 watt generator for the refrigerator, freezer, propane heater and fish tank. Still, thanks to all on this site who have helped me learn a bunch on the old system. I know the new stuff will be better and cleaner.

Comments

  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    Our condolences,,, glad no one was hurt.

    Spend a bit of time rethinking your new design so that you will be as safe as possible,

    Tony
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,612 admin
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    Our best wishes for you and your family.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,572 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    The waterproof film on the backside, does not make volts. But, there could be carbon left there from smoke, and possibly wipeing that off, could improve the voltage.
    Or the excess heat damaged the P-N junction, and you have what's left.
    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: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    sorry to hear of your bad luck too as this makes 2 in as many days. maybe we should start addressing safety concerns a bit more to avoid such occurrences, if possible. for the lowered output pvs, some of those solder joints on the cells may have degraded, as well as carbon traces possibly robbing power and i believe they may be shot, but at the very least they're unreliable. starting anew is hard, but at least you have something to start with as some pvs were spared.
  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 1,007 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    Sorry to hear this, Backroad... :blush:

    Was the generator that was running in the same shed as the other equipment (ie controllers, inverter, etc) ?

    boB
  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    Dennis,

    Bad news! :cry: Let us know if we can help with a new system configuration.

    Best wishes,
    Jim / crewzer
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    Sorry to hear of your tragedy. Good thing no one was hurt and the fire didn't hit your home. Once things start burning, getting them to stop is hard. Especially fuel.

    If there's any bright side to this it's that you have made me very glad I went to the effort to put my generator in a separate shed away from the cabin and run 50' of wire. The fuel is in another shed 50' from that. It's a pain in the anatomy for use, but you've just proved the sense of safety.

    Try to think of it as an opportunity to re-do yoru system in a new, better, just-as-you-always-wanted way. :roll:
  • EcnerwalEcnerwal Solar Expert Posts: 101 ✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    Separation == good.

    Concrete (adobe, soil blocks, concrete block - non-flammable construction) == good.

    For the moderate paranoid, or simply those knowing the fire department will only be more or less in time to roast marshmallows on the coals - ventilate thoughtfully. Prevents buildup of fumes, also helps to keep a fire, if it happens, under control to a greater extent. On the other hand, very limited ventilation and a large CO2 fire extinguisher that's set off with a fusible link (sprinkler-head type arrangement) might have a shot at doing better.

    I'm at least moderately paranoid about fuel storage, and the end aim (have not got there yet) will be a structure not too dissimilar to a free-standing outdoor barbeque - if it somehow gets on fire, it will (hopefully) simply burn and flare up a chimney/vent. At present, simply a good bit of distance between fuel shed (small, cheap, well separated) and other structures. Gasoline will get one separate from diesel, given that diesel is much less flammable than gasoline - and I have less gasoline to store, in general. In both cases, not using the fuel storage to store other things is a goal (must overcome packrat tendencies :roll: )
  • n3qikn3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    Glad you are ok, but now you all got me worried !!!!!!

    Today we had lots of high winds, did a walk around the house to check on things and found the power line in contact with the phone and cable wires. Doubt if anything will happen, but bad things do happen in three's.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    Generators and fuel in the same shed is a no-no.,, except in tiny quantities.

    In our old place (that I still care take) The fuel shed, contains bulk fuel (bulk for us is ~50 gallons of gasoline ~50 gallons of Diesel. 3 100# propane tanks, lube oils greases etc. The fuel tanks for the Onan and the Lister are in here, and feed through pipes but not by gravity. ( I learned that lesson the hard way when a gravity line failed!)

    In the power house is the Lister and the Onan, and a Honda water pump (It has a 1/2 gallon on board tank. Also in this building are one set of solar batteries, as well as breakers fuses, transfer switches etc. The water pump runs only once a day or so for a few minutes,, it has it's exhaust piped out side. The Lister and Onan have exhausts vented out. There is lots of free intake and cupola air. In a little open lean to on the back of the power house sits a Honda 2kw genny,,, in the free air.

    Fire is a very real concern for us as the nearest fire department is,,,never! Lightning started bush fire on the mainland, and we have gotten water bombers, Our island,, 2.3 acres of dense bush would be gone before we could get to a phone if it were mid summer. I do keep a Honda powered fire pump at the ready 24/7 12 months. It is not a true fire pump, like the commercial Wajax pumps that would take your hand off with the output! but it always starts. 200' of line and I can get anywhere in the summer. Winter is a problem as I only have one open water hole,,, and even that has to be rechopped every day.

    I guess the lesson is keep the flamables away from sources of ignition if you can.

    Tony
  • backroadbackroad Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    You are very correct on keeping the fuel completely away from everything. The generator that I was currently running was out side and about 10+ feet away from the boxes (about 300 gallons) of Tiki torch fuel. There was a large cardboard box some distance away from the generator that was full of empty gas bottles. If the fuel storage had not been at the same location, I don't believe there would have been any problem. It was definitely not any of the solar that caused the problem. Live and learn and be thankful...

    I've now got the decisions of the new system....

    1. Do I go with the same panels of 130 watt size of 12
    volt stuff or do I up to the the 180-200 watt panels
    in the 24 volt versions?
    2. Do I stay with the 24 volt battery bank and
    inverter or to I think about a 36 or 48 volt system?

    The first stage in a new power shed that is for the house only and will eventually contain the solar inverter and controllers. A separate battery room will be ajacent to this. A different shed for the generators will be about 50 feet away from this and the storage for the fuels will be in the next county.

    Thanks a bunch for all of the nice words and help.

    NAWS is my dealer for the stuff and I trust them greatly.
  • EcnerwalEcnerwal Solar Expert Posts: 101 ✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    MHO as a long time shopper with difficulty committing my wallet crowbar (partly since the wallet was near empty when I started shopping):

    Unless you have 24V appliances in nature and quantity to keep you at 24V, go to 48V. Smaller wire, less parallel strings of batteries (for the same amount of storage) to have equalization issues with. ie, if you had a 2 string 24V bank and want the same size, you'd have a one-string bank at 48V. Doubles the wattage per charge controller, too. <edit> OK, you had 3 strings at 24V, so it's either down to one or up to 2 for 48V with the same size batteries.

    Think about putting your battery room underground (with vents) to stabilize battery temperatures. May not work if you are in earthquake country.

    New panels - go for the lowest dollars per watt, which appear to be ~200W panels, generally. I think the new evergreens are "12V nominal", which is nice for making a "60V" string to fit 140VDC charge controllers. The Midnight Classic might free us from all that, but it's not quite ready for prime time yet, I gather.

    Brand X has moved a long way with the XW stuff - when putting an entire 120/240 system together, they appear to come out cheaper than brand O, particularly WRT the "balance of systems" stuff. On a smaller system where you don't care about 240V, more of a wash, perhaps.
  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,987 ✭✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    Go 48V and the WX line ... you will never regret it. Sun panels can be had for 2.50 watt now ( 205 watt panels ) ... so you can put together a nice system for probably less than you had into the system you lost.
  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    Dennis,

    Good to see you thinking about a new system. Some suggestions, if I may:

    I’m a major proponent of the “60 V” nominal array configuration for several of today’s MPPT charge controllers (145 VDC operational input voltage) and various “48 V” battery banks. Here are some module configurations that should work very well in Bagdad, AZ (record low = -13 C / 8 F, average “high” = 36 C / 97 F) per module manufacturer specs and the 2008 NEC 690.7:
    • Kyocera KD-180-GX-LP: 4 modules per series string; 94.4 Vmp STC
    • Kyocera KD-135-GX-LP: 5 modules per series string; 88.5 Vmp STC
    • Sharp ND V230A1: 3 modules per series string; 90.9 Vmp STC
    • Sharp ND-176U1Y: 4 modules per string; 93.7 Vmp STC
    • BP SX3200: 4 modules per string; 98.0 Vmp STC
    • BP SX3195: 4 modules per string; 97.6 Vmp STC
    • BP SX3190: 4 modules per string; 97.2 Vmp STC
    • Evergreen ES-A 210: 5 modules per string; 93.5 Vmp STC
    • Evergreen ES-A 205: 5 modules per string; 92.0 Vmp STC
    • Evergreen ES-A 200: 5 modules per string; 90.5 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-MF185UD4: four modules per string; 97.6 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-MF180UD4: 4 modules per string; 96.8 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-MF175UD4: 4 modules per string; 95.6 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-MF170UD4: 4 modules per string; 94.8 Vmp STC
    • Day4Energy Day4 48 MC (190 W): 4 modules per string; 96.0 Vmp STC
    • Day4Energy Day4 48 MC (185 W): 4 modules per string; 95.3 Vmp STC
    • Day4Energy Day4 48 MC (180 W): 4 modules per string; 94.8 Vmp STC
    • Day4Energy Day4 48 MC (175 W): 4 modules per string; 93.6 Vmp STC
    • Day4Energy Day4 48 MC (170 W): 4 modules per string; 92.2 Vmp STC
    • Day4Energy Day4 48 MC (165 W): 4 modules per string; 91.8 Vmp STC
    • Day4Energy Day4 48 MC (160 W): 4 modules per string; 90.4 Vmp STC
    • SunWorld SunModule SW225: 3 modules in series; 88.5 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-UD190MF5: 4 modules per string; 98.8 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-UD185MF5: 4 modules per string; 97.6 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-UD180MF5: 4 modules per string; 96.8 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-UD175MF5: 4 modules per string; 95.6 Vmp STC
    Please double check module specs and calculations.

    If you are considering a 120/240 system, I suggest that you don’t overlook a single "big" OutBack inverter with an X-240 transformer. This is a very cost-effective solution.

    HTH,
    Jim / crewzer
  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 720 ✭✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    And where you will be in a warm climate and doing a 48 volt battery bank check out Robin and boB's Midnite solar classic it will be ready soon and wont have the limitations others face with module configuration on a 48 volt battery bank.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,572 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    48V system of 6V golfcart batteries ! may not get 20 years out of the batteries, but the higher voltage is the way to go.
    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 ,

  • backroadbackroad Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    All of this information is a great help. I do use 12v in the summer to run my 2 swamp coolers. I have a 24v water pressure pump(not installed yet). My shop area, which I figure will have to stay on a large generator has a 180 amp Miller wire feed welder and an air compressor with a very large 5 hp capacitor start motor. I don't believe that a 240 transformer off of a large inverter would handle the shop stuff.

    I was very happy with my Outback products, but being the excessively intelligent person that I am, I'm open to all thoughts.

    As I mentioned previously, I still have 6, 130watt panels that are producing decent voltage. Should I forget about these and move on to the larger panels?

    This is going to be a very slow process due to money, but I have all the time needed. With no enverter or batteries or controller, I'm restricted currently to my borrowed generators. I'm keeping my refrigerator and freezer temps stable and giving us a little tv at night. The fish tank is no longer a worry as I just gave my fish to my son as they were not going to survive the temp. extremes. :):):) I just today swapped out my propane wall heater for one that does not require any outside power. I did find that my little 3000 watt generator will run my 3/4 hp well pump. Water is up to the top and is still gravity feed. The pioneers should have had it so good.

    Currently sitting pretty comfortable.....
  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 720 ✭✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    no i say if you have the panels find a couple batteries and a cheap inverter and you can get thru the night. but even if you end up with a large Cadillac system i would still use those panels just use them on a separate controller
  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    Here's an updated list of module configurations that should work very well with 48 V battery systems in Bagdad, AZ (record low = -13 C / 8 F, average “high” = 36 C / 97 F) per module manufacturer specs and the 2008 NEC 690.7:
    • Kyocera KD-180-GX-LP: 4 modules per series string; 94.4 Vmp STC
    • Kyocera KD-135-GX-LP: 5 modules per series string; 88.5 Vmp STC
    • Sharp ND V230A1: 3 modules per series string; 90.9 Vmp STC
    • Sharp ND 224UF1: 3 modules per series string; 87.8 Vmp STC (may not reach F/C battery EQ target voltage on very hot days)
    • Sharp ND 126UF1: 3 modules per series string; 86.7 Vmp STC (may not reach F/C battery EQ target voltage on very hot days)
    • Sharp ND-176U1Y: 4 modules per string; 93.7 Vmp STC
    • BP SX3200: 4 modules per string; 98.0 Vmp STC
    • BP SX3195: 4 modules per string; 97.6 Vmp STC
    • BP SX3190: 4 modules per string; 97.2 Vmp STC
    • Evergreen ES-A 210: 5 modules per string; 93.5 Vmp STC
    • Evergreen ES-A 205: 5 modules per string; 92.0 Vmp STC
    • Evergreen ES-A 200: 5 modules per string; 90.5 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-MF185UD4: four modules per string; 97.6 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-MF180UD4: 4 modules per string; 96.8 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-MF175UD4: 4 modules per string; 95.6 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-MF170UD4: 4 modules per string; 94.8 Vmp STC
    • Day4Energy Day4 48 MC (190 W): 4 modules per string; 96.0 Vmp STC
    • Day4Energy Day4 48 MC (185 W): 4 modules per string; 95.3 Vmp STC
    • Day4Energy Day4 48 MC (180 W): 4 modules per string; 94.8 Vmp STC
    • Day4Energy Day4 48 MC (175 W): 4 modules per string; 93.6 Vmp STC
    • Day4Energy Day4 48 MC (170 W): 4 modules per string; 92.2 Vmp STC
    • Day4Energy Day4 48 MC (165 W): 4 modules per string; 91.8 Vmp STC
    • Day4Energy Day4 48 MC (160 W): 4 modules per string; 90.4 Vmp STC
    • SunWorld SunModule SW225: 3 modules in series; 88.5 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-UD190MF5: 4 modules per string; 98.8 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-UD185MF5: 4 modules per string; 97.6 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-UD180MF5: 4 modules per string; 96.8 Vmp STC
    • Mitsubishi PV-UD175MF5: 4 modules per string; 95.6 Vmp STC
    • REC SCM-230: 3 modules per string; 88.2 Vmp STC
    • REC SCM-225: 3 modules per string; 87.3 Vmp STC (may not reach F/C battery EQ target voltage on very hot days)
    • REC SCM-220: 3 modules per string; 86.1 Vmp STC (may not reach F/C battery EQ target voltage on very hot days)
    • REC SCM-215: 3 modules per string; 84.9 Vmp STC (may not reach F/C battery EQ target voltage on very hot days)
    • REC SCM-210: 3 modules per string; 84.6 Vmp STC (may not reach F/C battery EQ target voltage on very hot days)
    • REC SCM-205: 3 modules per string; 84.3 Vmp STC (may not reach F/C battery EQ target voltage on very hot days)
    Please double check module specs and calculations.

    This is a pretty lengthy list of generally available modules: 34 different modules of various manufacturers, sizes, and power specs. The modules listed in blue are available (today) on the NAWS website.

    I don't believe that spec'ing an NEC compliant array for 48 V battery banks and <150 VDC charge controllers and DC circuit breakers is nearly the challenge it used to be. :cool: ;)

    HTH,
    Jim / crewzer
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    Hi Backroad sorry Im late to this thread, glad your all safe and well, my 2 cents worth factor in the latest PFC inverter chargers which can be 30% more efficient on generator draw that non Power Factor Corrected, I have a SW3024E which has been superceeded by the XW system with PFC . Magmum also use PFC across there entire inverter charger range. But I also like OB bug proof chassis design cause from my expierience in Sunny Spain is if they can get in they will and start a family:cry:

    Good luck on your rebuild

    Nigel
  • backroadbackroad Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    Looks like we'll be dipping into the retirement funds a little. I'm thinking that my first purchase is going to be a LARGE diesel generator like a 12-15K Perkins or Issuzu, then to an Outback VFX3648 and a 48v battery bank with two strings of 8 L16 batteries each. Then we'll add panels as funds allow. I'm probably going to go with the Kyocera 205 panels. Check me in case I'm wrong, but it looks like I can run 16 of the 180 or 205watt panels on one of the new Flexware 80 controllers. The books says that it can handle 5000 watts of input for a 48v battery bank.

    I'd consider a 120/240 volt system if it weren't for the fact that my 240 requirements are so large. I've got a very large 5 HP air compressor and my 180 Miller MIG Welder.

    For my other voltage requirements as in the 12 & 24 volt....Am I better to go with an Ac to Dc converter or a Dc to Dc converter.

    Thanks a bunch for all your help......
    from a die hard NAWS customer......
  • DapdanDapdan Solar Expert Posts: 313 ✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    My condolences, i could not imagine that happening to me. I have tried looking for insurance for mine but the ins ppl. don't have a clue and i have not recieved a quote or even a call from them. I resides in Barbados, West Indies.

    Regards...
    Damani


    Have faith, you will rise again
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,572 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero

    Don't run the diesel genset too long, at a light load - it will carbon up and slobber, 'cause it's not running hot enough.
    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 ,

  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Another fire n' back to ground zero
    Check me in case I'm wrong, but it looks like I can run 16 of the 180 or 205watt panels on one of the new Flexware 80 controllers. The books says that it can handle 5000 watts of input for a 48v battery bank.
    Dennis,

    The FM80's "NEC" power spec for a 48 V battery system is a 4,000 W STC max array. See: http://www.outbackpower.com/products/charge_controllers/flexmax/

    Feel free to contact me at any time with any other questions or concerns.

    Regards,
    Jim / crewzer
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