Well today is the day, our solar equipment has arrived and despite the boxes being wet it all seems to have survived the trip undamaged. The quality of the equipment seems top notch and the kit seems surprisingly complete. I’ve spent the last couple of days reading through the manuals (online) and watching YouTube videos for ideas and information on installation.
- The kit came with 2 100 watt panels, wire and connectors, inline fuses and ‘Z brackets’ for mounting them.
- One Renogy 12V 100Ah Gel battery that is apparently not considered hazardous material (at least not for shipping purposes.)
- One 30 amp charge controller (requires that panels be wired in parallel)
- One 500 watt pure sine wave inverter with 1 AC outlet and 1 USB outlet
We do plan on building a battery box in the future, but for now a sealed plastic tote should keep the cat from electrifying herself. Online resources say that the Gel batteries of this type do not need to be ventilated, but we will err to the side of caution on that one.
Mounting the panels is probably our biggest issue as we are wanting to position them a few feet from the house with the ability to move them if necessary. We have opted to use PVC as the basis of our structure for its light weight and obvious resistance to weather. We also want to easily be able to add additional panels in the future, which this type of mounting would easily allow.
The initial goal of this system is to power a few LED lights in the ‘bunker’ as well as regularly power our modem, router, desktop and laptop. In the future we hope to be able to power our chest freezer in a grid down situation.
The system is installed and the battery is charging. To make the system more user friendly and easier to maintain I have ordered 2 battery disconnect switches to avoid damaging the charge controller in the event I need to disconnect the battery and of course as a safety precaution. I will soon be adding a digital display to give better information on how much we are generating as well as the state of battery charge.
Update: the panels began to generate energy at first light, far sooner than I expected and only an hour into the day the battery shows fully charged! So far so good.
More updates as the project continues.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.