Solar Project Update 6-25-17

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on the progress of our off-grid solar project. We originally set out with a goal to be able to run a few lights, electronics and hopefully keep our freezer and fridge from thawing during a blackout. We started with the Renogy 200 Watt complete system to get up and running quickly with the ability to expand later ( you can view that system here).

Fast forward, we’ve upgraded that with a new 80 amp MPPT controller, 2 more Renogy GEL batteries, and a 1500 watt inverter tied to eight 100 watt panels. The charge controller we purchased turned out to be quite ineffective and actually not even an actual MPPT as advertised; sometimes you really do get what you pay for.


In addition to that, we have added a 2nd smaller system by adding 2 sealed AGM batteries to our original 30 amp Renogy charge controller and 500 watt Renogy inverter. The system is powered by four 100 watt panels and now handles the lights and electronics leaving the larger system to handle the bigger appliances.

smaller system 2

sealed AGM

The original stationary 4 panel setup has been updated with 2 additional panels while we rigged up the additional panels to be mobile to increase our sunlight hours.

4 panels 2

6 panels

The additional panels are supported by nothing more than some 2 1/2 inch PVC pipe from Home Depot and a few zip ties. I know it sounds like a rig job, but it’s proven to be quite effective for our needs.

12 panelsrigged panel

So here’s where we stand: both systems are maxed out except for batteries which we will continue to add to over time. The small system runs lights and electronics, while the larger system runs our chest freezer and microwave full time as well as the refrigerator, dehumidifier and several fans at times of abundant sunshine.

Our electric bill for May was $108 dollars or $3.51 per day vs. $167  or $5.36 per day for the same period last year. If that trend continues, the system will pay for itself in just under 3 years and we will have off grid back up power for many years to come.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!


  1. Most inverters can have a surge capacity of twice their maximum rating: so a 1500 watt inverter can usually handle about a 3000 watt surge. My 15.5 ct chest freezer surges to about 350 watts, but only pulls about 20 watts after that (when running). Largest surge I’ve seen on the fridge is 650 watts with an average of 400 when running. The microwave is rated at 1100 watts so as a rule we don’t run the microwave if the fridge is connected to the system. I have simply run heavy gauge extension cords (10s and 12s) from the inverter to the appliances connected through a heavy duty surge protector. Start by buying a kill-a-watt meter to see how much each of your appliances is actually using.
    The TINHATRANCH youtube page has a great 7 part series on the subject that was very helpful. Hope that helped!


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