Monday, April 5, 2010

Solar Upgrades!

howdy folks, Passing on info about my power system in the truck, While going through the winter in Quartzsite and the Slabs, I started to consistantly run into lack of power issues.. with the winter sun staying lower in the sky, the amount of power my little 60watt array just wasnt cutting it on some days to even charge the laptop back to full power, and that got really frustrating to me.  So after talking with some folks about options for power, I decided to bite the bullet and spend money I didnt want to in order to upgrade my solar system.

This is what I ended up with.

1) a pair of Trojan T 105 batteries, 6 volt by 225 ah, wired in series to make it a 12v storage system.

2)  BZ500 charge controller, Able to handle up to 500 watts of panels, is an MPPT controller, so can boost the amount of charge it delivers to the batteries

3) 2 205 watt solar panels from  They have a Phoenix warehouse, so I saved on shipping charges by driving back to Phoenix to pick them up myself.

While deciding on the equipment I would get, I was also trying to determine a mounting method to keep them on the roof and hopefully undamaged by freeway speeds and trees!  I initially considered putting up brackets and sheets of plywood and mounting the panels to the plywood, but something about that just never really sat well with me.  I could see the plywood wobbling back and forth in the wind going down the freeway, and I couldnt think that would be good for the panels..

One day.. THE day that I was going to buy the wood and work on mounting them with my friend John, I just happened to be floating around in the Isles of Home depot, and came upon the chain link fencing section.. I had talked to a welder at one point about using Angle iron to build a rack for me, but he said that the round pipe would be much stronger than angle iron.. so here I am in Home depot, looking at the selection of fencing pieces.. and low and behold I had my solution!

I picked up enough pieces there to mount the panels on the roof using fence poles, and the various connectors they use in fencing!  then headed to my friends to begin the work.

It took us a little bit to figure otu exacly how we wanted to do it, but in an hour or so had one panel mounted on the roof and ready to roll.. for the sake of prudence, we only mounted one to make sure that the way we had done it would be fine, and I kept the second panel in the back of the truck.. Well, the mount worked just fine, and for the first time I could be stealth parked with full power in the city!  It Is so nice to be able to have the radio on, or watch a Dvd and not have to worry about recharging the system without running the truck!!   I let that one set a couple weeks, then with no modification, mounted the second panel using the same setup.. now, on a sunny day, from a half charge on my batteries, I’m at float level by 9am :)  and with today being cold and rainy in heavy clouds, I’m on the pc, with the radio on, and the charge is reading 13.0v.. not at float, but maybe later in the day I’ll get there..

To celebrate, went to a goodwill store and picked up a 450 watt microwave.. have only used it a couple times, but if I’m in sun, the panels do a good job of keeping up with it while it’s in use!  so my life is getting a little more convenient.. Since I’ll be working over the summer, one of my early checks will go to a 12 volt cooler, so I can have more variety as well then :)

Overall, I’m doing well, sometimes restless still, but it’s even harder now to imagine going back to a conventional life :)

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