|As you can see, no evidence of the solar panels from the ground!|
|Dash Mounted Energy Monitor|
Later on, as a secondary project to this, I have been looking into adding a "diversion load" capability. The MPPT controller will support this and it seems like a good idea. What is it you may ask? It's just the ability for the controller to DIVERT amps to another use after the batteries are charged ore when there is excess available. I was thinking of adding a 12V heating element to the water heater and using it to slowly bring the water up to temperature. Well, maybe.....if anyone has an idea for a use of power after the batteries are finished charging, let me know. I was also going to use a passive solar water heater on the roof. Not very big, but it would just feed water into the water heater after it is heated by the sun. Not electrically, just a black heat absorbing flat-ish bag affixed to the roof. I'd need a small pump to get water up to it, but gravity would bring it down to the hot water heater tank.....maybe next season!
Now for the big question.
How much did all this actually end up costing?
Good question. The panels were around $1980.00 Shipped via DHL from China. The MPPT 45AMP controller was around $450.00 Shipped from California, heavy cable and wire was another $300.00 from various sources. We used 5 tubes of 3M 760 adhesive at $12.00 per tube for $60.00. I had the inverter already, but it would be close to $450.00. Fuses and Fuse Holders were $50.00 all together and the remote monitoring for the Controller was $150.00. Since I already had an Energy Monitoring System, I didn't need to buy another, but if you did, figure on another $300.00 including the shunt. The grand total???
...Seems like a lot of money. Prices have come down a bit, so this could be done for around $2600.00 or so in today's' pricing. Less if you already have any of the pieces installed. Included was the Shipping from China at $500.00, so if you use an alternative method it could be brought down as well.
Remember, I did all the engineering and installation for this project, so there was no labor charges. (Well, Passenger Pete did want some food in exchange for labor so I guess I could figure that in.)
I would do it again in an instant. The whole system weighs less than a single large conventional panel, including all the pieces and parts. It puts out more than I need Watts-wise and fit on what real estate my tiny roof had available. As it is, I haven't run my generator at all last season (except to exercise it) and am enjoying the peace and quiet (not to mention fuel savings!) that this Solar Charging system brings. I highly recommend it!
Periodically, I will be updating the this system to make it more user friendly and transparent. Next will likely be Lithium Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries. I'll be writing an article all abut my research into them and whether it's going to be doable.
Stay tuned to this space for more technical project information as well as some lighter-side moments as I go...
Down The Road...
Rich "The Wanderman"
Read Part 5 of this series.
Read Part 4 of this series.
Read Part 3 of this series.
Read Part 2 of this series.
Read Part 1 of this series.