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View Full Version : 6 KW of New Solar Panels Instsalled



Oliver
07-25-2013, 11:45 AM
We just completed putting up our solar panels on top of our back porch roof, which is soon to be the new FT/filter/pump room for the current indoor system.

There are 30 X 200 Watt panels for a total of 6 KW. Right now only 2 of the 10 three panel rows are wired and putting out over 1.1 KW of the rated 1.2 KW. This is about right considering the sun angle and panel temperature.

We should have the rest of the panels wired in some time next week. Its been cloudy and thunderstorms off and on this week so I have yet to get a complete day of hourly data.

Here is the picture from one end, standing as close to the end of the roof as I could get to take the picture and get all of the panels in the shot.

Oliver

p.s. Black strips to the right are part of a solar heater for the swimming pool.

urbanfarmer
07-25-2013, 11:52 AM
Wow, very cool! Are you going to sell some of that juice to the utility company? :mrgreen:

dead_sled
07-25-2013, 11:59 AM
Very nice Oliver! Are you using batteries or grid tying? Did you install them yourself?

....and a random animated gif, just because..... :mrgreen:
http://forgifs.com/gallery/d/189647-4/Cat-fish-bowl-shark.gif? (http://forgifs.com)

Oliver
07-25-2013, 01:34 PM
We typically use between 6-7 KW throughout the day and even more if we have to run the air conditioner to cool the house. On dry days in the spring, summer and fall, we use the evaporative cooler (swamp cooler), which uses much less electricity than the AC. We use evaporative coolers in the greenhouse and grow room. The biggest users of power are the grow lights, about 2400 watts, between 9 AM and 5 PM and more to soon be added. So, there is not enough power being generated to sell to Edison; and in order to do so would require jumping through more hoops than I wish to.

As I've indicated in a previous post, the whole system is 6KW based, including the Diesel generator as final back-up. It is a 48 Volt DC (more like 52V) based system with 10 KWH of AGM batteries. And, yes, we did this ourselves so we could learn and hopefully save some money.

Obviously, we have outgrown our 6KW design and have to cut back on usage if Edison has a hiccup, which happens from time to time. The batteries carry us over during short power outages, say up to 10 minutes, but then the generator fires up and cuts in automatically. The solar is set to support the utility in a mode called "grid support", which uses the solar power first and makes up any extra needed from the utility. The solar and batteries also support the generator in a mode called "generator support" which adds to the generator power when it is overloaded by surges.

The Panels were right at a dollar a watt purchased in October of 2011, picked up in Phoenix, AZ on December 30th, 2011 on the way back from installing three AP systems in a Tucson, AZ schools, as we had the U Haul truck coming back empty so it saved us some shipping.

Unfortunately, we were vacillating for several months on whether to move to Arizona. After deciding not to make the move we realized that to build a solar support structure in our back yard would be rather expensive. Last fall we decided to expand the grow room and extend the new roof to accommodate the panels. Budget constraints required us to go slow and are just now getting the panels up and soon to be completely wired.

One big shock was when we recently went to purchase the mounting hardware, as it cost us $2880. That, we feel, was a rip-off but didn't know how else to do it due to our lack of experience putting up solar panels. It slowed us down, once again.

So, here are the costs so far not including labor and building materials for the room extension:

6KW of Panels: $6000
Mounting Hardware: $2880
MPPT Charge Controlers: (2) $1000
6KW Inverter/Charger: $3500
Ancillary Equipment: $400
10KWH AGM Batteries: $2000
6KW Diesel Generator: $1800 (including Shipment from Canada)
Hardware total: $17,580

Sense of accomplishment: Priceless

Oliver

15mules
07-25-2013, 03:03 PM
Very Nice looking set up.

eddiemigue
07-25-2013, 09:40 PM
Gratz Oliver! Just curious - when do you expect your break even point and what is the life-expectancy of the system?

Oliver
07-25-2013, 11:29 PM
As to the life expectancy of the system, I am guessing about ten years before we see a need to replace or repair some of the electronics.

As to the break even point, we will have to wait until the full system is up and running and see what a full month of utility savings turns out to be.

The inverter, battery pack and generator have been in use for about three years and has saved our fish on several occasions already as we have had some long term power outages. One charge controller has been mounted on the wall for that time as well and was only powered up for the first time last week. The other one is still in the box and should be mounted and fired up next week, if all goes well.

Oliver

Roger L.
07-26-2013, 06:13 AM
Really nice looking set up Oliver. The pay off time in my opinion would be the first time the land power failed you and your solar picked you up. One can always go on emergency conservation and survive on 6kw. With your diesel backup you can then add in a few luxuries. Very nice setup indeed.

dead_sled
07-26-2013, 07:55 PM
Thanks for the details Oliver. I have been dreaming about doing that myself.

eddiemigue
07-26-2013, 09:04 PM
Thanks for the info Oliver. I've been thinking of putting in some panels for the environmental benefit as well add to potentially save money in the long run. My power is very reliable, with fewer than one interruption a year so the primary concern for me is whether it makes financial sense. Will have to look at the numbers closely and see what the tax incentives are (it'd be nice to get some of my tax money back).

JCO
09-25-2013, 12:51 AM
OK Oliver, we've been patiently waiting for an update on your solar venture...how's it working out. Up to what you expected. :?:

nancie35us
09-29-2013, 02:19 PM
Wow...that was more expensive than I would have guessed.

I plan to use solar panels to power the very few items needed to run my future aquaponic system in the greenhouse I will be building come spring (have the 10 x 12 foot kit; a foundation is started and will finish that, hopefully, before winter hits; then hope to maybe build some grow beds over the winter). I bought a solar panel system (only about 50 watts, I think), and hoping it's enough to run a pump and maybe a swamp cooler for the worst of the summer heat. I'm in southwest Ohio and this past summer was unseasonably cool - only about 5-6 days total over 90 degrees.

I will keep looking across the forums for more helpful information. Thanks!

Apollo
09-29-2013, 03:44 PM
Olive...you'll be the man to maybe answer this question. I too have a solar system, it's been up an running for about 6 months. It's tied to the grid with no batteries to back it up, I do have a large generator that I want to use somehow to activate the invertor when the grid goes down.

Do you know of a way to use either a few batteries or a generator to fire up the convertor and allow it to work from sunrise to sunset? The convertor gets power from the power co. (APS) start and shuts down auto during daylight hours. I was thinking if APS goes down during the day, I could flip the main breaker and use an alternate power source to start up the convertor. Once the convertor is making electricity, then back feed it to the convertor breaker and I should have power until sunset. I just hate to have my solar panels just sitting there waiting for APS to come back on line.

I know I'm a little off subject, but it will do a lot of good for so many people if this is possible.

Thanks Apollo PS. I really like my solar system!

Roger L.
09-29-2013, 06:30 PM
Nancie, 50watts is not going to do the job. I have 45watts and it is a good backup if the power goes out for a little while but not for continuos running. My pump uses .4 amps and I get about 2 days if the sun is out before the battery is to low to run the pump anymore.

nancie35us
09-29-2013, 07:35 PM
Hmmm...Thanks, again, Roger. I have multiple batteries to hopefully store extra electricity in, but if it take more panels, I will look into that as well.

Good thing I wasn't going to do any actual build on this spring - got plenty of time to learn what I don't know!

Apollo
12-03-2013, 06:56 PM
Oliver, we need more input...answers...pictures...been too long...talk to us...where are you?...are you OK??

aquapon
08-20-2016, 09:26 PM
How is it? Any updates??



We just completed putting up our solar panels on top of our back porch roof, which is soon to be the new FT/filter/pump room for the current indoor system.

There are 30 X 200 Watt panels for a total of 6 KW. Right now only 2 of the 10 three panel rows are wired and putting out over 1.1 KW of the rated 1.2 KW. This is about right considering the sun angle and panel temperature.

We should have the rest of the panels wired in some time next week. Its been cloudy and thunderstorms off and on this week so I have yet to get a complete day of hourly data.

Here is the picture from one end, standing as close to the end of the roof as I could get to take the picture and get all of the panels in the shot.

Oliver

p.s. Black strips to the right are part of a solar heater for the swimming pool.

Oliver
08-23-2016, 03:15 PM
Thanks Aquapon for bringing this thread forward. I guess I stopped reading it shortly after the post back in 2013, for that I apologize.

I continued to measure and record daily power generation from the panels for over a year then stopped recording due to being very busy. We were using lots of electricity from Edison and were in the upper tier for about half of what we were using at $0.31 per KWH. At the 367 day mark we had generated 10,782 KWH from the panels for a total of 9,704 KWH (90%) after AC conversion at a savings of $3,008, as we were still in the upper tier even with the solar installed mainly due to all of the grow lights we were using.

The panels were laying flat on a slightly sloping Western facing roof, which was not optimum, especially in winter. I believe we could have increased that by 1/3 had we had enough room to tilt them to local latitude.

Now for the rest of the story. Late last year we started looking for property in Eastern Arizona in the White Mountain area. After many months and several trips to look at properties we purchased our new home with acreage and a well and this last Spring (2016) we made the move, consisting of twelve 501 mile trips each way pulling a trailer, one round trip per week, until the move was complete.

We did it that way so we could keep our internet business operational in CA until we had internet and phones up and running in AZ and the next trip we moved our computers and considered ourselves AZ residents. Then we had to move our cats. Blow-up beds were of great help. It was a 10 hour drive each way pulling the trailer but after several trips it seemed to get shorter.

We are not willing to make our exact location public just yet but it is in the Show Low, AZ area. The house has a built in 500 square foot classroom. Can't imagine what we will do with that :D. We've been wanting to do Aquaponics classes for several years and now we will have the classroom co-located with an operational micro-farm. More on that as things progress.

Once again, the solar panels are stacked up in our shop awaiting being placed up on the roof. This time the shop roof is East-West facing so half will go on each side. We will be adding more solar panels as we have lots of room up there. The good news is that due to their orientation we will have a more consistent power profile throughout the day. The bad news is that due to that orientation the overall efficiency will not be that great.

The house has a long South facing roof but I am keeping that for solar water panels as I want to generate as much hot water in the winter as possible for hydronic heating. I have no experience and only a little knowledge in that area but will learn it by the time it is installed. Also looking at wood hydronic heating as a part of that system. We had hydronic heating for the fish tanks in CA using a natural gas water heater and stainless steel tubing in the fish tanks but we don't have natural gas at our new location as we have expensive propane instead.

In the summer the sun shines in the morning and it is cloudy every afternoon with thunder showers. The Spring is windy with lots of sunshine. I'll let you know about the fall and winter as we pass through them for our first year here. All important in determining the next placement of more solar electric panels. We are at about 6,000 feet in altitude so the winter will be a new experience for us.

The house has a 15 x 75 foot South facing covered open porch which we will be turning into a micro-farm greenhouse, the East 30 feet of which is covered (big roof) as a connector from the shop to the house. That area we currently call the breezeway (for good reasons) and the East end will be enclosed to become our fish room. For the remaining 45 feet will have about ⅔ (10 feet) of the roof removed and and plastic placed on it. That will be 10 x 45 feet of plastic roof. We will have to frame in the open South side and West end and add more plastic to complete the greenhouse (room?).

We brought our big swamp coolers from our desert greenhouse and will be using them to push cool air down through the whole 75 foot length, starting at the sun drenched West end and exiting through automatic louvered vents on the East end past the fish tanks. We have about 8% humidity here in the spring and the coolers should work well. When it rains here it pulls down cool air and in June (our hottest month according to the locals) we saw it go from 95 to 65 in about 10 minutes when a cell passed overhead and dumped rain. 30 minutes later it was back up to between 85 and 90 with humidity.

I will update with pictures as we progress.

Oliver

Apollo
09-17-2016, 11:55 AM
Liked your UPDATE...nice to finally hear that your doing GREAT.

Good luck Apollo

Oliver
09-17-2016, 01:51 PM
Thank you Apollo.

All of the panels are on the East facing roof, as we are currently only getting sun in the morning and clouds every afternoon with some rain.

We will hook up the panels to the controllers as soon as we can find an electrician to install a new panel and transfer switches.

Due to Murray Hallam's recent video on green compost heating, we will be looking into that as well.

Oliver