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  1. #1
    Aquaponics 101 Oliver's Avatar
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    6 KW of New Solar Panels Instsalled

    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.
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    To measure is to know

  2. #2
    Moderator urbanfarmer's Avatar
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    Re: 6 KW of New Solar Panels Instsalled

    Wow, very cool! Are you going to sell some of that juice to the utility company?

  3. #3
    Members dead_sled's Avatar
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    Re: 6 KW of New Solar Panels Instsalled

    Very nice Oliver! Are you using batteries or grid tying? Did you install them yourself?

    ....and a random animated gif, just because.....
    Less irritating avatar since 02/27/14.

  4. #4
    Aquaponics 101 Oliver's Avatar
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    Re: 6 KW of New Solar Panels Instsalled

    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
    To measure is to know

  5. #5
    Members 15mules's Avatar
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    Re: 6 KW of New Solar Panels Instsalled

    Very Nice looking set up.
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  6. #6
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    Re: 6 KW of New Solar Panels Instsalled

    Gratz Oliver! Just curious - when do you expect your break even point and what is the life-expectancy of the system?

  7. #7
    Aquaponics 101 Oliver's Avatar
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    Re: 6 KW of New Solar Panels Instsalled

    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
    To measure is to know

  8. #8
    Members Roger L.'s Avatar
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    Re: 6 KW of New Solar Panels Instsalled

    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.
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  9. #9
    Members dead_sled's Avatar
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    Re: 6 KW of New Solar Panels Instsalled

    Thanks for the details Oliver. I have been dreaming about doing that myself.
    Less irritating avatar since 02/27/14.

  10. #10
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    Re: 6 KW of New Solar Panels Instsalled

    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).

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