(Note: Astute reader Robert noted that I’d made a mistake in my table. An open circuit can have no amperage, since by definition that’s a measure of current flow. My bad. Fixed it. Thanks, Robert.)
In early December, I ordered 2 foldable solar panels to charge our two “solar generators”, a Suaoki G500 and a Pecron S1500. Shortly before Christmas and after much discussion, Mrs. Freeholder gave her consent to a permanent setup of 4 100w panels and I ordered the parts that night.
Never give them time to change their mind.
This is the last major project on my prepping list. Sure, “Move to Idaho/Montana/ Wyoming” is still on there, but that’s beyond my grasp now. Too old and too much money and effort. Kids, if you ever have the notion that you should throw your crap on your motorcycle and go to Montana to start your new life, screw up your courage and do it. I didn’t, because I didn’t have enough faith in myself at 20. Now I do, but it’s too late.
So I’m going to make where I am the best place to be that I can. Part of that is the ability to have some power no matter what happens to the grid. I’ve been learning as much as I could from the Intertubz for a couple of years and that’s great, but it really felt like it was time to get off the dime and make things happen.
Given the supply chain issues going on, it’s not a great time to be ordering stuff like this. A lot of solar suppliers are getting short on stock, so much of what I’ve gotten is from Amazon. Yeah, Bezos is a jerk, but at least some of his money is supporting space travel. That makes me feel a little better.
At this time, the parts list is
- 2 Zooms 100 ah LiFEPo batteries
- 4 BougeRV 100w panels
- 1 Epever 40a MPPT charge controller
- 1 Novopal 1500w pure sine wave inverter
- 1 Foxsur battery charger
- 1 digital volt/amp draw display
- miscellaneous cables and connectors
- TBD materials to build a ground-mounted array
No, that probably isn’t enough solar to charge those batteries. It’s cool. If one battery fails I still have one working battery-let’s hear it for redundancy. Besides, I’m viewing this as a proof of concept and learning project. I have hopes that once it’s seen working and providing power for a few things, I may get to upsize it. I’ll probably never get that 15kw setup I’d like to have, but maybe I can get a kilowatt or 3. ☺
As I said, I’ve had the foldables on hand, but was just lazy about testing them since I could return them until January 31. Two of the four BougeRV panels showed up today (2 shipped USPS and 2 via UPS, and the USPS panels showed up first-go figure), and since we had almost totally blue skies, I decided it was a good time to test some solar stuff. Unfortunately, I didn’t get started until 3, and the sun was already trying to get behind the trees. Still, I pressed on and got the following results.
|Panel||Claimed Open Circuit Voltage||Measured OC Voltage||Claimed Short Circuit Amperage||Measured SC Amperage|
|Dokio 300w foldable panel||22.5||22.63||16.92||14.24|
|Dokio 160w foldable panel||22.5||22.08||9.14||14.54|
|BougeRV 100w panel #1||21.4||22.3||6.11||6.69|
|BougeRV 100w panel #2||21.4||22.42||6.11||5.43|
|BougeRV 100w panel #3||21.4||23.05||6.11||5.42|
|BougeRV 100w panel #4||21.4||23.18||6.11||5.38|
When the other two panels put in an appearance, I’ll add their numbers. If the weather is good tomorrow, I may pull Panel #2 back out and retest. I think I may have gotten some shadow I didn’t notice. If not, the panel is bad and I need to get a replacement on the way.
This is going to be interesting.
(Edit, 1/26/2021: I have finally gotten good sun on a day that I could test the panels 3 & 4. I’ve edited those measurements into the table. I also retested panel 2 and changed those results. All 3 of today’s tests are rather under the claimed short circuit amperage, but given all 3 panels fall into a 5/100 amp range, I’m going to say they’re fine and chalk it up to the slight bit of high clouds we have today.)