Powering up

Not my house. I should be so lucky.

(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

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.

PanelClaimed Open Circuit VoltageMeasured OC VoltageClaimed Short Circuit AmperageMeasured SC Amperage
Dokio 300w foldable panel22.522.6316.9214.24
Dokio 160w foldable panel22.522.089.1414.54
BougeRV 100w panel #121.422.36.116.69
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 23.186.115.38

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.)

6 thoughts on “Powering up

  1. Make sure the 1500 W inverter has enough overhead (surge capacity) to start the motors you are gonna need to power.. Often that 1500W means that is a max, and something with a moto might draw 4-10 times that at startup

  2. I checked before I bought it. The surge capacity is 3000 watts. Of course, it came from China, so I’ll know the truth when it goes into service.

    One good thing about more modern motors is that their surge is lower than the old stuff. Unfortunately, all of our appliances are of recent vintage, so we have more modern motors and only 3 really old ones, neither of which is critical to anything on a daily basis.

  3. Freeholder: I wish you success in harnessing the sun.

    Epever charge controllers are built to not be repaired by Joe Average. You can guess how I know, to my everlasting shame. Overconfidence leads to inattention which leads to Magic Smoke escaping.

    Nitpick: an Open Circuit ain’t got no Amperage. You perhaps mean Short Circuit? And, like you, I tested my panels on arrival. I suspect the specs are driven more by marketing than by real-world performance…

  4. The Bouge SC numbers are like what I obtained, i.e. a bit less than claimed. The Dokio 160W SC current seems too good to be true; maybe you just got a good’un. Keep us posted on your progress.

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