Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Have Power and I'm Moved In.

In my last post I kind of left off whining a little about the price of little tiny chunks of steal solar panel mount brackets. So I decided to build my own. In the vice is a 4 foot piece of stainless steel that I had a local metal shop bend for me. It has a plastic coating on it in this picture if it looks so dull. First I drilled all the holes-2 on one side and one on the side to be attached to the panels. Then I cut it up into 24  2inch pieces. Enough for 6 panels. The total cost for the steal $30.00. That will mount all 6 panels. Probably cost me about $50-60.00 total with all the bolts and nuts etc. But that is for all the hardware. I saved over $100.00 doing this myself. It would have cost me $30+ for enough of these to do one panel if I bought them. Probably about 3 hours of my time went into it and about 4 drill bits and 3 cheap 4" cut off disks for the grinder.
The finished product in the above picture.
For the next bunch of stuff going on, I had some help from an old friend that I hav'nt seen in years. I used to associate with her alot in my younger days. In my rodeo days. She was a big help with things. Anyway, we assembled half the panels on a skid system. The two botton panels are hooked together in series for an open voltage of around 72 volts dc. The other skid will be the same, then the top two panels will be wired together the same. So there is 3 strings of 2 panels in my system.
We got the ladders set up as a ramp on the panel side of the house. I actually had to purchase another ladder for this stunt. It will come in handy for future stuff anyway, I am sure.

Then we got the panels all set up and ready for the pull.

Up they go, I had to steal the winch line off my quad and run it through a snatch block on the panel mount(pulley). I pulled the panels up from the peak of the house as Jo-Anne was holding the panels there from the ground on the other side of the house with the rope that was tied on,  every time I took another grab. It was actually pretty heavy, but we made it. Then I bolted the panel skid down at the top and the bottom. I did'nt even have to move my roof ladder to the panel side of the roof to do this.

And there are all six panels up. They are Sharp 240 watt panels for a total of 1440 watts.  It did take the two of us about 4 days in total to get the whole job done, but we did'nt over work ourselves too much. By the time we got one rigged up on the skid system, it was just a little too late to start putting them up, as who knows what could go wrong. The second time did actually go much better than the first lift. The first lift did take alot of doing and rigging up etc.
Here is where alot of my money went on this project. Roughly $4500.00 batteries with all the cables.
The specs. These are 12   6 volt   L16 type batteries. These particular ones are 420 Amp hours @ 20 hour rate. According to the label. That's a lot of power storage.
It is a beautiful battery bank. Lots of power storage here. Just as I was hoping and thought I had planned, these babys keep up to my forced air furnace beatifully this time of the year. The evenings get down to around freezing, but the forced air furnace runs all night off and on of course. I have yet to bring my batteries down to less than 95% state of charge. I'll see in the morning though. They should be a little less tomorrow because today was gloomy all  day and the panels wer'nt doing a whole lot, and it has been cold and dreary. I hav'nt been holding back on my power usage. Sort of putting it to the test a bit, just for my own knowledge. Normally, I will be conserving energy, but I need to see. I've been running a larger microwave frequently, pumping water, and the furnace has been running all day and will be all night tonight.
Here is the charge controller in action yesterday. It's first full day on the job. (Oct 15 2012).
Here is the Outback Flexmax 60 charge controller pulling 1300 watts from the six panels on the roof. That is a lot of power. I ended up bringing in 3.1 kw/hrs that first day and there was actually a lot of cloudy periods through out the day. I also need to top a few trees. 3 on each side of the house to be exact. Once that is done things should start charging a lot earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon. I'll see how the six panels work out for me this winter. If not really well, I will maybe put six more up there next summer. lol. I'm sure I can get by with what I have though, just have to keep the wood stove burning more and the furnace running less.
This is the control center in the kitchen area. The remote for the inverter, thermostat, water pressure gauge, switches for the water pump, septic pump, heat recovery ventilator(future), outdoor plugs, on demand water heater, and one extra for probably something. This area will look much more pretty in the near future.
I guess one could say that I am actually moved into the house now. I know I have a lot to do yet, before the house is complete, but winter is a coming, and I do not plan on heating the shack for much longer, let alone run the generator just to keep those batteries warm. I do periodically visit the shack to sometimes use the stove, and maybe wash the dishes, but I have gradually been moving things such as my clothes and other things over to the house all the time. I have been sleeping in the loft of my house for awhile now. Things are going good. Slowly but surely. Oh, and expensively.

I just checked the battery data. At this moment, my batteries are sitting at 94% State of Charge, which is 24.95 volts. (Oct 16 2012 @ 11:00pm). That is the lowest I've seen the system so far, but pretty understandable given the usage and lack of incoming charge today. I'll see what things are looking like in the morning after using the furnace all night. 

UPDATE:OCT 17 2012 @ 7:45 am. 
Voltage when I checked this morning was at 24.93 and the SOC was at 91%. 

Guess I forgot to mention the inverter in this post. It is a Magnum MS4024PAE. (4000 watt and 24 volt system). 

This is a personal blog, mainly for my own use. I am building a house with my own two hands, but I am learning alot of things as I go. I do not claim to know what I am doing, or if anything I do is even close to being done correctly or safely. So please, if you are planning on using any of my ideas or methods for your own use, please get professional advice before actually following through with your actions. I will not be held responsible for any injuries or damages of any kind caused by information or comments from this blog.


  1. Wow - looks good :) Recognize the Outback charge controller - things of beauty, aren't they :)

    What inverter are you using?

    1. The inverter is a magnum MS4024PAE Dani. Guess I could have mentioned that in there hey? It is 4000 watts and 24 volt system.

  2. cool! it has to make you feel pretty good, getting this far. when's the housewarming party? :)

    1. It's feeling good alright Lynnanne. Things are working out pretty good so far. No point having a house warming until the house is completely done though. 2019?

  3. Mark that's great!! So glad to hear you have moved in. You've done an amazing job building your home. Really happy for you! :)

    1. Thanks Jeanie. I'm moved in, but, still got lots to do. The little house is kinda mansion like (compared to the shack). Good to hear from you again Jeanie.

  4. looking good are you going to sell the shack and the power setup i live in regina

    1. Anything is a possibility, but I think I'll hang onto it for now as I do still have some stuff in there that I don't really want to bring into the house just yet. You are looking to live in something like this? Are you crazy? Just kidding. lol. Actually it served me pretty well for the last 3 years just about.

  5. I'd like to change your dubbed name from :Frugal Canadian Hermit” to “Jack of all Trades!” You may have invested a lot of money about on that project; but in the end, you'll be laughing it all out, and think how it serves you well. This can actually save you a lot of moolah, my friend! You're the wizard of Oz. Haha, I never knew that you have so much name to call to. That roof solar PV panels are the real deal!
    Mariam Freame

    1. Thanks Mariam.
      It's all working pretty good so far, although there were alot of snowy days this winter. Nothing a generator could'nt rectify though.

  6. Building your own brackets is a wise idea than buying new ones for your projects. I hope that they are a strong support for your solar panels. Just make sure that you’ve screwed the screws tightly to prevent it from getting detached.

    < Carl Patten >