"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Personal solar power zenith

Friday, 15th March 2014 it was a cool day - full sunshine, but the air was cool. Those are ideal conditions for solar panels.

When solar panels overheat their efficiency drops.  Which is completely opposite to what one expects.  Certainly what I thought.  I figured the sunnier / hotter the day, the more the solar panels would generate charge to our batteries.

But, when there is a cool breeze blowing, the panels are able to perform at optimum, and the 28th March was just such a day :)
This is the Outback remote control unit which
is located inside our house, and which
keeps us updated as to the wattage which is
being generated by our solar panels and gives
 us a total kWH produced at any given moment
And we had a record kWH harvest.  5.7 kWH / 430 AH to be precise!
The Owl electricity monitor showing our current
(with or without the pun LOL) kWH draw of 290 watts,
our daily draw from the batteries (2.97kWH) and
the temperature inside at that time 20.5°
At 18.42p.m. that day we had only used 2.97 kWH so that means we had a surplus of 2.73kWH!!!

We were happy, happy puppies that day :)

By the way, you can tell from our energy consumption on the photo of the Owl electricity monitor that we were drawing 290 watts - that equates to our fridge (180 watts), TV and satellite box (103 watts), and 1 X 7watt light.

Now, not to confuse you, the Outback remote is showing a total charge of 12.3volts.  That is because we were drawing 290 watts at that precise moment.  The batteries were at a full charge of 12.5 volts.  But that shows you how any power consumption affects the battery charge.

Once the fridge timer clocked in and switched off the fridge for an hour, the draw fell to 187 watts the CC value rose accordingly.

We always remember to turn off lights when we leave a room... ;)


1st Man said...

It all seems so hard to understand to me, but we've been talking about doing this, a bit further into the future, when we're out there at the farm more often than in town. It always reminds me of math, and I must say that I hate math, ha. But I do understand the harvest of kWH and how that's a good number. Congrats!!

Harry Flashman said...

You are much better at monitoring your batteries and your load than I was when I had solar power.

Did you get my email address? I sent it to you. It is harryflashman23@gmail.com

Dani said...

1st Man - I'm hopeless at maths too LOL But, it is simple in practice. wait, you'll find out... :)

Dani said...

Harry - Many thanks - I couldn't find a sign of it on your blog from my smartphone. E-mail to follow... :)

We have to constantly monitor our power availablity - without ower my fridge / freezer contents may be shot :)

The Terrible Triplett said...

Have built a system that when it is sunny, it powers about 800w of computer equipment, and a fridge, using little to no batteries. Batteries are used just in case a cloud passes the sun as we are using every spare ounce of power generated.

Then, at night, lights are powered from the batteries.

Next morning, batteries are re-charged and then, the rest of the day system goes back to powering the computer equipment 100% of incoming solar power.

Eskom is there as backup. :-) Not the other way around.

The Terrible Triplett said...

Well done!!! I can understand the joy of seeing the power coming in

Trick I learned the expensive way is that Eskom is cheaper than batteries IF you have access to Eskdom, sorry Eskom..

So I designed a system that powers +-800w - 1000w of electronic equipment daytime, using little to no batteries, with Eskom as backup..

At night, system powers the house lights.

Ps. If anyone wants to know more, I am happy to also share where, what, how and why but more importantly, what not to do. :-)

Dani said...

Terrible Triplett - Welcome, and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Sorry, for some reason your comments landed ini my gmail trash box, and have only just discovered them.

Well done - the more of us who provide our ouw power, the less coal fired stations will be erected.

We don't want Escom as a back-up - we'd rather rely on what we can provide for ourselves. Also, if we had Escom as a back-up then it would cost us R680.00 / month in service fee BEFORE we used a single watt. What a waste of money...!

Dani said...

TT - Your 800 - 1000 watt system that is directly powering your equipment - is that power going through your pure sine inverter...?

The Terrible Triplett said...

Yes, indeed. I use a Victron Phoenix inverter.