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OT: Going solar power

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  • OT: Going solar power

    I have been procrastinating for a few years now about setting up some solar power. I have a fair amount of land but even so there was a couple trees, one huge one, that would shade me part of the day which is very undesirable. I had always planned a ground mounted array, its easier to access and easy to tilt seasonally for better output. I bought 8 panels a few years ago when a local wholesaler was getting out of the business but more recently decided to go bigger. A tree company is coming tomorrow to cut down that monster tree. I bought a skid of 20 panels, 270Watt and a inverter. The inverter is one of the reasons I am finally going forward with the project. Going with a grid tie setup involves a lot of red tape, even the mounting brackets have to be approved. The inverter I bought is a 5KW off grid Hybrid inverter. It is priority based, normal is solar panels first, then optional batteries and lastly draw any additional need from the grid. It never puts power back into the grid so it is not considered grid ties and that gets around all the red tape.

    As I said, batteries are optional but I have some really BIG lithium battery banks available FREE that will be used in the near future after the basic system is operational. A friend bought a huge solar system at auction from a bankrupt company, all he wanted was the panels. That system was what they term a demand shaving system, it reduced the peak demand at the factory thus lowering their entire months electric bill. The batteries are lithium, 300KWH total, comprised of 30 modules 10KWH each. The availability of these batteries is another factor that got me going forward with the project. Really big lithium batteries are VERY expensive, its nothing to have $10K in batteries on a reasonable size home system. I suspect I will only be using one or two modules. The setup will not make me totally solar but should be about 80% or so of my bills.

    I decided to post about the project because I though a lot of the fellows here would get a kick out those big batteries. The battery bank tied into a 230KW inverter and then a transformer to the plants service entrance. Here is a pic of the batteries, the big inverter and the transformer. The entire system cost $335K when installed and it was only 2 years later they went bankrupt.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	_MG_4587.jpg Views:	0 Size:	185.4 KB ID:	1928165

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    Last edited by Sparky_NY; 02-13-2021, 09:09 PM.

  • #2
    Oh yea, I should have noted, the 5KW inverter I got can be paralleled with up to 6 inverters for a max of 30KW, so if I decide to go bigger, expansion is not a problem. Also, being a hybrid inverter, it will put out full power in the event of a grid outage. Because it never feeds the grids, the anti aliasing requirements of a grid tie system do not apply here.
    Last edited by Sparky_NY; 02-13-2021, 09:28 PM.

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    • #3
      Nice.

      I know several people who are 100% off-grid, they do not even have power wires near their property. It works, although right around Dec 21 there is usually a "crunch time" of low power availability. After that through March it depends on snowfall and getting the panels cleaned off.

      That many lithium cells makes me think of a bomb.... I'd want that stuff in a concrete vault. If that inverter is from the folks I think it is, it is good stuff.
      2801 3147 6749 8779 4900 4900 4900

      Keep eye on ball.
      Hashim Khan


      It's just a box of rain, I don't know who put it there.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
        Nice.

        I know several people who are 100% off-grid, they do not even have power wires near their property. It works, although right around Dec 21 there is usually a "crunch time" of low power availability. After that through March it depends on snowfall and getting the panels cleaned off.

        That many lithium cells makes me think of a bomb.... I'd want that stuff in a concrete vault. If that inverter is from the folks I think it is, it is good stuff.
        You are one of the people I thought would get a kick out of that setup ! The 230KW inverter is made by ABB. You are dead right about those batteries commanding a LOT of respect ! To be determined yet but I suspect I will "only" be using one or two of the modules in my setup. The inverter I got can charge at 160A max. I'm fortunate to be in South Carolina which is a great area for solar, there is a lot of it around here. All systems put out less power in the winter due to the shorter days and the sun being lower in the sky, that is why tilting the array 4 times a year with each season helps the output so much.

        The US government website for solar has some very sophisticated calculators. For my setup and location it predicts a low monthly output of 550KWH and a high of 950KWH. That is enough to totally offset my usage except in December and then its pretty close.

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        • #5
          When you said you were going solar, you wasn't kidding

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          • #6
            Yowza!
            Location: North Central Texas

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            • #7
              Originally posted by RB211 View Post
              When you said you were going solar, you wasn't kidding
              My system will be only average, 5KW. I will only use one or two of the battery modules I am guessing. Those batteries are pretty impressive. So, RB, would you be nervous with those battery banks in the cargo hold? LOL I know you have said lithium batteries and over the ocean is one of your biggest worries, rightfully so !
              Last edited by Sparky_NY; 02-13-2021, 10:06 PM.

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              • #8
                The original setup in that plant reminds me of a spot welder. They only had 12KW of solar panels on the roof, with a 12KW inverter also on the roof which charged those batteries. When the factories peak electric demand occured those batteries would discharge into their service lessening that peak demand period and thus their whole monthly bill. (commercial places usually have demand meters)

                I was surprised that it was only 12KW of solar panels for all that battery storage.
                Last edited by Sparky_NY; 02-13-2021, 10:08 PM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sparky_NY View Post

                  My system will be only average, 5KW. I will only use one or two of the battery modules I am guessing. Those batteries are pretty impressive. So, RB, would you be nervous with those battery banks in the cargo hold? LOL I know you have said lithium batteries and over the ocean is one of your biggest worries, rightfully so !
                  Yes, I would be. Lithium batteries create their own fuel when they ignite and defeat ALL of our fire suppression techniques. They should be banned on all flights.

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                  • #10
                    holy $hitballs, you're not messing around! That is an awe inspiring and rather scary amount of li-ion (li-poly?) cells. Even a little 0.5kwh battery gives me the willies - that's enough current capability to melt stuff easily. What kind of charge balancing and monitoring circuitry do the modules have?

                    Would love to see some pics of your set up when done. It's something I aspire to, but the numbers don't work out paying retail, even with subsidies.

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                    • #11
                      I've been off grid again for the last two months but not in a regular house. I'm in a 34 foot fifth wheel RV with three slides and all the goodies. Last fall I added 840 watts of solar panels on the roof and when we got to our place in Arizona a couple of weeks ago I added the 600 watts of panels that we keep here.

                      I've been thinking about going off grid at home in Michigan too. My big shop has a south facing roof that measures 27 from peak to eave and is 48 feet long. Perfect place to mount a bunch of panels and I've got a line on used 250 watt panels for $50 each.

                      If you have any extra batteries and want to part with them I may be interested.
                      OPEN EYES, OPEN EARS, OPEN MIND

                      THINK HARDER

                      BETTER TO HAVE TOOLS YOU DON'T NEED THAN TO NEED TOOLS YOU DON'T HAVE

                      MY NAME IS BRIAN AND I AM A TOOLOHOLIC

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                      • #12
                        I Like it!!!

                        I posted here before about my solar array. I hate and love my contract with SoCal Edison. I am grid tied due to space or more accordingly room. I dont have any floor space If I did I would tell Edison to go stuff it..

                        They gave me a bill this month. Probably because I dont turn any lamps off, shop it lighted 24/7. The welders do take some current. The 2kw pool pump runs 10hrs! (variable speed motor, 220ac, hows that?)

                        The bill was for one dollar, auto bill pay for that hog. Welcome to solar land. I like your layout... JR
                        My old yahoo group. Bridgeport Mill Group

                        https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...port_mill/info

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                        • #13
                          I think that power bank could power a small diesel locomotive, like a GE 44 ton.

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                          • #14
                            Your system has mine beat. Mine puts out about 1/4 watt, which is enough to make the fan turn, but not blow any air.
                            I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                            • #15
                              This definitely qualifies for "YOU SUCK"

                              What type of battery and how many Ah per cell?

                              Are you going to have 24vdc or 48Vdc system?
                              Location: Helsinki, Finland, Europe

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