Our Little Solar Cabin Project

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We had built a little solar cabin for our father and I decided to make it “off the grid”. Since our long term goal is to take our house off the grid, it would be a good test run.

So this is my dad’s cabin (we refer to it as the loveshack)

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I had mentioned to him that I was thinking of going solar with it, the next day he showed up with the solar set up

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uh, that’s not quite what I meant.

so I ordered the material listed above and a couple of days later they arrived

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So we started by unpacking the panels, this is going to be just a simple 12volt set up

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we flipped the panels over per the directions

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and plugged in the wires according to the diagrams

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we drilled holes into the deck to be able to feed the wires through

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and to feed the ground wire down

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we used 1/2 cpvc joints as spacers to keep the panels off the wall to allow airflow behind the panels, we had also taped cardboard over the face of the panels until we were ready to fire the system up

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first panel mounted

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the wires from this panel were fed under and over to the other panel and hooked in parallel with the other panel, the connections are plainly marked on the back of the panels

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and we mounted the second panel

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next we had to had to install the voltage regulator, inverter and inverter shut off. Even when nothing is powered on by the inverter it will still trickle draw from the batteries, so it’s good to have a quick shut off for when leaving the cabin

so we started by tracing out the regulator and drilled pilot holes

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and cut out the rest

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I climbed under the cabin to feed the wires from the solar panels up to my father

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while I was down there he cut out and installed the disconnect and fed the wires for that down to me

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we pulled the wires for the batteries and the disconnect for the inverter and wired them up

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and mounted the inverter to the wall

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it’s almost professional!

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we went back to the wires for the voltage regulator and wired that up and installed it

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so at this point the cabin is done, we just have to hook up the batteries. The wiring goes like this. Panels runs to regulator, from regulator, runs to batteries, from batteries to inverter, inverter shut off runs to inverter if you want to use it, if you don’t want to you can just use the shutoff on the inverter

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so I crawled underneath the cabin and hooked up two 850 A/H deep cycle marine batteries from walmart

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we put a in line fuse, I can’t remember if it was a 20A or 30A, I think the inverter specifies the size

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checked the inverter quick and it was fired up

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checked the voltage regulator and we were at 12.5 volts

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we uncovered the panels and moved my dads little light panel above his door

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and we jumped to 12.7, we were creating energy!

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couple of notes, we did not mount the panels in the technically correct way, to be correct we should be at a 47 degree angle to get maximum solar output, but for aesthetics reasons and for what my fathers power usage is it shouldn’t have been a big deal. He was basically using it for a computer. Well we were wrong, my calculations based on a 5 hour day and a 75 percent efficiency we should have been generating 600 watts of energy a day, well the power supply for my fathers computer alone was 400 w/hr. I caught him sneaking a extension cord to the cabin. Bad dad, bad. We fixed that by buying him a laptop that uses barely anything for power. We also added a third battery for extra storage.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Sorry to post this question here but this is the only place I’ve found that gives some details on wiring. The instructions that come with the 39810 panel are worthless being typical of today’s endless blither blather about safety and nothing about how to do/use the product. I see you mention grounding the panel which the instructions mutter about. But the video “How to install a solar panel” on the Sunforce site says nothing about grounding and, since no wiring, lugs, etc. are included, do I or do I not need to ground panel? Thanks for your help.