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)
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
uh, that’s not quite what I meant.
so I ordered the material listed above and a couple of days later they arrived
So we started by unpacking the panels, this is going to be just a simple 12volt set up
we flipped the panels over per the directions
and plugged in the wires according to the diagrams
we drilled holes into the deck to be able to feed the wires through
and to feed the ground wire down
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
first panel mounted
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
and we mounted the second panel
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
and cut out the rest
I climbed under the cabin to feed the wires from the solar panels up to my father
while I was down there he cut out and installed the disconnect and fed the wires for that down to me
we pulled the wires for the batteries and the disconnect for the inverter and wired them up
and mounted the inverter to the wall
it’s almost professional!
we went back to the wires for the voltage regulator and wired that up and installed it
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
so I crawled underneath the cabin and hooked up two 850 A/H deep cycle marine batteries from walmart
we put a in line fuse, I can’t remember if it was a 20A or 30A, I think the inverter specifies the size
checked the inverter quick and it was fired up
checked the voltage regulator and we were at 12.5 volts
we uncovered the panels and moved my dads little light panel above his door
and we jumped to 12.7, we were creating energy!
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.