Friday, September 9, 2011

Let There Be Light

The long running solar panel project is now complete.  It's been about a year now since I designed the arch, and now I can finally see it put to good use. 

I mounted two 135-watt Kyocera panels on top, which took a little more time than expected due to fabrication of custom brackets.  I was looking for a mounting solution that would be strong but easy to remove if necessary.  If the forecast calls for strong winds I want the option to remove the panels quickly and stow them below. 

With the brackets finally in hand I bolted everything in place and plugged the panels in.  I had already installed a charge controller and ran the wires for the panels.  The charge controller is installed between the panels and the batteries with the purpose of optimizing the charging voltage and preventing the batteries from being damaged by overcharging.  I wired all this months ago so everything would be ready to go when the panels were mounted.  I'm glad I did, it's nice to just plug them in and see it work.

And, the addition of a third panel provides a nice boost to the system.  I mounted an 85-watt panel on the new hard dodger and wired it to the existing bus.  By sheer luck the panel mounting holes lined up with the existing dodger mounting holes.  So, I didn't have to drill any more holes in my shiny new dodger.  I can't tell you how pleased this made me. 

I originally planned to mount two panels on the dodger but it would have been a lot more effort and a little too much hardware for that space.  I was concerned about the sharp edges of the panels hanging over the edges of the dodger.  I decided to just go with a single panel instead.  It's a clean install and out of the way.  We'll see if it's enough.
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