2017 Spring Madness Part 2: SOLAR PANELS! Diving into Electronics

Posted in : Battery Box, Electrical, Solar on by : Tai Comments: 0

Introductory Formalities

Over the past two months, I was so excited to make this post, but now that I am just beginning to make it, it seems soo troublesome!  So forgive me if I lack any vital details, and let me know if you have any questions!

Finished Result First

Battery Box:  Misc:  

I more or less decided this is how I wanted to lay out the battery box.  Since none of my cuts are even, there was a lot of dry fitting and pencil marking.  Measure none, cut 10x.

 

Once I felt confident that my battery box would work, I did a dry fit into it’s location.

Nice!  Looks good.

Special Thanks to my good mate “Z”, who came up for a few days and helped organize my thoughts, cut some holes, and most importantly stabilize my mania.

With everything looking reasonable, I went to work on the electrical cubby.  It took about 8 weeks longer than the 4 day estimate I thought this could be done.

Mostly there.

Just about there.

But what are we looking at?  Lets break this down a bit.

The Electrical Diagram

Seemed a lot more complex before investing all the time into it.  Now it seems relatively simple.  It’s good to note, I initially had 30a breakers surrounding the solar charger, however, I am pleased that both breakers were tripped multiple times, meaning that my solar panels were not losing as much efficiency as I originally expected.

The Inverter Charger

One of my many dryfits, however notice 1.  The screen on the left2.  the grey conduit worm popping out of the floor. 3. The two grey conduit tubes (right) going from the inverter section, to my electrical gathering

1. The screen on the left: I cut a big hole for the inverter to exhaust air out the bus.  I attached the screen with a metal frame and bolts so I could theoretically remove it if needed.

2.  The grey conduit worm popping out of the floor  This is the tunnel for the AC/DC wiring to go from the breaker box to the inverter.  Here are some fairly confusing pics of it. underneath the bus/stairwell.

There she goes from underneath the stairwell, these grommets were surprisingly easy to find and install, much wd-40 was used to get the tube through.

I wanted a way to fasten this box securely.

So I made this half painted bracket.

Before (notice the silver sharpie path)

This photo was taken way later, but I’m going to leave it here to complete the path/my lack of pictures.

3.  Conduit paths from Inverter Charger to Battery Bus

I made this pretty metal bracket, to help brace the conduit.  Overkill?  probably, but I try and practice my fabrication with these petty pieces.

There she is after I finished sewing her together.

Done!

I took about 40 dry fit/painting pictures but they seem boring, so we’re going to skip to the mount.

Mounting Inverter:  Originally was going to use Tnuts for this, but I had better luck with 3 locknuts/washers.+ 1 Tnut.  I also put rubber bushings between the inverter and the wood to reduce vibrations(as the manual suggests).

Got 2/0 gauge wires on and through the conduit (lots of WD-40 was used).  I did this about 4 times

The next pictures span over many weeks, not necessarily in chronological order, but logical order.  Just after I got everything done and running, I accidently cut the RJ11(telephone) cable that ran from the inverter, it was buried in wires and electrical appliances.  I took the entire setup apart and put it back together it took 3 hours and this is when I took that the below picture.

I needed the inverter charger to go through a 150a breaker, and I didn’t think about my lack of space to connect the breaker to my bus bar, so I made this connector out of 1/4″ copper plate, not NEC approved, but I think It’ll be okay to run some current.

I’m going to re-dump this picture here to reillustrate the progress made.  Notice the grey conduit on the right, spewing out a rainbow of wires.  The red wire goes to the house battery bank positive, the yellow wire goes to the bus battery, the black and purple connect to the brass electrical shunt to the left, these two wires measure the current passing through that brass shunt which helps detect micro voltage differences, this information goes to a trimetric 2030 battery monitor which then tell you the status of your batteries.  The trimetric 2030 then sends relevant information via telephone cable to the solar charger (green square), which will adjust the charge settings accordingly so your batteries get the exact charge they need.  I suppose it’s good to note I have temperature sensors to go from the solar charger/inverter charger to adjust charging voltages accordingly (lower when hot, higher when low).

The Battery Monitor Wall

This piece below isn’t directly relevant to the battery monitor wall, but needed to be installed for if I want to install a segal deadbolt lock on the bus later on.  So I zapped it toegether, painted it, and mounted it.

 

Yes, it is infact crooked.  Moving on.

The Construction of a Battery cable

Seems worth throwing a crappy DIY walkthrough here.

First strip the outter rubber off, I do this with a exacto blade.

Then crimp the appropriately sized terminal (in this case 2/0 gauge), I use a crappy hydraulic hex crimper purchased off ebay.

There are many who insist on soldering the connections, they may be right, but I tried doing it, (I needed to use a torch).  The solder made the cable excessively rigid (maybe because I used too much, maybe not), and I decided I would rather have slightly more flexible cables with worse conduction at the points.

Then put your heat shrink around your connections.

And I forgot to take a finish picture so that’s all!

Installing the Batterybox

I’ve had nightmares thinking about how to do pretty much every step of this project.  The battery box was certainly one of them, but it went surprisingly smoothly.  I did spend too many hours to prepare.

First I bolted the battery box down (no pictures), the wood is counter sunk underneath to accommodate for the bolts.  I also put T-nuts below the wood for Battery straps, I’ll get to that in a minute.

Battery box down!

I skipped a few steps, but I installed some door handles to the base with bolts going through t nuts below the wood to act as battery straps.  Here I am tightening the bolts with a specialized socket wrench.

Next the fan wall!

I made this fan wall with two computer fans, an old screw box converted into a switch box.

Running those wires through that hole was not fun.

raising the wall, notice the red battery switch against the wall (the only picture of it)

And the battery box is mostly assembled!

Fast Forward to some end result pictures

The Batteries are nested in their box, I’ve got bracings on my todo list.

The whole shebang (kinda)

I keep these fans running 24/7, waste of electricity if I don’t.

 

I keep the lights on the left on 24/7 as well, the bright lights on the right exceed the busses sustainable energy limits (the bus is surrounded by trees so I think with full light it could handle it)

The solar panels

And a usb/12v socket to keep my phone charged and blasting music.

 

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