Since the budget was drained from the Epic DIY deck project, there wasn’t much wiggle room for new equipment. Had to make do with what I had, and do some clever reconfiguring of the solar and wind power equipment for 2015 summer.
Moved the factory made, 100-watt panel to the new main cabin battery bank. For some reason, the voltage was really spiking (21 volts, with load). I thought it might be the charge controller or a loss connection to the batteries. Happened during July, but not during August.
The DIY 80 watt solar panel is working just fine. Putting out about 6 amps on a good sunny day. The only downside was the backing was starting to peel off. Some red tuck tape helped seal it off. Hopefully, I can get 2 more years out of it.
New addition. Bid 99 cents on a small 5.5 watt panel and won. Using it as a trickle charger for the generator and water pump battery.
Earlier in the year, the Morningstar TS-60 was taken out of service until I can determine why it was showing a fault. Did some basic tests and couldn’t find the problem. It sat in my tool box for 9 months and in July, I hooked it up to the DIY solar panel. Seems to be working OK.
Picked up a 99 cents eBay special (plus $29.00 for shipping) for a programmable charge controller with load control and temperature gizmo. It will be used in the main cabin battery bank. I like to test the system out for a full season before upgrading equipment.
It’s a good plan to have some spare, inexpensive charge controllers. I use eBay as my buying source and try to find a good, previously used, charge controller. If not, an off-shore made controller can be found for around $30.
Last fall, I purchased (4) 6 volt, US Battery off craigslist for $40 each. They were lightly used and 3 years old. Came from a backup power system for a data security company. The plan was to use them for the battery bank in the main cabin. The box would be located directly underneath the charging/entertainment center. Then I could avoid long cables and it was easier for access. Built a large box that featured space for more batteries or equipment.
I found out my homemade booster battery cables were not up to the job. They were making the voltage jump around erratically. I think one of the reason was the wire was not soldered to the eyelids or lugs. (Have to work on that for next time). Fixed the issue by spending $45.00 for a pair of factory made 4 ga. battery cables.
The small, 100-watt wind turbine is working fine after 5 years. The PVC blades are in good shape and every year, I lower the tower and pump grease into the gear system. The roof top mount help up pretty good, but I’m concerned how the rooftop ice moved the base around.
Solar Panel Mount- Figured out a nifty mount for the solar panel. Used a satellite dish mount. Fun project and it works really well. The only downside was the mount can hold lightweight solar panels.
Battery Box- spent some time planning the second battery box, building and figuring out an effective passive venting system. Some say venting isn’t required, especially the low amps I’m producing, but it’s a piece of mind knowing there will no hydrogen build up.
Have a few more items to add, but I’m waiting on some pictured. Thanks for visiting the Cedar Workshop website!
Did some research on the web and these panels are said to produce power in any sunlight light or cloudy days. Thought that would make an ideal trickle charger for smaller batteries that start the gas generator or future 12 volt LED lights for the cabin
When it finally arrived in the mail, I did some tests and it pushed out 24 volts at .25 amps (open, no load). The numbers are low, but the panel was lying almost flat on the ground.
Since it was small and square, thought it would be ideal to mount it to the Satellite TV Dish. There was a just enough space under 100-watt panel.
I got to work creating some “Z” clamps from a left over piece of angle metal. I measured how thick the solar panel was and marked it as the bend point of the metal. Unlike the first time make these Z clamps, I measured out spaces for the widths of the clamps. Using a permanent marker, I was able to show where to bend and cut the holes for the bolts.
Note: Might not seem like a big deal to measure, but most of the time, I’m under some imaginary deadline and I thinking about the next step even before I’m finished the step I’m working on. It’s like flying-on-the-seat-of-your-pants working. Sometimes great ideas come out of it, but, the result is sloppy workmanship.
Using a cordless drill with a 1/8th bit, made a hole in each Z-clamp so it cloud be fit to the IKEA slide rail. Grabbed the 4 amp trusty angle grinder, plugged it into the 1500 watt inverter and fired it up. With the thin cutting blade, it sliced through the metal angle iron no problem. I took my time rounding the edges of the metal, so it didn’t have nasty burrs, to slice my figures.
Once the four Z-clamps were bent and ready, I went up on the roof for sizing the panel the rails. That is when I noticed my oversight. The space left over on the satellite TV dish mount was not enough. About 3-1/2″ too short.. odd, didn’t look like that from the ground. Anyway, it was a minor set back, but I had an idea on how to add an extension arm to the bottom of the IKEA rails. Went and rummaged through my pile of old solar panel mounts from a few years back.
Found two,1″ x 9″ pieces of stainless steel metal with pre-drilled holes. The first thought was to put the two Z-Clamps on the ends and bolt it onto the rail. When I went up on to the roof to do some rough measuring, I noticed the 9″ strips slid nicely inside the rails, sweet!
That worked so much better than the previous idea. To help secure the 9″ strip in the rail, I used a small 1″ carriage bolt with a lock washer and a washer. The lock washer added just enough tension to keep the bolt from sliding out. I went back to the solar panel and measured its width, 13-3/4″. Then I slid the extension arm up into the rail and adjusted it so the panel would sit neatly. Slid in the solar panel side ways and tightened it up. Nice!
It worked out better than I thought, the panel was very secure, but not too much weight for the mount.
The video shows how to make a large, plywood battery box that will hold (10) 6 volt deep cycle batteries. The batteries are used to store DC electricity for a solar or wind turbine system.
The plywood box measures 48″ long x 24″ wide x 15″ tall. It was made from one sheet of 3/4″ Oak plywood. To keep cost down, try to find damaged plywood, I picked sheet for $10.00 (regular price is $66.00 each)
In the past, I have built a smaller box for (4) batteries and it has worked out well.
Below is some of pictures of the build.
Part 2 of this video series is found below
Decided to take the Friday off before the October 24th weekend and get some extra work in at the Cedar Workshop test facility (aka cabin). The plan was also to knock off a few of the items off the “To-Do’s list.
In this video, I show the simply way of changing the angle of a solar panel with common plumbing pipe. Should come up with something more precise, but this crude system has been in use for the last 3 years and it’s been working well.
While I was adjusting the angle, noticed the backing material used on the solar panel was starting to peel off. Used some wonderful tape called Tuck Tape. It is awesome and does well to keep water out. The only negative is it will leave a red colour residue on the item.
Here’s some copy taken from Home Depots website: Tuck Tape is made of UV resistant poly propylene film and is coated with high shear, high tack solvent based acrylic adhesive. Applications include sealing of joints and seams of housewrap, insulation materials and foam underlayments for laminate flooring. Tape has to be pressed firmly on surface and should be applied on clean, dry surfaces.
Background music credit: Runaways, by Silent Partner, YouTube Audio Library
This video covers the typical “To Do List” for someone who owns or maintains a cabin/cottage off grid. You can make plans, but when you finally set foot on the property, you soon discover there’s a lot more that needs to be done. The hardest thing is to stay focused and finish the job you started.