Lister Engine Forum

How to / DIY => Everything else => Topic started by: glort on February 19, 2018, 08:58:31 AM

Title: More panels!
Post by: glort on February 19, 2018, 08:58:31 AM

Continuing with what has turned out to be a solar obsession, I bought another lot of panels today.

20x250W or 5 KW.

The offerings have slowed down a bit of late with not too many coming up and most of them wanting stupid prices. That said, I did miss out on another setup of 20x 250W panels and inverter etc the other week for $400. Buyer had to take down but for that, well worth it.

This last lot of panels I got for $500. The seller had advertised them for $1500 which was well more than they were worth.  This has been working well for me. I know sales and the flip side of that is knowing how to negotiate. it's taken a little working out but is now working pretty effectively.  I put in some low ball offers, wait, come back with a slightly higher one after a week or so and they are in a lot more negotiating demeanour generally.
Of course some are just arrogant and indignant twats that stick to their stupid prices and abuse you for your offers but you see them still advertised a month later. I get a mate to send them another offer and they still stick to their unrealistic prices. Hmm, whos the time wasting idiot now 'eh?

It IS starting get get hard keeping track of what I have now.  My Dad wants me to put some on his place seeing I have now changed his mind. He thought they were bit of a gimmick but on hearing how much I'm saving on my power bill, has now given him a change of heart. I think I'll donate him my original set of 1.5Kw worth of 190's and my slightly limited but still working fine 3 kw inverter with one tracker out of action.  Regularly puts out 1900W with the array I have it connected to so will do full tilt on this lot.  There are a lot of the 180/ 190W panels around so if the 1.5kw isn't enough It will be easy to get more and bump the system another 1.5 and get him another inverter.

My plans will be to keep the existing 5.5KW on the north side of the shed, put the 4 Kw on the south side that are still sitting on the back retaining wall, the new 5KW on the north side of the house and the other 3Kw of 180's on the west side of the house.
The shed is only 5 and 13o pitch so even though the south is the wrong side for panels here down under, I have been getting very good performance out of the ones up there. I will run the numbers again to check but I think they will still be better up there than on the west side of the house.

Our power bill came in today which was interesting. I'm recovering the cost of these panels almost straight away. Instead of years with a new system, it's  one quarter's billing at worst for each set and the way I am getting them cheaper all the time, sometimes as little as 6 weeks.

The one phase I haven't been back feeding so far and only has the AC on it was by far the highest at $180. Being a 3 phase system, that means the total bill just for the Ac would have been $540 alone.  The total bill with over $100 " supply charges" was $362. Hot water was $44 which was a lot lower than I expected.  I have set up a control box now and am feeding that from the phase
I'm currently pumping the most solar into . The box has the voltage switch on it and a PWM controller limiting the 3800W element to just 1500W so the standard circuit is not overloaded.  Although the bill was low this time, I expect it will be a lot higher over autumn and winter. I'm convinced the water heater copping the afternoon sun on the 40o++ days we have had so many of here does completely neutralise any heat loss or even add to the water temp. Going to paint the thing black to make the most of this theroy.  Might even see if I can find some shiny material of some sort to put on the wall behind it and curve it round a bit.

These used panels really have been a great thing.  The ROI is so quick and they have given me a new interest and something to take my mind off things. Now I want to get this all set up for winter and the new wiring done to handle it all.
I'll look at a way to feed the other phase with the AC but other than that for heating it might just be a case of going back to the little fan heaters we used at our other house. Not exactly efficient but as long as we can keep up with the power they use, not really a concern.

For those that can get used panels, I highly recommend even a small setup plugged into the outlet. "Powerjack"  brand inverters are designed specifically for this and come in decent outputs that would make a worthwhile difference to ones consumption.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on February 19, 2018, 04:39:46 PM
Amazing bargains on 250 watt panels, Glort.  That much affordable power makes me start dreaming of home hydrogen electrolysis and storage or a micro aluminum smelter.

I'm just about ready to install my upgraded 120VDC battery bank controller to better handle my upgrade to 2375 watts from 875.  I couldn't resist upgrading my individual (12v) battery regulators to new pcbs also and that was 10 plus 2 spares boards to assemble, solder, and seal by hand.  I have to wait for the wind to stop- can't think straight on windy days so it's not the time to work with 120VDC and custom electronics.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on February 19, 2018, 11:14:37 PM

Sounds like a wind turbine should be your next project! :0)

Got to admit, turbines sound like a LOT of work and cost for the amount of power they produce!

I think I'm going to have a lot of excess power.
I have been looking at this bitcoin / Crypto currency thing.  Couple of days research/ reading/ watching vids and I still don't understand how it's creditable but seems creditable people take it seriously so must be something to it even though to me it still seems to scream "scam!"

There are all these people from backyarders at home with a computer to vast warehouses full of machines all " Mining" these things which really means running very complex calculations to either try and generate these " coins" out of thin air or do the processing of transactions with them.
Because of the supposed security codes, the calculations are very complex and require huge amounts of electrical power for the computers working on it.  Because of the way the machines are set up, always with Multiple graphics cards to do the processing, ( still no idea why a graphics card when the machines often don't even have a screen attached) a computer can easily be pulling 1300W and they run them 24/7 and anything from 1 to thousands at a time.

Some bright sparks have got onto solar for powering them.
They might know a lot about Crypto currency but many seem to know beans about solar and electricity. Many throw a couple of panels out on the back lawn with a powerjack or similar type inverter that goes back to the mains and think they are getting free power.
Ya! Just wait till the bill comes in!
Others have invested in solar farms that would power towns and are a huge chunk of capitol in themselves.
One thing is for sure, if this crypto crap ever doers fall over, there are going to be a LOT of computers, Videocards and Solar equipment going REAL cheap.

I was thinking this could be something to put all my excess power towards but spending thousands on a machine to get back $20 worth of suspect " currency" a day is not my idea of a good investment.  Looking at what some of these guys spend in equipment and the returns they get, I'm left with the sure feeling they would be better off putting their money in poker machines or filling out and entering Lotto forms.

For those that aren't familiar with this, Check out these eye opening vids of what sort of scale all this Crapto currency is having thrown at it computer and power wise. ( (

I never knew things like this even existed and think it's rather disturbing they do!

the other thing I have been looking at is the DIY power walls made from used 18650 batterys generally sourced from laptops and some battery powered equipment.  Seems a bit of stuffing round but I have time on my hands so would like to give it a go at least.

First thing is just like the old veg oil thing, you have to get your source of batteries first.  I think without having an "in" like a friend in the recycling business or doing computer refurbs etc, this would be a real hard first hurdle to over come to get the amount of cells you'd need.
They also seem to have a value now by demand and it appears that sourcing the cells is just the first part of where the investment starts.  You might get the storage cheap or even free but you still need all the other support equipment like chargers and inverters not to mention wiring, switches, cabling etc just like you would any other type of battery.

I think while grid power is still available, it's still going to be a lot cheaper than this  over a decent long term.

Already have the hot water on solar, what else am I going to do with the excess power I expect to have?
I know! Maybe I could grow Pot! Uses lots of power I believe and certainly seems to be profitable. The 5-10 years thing if caught seems a bit of a downside however!  :embarassed:  Besides, I hate stoner's. Only thing they are good for is punching bags.

Might just invest in a green house and grow tomatoes and lettuce and other mundane but legal crops. Might get a good price at the farmers market for out of season fresh produce.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on February 20, 2018, 12:16:13 AM
Part of my justification for the power increase was having power for a greenhouse.

For the climate here,  evaporative is cooling needed for greenhouses despite out elevation at 5600 ft. Our summer days are commonly 90-102F, and typically single digit humidity until August, when we have our afternoon monsoon showers.  There are hot weather crops but as luck would have it I can't eat them regularly.  Our high desert climate is a study in extremes, but passive solar greenhouse growers do fairly well except in summer. Summer greenhouse crops are heat stressed and sapped by bugs.  Outdoor growing is limited to masochists; I did it until my entire crop was destroyed by hail three years in a row after being carefully nursed in cold frames, hotcaps, wind walls, etc. through the spring. 

Evaporative cooling is a good sunny day load if your humidity is low enough to allow it.  I did find gardening to be very good therapy and I miss it.

I'm interested in hydroponics also -  as a means to reduce greenhouse bug problems since I can't be around pesticides.  It requires someone with a more technical inclination but that's me anyway.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on February 20, 2018, 08:14:44 AM

Moving here, I had great delusions of Grandeur for my garden.  To say it has been a dismal failure is an understatement.

I know what you mean about lack of Humidity. Combine that with 40+ degree days, many in a row and it's gardening hell.  I thought I was just too full of my own admiration for my gardening skills but a chat with the guy next door whom has a quite elaborate setup had him telling me how he had given up this season and his gardening had been a total and utter loss and the first year his garden had failed in as long as he could remember.
He too despite watering morning and evening has had plants just burnt, wilt and die.  He too was quite proud of his gardening skills and being a lot older than I has had plenty of time to refine them but concedes his tried and tested methods have fallen flat this summer.

We have had about 1/5th the annual rainfall we are supposed to get here over the last 9 months and the cracks in the ground are huge. As in big enough to be a significant danger to breaking something on the ride on mower going over them.  Everything thing else is Burnt including 20+ yo hedges, shurbs and trees.

The only thing that did any good for me this year was the sunflowers I put in for my Daughters Birthday party. They were in full bloom and looked great in teh garden. Next summer I'll put in a load more. Only thing was, they got completely raped just after the party fortunately by the Cockatoos.
that's what they are fed in captivity and obviously something they love in the wild as well. They destroyed the flowers and took all the seed I was about to harvest to replant next year.  Still should have enough from the other plants for that although I spose it's ironic the seeds I raised came from some bird mix my wife put out and the wild birds never touched!

Corn Looked great but a few hot days just decimated that.  The cobs were large but the corn was only like a handful of grains and the rest was like it didn't mature.  Looked great in the garden for a while but fell disappointingly flat in production.

It's been so dry that even my aeroponics setup has struggled and is producing a fraction of what it did even when I first started and didn't have a clue.
Forget the fact it gets watered every hour, the plants just cant get the water from the roots to the leaves quick enough even though I moved it to a completely shaded spot after having it all wiped out the first hot day.

You should look up Aeroponics Bruce. My setup is nothing more complicated than a plastic barrel with  pockets I made in the side heating it with a heat gun and a bit of wood I shaped and jammed into a slit I cut in the hot plastic. this holds the little mesh pots so they are inside the drum mainly. Inside I have a submersible pump that simply shoots a jet of water straight up that spray every where and wets the base of the 50mm mesh pots which protrude inside. It's controlled by a $10 ebay industrial timer. I cut a little flap in the side of the drum and hinged it so I could get the pump in and out and top up the nutrient. there are a lot of expensive Nutrients out there, I use a seaweed based fertiliser I get at the hardware store cheap as chips.  Put in a bit of epsom salts for good measure and it goes like gang busters..... Well up to now anyway!

I was using an arduino at first for the timer and that worked perfect,  it's just the push button timer is easier to adjust and does not need a laptop.

the setup did produce beautiful lettuce fast, as well as kale, mint and I have even done strawberry's with it that worked a treat. One day I'll get around to doing the long planned vertical tower setup.  Should get onto that sooner rather than later. It would look beautiful along the shed wall and be decorative as well as very functional.
It's very easy to do Bruce and a man like you would have a lot of success with it.

We got 10MM of rain last night and 16MM about 2 weeks ago. That's been the most significant rain we have had since we have been here from August.
I think the greenhouse thing is a good idea.  I was looking at heating elements last night and a gardening site that was talking about having black painted barrels to absorb the heat through the day and radiate it back out at night.

Even though the solar fall off is significant through the winter, I reckon I should have some power to spare that I could throw at this.
Might start with a corner of the shed and a couple more aeroponics towers.  I could get some More LED light bars that were working so well before or those LED strips. 
I have cut up and IBC tank with a door in the side I'm going to fill with dirt or sand, and give that a go as a mini greenhouse.  I was thinking of having it outside as I have noticed with teh plants in my old fridge I use for a seed starter than the plants don't mind 40o+ heat, it's the dryness they can't tolerate.  Keep the fridge door closed on a hot day after watering everything and when you open it that evening, I's virtually raining inside and hot as hell but the plants ( corn, lettuce Varietys, sunflowers and tomato plants) all are thriving.

I also bought one of those plastic storage tubs with the snap on lid to try. When I got it home I noticed it seems to have standoffs in the lip of the lid as if to purposefully make it non airtight.  I'll have to see how that goes and if it leaks too much humidity or not.  Even if it does let some moisture out, I'm sure replenishing it every few days will be fine.

Had a look at the latest batch of panels today and they all look very good. The guy selling them said he didn't get much interest at all. I'm sure that was in no small part to the fact he had them so overpriced and I got the impression I could have got them cheaper still. Not to worry, $25 a panel for ones as in good condition and clean as this in 250W is a bargain.  Was bit of a drive to get them but it was worth it so i'm happy.

Next thing is to get them all on the roof.
That will be 36 to put up and 8, maybe 16 to take down and another 8 or 16 to put up at Dads place.

Dad knows beans about electricity. Gun Mechanic but like a lot of people, Volts, amps and watts are a foreign language to him.  I'm thinking of making up a project box with a few meters, maybe an indicator light or two and some other unnecessary  things just to put on the wall and look impressive.
I'm expecting that to be a pain in the butt to wire up.  How many people do you know that have a country property, decide to extend the shed for all the new toys he got ( I bought for him) and have the handy man who built it line the thing with plasterboard, sand and paint it to a home like finish and even put in New LED Down lights??
OK, he didn't put a cornice on it but the guy that did it used the plaster with a tool to give it a nice rounded edge 50mm wide from roof to ceiling anyway.
I was surprised he didn't tile the damn Floor!

He's going to have to put up with Conduit running along the outside of the walls because buggered if I am going to try and run it through the studs and in the wall cavity.

I guarantee he will paint the conduit and saddle clamps to match the walls though. 
Better get onto fleabay and order the DIN rail enclosure, Breakers and whatever.  Lucky I got a batch of connectors in the other day ( and ordered more again) as those things are Dear as poison locally but are less than a buck a pair from fleabay and I like the fleabay ones better actually.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: LowGear on February 20, 2018, 05:51:44 PM
Aloha glort,

Will you, in a couple of easy to read sentences, report what your utility might have to stay about your hooking all these panels up to their grid?

And then a couple more easy to read sentences report what your building permits and zoning agencies might have to say about this as well?


Also: can you do this without bringing to light their maternal genetic heritage?
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on February 20, 2018, 07:15:24 PM
Glort has already covered that issue quite thoroughly, Casey, and discussed it with a lawyer, which he also related on the forum.  He's probably right in that he will only get a verbal spanking if played as overzealous patriotic greenie. 

Reminds me of the "big" fines levied on large US pharma corps when they get caught in outrageous deceit (like promoting antidepressants for kids when their own unpublished data showed it would likely cause many to suicide)...those fines were a tiny fraction of their profits from same (criminal) deceit.  This is hardly in the same class and is entirely a civil contractual matter.  Glort might have to pay for a few months power...

About greenhouses, Glort.  I do like aeroponics, widely recognized as perhaps the highest producing method, but not being able to be near electric motors and being off grid makes other hydroponic methods that are less energy intensive more appealing.  While I can insulate and run pipes and remote what pumps are necessary, things like homemade version of the autopot (gravity fed only from a raised tank) start to look more appealing. Other schemes with less water movement such as Bato buckets or Nutrient Film (gutters) also use less energy- important for night and dark days where batteries must provide energy.

Because motor noises stress me greatly, I'm thinking more along the lines of the Persian windcatcher tower with passive evaporator added up near the top of the tower to have convection flow on windless summer days, which are common.   I have found some models for calculating convection driven flows and this is viable with very large passages. About 6500 CFM minimum is needed for a greenhouse of 20x40 feet.  A 24 foot (8M) tall tower with 3x6 foot ID would suffice for that flow rate.  Agriculture buildings are not inspected in my rural county so I have unfettered freedom to do as I wish.

I have an extensive library on greenhouse design and hydroponics...armchair construction is actually better suited to my present physical capabilities.  The greenhouse has been a dream project for many years.


Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on February 20, 2018, 11:41:45 PM
Aloha glort,

Will you, in a couple of easy to read sentences, report what your utility might have to stay about your hooking all these panels up to their grid?

Just for you Mate....

They would likley say I cannot do it and I have to disconnect them. They would undoubtedly fit smart meters to my home which is a gubbermint mandate to be done in any case.
What I am doing is not illegal, just may be against their supply " agreement" although there is NOTHING in the paperwork they gave me which says I cant do it. Only thing they do say is I can't do anything that would affect the stability of the supply or impact other customers. As I am using proper OEM inverters as fitted to original certified installations, I am well and truly clear on that aspect.

And then a couple more easy to read sentences report what your building permits and zoning agencies might have to say about this as well?

There is no permits or building codes relating to the fitments of solar panels here. You do not need to get a DA or any other permission.
The only codes are electrical and what I have done does NOT comply. The actual panels themselves do not comply now because they seem to change the rules about every 2 years with stupid irrelevant things that are nothing to do with safety or anything other than what could only be explained as trying to stimulate the industry. You are allowed to have old non compliant panels on your roof, you just are not allowed to take them off and refit them as I am doing.  Makes perfect sense right?

This is why the stuff is available used.  An inverter dies on your 5 Yo system, rules say you can't install a new one, you have to replace the entire system.
Panel gets cracked by hail or a cricket ball, Cant replace it, have to replace the ENTIRE system. Those are the regs.

I know I am well taxing your reading and comprehension abilities now, but why do you even ask and in this way?
Just seems like an attempt to put down what I am doing and discredit it. If it were anything else you'd be asking about the setup itself because it does not matter a fig to you what the rules are here or what I'm doing on my place.  Just a smoke screen to try and put shit on my efforts is all.
If that's what you want to do, fine, just come out and have the balls to do it up front. I care about that as much as I give a damn about the underhanded way of doing it and jealous prats going on about rules and regulations like it matters an iota to them. 

To spell it out, I don't give a Fk about idiotic and worthless rules and regs that serve no purpose other than to give bureaucrats who polish a seat with their arse a job whom have no idea what they are talking about anyway. If other people are scared of their own shadows and won't do a thing that they are told they can't and think they have to have qualified sparky in to change a fuse, Good on them.

These rules and regs are no guarantee of safety or reliability, I can point to many specific documented cases where compliance has been the CAUSE of fires and safety issues. They just changed back a rule with isolators here to what it was previously after it was worked out how many fires had been started in systems due to compliance with the "new" regulations. The fire dept were the ones who came heavy on the gubbermint to change it back after they saw an instant veritable explosion of fires on these new installs No one knows why the rules with that were changed in the first place but it was a hell of a stuff up that caused a LOT of problems that's for sure.

And if you are still with us, to prempt the next inevitable excuse for the concern about rules and regs, No, it won't Violate my insurance unless they can PROVE it was the cause of a problem.  If a fire is started by a gas leak in the house, they can't write off the claim because my solar setup isn't compliant.
Maybe where you live they can get away with that and have you bent over a table with your pants down but it does NOT cut it here. 
Unless they can prove a fire started as a result of a FAULT in my solar setup, everything else IS still covered.

My setup has more breakers and disconnects than any Compliant system and they are all rated to trip the moment something goes wrong by very tight tolerances for the power going through them. To turn it round, I'd challenge anyone to leave the protection I have in place and manipulate the rest of the system in anyway TO cause a problem if they tried. It won't happen.

But thanks for your legitimate concern.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on February 21, 2018, 12:21:35 AM

Reminds me of the "big" fines levied on large US pharma corps when they get caught in outrageous deceit (like promoting antidepressants for kids when their own unpublished data showed it would likely cause many to suicide)...

I have been on and off anti depressants for the last few years. Always struck me as ironic one of the main ( among endless) warnings on the info/ packaging was may induce suicidal tendencies. That was part of the reason they gave me the damn things in the first place because they were worried about that! Seems ludicrous to give someone something to combat a problem when the thing you are giving them may make that problem worse!
common sense would say avid it at all cost but if that interferes with profit, then that a whole different thing and we'll just bury it under the table best we can and deny all knowledge of it in the first place. 

I have long given up being scared of getting in trouble for any minor wrong doings I do.  I have seen so many people get away with so much including murder that the law has become a joke to me.  Any little pissant authority wants to come after me, bring it on. The world has gone so PC these days  that rules and the law mean nothing. The violent crimes people commit often more than once and are still walking free makes the law a joke. Pretty much every single day here!

The way big business knowingly does the wrong thing because they know any penalties they may be unlucky enough to get hit with are cheaper than doing doing the right thing makes me sick and there is SO much of it these days.

By the same token, the rules that should be abided by like moral standard have gone completely out the window.
It's all too screwed up for words. If people are going to worry about conforming with every stupid rule and reg out there on their own property, more fool them I say.

 Reality I have discovered though is the people that whinge the loudest are frequently the people that are breaking the most rules themselves.

A while back You asked Bruce how I kept track of all the panels I had.
Have to admit, with recent acquisitions, I am having trouble now. Just trying to plan layouts and repositioning has me confused.  Some sets will go together with similar voltages and outputs and others won't. Also want to put the best producing panels in the best spots and I'm going to take down my original play set and take them up to Dad. They seem to do much better per watt rated than one of the other larger sets.

Last night a mate asked me how many panels I had now and what sort of power they could generate?
I worked out in total I have 80 panels now.
In total they are 17.5 KW worth. If I take the daily average power generation as a x4 factor which is conservative as the standard here is 5X and I regularly exceed that, I would be getting 70 kwh a day.  That's significant power.  Even if I take the winter generation which I am most concerned about as a modest 40Kwh day, still should be able to run whatever the heck I want without worry.

Even if they do give me a smartarse meter tomorrow and pull the rug from under me, I think I'm in a good starting position to go off grid.
Most years we get about a fortnight of non stop cloudy/ rainy weather ( at least at the old place that did actually have rain) and even for that, I think I would not need to depend on a generator too much anyway.  I have a 12/2 with a 6KW head waiting so with that, I'd say I definitely have the generation side covered And that's without the other little Diesel/ low voltage alternator setups I have NOT counting the jack hammer CS.

I'd like to look into building some DIY power wall packs with 18650's but sourcing the cells seems like a big Obstacle. Just have to keep my eyes and ears open and see if I get lucky with a source.  Other thing will be to watch out for inverter/ chargers.
More I can learn and set up for going off grid while I'm still on grid, the easier and cheaper the transition will be if I decide to go that way. 

For now, Putting the excess power into gardening seems about the best option available.

I'll look up some of the other methods you mentioned. Not familiar with them but sure they will prove interesting and inspiring.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on February 21, 2018, 02:25:48 AM
Glort, I just remembered the hydroponic AutoPot system is an Australian invention.  Check it out:

Clever valve for gravity flow hydroponics with no pumps or electronics needed.  Interesting invention and it's widely acknowledged success shows that cyclic watering/feeding with the right growth media provides sufficient aeration of plant roots without the energy needs of bubblers, spraying, contiuous circulation, etc.  Their special float/drip irrigation type valve doesn't allow the "pot" to get another trickled in filling of nutrient solution until the last fill has been consumed.  The same approach could be used with an electronic control system with float switch type sensors, also.

My primary interest in hydroponics is due to the widely acknowledged reduction in bug and disease problems due to the lack of soil and sterilization of growing apparatus after each crop.  (Like the glory days of your first year garden every year.) The reduction in water use is also a plus but the need for evaporative cooling makes that seem a relatively minor benefit. 

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on February 21, 2018, 07:32:18 AM
Hey Glort, I`ve been following this thread for a while, astonished that you are able to generate that amount of power for so little investment. Your suggestion of using all this power in the garden interests me. Many years ago I was a computer geek and spent a great deal of my time building super fast computers using cheap/obsolete parts, generally this was done by overclocking the computer chips. I discovered that by using a thermocouple and pumped water cooling we could run chips at nearly twice there recommended speeds. I even built one machine on which I could run every Microsoft product ever sold as an application on a Unix based platform.

The thermocouples we used were cheap as, if I remember right they drew about 30 watts. when powered up one side became hot and the other side ice cold. I have thought for a while that these could easily be set up to harvest moisture out of the atmosphere, much the same as a cold beer glass will leave a puddle on the table in our climate. I suspect that with all the excess power you have available you could probably produce all the water you could ever use. I even considered making a prototype, basically a small solar panel driving a heap of thermocouples which you could place at the bottom of a fruit tree to automatically water it when ever the sun was shining. Crazy? probably, but I have one thing most people don`t a signed hospital release saying I am perfectly sane.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on February 21, 2018, 08:59:56 AM
Further to my previous post please have a look at these

I suspect that a piece of 4" box section, raised of the ground, with some of these mounted on the inside would cause a down draft pulling in humid air which would condense on the heat pads and then drip onto the ground below. A bit of experimentation would be required to asses how many to use per panel. It would also be important to avoid getting down to the freezing point of water that could be problematic.

I have no idea how much water this would capture in a day but I have seen tables running with water from just a few cold beers.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on February 21, 2018, 09:55:02 AM
So many ways to grow things!

My position is basic that the plants need light, water/ nutrient AND oxygen to the roots.  How you achieve that is fairly irrelevant, just depends on your preference and what you find easiest.  Soil is just to hold/ supply the nutrient normally and hold the plant in position.

This is an interesting way of doing things. It seems it's based on allowing the growing media to dry out before re watering. My belief is it is neccary to get oxygen to the roots  and to do that you have to pretty much let the water go away. I think that is really what this system ultimately achieves and the dryness is not quite so important.  I'm only a failed backyarder of course but many other successful systems do work on the principle of allowing oxygen to the roots and some like Fogging don't really allow the roots to dry at all but have the plant suspended so they are always exposed to air AND water.

The Kratsky method where you put a plant in an amount of water and just let the roots grow down to the water as it is consumed therefore exposing the roots to air at the same time seems a a similar sort of basis for this method. The roots are always wet with the Krastsky but dry at the same time and able to get oxygen.

There is a thought..... Do an electrolysis setup with my extra solar power and feed the oxygen to the plants. That would give them a boost! As everyone knows, by feeding the hydrogen into the engine of my car,  all the fuel will be burned not just the normal 10% and I'll get an extra 500 HP and 127 MPG going up a mountain range at 120 Kmh  towing a 5 ton trailer!..... With the handbrake still on and 2 flat tyres!
 Either that or I can pipe it into the lister which I'm sure will then settle down and go from running like a jackhammer to Turbine like smoothness!  ::)

This concept is interesting though and gives me an idea for the IBC setup I want to do. I was thinking of something like a wet and drain system and this backs that idea up.  I think if I used fine gravel/ vermiculite as the medium and had the water/ nutrient drain out and then refil it would  work the same way.  I know you can get those soil moisture meters for arduino but I think they are basically toys.  As far as I know, all one would need would be a couple of separated conductors and when the resistance across them fell sufficiently, IE, they were virtually Dry, then the controller could trigger the pump again.

I didn't see any prices for things on the Auto pot site.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on February 21, 2018, 10:25:38 AM

Bob, not only am I aware of those peltiers, I have a bunch of them sitting in my electronic stockpile boxes sitting behind me.
I got a bunch last year and sandwiched them between 2 CPU heat sinks  to see what sort of cooling power they had.  With a fan on the hot side, the cold side iced up pretty Quick.  I wanted to improve on my little car fridge which uses the same devices and add a number of them to an old esky and really give the thing some cooling power. They aren't light on the juice but if you were running them from a panel or the car as you were going along, Who cares?

There is a YT vid I saw a while back about a town in some very remote High up place that gets absolutely bugger all rainfall. the peasants have to carry water literally miles up this steep mountain they live on. A bunch of smart do gooders came along and saw loads of water the inhabitants never noticed.
the place is blanketed in a pea soup fog every morning and many evenings. The Clever ones Set up all this shade cloth type stuff on wooden poles and made like a trough out of split and hollowed out local trees.

When the fog blows through the screens, it hits the shade cloth, condenses and runs into the trough and then into the peoples water jugs.
Fking Brilliant! One of the best things I have seen and I always remember it. People went from a poor back arse village where water was the bane of their life to having enough now to actually grow gardens and all the pure water they can drink.  Cost bugger all, no power at all required and produces loads of water and is infinitely expandable.

When I came here I had another dillusion about drilling into the ground and getting the seepage water. A well here would have to be bored about 160M to hit the water table, I was thinking something like 3m to just get the surface seepage.  Yeah!  :embarassed:

I Bored some holes the other week to build a bush shed for my daughters party. Went down about 2 1/2Ft and the dirt was just dry dust. Had to pull it out the hole by hand as it was too dry to stick to the auger.  Was telling a nearby mate and he laughed. Said he had been boring holes 2.5METERS deep with his excavator and hit the shale layer and  it was still coming up as dust. He had to go get a tank of water and put it in the holes to wet the dirt so it would stick to the auger so he could pull it out because like me, the dust just fell off otherwise.

I would be keen to give the thermo idea a go but I think it would be useless just now. There is just no humidity at all which is the problem with the garden.  I have already looked into this in another way... The AC Evaporator Drain.  Thought I'd harvest the water from that as they can put out some good moisture but all I have got lately is barely a trickle. That thing has a cooling capacity of 15 KW and it's still not making any moisture!

I had a split at my other house and I had to extend the drain on that to the storm water drain. I had it dropping just under the house and there was so much condensation coming out it started to give moisture problems in the house. Once I moved it, the ground dried out again and everything was fine.

By the time there is some humidity I spose the rain will come and then won't need to humidity harvest. Always the way.

Spoke to the neighbour today. He was busy putting in some extra storm water drains in the back yard.  He reckons it's been so dry, when the rain comes it will be for Forty days and forty nights so he's getting ready.
I'm in little Doubt his prediction will become essentially true.  Drought always seems to be broken by flood.
Always one extreme to the other, never a nice happy medium.

I tried messaging you and put it on another thread somewhere. I found a real cheap supply of panels not far from you. If you are interested in getting any let me know and I'll put you onto the guy.  I'd jump at them if I didn't have so many and they weren't 500Km away. In the off chance you are interested,  I'll give you the details and you can chase them up. 
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on February 21, 2018, 11:37:38 AM
Hey Glort, be careful what you wish for, hope you are not in for some sort of biblical flood, I had one just before Christmas and I`m still trying to clean up the mess. On the bright side I won`t have to cut firewood for five years. Trouble with rain fall in Australia is that it lands on dead dry land and washes the top soil away, best thing you could do is drill the paddocks/gardens so some soaks in.

I saw the video of dew harvesting, very cool idea, I think it was in the mountains in Bolivia. Sadly not much dew or condensation here, just heat and humidity, that said we have had the best rainfall I have seen in the last five years. Trouble is I have to spend too much time cutting the grass and not enough time building engines and playing with my toys.

I did reply to your message, if you didn`t get my reply it`s probably due to the problems with the mail server. Please feel free to email me at, yes it`s a UK address, I kept it when I came to Oz six years ago, strangely enough I now get next to no spam email because the spammers in Oz don`t recognise my address while the ones in the UK know there is no point emailing a bloke in Australia.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: LowGear on February 21, 2018, 05:59:38 PM
I know I am well taxing your reading and comprehension abilities now, but why do you even ask and in this way?
Just seems like an attempt to put down what I am doing and discredit it. If it were anything else you'd be asking about the setup itself because it does not matter a fig to you what the rules are here or what I'm doing on my place.  Just a smoke screen to try and put shit on my efforts is all.
If that's what you want to do, fine, just come out and have the balls to do it up front. I care about that as much as I give a damn about the underhanded way of doing it and jealous prats going on about rules and regulations like it matters an iota to them. 

To spell it out, I don't give a Fk about idiotic and worthless rules and regs that serve no purpose other than to give bureaucrats who polish a seat with their arse a job whom have no idea what they are talking about anyway. If other people are scared of their own shadows and won't do a thing that they are told they can't and think they have to have qualified sparky in to change a fuse, Good on them.

These rules and regs are no guarantee of safety or reliability, I can point to many specific documented cases where compliance has been the CAUSE of fires and safety issues. They just changed back a rule with isolators here to what it was previously after it was worked out how many fires had been started in systems due to compliance with the "new" regulations. The fire dept were the ones who came heavy on the gubbermint to change it back after they saw an instant veritable explosion of fires on these new installs No one knows why the rules with that were changed in the first place but it was a hell of a stuff up that caused a LOT of problems that's for sure.

And if you are still with us, to prempt the next inevitable excuse for the concern about rules and regs, No, it won't Violate my insurance unless they can PROVE it was the cause of a problem.  If a fire is started by a gas leak in the house, they can't write off the claim because my solar setup isn't compliant.
Maybe where you live they can get away with that and have you bent over a table with your pants down but it does NOT cut it here. 
Unless they can prove a fire started as a result of a FAULT in my solar setup, everything else IS still covered.

My setup has more breakers and disconnects than any Compliant system and they are all rated to trip the moment something goes wrong by very tight tolerances for the power going through them. To turn it round, I'd challenge anyone to leave the protection I have in place and manipulate the rest of the system in anyway TO cause a problem if they tried. It won't happen.

But thanks for your legitimate concern.

Your right. 
I know I am well taxing your reading and comprehension abilities now, but why do you even............(the dots are my quoting our illustrious leadershipness.)

I got through the first part and your area does have some rather stupid and hidden agenda rules.  We have some too.  Not quite as stupid but all in all - Deceptive and misdirected. 

I'm behind schedule this morning.  Manana! 
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: LowGear on February 21, 2018, 11:26:40 PM
I find your approach interesting.  Damn the torpedoes - Full speed ahead!
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: mike90045 on February 22, 2018, 07:48:06 AM
There is a thought..... Do an electrolysis setup with my extra solar power and feed the oxygen to the plants. That would give them a boost!

I hope this is in jest.   Plants consume Co2 and release oxygen. 
Vertebrates (and invertebrates) consume oxygen and release Co2. 
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: LowGear on February 22, 2018, 05:16:55 PM
What about the hours of darkness?
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: dieselspanner on February 22, 2018, 08:09:53 PM
I'm not scared of the dark, I'm scared of the things that live in the dark..................

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: LowGear on February 22, 2018, 11:01:00 PM
In olden days in hospitals when darkness fell they would remove flowers because after dark plants take up oxygen and output carbon dioxide.

Hey glort,  How come you just don't completely off grid?
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: vdubnut62 on March 03, 2018, 02:14:17 AM
I'm not scared of the dark, I'm scared of the things that live in the dark..................


I think I am more afraid of what I'm afraid might be living in the dark that I'm afraid of.  ;D :o

No really, Glort would you mind terribly if I PM'ed you with some really stupid questions?
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on March 03, 2018, 03:44:36 AM
There is a thought..... Do an electrolysis setup with my extra solar power and feed the oxygen to the plants. That would give them a boost!

I hope this is in jest.   Plants consume Co2 and release oxygen. 
Vertebrates (and invertebrates) consume oxygen and release Co2.

Actually, plants do need oxygen in the roots which was what I was thinking of.  This is how a lot of hydroponic type setups work.  They water the roots then expose them to oxygen. One such system is called ebb and flo where the plant roots are flooded to give them water and nutrient and then the water is drained so the oxygen can get to the roots freely.
 My aeroponics system is much the same. Water  them intermittently and have the roots growing out of net pots so they hang in the air to get more oxygen.

I was thinking of something like either a semi sealed system there it's air/ Co2 on top at the leaves and Oxygen underneath or bubbling through the dirt or media or oxygenating the water.

Another thing I have been looking at and want to have a play with is making Chlorine.  Salt water with electrolysis.  Essentially makes bleach. I could use that round here for cleaning all the pathways and around the eaves and gutters and also even on the panels where  I am seeing the start of some moss and lichen no we have got a few drops of rain. The run off into the water tank wouldn't be much but it would act as a purifier anyway.

Hey glort,  How come you just don't completely off grid?


Cheaper to stay on grid while I can and do what I am doing whilever I can. Eventually I will look at off grid when they bring round the smartarse meters which is planned for everyone here but until such time, I have it as good as it's going to get right now. Off grid is not cheap with battery's, inverters and managing it all.
I am slowly preparing for off grid and all the panels is a good start as is putting in a decent generator which I just have to pick up and install.
Also getting the wiring done soon to accommodate this and install change over switches. 
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on March 03, 2018, 04:04:29 AM
My power addition project is still slowly moving along.  With the additional 1500 watts, I decided my old linear PV current regulator needed a bit more power.  I did a redesign and nearly doubled the capacity, 7 instead of 4 power transistors.  I just got the new PCBs today.
It should easily handle up to 3000 watts, but when I checked on the big heatsink (12x10x1.3 inches) with a thermal model it just didn't have the guts for the 300 plus watts the new board can do.  So I ordered a new heatsink, 24x10.1x2.8", with about 4 times the capacity.  It's the downside of linear regulation- a $160 heatsink!  Could have stuck with the old one with a thermal disk controlled small fan but I wanted to keep it outside the power shed and small muffin fans and outdoors don't mix well.  Nothing to fail with a big hunk of finned aluminum, also.

I'll assemble the new PV current regulator board on the first good day for soldering outside.  Hopefully I didn't make any big goofs on the PCB layout. 

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on March 03, 2018, 04:05:39 AM
I'm not scared of the dark, I'm scared of the things that live in the dark..................

My old POS Neighbor was pretty scared of what lived in the dark because that was Me. Many strange things and sounds happened at night and I'll bet he sleeps a hell of a lot easier now I'm gone!   :laugh:
The best way not to be scared of the dark or what is in it is to be the most scary thing yourself and then you have nothing to worry about!

My mates always used to say I was scared of the dark because I always had a heap of lights on vehicles, on my home and had a wiring loom for my tent when we went camping to run it off a car battery.  They would be trying to cook with weak lanterns and torches and things and I'd have my campsite lit up like Christmas. As I said, Roughing it was for the amateurs, the smart people made themselves perfectly comfortable.

They used to say I was scared of the dark but with all the LED and other lighting I have amassed over the last few years, I now say the dark is scared of be because of how I slay the darkness with Light.  :laugh:

That said, I actually like the dark. I'm a night person and I like low lighting.  Last Monday I was on a night flight and all the cabin lights were on as the plane Taxied. I said to the Mrs I wish they would turn the lights off, this doesn't feel right.  Before we launched they did and I was far more comfortable.
I am always getting called a Vampire at home as the wife and daughter will come home at night and there isn't a light on in the place. They laugh how I make coffee and do things where they can't even see.

When I'm outside or driving at night( which I far prefer) I like to see EVERYTHING for a good distance all round! I have put in a heap of lights especially outside since we have been here.  I like being able to flick a couple of switches and turn night into day.

Any questions, ask away. Most likely not as silly as you think.  There is quite a lot of misinformation and things that don't go with what one would logically think I have discovered.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on March 03, 2018, 04:12:14 AM
Could have stuck with the old one with a thermal disk controlled small fan but I wanted to keep it outside the power shed and small muffin fans and outdoors don't mix well.

I was thinking why didn't you just use a fan as I was reading but then remembered your sensitivity. I thought that was the reason not the outside thing.

I bought some little thermal switched for my inverters. They are a tiny little thing about 3 cm long and thin, not a snap disk. I put these on a relay for good measure and taped them to the side of my inverter with a dab of heat paste. Work perfectly. Inverter hits 40oC and the fan kicks in blowing air through the heat sink. I'm a big fan of forced air.

 I was going to get some more car fans and wire them direct to an old panel But If I use that lo voltage power for something else probably better to leave things as they are.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on March 03, 2018, 04:12:35 AM
Hey Glort-  I was wondering if the Autopot valves are also spendy there in Sydney?  In the US the valve alone (for on pot or tray) is about $30 US.  The whole setups are also very spendy- $300 for a measly 6 pot setup with feeder tank.  Too steep for serious vegetable growing.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on March 03, 2018, 07:24:36 AM

Just looked them up Bruce,  About $27  Plus shipping.  The single pots are about $60 ea and $275 for the 5 Pot kit.
With the conversion rate you'd probably pay about $22 plus postage for the valve so no benefit there.

Still think one could do much the same with a couple of probes on an arduino or something. May not be as stand alone but for the savings.....

I put some seeds in the other day in my little plastic box incubator thing.  Going to give them a go inside my IBC tank and see what happens.  Think I'll set that up with some small rocks and have that as an ebb and flow type thing with a water level sensor and drain.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on March 03, 2018, 04:48:30 PM
"I'm a big fan of forced air."

I ran a couple different free heat sink thermal models a few days ago before deciding what to do for the power upgrade and even the most pathetic, barely moving airflow TRIPLES a heatsink's capacity compared to still air convection/radiation.  I WILL be using a modest cooling fan for my low EMF inverter! 

Thanks for the info on Autopot in Au.  It's a great product but as you suggest, the same principle can be done in other ways. 

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on March 04, 2018, 01:05:09 AM
"I'm a big fan of forced air."

I ran a couple different free heat sink thermal models a few days ago before deciding what to do for the power upgrade and even the most pathetic, barely moving airflow TRIPLES a heatsink's capacity compared to still air convection/radiation.  I WILL be using a modest cooling fan for my low EMF inverter! 

I never ran any fancy thermal models  :0) but experience with my time wasting projects and ideas has been enough to show me how effective moving air is.  As long as the air is moving so you are constantly seeing the max temp difference between the ambient air and what you want to cool, it does make a BIG difference. I also believe there is a make or break point where moving the air too fast gives no more cooling as you exceed the airs ability to pick up the heat from the surface trying to radiate it. there has to be time for the thermal transfer to take place.  That said, never in practice found it to be a problem. Blow whatever air you can and let it sort itself out.  :0)

I don't have a cyclone blowing through my inverter, I'd guess the fan is using less than 20 W if that given the thing is only 70W max and I'm running it at a fast idle.  I am amazed at the heat coming off the thing though.  Given the capacity of the inverter and the efficiency, it should only be about 400W worth of heat max but feels more like a 2KW fan heater to me.

If you REALLY want to see some cooling efficiency,  Spray a mist of water onto what ever you want to cool in addition to the moving air. Then you are going to be able to get some very Impressive  Oc/W heat sinking!

I did this on a model Boat years ago. Engine just would not cool well enough with the load and way it was enclosed. I took a water pick up and fed it into the blower housing so it was sprayed all around  and onto the Cylinder.  Never over heated again and there was hardly any water in the bottom of the boat, must have been about 90% just evaporated. I always thought some of it must have been going into the engine as well the way the water sprayed around in a fine mist and the location of the carb intake.

I remember extolling the virtues of water injection to mate for his vehicle. He was sceptical but I think I wore him down and he tried it.
He said it gave him no more power, couldn't tell the vehicle ran any better after a couple of weeks but was totally sold on the concept and would be making the temp set he had fitted better and permanent and fitting a much bigger water tank.
I said if if didn't do anything, why are you sold on it? He said he never said it didn't do anything, he had seen his intake temps repeatedly drop 80oC+  under boost and a corresponding reduction in engine temps when towing.

He said the cooling effect was huge and well worth doing the setup for the cooling benefits to the engine and reduction in EGT's alone. He tried a water spray on the intercooler as well which had significant benefits on its own but running the water in the intake was by far the best. Between the inner and outer spray together he could easily get below ambient temps in the air entering the engine. He tried Meth  in the water once and got the inter cooler to ice up on a low load run.
He did later come to concede the cleaning benefits when the thing started running and starting better and pulling harder as well. Just as I said took a bit longer to kick in on some vehicles.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on March 04, 2018, 02:16:53 AM
When the difference in temperature between the heatsink and the ambient starts getting small, then blowing more and more air (with an exponential increase in fan power consumption) will do less and less...that's the point you noticed experimentally where more air doesn't seem to help.

I got my new PV current regulator assembled and soldered today.  Now for a rough night with a whopping headache from the solder fumes.  I thought I dodged them but apparently not.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on March 04, 2018, 02:28:43 AM

Bruce there is a trick I learned from a shooting range I used to go to. They had strong airflow coming from behind the firing line at your back. As the firearm was held in front of you, the smoke was always moving away.

I do this with different things I want to avoid fumes with just by putting a fan or blower behind me.  Moves everything away from you and minimises if not eliminates  the exposure you get.
I have also used a household vac and put it outside when sitting near a window and drawn the fumes out from what I was doing so they were discharged outside.

Would be interesting to see and hear some more details of the controller you came up with.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on March 04, 2018, 04:47:16 AM
This new PV current regulator  is really a simpler version of the one I've had in service for the last 8 years or so.  It's just a big linear series regulator. It's set up now for 0-5V current as control (through an opto-isolator) = 0-16 amps output (limited by the max output of the PV arrays).  It uses seven 350V NPN Darlington power transistors (BU323) that are tough buggers designed for automotive ignition systems.  It is a "low side" regulator, the PV negative is below the 0V of the 120V battery bank. 

So it's really 3 different boards to do the charge regulation;
1. A Battery Regulator board; float, bulk and equalize, temp compensated 12V shunt regulator for each battery (10 total), with shunt current feedback.  This lets me charge a large series string but baby each battery individually; that means adding only a gallon of water to the set of 10 every 2nd year.  It's designed for AGMs, which I may use for my next battery set depending on prices at the time.

2. PV linear current regulator; just a linear series regulator for the 120V nominal array (120-220VDC).  0-5V in for 0-16 amps current.  The previous design did fixed net charge selections of 0.5 amps (float), 2.5 amps (absorption), and max (PV limited to about 5.5 amps).  The new BBC (see below) charges with a continuous adjustment of current as the batteries come up to full charge so will charge faster. Much faster with larger PV and AGM batteries; the cheap marine batteries I'm using now have moderate internal resistance and can't really absorb high charge currents as AGMs could.

3. Battery bank charge controller (BBC).  This is a 3 year old newer all analog (op amps) design.  that computes the real time minimum charge current to keep all the battery shunt regulators just barely regulating without exceeding the 3 amp shunt current limit and automatically transitions from bulk to absorption to float.  It does this smoothly despite fast shifts in load or PV charge (sun). It also does the equalize timing. 

Other projects in the works- updating my generator- DC charger to a fixed voltage  (150VDC) 10 amp design that feeds into the PV regulator.  The current design uses a homebuilt motorized variac and adjusts itself via PICaxe controller as the charge current tapers off.  Charging is so infrequent that I may simplify this and ignore the minor loss of fuel efficiency of regulating via the PV charge regulator.  I only charge about 2-3 hours per winter, total. With the new PV capacity that will lkely be zero.

Lastly, the newer (3 year old) analog battery bank controller board has room for expansion with an added embedded microcontroller.   I may add that to continue to be able to use my remote terminals (LCD plus buttons) in the shop and house to monitor and control.  I'd use this controller to for my low EMI inverter control and power management like pumping the well or pumping air when sun is available and demanded loads are low.   

I'll take some pictures of the new boards on my bench tomorrow.


Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on March 04, 2018, 09:39:28 AM

Look forward to seeing the pics. Might help me understand a little better. some of it is over my head. I am certainly jealous of your electronic skills. I always wanted to get into electronics even as a kid but I never had the smarts or the concentration for it. Still seems like a black art to me full of magic and mystery.

I did something Different today, I bought another solar setup!   :laugh:

This one is a 1.7 kw, 10X 175w panels and a not too young 2KW inverter.
Fairly good deal, $200.  Guy selling it initially wanted $1000 but I was able to negotiate over a few weeks and with the lack of any other offers, I think he just wanted it out the way in the end.

I was going to just re sell the panels, Probably keep the inverter but I might just take it all up to Dads and throw it on his roof.   They aren't going to go with anything I have and too small for me to bother with.

There are a couple of other systems I'm keeping an eye on. 
If I can turn a few over to make some pocket money and the Mrs can see them coming and going, all will be good.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on March 04, 2018, 03:29:00 PM
I wish used panels were available here; I'd add one more set of 5 vertical panels for late in the day "sundown" power.  A set of 175's would be just dandy. 
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on March 04, 2018, 06:46:38 PM
Here's some photos of my new boards for my custom 120VDC off grid power system. 

The power regulation is all linear, both on the Battery Regulators, and the PV current Regulator. 

The new Battery Bank Controller is also all linear but has the option to add a shielded processsor module via filtered DB25 connector.  It uses Microchip 5v micropower op amps so it's all up power use is about 6 ma. The processor module will add another 5ma.  We're talking tiny, tiny power use.

The PV current regulator uses 7 parallel BU9323 Darlington power transistors.  So for my intended max of 16 amps at 146V (2336W), each would carry only 2.2 amps.  It will be mounted on the back of a large 24x10.1x2.8" finned aluminum heatsink on the outside wall of my power shed.  The heat losses during throttling of PV output is does not affect charge or direct use efficiency.

The Battery Regulators (one for each 12V battery) can shunt up to 3 amps of current but in practice, that never occurs for a well matched set of batteries.  Repeated cycling with individual battery regulation makes the batteries match very closely so the Battery Regulators tend to serve more as a very small correction for battery impedance matching. The battery regulators each have a external thermal sensor that is attached to it's battery negative post.

Definitely not the way things are normally done these days but phenominally low EMI and quite efficient.  Bulk charge losses are very low- diode drop plus 0.8V at 20A power.  Winter PV efficiency is down around 17% due to mismatch of panel array voltage (higher than necessary).  Size and cost of throttled (linear instead of rapid on/off switching) charging is certainly significant but that was lowest on my design priorities.

Sorry for the "soft focus" photos- I'm a shaky today but was too lazy to get out the tripod.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on March 04, 2018, 06:55:37 PM
Here's a photo of my prototype system- some while still in test and development in 2009.  I'm still using the same boards now.  Time flies.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: carlb23 on March 05, 2018, 12:31:55 PM

How many Kw of solar do you have now? 
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on March 05, 2018, 02:15:26 PM

Ummm,  Not that much up on the roof still, 8.5 KW.

I have 9kw worth still to put up.  The system I bought yesterday I thought was only 1.7 but when I looked at it today it's 2 KW which is a bonus.
I'll definitely take that up and put it on my Dads shed roof and knock his bills down a bit.  2 Kw of panels, 2 KW inverter, all the rails and brackets to mount them and even the wiring.  That's got to be good value.  I did notice 2-3 Panels have the connectors cut off by the lazy arse solar people but I just bought 20 of the connectors for less than a buck each off fleabay so not a problem there.

The setup I got yesterday also came with rails and brackets I want to put rails from another set on my House roof.
Been debating where to put the 4KW array, on the south side of the shed or the west side of the house.  Even though the shed would give me a bit more power, putting them on the house will be a lot easier to wire up and direct the power to the water heater and AC.

I have noticed the 3 Kw on the south sie of the shed does not seem to be performing well. I'll have to get up and have a look at what is going on.
There are 2 strings joined so maybe there is a bad connection.
I have also noticed on the other array which I can switch the seperate strings in and out that 1+1=3 rather than 2.
Have each string kicked in and you may on an overcast day or late in the afternoon get say 1 KW from each side. Switch in both strings and you get closer to 3 KW rather than 2.  Must have something to do with minimum thresholds and inverter efficiency I guess.

The 8.5kw I have now seems to be keeping up with things including the AC and the hot water I have been running off it for a few weeks.  I have had a meter on that and it's used less than 40 KW in the last week.  I expect this will go up when winter comes as the yeild from the solar drops.
This is why I want to add the extra panels on to give me a buffer for winter when there is less solar energy to be gained yet power consumption with heating will go up.

From now on I'll probably just keep a look out for bargain panels to buy and re sell.  I have developed a strategy with this that seems to be working well so I might see if I can earn a few bucks out of it. I'll look to standardise all the panels I have as 250W and sell off my lower ones as I can find the 250's.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on March 12, 2018, 11:45:54 PM
An interesting development, my neighbour is building a homemade off grid solar set up. He has been gathering second hand equipment for months. I have volunteered to assist in the hope of learning something useful.
It appears that he has got his hands on a couple of battery packs off forklift trucks, should provide good storage.
With his permission, I will try to post some photos and information once we get started.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on March 13, 2018, 09:42:21 AM

In the bit of research I have done into battery's, forkliftpacks are by FAR the best bang for the buck.
I contacted one company and they were most helpful and happy for their product to be used this way. Reckoned it was a lot easier on them than being used as they were intended... in forklifts. I can well see why.  Stationary setup with probably a much lower DOD than people would do with mobile application.
The people I spoke to said they would gaurantee their packs for 5 Years IF the automatic watering system was fitted. For $200, sounded OK to me.

They said that in the systems they had done before, 10 years was pretty much a minimum if they were in a really harsh climate or really flogged with deeper than usual discharges.  they admitted they weren't the lightest or most compact or anything else new and trendy but they were a tried and proven technology that was not the most reliable and the cheapest storage available on a watt per $ basis.

I would like to have a go at one of those DIY powerwalls with the 18650 laptop batteries. You'd need a DAMN good supply of them though.
I am watching a couple of YT channels and my question of how do you know even after all the testing and conditioning the things won't go belly up in short order. Seems the answer is you don't and several of the people on the channels I'm watching have had this happen.  Not the end of the world I spose but would be interesting to see how many times this happens over a few years. Easy enough to swap them out but if you are doing it every few months, could get to be bit of a drag.

One thing is for sure, these guy are getting some SERIOUS storage going. A  tesla battery holds 10Kwh. These guys are starting with 20KW, going to 50 and after that seems to be easy to go to 80 and 100KWh. One guy has just hooked up 120Kwh. That is a LOT of energy storage and several tens of thousands of batteries he's mucked around with to get his capacity that high.

I am told there are other and better sites but i have found the PVWATTS  site very helpful and informative in planning out the positioning of my setup. It tells you the amount of power panels will generate in different locations at different angles and orientations.  Very hand when you are not sure if the south  ( worst in the northern hemisphere) roof which is very flat is better than the west roof at the supposed better angle and what their outputs will be at different times of the year. For me the near flat south side is better but I have never come across a site yet that would tell you that.

Like about everything else I have learned through the net, the approved practices and advise taken as the correct gospel have holes you could drive a truck through. Sideways.

The " Optimal" angle of latitude for instance is very often not the best angle at all!  I was trying to work out how best to mount my panels and what I was going to build my mountings with to get them to the correct angle. I decided to throw them on the shed roof which is 5 and 13o pitch and I wondered how much that would kill my generation. Much to my surprise I found having the things near flat yelded me significantly more power over the summer from nov to Feb than the " ideal" angle would.  The over all for the year laying them direct on the shed rood was so little that there was no way to justify the cost, effort and risk of having the panels kicked up a foot at one end rather than lying them flat on the roof and much less susceptible to the high winds we get here.

Came back to my old solar efficiency rule, cheaper and better to add generally a couple of panels to the ones you have to get better production than try and make them more efficient.  The gains are generally small with optimising, the costs are usually high and no improvement in making an array more efficient works as well as just having more panels on a cloudy day.

That site and I imagine similar give you the opportunity to crunch numbers and see what would be best and moreso, suit YOUR ( or your neighbours) needs best.

The other ones I'd recommend looking at but are a bit variable and tend to err on the side of overcaution are the cable length/ size/ power calculators.
If these panels are not going above where the power will be used and there will be a decent cable run, these are very helpful even if conservative.
I have changed my plans to a degree with my setup. Going to locate the panels closer to where I want the output rather than the best yield possible. Again, for what i'm buying panels for ( and geez I'm slipping, haven't bought any in almost a fortnight!) it's cheaper to throw a few more on the less than optimal roof than run the required cable to where they would make a bit more power.  I have a heap of roof so no problem space wise. If I covered the roof in panels, I'd have to have the cable back to the power pole upgraded..... and they might have something to say about that!  :laugh:

I'm going to invest in a roll of 6mm. won't need it all but a sparky mate uses it and say he'll buy whatever I have left over.  Then again, probably end up using more than I damn well think!
I am going to cheat a bit and put one solar array on the water heater circuit. I have moved that from the off peak already and been testing with my voltage monitor relay to kick it in.  had a couple of days where it was cloudy and I don't think it got any juice but the system is a 400L which is well beyond our needs and stays hot enough for about 3 days showers etc .
That is a 20A circuit already and I will tap into it near the heater anyway. When the solar is generating and the heater kicks in, the load on the wiring will be minimal because most of the power will go about 3 ft to the heater and not all the way back to the board.  When the heater isn't active there will be plenty of headroom for the solar array.

It's getting easier to mount all the panels than it is to run the power they generate somewhere. I am looking forward to a very cosy and cheap winter though. ironically it will be cheaper to run several fan heaters than it will be to run the reverse cycle... not to say we won't use that as the main heating to get the place up to temp then use the fan heaters to maintain it in the rooms we are in.

I have learned a lot with solar and I find it very fun and enjoyable.  There is a fair bit to take on board but it is all fairly logical and straight forward.  I'd say rely more on your own findings and don't put an over amount of weight on what commercial sites say but you can rely on the calculaors which tell a different story with the numbers plugged in to what the sites, even the DIY ones tell you.  Might be a case of trying to be all things to all people but certainly paying attention to YOUR circumstances gives far better results that worrying about what best suits other people 10K km away in a totally different climate.

One tip i'd give is when dealing with used stuff, pay attention to connectors. I have bought several systems and none of them came with the inverter AC connector and they can be difficult and expensive to get.  I don't bother with them now. I just open up the inverter, take the connector away and run heavy cable through a grommet or strain relief right to the board.  Probably Kills their IP rating but I don't want them out in the weather anyway.

Other thing is tell your neighbour to order about 20 Pair of MC4 connectors through flea bay.  This the last ones I got the other week were about .70c pair.  at places like jaycar, they want $12:50 for the bastards! I can buy a whole bag of them sent to my lettterbox for $15 and I have not had any trouble with them yet.
Often the slack arses that take the old panels off jus chop the wires and the last lot I had they must have just reefed on them till they seperated one way or the other. I found a couple of panels which tested OK but the array was open circuit. Traced that back to the conductor being pulled too far back in the connector housing and failing to meet up with the opposite conductor. Couple I undid and reseated them correctly, another couple were chop and replace jobs.  Pays to have those Mc4's on hand. And get some of those little plastic connector tools as well. Some of them can be near impossible to disconnect without them.  Dollar odd each on fleabay.

I'm sure your updates on the project will make for interesting and satisfying reading and look forward to it. Don't forget lotsa pics!  :0)
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on March 13, 2018, 04:03:07 PM
I'm very skeptical about DIY internet claims for lithium battery banks that have no cell management.  Even minor corner cutting on series cell voltage management as the Nissan Leaf has done has resulted in many premature battery failures, and that's starting with new matched cells.  As you know, Tesla is no cutting edge, new tech company; electric cars are 100 years old and their car has no "new" technology other than fancy electronic displays and other ancillary computer features.  Instead they have been wise adopters and refiners of proven, existing technology. They use the Texas Instruments lithium cell voltage management IC's so that no series cells are left voltage-uncontrolled.  Reports are that they do have very reliable battery life because of this. 

Even 48V wet lead acid systems could have better battery life by incorporating individual battery management, but no one does because it would add cost and people are more interested in today's cost and not the expense of battery replacement.  In fact, just talking about battery replacement cost would be bad for business.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on March 14, 2018, 02:24:23 AM
Hey Bruce. when you say that individual battery management is not used because of cost, how complicated/expensive would it need to be to significantly improve life expectancy? Is this something that could easily be cobbled together out of cheap or second hand components?
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on March 14, 2018, 02:44:28 AM
Bruce From what I have seen, the guys building the DIY battery banks from 18650 cells are using individual pack management if not individual cell management.  Tesla uses 18650's in it's cars and power walls and to the best of my knowledge, they are managed in packs rather than individually as well.

I was watching a local blokes vid a few nights back that was showing on his battery management system where 2 of his packs were down. he has a computer screen with bar type graphs showin the state of every pack. I think he has around 30 now.  A pack is about 80 cells and the little monitors are attached to every one and give a visual LED warning to the packs health as well as more information back to the central monitoring PC.

Have a look at this and later vids from the same guy.

This vid gives a good look at the BMS he uses.

Tesla is nothing but over hype and empty promises to me with a lot of slight of hand to divert attention to whatever Elon wants the public to believe when 95% of the time the reality is completely different.  I was reading an article that went into their accounting practices. The slight of hand as to how and where they move money, the way they allocate and bury debt and the measurements they hold out as a measure of their success are farcical if not illegal.
Really, the only thing tesla do exceedingly well is Hype and bullship.  Unfortunately, that isn't unique and will only bring so many $$ in for a limited time before that falls over as well.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on March 14, 2018, 07:43:37 AM
This Aussie guy doing his own DIY powerwall is using full (parallel) cell level monitoring, as far as I can tell.  His presentation glossed over the technical details but those packs look like all series cells are monitored for over/undervoltage.  Alas, it appears his charging system isn't automatically balancing the cells since he's talking 2 days to equalize his cells.  That's NOT how cell management is supposed to work.  It should divert power from charged cells to the slower cells and thus keep them well matched on every charge cycle.  If his system can't do that, and is requiring regular extended equalization that's not so good. Since he's selling stuff, it may be hard to get an honest answer about service life of his cells/packs.

I would not touch lithium right now myself...I'll wait until the price beats lead acid for stationary applications where light weight is not important.   By then, you'll likely see cell management integrated into the packs and standards will emerge so that things are not so proprietary and expensive.  Hopefully other more enlightened nations will pick up the ball and run with it.  It's hard to imagine that racks of 1000's of tiny laptop batteries are really the best we can do...though obviously for now, it is.

I'm sure if you google around you can find more in the way of lithium cell management systems.  I'd have to look hard at the TI IC solution...I don't like dirtying up my power with a bunch of unshielded embedded processors scattered throughout the battery bank but given the fan out and total numbers involved, their bussed serial communications are ideal.  Many of the newer AVR and PIC processors have multiple I2C serial ports available to help with the fan out. 

It's not a trivial piece of engineering, but given the price of a few thousand lithium cells, it's obviously worth it.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on March 14, 2018, 10:15:44 AM

Would the good management you have in mind manage the cells individually or just in the packs?

Got to admit, this balancing things seems a counter productive to me. If I have a group of batteries all connected together, I would assume they would automatic balance themselves in the higher ones charging the lower ones etc. Obviously not.

I have my reservations about lithium. As usual it's hard to get a clear picture of reality but it seems it is a limited commodity and that's never a good thing to base a technology on.  Then again, we are told Oil is running out but notice that's only ever rammed down your throat when the price goes up? All the rest of the time seems there is a limitless supply and plenty of wells to go round. A suspicious person ( unlike me) might just think that's a diversion to make people thankful they can get it at all  and not notice how they are being bent over and screwed.

Tesla has supposedly been busy developing another battery about 3 times the size of the 18650.  Due to those mathematical anomaly''s that go with needing about 6x 1/2" pipes to flow the same as a single 1" pipe, they can increase the size of the cell 3x but get something like 5x the energy density in the same over all pack size.  They are supposedly going to or have gone to this new size in the model 3 or the upcoming Roadster.... if they are still around that long.

It is interesting that they are still using "cells" as we know them rather than the flat type Lipo packs.  A lot has to do with packaging and placement but still.  I would assume it to be easier to get more density in a given are with square objects than round ones. Then again, they may be counting on the dead air space for cooling.

From what I have seen, It will be a very long time before the good ol lead acid battery becomes more expensive than anything else for stationary use. 

Making power now is relatively cheap with panels but storing it, that's one hell of an expensive handbrake to over come.  Maybe.
I once read a piece on Cold Fusion and it's possibilities. The writer concluded that it was not only possible it had been developed in some Gubbermint Skunkworks, but Highly likley.  The apparent conspiracy theory turned around when the guy explained why he thought it would never see the light of day.
Balance of power.

Basicaly you have all these countries will huge numbers of people they are usually very poor and have long histories of war. If suddenly clen, cheap, readily available power were available to them, the first thing they would so would be manufacture the weapons they could not afford now. They could mobilise great military power with personell in the many millions and there would be basicaly no stopping them.
Thats a very brief and oversimplified explanation but essential the Crux of the matter.  Energy and it's cost is what keeps the rich countries rich and the poor ones not.  Give everyone affordable energy and the tables start turning and that not what those at the top of the heap want

I wonder if battery power tech is being withheld in the same way?  There are a lot of vested interests in power, many of the worlds largest companies in fact and I'm pretty sure they are not going to be Doing a Kodak and rushing into a technology that will put them out of business for a very huge chunk of their market. If the average household could cover it's roof in panels, get a battery that would last many years with no maintence and at low cost, Imagine what that would do to the power industry. Not just power companies but people like GE who make nuke reactors, turbine generators, transformers and power conditioning equipment, switchgear etc.
Industry would also bail into self sufficency and the downturn for large traditional markets would be catastrophic for those in the game now.

There would also be a loss of the big brother factor which is being pushed so hard these days with the likes of smart meters and appliances.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on March 14, 2018, 09:59:50 PM
How "modules" or "packs" are assembled regarding some combination of parallel and serial cells is relatively arbitrary.  You would prefer to see management at the module/pack level to cover every group of parallel cells. The bottom line is that cells don't all have identical internal resistance for charging and discharging plus those individual cell charge/discharge rates are affected by temperature and age.  Lithium cells are voltage devices so that 100 cells in parallel can be treated for charge/discharge management purposes as a single larger cell.  Overcharging cells reduces their life dramatically, as does dropping the voltage too low.  I don't recall the common cell failure modes but I expect some means of disconnecting and bypassing a module with some sort of failed cell(s) might be necessary in a car to allow you to limp home. Better to keep the cells from failing by good charge management but it's all a trade off for cost, complexity, and performance.

I expect that the most cost effective battery management system for cars will be found only after many years.  The high current charge/discharge cycles of EV use proved very challenging for AGM batteries too, and so various methods were tried until settling on management at the 6 or 12V battery (3 or 6 cells) level, since going lower wasn't practical.  I'm happy to sit back with my wet lead batteries and wait for the bleeding edge of new battery tech to mature and get affordable.

A true breakthrough in batteries would certainly be an industry changer.  Every crackpot thinks cold fusion or free energy schemes are real and suppressed, and that a magic carburetor once provided 150 mpg in a 8 cylinder pickup truck.  Everyone of these schemes I've looked at closely was at best a gross error in measurement, most are outright frauds or incompetence.  I'm not saying conspiracies don't exist, just that for the stuff I've looked into there was no need for one except in the minds of the promoters.  At one time I was reviewing and rating over 150 (per year) Internal R&D projects of big companies doing cost plus contracts (advanced development) with the Air Force.  (I was just one of many reviewers.)  After a while you get good at spotting technical baloney.   

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on March 15, 2018, 12:43:37 AM

Geez Bruce, I'm surprised at you!!!

You don't believe that I picked up a tin can by the side of the road, urinated in it, attached a couple of old bits of fencing wire to it, sat it beside the carb so it could inhale the orgone energy that lets the car burn the 70% of fuel normally wasted and the vehicle suddenly made 1000Hp, 2500Ftlb of torque and got 176 MPG up a mountain side at 90 Mph with a 5 ton trailer on the back??

Geez, loads of other people I told about it on the net did!  Think I'll have to find myself another forum where people aren't so mean and offensive as to not believe every stup.... helpful thing I say with this stuff!

Wait till I show you my free energy machine that is a flywheel with a bunch of pulleys, belts and shafts that you spin up and then can connect your whole house to and power it forever@
I put a YT Vid of that up and you would be amazed how many  Idi.... open minded Crac.... people complimented me on my achievement and want to buy it.  Unfortunately now I'm in hiding because the gubbermint ( which Gubbermint I don't know) want to kill me like they did with all the other Nutca.... inventors.

Look Bruce, this stuff is real easy to see the potential in if you look at it the right way.
You just have to be open Minded and forget about restrictive things like Physics, and mathematics and science and Logic, common sense, proven formulas rules and laws of engineering.  Get that out your head!
IF you can put Fac... limitations behind you and start thinking in terms of the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, Mythical unicorns, the man on the moon and other such rubbi.... open mindedness, You'll see it's all perfectly possible.
I have observed from the people that can see past these worldly limitations,  Alcohol, LSD, Crack, Pot, vallium, Cocaine, sniffing glue and petrol, heatstroke, deyhyration, loss of blood and other Mind altering substances and the abuse thereof, can help one greatly in seeing the potential and understanding how these things work with perfect clarity!

I hope you will take a more open minded look in the future so you too can see the great Bullsh.... promise these things hold.


Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on March 15, 2018, 03:57:04 PM
There seems to be fine line between open mind and hard vacuum in humans.  Even in people very gifted in one area, such as Newton, they are often delusional in others (he was into mysticism and trying to turn base metals to gold).

We have such limited mental capacity that we must specialize, and that does make us very susceptible to being misled in areas outside of our area of expertise.  Many are incapable of any expertise.  So no surprise that even well meaning leaders in government (often lawyers or businessmen) will propose/fund/mismanage all sorts of programs.  Add that  many sociopaths are attracted to the power of elected positions, and you end up where we are today. 

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on March 17, 2018, 10:34:25 AM

Did a deal on another used solar setup today.

3 Kw of little 170W panels, 3.6Kw inverter, usual isolators, racking and crap. Didn't take long to bargain the guy down on this one either.
It's all getting a bit too easy and I managed to put my bargaining skills to work again yesterday.
Getting a lot of this racking and there is no market for it so I'll either build another pergola with it or cash it in for scrap.

Went furniture shopping with the Mrs yesterday.  $11.5+K worth of stuff went out, delivered for $8k. Discovered this morning they left a cabinet worth $900 off the order.
Rang and they said they hadn't priced that in. Said we had spoken about it, I'd spent the budget and it was all or nothing.  That started a 20 min to and fro with them finally falling over . I was glad it was a fight and I didn't think I 'd get it actually but if they hadn't fought me over it, I would know I left too much on the plate in the deal.
I then really went for broke and said I'd take a 2nd cabinet as well. That cheered them up..... Until I started bargaining them on that having seen the cost price on it when we were in the shop on the computer.  Well I did leave $44 in it for them. Seems they work on 40% average markup. Some was 20% off already and then I bargained on the total. Spose in reality we got even more off than I really counted.

I think the manager who was serving us was pretty happy when she gave us the total. Then I casually sat on the display lounge behind her and said "So what can you do it for all up with delivery?" She said that was the price. I said you are going to have to do a lot better than that.  Lot of painful faces, lots of no way, lots of what if we substitute this for that so in the end, they were happy to give me the price I wanted and get us the hell out the place.

Woman said, " I have been in this company 11 years and I never came across anyone quite like you before."  I said yeah, I know and with a lot of luck, you'll never have to put up with any mongeral pain in the arse like me again!
She laughed and we chatted when the business was done so all good.

As Mrs is almost happy, now, we just have to find a couple of new lounges. Like some we saw already but can't decide which ones. We are going to wait till the other stuff is delivered and I throw a lick of paint around and then go back and terrorise the poor woman at the same place again.
Meanwhile, because she has all this new stuff she wants,  I can go shopping for that new camera lenses, laptop and a few other bits and pieces I want.

If I can turn these panels for what I hope, that will at least put bit of dent in it. Hopefully a lot more will come along I can grab at the right price as well.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 11, 2018, 04:34:28 AM

Started installing some panels on the house today.  I have 9Kw of 240 and 250 panels I want to get up in preparation for our winter and the subsequent heating that will be needed.  So far we are keeping up nicely with about 9kw installed but that has been when the solar radiation has been at it's high point and no it's on the rapid downhill slope. I'm, already noticing in good clear sunshine like today the yield is way down on what it has been.
The weather is unseasonably warm atm, was over 30oC here yesterday when it should have been in low 20's and today supposedly to be cooler is back up in the high 20's.

Putting the panels on the house is a real challenge.
The roof is sloped at 35o and being tin, it's impossible to walk on and not slide off.  I'm working on the part where the verandah is which is much flatter and I can get a row of panels on the bottom line of roof screws and on the flatter section. this is the west side and the north which is the best aspect here is at 35o with no verandah or other " Catch" area should one slip. Not real sure how to go about putting the panels there. I thought about hiring a cherry picker but not sure I could get down to the roof with it anyway. Mate has all the safety harnesses I could borrow but not sure how I could stay tethered and work with it anyway.  I think I'll try and borrow an aluminum ladder, clamp it to the roof on the sheet metal screws and work up from there.
Still seems a challenge handling the 20 Kg panels.

Mate might have some better ideas and tips. there is another huge area at the otehr end of the house on the west side that would be good for probably another 8-10 Kw of panels if I wanted to install extra but that is on the same 35o pitch.
Sure was a lot easier working on the 5 and 13o pitch shed roof that's for sure!

I'm also seeing the house ( and the shed) is becoming far more shaded than I realised.  the weather Cock on the shed is now shading one panel a fair bit  and the lower panels are being shaded on the ends by the eve of the higher pitch of the barn style roof.  I was aware of that when I put them up and thought I had allowed enough backspacing but obviously not.  No big deal, I can easy move them to the outer edge of the roof as there is plenty of space.
Also thinking about adding more panels there and limiting the output as I need to by the wiring with a 2Kw inverter.  With a heap of extra panels, thing should run the full 2 kilo from early morning to late in the afternoon maximizing generation time wise if not ultimate output wise. 
Can't remember what I even have up there atm, have to get up and have a look and then work out what smaller panels I have juggle around for best output.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on April 11, 2018, 05:53:25 AM
No matter how you do it, working on a steep pitch is hard work.  My first home here in the White Mountains had 600 SF of solar hot air panels and duct work built into the south face of a custom trussed roof at 53 degrees of pitch.   I used two large ladders against the face of the roof.  One was an extension ladder we made a "hook" end for that hung over the peak, with the two sections screwed together. From ground level you went up a ladder than transferred to the roof ladder.  That way we could have one guy on each side of the 4 foot wide fiberglass glazing which was a bit over 13 foot long.  Two guys would be a must for 250 watt panels, if one of them was me. 

It's hell on the feet and legs to stand on a ladder that isn't near vertical. 
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 11, 2018, 07:59:46 AM

I was pretty much thinking of ladders on the roof. I'll hit the well equipped guy next door up. I know he has some monster thing he's offered me a couple of times but something more manageable might be the way to go.
Also thinking this won't be a one man job. I may not worry about playing with 100V generators, 400V+ solar outputs, 500Kw oil burners and other things people cringe at but I do recognise when I am about of my depth and what a real danger to me is. Falling off that roof is a significant risk and one I'm not keen to take. I'll be only too happy to put on a harness to stop myself falling and ending up in a wheelchair or worse.

I started on the part where the verandah is where I can't slide off but trying to do anything on the pitched part of the roof is very telling.
I'll get more knowledgeable advise of my mate and think this very well through before attempting the north side of the roof with the other 250W array.

Got all the other panels up for the west side, now just to wire them together and screw them down. I'll have to go buy another roll of cable as I'm out atm.  I'm thinking I'll do them in 2 strings and use a common heavy ground wire to save on cable. That's what I did with the small arrays on the south side of the shed and that is working fine. Total capacity of the system will still be well below the max amperage of the wire. I'll use a splitter to have an input into both sides of the inverter.  Some of my inverters have 4 inputs but all go to a common set of terminals inside the inverter itself.
The one I'll put these arrays on have seperate controllers.

I got up on the shed roof and had a look.  That was interesting!
The panels were shading with the crown of the roof as I suspected but geez louise they are Filthy! The set on the bottom 5o roof have a layer of dried dust/ mud on them shading the edge of the last set of cells. It's thick enough I can't see through it at all.  The rest are really dirty but obviously the ones on the 13o pitch are better. 
I moved the lower set further to the edge of the roof but they may need to be moved more which will mean I have to extend the wiring. As the winter comes on I think the sun will get lower and they may have to go right to the edge. there is one spot where I tree I have cut back has obviously some birds roosting and there is a mountain of bird crap there. I have cut the tree back far as I can standing on teh shed roof with my pole saw so it will be tricky from here.  Might have to get a cherry picker in and take the top out of some of these damn trees..

I noticed another one I cut back early on has sprouted with great gusto and is probably at a height where it is going to be shading the panels on that side for too long in the monings.  Looks like that is going to need another and shorter haircut still. WTF was I thinking moving onto property? Work is getting away from me and I'm going flat out.

 I am thinking now about reverse pitching the lower panels on the south side of the shed.  The roof on that side angles the wrong way but at only 5o I wasn't worried.  Seeing the dirt build up, I'm now thinking about using the heaps of racking I have picked up and angling the lower edge back to the sun.  If I do that they will be pretty visible where as now lying flat they aren't so noticeable.

Might leave it till I get these others up as I might have so much power I don't need to worry.  The dirt is going to annoy me though. It has been VERY dry here and winter is drier still so I'll get up and clean them and see how they go from there.

I always thought this thing about cleaning panels I see advertised was a load of crock but I can see on low pitched roofs it may be well worth while.
Spose if you get someone in and they charge $100, that would be a LOT of power to make up over and above just leaving the things as is and waiting for the rain.  Getting a hose and a broom yourself and spending 10 Min may be a lot more worthwhile however and just squirting the hose up there may be effective as well.
It's certainly a learning curve this DIY solar but an enjoyable one.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on April 11, 2018, 06:07:20 PM
I've never washed my ground mounted PV panels,  but I do wash my solar hot water panels occasionally in the winter when they are working hard to keep up. 
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: oldgoat on April 12, 2018, 02:23:03 PM
I thought the same as glort and goot on the roof and cleaned the dust and crap off my panels. Could have saved myself the trouble the increase wouldn't have even paid for the detergent I used.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 12, 2018, 04:19:00 PM

I think the angle has a lot to do with the amount of dirt the panels hold. I can see the difference between the ones at 13o  which is still pretty shallow and the ones at 5o which are virtually flat.

There are heavy Dew's forming at night here now and I think there may be just enough condensation on the panels to move the dust down where it puddles on the edge of the 50 panels where there would be enough slope to allow it to run right off on the steeper ones.

The 5o's will have to be cleaned as the buildup is causing a definite shadowing rather than just a bit of a reduction in light transmission.

I didn't see any increase in that lower array output today. The numbers were precisely the same on all 4 arrays as yesterday. Given the panels were shadowing on the top edge and now aren't, the shadowing caused by the dirt buildup must be significant.  I estimate I am looking around 700W over what I would expect to see.

I will try and get up there early tomorrow and give them a clean and see what difference there is with them.  I'm quite sure there will be a noticeable one if the day is the same.

Other job will be to finish mounting and wiring the other array on the house. that went no where today as I got caught up in other things and then a friend dropped by for a good while.  I couldn't have finished it anyway as I need to go buy another roll of cable and couldn't get out.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 15, 2018, 05:42:09 AM

Finished mounting and wiring up the latest 4Kw array yesterday and got it commissioned. Chugging along at between 2.5 and 3 Kw which isn't bad considering the time of year and orientation.

Neighbour next door saw me up on the roof and said there wouldn't be any need to mount them there, they wouldn't blow off lying flat on the roof.
I showed him the caluking gun and explained I was removing a roof screw, putting caluk whee it came from and screwing it back down with a proper solar bracket clamping  every panel down.

Said I rather take an extra hour to do that than lie in bed on a windy night wondering how many would be there in the morning.
Didn't take long for my investment to pay off. Last night was the windiest on record for 3 years here with the wind topping 100KMh. NONE of my panels on the house or the shed have moved. Got up to check this morning.  The old bush shed lost a sheet of metal that was overhanging which was no surprise and I was going to redo any how.
panels all OK.

Went out for breakfast and was surprised how clean the front lawn was with the huge gum tree we have that is shedding bark atm.
Once we got onto the street we could see why. It's all up and on the road and footpath. Don't think there will be much more bark dropping for a while, tree has been well cleaned off.

Next thing will be to Mount the 5Kw of 250s on the house. That will take some doing.

Still trying to figure out how to switch High voltage DC current so I can direct power the water heater.  Don't need to do it but I want to learn how to do it and test what it will take over winter to keep us in hot showers.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: LowGear on April 15, 2018, 02:04:23 PM
I find the rat nests under the panels to be of greater concern than the grit on top.  We have more of a grit here than dust.  Our panels are at about 20 degrees.  That's about our latitude hence equinox gets us pretty close to perpendicular to the Sun.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: mike90045 on April 15, 2018, 03:26:45 PM
Still trying to figure out how to switch High voltage DC current so I can direct power the water heater. 

Are you inverting any of the power, or using all DC ?

The 2nd easiest way is to switch an inverter on / off and allow it to provide AC to the heater , 
otherwise, it's SSR's, snubbers, and heatsinks
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on April 16, 2018, 01:32:47 PM
I`m not quite sure that I understand the problem, most PV/grid tied systems have a timer switch which feeds 240 volt electricity to the electric heater on your hot water cylinder. This timer is generally set to utilise the free solar power during the day with an override switch in case of failure or overuse. All of these systems have a thermostatic cut-out to prevent the cylinder reaching boiling point and exploding. If you really want unlimited shower/bathing facilities fit a larger, or secondary cylinder. If you want them to be totally solar powered use a liquid solar system with heating tubes on the roof and a small circulating pump.
Trying to feed 400 VDC through an immersion heater element sounds like a recipe for disaster, but maybe I have misunderstood what you are trying to do.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 16, 2018, 02:29:47 PM

You have it Fundamentally right Bob.

I want to direct feed the solar power into a water heater.
I could run a battery with an inverter and feed that to the element, I could/ am doing as you say with a timer ( Voltage controlled relay) and just backfeed my meters.

I am looking for the sake of learning for a more easy and straight forward way.

The inverter/ battery method may be the most straight forward but the cost of an inverter that would last more than a month well outdoes the savings and then one would also need a battery(s) and charger.  If you look at the cost of off peak power, the chances of one getting a return on investment before these things need replacement IMHO is minimal.

I have seen on electronic forums some smart boffins build small electronic circuits and I'd be happy with that had I the smarts to follow and build them myself.
I am amazed how difficult a relatively simple thing like solar generated DC can be to put to work in such a simple application..... which is why I want to conquer the problem.

Bruce's idea of the voltage controlled relay I think was brilliant and is such a simple and effective soloution to what is often an expensive and overly complicated problem. I would like to go a step simpler though with the thought of an independent/ Offgrid PV water heater in mind.

I might get round to trying something with conventional relays tomorrow. I am using regular AC breakers on my solar input as isolators. By using double pole switches and breaking both the pos and neg together, I seem to be getting no arcing. I was also watching a YT vid last night where a guy put a large capacitor across the terminals of a relay running DC and removed all the arcing that way.
the conclusion I drew that a cap of around 1500 uf would be needed, maybe 2500UF for what I am doing.

I have some DPDT 250V conventional relays so I though I'd run both poles together to give me 20A capacity and put one relay, switched together on each pole from the panels.

As far as the voltage is concerned, while still reading and learning, I'm not sure that matters.  I am of the -belief- at this time that it is not the volts or the amps which matter but the total power. 
Ie, if I have 1000V @1A and a  240V, 1500W element, I'm still OK ( did I get that math right, 1000W? ) because the total power is still within the elements capacity.
The volts don't matter, it's the power ( watts) that are the thing you have to look at.  I'm still reading and learning on that but it's what I am lead to believe so far is relevant to a dumb load like a heating element.

Having a high voltage with solar would probably be an advantage because the heating power is going to fall off badly as soon as I go under the elements voltage.

Mike, I am looking into the SSR's and the snubbers.
Unfortunately the SSR's I have are only rated to 240V and I'd like to run around 360-380 so as to be able to switch back to an inverter when the heating is done and be in the sweet spot for the inverter. Also strings of 8 panels seem to fit my roof layouts and is easy to wire than smaller arrays paralleled .

My conventional relays are only rated to 250V as well but I don't think the voltage matters much on the switched side, only the coil side.
Still leaves me with having to run an AC 250V supply for the relay coils or work out a way of rectifying the DC to a stable voltage and see if the coils will work with that.

The other idea is to PWM the DC which would take away the arcing problem but how to PWM High voltage DC I'm drawing a blank with.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on April 16, 2018, 05:42:23 PM
Warning!  Danger!

DO NOT use AC rated breakers or switches with DC over 24VDC.   I've tried that experiment with only a 500 watt load and fried a lot of heavy duty and commercial grade switches on the very first OFF.  Arcing and melt down is the result.  Putting a capacitor on the output won't solve the problem.  That can help with inductive kick back but that's not the only issue here.

I know you like to experiment and see things for yourself so make sure you use the 300V DC rated breakers to be able to reliably shut down.  Don't exceed that rating at the rated amperage.  DC arcing is dependent on both voltage and current; very light loads won't arc as much on opening the contacts.  As voltage and current go up, the arcing gets very strong.  In things like DC driven rail/subways, they actually use compressed air to blow out the arc.  In HV DC rated switches and relays, they use permanent magnets to bend the arc plus other methods to quickly move the contacts far and wide apart to extinguish the arc.

Unless you have found a Buck  converter (simplest of PWM) to regulate (lower) the output voltage, you must keep your string series voltage under load to match the rated heating element (RMS) voltage (or less).  Electro-mechanical relays for HV DC aren't commonly available.  If you don't want to so some component level soldering to add a opto-isolated gate driver IC to control a surplus IGBT module (cheap on Ebay) to do your own solid state relay, then you'll have to search for a solid state relay rated well above your operating voltage and current.  AC relays can't be used...they will arc and fry.

I use 120V nominal DC for my home, and the no load voltage of my PV array of 5 panels in series is 220 volts on so on cold days.  On cold days under load, the voltage is about 20V higher than needed for my 146 volt battery charging.  There is really that much swing in output voltage based on temperature.  Normally, your PWM/MPPT charge controller hides that variation from you, but for direct DC use, you have to think about things a lot more.

You must match the loaded PV string voltage to the load unless you can find a PWM/switching power supply to take a higher voltage and down regulate .   Most large switching power supplies with 230VAC rated input can be operated with 350VDC (Max- no load PV voltage) input.  It might be possible to find a large one or put two or more in series to get a useful DC output.
The issue will be the PV string no-load voltage exceeding the max input voltage...that will kill them fast.  Direct from PV well pump drives are designed to handle that big voltage range on input, so are another possibility.

I can make a schematic for the opto-gate driver (8 pin dip)/IGBT module method which would give you a SS relay that is bulletproof and can tolerate 500VDC.  But it is really the sort of thing for a electronics technician/hobbyist.

For direct DC drive, here's an example.  US water heater elements  are typically 4800 watts at 230VAC (same as 230VDC).  That gives us an element resistance of 11 ohms. 
At 200V it would be 3636 watts and 13.2 amps.
At 120V it would be 1309 watts and 10.9 amps

So as long as you keep the full load voltage of the PV string at or below the rated voltage of the heating element, you are right in that there is a wide range of useful heating being done on unregulated direct DC.  Brief moderate overdrive of the element won't fry it.  But remember to allow for the 20% boost in voltage of the PV on very cold winter days.  I would guess that you might be best off using one or two parallel strings of (9) 250 watt panels in series depending on how fast you wanted to heat the water. A single series string will be under 2000 watts actual.   Your no load voltage would be roughly 396 so a 600V IGBT module  is a good match. 

Please note that you cannot use the existing water heater  thermostat to switch the DC power directly, it must be done through your solid state relay.  The input to the opto isolator would be about 10 ma of 5-12V; that could be switched through the thermostat.

I use 120VDC for cooking and and other resistive heating appliances every day, and operate all my computer gear on it as well.   I use HV mosfets for switching loads in cooking appliances, using the built in thermostats to only control the mosfet(s).  For simple things without an active switching thermostat such as crock pots, no modification is  needed.  Voltage regulation of the DC isn't really needed since power co. AC was never well regulated either. 

I hope this helps.  I was not impressed with the prices of large switching power supplies, though I did look into that.  For myself, I'd go direct PV to IGBT module approach.  With some 4000 series CMOS logic and a second IGBT module, you could automatically switch the PV array low side back to an inverter when the water tank temperature was maxed out.  I can help with that as well, again, just one 16 pin dip IC will do it.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on April 16, 2018, 05:52:28 PM
PS, a DIY solid state relay ala opto gate driver and IGBT module is pretty simple.  A buck converter (PWM) is not something I would recommend you should try to tackle as a first electronics project. Frying the $50 IGBT module is the likely result, and an o-scope would be essential.  The same IGBT module could be used for either.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on April 16, 2018, 11:30:11 PM
Hey Glort, Bruce is absolutely right about dc relays being dangerous, don`t do it!
My suggestion is to use a standard grid tie inverter. These only produce power when there is a 240 volt 50Hz supply connected to them, they produce nothing when there is a power cut. If you put your timer and the water heater thermostat between the grid and the invertor it will only produce electricity when there is a demand for hot water. Carefully matching the size of the invertor to the heater element should alleviate your issue with back feeding the grid.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on April 17, 2018, 01:44:06 AM
Great solution. Bob, ingenious!

What are your Aussie water heaters like, Glort?  Do you just one element or two, with essentially two thermostats, as we do here in the US?  Ours have the upper element on for fast recovery when tank gets too cold, the lower element is switched on when the tank is just a little cold.  Elements are each 4800 watt and mutually exclusive-  never both on.  Both elements are controlled by one "thermostat" module. 

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 17, 2018, 02:14:38 AM

I hope this helps. 

Yeah, Right!  :laugh:

Learned more in reading that one post than I have in several days and probably 8+ hours of searching around the Net!
Thank you again Bruce. You are a wealth of practical, realistic and very helpful knowledge.  I just can't find the sort of stuff you know on the net.

I have not had my panels up ( in number) long enough to observe the cold effect but it makes sense as I know the panels fall off in heat so logicaly they must do better cold.  What I have seen many times is the cloud edge effect where the voltage goes way hing when there is certain cloud conditions present.  From what I have seen the droplets act like as if they were magnifying glasses and increase some part of the spectrum that makes the panel voltage shoot up even though the total power isn't that high.

It has been that significant here I put one of the voltage monitoring relays on my main array connected to a floodlight. When the voltage goes too high, the light kicks in loading the inverter down and reducing the voltage. 
Wasteful, yes, but it's a whole load better than having the inverter resetting every 2 min due to the voltage being out of spec or turning off one string.

i'm not sure why it happens, my unloaded string Voltage is about half max allowable but I have seen this happen at least 6 times now and the rest of the time such as on clear sunny days the system runs perfect.
Clouds on a cold day may cause real problems!

Thank you for the heads up on the element voltage. I always though you had to stay within that but what I read was making me think different . Thanks for clarifying.
Again, just amazes me how difficult this DC thing can be.  I have also read things about the DC vs. AC argument and for this alone I can see why AC is the way to go.

I am aware of not using the thermostat with the High current DC. What I was going to do was use that as a switch with either 12V or AC to simply trigger a relay or contactor.  Easier said than done of course fining a suitable relay.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 17, 2018, 02:47:49 AM


I had thought of using a GTI  as you said. I also mentioned it a while back for use with the 1 Leg on my 3 phase AC.  Measure the consumption with that and put a GTI on it that was as close to the same rating as possible to offset the consumption.  The trick with that would be switching it in and out with the reboot time on the inverter as the compressor Cycled. But that's another idea.

The GTI would of course work with the heater but I was ( initially anyway) hoping for a more straightforward and independent solution. When Bruce says he can't think of anything, then I know I have made a much tougher ask than I realized.

I was sure I saw something about cross wired relays or the like, I can still see the picture of the diagram in my head but I can't remember the way it was wired so maybe I am thinking of something else I was looking for.


Water heaters here come in single and Double element. I was looking on Dumbtree last night and found a couple of double element units.
Each element was 4800W.

The heater I have is 315L and has a single element of 3600W.  the largest normally made is 400L and they go down to 25L.  generally anything under 175L is single element and from there it's take your pick. If you fed one element from the mains and used that to run another element from a GTI as Bob mentioned, you sure could heat the water fast! Not as fast as my oil burning water heater where I have to try and keep the power down to 50 Kw but for a practical heater in a business or whatever, sure would have a good recovery time.

Heater elements here are largely square rather than the 1'1/4 screw like I believe they are in the states. some brands use the screw thread but the main home grown is a square plate with a rubber gasket that you squeeze in.  Had one leak once when the gasket failed and it rusted the threads out of the holding plate on the heater.  I cured that by drilling the holes out and then putting short bolts and nuts behind. got another 5 or so years out that thing before it literally exploded at the seams and had to be replaced.

I got a very lightly used unit cheap which was only 25L and replaced it. Was good in a way, Daughter was limited on shower time.  Coming here with the big heater she thought it was heaven. Nephew thought the same when he had a shower here once and actually had water pressure unlike at home. Thought it was a terrific luxury!

Elements usually go in 1200w increments. 1200, 2400, 3600, 4800.  As we are all 240V Single phase) that's a 5A spread.  There are 3 phase heaters but they are nearly non existent for home use. More an industrial and still rare-ish thing for change rooms and the like.
We also have gas storage units but they are becoming more rare as well being replaced by instant gas heaters.

For a time there was a ban on Electric storage heaters for new home builds in some parts but this got reversed with the advent of solar. I believe now you can have them IF you also have solar or there is no town gas available like around here in the many new estates they are throwing up with cardboard houses.

The double element thermostats are the key to what I would ultimately like to do in having the heater solar Direct powered then switch the power to a GTI when the tank was hot. The double element thermos fit the single heaters. I'd put one on mine and when the thermo switched to the top element, i'd use that to drive the relay to send power to the GTI. Simple in theory.
Bobs idea would be the same thing only simpler. With a GTI supplying the heater, once the thing clicks out the power goes to the grid anyway.

Still like to switch the DC somehow but maybe it's not possible without more expense and complication than I thought.
Wouldn't be the first time!   :laugh:

The other thing I could look at is getting a low voltage element. That means I'd have to run the panels in parallel which is a pain to wire when you have 16 or so of the things.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on April 17, 2018, 06:30:40 AM
Bob's GTI approach of only applying the AC to the inverter through the water heater thermostat switch seems to meet your goal of not backfeeding on that meter/circuit, if you limited the PV array to less power than the water heater element could handle.
With a double pole, double throw relay the inverter outout could also be directed elsewhere when the water heater was hot, this by simply having the coil of the DPDT relay fed by the WH thermostat,  if that is to be the highest priority.

I can imagine how after the luxury of bargain priced but working GTI's and a wide range of PV voltage, the details of direct DC seem harder.   

The range of heater element wattages does make it easier.  Your dual element units are exactly the same as the commonl US models.  Having two elements for two different sources could be quite handy.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 17, 2018, 09:37:51 AM

Didn't do much today with solar projects. It was a pretty overcast day from early on so testing some hairbrained ideas would have been inconclusive running low outputs from the panels.  Spent time unpacking all the new furniture we had delivered and filling the back Verandah with enough cardboard to make another house.

I did get to observe thanks to my insomnia the behaviour of my various arrays.
I was surprised to find the inverter for the west facing panels kick in at 7 am  even though it was cloudy then. By 7:30 the array was making power albeit just 31W from 4KW.
What did surprise me was the tally for the day from this array was a hair over 4 kw. It also tripped out twice through the day thanks I suspect to the cloud edge effect sending the volts High. It certainly wasn't overloading   The 5.5 kw array which is north facing at a shallower angle only managed 6.7 Kw.  The south facing array on the shed which is 13 and 5o managed 4.2 Kw from 3 Kw of panels.

 I picked up a reasonable amount more from my little test and temporary arrays even though they tripped out twice through the day thanks I suspect to the cloud edge effect sending the volts High. It certainly wasn't overloading anything, the 2 arrays are less than half the output the inverters they are connected to are capeable of and even yesterday in the sun they were fine and never went over 2kw Combined.
 I finished the day with a total of 24.5 Kwh which was a lot better than I expected.  Yesterday when it was sunny all day I managed 38 Kwh as a comparison.

Cloudy days are definitely the great equalizer in solar for tilt and orientation. Also highlight the shortfall with trying to increase efficiency of panels with tracking and adjustable tilt etc. Even my south facing array which is entirely the wrong direction here does well in sun or cloud thanks to the shallow angle.

I also noticed this morning that due to the lower sun angle and the vigorous growth of a tree I pruned when I first came here, it's shading my main array on the shed which could be why the gap is so close to other arrays with less ideal setups.  good gob some of that solar I made today went to charging the electric chainsaw so I can fix that problem tomorrow.  : 0) I'll give the annoying tree a real short back and sides  given how well it has bushed up since the last haircut and get the thing to bush out more at ground level where I want it for privacy rather than up high where it's a nuisance.

I reckon the tree would be shading my panels for about 90 min. If that 90 min is worth 3 Kwh from the 5.5Kw there, with what I pay for power, that $315  worth of generation a year at very least that damn tree is costing me!
Not to mention it's an eyesore.

Seems for the moment my DC water heater idea is overly ambitious for my limited skills.  The HWS is running off a phase already fed from the solar so I'll leave it as is atm. That phase is still in credit from the last meter read 8 weeks ago and slightly gaining probably due to the limited use of the AC of late.

I do have a couple of sets of Orphan panels ( 1.5kw ea) I was going to install low on the west house roof to power the HWS. Might sell them and put the funds towards a larger set and make them the 4th array when i'm organized.

Really would like to figure out how to switch this DC though as it is going to bug me now as I'm sure there has to be a simple way!  :laugh:
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on April 17, 2018, 09:48:41 AM
Hey Bruce, love your idea of DPDT relay to divert power elsewhere when the thermostat on the HW system opens. Perhaps Glort should buy some of those storage heaters and redirect current to them, this would give him unlimited solar hot water and heating at night with no fear of back feeding the grid. Adding an electric AGA to the system would be costly but also give him free cooking facilities (they are basically a glorified storage heater). Hope his wife doesn`t ever see this post or an Aga because she will want one and they are really expensive, there are probably cheaper alternatives available.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 17, 2018, 12:05:04 PM


I was just looking at Aga's and Rayburns on Dumbtree before I came back here!
I was looking at the solid fuel ones though, didn't even realise there were electrics.

My Aunt and Uncle in Casino have a fuel stove, an Everhot I think it is.  I love that thing... so do they actually!
they cook on it and heat the house in winter and it also provides all their hot water thanks to the wetback.  Whenever I go there to visit ( have to go back soon!) in winter, they always tell me to have as long a shower a I like because there is plenty of hot water and plenty more where their oversupply came from.

Mrs and I have discussed putting one in when we re do the kitchen. Not keen on cutting wood for a heater but for a stove would be a different thing.

I have been thinking of a used electric water heater with home heating in mind pretty much as you suggest.  Have the main water heater warm up first then divert to the second heater which I warm up through the day then circulate the water through a radiator into the house at night. I could locate the radiator in front of the return air inlet for the ducted AC and just run it in vent mode.
I think i'd be better off with just running the AC though power wise. You basicaly get 4 times the heat for the power you put in although they do fall off the curve when it gets to about 3o Ambient.
  Going to take a LOT of energy to heat all that water.  One day might go back to the oil burner and look at controls for that to make it more practical for home heating like this.

I was reading up on Snubbers earlier but 99% of what I could find was AC related and the rest was like 24C Dc. Not much help.

What I was wondering was if having a constant small load would help with the arcing?
My idea which I'm sure is way too simple to have legs, was to have something like a pair of 25W globes in series ( for voltage handling) across the switched terminals of the relay so effectively there was power to the heater element all the time.... Just very limited and inconsequential.
If the circuit was not completely dead, would that give the power a path to follow and reduce/ eliminate the arcing when the relay switched? 

This seems to be what RC snubbers are essentially doing but as I said, what I found on high voltage/amperage DC was VERY limited. 

I was also thinking of a similar thing with using a GTI on the one leg of the AC I can't back feed.
If I put a lamp between the AC side of the inverter and the supply, would that allow the  inverter to sync with the grid and stay connected?
I would also connect the AC side of the inverter so when the compressor kicked in, a relay activated and gave the inverter a path of full current to the compressor.  When the compressor kicked out, relay opens, GTI is only feeding 25W back to that phase.

 I can't see a problem with the Load drop as it would be no different to switching off the AC power to a GTI and that doesn't blow them.  Alternatively, a DPDT couple be used to go to a 500W halogen bulb or something. Can't go back to the grid because that would require it to go to another phase and there would be the connection with the 25W globe which would blow the snot out of everything.
Unless..... I could rectify it back to DC and feed that back to the input side of another GTI on another phase..... Getting complicated and I probably don't need to worry about the loss of power so that part is very secondary to the switching in the first place.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on April 17, 2018, 12:33:08 PM
Hey glort if you are considering and Aga or similar unit, try to find one that runs on heating oil. They have a gravity fed wick burner that will run real good on WVO, hell of a lot easier and cheaper than an electric version.

Just a thought, if you have spare electricity after heating your hot water, what about a hot tub? I`ve been lucky enough to have sat in one in the Swiss Alps in minus 30 degree temperatures after a long day of skiing. Very good for reviving parts that other beers can`t reach.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on April 17, 2018, 05:11:44 PM
Snubbers are simply a resistor and small capacitor with values selected to suppress the oscillations (aka ringing) from switching or the EMI emitted when diodes start and stop conduction.  There is a method to determine the values for optimum snubbing by trying different capacitor values while watching the ringing on the oscilloscope. A 50% reduction then lets the engineer calculate the optimal values.  This is only a modest reduction in the ringing or EMI, and if you use your trusty AM radio near any wire connected to your GTI, you will see that there is a whole lot still left.  The values used for this are small,  and excess capacitance just causes power loss in that the power transistors must overcome the capacitance when switching on. Values of 0.001 to 0.1 uF and R values of 1-100 ohms would be ballpark ranges.

For simple on-off controls that aren't pulsing rapidly as in a PWM controller (say at 50,000 times per second) they are often not used at all. 

When turning off an inductive load, there is also an inductive kick back which can cause some issues- if the low side (negative) is being switched, when the load is off, the voltage goes high.  It can be more than the switching transistor(s) are rated for.  Here a small capacitor can absorb some of that spike and keep the voltage within safe limits.  Selecting the transistors with voltage rating of near double the actual use will often provide margin to be able to ignore "snubbing".  The value for the cap is small- 0.01 to 1.0 uF.  AC or DC are handled differently, and there are several techniques commonly used for DC relay coils, a notorious inductive spike generator when switched off due to the very high inductance.  The techniques may include both a diode and snubber.  If the switching is infrequent, and the voltage rating of the transistors is high enough, no snubbing is needed. 

Slower switching, with limited slew rate also reduces this inductive spike problem and this is the technique I use for switching DC electric cooking elements along with picking transistors with a fair amount of head room- typically 250 volt rating for switching 120-140VDC.  I use no snubbing and limit the power transistor on/off times via high value resistor to gate...this can only be done when using MOSFETs rated for semi-linear operation.

AC relays, switches and breakers on DC typically fail on opening. DC rated relay contacts must be way tougher, they must open faster and further. Bouncing of contacts is normal so each open or close is actually a series of events...and even closing causes arcing.  DC also means that metal will always be transferred in one direction between contacts, which is very hard on the contact life.  Adding capacitance will  increase the current on closing of contacts but will reduce it on opening.  Arcing on opening will be helped by capactance since the difference in voltage seen at the contacts at opening will be smaller, and the current across the open contacts will be reduced somewhat.  So capacitance can improve things.  But I would not normally use AC relays, switches and breakers in and around the home on high voltage DC.  They WILL fail.

Even my 150VDC rated wall light switches fail over time.  Lights with regular daily use of say 10 times a day will start to fail (sound of arcing on switching) in about 5 years.  The old design rotary lamp switches also start to fail on DC in time, the ones most often used, again in about 3-5 years.  I have metal electrical boxes and all wiring in metal conduit, so there is no risk of fire.  The solid state switches (HV mosfet) in my cooking appliances have never failed...solid state switches are the way to go for DC.

DC mechanical switching is very different from AC; AC has spoiled us because the interruption of current flow every 8 or 10 milliseconds (for 60Hz or 50 Hz power) means arcs stop almost immediately, so all mechanical electrical contacts have a much easier and longer life. They are "value engineered" to just work well enough for AC.  The exception is rotary lamp switches which are still the same as the original DC version.  I also did find one double pole switch that has worked well for 120VDC at up to 3 amps ...but it is no longer in production, and I blew over $200 on testing others to find not one that would work.

"What I was wondering was if having a constant small load would help with the arcing?
My idea which I'm sure is way too simple to have legs, was to have something like a pair of 25W globes in series ( for voltage handling) across the switched terminals of the relay so effectively there was power to the heater element all the time.... Just very limited and inconsequential.
If the circuit was not completely dead, would that give the power a path to follow and reduce/ eliminate the arcing when the relay switched?"

The parallel small load would reduce switching current and voltage only very slightly. Not enough to allow use of AC relays and breakers.  Some AC breakers are said to work for 12/24V DC, but since the breakers sold by Midnight Solar are DC rated and approved (150 and 300V versions), it seems foolish to tempt fate.  Even with breakers, it is recommended that  for an off grid system, a DC rated fuse of high rated current be used between battery and breakers since a sudden dead short could cause instantaneous currents so high (before the breakers can open) that the breakers contacts will weld closed.

DC is much better (4x) than AC for shock safety, but greater caution needs to be taken regarding mechanical switching contacts.

"If I put a lamp between the AC side of the inverter and the supply, would that allow the  inverter to sync with the grid and stay connected?"

 Alas, no.  The inverter will immediately see an overvoltage when it tries to feed the circuit due to the resistance of the lamp.  Same as if you used a long run of tiny wire between the GTI and power panel.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: merkland on April 17, 2018, 06:24:20 PM
Hey glort if you are considering and Aga or similar unit, try to find one that runs on heating oil. They have a gravity fed wick burner that will run real good on WVO, hell of a lot easier and cheaper than an electric version.

Are you speaking from experience? I have had an oil(Kerosene) Aga for some 47 years and, knowing how fussy and temperamental they can be over the fuel they will use, I am extremely dubious of them being able to use wvo as a fuel. The wick burner they use is entirely dependent on the fuel readily vapourising.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 18, 2018, 01:07:07 AM

Thanks yet again Bruce.

It's clear that there are no straightforward solution's to this.

Your explanation with the lamp keeping the inverter engaged makes perfect sense.  One would have to have a dummy load and switch to the AC and then release the Dummy load. I feel as soon as a relay broke the connection in switching from one to the other the inverter would trip out.  Still, a 1 second delay would not be a difficult thing to engineer and the dummy load could be cheap and easy to set up.

Have you done any testing / investigation with switching both sides of DC load at the same time?

Speaking of Dummy Loads gives me yet another idea. Maybe I have been looking at this the wrong way. Instead of trying to turn the power off, maybe I should be thinking of just turning the heater off and diverting the power elsewhere so it has somewhere to go and will "absorb" the arc?

Looking at the relay spec sheets, they go got from NC to No in Ms as well. If I used a DPDT and Switched both sides of the power from the heater to a dummy load, that should limit the arc time because the power would then be absorbed by the Dummy load and the power needed to create the arc would be " Grounded" by the other load. 

I would think that like your light switches, the the relay life would still be shortened but If I got a year out of a $3 relay, I'd be more than happy with that and it would still be a financially viable option.

Any thoughts on that solution?
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on April 18, 2018, 03:01:41 AM
Alas, double pole switches (AC commercial grade ones which I tested on 120VDC) have the same problem on DC. I only found one out of about 6 or so that worked, and only at current below 3 amps at 140 VDC.  I hord them for special project needs since that model is no longer in production.  Ditto for my Cooper brand 150VDC rated wall switches (a duplex switch).

High voltage DC relays do exist.  Here's a german company that makes them starting at $132. each.
There may be better suited ones out there.  The problem is that once you leave standard, high volume products, prices soar. 

The issue with higher voltage DC at currents in the 10-20 amp range cannot be solved by trickery and using a $3 AC relay to the best of my knowledge.  You can buy a suitable solid state relay for $200 at Digikey, or make one for about $20 in parts; an opto isolated gate driver and a few 600V IGBT transistors in parallel plus the smallest (<50 ma) 12VDC power supply. 

What you CAN do with cheap AC mechanical relays is provide zero current switching of DC; you can redirect from one load to another with the current off.  Just do it in steel enclosures so that no matter the failure there won't be a fire.

It might be useful for you to play with some switching at roughly 230VDC from some panels using resistive heaters or heat lamp loads to see what DC arcing is really like.  Just get one Midnight Solar DC rated breaker to use for a reliable kill switch.  US AC outlet plugs and sockets were originally designed for DC, and can also be used for a kill switch...just use a high current one and don't pull the plug out slowly! The contacts were designed to be "self cleaning" with a good wiping contact surface.  I don't know how your plugs/recepticals in Australia are designed.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 18, 2018, 04:08:18 AM

It might be useful for you to play with some switching at roughly 230VDC from some panels using resistive heaters or heat lamp loads to see what DC arcing is really like. 

I have been thinking ( and planning) the same thing.
Going to wire up a DPDT relay on both sides of the panel output and switch a load and then one load to another and see what happens.
If I set fire to a $3 relay on the table, who cares?

Cloudy again today so my easy access array is only doing About 300W@ 360V but I can still pull a good arc when i short the wires and pull them apart.  If I can get to it today that will be a first test and then If its Sunny tomorrow I'll tap into the main array and do about 8A @ 340V on each pole and combine the outputs for full power.

If I can switch that back and forth a dozen times with no issues i know I'll be onto something.
I can then set it up with a timer to switch on and off every 10 Sec say and see how that goes.

I did just test the High voltage, low wattege theroy for the elements. I connected a 500W light across the solar output which was doing about 250w/ 360V open circuit and the light appeared to glow about half brightness. As a halogen light is the same as an element, I'm not wondering about the idea of the total power rather than the voltage being the concern with an element?
Might do the test again and see what the Loaded voltage is which is probably the key. If the voltage didn't sag then I can see where there might be an issue.

I did find some 300A/ 900V DC relays for electric cars that are nitrogen filled. Way overkill for what I want but $175 which for this sort of capacity is quite reasonable.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on April 18, 2018, 12:06:18 PM
Hey Merkland, yes I speak from experience. In the early 1990s I was married with three daughters, all horse mad. I was talked/bullied into buying a farm for their hobby. The four bedroom property in Herefordshire England came with an oil fired Aga, for cooking/hot water and solid fuel heating Coal/wood for everything else.

I set about modernising the property, I installed a new oil fired central heating boiler feeding heating radiators in each room and the old Aga was dismantled and sent away for restoration. The new kitchen I built and fitted had an electric fan oven and an LPG cooktop, The plan being to only use the now reinstalled Aga in the winter months.

That year we had a very cold winter and surprise/surprise the cost of heating oil went through the roof. To add insult to injury the government also decided to start taxing heating oil driving the costs even higher.

I experimented with a lot of cheaper fuels including WVO. Basically these vaporising burners are little more than a glorified candle and they will burn just about any hydrocarbon (I never tried animal fat) The tray at the bottom contains the hydrocarbon which then flows up the concentric wicks where it burns. The heat generated heats the tray full of fuel to the point at which the hydrocarbon fuel in it starts to vaporise (imagine a deep fat fryer on fire). The temperature control is achieved by increasing/decreasing the level of oil in the burner tray. There is an electric thermostatically controlled float chamber normally mounted on the left hand side of the Aga which controls the level of the fuel. If I remember correctly the static/unlit level in the tray is supposed to be around 6mm of fuel and can be adjusted/levelled by winding the mounting bolts up or down. The control unit has adjustment screws which allow you to determine the maximum and minimum rate of burn. It is imperative that once lit and hot these adjustments are made to ensure a clean burn. A clear blue flame on the top of the vaporiser on maximum and a clear blue flame inside the vaporiser on minimum.

I had a lot of problems with this and found that a smoky flame would quickly cause clogging in the flue pipe. Experimentation and constant vigilance overcame these problems. I also found some fuels difficult to light, a mixed air and propane gas blowlamp sorted the problem.

I eventually converted everything to run on red diesel because as a farmer it was the cheapest and tax deductible. Bob one/ government nil.

For those of you who have no idea what red diesel is it is a tax exempt fuel for farmers, industry and construction machinery, it`s also used by the military. If you get caught using it on the roads expect a very large fine, repeat offenders go to jail. The military also use a red petroleum. These fuels contain a dye which stains the inside of fuel systems and is easily identified by government inspectors during routine road side inspections.

Strangely enough my experiment with farming worked out very well. At the time the British government and the technocrats that run the EEC had the common agriculture policy in place. This was a system of subsidies which assisted farmers in producing foods that were in short supply. No surprise then that we ended up with beef and butter mountains, lakes of wine all being stored at huge expense to prevent a fall in wholesale price.

Rather than reduce or redirect the subsidies, which could have adversely effected farm revenues and votes, the gubermints decided to introduce the set aside scheme where they paid farmers not to produce anything. We were expected to maintain our properties and destroy weeds but grow nothing.

60,000 dollars a year to not farm is the sweetest deal I have ever had! I also received government grants to plant trees and hedges. All capital expenditure was tax deductible as were machinery/fuel purchases and the costs of any outside contractors. Bob two/government nil.

At the time I also ran a construction business and the cost of machinery hire became negligible as I simply purchased the equipment through the farm and claimed it back as tax deductible expenditure. Bob three/government nil

I probably drove my accountant to a near nervous breakdown but there is a huge difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion. No farmer that I ever met ever paid the government a cent in tax on any profit they made, It was all redirected back into their business. A call from the accountant and we would run down to the local agricultural supplier to by a new tractor, even if we didn`t need it.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 18, 2018, 02:04:29 PM

You got me very interested in these things Bob!
I have emailed aga for a price on the things as a spare part. bet that will cause some butt clenching when that email comes back.  I looked them up on YT and they are very simple devises though.

I do know where Merkland is coming from. Ordinarily WVO is virtually impossible to burn with a wick. I have put some effort into it and failed.  Cotton wicks burn to nothing in short order. I tried steel wool and woven metal pads and other things and got no where. It looks like the wicks on the aga are very shallow and the rings probably reflect the heat and thin and vaporise the oil which would allow them to work.  Very interesting especially since it as probably figured out 100 years ago.  I wasn't aware they existed till you mentioned them which makes me fell pretty ignorant given my oil proclivities.

Are these things sort of ducted into the bun chamber and the main part stays in another cooler area in the stove or could you say place them into a normal Slow Combustion wood heater like the glass fronted type?  If they could be fitted like that, I don't care what the price is, I'm buying one for my father and one for me.
He has a supply of engine oil in his back yard literally he has to get rid of and if it gets me out of cutting wood for him, it's worth it. I don't think there is much left to cut now anyway. I think we have cleaned up pretty much all the dead stuff there is.  I can get as much veg as I need so would be no problem to take him a couple of barrels of veg at a time for an oil fueled burner if he ran short and I could probably collect more around his town anyway.
I get the feeling the restaurants would probably be hanging out for the collectors to take it away up there. 

Put some offers in on some of these cookers. Might be the one thing to do with fire that the mrs and I would both like to own. If I could get one that ran on oil.... Happy ( and warm) days!!

That said, I think you are right about an electric given my solar proclivities. A new "Total control" electric model is about $15K new. 
It certainly would be a centerpiece of a kitchen and a home though and would even get me excited about something as boring arse as an electric stove.

I saw on the Website that Falcon is an off shoot of Aga. My inlaws round the corner have a falcon we have admired for a long time and my sister in law Loves it understandably. Might be the reason one of my nephews has a huge talent for cooking different pastrys.  Keep telling him I want to set him up in business cooking his tasty indulgences.  I could make a fortune with him with those gingerbreads, shortbreads and other things he cooks.

Going to have to Build myself another Wood fired Pizza oven. With winter coming up I'm really starting to miss not having one.  The things even I can cook in my wood fire oven are incredible and so simple. Not just the best Pizzas everyone we know says they have ever had and ALWAYS want when they come for dinner but also fantastic roasts.

My former Italian Neighbor always used to say the Food in Oz asn't as good as what she got back home.  After I built my wood fire oven she drove me nuts till I built her one, even ordering a Pallet of bricks and bags of concrete and then telling me she had them so now i HAD to build her an oven.
I built her a whopper so she could do the baby Goat she so craved.
After she had the oven a couple of months she told me she was wrong. It wasn't the food that wasn't as good as home, it was the way it was cooked. She said at home they always had a wood fired oven they cooked everything in. Here it was all gas or electric and that was the difference.
got to admit, the flavour she got out of every day Vegetables and meat in simple dishes was great and inspired me to follow the way she did it.

So easy to do even a pelican like me and wow people as a chef.  Might only be a few things I can cook but they are good enough you'd never get sick of eating the same 5-6 dishes over and over.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 18, 2018, 02:30:45 PM

Quite surprised with the consistency of the output from my panels. Today was another dull overcast day and today I got the exact same power yield as yesterday, 24.5 Kw. Probably putting us a bit in advance atm given we are not running the AC which seems to be the biggest power draw.  The wife getting Busy in the kitchen with 2 ovens and the stove going sucks some juice as well.

I was thinking today I might put a meter in the kettle as well. I try to limit myself to about 10 Coffees a day and I'm wondering how much power that adds up to. I'm thinking it's going to be a surprising amount. Mrs has a habit of filling the kettle every time she boils it and I cannot get through to her to only boil enough for the cup she wants, not fill the bastard with 3L of water.

Going back to early feb, I see I was making more than double the power I am now and I had about 6KW worth of panels LESS than I have now. Still, that would have been a bright sunny day so I should probably be thinking more along the 38 Kwh I did the other day. Still a fall off from my max of 55Kwh as my High so far.  Shows the solar yeild estimates I got off the website were accurate and why I do need to put so many panels up.

I haven't started heating yet and when I do, that's really going to tax my generational capabilities.  Better work on getting that other north facing 5Kw up ASAP. Got to get the sparky in to run a couple of new 20A Circuits to take it and the 4KW array I just put up so I can expand and run that flat out as well.
I could add another string to the Shed as well and pick up another 1.5-2KW there. haven't bothered so far as I was taxing the wiring up there but now the solar radiation has fallen off, I could run ano0ther string and just disconnect it in the summer or see if I could put it to something to use up there and use it on sight rather than run it all the way back here. Maybe a Giant Freezer and make blocks of Ice i could bring down to the house in tubs to cool the place down??  :0)

Actually a party Ice business would be a winner in the summer months!

I'm wondering If I am going to get raided or investigated by the cops?
I live beside the flightpath of a pretty busy general aviation airport and all the planes, including the copper choppers would have a perfect view of the house covered in panels. I have heard pot growers are getting onto putting up large arrays to hide their growing operations so it's not a stretch to Imagine I might get on the radar.

Can't even get my Vegetables to grow with this dessert like dryness, hot wind and scorching sun. They are going to be pretty Dissapointed if they come looking for any other " crops" .

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on April 18, 2018, 05:19:16 PM
"I was thinking today I might put a meter in the kettle as well. I try to limit myself to about 10 Coffees a day and I'm wondering how much power that adds up to. I'm thinking it's going to be a surprising amount. Mrs has a habit of filling the kettle every time she boils it and I cannot get through to her to only boil enough for the cup she wants, not fill the bastard with 3L of water. "

My off grid 120VDC home/lead acid battery bank was powered by just 875 watts of panels until recently.  On sunny days I do mostly electric cooking, and very quickly I learned that excess water heating is your energy enemy. For tea, I use a 300 watt immersion heater.  Works fast and efficiently, even faster if I start with 130F solar heated hot water.  For cooking, I have crock pots and a small modified 600W toaster oven, and a 500 watt hot plate.

My favorite for general DC cooking is a modified  Aroma brand 300 watt rice cooker. I added a mechanical timer and changed the wiring so that the magnetic scorch switch on the bottom of the stainless cooking pot turns it off.  (The magnet looses strength and releases from the bottom of the pot if it gets hot, which opens a switch.) A single 250V MOSFET and resistors do the power switching, the timer and magnetic scorch switch control the MOSFET. This rice cooker is my favorite, as I can add just barely enough water in the bottom (1/2 cup) to cook/steam.   It also has a steamer pot that sits above the 6 cup pot.  I have serious short term memory problems and the biggest plus for me is that I can never burn up a meal with it, and even if I go out to the yard or shop and forget, when I come back there will be something edible and not a mess.

I've also learned that there is a good 10 minutes worth of slow cooking for free after the power times out. For a bachelor meal the timer is set for 25 minutes and food is ready in 30 minutes.  Just under 1/2 cup of water in the 6 cup cooking pot is sufficient.

300w x 25 minutes= 125 watt-hrs  or about 1 amp hour at 120VDC  for a meal.  My battery bank is 110 AH at modest current draw so both early breakfast and evening meal on battery power is not a problem.  I use the gas range on dark days and for most baking and cooking for groups.

It really doesn't take much electrical power to live on very comfortably if you are heating with solar hot water space heating and have no need for air conditioning due to super insulation with enough thermal mass and cool night time temperatures despite 100F days.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 18, 2018, 08:59:58 PM

You Know Bruce, You really should document all the things you have done so that others may replicate and benefit from it. Maybe a website with pics and descriptions/ schematics. I know you share a lot here but it's a pretty small audience. There would be a lot of people very interested in your efforts and achievements.

Your knowledge could help so many other people and is just not easy to come by.  You have a practical, simple and straightforward outlook where most people of your experience and knowledge just want to make things complicated as hell.
I don't know if you can use a Video camera without it affecting you but if you did a YT channel, I'm sure it would take off and I would give you whatever help I could to make sure it did. There is a formula to it like anything else but your subject matter would be of interest to a LOT of people.

I like your way of thinking. You know you have a bad memory so you allow for it.  i'm a big believer in that. People seem to want to ignore the " Constant" and modify the variables rather than allow for the other way round.  If you know you forget things, then allow for that as you have and work and ajust to it. 

This is something I butt heads with my wife over all the time on simple things.  She complains because she leaves bread on the bench and the cat gets  to it and it has to be thrown out. I tell her, you know the cat is going to do it, don't effing leave the bread there. I bought her a bread box to put it in.
No, she thinks the cat shouldn't get up there and that's it. One of her many Concocted rules that she dreams up like a law of physics that she thinks is inarguable because it's the way she wants things.
I know this is a piddling thing but it is typical of other things she and others are like which frustrated the guts out of me.  If you know something is going to happen through repeated experience, forget if it's right or wrong or should or shouldn't happen, allow for it and take measures so when it does, there is no problem.
Bugger me, how easy is it to put the Damn bread in the microwave, cupboard or in the bread box I bought?
I literally tell her to shut up about the bread now, I don't want to hear about it. If she is stupider than the cat to keep doing the same damn thing, put up with it Quietly!  ::)

Unfortunately many people just won't think like you and I.
When I was in the Veg game, people on forums were always chasing the holy grail of fuel line that didn't perish or weep with Veg or bio.  They would spend stupid money on the stuff and it ALWAYS weeped or went soft. Me being a tight arse but maybe a bit more savvy didn't worry. I worked out the cheap/ common stuff lasted over a year. I do all my yearly things between Chrstmas and new year including car servicing. I just change the fuel line, what little of soft line there is and that's it. Costs me about $4 a year and I don't have to worry because I know it's got about 15-18 months life so I do it aircraft style, change it before it fails even if it's still good. People paying $30 ft are lucky to get 2 years and then it's well past it's use by anyway, they just don't want to throw the expensive stuff out and admit they spent too much and it's little better. :0)

Really would be good if you were up to it to put all the things you have done in some sort of archive particularly in relation to your EMF sensitivity.
Could be the basis for a lot of people to help themselves in the future if you are right about the increasing effects which I think you are.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on April 18, 2018, 11:21:20 PM
Thanks, Glort.  Now that I am no longer able to help disabled individuals with their homebuilding issues as I did for many years,  I would like to try and leave some sort of "leg up" for others so they don't have to learn it all the painfully hard way as I did.  Most people with seriously disabling MCS and/or ES have a unique pattern of brain damage (clearly visible on SPECT and FMRI) and have a hard time learning and visualizing complex things, so I think video clips with a more "hands on" demonstration might be more effective, though some sadly have no computer access at all. 

Truth is my writing skills are not great, besides being very mentally challenging for me.  I don't know how to write for non-engineers.  Over 20 years ago I wrote a 16 page condensed article on home EMF mitigation for a friend of a friend's book. (University professor writing about coping severe MCS disability.) She found it too complex, she had hoped it could be like a cookie recipe!  Some years later I was contacted by a newly disabled electrically sensitive guy (Phd in Biophysics who worked at Los Alamos). I sent him the article and worked with him via phone for first home and car EMF mitigation. He was able to improve his home situation by 90% and got back some health and is able to do some contract research work now, though he can't work full time in a typical office anymore.  A few years ago he wrote me to tell me how every time he reads the article, he has learned more and can apply more of what I wrote. 

This was intended as a compliment, but since I had attempted to write the article for lay people, I was pretty discouraged. 

I have attempted to find a co-author to help humanize my writing but so far they lacked enough technical savvy and so could contribute little more than correcting grammar and spelling.

I do have a digital camera that does video and sound that is exceptionally low in emissions and I can tolerate it for short periods.  I made 3 short videos about my prototype ultra low EMF inverter design for a civil engineer who has moderate ES and was interested in how it was even possible to have an inverter be low EMF.

I now have upgraded my rear projection workstation to a WXGA (1280x 800) projector over the last couple months; I had to add an external IR remote controlled focus adjustment since the Qume Q5 optics aren't temperature stable.  My old SVGA - LED pocket projector in a shielded enclosure would not allow me to use any video editing software at all- they are all designed for XGA as the minimum display.

I would much appreciate any advice and/or assistance in getting me going in a fruitful direction. I'll PM you with my email address.


Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 19, 2018, 02:45:20 AM

I get what you are saying about the writing Bruce.  Often you leave me behind but I would not put that as your fault.  there is always a base knowledge required to understand most things and this is not simple. You have to remember that most people think someone who can wire in a light switch are some sort of black magic magicians.  I put a new Rectifier in my mates pool Chlorination, Miracle! Another mate I changed the pool Pumps, " Saved his life".

I'm sure the other chap you wrote for is gaining knowledge and then understanding as he goes. I do that all the time with things I read.
It's not easy when you are at a high level coming back down to the very beginning. Believe it or not there are some things I am quite proficient at and I struggle to help others as well because what is as basic as can be to me is something they have not yet learnt.
Like explaining how to wire that light switch, you'd say make sure the switch is capable of at least 5 amps and you lost them right there because they wouldn't know an amp from their elbow.
My near 80 YO father has been working on and fixing cars all his life. Rebuild an  engine with not much thought but ask him to put in an extra set of speakers or wire a trailer plug, forget it.

The beauty of this is you can do it as you feel up to it. If you can put in an hour or 6 one day and nothing for the next 3, so be it.  I had a bad day yesterday and did nothing but sat on my arse here but today I feel better and have been up since 4am and doing useful things since 7. Just came in for a coffee now.

Whatever you could share would be a huge help to someone and even if like you have with me many times, You give me a bright idea of my own that worked even if I don't follow a lot of what you have said, it's a help. A bloody BIG help!

Would be my honour to help you in any small way I could.   :D
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on April 19, 2018, 06:09:53 PM
"Amps from elbows" pretty much nails the problem. 

I'm not sure how tackle that problem.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: LowGear on April 20, 2018, 08:24:48 PM
Panel Price Alert:

I saw previously installed 250 Watt panels in the local craigslist (Big Island Hawaii) for $100 each.  I phoned and found the seller had eight inquiries in the first hour.  Not the screaming deals glort reports from Australia but still pretty darn good.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on April 20, 2018, 09:39:39 PM often has panels at 0.50 to 0.60/watt.  Decent outfit. used to be the bargain king but they seem to have fallen on hard times lately. 

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on April 21, 2018, 12:32:08 AM

250's are the used panels of Choice. there is always interest in them here and they do get the higher prices as well.

Last lot of 250's I bought was about 2 months ago now.  Can't remember what I paid for them, I think it was 350 or $400 for 20,  5Kw worth. They are the next lot I have to get on the north side of the house. Going to get a sparky in to run a HD Circuit so I can drive them flat out and not fry the house wiring.
 Will get him to put another circuit on the other phase while I'm at it so I can load the other side of the house facing west as well.
Lucky I have 3 phase so I can pump all this power back in or I'd already be maxed out with what I have on single phase.

While I was initially disregarding anything other than 250W panels, I am taking anything I can get hold of down to 175's now. There is a fair difference in mounting but other than that. 4 kw in 250s is 16 panels, 4k in 175's is 22 but the area they occupy in much the same. For those with limited roof space, the smaller panels may actually be better. They are physicaly smaller so you may squeeze that one more panel on the end of a run where a larger one wouldn't fit where the roof line changes etc.  Apart from a few more brackets to hold them down, no difference really.

My benchmark for used panels was $200Kw or .20C watt if looked at that way.  I still might pay that for really good 250's or above but for anything else,  under $150 KW is more what I'll pay now.

So far my best score has been the 4KW set I bought early this year. 240W panels, micro inverters and rails.  $550. I did in hindsight think I went a bit overboard on those but they turned out OK. I didn't want the micros after testing them so put them back on dumbtree. Sold the first 8 for 250 and the second 8 for 230. Panels ended up costing me $5 ea or about .2 Cents per watt!

I have found buying systems is cheaper all up than just buying panels ... when you can get them.  What often happens here is the inverter dies, the panels have to be replaced as well due to our BS policy of old PANELS not meeting current safety regs and the racking gets reused on the new system.
That just leaves the panels.  Not always of course but a lot of the time.

Actual tilt, orientation and things like shading are going to make more difference between a bank of 250's and 190's (as is a popular output here) in a bank of the same size.  Efficiency Drop off of older panels is inconsequential.  Amount of bird droppings on the array will probably make more difference to the final output than difference in efficiency in used panels sizes and age.

I haven't found a lot of panels on offer the last few weeks. Lot of people thinking their old panels should entirely fund the new system and trying to sell them based on what they paid for the things 7 years ago rather than what the system they just put up cost.
People never cease to amaze me in how they will bitch and complain that they have had 10 offer's in 3 months on something they have been trying to sell and that everyone else is at fault for not offering what they want rather than realising that they are the ones at fault for the things not selling because of their stupid pricing and greedy mentality.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on May 05, 2018, 04:30:16 AM

Haven't had a score of panels in weeks now. The offerings seem to have dried right up but for a number of hopeful people selling systems for stupid prices By anyones measure.  $3500 For a used and non compliant ( can't legally connect tot he grid) system is unrealistic here by a long way and there have been quite a few little  1.5KW systems  going for $700-1000 with the sellers not being prepared to budge on price.

We are now officially in winter and even though I have started running the Ac for a bit of heat at night, during the day it's still real easy to break a sweat in a t shirt doing not much at all.
I am generating  mid 30Kwh pretty Consistently on sunny days and sometimes not cracking much over 10 on the really overcast ones we have had. Sadly those days are a double loss with no solar generation and no rain either.

The hot water is now completely solar fed and I have moved it permanently to one of the normal phases which is back fed. I'm going to put it on the same circuit as the 5Kw north array on the house and get a weatherproof box and put the Voltage monitor, a PWM and a relay in it with an RCD. Even though I don't have to limit when the heater comes on, it's advantageous to do so. By having the heater come on when the solar is feeding, I can even out the line voltage which is a bit problematic here. It will be interesting to see if this HD Direct circuit will be more stable than the normal power circuits I have been using. It's slightly heavier wiring and is one uninterupted run back to the fuse box. I'm hoping the lower resistance of the wiring which is also half the length of the run to the arrays on the shed will be better clamped by the grid although testing it the other day  straight from the pole showed that was pretty high anyhow.

 I'll run the heater at a lower output as well to spread the time it runs to give me more voltage smoothing.  I might even look at adding a timer so in summer it waits till about 10 am to kick in and covers the max generation period.
It was funny when changing the circuts the other day. My sparky mate asked how many amps was the solar I was going to install and when I said up to 20, he became alarmed. He said you can't have 20 amps on the heater and 20 amps on the solar at the same time!!
I asked why Not? He said you'll be at double the rating of the circuit.  I said actually, I'mm be lucky to do 3amps difference.  I reminded him the solar was a supply not a load and that would power the heater if they were both operating and the actual loading back to the breaker would be next to nothing.

Take a little getting ones head around when you are used to everything being a load.

 I am still making more power than I'm using but the home heating has been minimal due to the still beautifully warm weather. I put the AC on the other night as it was a little chilly siting here in just a T shirt but the thing didn't run for long and then would only kick in for a short while about every 20-30 min.  Also confused my Daughter and made her happy when she complained she forgot to hang out washing she wanted to wear the next day.  I told her, stick it in the dryer.  She said I would but you'll go nuts about me using it. I said No, we are plenty up on power atm, won't hurt to burn some off.

For me, this is what this solar caper is all about. Paying for your little luxuries in advance and enjoying the investment cost and guilt free thereafter.  :laugh:  She was also happy but a bit surprised when I told her, feel free to have a long hot shower now and then as well. Heating the water is costing us nothing and I'm pumping the output into the IBC's so I can water the garden with it as I have to use water for anyway so may as well enjoy yourself and get 2 uses out of it.  I certainly have been taking my time relaxing in the shower of late and I don't have to give the Mrs the hurry up when she washer her hair which seems to take about 20 Min to accomplish as well.  Can get in there after her and there is still a load of hot water.
Dunno why the previous owner put in such a big tank seeing there was only his wife and himself here but I'm happy he did!

I'll turn the solar off tomorrow before I head up to my fathers place for a week. hHave to finish the 3 Kw install I didn't do much on week before last due to a quick trip and rain when I was there.

It has been an easy job so far.
I stacked the panels in the back of the ute on top of some ratchet straps. I then snug the straps up which are each end of the long side and one top to bottom so they form a big block that does not move.  I took a lifting sling and when I got there, slipped it under the straps.
I got the forklift, Put the times together and got Dad to slip the sling  over the tines as I bought the fork forward so the straps were straight up and not pulling.

Just lifted the 18 Panels straight up and out then took them over tot he roof I wanted to put them on. Lifted them right up and went in close to the eaves and left them there just above the roof to avoid the concerntrated weight. From there I just got up and grabbed them and laid them out where I wanted.
Sure beats pulling them up with a hook on a strap like I have been doing here!

I still have another 5Kw of 250 Panels to put on the north end of the house. Looking a little while ago it's perfect pitch and orientation for winter.
Being a 35o Pitch tin roof,  I have spent some hours now on the ground and on a ladder looking and trying to do the mental arithmetic of how to get the panels up there and survive the exercise.  I have an idea in mind and think I'm just going to have to start doing it now as although I'm very unsure of how well the plan will work, I'm also pretty sure than I'm going to have to actually do it from here to work out if it' is workable and the real difficulties of the job.

Meter read is Monday week and I'm about 20 Kwh ahead on each meter. I'll turn the solar off tomorrow or I'll have the power co out her wanting to put me on a smart arse meter If I have used less than I started with.
I am reading that there are changes coming to the power industry and the way they are allowed to charge and meter in July so just maybe it will be something that works in my favor.

I am not happy with some panels I bought and their output. They are 180's and seem to be performing well below what I would expect.  I have half on the shed roof and the other half on the verandah.  I thought the ones on the shed which I put up first were a bit on the low side but it is the south side of the roof and they are nearly flat and I also had not put anything else up there to get an idea of what to expect.
I have 1.5 Kw worth on the verandah and am lucky to see 700W out of them. Further back on the house, I have other panels  at the same direction and pitch, 3 KW worth and the 1.5 set is not producing anywhere near half what the others are despite having more clearance and about an hours longer exposure in the late hours of the day.

I'm going to take them down as the are easy to get at and put up some 250s and see what the difference is. I have enough numbers now out the 180s to know what to expect and can work out the power difference to see if it adds up.
The 180s were a set I bought that came with micro inverters and rails. I paid $550 for the set and then sold the Micros which I didn't want for $480.
If these panels are low producers, I only paid $5 ea for them so I'll put them on the south end of the house or use them as a roof for a chicken Coop!  :0)

I missed out on a set of 40x 250s which was a bit dissapointing but the guy got an offer I wouldn't have gone near so good luck to him. There will be others along. Even though there is a bit of a drought now, I'm sure that will be rectified by a flood of the  things soon as seems to happen.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on May 20, 2018, 01:21:43 PM

Coming into the lowest generation month here and still doing OK.
Put another 2.5 Kw on the other day leaning against the hedge as a temp setup. This 2.5 North at a steep angle is making about 1 Kwh more than the 4Kw of panels on the west house roof.  Max output I have seen from the 2.5 so far is 1.7Kw which isn't bad at all considering.

Realizing just How much power the Ducted aircon uses.  Left it on the other night to kick in and out on the thermostat and used about 13KW on each 3 Phases! Turned it off last night when I went to bed and booted it up this morning at about 6 and at the end of the day had caught up again with the solar to where I started a few days back. Lucky the weather has been pretty sunny here.  This morning I was up at 6 and the grass was crunchy and  noticed there was Ice all over the cars.  Who says it never gets cold in Oz? Of course 3 months ago we were getting days in the 40's pretty regularly.

It's been dry here so I have been running the sprinklers over the weekend. Figured I'd really try and saturate everything so there was some water in the ground which would hopefully stay there a bit in the cool weather.  When I got up this morning to move the sprinklers, there was steam coming off the streams of water and the lawn and garden.  Seemed the water was a reasonable amount warmer than the air.

Noticed the AC condensor had Iced up so I put the hose Nozzle on the back of it which would have given it a lot more heat than was in the air at the time.
Very tempted to Revisit some oil burning heating options. I'd have a ton of power if it weren't for the AC.  Probably be ok though if I got the other 2.5 of panels up on the north roof.

That said, the weather has been very good through the day and apart from the freezing mornings, it hasn't been that cold either really.  If we get that week of overcast/ rain, no way I'll come near making enough power.

I am going to test a few days heating with small fan heaters. at least with those we can localise the warmth where we want it a bit more instead of having to heat a large master zone where no one is. Even at 2Kw Hr, we'd still probably be better off with 3 heaters going. after the first hour, they can be turned down to 1Kw and just bounce off the thermostats as needed. 

Only take a few days to see how that works out consumption wise.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on May 20, 2018, 04:12:10 PM
13KW per phase is brutal.  Heat pump for heating when outside temps are 0C is a joke; most systems are on resistance heating at that point as I suspect yours was.  The duct losses are huge; often R1 insulation on leaky attic ducts above the insulated envelope.  It's as if most homes where designed by the power co. to maximize their profits, as well as the HVAC guy to sell the largest, most expensive unit, instead of designing the house to minimize energy use.  It's as if insulation was very expensive, and had to be maintained and replaced, so we must use as little as possible.

I think you're on the right track with night time zoned resistive heating.  Checking heaters with an ELF magnetic field meter and the AM radio will show you that the best heaters can be 100x lower.  The lowest EMF are typically the oil or water filled radiator type, or electric-hydronic baseboard types.  They have the smallest current loop area with a small element.  If they use diodes to create a low wattage, that screws the deal and you get lots of diode generated EMI since they didn't bother with snubber EMI supression.


Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on May 20, 2018, 10:31:11 PM
  The duct losses are huge; often R1 insulation on leaky attic ducts above the insulated envelope.  It's as if most homes where designed by the power co. to maximize their profits, as well as the HVAC guy to sell the largest, most expensive unit, instead of designing the house to minimize energy use.

I think you are right as usual Bruce.

I thought it was great having Ducted when we moved in but reading up on it, thinking otherwise now.  I'd probably go for splits when it falls over.
The whole idea of this master zone which is the kitchen/ family room and the biggest area of the house having to be cooled wen everyone is in 2 bedrooms at night is stupid.  I'm going to ask my mate about adding in another damper into the duct work so that can be turned off.

I think they have realised the problem with ducted now as the fashion in AC is multi headed splits. One condenser unit, Multi evaporators.
More efficient to transport the gas under pressure than the cool air.

The power company comment is spot on. 13Kwh on 3 phases and I didn't even have the temp above a cool normal air temp.  Had it at 21C just to keep the chill off the place. I have over 15 Kw of solar going and it can't keep up and the sole and only reason is the AC. When I don't run that I'm so far n credit with power and we make no effort to be conservative with it in any other way.

 I was thinking with my daughter if I give her a fan heater I'll have to " Fix" it first.  set the thermostat to a max of 24 so she can't have the room like a sauna and take out the high heat setting so she can't run the thing flat out and suck all the power on the circuit.  She only has a small room so should be all she needs.

I'll try to remember to chase up the Aga distributor about those Burners Bob mentioned. I emailed them but got no reply.
Can't see why one of those could not be retro fitted to a regular wood burning slow combustion fire place.  If I can get one of those, I'll get an old Fireplace and test it and if all good, have it put inside.  Mrs wants a wood burner but playing lumberjack for my father is enough and buying wood is the most expensive heating of all.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on May 31, 2018, 01:52:20 AM

I have been keeping a daily eye on my power use the last few weeks and it's certainly been interesting.

Few things I have learnt with the solar so far....

Winter drop off is substantial.
Here, I loose about half the generation I was getting in summer with the correctly facing north panels. As mine are summer tilted, I'm getting about 40% generation of what I was.
The panels that are not north facing do a lot worse.
The ones saving me atm are the temp setup which is 3.75 worth of north facing panels on a steep tilt.  Yesterday they generated a surprising 12 Kwh which killed even my 5.5 Kw array on the shed which is north but much flatter.
I still have another 1.25Kw of those panels I could add but it's getting more involved.  Putting them side by side along the edge of the garden means a 20M + span. It's another 20M back to a connection point. That's a long way to run leads to carry the power. Other thing is I'm at the limit of normal power leads already and from here on in it's going to be making up heavy duty cables.

I could double stack the arrays but that goes onto the lawn and starts making the place look like a lunar landing site.
There is space up the back behind the sheds I could easily do a ground mount and even make up another shed using the panels sealed together as a roof but it's than back to the running the power back to where I need it problem.  Shed isn't far away but that's already at it's wiring limit with what I'm pushing back from up there....  even now!

Keeping up with heat loads is the killer because it working exactly Opposite.
The hot water is a prime example. Using a lot more power than 2 months ago when I took it off peak.
The water coming in more than 10 oC colder so there is a significant amount of power increase there.  The weather being cooler means heat loss through pipes etc is greater. There is not near the sun beating on the thing reducing those losses. In summer I can barely put my hand on the outside of the thing in the afternoon. Now it's barely warm on a good day.  We probably shower a bit longer too. I have noticed our water consumption has gone up.
All the waste water goes into a couple of IBC tanks after it is processed which I use to water the garden. That has increased noticeably   I'm a Culprit of that, I like a long hot shower when it's colder weather.

AC seems to be sucking more power heating than what it did cooling even though the temp difference between the outside and inside target which I have made smaller ( 24 Summer, 22 Winter) is narrower. I have tried using the fan heater in the office more than the AC but the rest of the tribe have got used to a warm house and just hit the AC. Might have to get the fan heaters down and plug them in the living areas and just kill the AC at the mains for a couple of months.  Trade off would be which uses less power? I think it's going to be much the same really.

I am definitely thinking of an oil heating setup.  main thing is how do I do it without turning the place into looking like a junkyard or like something from an episode of " Preppers". Best I can think of is something on a trolley so I can wheel it away come summer when teh yard is used more and try and build a frame around it  and cover everything so it looks less visually offensive.

Adding more panels would be a diminishing return.
With all the north facing roof used, adding anymore panes east or west  for 40% rated generation is very inefficient. Come summer I'll be switching half of it off so more inefficiency.  That said, If I could add more north facing and do them at a winter tilt, I'd be in that.

Wondering now if my going with the flatter panels was a good one instead of tilting them up?
Crunching the numbers, I'd get about 3.5 KWH a day more if all the north panels were tilted to the angle of latitude.  That probably would break me even but, it's not cheap to do and comes back to my fundamental resistance to the idea being the cyclonic weather we get here.
I think I'm better off with them as they are and taking 1 or 2 options.......
*Pay the for the shortfall of power I have over the couple of months of winter, or,
*Have a temporary ground mount that I erect in winter.  real easy to do 5Kwh a day with this even with cheap, low output panels.
Another option I need to look at is fire up the generators! Could run the Lister  from 5 pm to 9 Pm easily. Even if only doing 2 KW output, that 8kwh a day would put me in the home straight. have to look at the induction motor to GTI again.

Atm I am Generating between 30 and 35Kwh a day.  It's still good power but as noted, the loads have gone up as well.  Throw in a few cloudy days as we have had where generation drops to 12 KWH a day and the good days are just playing catch up, not getting ahead.  We have also had a great run of weather so far.... at least from a solar POV.  May is supposed to be the wettest month here. It's 12 months since we first saw and bought this place ( already!) and I remember at that time everything was soaked here. We haven't had really decent and regular rain since.  I would doubt we got 10 mm of rain here over the Month.  Not sure what it was supposed to be but I'd guess being the wettest month would be well over 100 mm, maybe 200.

I have been looking at tube hot water heating but it seems the winter performance of that is less than ideal as well. Again in summer, likely to be boiling by 10 am.  Other alternative is an oil fired preheater.  If I got a large gas tank, I could fire that once a day or every few days and feed that into the main tank and save some KWH there.

One thing is for sure, I'm learning a lot about the considerations one would have to make going off grid.
A wood heater with a Wetback for hot water would certainly change things, a lot.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: mike90045 on May 31, 2018, 06:16:51 AM
AC Heaters ?   Does your air conditioning use thermal coils for heating, or a heat pump?   Simple resistance heating has been surpassed by heat pumps, easier to move heat, then to create it.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on May 31, 2018, 07:35:31 AM
Most air heat pumps get piss poor efficiency below 40F.  They promise the world but I've not seen one yet that is worth a hoot here at 5600 feet elevation.  A friend got conned- and what he really got was resistive heat strip heating with forced air (the highest cost heating on the planet) all through the typical 15F winter nights and colder days. His electricity bills were hideous.

In the Phoenix Metro area, air exchange heat pumps worked great for our minimal winter heating needs.  It was very rare that the resistive heat strips ever kicked in.

For Canadian style winter heating needs, ground source heat pumps are king.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on May 31, 2018, 10:39:35 AM
Hey BruceM, I`m interested in your experience of sensitivity to EMF. Recently a Telco build a telecom tower overlooking my property(approximately 400m and in direct line of sight). Since it went operational I have suffered depression and fatigue. Today my wife drove to town and reports that she does not remember the journey and had no idea as to why she had driven to town. We have also recently lost several of our chickens to cancer. Could these symptoms associated to the tower?

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on May 31, 2018, 04:25:50 PM
Most air heat pumps get piss poor efficiency below 40F. 

Yeah, they definitely have a curve of efficiency both hot and cold. Get them above 35 and they fall off the perch real fast.  I had a water mister on the coils of my splits at the other place and I'm going to do it here too. On a hot day that evapoative effect makes a HUGE difference to their efficiency especially seeing mine is about 15 yo.  You are effectively lowering the air temp by 20oC or more.

Also going to look at ventilating the roof space. My fridgy mate reckons that makes a huge difference to the heat radiating through the ceiling. I have double insulation both under the roof and on top of the ceiling so if I get rid of any hot air that does get trapped, should be worth the investment either in power for a fan or straight out cash for a ventilator.

Tonight I left the air off and ran 3 fan heaters.  It's not overly cold where the AC would struggle But I think it's just trying to do too much. Put one in the office here, one in the lounge room and one in the adjoining kitchen.l had them all on low power being 1KW ea and although they seemed a little slow, once the chill was off the air it was quite toasty. The AC uses about 3.5 KW PER PHASE so I'm no worse off. I'll check the meters in teh morning and see how it went. I got the last 3 weeks of useage logged so I'll have a pretty good idea if I came out in front or not.  Be very surprised if I didn't.

I'm having a hard time picking the generation. That cloud edge really is weird.  Yesterday was beautifully sunny  with light haze and the generation was considerably up on past days. Today was gloomy in parts and I thought would be well down but to my amazement, was about 1.5Kwh up on yesterday. 37.5 KWH. Not bad for the last day of Autum.
At first I thought I'd make a mistake tallying up the inverters outputs but I checked both days figures again and they were right.

Winter starts tomorrow and june is the lowest yeild month here so will be the real test. July goes up a bit then August is nearly double Jues output so I have a fortnight there to make up a bit.  Sept, oct ( Highest yielding moth of the year and Nov should have me making more power than I know what to do with beingyeild will be up and little need for AC hot or cold. 

I knocked up a ground mount frame this afternoon using the railing I have got with the different systems I have bought. Couple of buckets full of screws and brackets now and a pile of this railing. It's impossible to get it to go together using the brackets because it's all different and no one lot does what I want.  Used a few bolts were I could to make the A frames on the end then just tek screwed everything from there. It holds 2 panels length ways on the bottom and 3 Vertically But I could easily extend it to hold 4 panels on the top for a total of 6.
It came up well on it's own but when I stand back and look, it is an eyesore in the back yard. I'll have to organize a mate to come give me a hand to get them up on the house roof.

Might give it a run over the next month though as I need the power and may as well use it now I built the bugger.
I want the long rails to make a frame for the veggie garden. I have come to the conclusion it's useless trying to grow anything here without something to keep the birds, Cockatoos and the odd Wallaby and rabbit out of.  Came face to face with a Goat the other day when I went to get the mail.
Think we both startled the crap out of each other. 
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on May 31, 2018, 04:42:12 PM
[quote author=ajaffa1 link=topic=8150.msg94089#msg94089 date=1527759575

Since it went operational I have suffered depression and fatigue. Today my wife drove to town and reports that she does not remember the journey and had no idea as to why she had driven to town. We have also recently lost several of our chickens to cancer. Could these symptoms associated to the tower?


Sure don't sound good!
When looking for houses last year,  I passed on quite a few that were too close to HT power lines for comfort. 2 of them were really great houses that were very affordable..... and we knew why.  There were another 3 I remember that we liked till we saw the cell phone towers also way too close for me to be happy about.

Here the Mobile's don't work in the house at all and barely outside.
Might be a better thing than we realise.

This is a real bad time of the year for me and I can feel my depression getting worse every day. Getting harder to do things as well. Doc says that's from the depression but it sure feels physical. Least I can pinpoint the cause.

Maybe you should try to get away for a bit Bob. if you start feeling better after a few days you'll have a much better idea of whats going on. At least you have the chance to escape but i'm not being done in by my homes location.
You don't happen to have a .308 or even a .223 Do you?  Might help with the problem a bit. Not hard to tag a tower from that far out and you could probably get closer especially at night. Probably has a convenient light on the top to use as a hold over point!  :0)

Might take a few tries before they think about just forgetting about the thing or relocating it. Then again if they did that could be closer to you.

You need to get one of those meters and do some readings.  There are standards for what those things can put out legally.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on May 31, 2018, 06:29:07 PM
Bob, your response to the new tower is well within the types of changes that others have noticed.  All radio emissions have the effect of being a stressor,  which the US VA researchers Becker, MD and Marino reported in the early 1970s.  On military bases getting new high power, high frequency transmitters, residents of base housing showed elevated cortisol levels and other markers of stress.  Of course the military and telecom response to this was predictable.  Marino at LSU, ran the definative study proving that Electrical Sensitivity is real, physiological, and that effects of EMFs can further be detected via special QEEG even in those not consciously aware of it; other studies have shown profound brain effects from brief cell phone use, but there is big money in cellular communications. 

Those with brain inflammation from autoimmune, toxics, or head injury are often accutely aware of effects. Recent evaluations of those self reporting electrical sensitivity consistently show via FMRI and SPECT scans  brain damage much like that of a closed head injury. 

Your own home wiring and wireless use is also often a contributor, so I encourage those without OCD or panic disorders to get the appropriate meters and see if major improvements can be made there.  Often, the new cell tower is just the tipping point, and the underlying culprit is the EMI radiating 24/7 from the home wiring, as well as magnetic fields from wiring and grounding problems.  Both are readily correctable with some time and effort but very little expense.

Shielding of the home or at least portions of the home is possible but is much more of a technical project and expense. If done well it can have the effect of moving you 5 miles or more away from the tower.  Avoid the use of expensive shielding materials such as conductive paints, and instead use things like breathable foil barriers, wire mesh, or aluminum foil.  Many people have been fleeced and spent tens of thousands and accomplished such a small improvement as to be unnoticeable.  My own home was built as an experiment to see what could be accomplished re: shielding of a home on a small budget.  The house has been tested and provides -110 dB of shielding at 2.4Ghz. This is limited by the leaky front door, and would otherwise be 120dB.  I have "overscreens" of 47 thread per inch stainless steel wire mesh over all my windows.  Materials plus labor for the shelding added only about $10K to the cost, as I was already planning on using a foil laminate system over drywall which I had developed for those with severe chemical sensitivity.

I can send you an article I wrote over 20 years ago on practical, hands on home mitigation if you'll send me PM with your email address.  I'm happy to help those who are willing to take the bull by the horns, learn and do for themselves. For many, the whole notion of unseen forces (radio waves, radiated EMI, magetic fields) is so disturbing that they are afraid to do anything or lapse into denial.  (I was in the latter group myself.)

For normal folks without severe electrical sensitivity, Cornet makes a single combined broadband RF, ELF magnetic and E-field meter (ED-88T) which is adequate along with an AM radio- the old Radio Shack 12-467 or Sony ICF-S10MK2.  Learning to use the AM radio as a poor man's near field sniffer for detecting and locating home wiring EMI is especially important; in less than an hour you can both find and identify offending sources in the home by simply holding the AM radio as you switch off circuit breakers at the main panel.  Often the fix is as simple as unplugging something unless in use; for example I have found many electrical stoves have such unbelievably bad quality switching power supplies that the entire home wiring is radiating and can be heard via AM radio within 6 of any wires in the wall, ceilings, and floors. Adding a switch to turn off this portion needed only for the oven solves the problem, as the burners do not require it to be on at all. It only needs to be on for oven use.

I am very glad to help those who are trying to learn about this, and reduce the unnecessary health stress of their home electrical system on themselves and family members.  It is the cheapest health insurance you can ever buy.  Most problems are readily correctable!!!

Specifically for depression, I'd suspect that endocrine disruption is happening- your autonomic system is being affected.  Besides fixing the home situation to dramatically lower your daily EMF exposure, I'd suggest getting free T3 and reverse T2 thyroid tests done, as well as 4x a day saliva cortisol levels, and for men, testosterone.  These are all things that can profoundly affect cognition, energy, depression and/or anxiety, and are again are something that can be corrected via supplements and/or hormone replacement.  Correcting the thyroid and cortisol problem can restore you dramatically. 

Assessing the home situation via meter is always the starting point.  Without any meter, step one is to make sure the head of your bed isn't on the same wall as a power meter, and that you don't have wireless on in the home at night, and you don't have a plug powered clock/radio on your bedside table.  Meters are critical- you can't know what needs doing or if you've got it corrected without measurement.

Best Wishes,

PS-  Your distance from the tower is alarming and depending on the antennae orientation you could be in a very high level situation.  If it has only just been installed in the last week, you may find that the accute symptoms will subside IF you and your wife are still sleeping OK.  If it has been months, uh oh.  Depression is a very serious thing, and as Glort suggested, taking a holiday from the home might be very helpful in sorting things out.  But please get a meter, as often unseen WIFI transmitters can cause microwave levels higher than the tower! For those who have developed severe electrical sensitivity, getting away from EMFs can be a serious difficulty.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on May 31, 2018, 11:42:49 PM
Thanks BruceM for your detailed reply. I have a mate who is an electrician and has access to an EMF meter, I`ll get him round asap. The tower went live about three months ago and I have had nothing but mental health issues since. My GP put me on an antidepressant called Sertraline, about 1 in 10,000 have an adverse reaction to this drug, guess what, I was the one. Ended up in hospital with blood pressure of 205 over 105, the ambulance cost me $800! The trouble is that Sertraline is extremely addictive so you can`t just stop taking it because of the side effects. I`ve been lowering the dose for weeks and am now free of it. Got to go back to the GP next week to try and find an antidepressant that isn`t going to kill me.

I think the attached photo should give you an idea of the view of the tower from my veranda.

Hey Glort, yes I have very nice .223 with telescopic sights. I have considered a little target practice but think the authorities would take a dim view of my blasting away at their critical infrastructure. This tower is a high power relay station, where it is it attracts a lot of  lightening strikes, I have considered going up there and disconnecting the lightening conductor/earth wire. First strike should fry all the electronics.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 01, 2018, 12:43:20 AM
Without any meter, step one is to make sure the head of your bed isn't on the same wall as a power meter, and that you don't have wireless on in the home at night, and you don't have a plug powered clock/radio on your bedside table.

Hmm, 3 strikes for me there.  Not good.

The problem is not with me but with convincing others.
If I tried to take the WIFI out, pretty sure I'd be living here on my own... or more likley somewhere else on my own. There would be a revolt.
Trying to move the bedroom furniture around and tell my wife she can't have her alarm clock..... Well lets just say i'm not considered exactly the most stable and rational person  by anyone in the wider family so that would be dismissed as me having completely lost the plot.

There is a clear reason for my depression but I can't help but wonder if things like this don't aggravate it? Certainly Medication and therapy isn't exactly having outstanding results.

That said, with talk of this before I have been conscious of it. I notice that I get more down when I visit my father. He's in the country and there is nothing around him other than the wifi which is very week and has annoyingly limited range.  Where I ( don't) sleep is at the other end of the long house to the meter box and the only thing on at night is the TV on standby.  Mobile phone reception is 99% useless as well and I often just turn mine off because it does not work there anyway.
I think the reason I get more down is because I have too much time to think, remember and regret.

If I had a noticeable improvement in disposition up there when I stay a week or 2 i'd know better this was something affecting me but ATM, how can I know whether it's something that I am vulnerable to or not?

I would have a real problem changing a lot of things. I'm the one that has 5 GTI's around the place for my solar and likes playing with things electrical.
I have a mobile Phone ( and even use it sometimes as much as twice a week!) use tablets and computers a LOT and even my camera has Wifi.
I'll be using that tomorrow. Taking pictures of soccer teams, Pushing the pic to my tablet where my daughter will get the coaches to number the players according to the team list. It is hard to escape technology even if I do firmly believe in a lot of cases, it's stuffing us up.

Right beside me now, besides the WIFI modem I have about 5 battery chargers, a couple of printers and the Tablet, mobile Phone and cordless house phone.
If I am sensitive to this stuff I'm going to have to come move in with you to get away from it Bruce.

You are spot on, again, getting away from this is hard and denial or defeat is a big factor.
I guess the real trick is working out if it's something that is affecting you or not.

Might add those tests to the next blood test I'm due for and see what happens.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 01, 2018, 01:05:33 AM

Hey Glort, yes I have very nice .223 with telescopic sights. I have considered a little target practice but think the authorities would take a dim view of my blasting away at their critical infrastructure. This tower is a high power relay station, where it is it attracts a lot of  lightening strikes, I have considered going up there and disconnecting the lightening conductor/earth wire. First strike should fry all the electronics.

Well I'm not the smartest tool in the shed but I take a dim view of cancer so if there was a way of drilling holes in the thing without it being obvious, I would be tagging the thing.
That said, I really can't see it doing much good. They would just keep replacing it. They didn't put the bastard there without a lot of research into where the best position was....for them that is.

As for the lightening.... Risk of doing that would outweight the risk of drilling holes in it to me.

Some years ago I was playing at a job that I called  "Looking after the high rise Kindergartens ".... or being a building manager for a couple of places in the city. You wouldn't believe the way tenants carry on, hence the kindergarten tag, but that's another story.

Up on the roof of one of them there were phone relay towers. I doubt they were powerful as far as they go, flat antennas and being in the city, they would not have had to beam their signals 100 miles exactly.
The guy I was filling in for took GREAT pains to take me up there and drill it into me NOT to go closer than those lines around them which were probably 30 Ft back because of the radiation from them.  I remember looking at the power cables from the little sub station going back into them and the guy saying how to put them in they had to run all these thick power conduits  and pointed out later another little sub station on the footpath that was put there so they could run these towers.

The guy was a lot like me, complacent about a lot of things but he certainly wasn't too complacent about these things.  I have learned that anything that worries people like myself is best paid attention too. While up there he got me to come back and stand behind a metal and concrete structure up there for the AC saying the radiation was much less there. He was plenty keen to get back down as well and pointed out he had the heavy metal door fitted by the telco at his insistence to the owners if they wanted him to carry on looking after the place, that was a condition. His office was 12 floors down but he said he didn't want the radiation bouncing down the fire escape which his office was right beside.

My mate who did the AC for the building was also very wary of it. Said he hated going up there to do any work or any other rooftop that had the the antennas and repeaters.
Told me of some where his electronic multi meters went haywire  and he would do an hours maintence on these rooftops and had such a bad headache he couldn't see straight for the rest of the day. He said he gave these jobs away and now when he gets asked to quote on these jobs the first thing he asks is are there any Phone or radio towers up there? If so, he passes on even quoting for them.

I have known this guy since before his now married Daughter was born and he's no pussy. Quite the opposite, he's more the " We all have to die one day type" so when he says " Be careful" I bloody well listen to him!

There is only one tower anywhere near where I am and that's at least 5KM away as the crow flies.
Ironically, it's on top of the Hospital which is up on the only hill for miles.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 01, 2018, 01:13:24 AM
Bob, alas most electricians know nothing about EMFs except that they fully believe in the "religious training" (supported by shoddy power company cigarette science) they have had that there is no problem.  Electricians have no real technical training whatsoever in my state; they learn the rules by rote and by putting in their years under supervision but they are ill equiped to deal with technical issues outside their rules because they typically lack any technical background. Even a HS diploma is not required in my state.

In particular, I have NEVER helped with a home EMF mitigation project where we did NOT find serious high frequency EMI on the home power, radiating from all the home wiring.  Usually that is from the homeowner's own equipment.  Sometimes it is due to poorly maintained distribution lines, with arcing on loose and/or corroded metal hardware on the pole near the lines.  These can be readily located via AM radio and Air Band radio. I helped with a home of a woman with a very rapidly progressing case of Parkinson's a few years ago.  Ended up that two bad arcing sources within 2 miles were the culpret.  She had no AM radio reception in the house- the entire AM band was making a 120Hz buzz anywhere in the home and along the wiring coming into the home when home power was turned off (the tip off that it's an external source).  I had my helper walk the lines with my radio gear and he found both sources per Marv Loftness's approach in just an hours walking.  With the pole numbers marked down and poles marked with red tape wrap, the power co. was very cooperative. 

Whether this is someone's "big health issue" or is just another mild stressor is impossible to predict.  But there is no harm in correcting what are mostly simple EMI and code violations of wiring and some grounding issues.  You can't really tell by looking, the most innocent looking situations can be a horror show, and vice-versa.

It's hard for me to understand the necessity for wireless in the home. Pulling Cat6 cable is not a big deal and with a jack at each person's favorite working locations you're covered.  The idea that you must be connected at all times and in all places is telecom marketing hype for suckers.  The evidence is increasingly pointing to this as being NOT at all helpful for young people, who have a much greater incidence of all kinds of metal health and chronic health issues.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on June 01, 2018, 01:24:02 AM
Very good advice about staying away from these towers. I remember a group called Fathers for Justice in the UK, they protested against injustices in the divorce courts. One group climbed one of these towers to put up a banner, unfortunately they were unaware of the dangers and can no longer father anymore children.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on June 01, 2018, 01:37:33 AM
Hey BruceM, fortunately for me the local electrician is very knowledgeable and a campaigner against all kinds of pollution. They have recently put up another of these towers in the middle of the local village where he and his wife live. I`ll take a photo when I go to the market on Sunday.

I have purchased all  the new switch gear I need to redo the main distribution board on the house and I have already fitted two new earthing stakes. The energy company renewed the incoming overhead cable only last year.

I`ll check out Merv Loftness and work out what needs to be done to reduce the risks.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 01, 2018, 02:05:37 AM
 Marv Loftness wrote a book about power line EMI and how to locate and correct it.  He was a wonderful man and helped me greatly.  The ARRL also has articles on locating power line arcing.

The arcing happens at power voltage peaks, when current is strongest so induced voltages in hardware near the lines are greatest.  There's a spark and the resulting broad spectrum burst at 120 or 60 Hz.  Older/poor tuner AM radios are best for detecting this, as the 120 hz buzz is distinct and characteristic. A tuner which has static (white) noise between stations is what you want.  Because it's broad spectrum, the frequencies fall off with distance, so while detectable in the standard AM radio band up to 2 miles away, the Air Band AM radio will only pick up the source if you are within a few poles, typically.  I modified an Air Band radio to add an external cut down UHF yagi, with shielding of the radio. It can reliably and quickly locate the specific pole.  Spectrum analyzers DONT WORK for locating this type of low frequency pulsed broadband source, because of the way their swept tuning system works.

Someone could make a good living finding power line sources by using these simple tools and a modified MB300D like mine for the search vehicle.  I can put a whip Air Band antenna on my roof and drive the power line, since my alternator is disconnected and so are all other car sources of EMI.  Alas, I get a very bad MS flare up and headache/depression from spending time along power lines. (Or in typical home EMF levels.)

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 01, 2018, 02:59:07 AM

Someone could make a good living finding power line sources by using these simple tools and a modified MB300D like mine for the search vehicle.

You make a good Point about correcting things that aren't right in the first place Bruce. Lots to gain, very little if anything to loose.

As for the wifi and not understanding the need to be connected 24/7, You have no idea how much I am with you there.
The BIG difference is with no information at all, I can tell you don't have a young Daughter living with you.  Mine is a good and hard working girl, except at home, but until her grandfather got wifi at his house, it was an almost impossibility to get her to visit him.
I call the having to be connected thing the brain sureon Syndrome. Where they think that getting every damn facetwitgramtextchat is a life and death priority and if they don't get them and respond in 3 seconds flat, somone's life is on the line.

In reality it's just some crap about some celeb who is famous for no discernible or creditable reason is doing the horizontal Hula with some other over paid but moronic twit.

You are right, you don't understand and unless we were under 20...30 years old, we never will.

Only time I carry the mobile with me is when I go out and that is more for breakdown/ emergency reasons.  I rarely answer calls from people/ numbers I don't know when I am out. You have NO idea how many clients will ring me and say " OMG, I thought something terrible happened to you! I rang you 3 times in an hour and you didn't answer. I thought you must have been in an accident or something".
I am not exaggerating either and this is not an isolated or rare thing, it's what at least 25% of people that couldn't get onto me over a short period will say . I also get the disgruntled emails saying I texted you twice and you didn't bother to respond.  Err, I have been up the back yard for 2 hours, I didn't even have the phone with me let alone see them.  Yes, we can meet on that date in 2 weeks time.   ::)

As for making money doing this, that's something I would be interested in, but knowing nothing about it, I fear the learning curve would be steep and protracted. Concentration is not big with me atm either.
For you however Bruce, If you were up to it, doing some vids or a blog site would not only be helpful to a lot of people but could be monetized to give you some extra income.

Just as Interest, when you say you have the alt disconnected on your car, is that electrically or do you have to remove it so it does not create any fields just by spinning even if not energised?
If you could Just switch the thing in and out, that would make setting up a tracking vehicle very easy.
Other than the radio that could also be easily switched off on the supply and my GPS, there is nothing I normally have in the car ( other than the phone I forget a fair bit anyway) that would give off any EMF or is electrically driven.  Fuel pump is mechanical and unless the gauges did something, being a mechanical Diesel as well that's about it.

Oh, I would need power to keep the fuel cut out solenoid in the IP energised.  Would that radiate anything?

I agree with the electricians knowing nothing. I have yet to find one, including a guy that worked in a factory doing electrical maintence that seemed very knowledgeable in things like power factor and other higher level stuff that weren't bamboozled when talking about my induction motors set up as generators. All had heard of it, all gave flawed explanations of why it couldn't work!  Not the only thing I have found they are clueless about that I have seen other people doing on the net and learned about it myself.
Finding the same with solar. Sure they know how to hook it up but that's about it.

I also get impatient when they instantly declare anything not to standard is unsafe and going to burn your house down.  Like you said, trained monkeys.
They do not get that there are ways to do things that are in fact more safe and make more sense than the way the regulations specify.
As I see it, the regs are largely for the benefit of trained monkeys. they amount to " If you do it this way you should not have any problems and it's the cheapest way of doing it you can be relatively safe with."
They all seem to think that if I do it another and better way, that's not acceptable because it's to to regulations..... which here change frequently especially with solar.

There are a pile of regs that went from this to that which caused BIG problems and they went back to the first method. 
Regs are far from a guarantee something will be problem free.

A sparky mate popped in the other week and I said while you are here, can you do this for me.  As he was doing it he was twisting a bunch of wires together and aske for a BP ( acorn) connector.  I looked and said don't meant to question your work but..... He said I know what you are thinking but that is the way it is done. I said OK, I got a bus bar connector and was going to do it that way. He said that would be better, have you got it? I did and we wired it up with that.  He said you know that's technically not allowed anymore?  I said what, and twistng a bunch of wires together with a BP is? He said yes! He said the bus bar is the old way and given the age of the house you can get away with it. He said it's a better way but it's not to the regulations.

I said stuff the regs, I live here, the twits polishing a seat with their arse that make up this stupidity can do it the way they want in their homes.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 01, 2018, 05:18:32 AM
To have a totally clean DC harness on the 1985 and earlier MB diesel sedans, I disconnect radio, motorized antenna control, environmental control unit, tachometer, cruise control and crankshaft TDC sensor.  The solenoids are clean resistive DC loads unless there is a dirty connector with arcing which shits the bed.  I've done some rewiring and plumbing changes to get my down the road DC load to 1 amp. (The stock 85 300D has a 2 amp solenoid energized all the time to NOT have heat.) The aftermarket alternator I modified for a filtered output and NOT using the alternator body as ground has no measurable stray field when off, though the MB stock one did. 

I use a PV panel in roof with my own linear charge regulator.  I can't drive at night anyway. A former Los Alamos physicist friend with ES converted his 1984 MB 300D headlights to LEDs w/ linear regulator, and added second larger battery in the trunk so he can drive for a quite a few hours at night now.  He does contract research now, as he can't be in a typical office (WIFI, etc) all day.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on June 01, 2018, 08:53:55 AM
Thanks BruceM for the link, that`s quite a lot of information to assimilate in one go. Being a bear of little brain, it could take me a while to digest it all. Then there is the issue of trying to implement/apply what I have learned. I think this is going to be one long weekend, especially with having to adjust frequencies from 60 Hz in the US to 50 Hz in Australia and the associated radio interference. I like a challenge, I`ll let you know how I go and no doubt ask a sh1t load more questions.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on June 01, 2018, 09:03:15 AM
Further to my previous post, I had a friend who lived in the Soviet Union before it`s collapse. He was being paid a western salary while there so he lived like a king. He decided to have his apartment redecorated, he was very surprised to find that wall paper came with it`s own built in Faraday cage to prevent the Stasi from bugging your home. I wonder if anyone is still selling such a product.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 01, 2018, 04:54:05 PM
Yes, there are many specialty shielding products, however, none will perform as well as good old aluminum foil.  Aluminum foil can be applied to smooth painted drywall with cornstarch paste rolled on the wall, the aluminum unrolled down the wall, and pressed down with a plastic wallpaper smoothing blade to squeegee out the excess cornstarch. Faster than wallpapering and cheaper.  The seams are foil taped.  When there are no gaps, good old household foil will provide better than -90 dBm of shielding. (Decibels of milliwatts of transmitted power.) A typical 5 bar (full signal strength)  cellular situation is -50 dBm of power.  A typical building with WIFI will be -30 dBm.  0dBm (1 milliwatt) is utterly insane, from my perspective, and is only present in close proximity to transmitters. Bob's situation is likely in the 0 dBm range.  In close proximity to transmitters it will go to the +dBm range (over 1 milliwatt).  I prefer to work and can only think in dBm because a huge range of power can be intelligibly represented with 2 digits and a sign.  I have a chart for conversions to/from other units.

Shielding is almost entirely limited by cracks and gaps in the shield; windows, doors, etc. No point in sheilding a wall if there will be big cracks and gaps. You are unlikely to get more than -7dBm of shielding by metalizing a single wall facing the source, and that is often not enough shielding to be worth the effort and expense.  You get no points for effort or cost, only for the degree of measured improvement.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on June 02, 2018, 12:23:58 AM
Thanks BruceM, a little investigation shows that the entire building is wrapped in an aluminium foil type insulation/vapour barrier. The property has a tin roof which might provide some protection. The trouble is there is a large picture window facing the tower, it has a glass fibre fly mesh on the outside, wonder if someone does an aluminium fly mesh?

Doesn`t help when I`m gardening or working in my shed.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 02, 2018, 12:36:50 AM
While the foil backed insulation will be helpful, cracks and gaps will abound (like at every outlet and light box and the base of the wall) so I would use regular aluminium screens over that big window which will provide about -22 dBm of shielding. You won't get more than that because of the gaps. etc.  Low E glass in an aluminum frame also provides about -20 dBm for cellular signals. I'm not sure 20dB will be enough in your situation, Bob.  Will know more when you can get a reading.

Another issue is that without metal siding or a foil faced sheathing board under vinyl or wood siding, all your home wiring is directly exposed.  Since you likely have corded lamps on the inside of the foil  to act as radiators, that can reduce your effective shielding by the foil to nearly nothing.  When testing ideas for low budget, lower performance shielding, I encourage testing with temporary, cheap materials such as foil faced building paper or just foil and foil tape, or a foil-plastic material such as radient guard or even space blankets. I'd put something over that window to see what you'll get with your "free" foil faced vapor barrier before blowing the dough on a screen and frame.  20dB is not a lot of shielding, but I'd take it for cheap every time.  Less than that, I wouldn't bother.

You really can't tell by looking, depends on how much power that transmitter has and whether you are centered in the beam of the antenna element covering your direction.  Readings will be highest with activity in your direction;  I don't know how rural this is and intermittent the transmissions in your direction might be.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on June 03, 2018, 11:56:44 PM
Hey Bruce, I tracked down the guy with the emissions testing equipment. He works as a park ranger and one of his jobs involves keeping an eye on what the Telcos are up to. I`ve invited him around and will let you know the results soon.

Back on the subject of battery storage, I have been looking into building a simple Edison battery, commercially available cells cost around $600 each . These only produce around 1.2 volts so a stack of 20 would be require to power a 24 volt inverter at a cost of $12,000. Space is not an issue where I live so I am thinking to get some 2" galvanised water pipe, cut it into 4 foot lengths and then cut a bsp thread on both ends. I will cap both ends with 2" bsp plactic pipe caps. I will then fill this with KOH which should strip the galvanising off the inside. This will become the cathode (-ve) part of my cell.

I will then drill a hole in the top plastic cap and insert a 4 foot length of 3/4 inch rebar. to increase the surface area of said rebar, I intend to place a permanent magnet on one end before rolling the rebar in iron fillings. This will then be cleaned in KOH before being nickel plated to provide the anode. Should cost less than $50 each.

If I ever get round to this particular pipe dream (bad pun  :laugh:), I`ll post some photos and data.

All advice greatly appreciated,

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 04, 2018, 12:59:40 AM
A nickel iron battery needs a nickel oxide-hydroxide cathode. Edison used an etching process to get more surface area on the nickel cathode, for modern nicad batteries a mechanical pocket forming method was used instead. 

The prices for NIFE batteries are not even close to competitive in most situations and the US manufacturer in Colorado hasn't brought prices down a bit and is now offering lithium batteries. 

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on June 04, 2018, 08:04:29 AM
Thanks for the reply BruceM, I was aware that nickel oxide hydroxide was the preferred coating for the cathode and that it cycles between nickel 2 oxide hydroxide and nickel3 oxide hydroxide as the cell charges and discharges. I don`t suppose you know how Edison etched his nickel cathodes?

The approach I was aiming for was to produce a lot of cheap long lasting cells rather than a few expensive high tech items. I do not expect them to have the charging density of modern Nickel/Iron batteries.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 04, 2018, 08:40:34 AM

I have Given up for the moment on the Ducted air Vs. Fan heaters.

The weather has gone south with a lot of cloud and my generation dropping to between 15-20Kwh for most of the last week.  I can't tell and don't have the ability to measure the consumption of the AC or the Fan heaters very closely so this mucks things up.

I am down about 63 Kwh in the last fortnight and dropping about 20 kwh a day atm which is a bit scary.  If you add that to what I'm making, we are burning a fair bit of power. I might have to put the hot water back on the off peak. Better to be paying .11c Kwh than .30 for that.  I'll give it another couple of weeks and see how I go.

I have made up a couple of Ground mount frames and they are working well.  having them tilted at the winter angle is allowing me to make more out of them with 3.75 Kw hooked up than I'm getting with the 8Kw lying flat on the garage roof. In fairness though, 3 KW of that is facing south and covered in leaves atm with the big shedding tree. Looks like the majority of the leaves have dropped now so I might get up there tomorrow with the leaf blower and clear the panels and the gutters. 

I was a bit dissapointed the house roof is so steep at the correct tilt angle but I see now it's a plus. That will give me much needed optimal Winter generation.  With the abundance of summer radiation available, I don't think I'll loose much anyway  and the longer hours it will be working will make for more power than I can use anyway.

There is one thing that is VERY clear however, the fan heaters don't really have the grunt for this place. Even with one Running flat out ( 2Kw) both in the kitchen/ sunroom and the Lounge/ Dining, the place is still chilly.  Kick in the AC and it's cost in 10 Min or less.
I have been running a fan heater in the office where I sit and that's good rather than heat the rest of the house where I don't go through the day.

Pretty amazed at the winter fall off in generation. Panels that are correctly tilted and orientated aren't too bad but the ones that are flat or facing west really take a big hit!

Another " education" is thinking of off grid. One would need a very large array to keep a place going or run a generator significantly.
Which I'm seriously going to look at now.  have to chase Brother in law up for the pullys I gave him at Christmas to be bored and set up my 3 Phase motor as a generator again.  Really like to get a bigger one, 15 Hp but they are hard to come buy and expensive when you do.
The advantage of an IMAG is I can connect directly to the mains and back feed with no additional inverters etc. 
Once the motor and the grid are phase locked, any over speeding just increases generation.

I'm beginning to think that covering an entire roof with panels may not really be enough generation in winter  for a lot of people whom are all electric.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on June 04, 2018, 09:23:20 AM
Hey Glort, I feel your pain. My solar has also dropped off a cliff. We at least have a wood burning stove to heat the place and 20 acres of woodland to provide the fuel.

I think people in Australia are afraid of insulating their properties after the pink insulation debacle. In the UK the specifications are so much higher: cavity walls with 100mm of insulation, roofs with 300mm of insulation, double or triple glazed everything. I installed a wood burning stove in my last UK home, my Wife and I would sit in our living room in shorts and tee shirts watching the snow fall outside.

I understand the idea that Australia is generally too hot, rather than too cold but insulation keeps heat out just as well as it keeps it in. If I had the time, money and strength I would be building the most heavily insulated home I could. It would have a ducted, reverse air conditioning system with heat recovery on the incoming fresh air supply.

Kingspan make a high density fibre glass reinforced insulation sheet which can easily be cut and formed into a very efficient ducting system, the addition of zoning gates (electric flap valves) ensures that you only heat/cool the areas you require.

Try to stay warm without allowing the greedy rich to get richer,

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 04, 2018, 11:44:36 AM

Hi Bob,

This place is 1000% on the last one for insulation being about 100 years newer... literally.
It does have 7 Doors however and I have been trying to replace the foam draft stop foam around them to exclude the drafts.  That said in checking, I really can't detect much even without it.

I think the big windows here are a the worst heat leak. Windows are obviously cheaper than walls cause I think the joint has more glass than brick.

Seems I made a mistake with my panels, and not.  I thought Summer would be the problem keeping the place cool and it was convenient to have the panels flat for max summer yeild.  While there is a lot that could be done to Improve summer shading to stop the place becoming a 20 ton 40oC heat bank, being a solar Newb I did not sufficiently account for the solar fall off.
Knowing what I do now I still won't alter the panels because I am worried about the wind lifting them.  I just underestimated the fall off in winter and the increase in power consumption. Not inclined to go to more panels although I have Loads of room because the roof I have in it's sub -optimal Tilt and orientation  is fine in summer but woeful in winter. I'd have to put 4x the amount of panels I wanted to get the generation levels in winter and then I'll have more power in summer than the place can handle.

Definitely going to have to look at another heating form next winter.  Mrs would love a wood burner but only having 1 relatively cleared acre, not a lot of timber on site. That said, mate up the road with 20 acres has said come get what you want but I am lazy and playing lumberjack to keep my father in wood is enough.  I have to chase up those Aga distributors to see about that oil burner insert.  One of those in a wood burner would be ideal.
No amount of Oil consumption would be too much for me to handle!  :0)

I have been trying to think about how to deal with the leg of the 3 phase AC that is on the electronic meter which I can't back feed.
Think I finally got it after overthinking it and looking past something I well knew of.
VFD.  I can get a 380V unit which is effectively 2 phases which will run a 3 phase load.  They are about $300 which would be well worth it and Aircon mate who I'll talk to about it may even have some used ones that may be suitable. He does a lot of commercial / industrial stuff with BIG motors and compressors and the like and something like I'd need, about 5 KW, would be a toy to his uses.

If I can use that then I'd be laughing. Use all my own self generated power in summer.  This little picnic isn't going to last forever so I may as well make the most of it while I can.

Definitely going to have to look at Supplemental energy for winter.
I haven't done  much with burners for a couple of years now, too many demons to deal with and I threw out a LOT of stuff when I came here but I'm thinking I'll have to either get something like an Aga Burner or go back to my DIY designs and build in some controls. 
Remembering what I had forgotten, again, the amount of energy in liquid fuels makes electricity look so weak.
When you consider there is about 10Kwh in a liter of oil and then think what a 10 Kwh Battery looks like ( about 10 Large car batteries) it puts things into scale a bit.

The other alternative is getting an engine and genny up and running. Again oil fired and maybe a prefrable option.  Certainly easier to control but in practicality, most likely have to be run at night. Running the solar even at low yeild and having a generator going at the same time is going to cause High line voltage issues.  been looking into this and it's a common thing apparently. Although attributed to solar, one of the Uni's looked into it and surprise surprise, found it had nothing to do with solar at all and was in fact a grid maintenance problem.
When I see 250+V at 10 PM, pretty good chance it's not all the soar in the area doing it.

Running the AC though a VFD would be nice and effective in keeping that down although when the compressor kicked out might send the inverters into over drive.  On that end I want to talk to my nephew about writing me a sketch in arduino either to step multiple relays or PWM an output so as the voltage  on the monitored Circuit rises, another relay kicks in or the PWM increases till the Voltage is pulled down to the target level.

I also want to talk to my AC mate about putting in additional Dampers and changing the zoning. The zone that's always on and I can't switch off is the 2 Rooms we basically never use. I'd also like to zone the additional 2 spare bedrooms as  no one goes in them much either.
Maybe if I can't do them electrically there is just some sort of Louver fitting I can put in to manually close them off?

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on June 04, 2018, 12:16:45 PM
Hey Glort, seeing as you have almost unlimited access to waste veggie oil ( cruise liners and etc.), have you looked into the type of furnaces commonly used in the US? They are cheap, reliable and should be very easy to adapted to burn any type of hydrocarbon, simply by changing the size of burner nozzle. The only problem I can see is the spark ignition system they use to ignite the fuel. I doubt that would work with WVO but the addition of something more flammable (Kero, Diesel or RUG)should cure that. Alternatively it shouldn`t be too difficult to set up a small LPG pilot light to initiate combustion.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 04, 2018, 05:08:18 PM
Bob, you probably know more about NIFE chemistry than I do. Edison had a patent on his etching process you should be able to find but patents typically don't give you all the needed details. It was chemically etched is all I can recall; my memory is shot.

Glort, I agree with Bob- if pouring 4KW of electric heat into the house does little, more insulation is clearly in order. I wonder what you have in your walls and attic?  Is the slab/stemwall concrete exposed outside?  7 doors and vast glass alone will certainly be a bugger for heating.

 You can imagine how in new designs, good design and insulation would save a fortune in heating/cooling system size and energy use.  For retrofit, walls can be blown, as can more insulation in the attic.  If the walls are already full then adding foam board on the inside or out is the next step. I had a 2200 SF home in Gilbert AZ (low desert- Phoenix Metro area) with 2" of foam over 6" wall with fiberglass insulation.   It cost me just under half what I'd been paying for AC for my previous 1100 SF home just a few miles away. (1/4 the energy per SF). Thermal bridging of wood framing is a lot more of an issue than people think, a couple inches of foam is worth more than just the added R value.

Super insulated home walls are typically R40 via 12" of fiberglass or the equivalent in foam and fiberglass or other.  R80 attic and at least R24 for stem wall and slab depending on soil temps. The minimum standards for new construction insulation are a farce in today's world, and should be changed to much higher levels.  Another thing that would help is to shoot the architects who design in sweeping expanses of glass for more extreme climates without some sort of insulating panels or shutters outside.  Each layer of glass is R1, roughly, so a double is R2 and triple pane is R3.  That is a thermal disaster.  Lots of doors - much the same problem, and not from leakage.  An insulated door might be R3.  I have the outside door to an airlock/coat and jacket/storage area that I only partially heat. 

One of my pet peeves is that instead of handing free money to big banks. a government low/no interest loan program to homeowners to add insulation, solar hot water, etc. should be done.  Conservation is the best payback you can ever get.  This creates jobs and would save a great deal of energy use, and could cost nothing to taxpayers. Better to spend a little more to have it well run with regionally appropriate insulation/energy upgrades with energy use data collection and publicly available so that people don't pay for white elephants. Likewise, interest free or very low interest insulation upgrades for new construction make sense.

In the winter I stuff my windows with a Reflectrix type aluminized double bubble layer material, which is worth about R8 facing the interior.  It cuts my night time loss in half.  If we have a heat wave over 100F and wildfires so I can't cool off at night passively, I stuff 1/2 of my windows during the day. I still have solar tubes for lighting and leave some of the N. windows unstuffed for light.  I also use the Reflectrix stuck to the inside of my security screen door via velcro in the winter.  It then acts as an insulated storm door and noticeably keeps the "insulated" door less frosty.  Our winter nightime temps are typically 15F but can be as low as -12F.

Pardon the rambling, please.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 04, 2018, 09:47:59 PM

Yeah Bob, Well aware of those.... and the astronomic prices to either get one here or have one sent over.
About the only thing you can get reasonably is the Nozzles. Bought a couple when I was playing with things oily and flaming and the idea was to run them off a power steering pump to put the required pressure ( and then some ) through them.

It has been a while since I looked at hem so I'll have another Bo peep and see if anything has changed.
I know you can get the proper Kroll waste oil heaters here set up and ready to go....For only $12K in your loose change!

Just got up and the place was 18oC. Hit the air and in maybe 5 min or a little over the AC has it at a much nicer 24.  The thing is quick  I'll give it that!

If I could heat an alternate way, I'd be pretty right on the power. It's definitely the heating that kills things.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 04, 2018, 10:21:48 PM

Glort, I agree with Bob- if pouring 4KW of electric heat into the house does little, more insulation is clearly in order.

While I'm sure there could be a lot more done in the place ( although difficult in it's present design) I think the main problem with the fan heaters is just the volume of the area.  The ducted AC has 8 outlets all together in the 2 big rooms. The amount of air coming out of them compared to the airflow through a pissly littl fan heater is chalk and Cheese.  Just the blower motor in the AC is over 1Kw to move the air around.

I wonder what you have in your walls and attic?  Is the slab/stemwall concrete exposed outside? 

The roof is tin and has Sarking ( foil) under it and the ceiling has Fiberglass batts. These were all disturbed and pulled back in a lot of places around the ac Ducts and light fitting but I got up there the other week and fixed it all.... Luckily.

I believe the walls are foil lined. The slab is probably exposed, hare to say because the brick is rendered and if anything looks like it goes down the outside. There are breather holes in it wee were told to make sure we kept clear and garden away from with the building inspector.  I can't sat the floors feel real cold but the windows feel like the back of a thermo electric plate.

You can imagine how in new designs, good design and insulation would save a fortune in heating/cooling system size and energy use.

I often think of how I would design a new home if I were going to build one.
Funny enough, pouring the slabs on thick expanded white foam is a common thing here. They do it to help get the levels right rather than for thermo property's though.   I'd have hydronic running through the slab and of course the place orientated North and a skillion roof for max available panel area.
I would have the layout and piping/ cabling running to a nearby '" Power house"  Where I could set up Burners and co-gen for heating and cooling.
Ac would still be installed except I'd go for the new Multi head splits. one Condenser unit outside feeding Multiple evaporators inside.
Inverter Tech with better efficiency than Ducted.

I would definately have a filtered external air supply. For those days when it's warmer outside than in and you could just bring in some of that ambient warmth and also for summer when you get those evening storms after a stinking day and the air temp suddenly drops 15o or more.
I asked AC mate about it here but the eaves are too shallow to allow Ducting of any decent sizing.

That would be another thing, Wide eaves Veranday around the outside specificaly designed to let the sun hit in winter and shade the place in summer.
I'm looking to spend what I'm sure will be a small fortune on blinds before the summer.  The walls the sun hits now in winter warm up as does the end room remarkably on sunny days. In summer it's just stupid how bad they are for cooling.  If I can put some roll out blinds on those walls I'm sure it will make an improvement.  There is a lot of Hedging on the North wall now but the 3 Ft of gap to the top is still enough to heat the place badly.

I'll be covering that roof with panels when I can so hopefully that will add a bit of shading as well.

In the winter I stuff my windows with a Reflectrix type aluminized double bubble layer material, which is worth about R8 facing the interior.

I was thinking of something I could put over the windows to add a layer and trap an air pocket for insulation.
Bubble wrap on a frame would be good. I was thinking of Perspex but that is an arm and a leg here. Would be hundreds per window.

Pardon the rambling, please.

Please Ramble at will. I'm sure others here would agree that your rambling is more educational and insightful to read than our best efforts at solid info a lot of the time.  Always something to learn and think about from you Bruce!
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 04, 2018, 11:16:52 PM
Thanks for being generous about my rambling, Glort. I'd look into the wall and ceiling insulation situation, as well as duct insulation. 12" fiberglass is the standard ceiling insulation here, but if walls can be raised to R19 then I'd want more than that in the ceiling.  Your wall that gets sun and warms up in winter; yes, but loss all night as well...the same problem as glass.  The only wall heating you really want is a Trombe wall with some sort of insulation outside at night.  Perhaps that sunny wall could be used for a hot air panel- which could be covered in summer?

I'm really spoiled in my new house-  with double framed R40 walls,  the west wall doesn't heat up inside at all in the summer.  For my new neighbor's upgraded and enlarged version of my house, I convinced him to have no windows at all on the west wall. I foolishly put a small one in, thinking better night time air cooling in summer, but have found it best to keep it covered with an outside insulating panel all year round.

If only foil in walls-  egads.

Another thought-  how about adding a large radiator in the central air handling system...with a hot water circ pump  loop from your own DIY veggie oil boiler.  The boiler would be quite a project... but with your oil experience...
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on June 04, 2018, 11:42:16 PM
Hey Glort I vaguely remember a very cheap type of double glazing being available in the UK. It was a self adhesive clear film which you stuck to the window frame. A quick once over with a hair dryer and it would shrink tight and become invisible, trapping an insulating layer of air between the glass and the film.

Wish I could remember what it was called.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on June 05, 2018, 12:09:16 AM
Thanks BruceM, Interesting video here showing how to make Nickel oxide hydroxide using readily available, cheap chemicals.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 05, 2018, 01:11:38 AM
Interesting video, Bob, thanks.  How will you apply the paste to your plates?

I've used the 3M storm window film kit- it works fine.  The exterior version holds up OK, there is also an interior version.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: mike90045 on June 05, 2018, 01:28:53 AM
NiFe batteries, I have them.   Chicom versions.

The edison ones were pocket plates, packed full of nickel shavings to get as much surface area as possible.  They weren't slabs of metal
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 05, 2018, 04:17:19 AM

Another thought-  how about adding a large radiator in the central air handling system...with a hot water circ pump  loop from your own DIY veggie oil boiler.  The boiler would be quite a project... but with your oil experience...

That is exactly what I have thought of.
The burner would be the least of my concerns. What I am wary of is fitting the radiator. It would have to be done ( for my satisfaction) in one length each way of pipe, probably Copper so there could be no leaks.  I notice there is a big tray under the main evaporator fan unit with a drain so if there was a radiator up there and it did leak, already provision for that.

I was also thinking with this in place, there may be a way to employ a cooling tower outside so I could get a temp reduction in summer as well.
I'll have to find something with regards to heat transfer in water at different flow rates in  different size pipe.  Not much use doing all this if I'm only going to get a few KW hr.

That said, I'm pretty confident it would be worth while. The unit heater in most cars is only small but dense and there are some decent KW coming out of those being fed by just 1/2 or 3/4 pipes.  The heater in my old merc was incredible.  Within 60 Sec of starting the car you had useful heat. I'm sure yours is the same.
Bit that amazed me was you could hold your hand on the exhaust for 3-4Min with the thing idling before that even got uncomfortable so I don't know where the other heat came from so quick. The head alone was a lot of thermal mass that would have to be hot before the water jackets were. 

Time to get out and Fire up some burners I think. Been a long time since I touched any but the weather is certainly right for that sort of play.
Was talking to the mrs the other night about putting one on the back verandah so we could sit out there in front of it. She was of the opinion she couldn't figure out why I hadn't done it already.

She used to surprise me. Id' be out processing veg at Night with a burner going heating up a drum of grease and she would bring me out coffee, get a chair  and sit there with me. When I'd go to turn it off she'd not let me and I'd have to re direct it so the oil didn't catch fire and we'd/ she'd sit there for some time. Was nice but slowed processing operations.  :0)

Need a radiant type heater for the verandah so I might partially split a steel drum  and open it out so I have some reflective " wings"  and leave the bottom bit in tact as a bund to prevent spills.  Put a burner in the drum, hide the blower at the back and should be good.  Little baby burner doing 50 Kw should be fine.  Leave the top on and we can boil the coffee pot up there or do popcorn.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on June 05, 2018, 05:17:31 AM
Hi BruceM, how to apply the paste is the question. Finding some sort of conductive adhesive which isn`t going to dissolve in KOH or upset the electrolytic reaction is tricky. That`s why I originally planned to make something conductive with a large surface area and then electroplate it with Nickel.

Mike90045 believes that the original Edison batteries contained flakes of Nickel rather than nickel oxide hydroxide.

More research required I think.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 08, 2018, 10:20:48 AM

Now into winter and the solar learning curve continues.

After a few days of overcast weather and even some useful rain ( praise the lord and pass my gumboots!) the solar generation has been all over the place. Interestingly on most of the overcast days I was still producing about 20Kwh of power.  Yesterday the sun came out bright and clear and with another 1.5Kw hooked up and some re jigging of arrays and re appointment of inverters, I made a surprising 38 KWh.  very good!
Today was the worst ever generation of a measly 7.8 Kwh.

At first checking one inverter I wondered if something was wrong. Seemed OK so I checked the next and when I saw it's paltry output, I knew it was the day. Funny, it didn't look really any worse than many we have had but all the arrays told a very different story. I did notice it was very cold though. Went out for the 11 am stroll down to the front  to check the letter box and the obligatory 15 min of hurtling the ball round the front yard for the pup and it was actually uncomfortably cold on my face. Never seen that before in the daytime.

While generation has been way down, Consumption has been through the roof!
Averaging 55-60 KWH a day usage.  I turn the fan heater on and off in here through the day and have been using the air sparingly but still we are burning through power at a prodigious rate. I mentioned it to next door neighbour when I saw him on the letterbox run and he laughed and said they were exactly the same first couple of winters they were here which was what prompted him to put in the fire place.  Hmm.

I reckon I'm probably already the better part of 400Kwh down for 3 weeks. All those panels and still going backwards fast. that said, only made 125 Kwh this week so well under 20 KWH day.  back in Summer I was making high 40's, mid 50's with kw Kw of panels less. Thought I was prepared for winter but clearly I have fallen on my face there!

Went out and had a look through my burners today. Typically, I threw out the ones that would be best for heating the place so I'll have to build another one.  Where to get the scrap bits and pieces round here will be the trick. that said, I was thinking of a heat exchanger and reckon I might try and draw it up, go to an engineering company and see how much for them to make the thing up. Cutting neat circles in steel plate is not something that ties in with my skills or equipment.... and atm, I haven't even set up a bench here yet.
have some paid work I have to do atm but soon as it's done I think I'll be hooking into the garage while the weather is cool and getting myself organised there and with a new burner..... that the first requirement will be to find the local welding supplies shop out here.

Next winter definately going to have an oil burning heater and a generator in place so I can be warm and cheap at the same time!

If anyone is ever thinking of solar and don't know what system to buy, there is one simple rule, you can never have TOO much.
This winter business is a real solar Killer!

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 08, 2018, 03:27:55 PM
Sydney is only 33.8 degrees south; so just imagine trying to collect winter solar energy at higher lattitudes N or S. Vertical panel orientation is often used, and only 4 hrs of useful production in southern Canada.

I'm at 34.8 degrees north, so I have similar to Syndey winter decline in PV production.  It's all about panel orientation for winter. Summer is a time of grand excess because of all those hours of production.

My daily electrical power use is about 2.7 KW in winter including 12V for circ pump (heating and solar collection) and sunny day electric cooking.  My refrigerator is propane which saves 1 KW/day. It's worth the $15/mo propane bill for the blissful silence.  Of course this is a 1100 SF house and just one person, solar heating and super insulated.  But looking like 1/15th the electrical energy use, despite being much colder at 5600 feet elevation. My solar hot water panel is collecting 26KWH worth of heat on a winter day at roughly 800W per 16SF flat plate collector x 8 (128 SF total) for 4 hours.  That 83% efficiency for direct solar hot water heating compared to 15% for PV pays off big time in winter. 

In looking at Sydney climate data, your winter temps are so mild that your problem is clearly one of throwing energy outdoors.  Improving insulation should dramatically improve the situation and make the house more comfortable all year round.  Solar hot water heating would work there, too, but I'd always start by seeing what could be done to improve insulation.  Insulation pays back for the life of the house. A good legacy.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 09, 2018, 12:27:57 AM

I'm pretty confident biggest heat loss here is through all the glass.
I was leaning near the front windows yesterday watching the birds. I could feel like a draft on my arm.  the windows don't open in that section and the glass was perfectly sealed as could be seen by the recent intact paintwork which was crack free.  I assumed it was just the cold air falling from the boundary layer on the glass.  No place for any air leakage I could see.

I'll buy one of these heat guns as well as I want to shoot some different areas to see what they are doing.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 09, 2018, 12:45:43 AM
Lots of single pane glass will certainly be problematic.  It's approximately R1.  It's area relative to ceiling and walls and their average R values for a room will determine your average R value and thus loss.  Insulating curtains or shutters for night time could greatly improve night time losses, when they are highest due to larger delta temperature.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 09, 2018, 10:07:05 AM

I was thinking about some frames to fit in the windows in winter with something cheap like maybe Bubble wrap on them.  Not like we open the windows much anyway. May even be OK for summer. Don't Know what other cheap material to use other than regular opaque heavy building type plastic and I'm not sure that would do much good although ti would trap an air pocket which may be an improvement in itself.

Does anyone know how or know of a calculator for working out shading heights and setups?
I want to put something along a couple of walls so the sun is kept off when it's High in summer but is at the right angle in winter so the sun can come under it and put some warmth in the place.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 09, 2018, 03:50:15 PM
Some of the window films as Bob suggested are very good optically and will perform similarly to double pane glass- doubling your window R value to about 2. 

There are plenty of sun angle calculators online for shading.  Deciduous trees can be quite marvelous for seasonal shading.  My Siberian Elms now shade my summer patio from the eastern sun so that it does not heat up.  West walls can benefit greatly from deciduous tree shade or vines on trellis when insulating them adequately isn't possible.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: Hugh Conway on June 09, 2018, 03:52:29 PM
Up here on the coast at 50* N it's quite  cloudy in winter. Around the winter solstice, even if the sky is clear, the sun does not rise above the trees, so we get no solar input. Same for the solar collector for water heating, though the woodstove takes over that chore from October to April. The Listeroid comes in handy for topping up batteries then, and logs about 300 hours annually. We are using about 2 to 2.5 kwh per day.
Re: heat loss through the windows.......even curtains drawn at night help a lot.........and wife likes them! Double layers help even more. Our biggest heat loss is from opening/closing/opening the doors for our old dog to go in and out. Sometimes he can't make up his mind.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: mike90045 on June 13, 2018, 04:26:52 AM
> Our biggest heat loss is from opening/closing/opening the doors for our old dog to go in and out. Sometimes he can't make up his mind

That sounds like feline behavior   :D
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 13, 2018, 07:54:22 AM

I looked into the window film.

Seems it isn't that great.  I had my doubts. It could only trap a little air between the film and the glass and seems that does not do all that much.

I'd like to go back to my original idea of removable frames with a transparent covering.  Going to have to be some big arse frames but the idea of doing all those little individual panes of glass in all the feature windows was never going to fly with the film. Take forever.

With 5 cats and a sooky dog, opening doors here can be a pain as well.
 Got to get round to putting in that cat flap.  Much better to open a 300mm sq hole in the bottom of the door than the whole damn thing.

 Did a tally so far on the power for the month. Winter is not Kind.  Averaging about a 25Kwh a day Loss so far.
Did realise I have been forgetting to check one inverter and count it in my daily tally. that's the one with the latest ground mount that I tilted carefully and is doing far better per W than any of the others surprisingly enough.

Not sure if that's a good or bad thing I forgot to include it in the tally.  Means I have been making more solar than I thought.  Does not change how much we have been using beyond that.

Maybe I'll look at tilting those south side panels afterall.
Which is the scary part.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 13, 2018, 03:36:54 PM
Film has the same effect of double pane; adds R1 to your R1 single pane. That cuts your loss in half.  An insulated shutter for night is much more effective but is a building project.

I only use film on one window (already is double pane) for the winter; the frame sweats too much otherwise.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 15, 2018, 02:42:28 PM

Had a Duuuh moment tonight thinking about this. Yes, a lot of what is discussed here stays in my everyday thoughts especially when it's something practical.

Instead of doing film on the windows or making up frames to mound a plastic film, I already have them, bloody flyscreens!
They are on every window here and while they don't cover the entire area of every window as there are still large areas of fixed glass, Just getting some sort of plastic and putting it inside the screen and sitting that back in the window would be a real good starting point.

Now, I just have to find rolls of suitable Film.  Not too wide, not too narrow, not to stiff, not to thin and weak.
Therein lies the challenge.

Was reasonably cloudy here today. Bit sad I wake up when it's still dark most mornings and look at the dawn checking for clouds.  Bout 7-8 am I have a fair Idea of the day but it's been sunny in the mornings and clouding over later. Did that today.
Was pleasantly surprised when I did my 4pm rounds to see I have made 3 Kw over all today. Wouldn't have expected that as I had the air on a lot last night as it was very chilly.

All up today made a worthwhile 41 Kwh. Surprising but very welcome.  Can still do reasonable power in the sun in winter but boy those over cast days send things backwards at a frightening rate.

Had an old friend come out tonight to see the place for the first time. Her kids and ours went to a pre school playgroup together and we have been friends ever since. She was marveling at the place and saying it was her dream home and how she would love something like this. I said sell the 2 Homes you have and you could have any place in the area plus Change which you'd need. She asked why and I said the running costs are significant.

I'm lucky because the panels are saving us significant money even if we are going backwards on power. Saved $12 on power TODAY and around $6-8 most days this month. I hate to think what my brother in law around the corner will pay for  his power bill this quarter. may be offset because I think he has a gas space heater but 6 of one and half a dozen of the other.  It's still all significant cost just to keep the place warm.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 25, 2018, 01:27:56 AM

After a lot of overcast weather, the sun is finally coming out better and I'm starting to make some decent power from the solar again.

Last week was (mon to sun) 35.8 Kwh, 22.5, 37.9, 27.8 ( solstice) 46, 42.3 and yesterday, 41.9. 

Previous week started slow but picked up...  20.9, 21.5, 32.1, 42.8, 40.9, 42.4, 44.3. 

For the month, I'd down 307 Kwh so far. That's about  $92 at what I pay.  Not bad I spose.  I'm about half way through the billing quarter and with the better weather I'm going from being down 20-30 Kwh day to 0-6. had the occasional day where I was up a few kwh.

I think I'm at about the limit of the EFFECTIVE winter generation I can do now.  All the North facing roof is taken up and the east is too shaded to worry about and the west produces crap output in winter. I'm reluctant to do anymore on the west roof ( other than maybe dedicated pre heating of water) because once summer comes I expect to be doing maybe 80Kwh a day which will be far more than I can use going on what we pulled  down last summer.

Really going to have to have a Non electric heating system for the place next year.
The days are generally not too bad but the Nights when it hits freezing are another matter and where all the power is going.

I have been monitoring the walls in the place by hand and I'm reasonably sure they are insulated OK.  They have nothing like the icy feel to them the windows have.  They are like cold panels in a fridge.  I found some plastic thick is opaque in the form of Builders plastic. It's 100Um and seem just up to the job of being put under the flyscreens.

I'm also noticing how cold the tile floors are. the place is on a slab and the bathrooms seem the worst of the cold leakages. Been keeping the doors closed on them but you can really feel how icy they are when you go in. Being both on the west side, I was keeping the doors closed on them in summer because they were like hot boxes.  Pretty poor design as usual with no regards to energy efficiency at all.

I'm going to look at blinds for the north end of the place as it's lovely and warm, even too warn right now in the middle of winter and in summer it's just a joke.  Shading that I think will make a huge difference.
The west side I'm more in 3 Minds about.  I might put a much larger verandah over the other end of the house and extend it out. IF we do that I'll take the existing roof and put it down this end of the house. That will shed this end a lot in summer.  I don't detect any warmth coming though now so nothing to loose there really.

I could do a solar panel awning / shade that end which would again keep the summer sun off and contribute something for cooling anyway or I could go the retractable blinds like I want to do the other end.  I favour the solar arrangement over the blinds but will have to think about how to construct it so it looks asethicaly pleasing not a tacked on.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 25, 2018, 04:34:49 AM
Cold tile on slab floor usually means exposed slab or stem wall outside with no insulation. (Foamboard and metal or foamboard and cement board.) Consider adding some- even a little will help greatly.  If there's a concrete walk outside against it, you're screwed.

Our night time temps are creeping up, I could only get the house down to 74F by this morning. 78F now, too damned hot for me.  I need to work on the inverter and then water chiller for in-slab cooling.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: LowGear on June 25, 2018, 07:38:52 PM
R values are not linear.  R2 is not twice as good as R1.  R1 is the butt kicker.  I seem to remember R10 being rated at something like 90% efficient what ever that means.  And R20 being  something like 93%.  Okay, time has taken it's toll but the relationship is close to those numbers.

In fact, back in Washington state those liberals passed a law making window sales people stop saying that R2 windows were cost effective because of energy transfer.  Quality of life - Yes!  Heating - cooling bills; No.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 25, 2018, 08:15:09 PM
Alas, Casey,  the loss through the window glass alone, R2 really does have half the heat transfer as R1. The R scale really is linear.  Marketing types will make up all kinds of nonsense, but there is no such thing as "efficiency" in R values. It only relates to the rate of heat transfer.  Physics, not BS.  R1 is the heat transfer rate of 1 inch of soft pine.  Most blond foam boards (isocyanurate) have an R value of 6-7 per inch.  Straw bales are about R 2.5 per inch.  The insulation and building industries have done a great job at marketing BS, and I know one former building inspector who actually believed that 1/8 inch of fiberglass with a foil facing on the outside of a block wall was going to insulate his home to some fantastic effective R-value as claimed by the seller.  He had to throw 8KW in space heaters to supplement his in floor heat- even combined they could not keep up on windy cold nights.

The R value of the insulation is often defeated by thermal bridging by wood (R1 per inch) from siding to wallboard, and also for fiber insulation, by air infiltration...thus the (typically shoddy) use of wind wraps.

Window loss is only a modest percentage of the total of outside surfaces and losses so halving your window glass loss may mean diddly squat in your power bill.   In a well done, super insulated home, window losses dominate; by the thermal model I used for my home design, my modest sized double pane window losses are now 50% of my total loss. It also is confirmed when I cut my 15F overnight house temperature drop by almost half when I cover them with Astrofoil (similar to Reflectrix- foiled double bubble).


Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: LowGear on June 25, 2018, 09:50:49 PM
Damn Readers Digest and all of the dead legs I've suffered because some pervert left them next to the toilet.

But on a slightly different note.

I had a revelation while pulling weeds this morning and it was inspired by one ajaffa1's recent posts.

I have become somewhat of a bore on anti petroleum and coal energy production.  I apologize.  This is my favorite forum and I will be getting back to basics from now on no matter how much I'm baited (see, I'm the victim).  Thanks for your time and energy.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 26, 2018, 02:45:37 AM

Thanks Bruce.

I have been wondering about the R scale for a while. Asked a number of people and no one knew.
I have something to relate it to now and I was wondering about it being Linear.

I'm surprised about what you say with windows not being a big heat loss.  I would have sworn they were the main culprit here.
In the bathroom which is on a corner with 2 almost floor to ceiling 900mm wide windows, I'm sure I can feel the cold decending from them down onto the floor. It feels like there is a draft. I was standing ther the other night feeling the difference between teh wall and the window and I was going to go get some of the wifes incense sticks an see if I could use the smoke to show what I thought with the falling air mass.

I'll get some of that builders plastic and give them a go. they are the easy ones to do because they are frosted glass so no one will complain about not being able to see out and no one is going to be opening them for months yet.
I keep the door shut to that and the other bathroom that also has a big window and is on the west side of the house. They radiate cold in winter and a ton of heat in summer.  Going to have to put some sort of shading up soon.

With regards to the slab, May be a lost cause there.  At a rough guess I'd say 25% is up against concrete paths. I'm lead to believe that would kill the effectiveness of any insulation I put round the rest.  Not sure what one would use for that anyway or if it would do any good. The walls are brick and sat right to the slab edge so there is really two exposures to the cold not just one.

Wish this discussion had come up 18 Months ago. I would have been much wiser and had a very different outlook on which home I bought.
that said, I doubt there are many/any better than any others here. Maybe more north facing roof would have been as good as it got.
 That would be a huge advantage for winter solar generation. East west is useless in winter.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 26, 2018, 03:29:55 AM
Windows can be big loss in an otherwise well insulated house, but how it affects the total heat or cooling bill depends on what percentage of loss is windows.  People get suckered into spending a fortune on double pane windows as a retrofit when their money might have been better spent elsewhere, like insulating shutters or curtains, and increasing other insulation. 

For winter heat loss, look at the total outside surface areas- walls and ceiling and exposed masonry/concrete slab edge. if you calculate the area of each type surface and it's temperature in degrees below room temperature, you will will have a good measure of the relative contribution of window vs wall vs door vs ceiling vs outer floor area vs inner floor area.  Then you can estimate how your proposed insulation will affect the total BTUs needed in that room.

For windows with solar gain in the winter, insulating shutters are the hands down winner unless you have too much gain.   On my previous home I made the mistake of way too much passive solar gain- all double pane glass on the south (northern hemisphere). The view was awesome and the daytime gain was so sauna-like that windows had to be open to keep it below 85F in the dead of the winter.  But the night time loss was so great that the rooms would be 58-60F in the morning.  That was very educational.  I had to add thermal shutters to all the windows and patio doors.  I later added reflective mirror film on the outside of all the south glass to cut down the gain, which was a huge help in the summer as well.

 For the thermal models, you have crank in all that data plus outside temperature, wind and soil temps and then you can play what-if's to see how it affects your BTU.  That's how I was able to figure out how to optimize my home insulation for my climate while on a low budget (plus 6 years of sweat equity). The biggest bang for my buck was the perimeter insulation; I had no idea that so much heat was lost through the outer floor in a slab home.  That's the reason so many in floor heat (slab) homes are so expensive to heat- heating mother earth is a loosing game.  The earth is NOT a good insulator at all, and even in our arid climate the one place that stays damp even in summer is under the slab and next to the footings.

You will certainly notice the cold convection draft from windows and solving that will help with comfort as well as some heating cost.  Just remember it's the total surface area x temperature drop below room temperature that makes your heating bill. 

For your situation only the parabolic trough solar hot water collectors would work as you must have high temperatures to use a radiator in your forced air system.  Which reminds me-  take a good look at your duct insulation; half your electric heat watts may be wafting out your gable vents and draping additional fiberglass bats over the duct work might be well worthwhile. 

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on June 26, 2018, 05:26:38 AM

Interesting Bruce. A lot to consider there.

Just been out the back for a couple of hours trying to organise my shed. Now there is a loosing battle. So much stuff, far too many memories and even more regrets. How I'm going to get through that I'll never know but I have made a scratch today.

I did come across some sheets of Bubble wrap I think I saved from the new Furniture. I tried My idea and put it inside the flyscreens on the en suite windows.
What flimsy useless things they are. Spose thy hold the fly wire and are designed for that to be right on the edge of their structural limit.  It's not too bad but not sure how well the screens will hold it. I overlapped it all the way round the window edges which was as best I could do. Probably be hard to tell if it makes any difference but can't hurt if it don't help I spose. I know the Mrs will have a spit when she sees it and write it off as me turning the place into a tip with my stupid ideas.

I looked at the rest of the windows and they tend to be half fixed and half sliding glass. I'll have to get something, maybe some timber and make frames to hold the bubble wrap or builders film on those.  Mostly the ones at the back which is the west side that only gets winter sun from about 1:30 Pm till 4 are frosted being for the bathrooms, a toilet and the laundry which doesn't matter about the view there. The rest along the back have an awning over them and blocking the view out those just isn't going to happen.

It would be OK if I ever found a cheap supply of perspex/ plexiglass but that stuff is like poison here.

I have looked at the AC ducting and had it running while I did. It was cold to the touch on the outside and everything seemed well wrapped. All the junctions have an expanded foam like coating. I was up there a couple of sunny days and I was surprised how little warmer it was than ambient below.
I was thinking of putting a fan up there to pull the warmth down but I'm well past that idea.  When I get up there, whatever it is, dust, fibreglass , makes me cough and hack. Sticks right in the back of my throat. soon as I come down, I'm fine.  Better get myself a respirator for next time I go up there.

I got some more batts because I did find gaps in the insulation. Can't find the pieces to cover them so were probably never put in place. I'll do some patchwork and then put the leftover in in main living area's. Might do some good, again, can't hurt if it don't help.

With the walls are sitting on the edge of the lab, is it going to do any good trying to insulate the edges of that? If I ever build a new home ( lottery winning dependent) I sure have a lot of ideas of how it would be done!
You'll also be getting a consulting job on what should be done regards to a variety of things.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 26, 2018, 06:40:41 AM
Where exposed, slab edges are a big thermal problem both winter and summer unless you have a thick carpet pad and carpet as insulation.  (I think carpets are toxic indoor air polluters myself.)  Check the floor temps from the wall inward to see for yourself and use the temperature change below room temperature time area to figure the contribution to room losses.

A strip of 1.5" (EPS-R9) beveled edge foam board with some metal trim made to cover it and tuck under the siding, in a suitable color works well. Ideally it should go down to the frost level. (Not far for you.)  Most siding companies that do metal work can bend prefinished steel trim pieces to your dimensions. They usually have a wide selection in colors. There are some composite and cement board products used to cover foam perimeter insulation but that's less likely to be useful as a retrofit.

If you look at some plans online for foundations for the latest low energy designs in Germany you will see massive use (10s of thousands of dollars worth) of high density EPS foam around the foundation.  My climate is milder and frost line is only 16 inches so I was able to avoid the special molded foam products and roll my own simpler design.  For my new neighbor's home I had him increase the sub-slab 25 psi  EPS (blue board) to 3 inches for the outer 4 feet, plus the same 4 inches between slab edge and stem wall, and 1" outside the stem wall down to the footing.  The edge insulation is very cheap for it's performance.  The sub slab insulation adds up fast because of the area but the savings in being able to greatly downsize the heating system pays for the foam even before the first fuel bill.  We can hide the 4" of foam between slab and stem wall by having the 12" wall- the inside framing (non load bearing steel studs) sits on the heated/cooled slab.  The top block of the stem wall is only 6 inch to allow for an extra strip of 2" foam only 1 block high.  The second 2" foam goes all the way down to the footing. 

You may be able to find a good free thermal model to play's tedious and time consuming but very educational.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on June 26, 2018, 01:09:25 PM
Hi Guys, I spent a lot of time in the French/Swiss Alps building in summer, skiing in winter. The issue of cold bridging is horrendous when you have temperatures as low as minus forty centigrade at night. Any property without sufficient insulation will be almost uninhabitable and have every water pipe burst. Cold bridges will very quickly identify themselves due to the condensation/ice that forms and destroys the interior finishes.

Remarkably they build primarily in concrete which has next to no insulating properties. The trick is to build the shell in concrete and then completely clad it in 150 mm of urethane foam with special attention to window and door reveals. Add triple glazing and you are in with a chance of staying warm. I wonder what they are going to do after the Grenfell tower disaster in London, can`t imagine they will strip all this flammable insulation and replace it. Skiers beware!

I did see the aftermath of a fire in one block of apartments in Val D`isere, wasn`t much left. Thankfully it happened in summer when the building was pretty much vacant.


Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 26, 2018, 03:05:09 PM
There is much to be learned from designs for extreme climates; I borrowed from Canadian double framed wall designs.

An issue that I don't think is being considered enough is indoor air quality.  Air to Air heat exhangers will help dilute indoor pollution but reducing the pollution in the first place seems wise.  I used aluminum foil laminated to the mudded drywall and sealed at electrical boxes and base of wall to block wall and insulation materials from outgassing to the home interior.  The foil is finished with tile (we now use magnesium oxide cement as adhesive) and clay putty/paint - no exposed foil. The foil doubles as part of radio/microwave shielding and my house was measured at -110dB (voltage) or -55dBm (decibles of milliwatts of power) worth of shielding at 2.4 GHz.  I didn't need that much shielding for my rural location (until a cell tower goes up nearby) but wanted so see what was practical to achieve for whole house shielding without having the house look too odd and on a pretty tight budget.  I used heavy duty screen frames with 50 tpi stainless steel mesh as over-screens to shield the window openings. It was quite a design and construction effort. 
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on June 26, 2018, 11:16:56 PM
Hi Bruce, double walling is a very good way to reduce cold bridging all modern UK homes us it. Interestingly they used to sell drywall backed with aluminium foil as a vapor barrier, don`t know if it`s still available.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on June 26, 2018, 11:49:17 PM
The foil backed drywall is still sold in the US, but at a very high price. It is of no value as a vapor barrier unless you gasket all the seams, and still it will leak since it's penetrated by so many screws and is so thin it's full of micro-perforations.  We changed to laminating 1 mil (0.001 inch thick) foil on the mudded drywall and it's a vast improvement- thick enough to stop nasty insulation odors, no perforations, way cheaper than the foil backed drywall and a much better result.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: LowGear on June 29, 2018, 01:52:11 AM
Alas, Casey,  the loss through the window glass alone, R2 really does have half the heat transfer as R1. The R scale really is linear.

Hmmmmm.  So I'm standing on a barren mountain and it's cold.  I have a glass greenhouse put around me and it's warmer.  I have a second glass greenhouse put around the first greenhouse and it's not as cold.  A third and .......  That first greenhouse just has to have the greatest impact.  Of course I'm mixing R values with infiltration however the difference between greenhouse 1 and greenhouse 2 are not as great as that first greenhouse.  The marginal equivalence between greenhouse 1 to 2 and 19 to 20 just can't get past the little gray cells in my head.

I'm thinking that the 1 inch pine greenhouse might be a bit different than the single pane glass one?

Thinking is bothersome.  Give me a Readers Digest article in the throne position and you have me by the little gray cells for life.

My other educations have led me to believe that infiltration is the bad boy of heat loss especially in older houses.  I'm surprised that humidity hasn't come into the conversation yet.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 15, 2018, 02:49:45 PM

I have come to the conclusion that Electric heat, IE, AC is just not going to cut it here.
it's -3 out now and the AC is working it's butt off to maintain a few rooms at 22o. There is no heat to be had for the thing to work with. Might be different for the latest models but this thing is about 15 so obviously not as good with teh cold.  I went out and had a look and sure enough the coils are all iced up.

I have been making 40+ KW day on the solar and i'm still going backwards 1-10 KW day atm.  Normal non heating loads should be under 20 KW as we have hardly been here or used much other power anyway.

I was thinking of a Co-gen system but I don't think that will be practical. No where to site a gen shed with enough insulation I could run an engine at night.  Heating is going to have to be oil fired with a burner.  On the lookout for a spa or Pool gas heater which I'll take the gas burners out of and replace with an oil burner.  Heat water and probably at least initially, make a panel for a window, mount a radiator and fans and pump the heat in that way. By pulling outside air in and heating it, should be able to crack windows in the rooms at the ends of the house and the heat should travel through to the escaping pressure.   Will put the setup on a rolling frame and put it away when the weather warms up till it's needed again.

All the windows make this place hard to insulate.  I'm convinced otherwise it's not that bad. We have been putting the cats in the Laundry at night so they are warm and away from foxes. I go in there of a morning and the room is warm as toast just from them. There is only one small window in there and a door. No AC ducting.  the heat loss for the rest of the place is definitely the windows. 

Came in tonight with no one here all day and no heating happening and the place felt quite warm.  It's just a big place and the windows especially make it a hard place to improve upon.  I could possibly go another layer of perspex on all the windows but I can Imagine the cost of that! I haven't got enough years left to recoup that investment. Mrs had a fit about the bubble wrap even on the frosted en-suite windows. Anything I put on the windows will have to be clear and of window level optical quality.  I can't blame her. As she said, now we have something to look out the windows at, she wants to see it.

Like the lawn looking like it had been snowing this morning from all the frost.   :embarassed:

Going with waste oil heating I see as the cheapest option and the one I have the most knowledge and experience of anyway.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 16, 2018, 08:24:36 AM

Got up this morning and the place looked like snow again. Went out at 11 am to get the mop and found the water in the bucket was ice about 8mm Deep.
Yeah, it was cold here last Night. I sure for some that live in these frozen hell holes  having the whole Bucket of water frozen in a solid block is nothing unusual but in about 4 Months it will be nothing to be 35C here.  A much more civilized temp that's for sure.

Went out to mates place today and he very Kindly donated a gas pool heater from his scrap pile.  It's about 150KW capacity on the Heat ex-changer so will more than do what I want. All metal HE too so I can run the output water up to 80o.

Already stripped out the gas burners and all the control crap so just have to make up an oil burner and plumb the thing up. I'll grab a car radiator and fans from My father when I'm up there next and all should be good.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on July 17, 2018, 12:38:43 AM
So much for global warming. Frosty here too, below zero in Grafton is unheard of, hope it isn`t going to kill my mango tree.

Have you thought about fitting wooden shutters to the windows? Painted up they can add a lot of character to a home and deter burglars.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 17, 2018, 01:32:29 AM

Wow! Of all things to mention, A mango tree!
I bought one a couple of weeks ago to plant as a remembrance. Thought it woiuld be nice to have mangos as we all love them and not cheap to buy here. When I was in cairns in November you could stop by the side of the road and pick up hundreds of them.

I  saw it said avoid frost for the first few years. I put it in a large pot and have it sitting on the back table atm to keep it up and hopefully a little warmer... if that's possible.
I was thinking to put a drum of water in my little toy greenhouse and heat that with the solar on the shed roof that are the spare play panels.  I Might have to insulate the drum a bit to slow the heat loss but I was hoping it may keep things nice and warm in there. Might have to look at something like Bruce's Lard candles.... in an oil version which isn't easy.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 17, 2018, 02:40:41 AM
Inspired by Glort's home power work, I've been working on my ultra low EMI inverter again in the last 10 days, both hardware and software mods. I did my first load of laundry with it about 5 days ago. By a minor miracle my MS related brain fog has lifted a bit lately.  I'm fine tuning at this point, set up with modified toroidal transformers for 230VAC (true RMS via shifting the width of the 5 step waveform), and am adding circuitry for remote control. The two H-bridges that do all the heavy lifting, power wise, only draw 5ma of 12VDC when "off" (open circuit outputs) so I am NOT adding an additional solid state relay for remote inverter control. Instead I'm just having the processor shut down the H-bridges and turn it's own power off. Running it and the H-bridges total 55ma of 12V. 

I just did an efficiency test with my two Antek transformers late this afternoon and am pretty pleased-  94% at 1000 watts of load.   Idle (no) load is only 14.1 watts (0.10 amps at 141V).  Efficiency could be improved by going with custom transformers but only a few percent.  I modified them with 64 added turns to the secondary windings.  There's presently a 1.6% loss in DC filtering to keep my 120VDC clean.  I have only 1 mv of 240 Hz ripple on the 120VDC supply at 1000 watts of load. I made a 14 MH choke/reactor for the first stage of the filter, using a 400W toroidal transformer core I gapped and wound with 118 turns of 12 awg. It works well but I lose 1.5V right there at 1000 watts of load, should have used 3 strands of 14 awg.

It's been a very educational project, and I'm looking forward to calling it quits on improvements and just putting it into service up in my battery bank shed.  But while I have it still on the bench it's hard to resist fiddling with it.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 18, 2018, 04:39:48 PM
My clever design to remotely control the inverter without adding a solid state hv relay resulted in some failed power mosfets and ics.  My memory is so poor I forgot the high side of the h-bridges is powered by swinging capacitor which is only charged when it's mating low side mosfet is on, so the h-bridges can't be used as solid state switches.  i now remember figuring that out later last year, but it slipped. 

Back to the drawing board. 

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 18, 2018, 11:38:35 PM

Been there, done that before!
It's like everytime I get things Out I haven't played with before it's a process of re learning what already knew and forgot.  My forum rants and YT Vids are Very good for reminding me what I already knew and catching up again.

My panels have been OK the last week or so. Frosty Clear mornings don't seem to be hurting output which is up to the low 40 KwH day outputs.  Starting to get into the break even/ few KW ahead sector again.
I have re distributed the inverters and connections to keep the line voltage down which is doing well. Some days you just can't win though.

The cloud edge effect is a mongeral. Send the Panel voltage and therefore inverter voltage way up even though the power output isn't that high.
One day one of my Main inverters can be Pushing 3150W with no trouble. The next day it's voltage overloading at 2400W.  Nothing is on in the house, the  loads are the same, it's all coming from the sun and cloud effects.

I had to move the water heater back to regular control because the Mrs was getting a bit miffed about the sub station cluttering up her Laundry so I have to get a waterproof case and mount everything outside on the back wall. The heater looks like it's going to be key in stablising the Line voltage although I am getting heavy duty  Circuits installed.  Mate has got his Cherry picker fixed so hopefully I'll be able to grab it the next couple of weeks and get the panels all sitting on the ground up on the roof and then get the HD circuit put in. 
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 19, 2018, 04:04:16 AM
Nothing like the school of the real world, that's for sure.  Studied the problem and have come up with a few solutions but will mull it over a bit more.  If I change the H-bridge circuitry polarity so that with the inputs off, the low side transistors are on (shorting the transformer primary), with a corresponding inverse change in in the data table that defines the sequence of events in shaping the 5 step sine, then I COULD use the H-bridges as solid state switches.  When the processor is "off", the low side transistors being ON will keep the high side power topped up, and the high side transistors will stay safely off.

I just hate to make a mess of my custom H-bridge PCBs-  they are clean- no cuts and jumps, and very dense since I had to squeeze it all onto the small "experimenters board" size.  I also like that it is presently all "positive logic" in software and hardware (1 is on or higher voltage) and the high side or low side circuitry is identical. It helps me keep things straight in my addled brain.

It's been fun luxuriating in my huge to me increase in PV power.  I've been using my shop heat lamps for load testing - while the sun shines I can turn on 1500 watts and still (just) keep the batteries in float charge.  Someday I'll turn that into water chilling for house cooling...


Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 19, 2018, 07:50:08 AM

It's been fun luxuriating in my huge to me increase in PV power. 

I'll Bet! Going from what you had before to what you have now must make things so much more comfortable and relaxed for you. One thing for me to be offsetting bills with solar, quite another to be dependent on making your own power.
It's amazing the way things are distributed around different parts. The Poms have more listers than you can jump over and very cheap. Us skips have plenty of cheap and used panels. I think I have more leaning up against the side of my shed  just sitting there now than you have in total.
 Americans have all sorts of things freely available and cheap to get that people in other parts of the world don't.

Weird what is so common and cheap to some is so difficult to get and expensive for others.

Someday I'll turn that into water chilling for house cooling...

Be interested to hear what the plan with that is.
May be cold now but in a few months I'll be sweating.

I went round today and counted all the windows in my house.
I have 27 areas of glass.  By that I mean many of the windows are 3 faceted  and almost all are double  so it's a LOT of glass. Average window size is 1.8 x 1.8 or 6ft sq. 4 Of the feature windows are bigger still. Then there are the 7 doors.  All but 1 are Double width and glass pane'd so just like windows as well.
 Nice for the view but really should have been double glazed for insulation purposes.

They sure saved a ship load of money on bricks when they built this place!    :(
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 19, 2018, 04:05:55 PM
"Modern Architecture" has been largely about sweeping expanses of glass...which is a killer for thermal performance.
There is an architect in New Mexico who preaches and writes about "eco" housing, now using straw bales but previously cast pumice-crete.  Some wealthy friends (wife with severe MCS) paid her over $40K for house plans I reviewed.  I was flabbergasted. Her plans had pumice-crete poured right down to the footings with no barrier to stop damp earth moisture and bacteria wicking up into the house wall, and no vapor barrier on the inside to stop moisture migration into the pourous cement wall in winter (it was to be raw plaster finish).  Damp portland cement walls are notorious for causing health problems and became infamous for that in Germany when so much low income housing was built after WWII with cast concrete walls. It was known as "the concrete sickness". The interior walls were all pumice crete cast over thickened good luck ever making any changes for wiring or plumbing.  The slab details showed it was NOT insulated- yet the home was in floor heat(!).  Oh, and as drawn, for a small home of about 1400 SF, she had 4 levels of roof, and no means of support for the roof over the center of the L shaped home.  The open L courtyard faced the prevailing SW wind in an area notorious for high winds.

I don't think most people realize that architecture is ART SCHOOL.  Very few rise above that and actually try to learn something.

My plan for the house cooling is to run a 1.5 hp water chiller in the in floor heat system water.  Once I finish the inverter project I'll have to research details of propane and mineral oil for refrigerant.  It's the devil in the details bit that is a concern, I'm on a low budget.  It's got to be cheap since I will rarely use it; it's only during wildfires and/or controlled burns that I can't cool the house adequately by just opening the windows at night. 

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 19, 2018, 04:36:59 PM

It would be very interesting to sit down and design a house that took advantage of all the alternative technologies for heating and cooling and was a place appropriate to the area it was situated. 

A car AC Compressor and Evaporator driven by your roid would be a good start for the cooling.  You could go an electric motor but would your battery capacity take it at night?

I have been running LPG and the standard AC oil in my vehicle for several years now with no problem. I gassed the system with 134a after I cleaned the evaporator and Changed the Drier and the thing never got as cold as it should have.  Never went below 8o when it should have gone well below that given I was testing at 21. Purged the system, charged with LPG to get the right pressures which is about half the weight of 134 and the evap would Ice up easily and I was getting 2o air output.  Brilliant!

The amount of condensation the thing will pull out the air in a humid environment is amazing.  My fathers mechanic has Run LPG in his AC for years as well and never had a problem either.

I did go to the trouble of pulling out an entire AC system from a car and was going to set it up on an engine driven layout but I threw it all out when I moved as it was yet another project that I had not got a round tuit  for.  Even in todays computer controlled cars, the AC is still very simple. Really only one wire  to the computer for on off and another sensor on the evap to shut off the compressor when it starts to freeze. 
Easy to hack into a standalone system.

If you are after a sealed type unit, something from a small window AC may do the trick.  Then again, may as well just install the unit itself if it's working.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: broncodriver99 on July 19, 2018, 07:52:33 PM
My plan for the house cooling is to run a 1.5 hp water chiller in the in floor heat system water.  Once I finish the inverter project I'll have to research details of propane and mineral oil for refrigerant.  It's the devil in the details bit that is a concern, I'm on a low budget.  It's got to be cheap since I will rarely use it; it's only during wildfires and/or controlled burns that I can't cool the house adequately by just opening the windows at night.

I can see 2 possible issues with that that you may want to do a little research on before committing.

First is the latency you will have with all of the thermal mass of the concrete. It would likely take a day or two or maybe more depending on your refrigerating capacity to cool the slab enough that you would realize any cooling benefit to the room and then it would be marginal. Remember, heat rises so any cooling benefit would likely be to the soil unless the slab is extremely well insulated. I can offer some real world info as far as the amount of horsepower it takes from my day job if you are interested.

Second, would be the temperature necessary to have any benefit and you would likely need airflow across the slab in order for it to absorb the heat. IIRC you are in an arid environment so humidity may not be an issue but if at any time your slab drops below dew point you are going to be making condensate all over your floor. It happens here on the East Coast all of the time.

If you are trying to minimize electrical usage(ie no fans/blowers) you could also look into a gravity refrigeration system. They require a lot of suspended piping and don't have a lot of thermal storage capacity unless you bank ice or have a large reserve of chilled water. The best time to bank ice is at night though when there is no solar available.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 19, 2018, 09:09:07 PM
Using the Lister to run an auto compressor is out-  it's 400 far away, over a hill.  Running the Lister as generator for a compressor is fine, since this is so rarely used.  But it would be neat if I could use my inverter to handle it during the day...I could use it more often which seems to be the trend for the SW US.

Window AC units direct would be the obvious solution but I can't use them, for ELF magnetic fields, sound, air quality and wrecking the shielding that my home provides with it's fine stainless mesh screens over all the windows.


Your comments were thoughtful and right on the mark for a typical home in a typical setting. 

Most conventional in floor heat systems in a concrete slab home are so badly designed that yes, for heating or cooling mostly you are trying to change the temperature of the earth and outdoors.  My home is only 1100SF and is superinsulated, including the 5.5" thick slab.  On a 100F day it gains 3-4 degrees.  The house air temperature is 2-3 degrees above the slab temperature.

In floor cooling has been well tested in concrete in floor heat systems in a study paid for by New Mexico state.  They were using night sky radiation via unglazed solar water panels on flat roofs to chill the water.  Their goal was to just remove heat load from the building overnight...and this it did quite well and for very low cost.

After reading the reports from NM, at elevations similar to my own, I did some testing on night sky radiation/evaporation cooling via water trickled down steel roofing measuring delta temperature, temperature, humidity, wind and flow rate.  It is viable but if there is no wind, and no clouds it requires a minimum collector area of 1000 SF for my 1100 SF home.  That's a lot of corrogated steel roofing.  If there are clouds, there is no night sky cooling so it is not a certain thing.   Using the shop roof for night sky cooling would be possible but is hell on the roof since the well water is pretty high mineral content. I'd rather put the steel on racks just above the ground, which also removes head so a 20 watt DC pump would easily manage the water flow at the minimal lift needed.   

My neighbor and I did some experimenting with running his 65F well water through his 900SF shop floor a few years ago.  It worked so well when the slab temperature was 10 degrees and more above water temperature that when he was living in the shop during home construction he ran it every afternoon to cool off the shop. His shop and slab is also insulated but not nearly as good as his and my homes.  Based on the flow rate and temperature rise, I did calculate that the typical BTU capacity of a 1.5 HP compressor was just adequate for my house.  65F water isn't really cold enough for a desired 72F...not enough delta T; you really want 55F water.  Running it for 4 hrs during the middle of the (summer) day when I have excess PV capacity should suffice to lower my house temperature the necessary 3-4 degrees.  My need would mostly be for June wildfires, where there is no shortage of PV power in the day.  My battery system isn't designed for carrying 1200 watt loads at night.

I did monitor indoor temperature and humidity here during the intended cooling period of June through July and there is plenty of margin so no chance of sweating floors in my climate here.  The floor mass is being cooled only a few degrees in a day... it will well above the dew point.  As you noted, it is not possible to use in floor cooling in a more humid climate because of the floor condensation, and besides, dehumidification is much desired.

My concerns about window AC units converted to propane are- can they be used on fuel grade propane, and how do I insure the right type and amount of oil...and concerns about purging the original oil. I have 10 gallons of white mineral oil so of course that is an appealing lubricant. 

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: broncodriver99 on July 19, 2018, 09:38:21 PM
My concerns about window AC units converted to propane are- can they be used on fuel grade propane, and how do I insure the right type and amount of oil...and concerns about purging the original oil. I have 10 gallons of white mineral oil so of course that is an appealing lubricant.

I don't know that there is anything to be gained from converting window AC's to propane. They have to meet pretty strict energy requirements now so any modifications made would likely be detrimental to their efficiency and performance. I would run them as is and if one fails and you are inclined to experiment with it then so be it but you will likely never get it to produce the same cooling for the same amount of energy by changing the refrigerant and taking it out of design. Not to mention longevity.

About the best thing going these days is inverter driven mini-split systems. The efficiency they are getting out of them has gone through the roof in the last few years. Typical now is ~30 SEER which use ~40% less energy than a higher end EnergyStar window banger. They also perform very well in hot arid environments. Mitsubishi just came out with the smallest one on the market @6000 BTU which sounds about right up your alley, it has the ability to modulate down to about 1700 BTU/hr or overdrive up to about 9000 btu/hr when needed. There is also a company that makes one that can use solar PV directly into the units inverter to offset some of the load required on the AC(power) side of things. I will see if I can find their info for you.

The big question is how well they will run on an inverter and whether they will introduce any unwanted EMI to your situation. They do make some that can be ducted and you could likely then counteract any EMI if it is an issue.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 20, 2018, 12:34:05 AM
The only point of changing refrigerant is that I have to modify the plumbing to add a stainless flat plate exchanger to cool the water so would have to evacuate and recharge. Propane is essentially free.  But I can keep it the same. Do you see a problem with using a stainless flat plate collector as the water cooler/evaporator?  I was thinking of some 1/4 tubing inside my gas hot water heater (used as a low BTU boiler) as an alternative. 

I agree split systems are a good choice, but fan motors in the house are a bust for me.  I can look into split system compressors, and see if there are any small enough.  The existing in floor system provides a way to extract the heat from the slab without and noise or motor EMFs and winding/bearing odors.  I'm not well at all, I didn't do a 120VDC powered, paintless and fanless interior home for sport, it's so I can function well enough to live independently.  I don't last long in normal homes.

I just finished fixing my inverter h-bridge with the 2 popped mosfets and one fried IC. Back in working order and tested out fine.

I decided to go for the PCB modification to solve my remote inverter on/off design goof.  I modified them both with 8 cuts and jumps each to reverse the polarity of the low side switches. Now with the microcontroller off, the H-bridge can be left powered, still drawing only 5ma of 12v and no extra solid state HV DC switching is required for my remote on/off control. The low side switches are both on, so the "resting state" is now with transformers shorted, and this keeps the floating high side powered (and off). (The design of powering the high side via capacitor, charged only when the output is being pulled low by the low side is commonly known as the bootstrap capacitor method.) When operating the inverter draws about 50 ma total of 12V, but when operating it is powered by a low voltage winding off one of the transformers.

Next up I have carefully modify the 19 step data table for the inverter gate control bits. I've got to invert just the low side bits.  It won't be pretty if I screw up, there is no built in hardware protection to prevent high/low dead shorts.  I didn't want to add the additional logic ICs and instead check the outputs via logic analyzer after every software change, no matter how trivial.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 20, 2018, 12:56:32 AM
I just looked at some split system condenser units-  there are some small ones that fit my power budget, and would be perfect for my water chilling approach if only I can sort out the water chiller part.  Thanks BroncoDriver!

Looked again.  Alas, they are using "inverter" drives for variable speed operation, so I won't be using these. They are an EMI bomb.  I need something with a regular single phase motor, no frills.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: broncodriver99 on July 20, 2018, 02:48:43 AM
Bruce I didn't put two and two together that you were modifying the window units to be the water chiller you mentioned. I must have missed it somewhere, it makes more sense now. I see no reason a stainless brazed plate HX wouldn't work just fine. They make plenty that are refrigerant rated. I will look through some of my tech books and see if there is a compatibility issue with POE oil, the oil likely in a window unit compressor, and propane. I have never seen them recommended for use together but it doesn't mean they aren't miscible.

As far as the mini-splits I thought the inverters may be a problem. There are a couple of companies starting to make small chillers with them but I think 18,000 Btu is as small as they go.

As an aside, just to give you more to think about, 24VDC variable speed compressors are available pretty cheaply these days. Being an electronics guy you could likely come up with a control system for one, the simplest ones just vary the voltage. Being as your load will be pretty constant and intermittent use I think you are on the right track with a modified window banger chiller though. Cheap and simple. Any idea what kind of capacity you are looking for?
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: broncodriver99 on July 20, 2018, 03:04:20 AM
I just looked at compatibility sheets on R-290(propane) and R-600(isobutane) and both can be used with POE oil. The only note is that it may cause increased viscosity in the oil. So, you don't have to do an oil change unless you just want to. Just make sure you don't leave the system open as moisture contaminates POE very quickly.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 20, 2018, 03:32:49 AM
I need 10-12K BTU's cooling capacity, power budget is about 1200 watts running including the condenser fan. 
I'd love to do ground source but can't justify it for such intermittent use. 

It does begin to look like hacking a window unit is my best bet.  I liked the split system condenser approach because of the nice already built outside enclosure.  Pity they've all gone to variable speed inverter drives.  Grrr. 

The Danfoss 24V compressors are not something I'd want to use.  Again, because they are doing hard and fast switching for brushless DC motor control with no concern for conducted EMI.  Plus I don't have 24V anyway.  The beauty of induction motors is no conducted EMI.  You still have low frequency ELF magnetic fields, but distance solves that. 

I seem to be dropping words in my sentences today. Too much soldering and live circuit checkout on the inverter.  I'm tired and scatter brained.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 22, 2018, 02:14:53 AM
After another 3 blown mosfets, and a lot of bench work over the last 2 days, I THINK I finally have my inverter remote on/off issue figured out.  Previously, I manually switch on the 120VDC supply in front of a two stage, massive LC filter.  The result is the h-bridges see a slowly rising input voltage.  Ditto on shut down.  It worked well and could even startup with load connected without a problem.

Then I tried to add a feature for remote on/off, using the existing H-bridges as the solid state switch, since they only take 5ma of 12V when idle. The processor gets powered off to save power.  When I start the inverter  via powering up the processor, it is starting with full voltage, and always on the positive going half wave.  On shut down, it detects the shut down request after the positive going half wave and stops.  This leaves residual magnetism in the 1000 watt toroidal transformer core, so that on the next start, the current surge is great enough to trip the 15 amp breaker per H-bridge ...which causes an input spike (my very slow switched design is sensitive to that) which pops those mosfets.

Two days of work to figure that one out, and a whole lot of test setups.  I was just SURE the software guy screwed up...but exhaustive testing via single shot logic analyzer captures vindicated software.  Removing the transformers and driving light bulbs, the processor turn on/off works flawlessly.

Now I have to think about just sticking with the slowly ramping up/down of the voltage via a solid state relay before the big dual L-C power filter, changing my on/off remote control board significantly. Plan B:  add no new hardware by adding a bunch of tricky software to do soft "starting" of the transformer by a special ramp up of alternating polarity pulse widths.  Damn hardware guys always expect software to solve everything.  ;)

I'll have to sleep on it to decide which way to go. 

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: mikenash on July 22, 2018, 04:45:17 AM
Good on you Bruce

When I read this, I feel like our ex-Jaffa friend who would rather discuss erectile disfunction while standing naked infront of an audience of nuns than attempt electronic work . . .

I'm glad somebody knows how to do that stuff . . .
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 22, 2018, 06:12:52 AM
The nuns and erectile dysfunction line was hilarious.  Cracked me up.

I've been forced to learn power electronics since moving off grid but it was never my field or in my experience.  Necessity being the mother of invention I have proceeded to lurch my way through with many missteps.  Highly educational though frustrating at times.  Rough spots or outright disasters are perhaps the biggest opportunities to dig deep and learn. I really enjoy learning new things, even though now the "evaporation" rate is alarming.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 24, 2018, 12:46:07 AM
More fiddling about and some research and I solved my problem with some new "soft start always positive" and "always negative" shut down software.

It seems large toroidal transformers with high efficiency grain oriented steel laminate cores are notorious for whopping big start surge currents; so bad they typically resort to things like a current limiting power resistor with a time delayed relay to bypass it after startup. One company even sells an electronic soft starter.  For my testing I stripped down to driving a single transformer/h-bridge with a small fast blow inline fuse to protect my H-bridge circuitry.  The Antec 1000W tranformers I switched to when changing up to 230VAC would pop my 15A per H-Bridge breaker.   The surplus Toroids International 1100 watt transformers I used during all my early testing at 120VAC output (with both secondaries configured at 90V, so 180V peak) did NOT blow even a 1 amp fuse even without any soft start pulses. So the problem was clearly the start surge current of the Antec transformers.

That encouraged me to try fiddling with my own soft start routine.  After a pile of fried fuses,  I found that starting at 50usec wide 140V pulses, positive then negative, and incrementing by 50 usecs each cycle until pulse width of 3000 usecs (3 milliseconds) with a fixed 4 msecs between did the trick.  After that it starts the normal sine generation.  Now I can start the Antec transformers with the full 140VDC, even on 1 amp fuses, though they do blow after 4 starts in rapid succession. The soft start is about 1.5 seconds and makes funny winding up sound. The soft start pulsing is done so that the transformers don't add, it's only one or the other.  The inverter AC output is switched into my 230 VAC line from the generator with a 230V coil relay so it's won't attach itself to the load (and disconnect the generator) until after the soft start is complete and full voltage is available. If a motor load is left turned on, it won't see the oddball, low voltage soft start.

My next step is to modify the secondary transformer windings, again, to get my peak voltages with 140VDC input down a bit.  I overshot the last time exactly by factor of two... I goofed on the math.

I'm very pleased I was able to solve my remote start problem without adding a bunch of hardware, and I'm glad that what I've learned about large toroidal transformers answered a lot of mysterious problems I had during the switch over to 230VAC.  When it's all my own software and hardware, I tend to suspect that first...

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 24, 2018, 11:23:19 AM

Had a good run of sunny weather the last week or so and I'm back up to make High 40 KWh day now.  49. 3 yesterday, 48 today.
Saw a very interesting thing today. Although the generation was slightly down, I made up a substantial 18 KWH credit on my useage.  The mrs is away atm so I'm going to be paying close attention to what the hell shes doing to burn an extra 18 Kwh over what I do here alone. I had the AC running last night and as it was another -3 c, not like the thing wasn't working.

Generation was down today I suspect due to the cloud edge effect which sends the inverters into over drive. I have a 2nd voltage relay on an urn to act as a dummy load to drop some of the excess voltage and it had clearly been boiling when I felt it when I took my generation readings.  On a clear day I can make more power at lower voltage than I can on a cloudy day where the voltage  from the panels goes nuts.

Unfortunately the weather is predicted to turn later in the week so generation will go back down.  I don't think I'll be able to make much power back up before the next meter read in 3 weeks time but at least if we start breaking even, that will be a help.  I don't think the next bill is going to be cheap but it will be a lot less than it would have been without the panels and taken on an annual basis, My power bill will probably be very cheap for what we use in our all electric  home.

When it's all my own software and hardware, I tend to suspect that first...

Isn't that always the way?
Don't know how many times I have been caught with new parts or components wondering what the hell I did wrong and wasting hours trouble shooting things as to why I have the same problem only to find the new part is as bad as the old one!

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 24, 2018, 04:03:38 PM
Glort, please remind me, is your cloud effect overvoltage on the DC (panel) side of the inverter, and exceeding the max allowable input voltage, thus causing an inverter shut down?  If so, what's the max allowed voltage and what's your panel series configuration? 

If it's on the DC side, one (or more) panel in each series string could simply be shorted via DC SSR, dropping voltage by about 24-30 volts.  Mager brand DC SSRs from China are pretty cheap and I have a couple of their 40 amp - 230V ones I could test for you.  A simple peak voltage limiting circuit could do it automatically.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 25, 2018, 08:25:14 AM

The problem is a little complex but comes from the AC Side Bruce.

Somehow, the cloud edge effect causes the AC voltage to go high and the inverter restarts due to this, pretty much within seconds of ramping up again.  As each reset cycle takes about 90 sec, it's easy for the thing to miss out on making many Kw of power per day.

In bright clear skies like a day last week, the thing did a max output of 3400W / 258V and from what I could tell, didn't or barely tripped out at all.  Couple of days after, the exact same untouched setup is tripping out at 2700W and 261V.
The wiring the inverter is attached to is a tad small for the output due to the cable length.  I was talking to a mate this morning about putting in 4 or 6mm cable up from the present 2.5 to combat this. Were discussing where I'll have to look to see where the present cable goes and where it's tapped or split to try and work out if we will have a chance to pull a heavier cable through the existing Conduit or wether it's going to be a pain in the butt  Trenching  garden, Driveways and paths.

The setup is woeful atm. I have 9kw of panels running through a 5 Kw inverter and 3441W is the highest I have seen it put out. Then again, 3 Kw of that is facing in the completely wrong direction but makes 3-4 Kw day  which is better than letting the roof space go unused and it is useful on overcast days when orientation is inconsequential anyhow. 

If I could split the arrays as they are wired into 2 inverters and get 7Kw, that would be a big improvement in summer. I'm waiting to get the other 5Kw array that's sitting in the yard now up on the house roof and then I'll put in the new circuits.  Then again, Spose there is no real need to wait for the panels to go up, could do it now and just get the wiring run to where I want it and hook it up after.  At least would let me up the production on the power from what I already have in place.

The arrays are a fraction over half the voltage the inverter is rated for and are in fact very close to the nominal input rating.  I could split the arrays again, to lower the voltage and make 4 inputs from the 3 existing ones but I thing seeing as the voltage of the panels in series has so much margin now, I'ts more  something on the AC side I have to look at.  I have not monitored the regular sunny and cloudy array voltages but I probably should have.

I have not noticed the problem with the other inverters I have so much.  They are all waay under driven though, all around 2.5 Kw of panels on 4-5 Kw inverters. They are wired with just 1.5mm wire though. These would be closer to overload than the other main inverter.

I have been looking for something that I could program the same as the voltage relays to kick in at multiple points.
They sell 8 and I think 12 Relay boards for arduino so If I could work out a code I could set each relay at say 150W increments to kick in at different voltages, that would be Ideal.

I hope the current problem with the inverter will go away once the heavier mains cable is installed but I would still find the staging circuit very handy for water heater limiting.  I could set it up so the more solar there was, the more power fed to the heater instead of just a flat rate as determined by the PWM.

I think I might have to leave the Mrs where she is and get a cheaper to run model.

Today I was up 19 Kw on total use and 7 KW down on generation.  I thought the credit I saw yesterday on the generation to consumption may have been just a one off but today even less power made and more saved!
I told her about yesterday and asked her what the hell she was doing? She said well she does have the TV on and has a fan heater going because I don't have the air warm enough.  18 Kilos to run a TV and little heater for one evening?  WTF??  I told her the TV used nothing and the heater would only use a max of 8 KW in the 4 hours she usually has it on before going to bed.  Maybe she is letting it run all night?

I thought I would be well behind today. I was not feeling the best last night and had the air on the whole time. Even fell asleep to wake up at 4am to hear it still going. I do that and still use HALF the power as we have been before?
If I could get me a skinny little 20 Something, I could run her with just a single panel hooked up to her Iphoney.
Then again, Probably never get a home cooked meal again..... Less we went to her mothers place for Dinner.   :embarassed:  Seems I need to find a local Girl.... with very poor eyesight and the lowest standards in men ever.

I always wondered Bruce how you managed to get by on so little power?
NOW I get it, I really get it! 
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: EdDee on July 25, 2018, 09:03:59 AM
Hey Glort,

An insult and a compliment all in one.....

You have great taste and judgment in your current missus..... Pity she has the opposite in men!!

But seriously though... Wish her well and a speedy return to home ground...

The washing pile must be over 6ft by now!

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on July 25, 2018, 09:27:38 AM
Hey guys, before I had my accident and subsequent heart attack, my missus went to Sydney to care for her ailing parents. She was away almost six months and my electric bill dropped to almost nothing. That said I spent a small fortune on take away meals.

I finally got to the root of the problem when she returned and fired up the tumble dryer. Why anyone would use a tumble dryer on a forty degree centigrade day was a total mystery to me, she tells me it activates the fabric conditioner and removes the fluff, dog hair and etc. Sounds like a crock of sh1t to me.

Glort, hope your wife is continuing to make a good recovery.


Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 25, 2018, 11:08:55 AM

An insult and a compliment all in one.....

You have great taste and judgment in your current missus..... Pity she has the opposite in men!! 

Ed, I have always said that no matter how much the truth hurts, one  cannot get emotional and upset by it.
You speak the truth so I can only agree even if it is not complimentary to my position.    :-[

But seriously though... Wish her well and a speedy return to home ground...

Thanks mate.
Just spoke to her on the phone and the doc has been to see her and wants to keep her in a bit longer so will probably be home Friday.  She was telling the Nurse today when I was there, no rush to come home.  She is quite emphatic about not being any urgency to get back.... so much so I asked her it it was because there was a hot male Nurse there or it was just a good excuse to be away from me.
She reassured me it was just she wanted to be well as possible when she came home.  She also pointed out that it wasn't to be away from me, she can just send me to my fathers when she wants peace and quiet or her boyfriend is in town.  Obviously all good then!

The washing pile must be over 6ft by now!

Actually, I don't make much washing at all. Generally wear my backyard Duds about a week. Figure what's the point of washing them when I'm going out to do more dirty work in them the next day?  fresh jocks and socks and a T shirt to go under the old jacket I also wear a week this time of year and I'm  good.  1 Load a week would see me though.  More washing this last few days though. have to put on a fresh shirt when I go and see her or she gets upset.  Probably even have to shave again tonight.

Be glad when she gets back home and things go back to their scruffy usual!
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: LowGear on July 25, 2018, 01:56:52 PM
Sounds like a crock of sh1t to me.

I'm sorry ajaffa1 but your missus is correct about the magic of dryers.  Well, except the fabric conditioner which falls outside my zone of understanding as well.  At 40 C it should take about 15 minutes to dry an elephant. 

The big question is what were you using for clean clothes?
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 25, 2018, 03:56:53 PM
Computer/projector and lighting (incandescent) are my only electrical load, besides daytime electric cooking. 
I only switch to gas cooking on dark days or nights because I'm in the habit.  I never feel like I'm short on power.
The new inverter will find sunny day uses, but won't be running at night.

I remember now about your wire size problem.  You could still use the panel shorting SSR's to limit PV input if adding loads gets to be a problem.  The Mager brand Chinese one's are about $8 each. You could test this yourself by putting in the Tee connectors for a panel and manually short it on a day when you're getting overvoltage trip outs.  The same voltage relay approach could operate the panel shorting. 

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 26, 2018, 12:20:08 AM
I finally got to the root of the problem when she returned and fired up the tumble dryer.

This is a good insight and an accurate one. Both the wife and the daughter are VERY partial to firing up that Dryer.
Mrs had it on the night before she went. I said why is the dryer on and was told because -I - didn't bring the clothes in early enough off the line ( Didn't even realise there were any out there!) and she was taking the damp out them.  Hour later I said aren't they dry yet and got a serve about she knew how to do washing and If I wanted to take over fine otherwise leave it to her.  Hmmm.

Daughter is the worst.  Waits till about 4 Pm on a bright warm day then decides she needs to wash and dry that ONE single outfit she wants to wear out tonight.  Not an occasional thing, More like a set your watch by it job.

Maybe I should get Bruce to help me with a temp/ Humidity switch on the thing. If it's been a warm day where it hasn't rained, Dryer won't function.
The Veg oil fired Dryer is not such a bad Idea at all!  Maybe at least hardwire the Dryer to a petrol genny. Provide 5L of fuel and once it's gone, go buy your own petrol to run the thing.
Maybe that would give them the required training and realisation with these things.

Bet it's going to get a workout when Mrs gets home.  She won't be allowed to lift anything more than a coffee cup for weeks and she always complains how I hang things on the line.

On the tangent of Dryers,  anyone seen the reverse Cycle Types supposedly to save power?
Dad needed a new Dryer last year.  Normal resistance type, $300 10 makes and models to choose from at or under that price.
Heat pump type $1800 UP! Most I saw were around the $2500 mark.

I calculated the hours required to run the more exy one at current power prices Dad pays  and found his life expectancy short by about 25 years to get a saving on the things.  I only calculated on the $1500 difference, not how much  margin there was between the 2. I'll bet it's not that much. If  regular Dryer uses 2 Kw and the reverse uses 1, the payback time is still going to be years if you did use the things every week .

For the price Difference, I could buy more panels AND a pre fab shed to mount them on!

Funny enough Dad  decided seeing he only uses the thing a hand full of times a year he'd go with the cheaper one. That and the fact his old one was about 40 years old and even if he got half the time out of it, would still outlast him.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 26, 2018, 01:06:46 AM
I rewound mine 2- 1000 watt inverter transformer secondaries today.  Did the trick nicely, peak voltage range is lowered just enough, I think.  I haven't put the 120 turns of 1/2" heat shrink mylar strip around it...that's a PITA and I'm keeping my options open. :)

I'm going to do a jury rig hookup in my battery bank shed so I can test the well pump, which has it's controller/starter there.  The well pump has a wicked surge current, about 3x running current.  I'll have to see if the Antek 1000 watt transformers are up to it. 

The final hookup will have the transformers in a steel box in a far corner so that when I have to do some troubleshooting I won't get immediately incapacitated.  6 feet makes quite a difference when the field is falling off with the cube of the distance thanks to the use of toroids.

I had a good chuckle at myself this AM.  Last night I thought I could "tighten up" the RMS voltage regulation and would take more samples of the recitified and scaled down to 4V peak AC waveform.  On closer inspection this morning, I found that the ATMega328P (Arduino Uno Processor) is so overtaxed that it's a freaking miracle that with 128 usec between samples that my real time RMS voltage computation works at all.  No way it's sampling right on time, it's more like ''semi-random". The A/D takes 100 usec per sample, and the poor little AVR is timer- interrupting 19 times per 16.67 milliseconds. Some of those are time critical 45usec apart as I'm doing some H-bridge hardware functions in software.  32 bit integer math is tough on an 8 bit processor.  I can't use timer interrupts or A/D interrupts since the main 16 bit timer routine is too time critical.  It does warrant some investigation-  I can imagine how it works as well as it does.

I can live with +-2 volt regulation under load, and +5V no load.  If I was planning on developing this further , with features such as variable frequency and/or 3 phase options I'd need a lot more of a processor. 

I like the looks of the Arduino IDE compatible Teensy LC. It's 32 bit, 48Mhz, fast 12bit A/Ds, much more ram, timers, etc. The power consumption is shockingly low if the data I found is to be believed.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 26, 2018, 12:48:29 PM
Not too many people who can over tax an arduino with their control creations!

Day 3 on my own and I checked the meters today to find I only made 12 Kwh Credit.  Was a bit surprised at that but figured it could have been a lot of things, Hot water maybe didn't quite kick in previous day,  Septic pump had a long Cycle etc.

Then went and did my solar generation readings and found I was a good 10KWh down today than on the previous weeks average.  Bloody clouds but mystery solved. Less made, less saved.

Just spoke to Mrs and Doc has granted her release on probation tomorrow.  Coming home with Plumbing attached apparently which she will have for about another week.  Be interested to see how the power consumption goes again.  Probably going to be a little hard to judge as the weather for the next 5 days is predicted to be patchy and being in a less that fighting fit stage, she will probably want the place a bit extra warm. She has been complaining the hospital was cold but as I pointed out today, she's been wearing a lightweight frock with no arse in it all week.  Not exactly ideal for staying warm.

When she gets home she can have the place 30o for all I care.

I upset her again today. I can tell she is out of sorts. We were talking about her return home and I said I could  get my engine crane, put some slings round a chair and she could slide into the sat out the car, I'd wheel her up a ramp I could make ( and have a nice wide meter sq bit of thick ply I can use) and bring her into the house ( everything is double doors so no probs there and could set her in the Loungeroom or deposit her on the lounge.
Now I thought that was really thoughtful and caring but she called me bad names! Again!

Muttered something about if I brought an engine crane near her she would be sticking the handle of the thing in that part of my anatomy that normally don't see a lot of solar energy.  I reassured her, the thing was new and perfectly clean and oil and grease free. It had a 1 ton rating as well so was safe.
Must be the medication, she really got agitated then.  Her blood pressure monitor started going off!  More blue words about me thinking she weighed a ton and carrying her round like a baby elephant.  I tried to point out that the 1 ton was the safe working load and I only mentioned it so as to ressare her that her much lighter frame would be safe.  She did not seem reassured.

She mentioned she will be so happy to be able to walk around the garden when she get home but won't be up to it for a while. I unselfishly offered the use of the JD ride on mower.  She expressed concern about getting on and off it again.  I said not to worry my love, my one! I have a soloution to that.  I can put you in the trailer  and drive you around. Park you under the big tree out the front.  She didn't seem to like the idea of being carted around in a trailer a But I again reminded her it would be no problem, I could sling her in and out with the engine crane.
It's a damn good job I have good reflexes still because those 600 ml water bottles can hurt when propelled at that velocity!

I think I'm in for a hard couple of weeks taking care of her in her incapacitated and Invalid state. 

Today I had to again put my own personal health and safety on the line.  Risking life and limb and with no concern for my own personal well being, on the way back home from visiting her,  I took on the brave undertaking to stave off a fast looming catastrophe by visiting the supermarket to ward off the potential and certain crisis of a critically low supply of Meat pies in the freezer and Mars bars in the Fridge. The things I do for this woman and the sacrifices I make!
Fortunately supplies of milk and Coffee were not at risk as particularly with the Coffee, I make certain there is at least a 3 month supply available at all times. I did pick up 9 litres of milk anyway as that's something else you just would not want to run out of.

For dinner i decided to throw caution to the wind and live a devil may care evening and got a couple of Butter Chicken and rice meals.
Should have got 3. They are terribly undersized but being a man of great self sufficiency and cunning resourcefulness, I also thoughtfully picked up a bag of crusty bread rolls and had a couple of them with  the fundamental mainstay of the Aussie Diet, Vegemite. That made it a meal fit for a king!

Now I'm going to put on my chefs hat and Cook for her as well.
Good Job I averted the meat Pie Crisis. We are good till Summer now!

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on July 26, 2018, 10:59:57 PM
Hope you can cook better than I do or there is likely to be a nasty outbreak of botulism.

Glad your wife has been given early release, good luck with the logistics side of things.


Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 27, 2018, 10:09:21 AM

Checked my Numbers today only 90 min after the head director of operations and chief of finances got back home so she could not affect the readings too much. 
Another 16 Kwh in the black and we had a -1 Night again last night.

16-19 Kwh difference may not seem like much and is close to half on average of what we use, so could be said to work out.  It's not as straight forward though.  To put it in business terms, the " fixed" costs are there no matter how many people are here. Bit like Driving a car long distance. Consumption don't change much at all whether you have 1 person in the car or 4. Real cars I'm talking not those little wind up things with lawn mower engines.

The septic air pump still runs the same. the pump out would be a bit less but still drawing power. The 9 Kwh or so  the water heater would use due to inefficient insulation whether there was any water consumed or not is the same.  I have been heating the same area of house, just moved the areas to where I mainly was. All the fridges are still running. Pumps and lights in fish tanks, outdoor lighting and for the most part, indoor lighting as well not that it adds up to much anyway.

When these loads are taken into account, the difference between one person being here and 2, I would not think should be that great.
What I do think it shows is the amount of power those not conscious of what they use can draw. I thought today about the simple difference between the Mrs and I of boiling the kettle.  She fills the thing up every single time. 2 litres boiled for 300ml required. Shit's me to tears but every time I try to mention it or suggest she does not need to fill the bastard thing for one cuppa, it's leads to...... a stout discussion on differing and seemingly unchangeable views delivered with great.... passion and resolve.  Lifes too damn short.

In another thread a few weeks ago people clearly took exception to my leaving lights on for decorative purposes and not being worried about going round and turning off every plug pack.  This again illustrates my point why.  Those things would make ZERO difference to my consumption especialy being 3 quarters in the year I'm going to have excess power anyway. 

Now, If I got rid of the Mrs.... THAT would make a BIG difference in dropping my power consumption.... BUT....
then what the hell am I going to do with all these damn panels I have around the joint??   :embarassed:

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on July 27, 2018, 11:28:35 PM
Hey Glort, when I was living in the UK I had a kettle that held about 4 liters of water but only boiled one cupful at a time. You put  a cup under the spout and pushed a button, twenty seconds later and the cup was full. Saved an absolute fortune on the power bill. Haven`t seen them for sale in Australia but might have a look on one of the online retailers.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 28, 2018, 01:41:45 AM
Brilliant idea, Bob. The sales pitch (for the wife) is faster cuppa. 
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 28, 2018, 09:17:20 AM

Little doubt of my observations this week.

Today was pretty Cloudy although I did manage to see the blood Moon just after 5 Am.  very nice just sitting in the bay window at the back of the house and watching it with a Cuppa in the warmth.

 Generation was Down 13 Kwh on yesterday.  Consumption was up 23 Kwh. 
it's not a 10 KWh difference on yesterday, it's a 25 Kwh Difference at least becuse I was in credit 16 Kwh yesterday.  I don't understand this. Yes, she has a little 2 Kw fan heater on her legs and feet and she needs to keep them warm and circulating BUT, she wasn't sitting there 12-13 Hours with it on.
She not doing  much else so where the hell is all this power suddenly going? Didn't shower because she had one at the hospital before she left and didn't do much else.

Buggered if I know.  Daughter will be back from her round the world adventures in about a week and a half, be interesting to see how things go with her home but I'm thinking she picked the right time to go as she loves to have her room a comfortable 30oC so we would have been sucking power beyond belief.  Maybe I should just turn up the AC for the place and be done with it. The localised heating seems to not be too economical.

Next week is forecast to be balmy compared to what it has been, nothing lower than 5oC  instead of the -5 -  -1's we have had a few weeks now.
Hopefully will make a change.  I think I need to put the meter back on my hot water to see what that is using. It was averaging about 10KWH day before for the 3 of us but I have a feeling the colder water and weather is making it suck down a LOT more power.
The phase it's on is always lower than the other even though it has the most solar power going into it.

I thought of putting up a solar water heater but from what I read, they are pretty useless in winter and I'd probably be better off following my own law of solar efficiency, just add more panels!

Just looking at the numbers, have done a LOT better than I thought for the month.
Till yesterday I was only 4 Kwh in the red for the whole month!  The weeks catch up helped that a lot and now we will go backwards again but still pretty good. 
About 2 weeks to the end of this Billing quarter so we may Finish up a LOT better than I thought!
With some extra panels tilted north on the west roof, may be able to get through winter pretty well.

Nice surprise when things are better than you thought they were!

I bought a couple of those Cup boiler things the other day Bob. These look reasonable quality. I bought them for heating my Plant incubator Fridge but I'll give one a go in the kitchen. See if she will use it.  Might save a few watts for my own 10 Cuppas a day but normally  I only put just enough in the kettle anyway  so I don't think there will be a lot of difference.

Mate of mine had one of those Instant boil/ instant cold  tap things in his last place.  Cost him a fortune to buy, a fortune to run and a fortune to maintain.
they pull a heap of power when you want hot water, keep an amount chilled all the time and the thing broke down every couple of years.
Suffice to say he had no problem leaving it at the old place and has not entertained the idea of putting one in the new joint.

The one you are talking about sound pretty good.
I'm also inclined to set up my solar urn again. I liked that.  Couple of panels going through a charge controller to some car batteries feeding an inverter that ran through a PWM controller to an urn.  By Smoko the water in teh urn was boiling and i't let it simmer with about 50-70 running through it. When I wanted a cuppa I'd turn the thing full tilt for about 20 Sec to get a rolling boil then back down again.  Plenty of boiling water on demand and didn't cost a cent. ...... Except for the batteries.

And the charge Controller.
Not forgetting the inverter.
And the PWM.
And the wiring and switches....

But hey, it was free energy!   The legit kind at least.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on July 28, 2018, 03:30:48 PM
Someone led you astray on criticizing solar hot water performance in winter. While your Sydney sunshine is lower in June, the rest of your winter looks pretty decent for solar - PV or direct hot water.  You do have less hours of sunshine but you still get the 85% vs 15% efficiency boost heating water directly vs PV.  85/15= 5.6 times more area of PV.  If water heating does prove to be a big part of your winter power load, then solar hot water (of the drain back type) might make sense.  It certainly can make sense for space heating as well... it does for my house in a much colder winter climate.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 29, 2018, 12:10:46 AM

I'll look into it more.
I -thought- it was still good in winter but as you say, may have been lead astray.

While solar/ resistance heating may not be as efficient as direct heating, I think it is more useful.  Once the water is hot in a direct system, that's it. Thing is useless.  At least with PV the energy can be put into other things. It's also a lot easier to run wiring than plumbing.
We get a lot of frost here as well so that may be a consideration.  Of course I may well have more PV than I need in summer and was thinking about that as well. 

I'm going to talk to mate about putting in a split single phase system and run that to burn the excess Solar power and keep the place cool.
I figure I'll have a LOT of excess power this summer so may as well put it to use as a base cooling system. The Ducted can just even things out through the rest of the house.

Used panels are available cheaply here and I have been looking at water heaters for a while. From what I have seen, the decent ones go for at least $1000 and anything under that has usually been replaced due to problems and is basically junk. They all tend to be flat panel rather than evac tube types as well.

Mate messaged me earlier in the week and said to forget about the pool heater I picked up from him last weekend. Said he just got one much better.  Not very old unit, blown board. was an insurance job so mate offered to write it off and replace with new one which owner was very happy about. Win all round.   I want to convert the thing from gas to oil for home heating so if I can get that up and running, it will not be much to put in a FPHE and heat the water off that with a circ pump. Wouldn't even need a thermo because the water from the Boiler will never go over 80C and probably be less.

Then again If I take the AC heating load off the house, probably won't give a fig about what the water heater uses because I'll still be in the black having removed that biggest and significant consumption of power.

I hate to think what todays numbers will look like.  Mrs got the shivers last night I think from being a bit run down so I cranked up the AC and had it running all night for her. Don't care if I am paying for it ATM, she needs all the comfort and care I can give her.
Day looks nice and sunny so far so hopefully holds.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on July 31, 2018, 09:35:03 AM
Hey Buddy, sorry to hear the missus is still crook. If she is feeling the cold she may have a bit of a fever please check her temperature as post operative infections usually start with a fever. If caught early they are usually easily treated with antibiotics.

On the subject of panels, had a bit of a problem with my solar installation today. My hot water is provided by an electric immersion heater in a 300 ltr pressurized tank. To make the most of our free solar energy we have a timer which is set to heat hot water, during the day, while the sun is shining. The first timer failed less than six months after installation, it was replaced free of charge under the guarantee. The replacement now looks like this:

Very lucky it didn`t burn the house down, if you have one of these cheap pieces of Chinese crap in your distribution board get rid of it before it kills you! Spoke to the installer and he is going to fix the problem and visit a lot of his clients that have a similar unit.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 31, 2018, 10:38:30 AM

Mrs is doing well today thanks Bob. I think it was just one of those things. I get the Chills myself sometimes. All the sudden I start to shiver uncontrollably.
Starts off with me getting cold and not warming up and then I go into freeze down.

She is picking up well now.  Went to town yesterday and she had bit of a walk ( at a snails pace ) which would be more than I would be up to and we sat in the sun and had a coffee too. Still looks like she has been hit by a freight train but that will go..... or i'll be arrested for wife beating.  Better not geve her any ideas, she could get rid of me for a long time just saying " Look what he did to me".

I would get rid of a timer all together Bob and get one of those voltage monitors like Bruce put me onto. Things are great.
I wonder if your sparky has checked the timer and your heater? These things normally don't have more than a 10A relay, 20 at best. If you have a 4800w element in your heater, may not be the timer that's at fault but your sparky. I'd check myself. After 2 poblems he may have caught on but I'd be checking his work for myself.

I love it how the minute you talk about any DIY electrical people shriek about rules and regulations and you must have a qualified person but then things like this happen. may not have been the guys fault but i'd be suspect.  As an amateur, I don't trust any of these things and wire them so i'm not reliant on their cheap arse components being up to scratch which lets face it, is rare. That's OK IF you allow for the failure points and use the parts that do what you want cheaply and take the risk out of the critical parts being what they say. I was up in the roof here a few weeks back and found things that should not have been. Clearly done when the joint was built by a qualified person but still very wrong.

Had  perfect example yesterday.  Was up the shed, solar was making good power.  I caught a wiff of something hot.  Started checking all my wiring, everything is cool as a cucumber but the smell was electrical.  Pull the cladding stuff off the wall and straight away see a BP connector discolored.
Nothing to do with the solar or anything I had done, was the crap way the sparky who wired the place joined the wire to the outlet I had the welder plugged into.  it's only a little 10A welder so should have been fine.  Fixed the connection properly and then plugged the welder into the outlet I added in.
Ran some much Bigger welds and went and checked everything at the junctions I made, no warmth what so ever.

I do things over and above what they need because I live here which is a big difference to the guy who bid the lowest price just trying to save where he can and get to the next job fast as possible. If something cost $3 or $20 more, I don't care, I just do things so the chance of problems is on par with the chances of winning the lottery which is a lot longer odds than a lot of these " Professionals " go with.

 The voltage monitors I use only have  6A relay in them.  Doesn't worry me in the slightest. I just use them to drive a  DPDT 30A relay which I put next to them in a 3 spot DIN rail enclosure. All the monitor does is drive the relay contacts. Don't care if the relay stops working, they are cheap but given they are over rated and have a 1M cycle life, probably going to be waiting a while.

The fact you have had 2 of these things melt down means the ratings are bogus.  I allow and expect this on knock off electronics which this sort of thing is ( as are my voltage monitors) by taking the load off them and installing a good quality relay I know I can trust the ratings of... and over allow anyway.

Personally I think the voltage monitor is the way to go.  If the timer kicks in when it's cloudy in the morning  the heater may pull all the power from the grid but then the sun comes out in the afternoon which you could have used but the tank is already hot.   The voltage monitor only allows the heater to activate when there is enough power to cover it or most thereof depending on your array size.
Cloudy couple of days, you go out, hit the test/ manual over ride and it's back to normal off peak.

Glad nothing more serious came of this. Could have been much worse. You have enough to deal with, something like a fire would not have been fun. 
Just ask lots of questions when teh guy comes back and don't be shy. Your house on the line not the sparkys. I'd be really wanting to see the ratings on those timers because it would not surprise me in the least if they are just 10A.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 31, 2018, 10:57:52 AM (


Do you know what your water heater element rating is?
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: EdDee on July 31, 2018, 11:14:37 AM
Re cooked timer....

Been there, had that.... What I found was the sparky was using his special "low torque" screwdriver to tighten the terminals... The internal contacts were well within rating, but the things were overheating at the ecternal terminal junctions.... Got out my special heavy duty screwdriver, a 6ft pipe to extend the torque, and then leaned 2x 300lb gorillas on the end to get the terminals nice-n-tite.... Well, not quite, I maybe exaggerated just a wee tiny bit, but you get the idea...

Since then, no more problems... but I do check over ALL the terminal screws in a box that I have been working in every time before I close it.... Saves a lot of expensive smoke in the long run....

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 31, 2018, 12:47:19 PM

Maybe we are family.....

I always Tighten the terminals right down pretty much hard as I can because I thought one needed to crush the wire to make the best contact.
Somehow in the back of my mind, I suspected that probably wasn't right especially given the numbers of connectors in outlets and fittings I have stripped out and had to chuck out an unused one because of it.

Thanks for confirming I am doing the right thing even if a lot of these terminals seem to be made so lightweight you are worried about doing them up at anything over finger tight.  Breakers seem good, heavy duty contacts with large screws that can take a good wrenching on but so many other things need the tiniest screwdriver in the set just to be able to get to the screw and fit in the hairs width slot.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on July 31, 2018, 12:54:30 PM
Spoke to my mate who`s a sparky, he tells me that these cheap units are sh1t and should only be used to trigger a power relay that CAN cope with the load. The draw on the heater element is just shy of 15 amps and the timer is rated at 15 amps, so at it`s limit and will burn out in no time.  I`ll wait till the installer replaces the timer and then fit a power relay after it. May be illegal for me to mess with the electrics but clearly I know how to do it and they don`t and it`s my bloody house that could have burned down! >:(

Very glad to hear you wife is making a good recovery Glort. Keep up the good work with the nursing.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 31, 2018, 01:25:50 PM
Today was the last doy of the coldest month with the least solar radiation here.  So many frosts and so many record setting Cold days.  I hope globull warming is real because we will freeze to death here if the winters keep getting colder. NO one has a lawn here atm, all dead from the frost and everyone has Dead plants in the garden, some a decade or more old.  The almost total lack of rain and low humidity does not help things either.

I have put tens of thousands of litres of water on my lawns and gardens, had runoff and mush one week and rock hard 3 weeks later. Amazing.

Crunched the numbers for the power for the month.

Phase 1 Used 46 Kwh for the month over and above what the solar generated.  That phase currently has 9.5 Kw connected as well as the water heater, Septic system pumps,  stove and some power outlets.

Phase 2 was 20 Kwh down. This has about 9kw attached also but 4 KW of that is due west. The other 5 Kw is the current ground array which gets a lot of shading, bird poop and other inefficiency. It has been running just below the 4x Kw day rating which I'm happy with.  This phase has more lower demand loads like lighting, some power outlets, bathroom light heaters and garden lighting.

About 2 weeks to go in the present quarter and so far I am 250 KW down on phase 1 and 237 Kw down on phase 2. A total of about $131 at my power rates.
I have not read or counted the 3rd phase as I can't backfeed or do anything about it. The only thing it is connected to is one leg of the AC.  I expect that will be somewhere in the $300 ball bark. There will also be a $100 connection charge.  $500 may not be cheap quarterly bill to some people but then again those people are probably not 100% electric households either.

All together, not bad. Considering this has been so far the coldest winter in at least 100 years here ( just our luck for it to be our first winter here) and the many inefficiency still in my system, Could have been much worse.

Weather is absoloutley the determining factor in production though.. Last month I was down 191 Kwh on phase1 and 215 Kwh on phase 2.  Thankfully this month was much better.
My many geeky calculations Via the PV watts site tells me that August has around a 25% Jump  in solar radiation over July so with continuing good weather, it may be possible to knock a little off total consumption for the billing period in the next 2 weeks and start going into credit for the next billing Cycle.

Without the solar I figure we would have easily been up for a $1500 Power bill this quarter. My brother in law round the corner reckons he will be up for closer to $2k as does my mate 20 min father out.
I have spent less than $2k on all my solar proclivity, might be half that actually because I have onsold some panels and equipment now and made good money on it.  I'll keep looking for more panels both for myself and to onsell. The aim will be to change all my own panels over to 250w Min.  I don't have a lot under that now, about 6Kw worth, but I'll try for all 250's to make things easier in setting up arrays that are all the same.  Everything is 8 panel strings now but with varying voltages and amperage's.

It's certainty been one of my more profitable Hobby/ pastimes, that's for sure.  :laugh:
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on July 31, 2018, 01:56:49 PM
  I`ll wait till the installer replaces the timer and then fit a power relay after it. May be illegal for me to mess with the electrics but clearly I know how to do it and they don`t and it`s my bloody house that could have burned down! >:(

Spot on Bob!

Ships me to tears when all the moral do gooders go on about legalities and act like anything you do to your own place is an guaranteed certainty you will burn the joint down yet there are SO many stories of the so called qualified types stuffing up so badly and causing problems they are supposed to prevent by being licensed!

I had a feeling the relay would be under rated for the job and the guy that put a 15A rated timer on a 15A load needs a good kick in the Bollocks.
He'd not get away not get away without knowing how unhappy I was and what I thought of his cheap arse work and slack standards in trying to make a quick buck.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on August 05, 2018, 08:37:21 AM

So far the weather this week has been kind.

Getting warmer ( a very nice 24 yesterday) so heating requirement is less and the sun has been shining well.
made A tad over 50 Kwh today which put me 10 Kwh in credit which was good. So far for the month and 36 Kwh in front so making some inroads on winter consumption.

Got up and cleaned  panels on the south side of the shed yesterday. What a freaking Mess!
I thought I had cut back the tree far enough as there is no over hang but the amount of bird crap all over everything was disgusting. I waqs surprised the panels were putting out a Watt! Easy 60% surface area was crap encrusted! 
Got to say  I'm getting real over birdlife here. Everything gets crapped on. The cars were a mess as well this week and where the things sit on the TV antenna is just built up whit crap and stains all down that area of the roof.  I'll put something up there once I get mates Scissor lift to keep them off.
Tress are going to get a good prune as well.  My panels in the yard always has crap, 10% of the washing always has to be redone, things are a pest.

It seems to be introduced species like Indian minors. There are a lot of beautiful parrots and I don't see them sitting anywhere much, just feeding on the lawn and in the native trees. Seems to be the other things that are the trouble makers.  They would be piled in heaps on the ground if I could still have an air rifle.

Said to mrs this summer I'm going to have to make a solar powered scare crow as well with flapping arms to put up near the garden keep everything away including Cockatoos which are like plagues as well. 
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on August 14, 2018, 10:43:36 AM

Weather has been good although with some cloudy days, some of which brought on the cloud edge effect and produced great outputs.

Today was the best day in a long time, a very helpful 56 Kwh.  I managed to wind the meters back 15 kwh for today despite accidentally leaving the air on all last Night. Probably didn't kick in a lot but it would have used 5-10 kw just cycling. Pretty sure the air is cheaper than using the small heaters. Just not enough winter generation to make up for them.

I think I found one power drain yesterday.  Was in the garden near the septic and noticed a Noise. Opened the tank lid and could hear the pump running which had sucked the chamber dry and was gurgling trying to get the last bit of water.  the thing has a float switch and I noticed the float switch was hung up between the inlet pipe and the Chlorinator.  Had people over on Sunday so the extra load may have raised the chamber height and allowed the float to get higher than normal and then stuck.

Was more worried about the pump burning out than the power use but although I made good power yesterday, that phase was severely down which did have me wondering.  2 hp pump running non stop even unloaded has still got to be pulling 500W.  I got to wonder if this has been happening before?
It is a possible thing as to why the power use was high hen the Mrs was here.  2 Of us send the tank level up, float gets stuck till the level rises again and it frees itself.  I don't think it's the single answer but it's certainly good for a partial reason.  I tied the float back so it can not move sideways to get stuck there again.  I'm thinking I might put a voltage monitor on the thing as well so it only pumps out during higher voltage and install a second level switch that over rides if it gets too high say in overcast weather or something.

Quarterly meter read is tomorrow.

Phase one I have used over winter 325 Kwh. Phase 2 has tallied up 92 Kwh. Phase 3 I haven't checked, too scared.  I reckon that could be up to 1000 KWH because I can't back feed that one.  I'm hoping the bill is under $500 total.  Always going to be a bit over $100 of that for connection fees. Gold plating those power poles IS expensive. They just don't seem to have got to it round here as yet.
Although this bill will be significant, I can see the amount of power I have made and it would be I figure in the order of $2000 without the solar feed in.
I looked on one inverter yesterday and the savings that has made me this year was $2300 alone.  I'm probably at $2500 on everything I have spent on this so given the other arrays combined which would be generating more than this one,  I am waaaay ahead on my investment and it's only about 10 Months since I set it all up .

The next 6 Months I expect to be making more power than I can use which is good and frustrating in a way.  Although I'm still a bit down on one phase which has the hot water and stove connected, I expect I'll be able to easily exceed demand with that by the end of this month and from then on I'll be getting ahead.

Really would like to figure out how I can supplement that 3rd phase which only has the air on it.  This is going to be a HOT summer.
Only thing I can think of is a seperate inverter feeding the phase that is switched when the AC compressor comes on.  On the hot days the thing will probably run pretty much flat out anyway and if I turn the temp down that will help make the thing stay engaged not kick in and out too much.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: ajaffa1 on August 14, 2018, 12:00:02 PM
Hey Glort, one thing I have found is that it is much cheaper to keep a home cold/warm than to heat it or cool it once it has become uncomfortable. Hook the AC to your solar and use it as much as possible during the day, much cheaper to come home to a cold/warm house than to come home to a hot/cold one and try to heat/cool it down using imported electricity when it gets dark. Ditto hot water, which should never be heated at night. I have also found that when boiling the kettle, it is a very good idea to put any excess hot water into a thermos flask. Your next cuppa costs nothing.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on August 14, 2018, 02:18:16 PM
Hey Glort, one thing I have found is that it is much cheaper to keep a home cold/warm than to heat it or cool it once it has become uncomfortable. Hook the AC to your solar and use it as much as possible during the day, much cheaper to come home to a cold/warm house than to come home to a hot/cold one and try to heat/cool it down using imported electricity when it gets dark.

Totally agree Bob and that was my plan.

The last couple of weeks I have been putting the air on about 4 PM before the temps plummet.  Here, as soon as the sun goes down, the temp drops like a stone. Easier for the reverse Cycle to pull heat out of 20o air than  8o or less.  I notice at night the thing runs much longer to keep the same temps and I don't believe it's because the house is loosing more heat but rather because it takes longer to pull the heat out the cold air.

My father has done the same thing with his fire for years.  He keeps it just going all day. It does not use much wood and what it does use would be burnt anyway trying to get the place up to temp. He says when he does let it go out, time the cold is really out the place, it's time for bed and he's sat there all evening not really comfortable.

I don't think it's just air temp that makes a place warm or cool but rather the temp of the walls, furniture etc which are all in effect thermal masses which radiate one way or the other.  If everything in the house is hot then that heat will want to escape to the cool air.  you may be trying to cool a thermal mass of several ton in effect.

I am going to hit up my mate that does AC and talk to him about putting a split in the middle of the house I can run off a phase I have the solar attached to.  I'm thinking even if it's a smaller unit, it will help keep the place from heat soaking and make the temp the Ducted system has to deal with at night, if we need it, a lot lower.

Ditto hot water, which should never be heated at night. I have also found that when boiling the kettle, it is a very good idea to put any excess hot water into a thermos flask. Your next cuppa costs nothing.


That's smart thinking! Too smart for me, never would have thought of that! I know the Mrs has a few thermos flasks in the Cupboard that we rarely use.   May as well put them to beneficial use.  I think we have one of those ones with the pump thing on the top. That would be ideal just to sit on the bench.
I have been using an old urn up the back as a dummy load to take care of my excess solar Voltage. it's a bit dodgy and I think the plastic is breaking down because even though it gets refilled with perfectly clean water, it always smells funny and I won't drink out of it anymore.
I was only thinking today that I need to go buy another urn to put this power to some use.  With that and the Thermo, the power could be fully utilised.

The water heating at night is spot on as well. I was using my Voltage monitor to only kick the HWS on when the solar was generating.
That was working well but was a temp, Ad hock setup which the Mrs.  fairly got got a bit sick of seeing. I tidyied everything up and took it off and it's been annoying me.  The way I'm set up, wether the power is used day or night does not matter but the water heater is a great " Ballast" for the high line voltage so having it only kick in during the day has added benifits.

For us, having it heat during the day also gives hotter water when we use it in the evening. Heating at night means it's sat there for maybe 20 Hours before we use it. Figures I have seen on losses show that a heater the size we have in winter temps could loose as much as 9 Kwh worth of heat and 4-5 would be a minimum.  I have done some work insulating the pipes coming out to stop some heat loss there but I'm thinking of insulating it more around the whole tank.  I think even putting a thick black plastic bag around it would probably help but I'm a bit concerned if this would trap moisture and cause rust or electrical issues.

I am going to look again for a smaller heater to use as a pre heater. Was tossing up about that but I think it would be worth while.  Will be useless in summer but in winter with some dedicated panels, I think even if it only gets the water to 20o, it will be a worthwhile saving on the 4o input I measured a few weeks ago with a known accurate thermometer.

I have a lot of ideas and was wondering about looking for a proper Evac tube water heater but I think what I need to do is sit down and put all the things on paper and come up with a combined plan.  I have a 100Kw spa heater i'm in the process of fitting an oil burner to so if I get that up and running and use it as the heating next winter, it will save a lot of other things. Just need to think it all through and work to a plan that will address all the requirements and assets I have and still not make the place look like a Hobo's shack. :0)
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on August 17, 2018, 11:33:34 AM

Just amazing how fast and how far the solar radiation has come up.  Have not had less than 51 Kwh every day this week.  Haven't changed a thing but the power increase over what I was getting a month ago is substantial.

My ground mount ( leaning on the hedge) 5KW system today did  25Kwh.  Would not have believed it if it had not been going over the 4X generation rate all week. Meter reading was Wednesday, I'm already up almost 40Kwh. Been leaving the AC on all night as well but instead of running about 60% of the time Cycling and running, It kicks in about every 20 Min, runs for a few min and shuts down again.

Might look at taking the ground mount down in another few weeks if I haven't got it on the roof.
Just not going to need the power.
Either that or leave it where it is, Fill an IBC with water,  put an element in it and some paneling around it and have ourselves a Spa.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on August 29, 2018, 02:56:30 PM

After a few annoying days of overcast weather with little to no rain, today the sun came out to make up for some of the lost generation.

Monday was a dismal 15 Kwh, yesterday was a bit better at 37,  today was an all time high by a good margin, a healthy 66Kwh!

I never stop learning with this solar thing.  Today was bright and clear and my main array and inverter was happily pumping 4.2 Kw of power down the line with me only having 400W of " Ballast"  load on it to keep the voltage down. Other days the thing is generating 3000W and I have to put a Kw of waste load to keep the voltage in check.

Going through the inverter data this afternoon I hit a high of 4500W for that array.  Never seen that before either. I suspect it was a peak output before the inverter tripped out but I did see the thing holding at 4200w for a good couple of hours which was great. 
3 days of rain predicted over the next week which means I can look forward to more clear sky and sunny weather to help the solar generation along.
Weather has turned cold again, 1.5 so using the AC to keep the place warm but still at the same power use on the meters as we were a week ago despite the low power days.

Going to have to check one of my ground arrays in the morning.  Went out to investigate a noise before, thought it may have been a fox but it was a nice  Grey Kangaroo.  Dog wanted to play and the thing tried to hide behind my panels and the dog chased it in there.  Got a bit caught up in the wires so I'll have to make sure it didn't pull anything out.

I'll put some tubs of water out tomorrow for them. they are coming in to the estate in search of water and green juicy vegetation. I have a couple of plants in the garden Kanga's love so that is probably attracting them too.

Wonder if there is some simple device I could put on a camera to take a pic when it detected them?
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on August 29, 2018, 03:36:44 PM
Game cameras with IR motion detector is what you want, I think.  I've not used them but was considering them when a meth junkie was crowbarring into my secure mailbox once a week.  They eventually caught the two women who had been raiding all the rural mailboxes in the area for half a year.  The county sheriffs have zero hidden camera gear.  Apparently too busy with petty drug busts to be bothered with preventing/solving thefts.

Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on August 29, 2018, 04:34:16 PM

I have been looking and the term used is " Camera Traps" .
It appears to be something I could knock together using a PIR sensor and a few components.  PIR board from an arduino maybe the easiest to set up.
Output could go through an  opto and then to the remote camera Trigger port.

Pitty I didn't think of this at the last place.  Could have lit the neighbors up every time they walked out the door.

Certainly would be handy for security purposes though.  Trip a still or video camera every time someone comes up your path or magically appears at the back door. Add a solenoid to the trigger of your favorite miscreant deterrent Loaded with rock salt or purple Dye.....

I too have found Police are very selective in the crimes they persue and also seem to have a very misplaced perception of severity of different crimes and  the worthy devotion of their time to solving or preventing them.
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: BruceM on August 29, 2018, 05:16:35 PM
In small town, very rural US, the police have been militarized by federal funds, and even in a tiny town of 5000 actually have heavily armed, black suited SWAT team that look like Gestapo to me. All part of the "war on drugs", while big pharma profits obscenely every day by creating new opioid addicts.

I know a guy who lives in town who had long hair, surrounded by Mormon neighbors who didn't like that. His wife is an artist and makes stone statues of dragons that are very cool. The local Mormon Justice signed a warrant based on his electric power bill being $15 more than his neighbors(!), for suspected pot growing. A dozen man SWAT team with automatic weapons smashed in his door with a RAM, trashed his home and found...absolutely nothing. A year later he was still trying to get reimbursed for the damages.

Last year, my county rolled out their big SWAT team to make a big drug bust- on an elderly man with terminal cancer living in a rural area outside town who was licensed to grow his own pot in a walled in, secure area per the law.  He moved there to pursue his treatment. His son and daughter in law were his caretakers and were also licensed to grow, but the daughter in law's license was recently expired. So there were a few plants too many (cancer treatment takes a lot of pot) given her expired license so they seized all the plants, and threw the son in jail and pressed charges against them.  There was no evidence or even suggestion that they were selling pot. 

The county wants more tax money for more officers. They want more money for more prisoners, the bulk of which are there for petty drug offenses or waiting for trial for same.
It sure doesn't remind me of Mayberry, RFD. 


Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: glort on August 30, 2018, 12:02:49 AM

That is truly scary stuff Bruce when small town places have that level of power over the citizens.  Most places here with a Pop of 5000 wouldn't have a police station and when you wanted the cops, they would have to come 45 min to an hour from a larger town when you needed them.  Inevitably one would be a Junior and the senior one would have a chip on their shoulder you made them come all the way out there when they were busy.
Never a happy medium wherever you are.

The US seems a very strange place to me.
So many people are blinded by patriotism yet still don't trust, and in so many cases, fear and loathe their Gubbermint for things exactly like this.
Seems everyone has stories and accounts of things like what you mention that show they are far from in the land of the free and have a lot in common with places they would call the people as being oppressed.

A mate from the US I will be going to NZ to work with in November was telling me this week how he took another friend out for a run in his newly finished  Cobra Kit car.  They were doing 70 in a 60 zone and got pulled over. They got roughed up and had guns pointed at their heads and were throw in the dirt face down, cuffed and left there while the cops did their checks.  The other guy is literally retired CIA ( Looked after presidential security, so he says) and when the cops ran them through their computer something came up.  Mate said it went from having guns at their heads and boots in their back to " You are free to go Sir's"  in a minute.  All for doing 10 Mph over the limit!  Mate said he has no clue what comes up when they run the other guy but it must amount to " Do not fk with this guy" in big red flashing letters.

Mate always tells me he has FAR more trouble flying anywhere in the US with the gear he has with TSA problems than he does flying in and out of any country anywhere else in the world.

I was discussing on another forum this week the gun situation in the US. I really do think a LOT of decent everyday people in the US would be extremely uncomfortable about having to give up their guns because they see the biggest threat to them as being their own Gubbermint. Of course the world tower event came up and I had to admit, I have looked into that a lot and I am of the opinion it was an inside job.

I think the whole concept of anyone even suggesting such a ludicrous and unimaginable thing and sounding like a crackpot is the best defense and cover for those behind it.
None the less, if one looks at the facts and evidence, there is just way too much that undermines it to make the official story remotely possible.   

If one believes that event was not as made out, then one has to believe that virtually anything else is possible. 
Makes you wonder what's next? Nuking a city so they can start a war with China, N .Korea or Russia?
Title: Re: More panels!
Post by: mike90045 on August 30, 2018, 04:25:43 AM
Calling 911 in rural California?
Danger might be close, but the law can be hours away
  ( 911 is the USA emergency number that goes to the dispatch center for
fire, sheriff or traffic control )

Most of inland and California north of San Francisco, is rural.  My area has 1 patrol sheriff officer to cover about 1,000 square miles.

"Kristine Constantino, had dialed 911 from her cabin five hours northwest of Sacramento and hung up. The closest deputy was en route from the county seat of Weaverville, 97 miles away. But the drive through rugged forest and over steep passes would take almost three hours"