2014 12

Updated: 2014-12-19

I am going to move my place completely off the grid shortly. I have been very busy getting everything together.

1. (2) portable mounting systems each mounting (3) 230-watt panels. These are very heavy-duty and mounted on skids so you can load them up into a trailer. Since they are bolted together you can disassemble them easily as well. This is what they look like (this is not mine, I have not yet received them from the manufacturer but should pick them up in early Jan 2015.

solar-skid-mount-03.jpg2. Xantrex C60 charge controller. (My C35 is too small for all 6 panels but I'll use that for one of the separate power systems mentioned below.)
3. 400' 10-AWG wire designed for direct burial and UV exposure.
4. (12) 400AH batteries (I had 16 but recently during equalization charge 4 overheated and were damaged.)
5. (2) additional strings of (8) 400AH batteries (each string are different brands and ratings can't combine) to use for my outside water pump (pumps from 2000-gal buried cistern) and my lab power. These will be on separate solar panel arrays and charge controllers. One of the strings will be outside in the pump house.
6. Tripplite 2KW inverter/charger MRV2012UL (can handle surges to 4KW not the cheap made in China inverters) dedicated for living quarters power. Will power refrigerator, coffee machine, microwave, lighting) wired directly into living quarters load center.
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7. 1/0 gauge cables for inverter. I had 2/0 and 4/0 cables but decided I needed to be able to drive the inverter as hard as possible. I had enough cabling for the positive side but the negative cable is missing the lug connector. I ordered a new one and also ordered a bunch of crimp-on lug terminals so I can repair my 1/0 ground cable.

8. Converting all CFL lighting to LED lighting (The lights I am using are 12VDC chips but have an embedded dc power supply driven from 110VAC very low power consumption for massively bright lighting.)
9. Separate load center for the LAB based on a 50A RV design. The LAB will have it's own power system as I need to be able to make sure I am able to keep the net running, and all the computer systems I currently require that all currently run from full-time inverter power..

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10. Transfer Switch. I have decided to use a transfer switch so I can switch between a generator or commercial power. This will feed the Tripplite inverter which will allow me to switch back to commercial power in case of internal power failure or use a generator. When "External AC power" is connected to the inverter it will then charge the battery bank and power the living quarters AC circuits. The transfer switch will be connected near the the main living quarters load center so all the wiring runs will be short. I will mount an external socket outside feeding into the transfer switch generator input which will allow me to connect the generator from outside. The other side of the transfer switch will be connected to a 60A feed to the outside power pole. I will wire the 60A feed to the existing breaker on the outside power pole that originally fed the living quarters from commercial power.
11. Buss bars (12V and GROUND) I haven't made these yet but I suspect what I will do is get copper pipe, flatten on an anvil and bend into a bar with two offset bends where they can be mounted directly onto a .75" piece of plywood to serve as a backboard. This will most likely be mounted on the wall near the living quarters load center. I will attach the charge controller, the solar panels (+12 and ground), the living quarters battery bank (12x400AH batteries.) Normally I'd also attach the inverter to the BUSS bar but for now I will attach the inverter directly to the battery bank with a 200A fuse.

NOTE: I will have pictures for all of this stuff soon including a schematic and block diagram available.

Updated 2014-12-23

I got the connectors so I repaired one of the cables. I've had this tool for over 10-years but I've used it 2-3 times in a decade. Every time I used it I was very grateful for having it though…