Install of the Month – August 2016
Coming directly from our System Design and Salesperson Todd E.:
“This month’s Install of the Month has to be my favorite yet! I really love the Craftsman styling of the home, it is not a Tiny Home, but has similar qualities with its efficient design aesthetics.”
“Gary had electrical needs very similar to my own home, so the system design was very easy. What is really the stand out feature of this system is the ability to run his mini split Panasonic Air Conditioner! Gary even sent a photo of his Magnum ME-ARC showing his system putting 24 amps into his battery bank while running that AC unit, and doing laundry. Amazing.”
“This system has 15 Astronergy 255 watt panels (current model 260 watt), a single Four Star Solar Magnum MS4448PAE power center, with a Midnite Classic 150 charge controller.
He has 16 Rolls Surrette L16 batteries for a total of 800 amp hours at 48 volts. That is roughly 12 kWh of power per “reasonable” cycle. The panels were mounted to his comp shingle roof using Quick Mount flashings and IronRidge XR100 racking.”
“Gary made his own battery box out of Hardieplank cement board siding. Smart choice, its fireproof! I reminded him that his battery cable conduit run should be lower than his battery box vents so that the hydrogen gas does not flow right up to the inverter. Hydrogen naturally rises and needs to exit the battery box, but you need to keep it away from your sensitive electronics. [Editorial Note: Lead acid batteries need to be vented because the chemical reaction releases gases as water molecules are split into hydrogen and oxygen. Read more about battery maintenance.]”
“This medium size system is the most popular one I sell. It will easily provide typical energy needs for a family of 2-4 people as long as you put the high energy demand items on propane, things like the water heater (on demand propane heaters are great!) clothes dryer, kitchen stove, and space heating. For an investment of under $20 grand, he now lives where he wants and is not tethered to the power company, does not have to worry about black outs, or disconnection notices for late payments. Once you go off grid, YOU are in charge. Off grid property is almost always a much better deal (read CHEAP LAND) and therefore leaves you money to build your house and buy your solar. Your property taxes are generally lower due to the low purchase price of the property. It’s a win win, as long as you don’t mind the lack of neighbors.”
“Thanks for sharing your project / vision with us Gary! Job well done!”
System Components in Gary W’s Solar Install:
- 3.9 kW 15 X Astronergy solar panel Off-grid Solar System
- 255 watt Astronergy Solar Panels
- Four Star Solar Magnum MS4448PAE Power Center
- Magnum ME-ARC Inverter Remote
- Midnite Classic 150 charge controller
- Rolls Surrette L16 batteries
- Quick Mount flashings
- IronRidge XR100 racking
We don’t get a lot of rain or cloudy days here, but I’ve only had to crank up the generator once since we got the solar system up and running, and that includes electric use by the contractors. – Gary W.
Interview with Gary W.
How long was the full installation process from receiving your equipment to flipping the switch? How many people did it take?
Took a day to install the panels; two guys on the roof, two on the ground. I installed the power center and wired up the batteries, and the electricians did the hardwiring. One day and one guy each. Actual time from delivery to switch-on was a few months, but that was because we were building the house.
Did you have any previous construction experience?
Nothing like this. I had a million questions for Todd.
What was the most confusing or difficult part of the installation?
Now that I know how, it would be a snap. It was difficult because I had no experience or knowledge of the parts or connections. I wish systems came with a simple install manual, but Todd tells me that such an instruction set would be difficult to come up with since there are so many variables. So you just buy the stuff and ask questions, and before you know it, you’re an “expert!”
Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?
How/Why did you choose to self-install?
Probably the same reason everyone does: money. Also, being out in the boondocks didn’t keep the delivery truck from coming, but it might have made it hard to get an installation company to come out here, 60 miles from the city.
What was your primary reason for adding solar to your home?
No choice. No power lines nearby, and the electric company told me each pole would cost me $10,000. I’m so happy I went solar – with free energy handed out by the sun every day, it’s a no-brainer.
Living literally in the shadow of the Power Link, I am off the grid. No power lines, water, gas, or cable come to my property.
I read on the Wholesale Solar site that “To capture the maximum amount of solar radiation over the course of a year, a solar array should be tilted at an angle approximately equal to a site’s latitude, and facing 15 degrees of due south.” With this in mind, I oriented the house exactly south and specified an 8/12 pitch roof. The latitude of Campo California is 32.6°, and the 8/12 roof is 33.7°. That’s as close as I could get for a fixed roof mount array.
With just the AC running, I’m putting about 35 amps into the batteries, which are usually at 100 percent by about mid-day. I also have a one horse well pump and a one-horse pressure pump, but I have the well pump on a timer to only come on in the middle of the night to top off my 5000 storage tank. That’s to avoid an unexpected surge when I’m using a lot of power for other things. Too big a surge can shut down the system, but it only requires the push of a button to restart.
We don’t get a lot of rain or cloudy days here, but I’ve only had to crank up the generator once since we got the solar system up and running, and that includes electric use by the contractors. I couldn’t be happier with my system and the fact that all this free energy falls on my house every day. Thanks to Wholesale Solar and especially Todd for all the help, advice, and encouragement (not to mention great equipment) that made my little homestead possible.