ShopTalk: Redundant Solar, Specialty Crew Mindset

A number of Peoplenomics subscribers (and a few others) have made a personal investment in auxiliary solar systems  for their home.  Although, it makes the power industry a bit crazy:  Home solar’s contribution to the grid is an algorithmic demand management nightmare.

Take our place, for example:  With an existing 3.5 kw of power from the existing arrays we can either be a) selling 3 kw into the grid, consuming 10-12 kw (and more, depending on projects).  And somehow, the grid operators have to make all this “play nicely.”  It’s not a trivial load management problem.

New Panels

Our next 2kw of panels – which are being installed as time permits – are used panels that nameplate says should do 265 watts each.  However, being used (on another site for five-years) they are likely down to 230 watts each.  Solar degrades over its lifespan.

One thing of interest I’ve found – having torn apart and rebuilt an almost 20-year old panel last week – is that the decrease in panel output is not attributable to only the cells.

The (at least equal) degradation is from the odd behavior of copper wire.  Over time, the junction between bare copper corrodes.  And, in the case of this old 30-watt panel, what I found was that it wasn’t just the copper wiring that age hadn’t been kind to:  It was the panel junction wiring box.

Turns out the wiring where the panels came in – to tie into the longer wires to the array – had evolved enough corrosion in 20-years to reduce panel output effectively to zero,

What I suspect is that some of the “recycled panels” hit the market because it’s faster to just slap in new (tax-advantaged, purchased by the container lot-size, underwritten by taxpayers) than it is to replace all the wiring from the panel leads on out to the charge controller.  At least rewiring to ensure good dielectric grease, clean connectors, and so forth.

Wire Sizing

The panels going in now will end up being on their own charging system.  You see, the existing panels are already split (1.5 kw on one array and 1.7 kw on the other) using a pair of Outback Power Systems Flex-60 charge controllers.  Amazon has ’em for $380 a pop (OutBack Power FM60-150VDC FLEXMax 60 Charge Controller).

Were I ordering today, I would have gone for the higher-capacity Flex-80 controllers.

As wired presently, the array runs at panel voltage (37-40 V in bright sunlight) but I may series-parallel them to run at 74-80V from the arrays to the power center, effectively halving my wire-loss for the in-ground cable run.

Occult solar info:

The wire losses of any circuit (DC) are largely determined by the cross-sectional area of the wire.  S0 for a wire than will handle 10 amps of current, that would be only 50 Watts of work being done at USB charger voltages.  Or, if you’re plugged into 220V, the same wire will handle 2,200 Watts of work.  (The relationship is very close to linear, which is why a 48V wiring system is favored for whole-home off-grid systems.  The savings on wire-size can be significant!

The run from the new panels is a pair of #4 for each five panels.  With a run of 125-feet, the wire loss is acceptable.  Normally, you’d use a 3% wire loss table, but remember, values are usual 2X understated:  One for the incoming energy and the other for the return…

Redundant Design

The primary system has been (with the invert issues from lightning strikes, as to be expected) a real joy and very stable.  We got 11-years of good service from our rack of Interstate deep-cycle batteries, too.

The system – as it sat prior to the new panels – was well-balanced.  There was plenty of charging, good supply of solar, and the grid-tie chores were handled by a pair of Outback 24-volt GT-FX (grid-tie) inverters.

The design choice came down to:  Do I put in a single Flex 80 controller (series paralleling the panels to run 80 Volts on the wiring), or do I put in two smaller (and much cheaper) 40 Amp MPPT (maximum power-point tracking) “Chineseum” units?

I opted for the latter.  Wiring this way, one entire charging system will be completely independent of the balance of system.

New panels will be set to drive the battery bank to 28-volts in winter and 27-volts in summer.

Since the grid-connected portion is set to begin selling into the grid at 26-volts, the system should in winter, sell a kilowatt (or two) when our palatial office is on (electric heating and cooling).  Of course, that may not “make it off the property” depending on whether the big a/c unit for the house (5-tons worth) is on at the time, or not.

Our summer power bills for 2,400 square feet run about $190-$230, but that’s for almost 3,000 SF under air since the shop went from evaporative cooling to hard a/c this past year.

The design objective is not to make money on any of this.  It’s to reduce operating costs to zero.  We don’t want to “draw attention to ourselves” by being a “big source” should we ever get into “sketchy grid” conditions.

Workflow of Installation

Honestly, a little sore this morning.  Got the rest of the T-posts pounded in with the help of this lash-up:

This will punch in holes 24-inches deep.  With a minute, or two, of filing on the bit’s face, it went through some rotting roots OK.

The design of the panel racks couldn’t be simpler:  T-post and 5/8-inch rebar.  Here’s an array that has been producing power for 18-years:

I’ve highlighted some of the welding points – but as you can see, not much to it.

Those white hunks of PVC are used 6-months out of the year when the Sun is high in the sky.  With the top attachment point of the panels hinged, we have both summer setting *(between equinoxes) and winter (when the PVC pipe is out, like now).

With the T-posts laid out (two lines and on 5-foot centers for 40-feet (to joints of pipe worth) the next step was putting in the panel angles:

Panel angles aren’t critical.  If you know the Sun drops 23.5-degrees below the equator in the winter, and that far about in the summer,  there’s no really hard math to it.  An 18″ digital protractor and clamp plus a piece of edge trim helps.

Palestine, Texas is about 31°45?29?N 95°38?19?W, which I round off to simple 32-degrees North out of sheer laziness.  Best winter angle (solstice) for summer is 32 (minus) 23.5  – so 8.5 degrees (*which is measured and the PVC pipe cut for).  Best winter angle is 32 (plus) 23.5 or 55.5-degrees.

Except!  Those are your extremes.

So the total angular spread is (23.5 X 2) 47-degrees.  If I wasn’t including two set points for summer and winter, we’d just use our latitude (32-degrees) and go drink beer.

However, since we DO have two set points, we have two angles – so 1/3rd of 47 is the magic design number:  So like 24-degrees for the summer part and 40-degrees for the winter.  EXCEPT there is more solar path loss (due to depth of atmosphere at lower winter angles, so I use 44-degrees.  I also use 18 in the summer setting because, well, that’s when loads are highest so we don’t use a simple 1/3rd.

Welding Day

Soon as the chow’s done, back to work on where I stopped last night:

You can see the cut-offs from Mr. Grinder going through.  You can cut down about 2 T-posts for each 1/16th inch cut-off wheel on a 4 1/2 inch grinder.  Which is why we buy ’em in 50-packs!

Today, I’ll be lugging the welder up, burnishing up the rebar for clean welds, and then getting the rails and cross-pieces installed.

The Work Crew Mindset

When you have a complex project like this, one of the hints to “tapping in to the right personal energy” is to imagine yourself as being on a work crew that specializes in doing just one particular thing.   Then dress appropriately.  That includes THE RIGHT HAT.

Today, the welding skull cap goes on.  And once that’s down, I will put on a laborer’s hat to trench in the wire that needs to be buried.

A whole article on the importance around here of proper [ritual] work headgear is found in “Coping: Hats as a “Secret Energy Source.

We’ll see how it goes, but with the right hat comes the right attitude.

When my “welder persona” came by yesterday, first thing he demanded was welders chalk be on hand for marking up the metal.  Where to cut, where to burnish, and so forth.

Yeah…there really is such a thing.  If you work on metal, it’s a “gotta have it.” It’s not “chalk:” as revealed in the formal part name: Welding Soapstone Refills, Brazing, Machining, Marking Metal Surfaces, 127 (5.0”) x 12.7 (1/2”) x 4.8 mm (3/16”), 36 Pieces, Tech Team $10-bucks on the Zon.

Unless you do metal fab for a living, this may be a lifetime supply – has been for me, lol.

3D Printing Adventures

Learning continues on this front this week, as well.

Here, one of the parts for the time machine (being printed in color-change PLA filament) teaches the lesson that if you want 6 mm lasers to fit in the holes, make them 6.4 mm on the TinkerCAD drawing.  The width of a print line needs to be added.

Ah!  And over here?

Those connected round tubes teach us that when you put a fresh bed cover on the 2D printer, wipe it down with denatured alcohol.  Otherwise, the residual parting compound makes the bed so slippery that when the print gets too tall, it will slide out from under the print head, resulting in a ball of PLA and a holder for zip ties that didn’t make it to planned height.


Well, off to another day of working it… The reason you want to work hard when you’re young is so you can hire all this shit out when you’re 71.

Well, almost 72…one month to that marker.

What Does This Mean?

Quake south of the Bay Area overnight (4.2) has our passing attention.

But seriously, it was where, USGS?

“11.5 km (7.1 mi) NNE of Prunedale, California”

AYFKM Prunedale? ISYN, lol…

Write when you make something,

22 thoughts on “ShopTalk: Redundant Solar, Specialty Crew Mindset”

  1. “Home solar’s contribution to the grid is an algorithmic demand management nightmare.”

    Everyone already knows my thoughts on solar.. I personally believe that the utility companies are like people.. you state there is going to be big changes in the future.. and people get upset at it.. utility companies are the same way.. they see that there are big changes on the horrizon but they fight the changes being made. Like a Tree.. a tree is the most efficient power company around and it is all done through nature.. each leaf produces a minute amount of electricity.. to assist the tree.. the roots are still the main dog in the system.. take them away and the tree dies.. but if you take a small branch and put it in water.. you will see new roots develop because of the action of the leaf.. you can cut a branch add another branch and tape it together and the new addition to the branch will begin to grow into the system..
    anyway.. just like angles look at your crown of the trees.. you will know how to aim the solar panels with that..
    the day that we decided to go solar.. what when my mother had passed.. she was the last of our imediate family that had both sides of her parents go back to before the revolution of the USA.. there are some famous members in our family and you see highways and parks etc.. named after them.,. anyway.. my brother had made a statement at our family gathering and what he said was pretty profound.. he said.. isn’t it sad that at the end of your life all you have left, is a couple of boxes of assorted crap.. a few photo’s and the memories of what you stood for..
    well I have been poor the vast majority of my life.. so there are no riches for the kids and state to fight over.. there are no profound vacations where there were a lot of photo’s.. I have never been on a vacation just to relax and enjoy myself.. I was a worker bee.. I worked day and night to try and provide for my family.. I was put in the negative due to an employer and health issues and have been there my whole life.. None of the crap I own is special.. and when I am gone the kids will split it up.. so the wife it was the same thing.. she had had a minor stroke.. and the hospitals took it all from her full time job except for ten bucks a month and she was forced to work day and night to .. As we drove home on that sad day.. we got talking.. what in the world would everyone remember us for.. then the television on television was the three major utility companies and the PUC and they had a round table discussion on power and the cost of furture power.. they said.. no matter what.. in the next x number of years that the cost of power would have to go up approximately five hundred percent.. that is without considering in growth.. flipped the channel and there was the president taking a tour through a factory where they could produce a panel with ribbon solar for pennies a watt.( dont’ worry.. congress took care of that horrible place and forced it to leave the country and go to china.. dam polluters..) well we started to talk what would be the most memorable thing.. solar power.. the wave of the future.. we were the first .. all the regulations were written for home use because of our system.. when we were going through how to regulate a small system we did a lot of research on systems already in use in other countries.. and there it seems.. they don’t have the space so they would promote solar to individual homes and if the family put one up they would have a freeze of what their costs would be.. I suggest that here.. if you put a system up.. and the power company uses the power to resell then your rates stay the same for a ten year period..( that was how long the ceo of our utility company mentioned to me on payoff.. mine paid off in five years and I paid almost fifteen dollars a watt for my panels)
    I suggest using towers.. three sided towers.. simple efficient and place a small one every place you have a transmission sub station.. you still need the coal fired plants or the natural gas.. ( I do not like nuclear energy.. we don’t know enough about it, or have an efficient way to dispose of its waste)
    by spreading it out.. I believe you would strengthen the grid.. ( right now all our power is in one place.. knock one out and the whole thing collapses. there was a vicious winter storm took out the grid in one portion that lasted for over a year. the farmers were all rushing to buy generators because of that down side.. if there had been solar power towers at every substation the time limit would have been a couple of weeks instead of a year.. if the power company had promoted solar then it would have have back up power almost instantly.. just saying.. )
    Now if the people wanted to get paid wholesale for the power from their solar.. then their rates fluctuate just like everyone elses..
    we produce about thirty two kw a day.. the vast majority of it is given away.. we buy our power at night.. If I had the money I would build the tower for our community.. but I don’t and the tower except for brazil where they are busy building the solar towers and transmission it won’t be built in america.. the utility companies still pile all the eggs in one basket and fight changes that will eventually be made. I think becuase they fear they would loose control of it.. but that I don’t see happening…. anyway that is my thoughts on the subject..

    • we were the first in our state and area.. to put in solar and wind.. I think both are important.. I don’t think large systems in wind are worth it.. you could literally put a ten kw solar system on every home in the state for the cost of a couple of those big turbines.. but I do see the need for them to.. just a waste of money and hard to incorporate..

  2. G- the great christian shaman – George Berkeley once articulated,” esse est percpi”

    to be, is to be perceived.

    – and F-ing Science has been trying to debunk him ever since- captured morons. Slowly scientist are coming around again to Daoist priests looking for answers/insight into Quantum Mechanics..hahahaha real geniuses.

    Until ALL the “religious types” finally recognize/realize what the ancient Hebrew sages knew, and why they rebelled against moses ..

    -The god of Abraham is the blood thirsty demon samael.

    – one of the 2 big “secrets”, the other of course relates mary magdelane- Freyja – and jesus having been a women. This why all the slaughter/coverups – hello Not so innocent the 3rd, all the killings, crusades, templar knights, cathars, no women allowed..
    – “this IS the Body and Blood..take from it and Eat/Drink’ Yikes -NOPE!

    Our whole long history of prison planet Earth is spinning up rather quickly now, what will Ure “GOLD” look like when the smoke clears ? “Intelligent Energies” want know, as they think they got a steak. What do you think “they” use for sauce?

    • :Until ALL the “religious types” finally recognize/realize what the ancient Hebrew sages knew, and why they rebelled against moses ..”

      As I see it ,It depends on which version you believe.
      One version says the jews were slaves unto egypt..another version states they were high paid employees that got disgruntled and left . they took what they wanted.. basically looting Egypt as they left..
      Depending on how you believe depends totally on your perspective. What I see is the bible is a pick and choose book to push a point of view. Read the really old texts and you see a view of the creators wishes to be simple.. the rest is just fill in amendments to push the view of the community at the time.
      Where we pick and choose our beliefs..there are places that follow the laws to the letter.

      • ECU and LOOB: Can you please tell us the links to where you read these details?

        I heard that the Israelites lived pretty good lives because they lived amongst the people that supposedly enslaved them in order for them to be differentiated, the lamb’s blood over the threshold, so as to be passed over they wouldn’t need to do that if they were all living in slave quarters.

        Also, a theory is that Nibiru happened to pass through the skies causing all of the plagues and destruction in Egypt allowing the Israelites to leave. If you go to Karnack and Luxor, one can’t help but notice the leftover destruction of that mighty way of life.

      • I recommend Christopher Tyreman’s book 100 Questions. Appears to be a free Kindle book at this time.

        I am not Jewish (adopted so who knows) the book resonates on many levels for me and leaves considerable food for thought. The Bibles out in todays world are incomplete, basically been hacked on too many levels to be reliable.

        A considerable amount of the ancient texts can be found here (free)

      • “Can you please tell us the links to where you read these details?”

        No specific links on that..??… I formulated my opinion from old books.. with the gentle smell of age and ink.. Way back in my LOC days..

        History is full of stuff like that.. We rarely ever read the whole thing.. in our country we pick and choose what we believe. but if we followed the laws of the old testament then it is all up for grabs.. psalms 105.7 is just one verse in the bible books that is generally accepted… He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.
        the time when they were disgruntled was also during a climate change where egypt was basically starving. there is also reference that the pharaoh thought the temple builders during that time had leprosy and made the wives work on the temples to..( my thought was.. no food long days and making the women and children work.. was a disgruntling moment) .
        there is a transcribed account written on the Merneptah Stele that is in the museum in Cairo.. another good book to read..
        Donald B. Redford, Pharaonic King Lists, Annals and Day Books, Benben Publications, 1986]
        some of what is in the top two books is written here.. in this book that is on the internet..
        and here is some of the temple texts that have been put online..
        research it.. read the old books.. formulate your own religious beliefs from what you learn.. that is the best way.. around here I am not allowed to talk religion .. especially to my nephew that teaches religion.. he hates me because I make him go read..
        Read it and interpret it the way you wish.. like judah in genesis.. raping his grieving daughter inlaw thinking she was a prostitute.. then pushing to have a prostitute burned at the stake.. ( maybe she turned his sorry ass down is what I am thinking) I truly believe that the old testament was put in the bible so that we would have a gauge as to how not to act..
        there is some great stuff in the temple book of the virgins… on how Mary was offered to the temple in infancy…..
        If you want to get a good start online.. then go to sacred texts that will get you a good start…. get a gnostic bible.. or find the translation for the dead sea scrolls.. its out there..
        discrimination in religion… in my religious faith our prophet in his prophesy said that any children from a mixed relationship should be put to death.. and if a mixed woman was to have sex with a caucasion then she should be put to death.. excuse me.. this is a guy that was being hunted down because people didn’t like his beliefs.. the pushed them all the way across the USA.. being discriminated against..
        you can find that in the books or online at from the BYU library.. they keep all the diaries and everything on file..
        Here we go.. there is a list of a few of the ancient Hieratic texts … read enjoy and think about it..

      • “a theory is that Nibiru happened to pass through the skies causing all of the plagues and destruction in Egypt allowing the Israelites to leave. ”

        ????.. the cycle had changed.. from what I have read it was the end of a cycle and just like what we all face in the future.. climate changed…I doubt that nibiru was involved although there is the theory that that was the case.. …you should read cataclysms of the earth… a great book deep in thought.. I keep it and the HAB theory right next to my chair to periodically read.. the theory is the earth has a constant cycle.. and like most planets .. we have pole shifts.. and reversals..
        In class we had this brought up and was open for class discussion..,cataclysms%2C%20some%20land%20areas%20go%20below%20sea%20level.

        I love Barnes and Noble.. great book store.. reminds me of a library I use to visit called the catacombs in DC. great coffee and comfy chairs to sit back and read….
        in the LOC you had to sit on the floor down in the stacks LOL… hard and dimly lit.. I still have a friend from back in those days of the LOC… she reads way more than i do and even though she is just like myself didn’t make much of herself.. no sheets of paper on the wall and loves to garden.. and make home made maple syrup… she is the smartest woman I have ever met…. the last time I talked to her.. she was still reading one to two books a day.. I average fifteen a month.. give or take a page or two..

      • LOOB:

        What about the Kolbrin; it references Nibiru.

        Could it be correct?

        Why can’t the climate change due to a planetary object passing close to the earth? I mean how many theories are there now about why the climate changes?

        1) Plate Tectonics;
        2) Volcanoes;
        3) Pole Shift;
        4) Man-made global warming;
        5) Meteor Strike;
        6) Asteroid Strike;
        7) Nuclear War;
        8) Nibiru;
        9) Massive Earthquakes;
        10) Massive Tsunamis;
        11) Dematerialization;
        12) God;
        13) Aliens;
        14) ??

  3. Today on local billboards I saw the FBI messages asking for help. People love to tattle.

    “FBI post-digital billboards to help find those involved in Capitol riots

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation is asking for the public’s help with identifying those involved in the violence displayed at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

    Billboards were pushed out nationally Thursday night in hopes to receive tips and identify individuals involved. “

    • Doubt it…

      I’m guessing the PTB either want to push a narrative or find out who was in the parking lots and never went into D.C. proper. Washington D.C. is, next to London, England, the most-surveilled city on the planet, and the NSA has both a facial-recognition software package and a FR database that would make Chairman Xi blush in envy.

    • Let’s start with finding and prosecuting all the people who destroyed downtown Seattle and Portland, including their political enablers! Let the FBI finish that job first and then we can move on to this latest event.

      Hearsay is that there were special forces types embedded with those who actually entered the Capitol. Who’s special forces? I have no idea, but I’m sure the federal people know more than they’re saying.

  4. Maybe there is a bigger problem developing on main street than what happened in DC on Jan. 6:

    This doesn’t fit the MSM or alt news narratives which have been pushed. This looks more like angry young men with guns, who can’t find steady work at wages that will support a family, and who don’t give a sh!T about what political figures or their talking head minions are saying. I hope Biden is up to dealing with this.

  5. If the top of your array is hinged, then the bottom of the array lays close to the ground in winter, (45 degree), and in the summer you insert the pvc to raise the bottom up, to get an angle of 21.
    Mark “Red Dog”

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