There seemed to be a bunch of interest in the solar stuff I have been posting. And, I decided a couple months ago to upgrade our system. Seems like a perfect time to share more solar info, add to the solar book I am writing, and use it to double check what I am doing. I hope you get something out of it. And as always…ask questions, make comments, add suggestions, and do helpful critiques as you wish 🙂
Existing System –
- 3.8Kw of solar panels (2 arrays of 1.5Kw, 1 array of 800w)
- 1 x Victron Smart Solar MPPT 150/70 charge controller
- 1 x Victron Quattro 48vDC/5000w/120vAC/70a inverter/charger
- 1 x Victron Smart Shunt with BMV-712 Smart connected to a Victron Color Control GX
- 2 x 202Ah LifePo4 batteries in parallel
- On the usable house AC side we get 120vAC at approximately 41a
- Our average power usage per day is 11.3kWh (last 12 months of history)
- < click here to open the PDF file showing our current solar system >
Drawbacks to the Existing System –
- We used our generator 3 days out of the last year due to low battery, approximately 40kWh.
- We had the inverter cut out due to over discharge (drawing too much power) twice, once in June, once in July. Yup, we were using the AC’s at the time.
- We have used two inverter style air conditioners for two summers and love them. But, we can’t run them past 10pm without risk of running the batteries too low. Fortunately, there aren’t too many nights that much AC is needed.
- On cloudy days, or when the batteries start the day low, it is difficult to charge the batteries 100%.
- This past year we experimented with using electric baseboard heaters during mildly cold days and evenings. They work fine, really nice. But, we can’t run more than 3 on at low settings, or two on high setting, without risking shutting down the inverter due to over discharge (drawing too much power) if/when we turn on something like the air fryer.
Proposed Upgrade to System –
- Increase to 5.9Kw of solar panels (2 arrays of 2.235Kw, 1 array of 1.47Kw), 58% increase in power generation.
- Add a second Victron Smart Solar MPPT 150/70 charge controller, 100% increase in potential PV to battery power generation. It will also balance the charging of the incoming solar panel power avoiding overloading a single MPPT system.
- Add a second Victron Quattro 48vDC/5000w/120vAC/70a inverter/charger resulting in a doubling of available AC power, 100% increase. Giving us 10Kw/240vAC @ 82amps.
- Add 2 x 220Ah LifePo4 batteries into existing battery bank, increasing our energy storage by 107%.
As a side-effect to the upgrade I will be “cleaning up” the wire layout, increasing the size of wire at strategic wiring points, improving the fusing and circuit breaker systems, and replacing important Tier 2 equipment with Tier 1 equipment. And for a major safety upgrade I will be putting up cement board (fire resistant) behind all the equipment vs the particle board I have now.
I will be posting as I go to show the “before”, what is planed for the “after”…and then what actually gets installed. Of course I will be glad to respond to any input or questions along the way.
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