EMP, CME, & Lightening Surge Protection – Part #2

If you haven’t read Part #1 of this 2-part series you probably should.

< click here to read Part #1 >

My Protection Strategy –

So how do I protect my off-grid home?

First off…I place a more likely chance that I will suffer a lightening strike than an EMP. However, I don’t discount the occurrence of an EMP strike on the continental US, and that has the potential to affect our home. Remember I am off-grid so I don’t have thousands of miles of electrical transmission lines attached to my house. That my friend greatly reduces my exposure to an incoming EMP surge.

All that being said I take some basic precautions first…

  1. My PVs (solar panels) all have aluminum frames, all those frames are attache to an earth ground system. The earth ground system includes:
    1. A single continuous 8AWG bare copper wire connected to each panel of 3 PVs in the string via a lay-in grounding lug.
    2. The 8AWG bare copper wire from each string is connected to a 6AWG bare copper wire handling the array that contain 2 strings each.
    3. The two main arrays (#2 & #3) are connected via 6AWG bare copper wire to an earth ground that consists of three 8’ copper clad rods driven in the ground 10’ apart bonded with 6AWG bare copper. Note1: the arrays are approximately 50’ apart and the 6AWG bare copper wire connecting the two arrays are buried 12” in the ground between the two arrays. Note2: the third array is grounded separately to its own earth ground that is also the house system earth ground. Again, it consists of three 8’ copper clad rods driven in the ground 10’ apart bonded with 6AWG bare copper.
    4. Each array also has a 40ka surge protector in the EcoWorthy combiner box. That surge protector is connected to the 6AWG array ground wire. The combiner box is a Chinese manufacturer and I don’t know if it will work or not when the times comes. The SPD was included with the boxes when I bought them.
    5. This gives two types of surge protection; 1) any energy absorbed through the PV metal frames is directed into the ground, 2) any energy absorbed into the PV wiring is directed to the external combiner box’s SPD and that energy is directed into the ground.

  1. The utility room that houses the solar/electrical/electronic equipment has a metal roof and foil backed OSB on the side walls. I have no idea whatsoever if this provides any protection. Some folks think so, others don’t. I don’t count on it.
  2. Inside the utility room the incoming PV power lines come into separate array disconnect boxes. Each disconnect box has a Midnite Solar MNSPD-300-DC (80ka) installed.

I consider this to be my lightening strike/surge protection (E2 & E3); 1) good grounding, 2) a 40ka SPD, and 3) an 80ka SPD. But that stills leaves out the EMP E1 power surge. To address that issue you have to go downstream of my system.

Downstream of the array disconnect boxes I have a combiner box that combines arrays into a circuit breakers that also acts as disconnects. that is located just before my charge controllers. Arrays #1 & #3 go into my charge controller #1, and array #2 goes into my charge controller #2. For the E1 surge I have an EMPShield model Dual-DC-90-120-W. Each charge controller has its own protection via this EMPShield unit since it is a “dual” unit. And yes, the EMPShield unit also provides E2 & E3 protection.

And how good is the EMPShield? Well, that is hard to say. Remember, we have no definitive idea if a device works, or not, until an event occurs. But, the documentation on the EMPShield device, along with the advertised testing, assures that it will protect against E1, E2, & E3 power surges. So that combination of surge protectors protects against surges coming into the system from the outside via the DC side of my off-grid solar system.

Now let’s talk the AC side of the system…I also have a Midnite Solar MNSPD-300-AC installed in my main breaker panel. That is intended to protect power surges getting into the system via house wiring. Yup, that means every single inch of wire in the house is a potential “antenna” for power surges. And yes, that means I am only protected against E2 & E3 surges from the AC side of the system. It is my intention that as my research continues and I become 100% convinced of EMPShield products I will install one of their AC units in the main breaker panel and move the Midnite Solar SPD to the inverter/generator transfer switch.

And if you are wondering…I have no problems with an Siemens FS140 (FirstSurge) being used as a substitute for a Midnite Solar SPD. I use Midnite simply because I found it first and have confidence in it for lightening protection.

How an SPD works –

If you are wondering how a SPD works…well, that is another whole article. But the short version is this…the SPD draws the power surge into itself away from other wiring and equipment and dissipates it through its internal parts. Yeah…call it magic, voodoo, or a modern engineering marvel…but that’s how they are designed to work.

Now, have you asked the question yet…Will all of this work and protect my house full of electronics/electrical equipment, and better yet, will it protect thousands of dollars worth of my solar system gear? If you have an answer let me know!

Yeah, a funny way to say I have no idea if this will all work to save me from an EMP, let alone a lightening strike. But I do know that doing nothing will definitely result in a bunch of burned up and useless equipment.

I will write reviews on EMPShield and Midnite products fairly soon. Should you buy now? Well…I did. And doing something is better than doing nothing. Do nothing ensures failure.

< click here to read Part #1

If you are interested in buying any of the mentioned products…PLEASE DO 🙂

I am providing links to the equipment below. If you buy one of the Amazon products through my link I will earn about a 1.5% commission. If you buy an EMPShield product I will earn a 15% commission. And if you use the coupon code “ahtrimble” when you buy an EMPShield product on their website you will get $50 off any product.

Any money I earn will go towards a test unit for the AC side of the system. If I earn more than the cost of a test unit then any excess funds will go towards another LifePO4 battery.

Click on the icon below for the MidNite Solar 300vDC unit (for protecting DC voltage equipment)…

MidNite Solar MNSPD-300-DC Surge Protection Device (300vDC )










Click on the icon below for the MidNite Solar 300vDC unit (for protecting AC voltage equipment)…

MidNite Solar MNSPD-300-AC Surge Protection Device (300vAC )










Click on the icon below for the Siemens FS140 Whole House Surge Protection…







Click on the EMPShield logo below  to buy EMPShield products. Use “ahtrimble” in the coupon code at check out for $50 off any EMPShield product. Hint: If you are buying more than one product then make them separate purchases and use the coupon code for each. If are having trouble deciding which product to buy, then write a comment below and ask for help from me.

Related Articles –


 2009 - 2023 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

EMP, CME, & Lightening Surge Protection – Part #1

Time to go technical…’high-tech’ to be exact…let’s talk surge protection.

For this discussion surge protection will include the concepts of lightening strikes (LS), Coronal Mass Ejections (CME), and of course, Electromagnetic Pulses (EMP). While they do differ, they all can be a threat to electrical and electronic equipment. Additionally, I won’t go into detail on protecting small devices such as handheld radios since I have already covered that in the past. I will concentrate on covering entire systems such as home AC electrical systems and solar systems (both AC & DC sides).

As with all my articles regarding equipment/gear I define the mission, or job, that I want that equipment/gear to accomplish. For this I define it as…

Reasonably, effectiveness & economically, protect our home’s complete electrical systems from damage due to electrical surges regardless of their origin.”

Also, when you hear me refer to a SPD, I am talking about a ‘surge protection device’.

Now that’s done let’s talk about risk management. As I have previously written extensively about risk management, it is determining the probability of an event occurring, and if it does occur, how severe will the potential damage be. Once those two criteria are properly assessed then proper mitigation measures can be identified and undertaken.

In my original article “Will we really be hit with an EMP?”, written in 2015 and updated in 2019, evaluated and stated both the probability and severity values. I originally set the probability at ‘very low’ and the severity as ‘nationally devastating’. Numerically speaking now I would go with 4 – 5 for probability (moderate) and 9 – 10 for severity (nationally devastating).

For the purposes of this article I put the CME events at a ‘moderate’ in severity and ‘low ‘in probability. And then for lightening I go with ‘serious’ in probability and ‘devastating’ in severity. And then somewhere in here I have to inject a healthy dose of reality. I don’t it is feasible at all to ‘harden’ my entire house and all associated electrical and electronic items against all possible surge events. I simply don’t have them time, the expertise, nor the money to do so. And honestly, I don’t have the desire to. I want to live in reality and not acquire a bunker and/or siege mentality out at the fringes.

So let’s talk the most likely of the surges involved with the most potential of severe damage…EMP.

EMP’s are a result of a high-altitude nuclear detonation. Modern nuclear devices that would be used in an EMP strike consist of three waves of energy pulses; E1, E2, & E3. Now, I am not going into intense details…it would make everyone’s eyes glaze over. There are plenty of articles on the subject if you want to get that far into the weeds.

EMP information, generally speaking…

  • EMP devices are generally detonated high in the atmosphere so the damage can cover large areas of earth’s surface.
  • The detonation effects spread out in all directions but the earth attracts most of the energy pulses downward.
  • The higher the detonation the lessening of the pulse energy.
  • The further away from directly underneath the detonation the lessening of the pulse energy.
  • In North America the energy pulses are drawn more to the south of the detonation point due magnetic field and orientation to the equator.
E1 Pulse –

This first pulse of energy does most of the damage in systems. It is primarily high-voltage that does the damage. This first pulse of energy travels at about 90% the speed of light (about 168,000 miles per second) and peak energy is about at the 5 nanosecond mark.

Realistic Example: You are 250 miles from a EMP blast, that means it hits you in about 0.0015 seconds (15 thousandths of a second) but traveling at 168,000 miles per second, and once it hits you, the peak energy arrives in 5 nanoseconds. So once the energy hits you, the energy goes from 0% to 100% of peak withing 5,000,000,000ths of a second. And the pulse has passed you in about 100nanoseconds. Meaning you have to protect your systems quickly, approximately within a nanosecond, and for about 20nanoseconds.

The voltage that actually reaches a maximum of about 50,000volts per square meter. Meaning, if you had a 1 meter square steel plate sitting on the ground directly beneath the detonation point the steel plate would absorb 50,000volts. If what was struck was a normal 3-wire household service cable 100’ long from the electric pole to the electrical service entrance it would absorb about the same 50,000volts. Ironically, the amperage would only be less that 50amps for that same area…but only for far less than a second.

As you can see it is the absorbed voltage that will do the damage but it occurs very, very quickly. And that is why normal residential, and even commercial, surge protectors simply won’t provide protection…they can engage/react quickly enough…about 500-1000 times too slow to react to the incoming energy surge.

E2 Pulse –

This is the next energy pulse to hit…about 1000nanoseconds after the E1 strike, and 900nanoseconds after the E1 is gone. And the reaction speed required is about a microsecond. Yeah, slowpoke!

To get a grasp of this energy pules you can think in terms of a lightening strike. And also think of it in terms of DC voltage. The power can reach 100,000 volts and 100,000amps when it hits…depending on your relative location to the detonation. And surge protection devices such as Midnite SPDs can handle this kind of strike..essentially a lightening strike.

Here’s the problem…that same SPD would get burned out by the initial energy surge…the E1…so it is no longer available to handle the E2 energy surge…and your system is pretty sure to now damaged.

E3 Pulse –

The final energy surge is just plain weird! The energy surge is produced by the earth’s magnetic field being heaved about. And that surge can last from 10 – 100’s of seconds. To get an understanding of this pulse…think DC current. Unfortunately household systems, including power stations and transmission equipment are designed to handle AC current not DC current. That gets you a whole lot of burned out equipment.

Once again E1 pulses normally burnout SPDs that could have handled this E3 power surge.

Pulses Summary –

Whew! I am glad that is over. But the summary is pretty simple, 3 different pulses of energy, all 3 can destroy equipment, and the first pulse is the worst and generally destroys any device (SPD) that could prevent damage from the 2nd and 3rd pulses. And yes, generally speaking almost all SPDs in use today can’t handle the E1 pulse. So you’re screwed right? Ah, no.

Remember, most common SPDs can’t protect against an E1 pulse…they burnout with all your other electrical/electronic gear. But, most common SPDs are fairly inexpensive…about $125 – $150 range for Midnite SPDs. The commercial grade SPDs can hit $300, but they still are too slow to protect against the E1 pulse.

That means something rather simple…You gotta find E1 protection if you are going to be worried about EMP protection. If you are going for less protection against energy pulses, such as lightening protection, then a Midnite Solar SPD or the more expensive Siemens FS140 are great options.

Next comes what I do!

NOTE: In Part #2 I will give links to various products that I personally use and believe in. And if you purchase a product through one of those links I will make a bit of money…from 2% – 15%. The money I make from any of those purchases will go towards a new battery for my solar system. And I can offer a $50 off coupon for the #1 EMP surge protection device!!!

< click here to read Part #2 >

Related Articles –




 2009 - 2023 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Great Solar Upgrade – Day #9

Day #9 come and gone!

Oh Boy! What a day #9 was…bitter/sweet.

I started in Saturday morning wanting to jump on first the circuit breaker upgrade that I talked about in my Day #8 post. I am using a 2-pole 50amp breaker for the inverter input side, and a 2-pole 35amp breaker for the generator (genset) input side. Why only 35amp for the genset?

I have a Champion 4kw/120vAC inverter generator that just is amazing! It is super dependable, relatively quiet, and fuel efficient. So that is my “go-to” alternative power source should our solar system go down. Just FYI…I’ve only had my system go down when I’ve shut it down, like the 6-days I shut it down to upgrade it. And I’ve used it twice to charge my battery bank after multiple days of clouds that prevented sufficient charging.

Now, the genset is 4kw, which is 33.3amps of 120vAC power. Generally speaking that is sufficient to run the house under normal conditions. But, that is running the genset at 100% of capacity and burning the maximum fuel. To keep the genset in the best running condition for the long-term and conserve fuel usage I have my inverter/charger set to only draw 20amps from the genset. That is 60% of its power generating capacity…keeping the wear & tear down and conserving fuel. At 60% is burns about 4 – 5 gals of fuel per day.

Back to the electrical numbers…So I am not going to draw more than 20amps…for now. But, to allow for expansion/upgrade in the genset I used 8AWG wire in the inlet that the genset plugs into that goes tot he inverter. The inverter can produce as much as 42amps, so 8AWG is plenty sufficient and I use a 50amp circuit breaker to protect the wiring. And yes, the 8AWG can handle 50 – 55amps of current.

The genset as I explained can produce as much as 33amps but I have it limited to 20amps. I wired the inlet for the genset with 10AWG which can handle 35 – 40amps. But, I wired the genset inlet for 240vAC input. So when the day comes when I can buy a 240v generator the inlet will be ready to convert. Yeah, that means it has a 120v inlet right now, but the L2 wire is sitting there waiting to be hooked up.

Why is all of that important? 10AWG wire can handle 35 – 40amps, but let’s be clear…I would only run 30amps maximum through 10AWG wire. But, at 240vAC that is 30amps on both L1 & L2 for a total of 60amps! Meaning I could use a 7200watt 240vAC genset…but that would be at 100%. In reality, I would probably buy a 12kW 240vAC generator and stick with my 60% rule. So all of that means…the transfer switch genset input circuit breaker is a 2-pole 30amp breaker.

That closes the book on the transfer switch upgrade. Next came some AC re-wiring.

I have a 30amp 120vAC outlet outside of the utility room where all of this solar gear is installed. I use if for heavy load needs around the outside of the house or charging my tractor battery if/when it dies. I re-ran the wire for it and got it back into the main breaker panel. Then I rerouted the power/switch/outlet for the utility room light. Good day’s work so far…then I pushed it.

I had a little more time left, not much but some, and I wanted to get more wiring in the wire ducts. About 20 minutes into that I accidentally bumped into a circuit breaker…and it flipped off. Oh boy! The alarms started going off.

See the problem is..it was the circuit breaker that is between the power busbar and one of the MPPT charge controllers. And the problem with that…YOU DON’T EVER TURN OFF THE BATTERY POWER TO AN MPPT UNTIL YOU TURN OFF THE ARRAY POWER FIRST!

Why? Because you can ruin the charge controller and burn it out or over charge the batteries and burn them out. Thankfully I am using Victron equipment and they have a built in preventative relay that shuts down the MPPT quickly to prevent damage to either…usually.

I will shorten this down…2 hours of intense troubleshooting and research later my MPPT charge controller was back up and running…luckily. And I mean that…luck and great quality Victron equipment kept me from having a $500+ mistake/accident on my hands.

Being the risk mitigation guy that I am I was determined to prevent that from happening again. PROBLEM!

I knew I needed to cover the circuit breakers to prevent accidental bumps that would trip the breakers. But, there were no reasonably priced panels for the panel-mount breakers that I am using for that operation. After about 1.5 hours of research I found a solution that will work…a pair of paralleled 40amp 150vDC DIN mount breakers that I will mount in my Midnite Solar combiner box that I had pulled out of the upgrade design at the last minute. Those breakers will be in later this week…and get installed ASAP into the new box that will cover them and hopefully help prevent accidents/mistakes in the future.

So, if you have been following these system upgrade posts…this is the 2nd revision to the upgrade…in 2 weeks since I started.

Oh wait…I also noticed that I installed the Victron Lynx Shunt in reverse. And that explained why I was showing my batteries discharging when I was generating plenty of PV power. So now…I will have to figure out the right way to handle that.

So what the heck is my bottom line…when you go off-grid solar you are your own power company and you better have some skills…or you will have problems.

At the start of Day #9 –

At the end of Day #9 –

Here is the problem with the circuit breaker and MPPT charge controller…






Related Articles –


 2009 - 2023 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Great Solar Upgrade – Day #8

Day #8 come and gone!

Man, I’ve been busy trying to finish this upgrade…but the little details and finish work are killing me.

First thing I did was “load balance” the main breaker panel. Yeah, that means I did load testing on my baseboard heaters and kitchen counter outlets that handle the heavy hitters such as the microwave, Instapot, toast, and air fryer. Moved those 6 circuits around to draw equally off of L1 & L2 to evenly distribute the current draw between each inverter. That way I don’t overload either inverter with too much load.

Then came figuring out how to monitor my battery bank accurately. The inverters’ battery monitors are very unreliable/inaccurate. So I will be reintegrating my Victron BMV-712 battery monitor with shunt. But that made me one VE.Direct port short on the Color Control GX (central computer). But I figured that out and had to order an adapter cable to use one of the spare USB ports on the GX unit. That cable will be here on Monday.

While I wait on that cable I decided to start installing wire ducts (a.k.a. raceways). That will protect the wiring and make everything look much neater. But, while I was doing that I noticed that my array grouping was wrong. So I am redoing some wiring and group arrays #1 & #3 together and #2 will be stand-alone to get better charging from the two controllers. But it snowed this morning and it’s cold and windy this afternoon…so I will delay that work. But I did get some of the ductwork in.

And then of course as I was about to close up the inverter/genset transfer switch I realized I should have different circuit breakers doing the work inside the transfer switch. So I had to order two of those…they should be in shortly. The appropriate circuit breakers will be better overall…correct protection for the wiring.

And finally, I am looking into a top-of-the-line, best-in-class surge protector that is supposed to be about as close to the best EMP/CME protection as you can possibly get at this point in time. I am waiting on them to give me a price on an evaluation unit. I will keep you posted on how that goes.

Well, that is about it…this is what I am doing in my spare time.

At the start of Day #8 –

At the end of Day #8 –



Related Articles –


 2009 - 2023 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Great Solar Upgrade – Day #7 – IT WORKS ! !

Day #7 come and gone!

Started working this morning about 7am trying to figure out why I couldn’t get the Victron Quattro inverters programed correctly. On Saturday I did get the system up and running…but only using one inverter and only in single phase 120vAC. The problem was the programing. Yeah, the inverters have a computer inside of them…doesn’t everything nowadays!

So I could program each inverter individually with one software application. But I couldn’t get them programmed to work together because each inverter needed their firmware updated. And that took another application to accomplish. And that firmware update had a problem…my network cable. But a tender mercy helped me figure that out. Now all is good…the system is up and running!!

Here is a bit of a recap…

I started with version 3 of my off-grid system: 404ah LifePO Elite batteries, 1xVictron 150/70 MPPT, 1x Victron 48v/5kw/120v Quattro and kindof a mess that had been pieced together from versions 1 & 2)

I ended up with 634ah LifePO4 batteries (2xElites, 1xTrophy), 2xVictron 150/70 MPPTs, 2xVictron 48v/5kw/120 Quattros in split phase configuration. Much less of a mess and that should be cleaned up by the end of the week once I get the the wire ducts in.

In the build I used a Victron Lynx PowerIn as a busbar, added a Class-T fuse, then combined a Victron Lynx shut and another Victron Lynx PowerIn as a fused distributor. I even built 2 of my own busbars vs 4/0 cable connection. All of that made things much cleaned, much more organized and a lot more safe. Upgraded all my wiring and cabling. Added better circuit breakers, got rid of a weak fuse set-up, and balanced my 3 arrays between the 2 MPPTs.

The downside does exist:

  • While Victron equipment is Tier 1 gear, it can be complicated to work with. The MPPTs are Smart Networked which is nice, but they had to be programed individually via Bluetooth.
  • The Victron Quattro inverters are really great, very high quality, they were a pain to configure correctly. Eventually the process was: 1) upgrade the firmware on both units, 2) configure each inverter for its function, 3) then configure them together to work in split phase. Each step was a different computer program. That is a huge downside to otherwise great gear. Victron needs to get it together and have a single computer program that can do all the functions from that one program.
  • I am not 100% confident that the Lynx Shunt, inverters, and CCGX are working together correctly to give me an accurate SOC. I might have add back in my BMV 712 to accurately monitor the battery bank.
  • I am not sure how long it will take my batteries to balance with the addition of the 3rd battery. I am thinking at least a couple of weeks, maybe a month or two.

The upside:

  • I now have 240vAC vs 120vAC available to me.
  • I now have 10kw vs 5kw available to me.
  • I now have 57% more battery capacity available to me.
  • I now have more efficient PV charging for the system.
  • And it all works!!!!!!

Yeah, I know…I sound silly…but this has been 6 months in the planning stage and 8 days work in the shed…including 6 days running on generator. I am just thrilled!!

Once I get the wiring cleaned up I will post pictures.


Related Articles –


 2009 - 2023 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Great Solar Upgrade – Day #6

Day #6 come and gone!


2:45pm and there is quiet at the Glamstead! Yup, the generator turned off.

Oh, the generator is not running because I turned it off 🙂

The system is back up and running!!!!!!

I still have to program the inverters to run in split phase but I am going to put that off to next week…I am just too worn out.

At the beginning of Day #6 –

At the end of Day #6 –

Yeah, yeah…I know…I still have to install the wire ducts too…that cleans up the wiring mess. But hey, it works! And that big ‘ole third battery adds more than 50% more storage 🙂

Oh…and my neighbor’s dog came back home just before lunch. So it was a good day here at the glamstead.


Related Articles –


 2009 - 2023 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Great Solar Upgrade – Day #5

Day #5 come and gone!

One of those days!

So I slept in a little and got a late start…6am building cables. About 2 hours later I realized that I no longer had the right terminal lugs since I had to go to Plan B yesterday. Or was it Plan C? In any event I didn’t have the right number or size of lugs. I swore I had more lugs…but couldn’t find them if I did.

So off to town…first stop Ace Hardware then the local solar shop whose owner is a dear friend of mine. Lugs purchased, but wrong size hole…no problem, a drill would solve that. I was almost home, after 1-1/2 hours, and I got this call from my neighbor…he stuck his truck and needed help. Well, you can’t turn down a neighbor in that kind of need…can you?

He had been out looking for his lost dog, was coming out of a big sandy wash and slipped into a “rut” and couldn’t get out even with a big ‘ole 4×4 GMC with 20” tires. Well, as I came rolling up on him…let’s say it was more like a canyon he had dropped the entire left side of his truck into. He was sitting on the frame, dented fuel tank, buried “pumpkin” and the front end was buried as well. He needed a professional recovery vehicle…but no money to pay for one.

Three hours later with a front loader 60hp Kubota tractor, 2 shovels, and a pick we had him hooked to the Kubota ready to pull out. It work smooth as silk…my wildland firefighting and off-road 4×4 days paid off.

As we were ready to take off he got a call…someone might have spotted his lost dog. So my wife, my neighbor, and myself all headed the 4 miles to look for the lost dog. No luck, it wasn’t him…after an hour looking.

Back home, late lunch, back to work…at 3pm…worked will 7pm. Last of the cables built, battery switches mounted…but none of them hooked up, I was just too tired and didn’t want to make mistakes. I will do it all in the morning. But I had to take pictures first for this post and later articles.

Oh, and guess what? I found the missing terminal lugs. So out of a 13-hours work day…6 hours of actual work. Way behind…and a most frustrating day! But maybe Day #6 will be the day it all comes together!

At the beginning of Day #5 –

At the end of Day #5 –




Related Articles –


 2009 - 2023 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Great Solar Upgrade – Day #4

Day #4 come and gone!

OK, yesterday I was whining about it getting old, me being ready to move on…and especially getting rid of the generator sound.

Well, it is the morning of Day #5 and the generator is still running and yesterday wasn’t another 12-hour day…was a 13-hour day! The good news is…I actually slept almost 7 hours last night. Oh, and do you have any idea how heavy 205ag LifePO4 batteries are!!!!

So how did it go yesterday? Oh man, it sucked!! The project ground to a snail’s pace.

I did get my inverters wired in early and without a problem. Then I added the Victron Lynx Shunt to the Lynx PowerIn that I had converted into a Distributor. That was very easy other than having to move the combined unit down about 4 inches to allow for more wire duct space.

Then came the 2nd Victron Lynx PowerIn that I am using as a busbar. But, between that unit and the Lynx Shunt that it gets added to I installed a Class-T fuse for high over-current protection. And I loved how that turn out…tight! And I built my first “bar-style” connection vs using 4/0 cable with terminals…loved it!

Then everything came to a complete stop. I moved 2 of the 3 batteries into position and was working at the placement of a circuit breaker box…and found out I had bought the wrong breakers. The breakers in my hand were polarity sensitive…not suitable for use as I had intended. How in the world did I make that mistake?????

I went back to the website where I purchased them, the product description clearly stated they were not polarity sensitive. Multiple phone calls later…and 1-1/2 hours of delay…I can’t used the breakers. Then a trip to town to visit with the solar shop I do contract work occasionally…1/2 hour later…not viable/affordable option on the shelf. So back to my place with “Plan B” 🙂

Well, I started making the cables for the 2 older batteries…yeah, the cable lugs I was going to use ended up being to wide for the battery terminals. My 2/0 cable between the batteries and the PowerIn busbar ain’t going to work. But, parallel 2AWG cables from the battery to a battery switch, then 2/0 cable to the PowerIn busbar will work.

Spent a couple hours figuring it out and building 4 sets of cables…exhausted, dinner waiting for me. A great supper by my loving great wife!

Did I mention that my two LifePO4 batteries are heavy? Yeah, 209.5 pounds each. They were a pain to get into place. Not to worry…only 1 to move today. But, I should have the system up and running today…maybe by noon.

At the beginning of Day #4 –

At the end of Day #4 –


Related Articles –


 2009 - 2023 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Great Solar Upgrade – Day #3

Day #3 come and gone!

Okay, it’s getting old. Yup, working 12 hour days is getting to me and I am ready for quiet. Yes, the generator has been a blessing, without we would have no power…but it is noisy and I worry during the night that it will run out of gas or just stop. But, it doesn’t…it is a hardy generator.

Day #3 was essentially without any problems or really any big issues at all. Just tedious running of wire…after measuring, cutting, stripping, crimping, and installing.

I have held off installing the wire duct (a.k.a. wire raceway) until the end. I wasn’t 100% sure of all of my wire run placement so I didn’t want to “redo” that. Also, if I have to do troubleshooting it is easier without all the wires hidden in the ducting.

So check out the “after” picture…a wire mess. But, it should should much neater when I am all done…you will just have to wait and see for that. So be patient 🙂

And FYI…I have been watching the Credit Suisse bank issues. They got a big bailout from the Swiss central bank. Some folks think that is great…I find it troubling.

In the solar shed today I finished up the AC side, wired up all of the arrays through the combiner box into the charge controllers. The hooked in the charge controllers through the circuit breaker disconnect box to the Victron Lynx PowerIn that I have converted into a fused distributor. And finally, started building my 2/0 cables for the Victron Lynx PowerIn to Inverter #1. Along the way I also added some ground wire as well; I am using 8AWG ground wire just to be on the say side.

Yes, my AC wiring from the inverters into the transfer switch is in flex-conduit.

Did you notice the 2 heavy wires that looks like black & red spiral? Yup, didn’t have black wire, just red. When it came time to run black wire…rather than run out and buy more expensive wire…just used the wire I had on hand and with black electrical tape identified it as the negative (black) side of the circuit.

At the beginning of Day #3 –

At the end of Day #3 –


Related Articles –


 2009 - 2023 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Great Solar Upgrade – Day #2

Day #2 come and gone!

Day #1 was without incident, problem, or even a hiccup…for which I am grateful. Day #2…not so much…but not bad at all.

First off let me explain that I had the project broken down into phases.

Phase #1 – Preparation: Getting all my parts and equipment purchased, on-site, any pre-work completed on them, get generator ready, gasoline purchased, and tools either purchased or centralized.

Phase #2 – Deconstruction: Remove all the old system components, organize, confirm that they are still serviceable, and replace/repair as needed.

Phase #3 – AC Re-Do: Replace the AC main disconnect fuses with circuit breaker, combine/join AC main panel, AC main disconnect, transfer switch into a single unit, rewire the generator to transfer switch wiring for later addition of a 240vAC inlet, and hook-up temporary fix to run generator.

Phase #4 – Construction: Add Hardee Cement Board to walls.

Phase #5 – Build Out DC: Literally rebuild the entire DC side of the system, including all the new gear.

Phase #6 – Configure: Charge up the new battery to same voltage as the existing two batteries. Using Victron software to configure and fine-tune the system.

Phase #7 – PVs (solar panels): Add another string (245w X 3S) to Array #2 and #3 and replace 8 x 100w PVs on Array #1 with 6 x 245w PVs (3S2P).

Phase #8 – Take a freaking week off and do nothing but enjoy the new system!

Phases #1 – #4 are complete, phase #5 is well underway. I did hit a snag and had to rebuild and relocate the AC main panel, AC main disconnect, and the transfer switch. That added an extra 2 hours to the process…rebuilding what had already been done. But, I had to move it to clean-up the layout and give proper access to the transfer panel and ensure the right clearance around Inverter #1. Other than that, the 13-hour day #2 went well.

I gotta post this, eat some breakfast, and get back after it 🙂

At the beginning of Day #2 –

At the end of Day #2 –


Related Articles –
 2009 - 2023 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.