Friday, August 16, 2013

Finally in the electron catching business!

Earlier in the week I booked the sun for today so that we'd be able to get on the roof and install the solar panels. My booking was honoured and we had a beautiful sunny day, but it came with a little bit of wind which I hadn't ordered. And by a little bit I really mean a hell of a lot!! of wind.

Nevertheless, we pressed ahead and began with the frame installation. My earlier work in Sketchup paid off handsomely here - I modelled the frames and oriented them to due north - so we knew exactly how many legs and rails we'd need, and where exactly on the roof they'd go.

In the end we're a handful of degrees away from magnetic north in order to pick up the roofing screws and avoid the need to put more holes in the tin. Still a pretty good result.

Thanks to my Swiss Army Phone, we're exactly tilted at 50ยบ to the horizontal too. No guesswork or complicated trigonometry required :)

Carrying the panels up onto the roof was an exercise in careful listening, of all things. Being surrounded by tall trees has one advantage - you can hear the wind gusts coming! In any case, I'm confident that had we been caught out by a particularly nasty gust we could just have hung onto the panel and glided gracefully to the ground.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it! :)

The first string of panels bolted firmly in place

Gee... they do look good!! :)

These panels are 59.8Voc - that's their maximum open circuit voltage. Would you believe, in this light without full sun the string of 8 panels measured 460V! That's only 20V or so below their maximum.. so I'm hopeful that they'll deliver the goods when they get full sun. At 250W each, that string of 8 is good for 2kW at 49V.

A couple of hours later we had the second string in place - a task made slightly easier after having done the first, as we could simply transfer all the measurements from the first frame over to the second.

We're using every last centimetre of available roof space here too - there will be no issues with the front string shading the rear, even at the winter solstice when the sun is at its lowest.

Here they are all wired up. I love a tidy installation :)

We have the panels wired as far as the DC sub-distribution board in the battery room, and next week we'll finish off the AC sub board, wire the panels up to the Sunny Boy inverter, hook up the battery and flick the switch!

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