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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 4/6/2016

Progress has been steadily kicking along since I ordered my battery rack a few days ago. Slowly (weather permitting -- winter keeps hanging on!) but surely I'm getting things ready for the new system.

The extra charge controller is here and I have selected the new conduit and such for it. This new controller will take up a third of the panels (so there will end up being 12 each on the three controllers total) and will serve two functions:
  • First and most important, we'll get the potential amp-hour feed to each controller back within specs. These are 80Ah controllers which I determined via back-of-the-envelope calculations could be exceeded on a very cold, bright sunny day (panels generate more power on such days). While I'm sure there's some engineering overage allowed for I don't like the idea of potentially pushing them over this limit on such days (which we can have an abundance of during the colder months), and so I've been running with 6 panels turned off until we get this new puppy in place.
  • Secondly, the extra controller will add another potential 80Ah into the charging circuit of the newer, larger battery stack (which is right at 2,288Ah according to the Outback specs). That gives me the potential for 240Ah of charging if needed, which I like in the event of those colder, cloudier days.
We hope to install this new controller this coming weekend, assuming the weather cooperates. We've already tried twice and had to cancel, so maybe the third time's the charm!

Another point of progress was the old plywood -- it's all been cut up and carted off to the burn pile. The only thing that's left now is the floor of the old shed, which is currently holding all of the old Deka gel batteries (we had to stick them somewhere). Once they are moved I'll finish dismantling the old shed floor and haul that wood up for reuse and/or burning as well.

Which brings us to the Deka batteries. I was worried I might have to go buy a new winch since I couldn't get the old one to work with some got-a-minute tinkering, but I spent a quality afternoon with it and it's functioning fine now. Turned out that the ground had come loose inside the box, so I re-threaded it all back together and it's back up and running. I hope this coming week to use it to haul the old batteries up the hill (there are 20 of them) and stack them up for Solar LeRoy to haul away to the recycler once we've got the new controller installed. We'll see of course; the best laid plans and all that!

So that's where we are at present. Things are getting done in preparation for the new system and that's all to the good.

It never seems to end, but at least there's progress!

Steven in Colorado

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