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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 5/29/2011

Today was a great day as we doubled the number of batteries the solar system has!

I'd finally bitten the bullet a few weeks back and ordered another set of batteries to beef up my system's capacity after examining the logs and such I'd collected over the winter months. I'd determined that while we should have enough storage to handle my estimate of Tanglewood's power usage through the night I couldn't be sure, and it might be a near thing. (Turns out this kind of estimate is a bit of an art as much as it is a science, which greatly offends my thoroughly geeky side!) The dozen I already had are good batteries (225-amp Deka AGMs) but I'd exhausted them a couple of times (admittedly with high-draw loads) over the winter and so I was concerned that a more moderate load over more time would be problematic. 

It was also clear that my solar panels were potentially producing far more power (~33kw/day) than my batteries actually had the depth to store (~2,700 amps), so there was a lot of "unused potential" in the system. 

So those two combined with my "gut instinct" as an engineer who firmly believes in over-engineering things led me to place an order for another dozen batteries last month, and today was the day Solar LeRoy brought them up to the site.

Everything went extremely smoothly, much more so than I thought it would. The new batteries are labeled differently than the old ones, but otherwise look identical and have identical specs, so perhaps they've just changed the name or something. After transporting the batteries to the shed we shut off the power to the house and disconnected the existing dozen, moving them outside to make room for me to erect the new heavy duty storage shelves. These are industrial-class shelves sold over at Lowe's and are capable of bearing one ton of dead weight per shelf. I found them a snap to put together and arranged the unit against the uphill side of the shed, bolting the whole contraption to the wall to help improve its stability and such.

After that we began lifting batteries onto the shelves. Six per shelf worked out well, averaging around 900 pounds per rack--well within the unit's limits. Solar LeRoy then busied himself wiring everything up while I worked up on the roof to give it some patching attention it needed after our never-ending winter.

Solar LeRoy was done in about and hour and the system powered back up without a  hitch. One problem did crop up though when he was attaching the wiring--he didn't have enough! As it turned out, the extra space added by the shelving (Solar LeRoy didn't know I was going to tidy all this up from the previous installation on the floor) used up more of his connector cables than he'd brought with him, so he had to leave one string of four disconnected until he can locate some more connectors. Not a big deal and he hopes to come back up in a day or so.

The system looks much neater now that I've got it all racked and stacked, and I'm very pleased with the increased storage capacity!

Of course, if I had 36 batteries that would really be something..........

Steven in Colorado Springs


The batteries, all racked and stacked and tidy. That old PC in the corner is what I'm currently using to monitor the system and collect usage logs.
Closeup of one of the new batteries.

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