The last two weeks have been filled with family and friends so there has not been much time for the house. After Christmas ended I was able to dig out the solar inverter/charger components and start assembling them temporarily to determine if I had purchased everything needed. Well it became clear that I was still missing parts. It was a nice quiet time to study the design and to understand the details of how this is all going to go together. After a few hours the main components were assembled, the missing parts list determined and the parts ordered. A good productive few hours that resolved more un-knowns and made me excited about the project!!
Here is the system coming together…..
When we started this adventure many years ago we thought we would be building this house immediately, things changed and here we are. At that time the electrical load was calculated, the solar panels picked, the inverter was picked and the charge controllers were picked. All those components were sized with the thought that a 24vdc system would be more than adequate for our anticipated load. With all that determined we proceeded to purchase a pallet of solar panels and all the Outback components needed. Well now five years later things have changed.
About a year ago we decided that Joyce will continue to need a work area so she can continue her love of sewing and quilting. With that in mind the house design was modified to include a 1000 square foot craft/hobby room for Joyce. Of course the electrical requirements also had to be increased to accommodate the added space and equipment. Just to help you visualize, Joyce’s quilting machine alone is over 12 feet long!
So for the last year I have been struggling as to how I could utilize the solar equipment we had already purchased. The solar panels were adequate and the inverter was adequate but the voltage needed to be increased to 48v in order to get enough charging capacity to the batteries. I also was struggling to find 48vdc pumps and lighting. Last week I had an ah-ha moment and determined that all we had to do was add two 24vdc charge controllers and split the solar array into two banks, one feeding each charge controller and all would be good. That moment probably saved us $4000! Along that same theme I also determined that our battery bank would be a sealed AGM battery system sold by Outback (EnergyCell 2700RE). The system utilizes a rack and interconnection buses and is virtually maintenance free and best of all the batteries require no water and are completely sealed which means no ventilation is required.
This week we also began buying the plumbing parts. We have finalized on using PEX tubing for all the hot and cold water plumbing. That decision also included using AquaPEX and the PROPEX fittings that allow the tubing to be joined, etc. with only the use of a hand held expansion tool. Very cool concept which does not have the leakage problems associated with crimp connection options.