Lipstick for goats

Lipstick for goats

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Too much sun juice

Living off grid has advantages, like no huge electricity bills, but we need more solar panels and a bigger battery bank because sometimes a girl just wants to run her hair dryer without having to put on the generator!  

These four tiny solar panels suffice in summer but in winter I wonder if the lights will stay on until we have finished eating or will we get to the end of a DVD before the inverter starts to sing telling us the power has run out. It takes a few days in winter for the solar battery bank to build up again, so we listen to the generator thumping along in the background; the country serenity gone!

You can imagine my excitement when hubby arrived at the farm with 8 x 60 volt humungous solar panels he had bought cheaply from a house demolition sale.  Oh joy!!  I may not have to go to bed at 7.30 pm through lack of power.  I may be able to run a few of those modern power hungry conveniences, most with elements that everyone on mains electricity take for granted but here they zap away our solar power  - toaster, kettle, electric frypan, vacuum,  HAIR DRYER!!!!  Really all I want is my hair dryer....and maybe my beauty therapist wax pot.  A microwave would be good but I can live without one. 

The gloriously large panels went up on the roof. Husband had taken detailed notes of how the panels were connected on the roof he had removed them from, copying the layout exactly onto our roof.  He connected them up to a controller he had purchased ages ago.   

The following day was clear, the panels thirstily sucking in the sun’s energy.

All of a sudden there was smoke billowing from the side of the house! The controller was on fire.  Just as well we weren’t off working in a paddock; the whole cottage would have burnt down. 

The panels were quickly disconnected and covered over just in case we were so stupidly clever with their assembly they continued to suck in the sun juice.  

Husband raced off into town to find someone to advise us while I stood sentinel over the failed project in case the house went up in a puff of smoke.

It seems the controller was far too small for the amount of super doper juicy energy flowing through it as the panels were set up in series. No, no, no!!! Series is only in a grid situation feeding back into the mains power supply! We were putting 480 volts into a 12 volt controller! No wonder it had a heart attack and began to burn.

A solar expert from town came out to have a look at the set up and tell us what we needed to make the little cottage run completely on solar power, including running an electric refrigerator instead of our gas one, so my little cottage would be just like an ordinary house on mains electricity.

The list was longer than any child’s wish list for Santa but nowhere near as interesting to read.  Cables, fuses, larger inverter, plugs, chargers, breakers, flex, conduit, switch board enclosure, larger inverter, insulated battery box and more deep cycle wet batteries.   

So our cheap solar panels look like costing us somewhere in the vicinity of $10,000 upwards depending upon the size of inverter and amount of batteries needed.  

My dream of milking the sun and running my hairdryer without the generator has been dashed again. The gleaming large solar panels remain decoration on the roof for the moment.  

                                         Hmmm......Yep too much sun juice.

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