Solar Panels

I have two 50 watt solar panels. One operates closer to 55 watts. I chose two panels instead of one big panel because of the weight and awkwardness of a panel with that many watts. I knew I’d be moving it around. I also have a 7 watt panel I use as a trickle charger that is attached and stays out all the time. The ‘moving around’ comes into it because I store the two bigger panels when I’m gone. I don’t disconnect them. I do it mainly for theft prevention as the panels aren’t physically attached to the roof of my trailer or anywhere really. The 7 watt panel does a nice job of keeping the battery full no matter how long I’m away. It is, of course, connected to the charge controller along with the others. I did find a way to attach that one.


These panels are my second set of panels. My first were less than half the wattage and had a lower conversion rate (efficiency). They weren’t enough. Fortunately, solar panels are always useful for something and have excellent resale value.


Theoretically, my panels produce about 112 watts of electricity per hour of sun. Practically it’s a bit less. It’s always a bit less than stated since sunshine isn’t consistent and energy gets lost through inefficiencies.

   

Array Combiner

My Array Combiner is a more recent addition. As mentioned, the purpose of an Array Combiner or Combiner Box as it’s sometimes referred to, is to combine multiple wires to ultimately produce two, a positive and a negative. Since I have three panels I have six wires to combine, two from each panel.  The cost of an Array Combiner is way out of line for a system as simple as mine.  Ultimately I built one as described on My Solar Power Set-Up-Part 3 Combiner Box UTube video It works absolutely fine and costs almost nothing. Note: A number of contributors suggest using Epoxy instead of glue with the belief that it would hold better. I tried. It doesn’t hold at all with Epoxy. Glue works just great.


Prior to the Array Combiner I used ring terminals and nuts and bolts. While that method works, it’s cumbersome and can come apart more easily.


Charge Controller

I have a 10 amp charge controller. It’s my third and more amps than I need but better bigger than smaller. And I trust it. My first controller was the old shunt type and totally inadequate. The second was great but I destroyed it by reversing a couple of wires by mistake – easy to do.


Battery

My battery is a 122 amp hour deep cycle/marine battery I purchased at a discount store. As batteries go it’s on the low end cost wise and nothing special. This is my second battery. The first was similar and lasted over six years so I have no complaints.


Inverters

I have four double outlet inverters that range from 150 watts to 600 watts. Three of them are modified sine wave inverters (with and without fans) and one pure sine wave inverter. It all works. It would be better to have one big pure sine wave inverter for everything but that would be pretty costly. My trailer is small so I’m not running wires all that far.


The pure sine wave inverter I do have is for my laptop computer and electronic keyboard. The information I’d gotten from a variety of sources indicated that a modified sine wave inverter might work on some computers. I tried that and ran into some big problems. I think it’s better to assume that a computer will, at some point, exhibit psychotic behavior if used with a modified sine wave inverter.


Basically my system provides plenty of electricity, more than I need anyway, until the end of my beach season (October) when sunlight is harder to come by. It’s a bit trickier then, but not enough to make any changes. I live in the Midwest, USA.

Good luck with your project!




MY SIMPLE SOLAR ELECTRICAL POWER SET-UP