Author Topic: Going off-grid in Idaho  (Read 27834 times)

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Offline Pete

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2019, 10:10:57 pm »
Hi Doc, as far as I know the site has been fine, I check it most days for activity, as you say pretty quiet.
We don't have wind power, so far we have got by with just sun.
Most days our battery bank is regulating by around 10:30 am.
Even on cloudy days we manage to charge the batteries fine.
Our regulators are MPPT and I have the panels connected in 3 strings of 60 volts or so. Batteries are 12 volt 660 amp hour.
We get a lot of wind but are surrounded by forest so turbulence is pretty strong. A vertical axis mill may work but so far we don't need it.
I have a standby charger made with a 5 hp honda clone motor and an old alternator from our Subaru. The internal regulator died in it so I fitted a new one to the car and adapted the old car one to the charger.
Basically I gutted the alternator, pulled all the diodes and regulator our, leaving just the brush gear.
Then brought out the 3 main phase wires to a 200 amp three phase diode block. ( they are really cheap on ebay)
I used a rheostat to set the charge current on the field and usually set the current to around 50 amps.
So far I have only used it twice for a couple of hours in the last year since i made it.
As I say our power consumption is tiny. Just lights, some music, laptop computers, phone charging and power tools.
Hope your system does the job for you
Pete

Offline Wolvenar

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2019, 04:33:41 am »
As far as I know, the site was only down for a short time when the local area was having massive power problems.
The fault was mostly do to the ISP nodes not being able to outlast the outtage. But the down time was measured in hours, not days or weeks.

You can check if a site is down by visiting
https://downforeveryoneorjustme.com/
Type the site to be checked and enter.
Trying to make power from alternative energy any which way I can.
Just to abuse what I make. (and run this site)

Offline dochubert

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2019, 09:09:57 pm »
Thanks for that link Wolvenar!  Hopefully won't need it. 

Life is good.  That 2015 style 15kw powerjack I got on craigslist locally is now powering the house.  It is one of the 3-transformer models like my original 15kw (currently DOA).  Seems to be reliable, its quiet, and it showed up just when I needed it.

All the roof solar panels are now hooked up and producing!  On good sun days (for a november winter's short days), the batteries get fully charged with some left over to dump load into water heating.
On not-so-good-sun days, (snowing yesterday) I shift half the house back onto the grid.  Even cloudy days provide enough charging to handle half the house.

Hi Pete.  That alternator charger sounds perfect for your situation.  We're not as economical with power as we should be so we use the grid as back up instead of a generator.  At least as long as it lasts.  When they shut it off for good we'll get suddenly efficient and thrifty with power use I suspect.  Until then this setup should do the job.  I have a couple of generators but haven't messed with them in some time.
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Offline dochubert

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2020, 09:39:01 pm »
It's early spring here in Idaho.  Most days I run the house on my older model 15kw/48v powerjack.  I switch back to grid after sundown.  Soon the days will be longer and the nights short enough to just leave the house on the pj 24/7.  Meantime there is no reason to run my batteries down trying to run it over long nights.
My newest large 48v/15kw dual lcd pj is awaiting its replacement control board from Powerjack.  No idea how long that will take.  My small Upower clone 48v/15kw would be runable now but I didn't get the right lfdriver board.  I didn't realize the ver 9 control boards use a version 9 lfdriver board. All previous control boards back to v6 (I think) use v4 lfdriver boards.  I suspect the v4 lfdriver would work on the v9 control board but not willing to test it.
Meanwhile I'm waiting for Sean at Genetry to send me 2 tested sets of v8 control boards mated with new mainboards for my other 2 old clamshell 48v/15kw pjs.  Apparently both of the original mainboards for those 2 have problems.  I couldn't get either one to work.

I've still got some wire to run to make full use of my solar panels that I originally set up for grid tie.  For winter use I just had them piggybacked together to one c40 charge controller.  With summer approaching fast I need to run another cable and put some on a separate c40.  Yesterday after a rain shower the sun popped out and I was reading over 55 amps on 1 c40 (rated 40 amps continuous - 85 amps max) so went and pulled the fuses on the extra panels.  They obviously need their own controller.

I have a shop that has my older batteries in it that I brought from San Diego.  They run a 12v/8kw pj that powers my camper and part of the shop.  Switchable to grid.  Most of the solar panels on the shop were being used to charge the house batteries (priorities) over the last 2 years, but now that I finally have my panels on the house roof online, the shop panels can power the shop.  Some connections to change and a bit of wire to run out there.

On the other side of the yard I have another smaller shed/shop where I plan to use some 250w panels to charge (5) 105ah gel batteries to run a 12v/5kw powerjack to power an irrigation pump.  Will probably set it up to make power for the shed also.  Hope to get on that project this summer so I can set up some irrigation for remote parts of my pasture that turn brown in summer.

Well thats enough rambling and wishfull thinking for today.
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Offline Pete

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2020, 10:25:16 pm »
Sounds like you have lots of projects to get you through the corona virus shutdown.
Seems that you have had more than your share of inverter woes.
I have a 12 volt 5kw ( very optimistic) PJ that runs our house, Never given a bit of trouble. Then all my lighting and small loads are 12 volt direct, the inverter only does a few 240 volt loads and when there is extra solar power it runs a water pump and hot water element when required.
Have fun getting all your stuff running
Pete

Offline dochubert

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2020, 10:38:03 pm »

Thanks Pete,
Progress seems to come in small chunks.
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Offline dochubert

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2020, 09:38:57 pm »

Ok.
Today I worked on one of my out of commission older 15kw powerjacks.  I pulled the metal plates and the thru-bolts from all 3 transformers.  Took the xfmrs out one at a time, removed the metal baseplate, and cleaned up the space underneath.  Cut 4 small wood pieces and used silicone sealer to stick them in place so they won't slide around as I position the xfmr.  I didn't have enough rubber pieces so used wood. 

8500-08502-1

The xfmrs in these inverters are 2000w rated (by powerjack).

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So got all 3 re-positioned on their spacers so there is air flow thru the middle and underneath each one.  Then used more silicone to mount a 30mm fan on top of each xfmr, blowing down into the middle.  I like the silicone because its forgiving.  If (when) I change my mind I can peel it off without damage.  I may change to 40mm fans if these don't cool enough, but had the smaller ones at hand.  The 3 fans will run when the 2 stock xfmr fans run.

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I still need to remove the bad mainboard to make room for the new one hopefully arriving soon.  Also considering pulling off the endplate at the exhaust end.  It just doesn't let enough air out for good cooling/heat transfer.

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Offline dochubert

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2020, 05:49:11 pm »
Old mainboard out.  Space cleaned.  Note from 2nd pic that I always trash the original phillips screws holding down the + battery and output ac to xfmr connections on the heatsinks.  New bolts are hex head, making removal/installation much easier.  I highly recommend this to anyone dealing with changing out a mainboard.

8508-0
8510-1

Below is a pic of my 15kw that's currently running the house.  (The only one that works! )
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I have propped open the top cover at the exhaust end about 1 inch with some foam pieces.  This allows enough air to exhaust to keep it in temp range.  Air comes out both sides and at the top of the endplate around foam pieces.  Too much coming out near the mainboard end so so duct tape fixes that.

So the lower inverter, the one to get the new parts soon, is going to get its endplate removed.  Then we'll see how that works without propping the top cover.  Still need the on/off switch and small ckt board so have to reposition those.  Output terminal block can just sit on bottom case end, and just eliminate the other stuff.  If it works out will mod the upper unit after the lower unit is running the house.
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Offline dochubert

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #23 on: April 13, 2020, 05:53:04 pm »

Don't know why all the pics are ending up turned 90 degrees left.  They look fine on my computer....
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Offline dochubert

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2020, 11:24:30 am »

Finally got 1 of my mainboard/control board sets from Sean at Genetry.  After apparently losing the first shipment.  So this isn't even the control board I sent to him in the first place.  It is what it is.  No idea when I'll get the other set.  He's already forgotten it once.  I'm beginning to think he is in over his head with his business.

Anyway, this set was supposedly tested for over 12 hours.  Hopefully it is good to go.
I now have it installed and everything hooked up except the 12v fan circuit.  The main 48v fan has been swapped out for a 12v fan, and the 3 small fans on the transformers are also 12v.  Those will all be powered off of the control board's 12v fan connection.



Yes, all powerjack v8 and v9 control boards only output 12v for their fan circuits now regardless of the inverter's rated voltage.  My new dual lcd model has 48v fans but they don't take power from the control board.  Nothing plugs into the fan ckt on that one.  Funny, the older model control boards wouldn't even run without a fan plugged in.

Back to this inverter, either the control board or my heatsink temp control will run the four 12v fans.  Powerjack's thermal switches or my transformer temp control will run the 2 stock 120mm 48v transformer fans.  My controls usually do the switching on of fans, as I set the setpoints so they come on sooner. There is a manual fan switch for the 12v fans but I need to add one for the 48v fans also.

What's left to do is removing the output endplate to improve airflow.  I've got it pulled loose and am waffling on what to reposition and what to just eliminate.



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Offline dochubert

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2020, 04:21:42 pm »
Pictures are still posting rotated 90 degrees left.  Don't know why.

Probably just going to eliminate the inverter endplate entirely.  I was originally going to turn it 90 degrees, parallel to the side of the case and screw it to the case.  I realize now that it's too much of a rat's nest to do that.  So most everything attached to the endplate gets eliminated.  The main large white 3 pole output connector will just sit on the base of the end of the case.  The outputs from the control board, (L1 and L2) and the neutral (center tap) leads will hook directly to it.  It's my connection point to my separate output 3 pole breaker.  The smaller black output connector that sits on the outside of the endplate I use for connecting my meters, so will retain that but not sure where yet.

Plan to mount the on/off switch and the manual fan switches on a small plate next to my meters.  Also the little circuit board that has the voltage control and led lights in it.

Eliminating the endplate itself, the 2 push button breakers, that crappy universal receptacle, the smaller white 110v connector, and the 110v input socket.  That should clean things up nicely.
Wll repost a pic here after re-saving it, to see if it's rotated...

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Offline Pete

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #26 on: May 02, 2020, 09:39:47 pm »
Maybe you should go into production of your own inverters and sell them. Seems that buying a cheap inverter then modifying it heaps is a pain. Once you get them right you could apply for a job at Powerjack or just make your own brand.
I guess this is why some folk just buy expensive reputable brands. But then you have to have the money in the first place.
Nice work Doc
Pete

Offline solarnewbee

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #27 on: May 03, 2020, 05:42:51 am »
Doc you’ve one heck of a frankenverter there 😝.

That’s stuff right up my alley. The kind of thing I always thought of doing with a desktop, just mount all the parts to the wall next the desk. The new 9kw, 15kw and now the all stainless 20kw don’t have any lcd meters. The 20kw has a bunch of fuses on the front. And of course no labels as you know doc, all stamped out now. That’s as green and efficient as you can get as far as labeling goes. Grid ties are going away tho.

Let us know when your live !
SN

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Offline dochubert

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #28 on: May 03, 2020, 08:56:43 pm »

Well Pete, back when I started getting interested in inverters for running the house, I could get a 24v 8kw powerjack for a fifth of the price of a 2kw Magnasyne or Outback.  Seemed like a no brainer. A lot I didn't know at the time. (A lot more I still don't know now!)  Plus had little money to spend.
Go into business?  I'm retired and staying that way hopefully.  Also don't have the patience it takes to run a business anymore.  (There was a time...)

SN, I hardly use the pj lcds.  The lcd for this inverter fried long ago and was removed.  I have a volt/watt meter on each 120v leg.  Much more realistic readings than the pj lcd. 
Powerjack seems to be experimenting with some different stuff.  The monster transformer in the 20kw will doubtless be impossible to keep cool in a closed case.  The big case is actually not too great a design for heat removal. That's why they come with 3 or more loud fans.  My old 3 transformer models are actually a better design in some ways.  The heat generated by a specific load is easier to dissipate when spread over 3 smaller transformers than 1 large xfmr.  It's probably cheaper for them to build and sell units with one large xfmr, though.   Also the straight thru design of the old models allowed more efficient cooling with less fan power and subsequent noise.  (Gotta remove the endplate and the xfmr plates and bolts!)
Hopefully powerjack will soon realize that the dual mainboard setup is a bad design too.  Either that or build a control board that actually controls 2 mainboards properly. One very large mainboard with more fets on it would work much better than 2 separate boards.

Powerjack is apparently going to put out some new gridtie inverters in near future.  No idea what will be different from their previous attempts.  I have a couple of their older gridties on a shelf in the shop.  Gave up on them some time ago.  Not sure why I still have them.

Thanks for the encouragement guys!

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Offline dochubert

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Re: Going off-grid in Idaho
« Reply #29 on: May 06, 2020, 09:45:53 pm »
Yesterday finished removing endplate parts and rerouting fan wires.  Endplate is history.  Should be good airflow now

8539-0

The change in control boards required changing the little circuit board on the endplate that has the voltage control pot, leds and other stuff.  The ribbon cable connecting the new circuit board to the control board is too short to make it too far anyway, so mounted it just outside the control board on the side of the rack.  Notched the top cover to let the wires out.  Since the on/off switch plugs into that circuit board, mounted it next to the circuit board.  Also mounted 2 manual fan switches.

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I'm not the greatest carpenter in the world, but it will do.

Everything is now connected and ready for test.  Turned it on and got blinking leds and a beeping after 3 seconds.  Shut it down.  Not starting.  This was supposed to be a tested set according to Sean.  That's what I paid for.
Well, spent most of today texting back and forth with Sean, trying to troubleshoot it.  Painfully slow process.  Sure wish I had the schematics and documentation that he has.  His apparent diagnosis is that the base of the control board is bad.  Hmmm, tested?
He already has parts to send me so hopefully he will get to me what I need soon.
More delays....
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