September 23, 2017

Solar Cluster: Solar Panel Installation

So… there came a weekend where two of us were free, and we had the bits organised, we could install the panels themselves.

We mounted two rails to the metal roof, then one by one, I’d terminate a cable with the solar connectors, I’d pass the panel up where my father would mount it to the rails, then the cable would be passed up, connected to the panel, then the unterminated end tossed over the gutter.

Once we were certain of cable length, I’d cut it to length (a fun job cutting a live cable), then the process would repeat.

We started about 8AM and we’re now pretty much finished the actual panel installation. We need to get some conduit to better protect the cable, and once the sun is down, I might look at terminating the other ends of the cables via 10A fuses.

This is the installation on the roof as it is now.

There’s space for one more panel, which would give me 480W. There’s also the option of buying more rails and mounting those… plenty of space up there.

DIY DC “power wall” is an option, certainly a 12V feed in the kitchen would be nice for powering the slow cooker and in major weather events, the 12V fridge/freezer.

The cables just run over the edge of the roof, and will terminate under the roof on the back deck.

I’m thinking the fuse box will be about head height, and there’ll be an isolation switch for the 12V feed going (via 8GA cable) downstairs to where the cluster lives.

As it happens, we did a pretty good job estimating the length of cable needed.

The plan is, we’ll get some conduit to run that cable in, as having it run bare across a hot tin roof is not good for its longevity. One evening, I’ll terminate those cables and wire up the fuse box.

I’ve got to think about how I’ll mount the isolation switch, I’m thinking a separate smaller box might be the go there. After that, then I need to work on the automatic switching.