Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Glory of Electricity

The solar panel project is complete. It took a bit of dangling precariously off a ladder, lifting a 50lb battery directly over my head while contorting myself to get around the shelves and studs/rafters, then the excitement (sort of) of plugging it all in and throwing the switch. Fortunately, it all went off without a hitch and the garden shed now has clean, green, power.

The mounting went much according to plan. I built a steel angle iron frame to hold the panel in place. In order to get everything aligned properly, I cut the steel to length with a hacksaw (that was work!) then taped it into place to drill the holes. After getting the holes started, I moved the panel, because I didn't want to slip and put the drill through the glass. I drilled out the holes to an appropriate size to get around the carriage bolts, then applied a liberal coat of rustoleum to preserve it for perpetuity.

The frame fit nicely around the panel, carriage bolts through the roof to keep ne'er-do-wells from, well, ne'er-doing, and a little bit of caulking around the bolt holes to maintain weatherproofiness (though I'm not sure how necessary that is, I didn't get the thing caulked and it survived a BIG storm last week just fine).

We had an old set of christmas lights with no greater purpose in life, so we brought them and wrapped the adjacent grape arbor. Now all we need to find is an old radio/boombox and we're ready for all night parties and disco dancing.

In summary, the PV power project was ridiculously straight-forward. The panel and charge controller are both manufactured by Sunsei and the cords are idiot proof, hooking up the deep cycle battery and the car inverter took about three zaps of a neuron to figure out. The hardest parts were the frame and mounting everything. Total cost was about $250, total effort about 4 hours, total awesomeness, awesome!

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