Chris called last night to offer his congratulations and discuss some technical aspects of the solar panels (see yesterday’s post), the most important being the issue of torque on the panel clamps. Apparently, 25 pounds is way too much. Now, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Chris and his advice, but nothing drives home a lesson like cold, hard experience (e.g. breaking a panel). Though 25 pounds of torque didn’t initially break the panels, it didn’t allow for vibration, shifting, expansion and contraction. So, at 6:45 AM, while Mare is building the morning fire and starting our second pot of coffee (She prepares the first the night before. I have the laborious job of flipping the switch) and the sun is barely poking above the foggy mountains, I headed out to correct my faux pas.
But the frost is still heavy on the barn roof. That’s a job that will hafta wait. So, I head into the barn to see what the panels are producing this early in the day and was pleasantly surprised to find they were generating 0.9 amps @ 59 volts. That’s not much, but pretty good considering the lack of sun and frost covered panels.
To keep things moving along, until the frost dissipated, I set a ladder along the outside edge of the panels to at least get that row of bolts loosened up. The interior ones can be done when things dry out. After that (7:15 AM), another look at one of the two Outback FLEXmax 80 charge controllers showed the panels were now already adding 2.2 amps @ 66 volts to the 48V battery bank. By 9:15, it had increased to 4.5 amps @ 67.4 volts.
Now we’re getting somewhere. Yesterday’s readings were late in the day, when the sun was being blocked by the mountains and trees. In addition, the current panels are actually on the east side of the barn, so they will get the most sun in the morning. Maybe by noon the amperage will double. Time will tell.