Friday, April 1, 2011

Generating Boost!

After missing out at the police auction in Bristol that was selling loads of recovered stolen PV dirt cheap, and missing out on some other auctions on line, I got lucky this week...
Eight 80-85W mono panels (650Wp) for £940... £117.50 each!
Two are 85W models (a BP and a very old looking GB Sol) and the rest are pretty new Chinese "Klearskies 2000" 80W models.  One had a load of garden fence paint splashed on it but an hour with some water and the Japanese "magic sponge" soon got rid of that.  Quite a feat, considering the glass is textured.

Now all I have to do is figure out where to mount them. :D

Strange as it may seem, I'm thinking of selling one of them, as that way I'll have an even number of 80W panels overall.  I'd only gone on to eBay to look for one panel to match up to the odd panel I have on the garage (I bought 5 panels last time).  Although I could use all eight, it would leave me with an odd panel again and it's too much of a temptation to buy "just one more" to make it an even number.

If I sell one, then I won't have that itch to scratch.

The guy was selling them to pay for his MCS / Part P training and then he'll do his house with a proper grid tied array as his exam install to get certified.  So now I'm sponsoring PV installers to get through college and do things properly by bodging my own system...  There's an irony.

He donated the suspicious 600W Chinese GTI that he'd used with this lot at the back of his garden.
I had a quick look at the innards and was glad that I did.  A capacitor on the output display power supply had swelled up and burst.
If magic smoke hadn't already issued forth, it soon would have.  As its only the Watt meter on the output and not part of the inverter itself, I bodged on a similar capacitor (but alas too small to make the meter work, but safe enough to make it not work reliably, if that makes sense).

An initial play with it in the garden yesterday showed that the inverter works, sort of.  I hooked up two 80W panels in series (the inverter works from 28-52V DC) and it made some noise and a plug in AC meter said something like 40W output (it wasn't sunny).  But then it sort of stopped altogether and restarted if I turned the DC off and on again.  Not sure if this thing works properly at all (or ever did...).  But as he gave it to me as a freebie, it can't hurt to play with it a bit.  On the other hand, he did mention that he used to have a 1kW one, but it exploded.

It has some appeal though... plugging in maybe just 80W of grid tied power to offset the base load that I can't get off grid.  I could use the old pair of 40W Kyocera panels on the garage and just put the GTI in the garage, plugged into the spur there.  I've some leeches that can't go on solar power (like the clock in the electric cooker, the central heating boiler, and so on). With a little bit of grid tied power I could null most of that energy import out without losing power to the grid (and I can't get paid for or worse, the import meter may count up even when power is flowing out of the house).

Of course the next thing will be arguing with the FIT bods about having expanded my DIY system. They may throw their toys out of the pram and kick me off the FIT scheme altogether (fine by me) or they might agree to pro-rate the kWh payments to exclude the additional capacity. I think they are already calculating it wrong for my existing system; I got my second payment a few weeks ago (only the second statement though as I didn't get approved until December) and it doesn't look quite right.

I'll also now have too much PV for the 60A Tristar controller so I'm going to use some of these panels on a E-W system. I'll get rid of the mickey mouse 12W & 15W amorphous panels and use the new ones to boost morning and late afternoon production, as off-grid needs a long flat power curve rather than lining all 2400Wp up at the noon sun and over loading the controllers and battery. I can't even use 2400W as the immersion heater is geared down to just 650W. But it will mean that I can use that 650W for longer than before and run other things like the fridge longer without hitting the battery at all.

It might even be time to bite the bullet and get a roof rail kit and talk to the BC bods about allowing me to install this kit on the roof, where it belongs.

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