2014 A.E. Web Log

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Note: These blog entries go from newest to oldest, so if you're reading these for the first time you should scroll to the bottom and work up.

July 26, 2014:

It's been a while (again) since I updated this blog. The past several years it's been status Quo. I've had just over 500 watts of solar with 660 amp hours of battery storage for some years now, I used the power for all my home lighting and most of my TV/entertainment system. But I was at a critical stage, the next step would mean more solar panels with new racks, more batteries, new charge controller, wiring, battery monitor, etc. All said and done, it meant a lot more money, more than I wanted to spend at the time. Fast forward to this Spring, money was a little looser so I decided to start upgrading my system.

At this point I've added 10 new golf cart batteries, the Sam's club Energizer GC2 batteries. As a side note, my old 6 pack of GC2 batteries are now over 5 years old and still going strong! I've repurposed them to a small solar system at my camper by a pond on property my family owns. I've added 600 watts more solar, a new 60 amp charge controller, a new Trimetric battery monitor and a new 2500 Watt MSW inverter. At this time I'm still on grid power, but I'm only powering one circuit with a small air conditioner on grid power. I'm using a Kill a Watt meter to monitor the daily power consumption of the AC. At the end of the summer season I'll be able to make a better assessment of how much power I'll need next year to run the AC on all solar power.

Right now the plan is to add another 6 batteries and 600 Watts of solar this Fall, that should get me through the winter. I intend to cut the grid power completely in September. Next Spring I'll add another 600 Watts of solar bringing me to over 2,000 Watts. I'll also be adding a new 2,000 Watt pure sine inverter this fall. My new washing machine didn't like the MSW inverter as well as my LB White shop heater. Other additions include 2 new ventless propane heaters, one for the bath and one for my office. I also took my big side by side fridge/freezer offline and replaced it with 2 new 5 cu ft freezers. One freezer is being used as a freezer, the other I modified with a new thermostat to run as a refrigerator. The GE freezer uses about 550 Watt hours a day, the Criterion (Menards brand) freezer uses about 160 Watt hours a day as a fridge. Those numbers may be a bit low, I wasn't in and out of them much when I took the Watt hour measurements, but still much lower than the big fridge which used about 1750 Watt hours a day.

I've been using 12 volt CFL's for over 10 years now. I've never been overly pleased with them, they seem to burn out much sooner than their 120 volt counter parts, they are expensive and don't seem to give as much light as is claimed. For the last year I've been replacing the CFL's with LED bulbs, mostly 5 watt bulbs in normal fixtures and 3 watt bulbs in recessed, spot lights. I really think the 5 Watt LED's are just as bright as the CFL's at less than half the power usage. No failures yet on the LED bulbs and they are about 40% the cost of the CFL's. I will keep a few of the warm white CFL's for things like the living room, but that's about it.