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Off-Grid Power Update: Solar Panels Arrive

by Tyler

Last April, we received the initial charging equipment for our off-grid power system! We're starting with six 245 watt REC photovoltaic panels, whose output to our battery bank will be regulated by an Outback FM80 charge controller. The week they arrived, Tara and I installed them, officially transforming our shed into the solar shed. Woo woo!

Solar Panels! Determining Solar Panel Layout on Solar Shed Roof Tyler Carrying Solar Panel Tyler Wiring Solar Panels

I've wired our panels in two parallel strings of three. Each panel is capable of producing about 30 volts @ 8.23 amps. In ideal conditions, we should be producing about 1.5 kW of power! After writing this, I learned that the aforementioned numbers are STC (Standard Test Condition) figures, not the NOCT (Normal Operating Cell Temperature) ones. The capability of our current array in real world conditions is probably about 1.1 kW.

Solar Panels Affixed to Solar Shed Roof

In the coming years I expect to add at least 12 more panels, probably on pole mounts to the east of the shed. At the moment, the only thing left to do with them is set the angle. I will probably wait until this winter to do it though—my trigonometry skills aren't good enough to calculate how far apart the rows need to be so as not to cast a shadow on themselves when the sun is lowest in the sky.

Next up, hooking the panels to a charge controller…