Thursday, February 16, 2017

BBBC 2017 #16, Solar Test and the Last PBC Video

This post is part of ToadMama's Brave, Bold, Blogger Challenge (BBBC) 2017 which is an attempt to make February go by a little more quickly. There are 28 topics, one for each day. 

What are you thankful for today?

I have a lot to be thankful for. But for the purposes of this challenge, I'll pick being able to retire. Back in 1984 when I started with the university, the retirement system was supposedly one of the benefits of working there. The offering was a defined benefit plan something that didn't mean anything to me. Back then, I didn't really care as retirement was so far into the future and I never really gave it much thought. Until a couple of years ago.

Solar testing

I set up the borrowed Kyocera KC130TM solar panel on our rear deck after using an old extension cord to wire it up to the Tristar charge controller. I really wanted to test the controller and make sure it works as expected before hauling it down to the lower 48 to install on the RV. This is a older polycrystalline 12 volt panel is rated at Isc = 8.02 amps. It is a very long run with 14 awg wire from the deck on the back of the house to the charge controller and battery bank in the garage so I was not expecting a lot of current.

Around noon, the sun came out of the clouds and the charge current was at 6.5 amps (positive value on the Trimetric means that it's charging). The battery bank was still down a couple of percent from when I made my cup of coffee using the Keurig machine. I'm not expecting it to recharge completely with the one cloudy day. I initially didn't have the wooden blocks under the panel and it was partially shaded by the deck rail. Raising the panel by 3" doubled the current. The lesson learned, you really need to watch for shading.

There was only a couple of hours of sunny-ish weather so the battery bank is still not fully charged. It read 97% this morning and 99% that evening. The forecast for tomorrow is clear and sunny. Maybe I can even do a battery equalization.

And, the final PBC video...


  1. Looks like the controller works just fine.

    1. Works pretty well even with the undersized wire. It must be a 100' run from the backyard to the front. That's almost a 2 volt drop from the panel at 7 amps.

  2. What be this cool retirement thing that you speak of? Sounds like it will be loaded with fun. And electricity. :)