By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 1/21/2021
Occurred: 8/22/2020
Topics/Keywords: #Coronavirus #Maui Page Views: 261
We create an additional solar panel array.

We've been slaves to an electric generator for far too long. Time to cut that cord! —Oops, that's not what I meant.

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Welcome to Serenity Slope! From this vantage point near the road, one can see Zach's Shack and banana gtree garden, with the Upper Solar Array to the left.

I now call it the Upper Solar Array, because, as of today, we also have a Lower Solar Array to provide power to Keith's and my cabin. Zach came down with the new panels around noon.

Together, Zach and I figured where the new array would go, and, most importantly, what direction it would face.

We have a few stacks of leftover lumber from which the new array frame is to be constructed.

We also have two supervisors.

Zach is rapidly acquiring the skills of an accomplished carpenter. All of this was built with measurements in the head, no written plans.

It was, admittedly, a late start (most workers around here start early morning, then quit by 4 so they can go surfing), but we managed to get the panels mounted and wired before bedtime.

I amhappy to report that, when I rose at dawn to feed the dogs, the rising sun did, in fact, fall upon the South-facing panels.

As the sun sank, please note that the panels still pick up its rays until they vanish beyond the western hill.

The batteries are supposed to be kept dry. But Zachcame up with the idea of keeping them beneath the panels, which act as an existing shelter.

These six, 6-volt batteries, are wired in parallel pairs. Each pair of batteries is wired in series to make 12 volts; each pair is then wired to the others in parallel. Although these panels are probably adequate for our electrical needs, the batteries aren't.

When the suns rays, or any light, strikes a solar panel, the panel generates electricity: a lot if the sun is bright, less if it's cloudy. none at night. Since the voltage generates varies and the battery bank requires 12 volts steady, the solar-produced electricity runs through a controller, which makes sure the output voltage is correct. That charges the batteries., but we also need an inverter, which changes the 12-volt direct current from the batteries to house current. That's what we plug our stuff into.

Which is why we have a generator, to provide the additional electricity as needed (mostly at night). In fact, we have three generators. However, the yellow one we used originally stopped working. I think the battery just needs to be charged, and we could start it with the pull cord—except the pullcord doesn't exist.

So we brought down the orange generator Zach was using, since he doesn't need it anymore, now that the Upper Solar Array is operational.

However, this morning, the cord on Zach's generator broke, with the other end disappearing into the reel.

Keith took apart the reel cover and we tied the ends of the cord together so we could start the generator. Obviously this is not the final solution—frankly, around here there seem to be no final solutions, just stop-gap fixes that last until they don't.

Still, we are now far ahead of where we were before. Previously we spent about $100 a week on gas for the generator. I now estimate just 2-3 hours' usage each night once we get the additional batteries connected.