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SolarSteamPunk

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Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #1 
My Background:
I have been using solar for 12V LED lighting wired throughout my home via 195W worth of panels, mono and poly combination. Used a small inverter to run a fan when the power went off.

Next Step:
I have purchased 5 more 100W poly panels (said they were for RV use but I am unaware of a difference). Together, I will have 695W (95W mono, 600W poly) to run my LED lights and a 20A circuit in the house which runs the fridge, a coffee maker and a toaster. I want to wire up the circuit so that I can just flip a switch which will choose my solar or my grid power, therefore eliminating the possibility of back feeding the grid and no need for a grid tie system. I haven't drawn out the circuit yet, but I have no doubt it should be easy to figure out.

The first question:
Looking at a 3000W (6000Wpeak) inverter to run the 20A circuit, but it has plug outlets instead of screw terminals. Is this normal? Can I use this and have it pass a building code inspection? Or will I have to search out an inverter which does not use regular outlet plugs?

The final goal:
To add to the system and try to get off the grid one day. I wish to have several charge controllers and inverters so that if something fails, the entire system isn't down, and repair/replacement costs are reduced. Comments, suggestions? 
Or should I bite the bullet and get my entire system up and running?

Rick H Parker

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Reply with quote  #2 
Make a list of all of your equipment, Type, Make, Model ...
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Rick H Parker
Kansas, USA
Electronics Engineering Technologist
stmbtwle

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Reply with quote  #3 
Re the switch. You will need a double-pole, double-throw, center-off switch rated for whatever amps load you anticipate. The AC line goes to one side, the inverter to the other side and the load circuits in the middle (you can get switches designed for the purpose). You have to switch BOTH the hot AND the neutral or you risk blowing your inverter (been there, done that).

However some inverters have the changeover switch built in, and it's automatic. I'd look for one of them instead.

Re the outlets vs hardwiring. Many inverters have knockout holes so you can hard wire them and bypass the outlets. Download the manual and check. Whether it will pass the "code", I'd recommend talking to an inspector.

You can put more than one charge controller on the same batteries, some are designed to work together, others will sort it out amongst themselves. It's not usually recommended to put them on the same PV array but I haven't found out why.

You can put more than one inverter on the same batteries, but NOT on the same AC circuit. You may blow one or more.

I think your best bet would be to talk to a local electrician, it would be money well spent.

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Solar is like the wind. It may be free, but putting it to work isn't!
Willie, Tampa Bay
SolarSteamPunk

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Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #4 
Rick, The only equipment I have at this time are 6, 100 watt solar panels and one charge controller for one of the panels. I have the one because I bought one panel last year with a charge controller I believe rated at 7amps, or just enough for the one panel. I will need to purchase a larger battery array, more charge controllers, pure sine wave inverter and looks like double-pole, double-throw, center-off switch rated at 20 amps for my house circuit.

stmbtwle, thanks for the reply, I will check out the switch you recommended, it sounds like what I'm looking for.


P.S. I have been running 3 separate charge controllers on my current system. It consists of 2 harbor freight specials of 4, 15 watt monocrystalline panels each with a charge controller for a total of 2 systems of 95W, and the single 100W polycrystalline panel with the simple charge controller. I have not had any issues with running the three charge controllers and 3 PV set-ups on two 35amp hour batteries.
stmbtwle

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Reply with quote  #5 
One of these should work for you:
https://www.amazon.com/universal-SZW26-25-Position-Universal-Changeover/dp/B075J31BC4/ref=sr_1_3_sspa?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1520247698&sr=1-3-spons&keywords=changeover+switch&psc=1

There is also a 4 position switch if you want provision for a generator.

You can also use a relay if you want to make it automatic.

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Solar is like the wind. It may be free, but putting it to work isn't!
Willie, Tampa Bay
SolarSteamPunk

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Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #6 
Not bad, not bad at all, And much cheaper than I expected. thanks
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