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Leroy

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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #1 
OK, I'm completely new to solar power and new to the forum.  I've just finished installing an off grid solar power system for a cabin in central Virginia.  I am up and running with no problems that I know of but still have a bunch of questions that the equipment suppliers seem reluctant to address.  Equipment I have is as follows; Schneider Conext SW 4048 Inverter/Charger, Schneider Conext MPPT 60/150 Charge Controller, Schneider Conext SW Control Panel, Schneider Conext SW 120/240VAC AC Breaker Panel, 16 Crown CR 235 6V Batteries wired at 48 volts, 9 Sunmodule SW315 panels wired in three strings of three panels each in series and a hand built 3 string combiner/breaker box.  I am using the power "when I am on site" to complete construction work on the cabin itself but I am slightly gun shy to leave the system "on" and be away from the site several days at a time.  My question, to you folks who are familiar with this batch of equipment; how safe is it to leave everything turned on and walk away for days or even weeks without checking it?  Schneider is reluctant to answer that question yet they say the system is foolproof and totally reliable--so is it???  I guess my biggest concern is dropping by and finding $8K in equipment fried to crispy critters or worse my cabin a big heap of ashes......

stmbtwle

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Reply with quote  #2 
If properly installed everything should be reliable, and most of it is designed to fail "safe". Also bear in mind that the power is there whether you turn it 'off' or not, unless you have figured out a way to turn off the sun.

The system is new to you. My suggestion would be to keep doing as you're doing, for now, until you gain the confidence in it to trust it's reliability.

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

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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks Willie.  That is probably what I will do until I can spend a few days there without leaving and watch the meters.  I called one of their tech guys and asked if they would go over the start up/program procedure with me just to make sure everything was correct.  His response was "if it's working and you have current, what's the problem".  So far, every day I have worked on the cabin using the current, the gauge is showing full charge when I leave, which has sort of surprised me.  Was thinking using the saws, compressor, lights and fans would pull down more than the panels were charging back.  If you don't mind, there are a number of questions I'd like to get an opinion on....

I have the Schneider equipment outside the cabin in a large steel CT cabinet.  It has venting at bottom and top but no active fan for the cabinet itself.  Was a little concerned about heat build-up in the cabinet but there doesn't seem to be much heat coming off the converter or charge controller.  We were close to 100 degrees some of the days I was working and there didn't seem to be any heat issue in the cabinet.  What's your thoughts on this?  Should I install a thermostat controlled vent fan or don't worry about it?

Batteries are in a separate cabinet outside.  I'm using a plastic deck storage box lined with 2" styrofoam insulation and vented both ends.  During charging, the tops of the batteries were actually quite cool while the top of the box it'self was scorching hot from the sun so I'm fairly confident that is adequate.  Being new to this whole battery system, what is a prudent maintenance practice with these batteries?  Typically how often should the fluid levels need to be checked? 
stmbtwle

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Reply with quote  #4 
I can't speak for any of the individual components.

During the day, you are using power directly from the array, and your batteries are only acting as a buffer. If you really want to "test" the system, use your batteries at night, and watch what happens the next day.

I agree with the tech guy, if it's working, don't f with it. Those systems are designed to be idiot-proof and to run without attention. The less you mess with them the better. I expect the cabinet acts like a chimney and cools by convection. Fans would wear out. Relax.

As far as the batteries are concerned, it will depend on how hard they are used. Only time will tell, but they may require more attention as they get older.

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

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Posts: 94
Reply with quote  #5 
Any way to set up remote monitoring like through a cell phone hookup.
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JJ
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