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DIY solar PV system

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  • DIY solar PV system

    Hi Folks,

    Couple years ago, I built a solar PV system to add to my grid tied home. We are located in Tennessee and our power supplier is TVA ( thru local distributors ). TVA has a REALLY GOOD solar program they call "green partner generators", and will give a 10 year contract to buy all our solar power production for 12 cents OVER retail. We pay about 9 cents ( varies quarterly with fuel adjustment ) for retail, so they pay us about 21 cents/kwhr for every solar hour produced, which is measured thru a separate meter on each PV system.

    So, I decided to get on board with solar, having looked and dreamed about it for many years.

    Started with a 12 panel set up ( 175w Solarworld panels ), on two homebuilt single axis trackers, went online Dec 2008. In the spring of 09, I added 6 more panels. Now have two arrays of 10 and 8 on the trackers.....I had to put them in pairs, since I have them wired in strings of 2.....total of 3150watts ( 3.15kw )

    Here are the specs for the system equipment:

    18--175w Solarworld panels 24v nominal, 2 FM60 Outback charge controllers ( one for each array), 2 GTFX2524 Outback inverters ( 2500watt each, with grid tie and off grid capability ) connected in master/slave arrangement to produce 240v dual phase power, and a 1200amp/hr 24v battery bank.

    My initial goal was to build a system that would supply us with about 1/3 of our 900kw/hr/month average use, or about 300kw/hrs/month. So far, 27 months into this project ( of which the first 6 I only had 12 panels ), we've generated 7300kw/hrs or about 270kw/hrs/months......so I'm fairly close to my initial goal. Our electric bill for the year of 2010 averaged $45/mo, with some months actually a negative amount.

    Having seen what solar CAN do, I decided to add some more, and hopefully not only eliminate our bill, but actually have them pay me a little....

    So, I am currently getting ready to add another 2450watts in the form of 10 245w Solarworld panels on a new array with tracker I'm currently building. This tracker will be a dual axis, which is what brought me to this website, I've ordered 2 of the linear actuators they sell to operate the tracker....a 24" for the north/south tilt, and a 36" for the east/west tilt ( which is what I have two of now on the existing single axis trackers ) To control the actuators, I'll be using a controller I bought from the analogguy out of Canada. I tried several others on my existing system, but his has been the most trouble free and cost effective I've found.

    Couple pics:

    Looking down on the two existing arrays and our house.






    Back of an array. That's a 36" linear actuator mounted to 6" steel pipe/post, and tied to the tilt frame I built out of 2" square tubing. I used electrical "Unistrut" across the tube frame ( welded to the frame ) for actual panel mounting, with some aluminum clips I had made up at a local machine shop. The tilt frame rotates on a 2" shaft that runs thru a pair of 2" pillow block bearings mounted to a pc of 4' x 8" wide channel steel that welded at a fixed angle to the top of the steel pole. I used latitude angle ( about 37 degrees here ) for the north/south tilt. This next tracker I'm building, mounted another pair of bearings on the side of the pole near the top, and building a frame that will tilt the latitude angle as well, with the same "H" frame made of square tube to tilt east/west. I think I can eek out a bit more power with that extra axis, based on what I see out of the two existing ones.


  • #2
    Re: DIY solar PV system

    Hi TnAndy,

    Welcome to the site. Nice setup you have and we are glad to hear that you ordered a couple of linear actuators from our site.

    Having a tracker improves on power generation efficiency of the panels as you have noticed.

    Are the panels of the same specs on each array?
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    • #3
      Re: DIY solar PV system

      Yeah, I found from some experimentation that single axis produces about 25% more power than fixed mount ( by disconnecting the tracker drive and recording daily results ).

      The panels are the same power specs, except the newer set I ordered had a different backing on them ( which is why you can "see" thru some of them and not the original ones in the pic )...don't know why they changed that.

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      • #4
        Re: DIY solar PV system

        25% is a good improvement. With 2 axis, you will probably reach 30-35% improvement.

        I have seen these "see thru" used on backyard shades.


        BTW, you can use the attachment feature to load higher resolution pictures in your forum posts.
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        Remember to follow us on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to get the latest industry tips and updates on our products, as well as for support or customer service inquiries!
        __________________________________________________ ______________

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: DIY solar PV system

          Great to see the post on solar panel ! ! During my project at final year BSc I just found out that solar panel can also be used for RVs and boats. I feel its a great innovation of the modern time.

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