Vortex 3-wheel Vehicle
17' Wind Turbine
Bradly GT II Kit Car
1966 Ford Fairlane GT
Xantrex XW Monitoring/Logging Software
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|Dan Lenox's Solar Build Chronicle|
This website has been created to chronicle the setting up of solar electric panels and the building of my own solar tracker.
Besides the wonderful view we also have wind, lots of wind! So I constructed a 17' wind turbine which can be seen here.
So to enhance my own electrical generation I needed to use another alternative source - the Sun!
Typically I research the heck out of stuff, and this project is again no exception! There are multiple ways to go concerning solar:
Our house is already pretty well situated for passive solar, house basically runs East to West, on the Southern side are large windows and very few on the Northern side. For the most part if the outside is 50+ degrees we find that the house is pretty comfortable. Due to our altitude (3000') we really don't need air conditioning during the summer months - and there is always a breeze.
So I have decided that Solar electrical generation is the next way that I will go for a number of reasons, mostly because due to the wind turbine we already have battery bank, Xantrex XW-6048 inverter and interior wiring all set. Due to my development of PowerDashboard software I already have Xantrex XW Solar Charge Controller (SCC).
Basically I only have to purchase the solar panels, mount them, bury conduit into house and wire them into the existing system.
Solar panels come in different flavors:
Monocrystalline per specs have the best efficiency (%16), but this is true while only in direct sunlight. Polycrystalline are next (%13), while thin-film are the cheapest available. Efficiency is relative, and in our area I have been told that Polycrystalline produce more output reliably under most conditions.
There are some options in mounting the solar panels:
The roof of our house is easily 35+ feet above ground, and I for one do not want to be trying to mount a solar panel during any sort of wind at that height! Not to mention that putting lag bolts and holes through your roof is just asking for leaking problems... Also if you have to do any roof maintenance you have to remove the panels - so roof mounting is out.
Fixed ground mounting is a good short term solution, it allows you to get the solar panels into operation as quickly as possible. You can install a post to 'hang' them on or simply prop them against the side of the house (short term). However production of electricity can be reduced because of not having the optimal angle to the sun.
Due to our altitude, we easily get more sun than the rest of the area and from my research I have seen that by using a tracker on the solar array. Again from my research there are two types of trackers: passive and active. Passive trackers typically use cylinders, either with fluid or gas charged to passively track the sun. As the sun moves across the sky fluid or gas moves from one cylinder to the other causing the tracker to face the sun. Active either uses a timed mechanism to move the array or sensors that determine the direction of the sun, and 1 or 2 axis motor controls to move the array. The panels, mount and tracker will be installed on a post.
Zomeworks is a good example of passive, while Wattsun has one of the best active trackers.
One issue with commercial trackers is that they are PRICY: $1800 for passive, and $2500 for active!
Solution - build your own.
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