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Solar power on the balcony

By Unassigned Robot - Posted on 19 July 2011

Status: 
complete
Solar panel enclosure in situ
Solar panel enclosure 4
Solar panel enclosure 3
Solar panel enclosure
Panel on the roof of the cupboard 2

Inspired by Chris Harrington's solar-on-the-farm and bothered by the fact we need the air-con most in the middle of the day when Tepco says doing it is most like to cause blackouts, I decided to try and do a little rooftop balcony solar experiment of my own.

Huge shout-out to Chris for helping source all the pieces on yahoo auctions, and advising in detail on the right areas to over-spec or plan for expansion on etc.

Budget was 100k yen, goal was 2+ hours of output powering an air-con for a medium sized room to keep mum and baby in during the worst heat ... at least that's how I sold it :)

End cost was 107k in parts. Parts list:
* 190W/24V SunlinkPV SL160-24M190 panel (39Kyen)
* 2 * 12V 38AHr Lead acid car batteries (8.5Kyen each)
* 1500W 24V inverter (25Kyen)
* Juta CM5024Z 50amp 24V charge controller (14Kyen)
* 10m of 14mm2 cross section cable/plugs/sockets/ring-lugs etc (about
10Kyen)

Result ? Batteries are completely charged from zero by a full summer day of sunlight, and aircon was on for over 3 hours. It drew 20A at 24V in the beginning, but stabilized on 10A after a few mins when the room was cool. Panel provides about 4-5A at 24V in the middle of the day.

UPDATE 2011-09-05: My father came for a visit, and I managed to secure his superior experience and forced labor (笑) in building a somewhat weatherproof enclosure for the power electronics parts. We raided the rear of the Kawasaki Unidy hardware store and built a set of wood shelves with a perspex hinged roof as seen in the attached photos.

Nearly all the wood came untreated, so we both got busy with the teak stain as well (that stuff takes ages to wash off and ages to dry). The slats in the shelves were perfect for passing the chunky cables through the gaps. Turned out pretty well I think.

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