Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Solar answers-finally

Yup, we're still fighting the losing battle with our solar system.  We've had technicians here to try to figure out what is happening, but no real answers.  Nothing they've tried has made a difference.  They've tried to reprogram the inverter to no avail.  Per recommendations from our solar provider in the US and the battery manufacturer, the default settings were appropriate.  Our batteries are nearly toast.  By watching our available volts and running the generator every evening, at least once, we've been able to keep enough power to allow us to continue at night and run our refrigerator and freezer (they're both Sundanzer DC).  We've finally given up the fight and are buying new batteries.

Thanks to the internet, I found another company in Belmopan who sells batteries, designs and installs systems.  We decided to visit their office and see what they have to offer.  We talked to Marco of Pro Solar Engineering and finally got some answers that make sense.  Marco has an engineering degree and additional advanced degrees.  He said that they hear stories similar to ours and offered some answers.  First off, our pump wasn't the total cause of our system failure.  If I'd been more knowledgeable I'd have recognized the fact that the inverter shut the AC down when the pump pushed it to dangerous limits.  Thus it was impossible for this to take the batteries totally down. Of course it didn't help, but wasn't the culprit.  His view of the advice offered by the other companies is that most companies in the US aren't considering our temperatures.  Here in Belize the average temp is 85 and most of the dry season it's much higher.  The charge controller, which was totally ignored by others has allowed the voltage to go too high to the inverter.  He recommends that it be programmed to keep it at 28v and below.  We regularly see the panels send 30+ volts to the charge controller . Marco says that over the two year life of our batteries, we've been frying them.  Well heck!

Also, something that I've noticed all along, but didn't have the knowledge to question it is that we were told when we initially bo't our system that it should generate 4.5 useable kilowatt hrs on a sunny day.  The highest we've seen has been 3kwhs and that was last year.  

We're buying new batteries and having Pro Solar come up and reconfigure our system.  I'll update this when we get things set up.

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