Tesla Elon Musk

He actually said something this week , I actually was thinking of years ago. So now I like him, right?

“Now we have to hope that the government doesn’t tax people for using solar energy.” Nov. 2018

I put the testimony from the Union of Concerned Scientists from Dec., 1974 in the House of Representatives’ Science and Technology Committee in my Blog recently that predicted this same potential major problem. 1974, yes that’s 44 years ago! (And keep in mind , in the end the government also controls the utility companies., right?)

I’ll try to attach both peoples ideas here now if you want to see them:

Mr. Elon Musk talking first:

“Now we have to hope that the government doesn’t tax people for using solar energy.” 2018

The Testimony of the Union of Concerned Scientists: 44 Years ago.

It’s so long pretty hard to read.

it’s what Mr. Musk said in one sentence:

Anderson Plug

In my last post I mentioned that I had gotten carried away at Sun Electronics’ Miami warehouse and had filled my trailer and truck to the point that I decided to leave some batteries behind. I shredded one tire at one A.M. and only had one spare, so maybe that was good that I didn’t try to overdo it. Will I have enough battery power to get by until my next trip to Miami? Probably, yes. You see, I have figured out how to incorporate some other battery sources that I already own. Many of you may be able to do the same.
Before I explain, I’d like to introduce you to the Anderson plug. If you have ever noticed how a forklift battery plugs into the lift truck or the charger, well that’s an Anderson plug. It is a flat, two pin plug that is polarized. One plugs into another, they are both the same and you can’t plug them in backwards, which is a neat trick. They come in at least 3 different sizes. There is a small one like on my niece’s ride on electric car, a big on used on forklifts (350 amps) and a medium one (175 amps). Moreover, they come in colors, but not to make them pretty.
At my house, I have gray, yellow and blue in the 175 amp size. Each color has a slight change to the shape, so you can only plug into the same color. The first I ever used was gray, and I have one on the front of my truck. I replaced the two tow hooks on the front with receiver hitches, so I could slide a winch on and off, as needed., and plug in to the Anderson plug. I also have a 3kw inverter I can mount there for power in the boonies. Gray became my 12v standard.
My solar-powered expedition boat has yellow connectors and I can plug it into the 24v system that powers my house at this time, adding an extra 350 a.h. of battery, without buying more batteries. For some reason, I haven’t had the boat out all year, yet it’s batteries stay active and contribute at no additional cost.
The new 48v system has blue Anderson plugs. There is no way I can screw up and connect the 3 different system voltage levels to each other. I have two 48v golf car/utility vehicles that can plug in to the blue line and add 350 a.h. to the 48v system. I got to considering it, and since the boat has two banks of 24v, I can use a special 3 connector cable to change them to another 175 a.h. at 48v. No screwups will be possible when reconfiguring, connecting or disconnecting and I get bunches of additional storage from batteries I already own. A similar adapter cable could be used to connect a golf car to the 24v system without making smoke and sparks.
The utility golf cars, little trucks actually, allow me to move my solar power around. I no longer even own a functioning gas generator. I cut my firewood with an electric chainsaw, trim trees with an electric pole saw, trim my hedge without a long extension cord and operate power tools for construction and repairs around my farm. The inverter plugs into the blue Anderson plug. There is also a homebrew stick welder to plug into the blue plug. Why limit your solar power to the house?
Photos: Blue Anderson plug and 3kw inverter on the solar jalopy. Solar-charged Yamaha G19 powers the chainsaw to cut wood and then hauls it to the house. They both add to the storage of the solar power system.

But back to the main topics, Anderson plugs, once successfully set up, allow you to do all kinds of configuration changes without worry about connecting something wrong. Using them to add underutilized resources to your system can help you get more out of your system without buying more.
In my 48v system, with what I have, it tallies up to 460a.h. of main system battery plus 525a.h. of battery that otherwise wasn’t doing anything at night. That’s 47 kwh, good for several cloudy days.
Don’t overlook what you already have!

-Neal

Gas Generators and more. By Neal Collier.

One thing I’d like to do when I come down is to get a better idea of all the stuff you have in inventory so I can name specific products that I feel good about, like today and the mention of MNSPD surge eaters.  I know you have those because you are including them in your kits.  They work, too.

You’ve been bragging about your Ryobi generators, lately.  I bet if you look closely they have Honda engines.  Honda’s standard for starting is they have to start on the first or second pull of the rope.  My Ryobi pressure washer with Honda engine does.  I have been inside a Honda engine and they are superbly made.  I have seen a comparison and one Honda is equal to about 8 Briggs & Stratton engines!

I have done all of these essays in the morning, in bed, while drinking my coffee!  I probably need to structure the subjects.  If you can think of anything that might be of interest, I’ll have a go at it.

Neal

Battery Safety Tips. By Neal Collier

Bring a big truck when you visit and work safe when you get home.I write this stuff for fun and to be helpful.  I’m not an employee of Sun Electronics, I’m a customer.  In my role as customer, I set out the other afternoon for my third visit to Sun’s Miami headquarters and my first visit to the Miami Lakes facility.  This place is a lot nicer than the Miami Gardens warehouse, though it lacks the artistic touch left at the old place by some tag artists.

It is a round trip of 1482 miles for me, so I like to make a good haul of it.  I brought my big trailer.  We stacked panels until the fenders rested on the tires and I made the decision to leave two pallets behind.  14kw will keep me busy for a while, anyway.  I also didn’t get as many batteries as I wanted.  Upon calculation back home, I figure I brought home close to 6000 lbs.  I could have carried that extra stuff, after all!  We just needed to pry the fenders up a little further off the tires.  Live and learn.

Well, back home, I had some ideas how I was going to treat the batteries on my new 48v system a little differently.  I like to improve safety and efficiency as I go.  I know ways of doing it wrong, both from investigation and from practical experience.  One of the easiest ways of blowing up some batteries is to hook them up backwards.  The things are marked plus and minus and we all know not to mess up the connections, but you get tired, the area may not be well lit and the batteries may have some dust or baking soda on them to obscure the markings molded into the cases.  Furthermore, those pesky cables get in the way!  Believe me, you CAN hook them up wrong and I HAVE done it and didn’t like how it worked out.

First thing I did before taking them off the tailgate was to hit the POSITIVE corners with a dash of white paint.  I thought about red but Trojan batteries are sort of red, so I think the white will stand out better, even in poor light.  White on the black Sun batteries will not be confused.

After the paint dried, I used a felt marker to put the date, 11-18, on the white patch.  Time gets by, you know.  If you don’t date them, 8 years from now you’ll be wondering why those batteries you JUST BOUGHT aren’t holding a charge like they used to.  My Dad dated every tool and appliance he bought and I have decided it is a good idea.

Next step is to get out a little tub of grease, or maybe get into the grease gun you use for the pickup.  The area where the lead terminal pokes through the plastic case should be sealed, but you will always find one or two that eventually leak acid fumes and make green stuff corrode your nice battery cables.  Take the grease and smear it around that transition from lead to plastic.  Then save some to coat the terminals when you get your cables connected.

And speaking of terminals, why not make new battery cables for your new batteries?  I checked and found I have a good supply of double-ought (2/0) cable and around 30 big, tinned terminals for 5/32″ studs.  That’s probably overkill, but I am good to go.  I need to order a bit of marine shrink tube.  Some people crimp with a tool that looks like a bolt cutter with dull jaws.  I have a couple of tools that look like little presses.  You put the terminal on the wire, poke it between the jaws and beat the heck out of it with a big hammer.  For even less resistance, I then heat the terminal with a torch and slip some solder inside.  I finish by covering the transition from wire to terminal with marine shrink tubing.  This is available in red or black, coding + and -, and it has an inner lining of melty glue like you get from a glue gun.  You shrink that stuff down with a heat gun or torch (if you are careful) and nothing is getting in.  AND the color gives you a surefire coding for polarity.

Why is polarity so important?  If you try to connect two banks of batteries in parallel and do it backward you will blow yourself up.  Usually the cases don’t blow apart, but everything gets sprayed with acid and your battery caps get ruined if they are the push-and-twist variety.  If you blow up a set of the expensive water saver caps you will be especially displeased with yourself.  If you aren’t wearing your safety glasses you can be blinded.  Your hearing might be damaged.  Your clothes will need to be replaced, even if you wear a protective apron.  Don’t blow up your batteries. That’s hooking batteries up backwards.  What if you get the battery banks right and then connect backwards to your charge controller or inverter?  If you bought hardware with “reverse polarity protection” then nothing will happen.  NOTHING.  If not, there will be a spark, a puff of smoke and you just trashed a $500 charge controller or a $5000 inverter!  The synopsis of all this is that it is best to hook the batteries up right and any trick you can come up with to help you avoid a mistake is smart procedure.  So, wear your safety gear (goggles, gloves, apron), color code your batteries and cables and check your work with a meter before making the connection.

Something else to consider is that some things will give you a spark, even when you do connect it right.  Charge controllers and inverters have big capacitors that will draw a huge quick current as they charge when you connect.  If you connect to a battery post the pop may ruin the threads and I don’t think you will have a lot of luck rethreading that stainless stud.  Make a quick jab at a place that is not threaded on a battery or equipment connection.  Let it get the pop out of its system and then slip on the terminal and the nut.  Oh, and making that pop on the battery ends of things is making a spark near a source of hydrogen gas, so best to do your sparking elsewhere.  I have a big knife switch that lets me disconnect all the charge controllers when connecting the battery bank and I just slip the fuse out of the inverter.

And, hey, next time you see some of those nice LED shop lights on sale, get one to put over the batteries to make it easier and safer to hook up, tighten up and water up when installing or doing maintenance.  More battery ideas next time.

Neal

Results Edition: Inquiring Minds Want to Know!

Over the weekend we really went to extremes to show just how tough solar panels can be.  Today we’ll tell you the results.

We started with a Suntech STP280 that had been hit by a tractor.  The frame was bent, wires were ripped loose, glass was shattered and many of the internal cells were broken.  Short circuit current of a shiny new panel should be around 8 amps.  Open circuit voltage should be 44V.  In the “as found” condition, we had 4.5 amps and 43 volts.  Connected to a load we could get about 68 watts.  Not bad for a module someone had thrown away.

Especially for a panel that looked like this.

And to recap what happened next:

After the shooting, I measured output under varying conditions.  The hole sure was a handy place to put a voltmeter!

And the open circuit voltage was….39V.

Next I added a 24V driving light as a load.  The lamp pulled .961 amps at 24V or 23 watts.  That’s all the lamp needed.  Was there more?

Next, I added a 12V battery, to be charged, and an ammeter.

Now we have 2.508 Amps at 13.8 Volts for 34 watts.

How about 2 batteries in series and the light?  26.2 Volts X .880 Amps = 23 watts

Here’s a look behind the scenes…no trickery, just honest destruction.

Conclusions?  Obviously, PV modules work better if you don’t smash them with a tractor, shoot them with a pistol and shoot them again with a shotgun.  The worst damage appears to have been done by the tractor.  That hit took it down from 280 watts (rated) to 68 watts.  The first two shots, from a .45 and a 12ga. slug, had no effect on the output.  It was the huge hole from the shotgun when I backed up that cut the output in half.  The point is that the panel continues to output usable power and it did a good job of topping up those batteries.

Oh, and remember “Don’t Try This At Home.”

Neal

How tough is a solar panel?

Hi John,

It’s a beautiful, cool sunny day here in NW Florida and you’re right, John, you can knock a hole in a solar panel and it’ll still work.  Just don’t try it with a hammer, because there is a tough plastic layer under that glass and another on the backside.  You need to be forceful to get a hole.

I started with a Suntech STP280 that must have fallen off of somebody’s roof.  Yup, that’s a busted one!

Note:  We now know how the module got bent and cracked.  It was hit by a front-end loader bucket when the tractor got just a little too close.”


The frame is bent, the glass is cracked, the J-Box and all the wires were ripped off, the cells are cracked and it has been left out in the weather for a few years.  I soldered on some wires and new diodes, then I took it down to a safe place and wired it up to some batteries on the solar jalopy.  It was making a decent charge

I had a little test in mind.

So I shot it with a .45 pistol and it was still making a charge.

So I thought I’d try to make a bigger hole with a 12 gauge “ring load”.  Nice, but no change.  So I went with straight bird shot and that was better.  Then I backed up and gave it some more bird shot.  Then I shot it some more with the .45.  Hey, I could go broke on ammo before this thing quits!

Since I was out of ammo, I unhooked the batteries and connected an offroad driving light to it… it still works!

Now it is really busted up, but still runs.  Hey John, is this still under warranty for output?

Now we know.

Neal

Thanks Neal.

John Kimball

If you want to help me helping others to utilize solar energy, surviving disasters, etc. please send your stories to me at jk@sunelec.com. Good advice of any kind, humor😂, etc. is welcome.

Not so high math. By Neal Collier

Hello John,

What’s all this higher math stuff that folks think you have to know to get into using solar power?  When I was in college, studying engineering and physics, they loaded me down with all kinds of math courses.  Crazy stuff like calculus, differential equations and Boolean Algebra.  Some people are math people and some are not.  I am not (except I’m a whiz at Boolean Algebra) and my first 3 semesters of Calculus 101 didn’t make much of an impression.  In all my years of electronics design I never used it at work.  Not to say I never used it.  You can calculate how high an anvil will fly by measuring the interval of time from when a charge of gunpowder placed under it goes off to the time it thuds back to earth. That’s not something most people ever need to do and it certainly has nothing to do with solar, but everybody needs a hobby.

There are a couple of handy formulas to keep in mind, though, if you are into do-it-yourself solar power.  The first does not involve the technical side, but it is very important.  It goes like this:  $/w.  You know that “$” is money and the “w” stands for watts.  This is the formula you use to figure what stuff costs.  You should know this already because it is in all of the Sun Electronics ads and emails.  There are variations on this. You usually want to know the cost of panels/modules.  This used to be a very large and critical number.  I designed some remote monitoring equipment many years ago and we paid $11/watt for small solar panels.  I think the latest Sun email blast offers them for $.34/watt.  Imagine, today you can buy a 300 watt panel for what I used to pay for 10watts!  There are solar dealers who will sell you modules for over $1/watt, but why would you pay that much? The $/w formula can save you money.

You’ll need more than the modules, of course, so you can use the same formula to determine system cost.  Looking at the latest email flyer, I see nice systems for a bit over $2/w.  Yeah all that other stuff costs more than the solar panels, but you need it.  You also need to figure in for the stuff to bolt it all together.  And installation, but if you are the handy type you can usually do it yourself, though you might need to hire a pro to inspect and sign off on it if rebates and incentives are involved.

If you are like me, you probably get letters and emails telling you the sender can fix you up with solar power through some “program”.  Ask them the $/w cost.

OK, lest this should start to sound like a sales pitch, let’s look at a formula for the technical side of it.  Watts = Volts X Amps, where the unit of power is Watts.  For some silly reason, this is usually expressed P = E x I.  Silly, isn’t it?  Anyway, remember this one.

Here is one real life example of how you might use it.  Let’s say you have a 60 amp charge controller on a 24 volt system.  60amps x 24volts = 1440watts.  Now you can see that if you have a 1000 watt system you are in good shape, but if you have a 5000 watt system you are going to need several charge controllers or maybe a really big one.  I think you can find one rated at 300 amps.  300 x 24 = 7200, so that would easily handle your 5000 watts of solar power.

Or maybe you have one of those 300 amp charge controllers in your shopping cart, how many of those 305 watt panels that are on sale can you use?  Remember, this controller will handle 7200 watts, so the really basic math is 7200/305 = 23.6 panels.  Sorry, you will have to round it down to 23.  In practical terms, you’d make it 21, because of the nature of MPPT charge controllers, which would usually put your panels grouped in series strings of 3 (7 times 3 is 21), AND it is often best to not push the limits of the rated power on some controllers.  Sorry to throw that little complication in at the last minute, but that gives us a good reason to discuss charge controllers in the next post.  You’ll find some more uses for your power formula, learn how to get more power out of your modules and, best of all, save money,

Neal

Thank you Neal.

JK

3,700 used 305W solar panels for sale!

We finally did it again, and it wasn’t easy. We have approx. 6 containers of these modules, maybe more. The first container sold out in one week by the pallet or less. But we just received 3 more in Miami and 2 in Texas. Instead of pallet or less than a pallet pricing, we are now selling by full container loads as well. Call for prices.

We have inspected every module and they all meet the original specifications. They have a 20 year warranty. We have them in Miami now and are ready to ship anywhere. We also have them on our Texas 3PL to allow for lower cost shipping to the western and central U.S.A.

I believe these are the best deal you will find in the PV module market. As usual who pays first, gets shipped out first. Deposits to hold are ok, but payment by W.T. is best to guarantee fast delivery.

They look and perform perfectly. The only problem is that they were on a solar farm for approx. 2 years. They have a short number on the side of the frame made with a magic marker. The frame may also have some scratches. Those are the only flaws.

Go to www.sunelec.com it should be listed at the top of our home page.

Also, Take a look at our new warehouse in Miami, It looks like a Home Depot. We have free design services and every component needed for your PV home system listed on hanging signs, aisle by aisle. We also stock the most efficient/low cost appliances to help keep costs down on your PV system.

And remember be sure to ask for a discount if you buy a lot of stuff or additional components i.e. inverters, batteries, appliances or generators or one of our complete system packages.

At Sun, we’re always willing to negotiate!

Look , if you find a better price on inverters, batteries, etc. We’ll try to beat it.

I have 46 years devoted to my passion, promoting solar energy use.

John Kimball, Owner

Oh and if you ever have a problem of any type with your order, shipping, quote, please call me 🤙 I can solve any problem faster than anyone!

My cell number is 305-322-1086 🙂

The 0.32/Watt SUN 305W Module is the lowest module price in the USA!

We finally did it again, and it wasn’t easy. We have approx. 6 containers of these modules, maybe more. The first container sold out this week by the pallet or less. But we just received 3 more in Miami and 2 in Texas. Instead of pallet or less than a pallet pricing, we are now selling by full container loads as well,

We have inspected every module and they all meet the original specifications. They have a 20 year warranty. We have them in Miami now and are ready to ship anywhere. We also have them on our Texas 3PL to allow for lower cost shipping to the western and central U.S.A.

I believe these are the best deal you will find in the PV module market. As usual who pays first, gets shipped out first. Deposits to hold are ok, but payment by W.T. is best to guarantee fast delivery.

They look and perform perfectly. The only problem is that they were on a solar farm for approx. 2 years. They have a short number on the side of the frame made with a magic marker. The frame may also have some scratches. Those are the only flaws.

John Kimball

Go to www.sunelec.com it should be listed at the top of our home page. Take a look at our new warehouse in Miami, It looks like a Home Depot. We have free design services and every component needed for your PV home system listed on hanging signs, aisle by aisle.

We also stock the most efficient/low cost appliances to help keep costs down on your PV system.

And, be sure to ask for a discount if you buy additional components i.e. inverters, batteries, our one of our complete system packages!