John’s Home Office Solar Backup Power System

Condo Solar

As promised, I am passing along John’s description of the emergency backup system he put in his condo, years ago. Battery backup, with solar and a generator. The power does not usually stay off very long in big cities, but it doesn’t have to go off at all!

When I started Sun Electronics 35 years ago, I used my home office, it had been my Kyocera America East Coast and Latin America office. I set up this new office for Sun Electronics after working for them for 8 years.

I installed about 5 ARCO modules on my balcony railing , they were flat so I could use them as a bar for parties and just hanging out watching a nice view of the pool deck, Biscayne Bay and the Ocean. They were the perfect width and length 4 ft, by 1 foot. They were just for the office, then I added, a separate circuit breaker sub panel and added a Trace DR2424 inverter charger with an automatic transfer switch so I could have a hybrid system using a portable silent Honda portable gas generator. I could plug that back into grid to use for black outs or, by disconnecting the utility, and keep running the condo, ( the most important electric circuits: 2 refrigerator freezers (25 years old) sockets in kitchen, bedrooms and living room, minus the big loads 220 VAC appliances like stove, electric water heater and air conditioner. It was a great little hybrid system. We only integrated the Generator because Hurricane Wilma came along and put Miami back into the dark ages for 3 days. The system was so efficient and quiet that no one could see the solar panels and when the hurricane showed up we took them down and just used the backup power system with the Honda generator inverter, and 4 6V, 220 amp hr batteries wired in series (equaling 24 volts).

We went three days on that system and didn’t even use half the gasoline in the little lightweight portable, practically silent, generator because most of the time we didn’t need it after the batteries were charged and they took over we just had to disconnect the extension cord running to the generator out on the balcony that fed the house and the 70 amp battery charger in the inverter/charger.

It reminded me of the pelicans that flew by my window everyday up on the 14th floor Venetian Condominium. They’d flap their wings a couple of times (the generator) and then glide half a mile or more (the inverter output off the batteries, no noise, not even the Honda that I don’t think anyone ever noticed. Its illegal to bring gasloline into a high rise for running a generator on your balcony so we brought it up full in a cardboard box just before Hurricane  hit, It was amazing to see all of Miami dark for three nights.  If it had lasted more than one tank of gas I would have just reinstalled the panels on the balcony railing and lighten the load by at least half, goodby refrigerators, 6, 35 watt modules weren’t capable for that, but everything else was ok including microwave and fans a small 10 cu. Ft. refrigerator (75 watts) could have been added but just never did that.