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Archive for the ‘Solar And Wind Energy’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Mounting Solar Panels On Homemade Adjustable Roof Mounts

It took all three of us but we managed to get the homemade adjustable solar panel mounts onto the side of the off grid battery shed. Then we mounted the solar panels into their new frames. It sure felt good to have such a nice looking project finished in a single day.

Please see the previous article to see how we made the frames out of recycled barn wood here: Building Adjustable Solar Panel Brackets For My Off Grid Tiny House

Using two ladders, Chris and I pulled the solar panel frames up onto the side of the off grid battery storage shed while Melanie helped push it up from below. We managed to get it aligned into its place properly and I screwed it onto the wall to hold it in place.

Mouting solar panel brackets

Next I spent a considerable amount of time cutting the leg mounts where the lag bolts should go through. For each lag bolt I had to cut the wood about halfway through. Then I had to use a spade bit to cut a hole large enough for the head of the lag bolt plus the socket driver. Next I had to predrill the hole for each lag bolt so the wood would not split.

Then I was able to put in a lag bolt using my Ryobi impact driver. I really love this tool. It has saved me many hours of labor and makes driving in screws and bolts fast and easy.

Securing Solar Panel Mounts To Wall

I also had to mount another two legs onto the solar panel framing. I did not put them on beforehand in order to keep the weight of the overall framing down so we could mount it easier onto the wall of the battery shed.

Eventually we had all the legs and bolts in place and now we were ready to mount the solar panels into their new adjustable mounts.

Chris held up a solar panel to me as I stood on the ladder. I then raised up each solar panel into its resting place. I had put a piece of 2×2 lumber onto the frame for each solar panel as a lip to rest the panel on as we mounted them. This made our work so much easier.

Mounting Solar Panels On Frames

After getting a solar panel into its position, I had to climb up onto the roof of the off grid battery shed and then secure the solar panel to its mounting brackets.

This we did three times, once for each solar panel.

After we were finished with our work, Chris and I pulled up lawn chairs and rested a while, admiring our work. It felt really good to have accomplished such a task in a single day. And it looks very good and professional up there.

Solar Panels On Adjustable Frames

Stay tuned. We are going to install the MPPT solar charge controller and wire up the solar panels next and see how much more power we can get into the off grid tiny house on wheels.

You can watch the video of today’s work here: Finishing Adjustable Solar Panel Frames & Mounting Solar Panels

While you are over there, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow our daily videos as we strive to become self sufficient and off the grid.

PostHeaderIcon Building Adjustable Solar Panel Brackets For My Off Grid Tiny House

We are building adjustable solar panel frames to be mounted on the south facing side of my solar battery shed. These frames are being built using all reclaimed lumber from an old barn that was dumped on my property last year. This means that it is a free DIY project and also helps the environment by recycling materials.

We had to first gather up the proper sized boards by searching through the barn wood piles. I have nine huge piles of barn wood that was dumped here by a large dump truck with a 20 foot long container. We have to dig and sort through all the mixed and broken boards, looking for the best ones for our project.

After finding the boards we need, we then have to haul the lumber out of the forest and over to our work area. It is safer and warmer to work over by the work shop than it is over by the wood piles.

Next we have to clean the lumber to remove all the nails. This takes some time but it is all free wood. And this is heavy old lumber from a barn so it is high quality wood.

Building Solar Panel Mounts

After cleaning the wood, we can measure and cut it for the framing of our solar panels.

I have been planning this project for many months now. I wanted to get the solar panels off the ground and up higher for two reasons. One reason is to protect the solar panels from accidents while we work out on the ground. And the other reason is to get them up higher and capture more of the sun’s rays each day. This should increase the total solar power production a little bit.

We built a frame to fit three solar panels. I used screws this time because I figured there would be a lot of force from the wind and flexing on this frame. Nails may back off with time. These are deck screws so they are built to take a beating a bit more than cheaper screws.

After building the solar panel frame, I cut some pallet frames to fit as legs. Then I drilled holes in the solar panel frame and the legs to put a large bolt through each one. These act as rugged, heavy duty hinges. I cut a little bit of an angled piece off the inside top of each leg so it does not hit the solar panel as it moves up and down later on.

Solar Panel Mounts Nearly Finished

After building the frame on the ground, it was time to mount it on the side of the off grid solar battery and water shed. Stay tuned for part two….

You can watch the video of this day’s work here: Mounting Off Grid Solar Panels On DIY Adjustable Roof Brackets

While you are over there, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and watch our daily videos as we strive to become self sufficient and off the grid.

For a troll free discussion area (for my YouTube viewers) you can visit the forum post for today’s video here:
The Do It Yourself World Forum

PostHeaderIcon How A Blocking Diode Works & Testing A Diode With A Multimeter

A blocking diode is used to allow electricity to flow in one direction but block the flow in another direction. This can be compared to a one way valve. In this article I will show you how to test a diode to see if it is good or not, how a diode works, and how to use it.

I had a blocking diode fail in my wind turbine setup about a week ago. This diode was between my DC wind turbine and the battery bank. The diode allowed power to flow from the wind turbine into the batteries but blocked the flow of energy back from the batteries into the wind turbine. Without a blocking diode on a wind turbine the battery bank would just power the wind turbine like a big fan motor until the batteries were fully depleted.

How to test a blocking diode

There is a silver band on most diodes. The diode body is black. The silver bandk shows the negative side of the diode and the unmarked side is the positive side.

How to identify a diode markings

Pointing to the negative silver band on the diode

To test a diode with a multimeter, simply set the meter on the Ohms setting. Chose a mid range on the meter.

Take one of your test leads from the meter and hold it onto one of the diode wires. Do the same with the other meter lead on the other wire. If the diode is forward conducting then you will see a resistance reading. Mine was just under 20,000 Ohms. When you reverse the meter leads you should see an infinite reading, or no reading depending on your specific Ohm meter. If you get these results then your diode is good and working fine.

Testing a diode with a multi-meter

Testing a diode with a multimeter

But if your diode has failed like mine and conducting in both directions then you will see a resistance reading in both directions. This means that the diode is defective and should be disposed of. My diode actually shorted out just like a wire. It had almost no resistance at all and was conducting in both directions.

You can see the full video here: YouTube Video

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PostHeaderIcon Rewiring My Tiny House Solar Charge Controller And Solar Panels

It was a sunny day in the meadow at the Off Grid Project ™ with no snow or wind to speak of, and, after tending to the chickens, it was time to get to work on some re-wiring inside the Tiny House on Wheels.

At 10:30 am, there were 500 watts of solar power without the sun yet clearing the trees, and the controller was showing absorption mode. After adjusting to a different setting the night before, the battery voltage was still high at 15.5 volts, but there are multiple settings on the TriStar solar charge controller, and it’s just a matter of finding the correct ones for the forklift battery.

The goal, at this point, is to rewire the entire system of wires coming into the tiny home to make things more permanent and provide a neater appearance. I will be building a box with a lid to house a row of power switches for the solar panel charge controller, the power inverter, and the wind turbine. First, and more importantly, was to add a disconnect switch to the solar panel wires coming in to the tiny house so as to cut the power from the panels and prevent damage to the charge controller before beginning work on it.

Once the positive and negative wires were run from the charge controller to the grounding strip, I was ready to turn on the solar panels and see what happens. At first, the readings showed 12.7 volts, 0 watts, 0 amps. Once I turned on the switch that provided power from the panels to the charge controller . . . success! The readings jumped to 900 watts and 60 amps, the maximum it can handle! It went back into absorption mode almost immediately and dropped down to 660 watts and 43 amps in just a couple of minutes, most likely due to the charge controller reducing what the batteries need.

Wiring Tiny House Solar Charge Controller
Newly Wired Tiny House MPPT Solar Charge Controller

Not having staples or wire ties large enough, I decided to run screws along the line to hold the wires more neatly with the zip ties attached. I then moved the inverter against the same wall under the counter, freeing up space, and re-ran the voltage sensor wires and temperature sensor wires for the solar charge controller in order to give a more accurate reading on the solar forklift battery status. I fastened the modem box but did not yet run the wires as I would prefer to have the switch box built before I run more. I will be adding isolator boxes to prevent anything from shorting out in the main junction boxes.

To round out my work for the day, I headed outside before the sun went down to put up a temporary barrier of insulation around the forklift batteries. This currently consists of fiberglass insulation surrounding, and layered on top of, them. With another deep freeze on its way for the next couple of weeks, it was important to keep the batteries warm and protected from the damage of using them while they’re cold.

All in all, it was a good day of progress at the Off Grid Project and the Tiny House on Wheels.

You can find the full video here: Rewiring My Tiny House Solar Charge Controller And Solar Panels

Please donate to help keep The Off Grid Project ™ going: Please Donate

Join The Off Grid Project ™ and The Do It Yourself World ™ forum and share your ideas, tips and projects.
The Do It Yourself World Forum

The Off Grid Project ™ is presented by The Do It Yourself World ™.
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PostHeaderIcon Building A Passive Solar Heating Porch For My RV

I spent the day yesterday building a passive solar heating porch for my off grid solar RV. I will use the natural energy of the sun to passively heat my RV during the cold winter days. At night heated buckets of water will give off heat saved up during the daylight hours.

The idea is to use a common technique to passively heat my motorhome with solar heating. By building a south facing porch which is enclosed in clear plastic like a greenhouse I can collect heat during the day when the sun is shining. Black painted buckets of water will absorb the heat during the day and release that heat at night after the sun goes down.

Black plastic sheeting on the back walls of the porch will absorb energy from the sun, further heating up the enclosed solar porch. This will also allow me to plant winter vegetables and keep some fresh greens on the table through most of the winter, if not all year.

I will build a fully enclosed room at the end of the porch for my old pot bellied wood stove. The old wood stove heats up water as well, which will be pumped into the RV and pass through a radiator with a blower fan to heat the inside of the RV.

The heated air inside the wood stove room will also be blown into the RV through a nearby window which will be free to open or close as needed.

Another advantage of the solar porch is that heat loss from the main door of the motorhome will be greatly reduced. By entering the porch through a separate offset door and then entering the RV through the main front door, heat loss will be minimized.

Having the better portion of the south facing side of the RV enclosed will further insulate the RV from the raging elements outside. Campers and motorhomes are not well insulated for winter and cannot be insulated much better due to the very thin walls. By enclosing one side of the RV I can keep some of the valuable heat inside where it belongs.

The whole porch will be constructed completely out of used pallet wood. I am gathering up free used pallets to use as building materials for my solar porch and greenhouse. This will bring the total cost of the greenhouse down to well under $100 when fully finished. The only cost will be the construction grade clear plastic and black plastic for enclosing the porch. Some screws and recycled pallet nails are being used as well.

So far I have the porch footings and floor framing up. I got a hand rail installed and started on the wood stove room. The ManOfMany Thingz from youtube came over to help out for most of the project. I am very thankful for all the help he gave me. I do not think I could have done so much alone with these heavy pallets.

Building A Solar Heating Porch For My RV

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