Solar installation on Madam Plush

Self-sufficiency on the road

Because of her bulbous ‘penthouse’, Madam Plush[1] called for an unusual solar installation, and six years’ later the combination of flat and angled panels has proved a winner.

The combined 420W solar setup keeps the free power surging in, even on the dullest days.

The solar setup

  • 1 x Morningstar PS30M 30A regulator
  • 1 x Sinergex 24volt 1000W [2000W surge] pure-sine wave inverter
  • 1 x Sinergex 24volt 12A 3-outlet battery charger
  • 4 x 12volt 100Ah AGM batteries [wired for 24volt]
  • 2 x Suntech 75W 12volt solar panels
  • 2 x Suntech 135W 12volt solar panels[2]

What Solar Freedom 1 provides:

  • Free electricity[3] to three 240V and six 12V outlets — in the office, kitchen and lounge
  • Free power via the 1000W inverter which is on most of the time, charging computers, phones, radios, torches and cameras
  • Free power for interior lighting, all converted to LEDs, which barely sip power
  • On sunny days I often use the electric kettle and rice cooker
  • On cloudy days I simply try and cut down charging too many bits and pieces
  • After two or more cloudy days in a row, I usually bunker down with the iPad and enjoy its excellent 10-hour battery life

But, even on cloudy and rainy days, the solar panels still gather in enough usable energy to keep things ticking over.

In six years I’ve only run the batteries down to about 50% of capacity 4-5 times, and if it was still daylight they soon bounced back.

The 80-litre Waeco fridge/freezer is connected directly to the 24V battery bank with heavy wiring to minimise current losses. It cycles on about 10–12 minutes each hour [24/7] and is very economical with power use.

What Solar Freedom 2 will provide:

Before the end of 2014 I’m planning to upgrade my AGM batteries and replace them with a bank of LiFeP04 (Lithium Ferrous) cells.

The current 24volt system will be converted to 12volt, so I’ll have 400Ah of lithium power which will be nearly double what I can take out of the system compared to the AGMs. And, there’s the added bonus of the new batteries being able to recharge much quicker.

The longterm shopping list includes:

  • An upgraded inverter, a 12-volt 2000W (4000W surge) pure-sine model
  • 240v 4-star rating upright fridge (I’m tired of finding strangely-coloured textures in the bottom of the chest fridge come defrost time)
  • Induction cooktop

  1. The moniker given my 1985 Toyota Coaster bus with its unusual ‘penthouse’. A full description and history (with photographs) promised soon.  ↩

  2. The price of the solar panels has dropped 65–75% since these were installed.  ↩

  3. The price of household electricity in Hobart alone has increased nearly 30% in two years  ↩

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