I'm starting my first solar project, without the benefit of my father being around (the guy was like Mr. Wizard on TV many years ago) and I have all these questions that my goats and 6 dogs and my burro Pablo can't help me with... (I bet I'm not the only old guy on GM Volt who wishes his father was still around None of the local "villagers" have any experience-expertise nor interest in solar, and they are mad at me for installing a braying burro sound module on my Volt, in place of the pedestrian tooter. (Villagers, when they see me going to the feed store in my "E-LEK-TRICK car" often holler "Watch out! Here comes that jackass in the Volt."
None of the aforementioned critters have any engineering and mechanical skills like my brainy father (who didn’t pass along these traits to his idiot son) so I go to YouTube looking for answers to my questions. I come across this 12 year old kid who obviously will enter college and then one day become an electrical engineer. His video is pretty interesting. How could you not like a kid like this one?
My question… I need a good voltage regulator but I’m not certain where it goes in the mix for my project (which is a quick and dirty Harbor Freight menagerie consisting of 12 each solar panels, yielding 180 watts and somewhere in the neighborhood of a little less than 4 amps. (My Chinese is bad and the instructions are vague…)
The Harbor Freight kit comes with a charge controller (looks anemic) and I wish to bypass it. All the panels are fed into a harness/collection box and from here the panels feed several new 12 volt golf cart batteries which output to my inverter that is 5,000 watts continuous and 10,000 watts max surge. Each battery is somewhere around 100 pounds and $175! I went with these at the recommendation from someone who suggested they can handle more abuse than a regular deep-cycle battery. I'll probably have 4 total of these batteries when I finish this project.
(I know what certain people might say about a cheesy Harbor Freight kit, but this is a learning project for me and I'll do better next project...)
Where in this mix would the voltage regulator go? The wire harness from Harbor Freight does not offer the ability to interface a voltage regulator into the system upstream of the battery or downstream from the collection box. I suppose I'll have to splice into the stock wires somewhere and install a suitable voltage regulator, and I'm under the impression a company called Outback makes good products?
The inverter (5,000 watts continuous, 10,000 watts max) is very robust and I’m able to operate every power tool I’ve tested so far.
The solar panels are mounted on a trailer I built years ago, SOLAR 1.jpg
that once ran an assortment of propane and gasoline generators. I am able to articulate the panels for optimum “aiming” at the sun and the trailer, as pulled on my Kubota diesel 4x4 RTV900XT (camo, what else works better in the country?) makes it easy to orient the panels towards the sun as it crosses the sky. The solar set-up is grounded to the trailer, which will be grounded to various sources where I have 8 foot copper rods driven into the ground already for an electric fence surrounding the farms.
I also welded a frame above the seat on the Kubota where I’ve mounted a 45-watt group of solar panels that keep a battery charged for a spray-rig. SOLAR 6.jpgThe Kubota set up can feed into the trailer “array” and supplement the charge going to the 12-volt golf cart batteries (I’m glad I’m not a golfer needing expensive golf cart batteries!)
Any tips or links to a source that clarifies where a charge regulator might go in this mix is very much appreciated.