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Our recent work on a solar lumber kiln has become a solid success. Using simple DC circuits we set our client up with an efficient way to harness the sun to move hot air through a private lumber mill kiln and in only a few days the moisture content of the wood was dropping significantly. Best of luck to the crew as they begin production!
Few locations will challenge a builder more than anywhere near the arctic circle. Here is the before shot of the homestead we renovated under an existing cabin in Fairbanks, Alaska.
It takes a steady hand to use a walk-behind excavator to grade under an existing post/piling foundation in permafrost. The end result was well worth it and we added a generator switch for the moments the utility power was out on that homestead.
Winter in Alaska is long and makes every building timeline critical. In the end this basement nearly doubled the square footage of this home and had a new Buderus 115-4 Heat Boiler and Generator Switch to give peace of mind on the long completely dark winter months.
Every now and then we take older equipment - run the necessary steps - and install it at a discount. Most solar equipment just needs a bit of work to restore it to at least a majority of it's original function. Why spend more if you don't need to. With this system I built in a generator bypass switch (with interlock) a cutoff, and a small breaker box. This design is perfect if you have limited space.
Systems like this are perfect when someone really needs help and is on a limited budget.
This old trace system was working well past it's life expectancy. To get ahead of a potential breakdown sometimes it makes sense to plan for the worst and get a new system in place (and keep the old on the side as a spare).
It may not look like much but this system is now basically a Ferrari. With a coupled Koehler 12RES Generator and a Magnum Dimensions Inverter running both legs of 240V through the system and Ni/Fe batteries you can flip the appropriate switch to either run entirely off solar, off generator, or off utility power.
This is what was on site when we arrived from a previous installer. Unfortunately for this homeowner the sales entity that took their money didn't represent the product well. Now they have hardware for a system that doesn't meet their desired goals. We will work with them to resolve the system - but the warning here is be very careful who you hire or buy hardware from. The particular source of this client's problems has in fact been linked to problems at 3 other job sites in the county. Taking it a step further - the electrician referred by the same store walked off and left this family with no resolution.
After discovering the original system purchased from another installer was not even close to the right design for this client - we retained the controllers and one inverter, then added a second inverter - AC Panel - DC Panel - and built them 2 fully operational solar arrays. The entire multi-inverter system is tied to their home through an interlock, has generator backup, and can be controlled at the inverters with the ME-ARTR advanced router, or in the home with the ME-ARC50 advanced remote control. We wish this family years of happiness with their new system!
Along with reversing the damage done by the first - unlicensed installer - we also adapted the 5 steel posts for the main array to better capture sun throughout the day. We utilized 2 techniques we have developed at Off Grid Unlimited to achieve success: 1. We used the "keyhole" technique to gain sun on the lower winter solar arc. 2. We used variable horizontal azimuth (we adjust the panels to different compass directions) to capture more sun in the morning/evening - and also to prevent an overload on the undersized charge controller. Now this overall system has 5,220 Watts of panels on 2 arrays - with 2 charge controllers.
This property has been the scene of an endless dance with multiple contractors, electricians, and unlicensed solar store owners for at least 5 years. There was a great deal of older solar equipment on site - and literally all of it was on a shelf collecting dust. This goes hand in hand with my first message: Please shop around and screen anyone that claims to be a solar installer. For every job like this one there are 4 that never are actually completed after you pay thousands for equipment.
Now we not only integrated new equipment to complete what was started - we used all the hardware remaining to establish a second solar array on the shop roof. This is a great system with a dedicated array for capturing every bit of power right before night sets in.
Even further - the 2 inverter system is installed so this family can add a 3rd and 4th WITHOUT having to start over (for more current). The 2nd Array is wired through a "combiner" box to allow additional panels to easily be added at a later date.