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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Solar Planning for this spring.
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# Posted: 2 Apr 2015 13:18

Hi guys,

Not reviving previous old thread as that one went off on a wee bit of a road trip last fall.

Quick Review:
- Cabin (about to be built) is a small 16x20 FT residence.
- Well is 230' deep with water level @ 50'.
No Pump System yet.
- 4 120v AC circuits planned. NO 240v
- Good South Exposure on top of high ridge with clear W-W.
* Installation to be done on wood platform attached & hinged to side of 20' Sea Can allowing for seasonal angle adjustment.
- Location, near Pembroke Ontario Canada.
Avg Sun hrs = 2.6 min to 8.9 max
- Have 7/9 Kw Gas Generator with Electric Start. (Option for remote start later on) * must remain portable for use with MIG Welder & other HD equipment.
- Heat wood / propane & Hot water (on demand) is propane.

BUDGET Gentle is the key point for this assembly while having the ability to add a couple of more panels and change up battery pack later on. Because of Price Point, LFP, AGM & GEL batteries are out of it for now. Hopefully in 5 years +/- LFP and other types will reach "reasonable" price points.

This is to be a (DIY) off-grid system. Timeline to purchase & Install MAY-2015.

I am looking to build a system with something along these lines:

- Tristar 60A MPPT controller
- Samlex Inverter:
Either the SA-2000K-124 (2kw 24vdc) or the
SA-3000K-124 (3kw 24vdc)
- Midnight Solar E-Panel for Samlex S-Series (250A)
- 300 VDC Surge Protection device (Midnight Solar ?)
- Midnight Solar MNPV-6 combiner box
- PANELS: Minimum. 1.0 Kw (4x 250w). Preferred 1.2 Kw +.
IE: (4x 300+w) such as Canadian Solar 300/305 or
SolarWorld 315
- BATTERIES: Flooded Lead Acid acceptable, example
Rolls Surette S-550 or similar. (24v bank)

- Racking / mounting for wood/shingles platform
- Breakers
- Wiring for batteries, panels and balance of system
- Lightning protection considerations.


Is anything Glaring / Lurking behind this basic config I may not see ?

Am I missing anything critical ?

Is there some further "finesse" on the parts that could save me more bux ?

If I can get something like this at a reasonable price from Toronto to Montreal, I'd be willing to drive & pick it up from the retailer. ** Toronto is a 5 hour drive one way! I realize that I could save a few by shopping Amazon /E-Bay but should Murphy's Laws decide they need application, I'd like to have someone handy. Some things may still be acquired from on-line shopping.

Thanks for the time taken to read & contribute to this, hope it helps others too.

Interesting Packages on the Web which are similar to what I am looking at. These are US & Canadian dealers. I'm only listing a few, there are more with many variations.

Alt-E 1.5kw 1.29 kW 1500-48 3.6kWac

LIM Energy Offgrid systems #2

Wholesale Solar KITS (a few) 1kw certified OR others, there's a few.

# Posted: 5 Apr 2015 08:40 - Edited by: Steve_S

Geez, where did the EDIT button go ? I wanted to edit this to refine it after my latest research and there is no Edit for my post.... How Odd.

--- EDIT:
Seems I can edit this post but not the first. Maybe some kind of time limit to edit ?

# Posted: 21 Apr 2015 12:46 - Edited by: Steve_S

Well the DEED IS DONE so here's where I went with the Solar System and I am posting the info, so others may see & possibly benefit when they are looking at building their system up. 2080 Watts of Panel, 3KW Inverter, 900aHr capacity / 24V.

First Off, Big Hat Toss & to Creeky for our long and extensive email exchanges & Skype discussions. Helped a lot with sorting the little niggly details out. Brewski's a chillin' !

The "dollars" of it... All Solar kit with goodies <$8000 cdn. Adding an extra $500 / $600 for the AC Panel, wiring, conduit etc. So all said & done 8500, all in. The CATCH (of course there has to be one) This is all DYI - Self Install.

INVERTER/Smart Charger:
Inverter/Charger Ordered is an APC 3000 watt, 24V Low Frequency Unit with charger (120v input from genny), comes with remote control & LCD display + Auto-gen-starter system.
Reference: Manufacturers Site APC Series Inverter may take a refresh to see, slow.

My cost was a little higher on this as I am having it sent Air Freight direct to me from factory. Sourced from Energie-abordable Montreal

The Solar System is as follows from Solacity in Kemptville, Ontario :

8x CS6P-260P Canadian Solar 260W 60C Poly PV module
1x CLASSIC200 MidNite Classic-200 charge controller 200Vdc, 79A,
4x KMR162-M Kinetic Solar Main Rail 13'6",
8x KEC40-M Kinetic End Clamp - 40mm - with K-Nut, S.S. Bolt, Washers and Lock Washers,
12x KMC3843-M Kinetic Mid Clamp - 38 - 43mm - with K-Nut, S.S. Bolt, Washers and Lock Washers,
16x KLB3-M Kinetic 3" "L" Bracket Kit, with K-Nut, S.S. Bolt, washer and lock washer,
2x KHGL-TS Kinetic Alum. Ground Lug TiN Plated with Tech Screw and Serrated Washer,
1x MNEDC-90 Midnite Solar MNEDC90 90A 150 VDC panel mount
1x MNEDC30-300 Midnite Solar MNEDC30-300 30A 300 VDC panel mount
1x LC4-CP 222-1 Lumberg MC4 Y connector (1) Male / (2) Female type MC4
1x LC4-CP 235-2 Lumberg MC4 Y connector (2) Male / (1) Female type MC4
1x MC4EXT 20ft MC4 Extension cable, with male and female MC4 connector
8x S-550 Rolls Surrette S-550 battery, 6V, 428Ah/20h capacity,
8x C2/0-12PO Battery interconnect cable #2/0, 12"
1x HYDROVOLT HydroVolt battery hydrometer, Compaselect - the last hydrometer you will ever buy!
1x C2/0-10PI Inverter cables #2/0, 10ft (pair)
1x JLLN-300 Littelfuse JLLN-300 300A/300V class T fuse

# Posted: 3 Jun 2015 17:22

Fast Update:

The Inverter/Charger HAS ARRIVED \\YAY// and even a YIPPEE !!

Here's some photo's to peak curiosity...
Arrived in Crate+Box+Foam. Very Tight & Secure.
Arrived in Crate+Box+Foam. Very Tight & Secure.
Just like XMAS but tougher to unpack !
Just like XMAS but tougher to unpack !
The remote control module
The remote control module
The "face" of it, LCD Display, LED Indicators & Switches
The "face" of it, LCD Display, LED Indicators & Switches

# Posted: 3 Jun 2015 17:37

I suppose you thought I'd leave at that but Ohhh Noooo ! Having somewhat of an electronics background I HAD to look under the hood

The electronics are clean and efficiently installed, very good soldering and all connectors (using standard connectors) are all secured in place with positive locking clips & glue. All in all, a very clean and well assembled unit.

It's a drag that I have to wait for my Power-house to be built & solar system goodies to be installed first... Not too long now but "GEE-WIZ" I wanna play NOW !!!

Link from the company I ordered this from is in the thread above.
Batt Power in, remote connector & fan
Batt Power in, remote connector & fan
120V side out, remote Gen-Start port
120V side out, remote Gen-Start port
Huge Coil, clean electronics (well done too) and nice alloy heatsink (under electronics pkg)
Huge Coil, clean electronics (well done too) and nice alloy heatsink (under electronics pkg)
The BIG Copper Coil and part of heatsink visible.
The BIG Copper Coil and part of heatsink visible.

# Posted: 3 Jun 2015 18:13

I can see you are getting a real charge out of your new solar system.


# Posted: 3 Jun 2015 20:23 - Edited by: offgridjunkie

I think your system looks great but a little out of balance. Your Batteries are my concern. With your current system of 2000 watts of solar, you are going to be charging at C/4.9. Most Flooded Lead Acid batteries like to be charged/ discharged at c/8-c/12 with c/10 the optimum. Give Rolls a call or look at the data sheet that comes with your batteries.

My math was 260*8=2060w /24volt=86.66 428amps/86.66 = 4.93

With your inverter at max output of 3000watts you are discharging at c/3.42 which is going to be a strain on them.

Just my $.02. I like that you stepped up to 2KW in panels, but your batteries are probably going to get cooked because of it - maybe not right away but it will definitely shorten their life span.

If you could get your battery bank in the 650-750 amp hour range, you'd be set at c/8. All your other gear - Excellent choices.

***NOTE - OP clarified his battery bank to be two strings at 428 AMP -hr at 24volts hence making my comments above informational only. ****

# Posted: 4 Jun 2015 11:05

Hey there Junkie,

Take into account that I am in North Eastern Ontario Canada... So a wee bit of over panelling goes with it to compensate.

I have a 3kw inverter yes, but will I take that to max ? in a word NO. My current daily power usage hovers around 3KwH per day. I have no 240V, no heavy draw devices as such, with the Grundfos SQ-5 being the biggest and that is a soft start deep well pump and actually quite frugal on start up (we put a meter on it). Big stuff like Mig, Compressor etc are to be run off Genny only and won't ever plug into my solar system. Goodness Gracious, imagine what a MIG would do to a battery bank, eekkss.

With 8, 6 Volt Rolls S-550's, configured in 2 strings with 420+/- aHr per string that gives 960. Of course as the batteries age that will diminish some but with proper care should still provide many years of service.

I do intend to connect the Gen-set to my inverter which has the Gen Start module and 35A/70A MAX charger built into it, so we will see if the Genny get's kicked and how often.

If need be, I can always add more batteries and within 3 months of service I should know exactly what the draw will be...

# Posted: 4 Jun 2015 11:28

Looks like they sure packaged that inverter up nice! I'm looking forward to following this thread as well!

# Posted: 4 Jun 2015 11:36

Steve, Sorry I totally overlooked the two strings. Now I totally agree that you are spot on with 960 AMP hr battery bank. I assumed you were running one string at only 420, but now that I see it is two strings, you are golden. You will have no problems with your inverter at that AMP if you ever tried to max it out.


# Posted: 4 Jun 2015 11:47

Hey Junkie... NO NEED FOR A SORRY ! A Good catch for the "just in case" side of life... (I have a particularly bad relationship with Murphy & his laws). Pretty easy to miss something in my overly verbose discussions / posts. But I like to put as much info as possible. It's an old habit of being a technical guy constantly having to explain & re-explain things... MAN I AM HAPPY TO BE RETIRED !!!

@Coldflame, I dunno how much more will get posted to this particular thread but I may post the assembly build of the solar system in here or in my other thread about Build 2015. It may be better served in this thread though...

I really need to start blogging this somewhere like WordPress but that is another time killer (can be anyways) and that is something I am short on, especially with being on a "forced break" for the moment.... Grrrr Should'a took the 3 days bed rest as recommended and now I am forced to take a week.... To quote a famous historical character "Ruckus Stuckus Frickus Fruckus" stomp stomp stomp...

# Posted: 4 Jun 2015 12:07

Steve - Please post up the Solar/Electrical build here. It is good info for others.

# Posted: 31 Oct 2015 19:57 - Edited by: Steve_S


Installation Phase One starting now.

No Solar Panels installed at this time, that's more involved and requires me to build a pivoting frame, trench in a conduit for the DC Lines to the Power-House which is 35 feet away.

* Installing my AP 3Kw Inverter/Charger tomorrow.
* Installing a Small AC Panel with 30A Main and 2-15A breakers.
* Building a Rolling Platform for the batteries (8x S-550's) approximate weight 1100 Lbs.
* Building a Battery Box that will house the rolling platform. Dimensions 16"x48" with a sloped top starting at 19" to 22" at high point (at wall).
* Installing one plug/switch from little panel to Water Pump.
* Installing one Switch & LED Light Fixture in Pump House.

Inverter will be Genny Powered for now with a Temp Extension Cable (10/2 gauge) which will be re-wired later to go outside to a twist lock plug in the Genny Dog House. (gotta get the siding on there & build the dog house for the genny)

Reason for the height, is that I have 6 Wheels for the platform that stand 3.5" high which will be bolted to 2x6's which in turn are screwed to 1/2" plywood, 2" EPS Then another 1/2" plywood on top... Over doing it "maybe" but better safe than sorry with that weight & costly batteries.

The little Panel is recovered from an RV I tore down and will serve for now as a 120V distribution within the Power/Pump House. This will give way to another panel which will have a feed line to the Cabin's Panel.

Currently hunting for a good deal on an Inverter Generator which I can grab locally. My big Genny 7200/9000 watts is a Noisy Brute, great for tools and such but NOT nice enough for backup power to the Inverter.

Home Hardware can get me a Generac 2000 Inverter Genny for $709 cdn. Must Haves are Low Oil Shutoff, Electric Start with remote start option (would be nice) and stackable. The AP Inverter has a 30a/70a charger in it that uses the incoming 120V "shore power" which in my case is the Genny but it should be "clean power / true sine" not mod wave or ..... ** I'm not sure if a 2000 watt Inverter Genny is big enough ** I was thinking more 2500/3000 watts but what a price difference !

Plan Doodles to follow and photo's afterwards...
Just hoping Momma Nature is cooperative tomorrow.

EDIT: Nov-01, We are ordering an Energizer® EZV2800 This should take care of the backup genny power cleanly.

# Posted: 1 Nov 2015 19:09 - Edited by: Steve_S

Cabin Build will continue as planned and will be worked on over winter with Genny Power & Woodstove + Propane heater for warmth.

After a good healthy nudge from Creeky and a bit of info from my Solar Component Supplier (+ a couple of extra bits of kit) I will be installing the Inverter/Charger and small AC Panel in the Power House this week (weather is surprisingly good).

Thanks to Creeky, MtnDon and all who have helped me through this curve. I'm pretty skittish over the Batteries and DC Stuff as that is out of my comfort zone but I'm getting there.

Busy week ahead...

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