Solar Safety: High Current Fault video

A common mistake I see some people make when designing a solar energy system is that they will parallel the outputs of the solar panels without using a combiner box that has fuses or breakers.

This works fine in the “yeah, the lights come on” sense, but if you should ever have a fault in one of the modules, you may very well experience a fire at the module that will spread to any other flammable materials nearby….. yes, that means your ROOF.

Note that while the solar panel’s encapsulant and backsheet self-extinguish and only exhibit a couple millimeters of flame spread, the sheet of paper I taped to it to simulate the flammable debris that *will* gather around your panels does not! 🙂

Flammable crap you will typically find around and on your panels includes oily soot from smoke/automobile exhaust, dried leaves, paper, bird nests… anything the wind or animals can bring in!

I miss being that radio guy

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This is me playing with a tower. I don’t actually climb towers… I just went up a few feet to watch the sun set over the horizon.

The energy around that site is amazing. I’ll say that much, without even getting into how a ghost watches over it for us. 😀

What am I doing here with solar…. and why am I not yet integrating it with my love of radio more?

I guess it’s time to do some more development work.

Vintage 2009, as the real estate market crashed…

I just dug this up off my old LiveJournal page. It’s kinda strange thinking that the residents of one house at the time had pulled down the quality of life so badly in my family’s neighborhood and quite refreshing to realize that the problem more or less solved itself. I was actually glad when the house was just left with the doors open for days and scrappers came in and removed all the plumbing, wiring, and fixtures – thus pretty much ensuring it was uninhabitable until major repairs were done and the heavily modified interior that split it into four apartments was annihilated.

What follows is the post directly copied and pasted. The subject line below is “KITA!” which is… well, it’s well explained in the Densha Otoko TV drama.

キタ━━━━━━(゚∀゚)━━━━━━ !!!!!

My fuckwit neighbors in the quad house across the street appear to be gone.

Back in 1999, this Hispanic family moved out of a house across the street.

The house had new owners temporarily, who did very strange things with it. One day I asked my parents for a ride home from school, and they couldn’t do it because we’d been *triple-parked* into our driveway. I came back via MDTA bus and found the entire neighborhood jammed with cars, a box truck outside that house, and a very loud party going on inside with hundreds of people. This ended when the house’s electrical system caught fire, and everyone just kinda ran. When the smoke cleared, I looked into the house through a door that had been left open, and saw that all the interior walls except for those around one bathroom had been removed. The central HVAC unit was just sorta sitting in one corner on its side on the floor, surrounded by condensate; if the power had still been on, cold air would have been blowing out of it. The DJ had hastily departed and taken his equipment with him, but had left behind *thousands* of flyers for some event taking place at another address in Kendall that sounded residential as well.

A pretty nice couple was going to move in back in 2001. They’d paid a mint to have the house fixed up, new interior and roof… and then they vanished in about April. I think the husband got a job somewhere else. He was working for Piper Aircraft at the time.

Around then, this other family moved into the neighborhood and started buying up many, many properties on ARMs, including that one.

Since like 2002, we’d had to put up with their nonsense day and night. The house had been purchased on an adjustable rate mortgage by this one family who had done the same thing with literally every house that went up for sale in this neighborhood; the rates were very low at the time, and they were making some profit off of renting the houses out.

They were, however, really shady. They’d rent to pretty much anyone who called up and met them with cash in hand for the first month.

Eventually, as ARMs reset, they started ditching the properties one by one, including the house they used to live in, two houses down from mine. They sectioned off one of their houses, across the street from me, into four seperate apartments, and put a shed out back that might have been rented out as a fifth. They lived in one of the apartments, and rented the others out.

The quad magically gathered some of the most unsavory residents imaginable. We had the Harley-tards, a couple of younger guys who owned Harley V-twin powered bikes and apparently had some affliction that kept them from ever shifting out of first gear. They’d circle the block like eight times whenever coming or going, which happened at all hours. With the engines at near redline, it would create a really terrible noise that would shake windows in their frames and could wake the dead. This continued until one of them struck the speed limit sign down the street and died, and the other one moved out of the Quad.

There was one couple who we’d always see there, a douchebag guy and a twatwaffle girl, who would have endless screaming arguments and lovely sessions of domestic abuse in the driveway in the middle of the night. This was on a nightly basis. Such a happy couple.

There was also this tiny lady with blonde hair and a Ford Expedition who would always be coming and going during the day. Like, she’d come home, then leave again within about five minutes. Whenever she left, she backed the SUV out without looking, very rapidly. She nearly creamed my uncle twice, ran me off the road doing it once, and then finally had the rear end of that thing removed when she backed right into someone going by in a Honda Civic. They were uninjured, but their car was a total loss. She eventually got a new black SUV, and after some time of being under law enforcement surveillance, left the Quad.

Finally, in the very end, it was a total mystery… there were entire days of banging, thumping, buzzing car stereo, people getting themselves drunk until they passed out in lawn chairs on the driveway… and then came the weird move-out (best I can tell, that’s what it was).

At some point last year, there was one guy living there who drove a Mustang. He always seemed quite intent on trying to steal my car, but didn’t really know how to steal a car. One night I was coming home around like 2 AM and he was waiting in his driveway in his Failstang. As I passed and went to turn into my driveway, he came up and tried to slam into my car from behind… but I dodged him, ran over a plant in my swale, which recovered within a week, and took off again. I drove around through some of the local streets, turning the corners as fast as I could (which is really fast, with that car), and he kept chasing me… until he wound up kinda parked in the front of an empty house about a mile away. I didn’t stop or really even slow down. I just got the fuck out of there. I didn’t see him for a long time after that, until he appeared briefly, buzzing around the area on a pocket bike.

Last week, there was this frenzied flurry of bizarre activity. Everyone was coming and going 24/7 in all sorts of vehicles, most not street-legal, including pocket bikes, ATCs, and Go-peds. I recall seeing them carrying a television on an ATC at one point. I’m guessing this was them moving out.

Then, suddenly.. there was silence… followed by a dump truck and crew hauling away bits of the shed out back until well into the wee hours of the night.

The house now stands with a door open into one of the apartments. It smells REALLY bad, like moldy avocados, and the smell hangs in the air heavily all around. I even noticed it wafting into my laundry room. I think the Quad’s roof must have failed and soaked the place. I looked up the property info from Miami-Dade County, and it’s currently owned by some German bank. The power’s off, but the meter’s in the socket and my volt-pen shows power present up to the meter — I don’t really know what to make of that. I have the feeling they might have taken the panel with them when they left. (Yeah, I don’t know why they’ll do this, but I do see a lot of the local handymen will buy used panels to resell them and their breakers to homeowners who probably would be a lot better off getting NEW ones…)

And thus… the neighborhood is far cleaner and more peaceful once again.

Apollo Solar TSW4048 and TSW3224 DIP switches

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The Apollo Solar TSW series inverter/charger is a newcomer to the renewable energy market which brings a surprise: worldwide power grid compatibility! Here’s what you can do….

Need 50 Hz, or 230/115v instead of 240/120? Remove ALL power sources from the inverter – grid AC and battery DC. Press the standby button and let the inverter try to start up if it hasn’t gone dead already. It should just make it through the countdown and bleep out. Remove the four screws on the top cover and try to lift it off. It’s a pretty tight fit and you may need to pry carefully. I used a plastic knife as not to scratch the paint.

Once the cover comes up, carefully move it up and to the right and push the plastic eject levers on the LCD board’s connector apart. The ribbon cable should come free. Set the cover aside.

The two dip switches are on the top of the control board, the same board where the ASnet and temp sensor cables go in.

Switch 1 – closest to the battery terminals – sets voltage. Down is 240, up is 230. Switch 2 is the frequency, down 60, up 50.

After setting these, blow out any dust that’s accumulated if the inverter was previously used, reconnect the LCD cable, put the cover back, and restore power. If you didn’t get the cable back in, the inverter will play dead till you fix that. No harm done really.

There are a lot of other parameters editable from PC software – I’m not set up with that yet but I’ll post about that once I get all the bits together.

Fun fact…

The “FX” in the part number of the OutBack Power FX series inverter / charger systems stands for “Fuck Xantrex”.

I love it.

OutBack was basically started by some engineers from Xantrex who were disappointed with the way they saw the company being run (into the ground….) and spoke up, and were laid off as a result…. flash forward today and they make some of the best renewable energy products in the world.

Say it loudly and proudly, FUCK XANTREX! 😀

Buzzwords I cannot stand.

I think this goes right up along LSSU’s list of words to be banned from the English language. Here we go….

State Of The Art: Says you.  State of whose art? This is useless.  I could be saying my buggy whips or laundry stoves or washboards are state of the art…  Sure,  they may be up to the latest advances in buggy whip technology but they are still obsolete.

Award Winning: Here is another useless one.  What award did the product win? Best Product For Use When You Need An Emergency Doorstop?

Short list,  but dear Eris it just had to be said

Xantrex sounds like it should be the name of a drug anyway

Xantrex Technologies, now Schneider Electric Renewable Energy, has some of the worst customer service policies and procedures in place that I’ve ever had the misfortune to experience. One new development from them is complete and immediate discontinuation of warranty support and service for any product that has been discontinued. Say you just bought a whole wall full of XW6048’s at around $3K each … Well, too bad, if they go out of production tomorrow, they’re totally orphaned and you’re stuck with them, working or not — and I have been seeing major quality fade on their products as of late!!

Their new charge controllers, the XW MPPT 80 600, just look like a hot mess. A demo unit that arrived at work came to us with internal cables unplugged; I can’t be sure if they just didn’t connect them at the factory or if they came loose in shipping. When the sun comes up over your pv array and puts up to 600 volts onto the controller, do you REALLY want to find out there are loose parts rattling around in there? Reeeeally? (DC arcs get really mad.)

OutBack Power has some new 8000 grid interactive watt inverters with split phase output out now. Let us all rid ourselves of the stupid Xantrex XW system. Pleeeeease.

Also, just fyi, 54vdc kinda stings like a mother*?+!er. It feels like a fire ant sting.

pic related.

pic related.

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