Gear essentials

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

The setup for Solar Freedom 1:

  • 1 x Morningstar PS30M 30A regulator
  • 1 x Sinergex 24volt 700W [1400W Surge] pure-sine wave inverter
  • 1 x Sinergex 24volt 12A 3-outlet battery charger
  • 4 x 12V 100Ah AGM batteries [wired for 24V]
  • 2 x Suntech 75W 12V Solar Panels
  • 2 x Suntech 135w 12V Solar Panels

What Solar Freedom 1 provides:

  • Free electricity to three 240V and six 12V outlets — in the office, kitchen and lounge
  • Free power via the 700W inverter which is on most of the time, charging computers, phones, radios, torches and cameras
  • Free power for interior lighting which is 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 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 two years I’ve only run the batteries down to about 60% twice
  • 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

Some notes:

  • The price of the solar panels has dropped 35-45% in those two years.
  • The price of household electricity in Hobart alone has increased nearly 30% in two years

February 6, 2011, 2pm With the 80-litre Waeco fridge/freezer humming gently in the background, and the computers all being charged, I switched on the electric kettle for a cuppa, and glanced at the solar regulator.

Would you believe, the solar panels were pumping in 16.4Amps — that’s 32.8Amps at 12V!

The kettle dropped the battery readings during the four-minutes it was on, but within a minute or two the batteries were back in float mode.

Thanks Sol.

[Image courtesy NASA]