At HerrBGone’s Power & Light we have entered the testing phase of our newly installed solar powered photovoltaic distributed generation station.
I made the final connections between the panels on the roof and the charge controller last night. Since it was pitch black night by the time I got home from work the lines from the panels were cold. I disconnected the hot lead from the battery bank to the charge controller making that cold as well. Then I replaced the screw connectors with new ones that were sized to fit the posts better. The first pair had too large a hole and cranking down on the knobs trying to get a tight connection wound up pulling the threaded inserts part way out of the plastic knobs. Fortunately I was able to press them back in and they were still useable. The new screw connectors solved that problem and actually had to be opened up just slightly with my drill press to fit on the posts. Probably metric posts vs. English holes.
This morning before breakfast I grabbed my meter and checked the lines from the panels to see if the were producing any electricity. Lighting conditions were what the slip of paper that came with your roll of film might call about half way between “cloudy dull” and “cloudy bright.” Not optimal by any stretch of the imagination. The meter still showed 20.9 VDC open circuit! That was with the charge controller switched off. After switching it on the reading dropped as expected. Under load the meter read 12.7 VDC. Maybe enough to put a little juice into the batteries, but not enough to make much of a dent in any kind of regular use. Still, even with fairly poor generating conditions we are making some electricity. It will be interesting to see how it runs with actual sunlight on the panels.