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Solar Expansion

Believe it or not, I've now had my solar-system in place and working for four months. The whole thing has been a painless affair, generally allowing me to power a couple of items from the system - usually my front-room lighting and audio-system, along with some smaller devices such as my mobile-phone charger.

During this time the system has performed well and has never been totally depleted. As I sit and type here now, my living-room is being illuminated by solar-power. That's not to say the system is perfect. I think it needs upgrading to get around some of the issues I could encounter during the winter months (such as reduced daylight hours). So, here's some changes I'm thinking of implementing:

1) Panel location - I don't need more panels to be more effective. With some careful positioning, I might be able to extend the amount of hours that I can collect sunlight for.

2) Storage - This is probably the most likely upgrade. To get this whole project going, I bought a cheap 85amp/hour battery. On most sunny days, though, it's charged by about 2pm - meaning that I could be harnessing more energy. I'm looking to double my storage capacity.

A recent conversation with a friend brought up a new idea for cheap energy storage - the batteries from motorised wheelchairs or mobility scooters. These batteries usually have a good capacity and are very used to being charge-cycled (i.e. constantly discharged/recharged). Looking around in the right place might reveal a cheap deal.

3) Inverter / Wiring - At the moment, I'm running things off one specially installed double-socket in my front-room, but the system has potential to be expanded all over the house. For example, what if all my lighting ran from it? Funnily enough, I already have a separate mains-box (currently unused) in my electricity cupboard - it wouldn't take much to make such a modification (i.e. re-routing from the lighting circuit from the old box to the new box)

I'm also considering changing my inverter to a slightly more expensive version that gives cleaner power, so that more electronically sensitive equipment can run from it without issue.

Changing over some of my energy needs to solar along with generally being more energy efficient has definitely paid benefits. I now use less than £5/week of electricity, which isn't bad considering the continual recent price-hikes. I was doing the same when I first moved out of home over 15 years ago.

I'll keep you posted on the modifications and how it all fares during the winter months.
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