Friday, May 17, 2024

Solar Electric Durability

My home grown solar electric system is over thirty years old. After thirty years it’s a bit like the old timer who had the same ax for fifty years. He changed the handle six times and the head twice. 

I get about ten years out of a set of deep discharge lead acid batteries. Maybe the next time the price of better technology batteries will come down to earth. That’s a story I tell myself every ten years or so. 

The charge controller was changed about a decade ago. I’d expanded the solar array a bit and decided to double the nominal voltage. It went from 24 to 48 volts for better efficiency. The Outback charge controller allowed the system to easily step down from the 48 volts at the panel to the 24 volts of the battery bank. 

Last year I changed the inverter to a true sine wave inverter. The old modified sine wave inverter was still working but was starting to show its age. Also the new inverter worked better with electronics and LED lights. 

The original eight solar panels are working just fine. They just quietly keep putting out electricity with zero maintenance. 

Yesterday it looked like my original voltage meter died. That’s wired from the battery bank in the basement to a meter mounted on the wall in my kitchen. The meter makes it easy to monitor the voltage in the batteries. As it turned out a wire had come loose. After it was reconnected the meter came back to life. I wish all repairs were that quick, cheap and easy.



  1. Helps when you DIY the system. You have a far better idea how it works and how to fix it than the "Grunt, Point and Handover Credit Card" Solar Buyers.

    My neighbor was griping that nobody would service his grid tie system and it wasn't working well. The folks that installed went out of business it seems, and nobody else that installs will touch another's set up.

    I asked around as I have friends in the business, and they said legal liabilities was why they only work on systems they installed.

    But they gave me a few pointers and with the multimeter I was able to see which of the two grid tie inverters was offline and internet research told us how to turn it back on via blue tooth. Was grateful it was that simple. Don't like playing with high voltage A/C and or DC.

    1. Nice work.

      High amperage DC scares me more than AC. I have a selection of rubber handled tools to work on the system. Nothing like having a wrench weld itself across battery terminals.