The solar panels are up, mounted on top of the well house, the charge controller, battery and inverter are hooked up. Even with the cloudy skies we have had for the past couple of weeks, and a number of trees which cast too much shade in the evening, electricity is being generated. Am I excited? You bet I am. Am I disappointed? Yes, but not devastated. I have very mixed feelings about how this project is turning out. Let me explain why.
This has been an ongoing, pocket change funded project for quite some time. It has been a matter of researching the concepts, locating supplies and equipment, then one by one, saving up pocket change and purchasing those items. As the items are purchased and the work is done on each step, that step is added and the next step begins.
As with any project, good solid information is hard to find unless you are willing and able to pay for the instruction books and videos. Even then, it is easy to spend the money only to find that the information is incomplete at best, and not suited for those with small funding (experience talking here). These factors make trial and error a necessary adventure.
In a previous post, I mentioned that my hope was to power my water well with this first set of panels. That is where the disappointment comes in. With all the wires hooked up and the battery at full charge, sun shining brightly on the panels and the well pump hooked up to the inverter, I was filled with dread and anticipation as I flipped the switch to start the pump. With a sinking in the pit of my stomach, I heard a very short lived buzz, then silence. I had purchased an inverter powerful enough to RUN the pump, but had miscalculated the amount of extra power it takes to START the pump. This is also the case with my table saw and band saw, both of which have big enough motors to require starting capacitors.
Now, enough of the disappointment. The exciting part is that the inverter is powerful enough to fun the computer, as well as several of my woodworking tools such as the planer, joiner and several other power tools that don't require a lot of extra power to start. This is exciting to me. Even though I can't run the well from this little system, I can alternate between the computer and tools in my wood shop. Yes there are bugs to work out (there always are), and mindset changes to be made, but we are one step closer to going off grid.
Water supply is obviously very important, so now it becomes a question of whether to work toward a larger inverter for the existing pump, or to get a 12volt or 24 volt pump that will pull less power without the need for an inverter. There is, however, only one answer for the more powerful tools. A larger inverter will be required. In all probability, the item that I am able to purchase first (larger inverter or DC powered pump) will be the next step. Between now and then, I am enjoying using electric that does not run through my meter.
I would love to see your input and comments on this subject. Thank You.