Life at the end of the road

August 18, 2012

Work in progress :-)

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:21 pm

One thing for sure this won’t get finished tonight, it’s 21:21 and I’m whacked, it’s been a long lovely day and I need my bed. Having said that it absolutely poured with rain for an hour or two this morning but I was busy plonking away on here trying to install various things I’m used to on my laptop. With a success rate of about 50% I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, I gave up on the ‘screen grab pro’ after three unsuccessful attempts and stuck with the ‘snipping tool’ already installed. Cumulus the software that I use instead of the ‘easy weather’ that comes with my weather station proved a bit of a challenge but I got there in the end. Thunderbird, Firefox’s email program refused to accept my email password so once more I’m stuck with Microsoft Sad smile

Anyway, once the sun was out the Dude and I headed over to Torran to bash on with installing the three 230w solar panels.


Me being the ‘responsible adult’ sent the boy up on the roof to paint the wooden mounts whilst I got on with the wiring.



The extra panels requiring another Morningstar ‘TriStar 45’ controller, larger ammeter and extra fuses.



That took me most of the day and two cans of beer to wire up Smile


The one on the left is set to ‘PWM charging mode’  and the one on the right to ‘diversion mode’, the idea being that the one on the right is set at a slightly lower voltage so it dumps excess power into an immersion heater. Then if the voltage rises further the PWM controller will start to ‘throttle’ the panels and stop them over charging the batteries. This is actually unlikely to happen until the Harris hydro turbine comes back on line, as the total panel wattage is only 210w higher than the immersion element and there are lots of background loads, like fridge, freezer, modem, central heating controls and phone chargers.

Schoolhouse wiring

All kit, knowledge and diagram supplied by Hugh at , you don’t for one moment think that I actually know what I’m doing do you Smile

007  006

We managed to get all the wiring in the battery shed done and the panels mounted with new MC4 connectors to match the rest of the system, the REC ones coming with an L4 I think.



It was well after 19:00 when I got home, having sent the Dude on ahead an hour earlier to feed hens, pigs and collect eggs.



I have to say that I was pretty pleased with the result,


I can’t wait to get back there and finish off, but that’s it for now.



We’re all tired and it’s time for bed Smile

weather 180812

So I’ll just leave you with the Arnish weather now I’ve actually got something to work on Windows 7,

 graph 180812

not as sharp as ‘Screen grab pro’ but very easy to use.



  1. Hi Paul – just wondered, why pwm and not mppt mode? Is it just that your Morningstar is a pwm only model or is there more to it than that?

    Comment by Patrick — August 19, 2012 @ 8:03 am

    • Hi Patrick,

      this Morningstar is a PWM, I’m not a fan of MPPT. It all sounds jolly good and impressive in theory but I know of three that have fried for no apparent reason. Most of the figures quoted for efficiency fail to mention that it takes about 5% to power it. The best way as far as I’m concerned in an application like this is to just match the panel voltage to the battery and use the Morningstar TriStar 45 in diversion mode. We did it this way with one in PWM and one in diversion as we didn’t have enough dump loads and it seemed simpler. With the price of PV so low I reckon the extra cost of an MPPT would be better put into panels. Everyone I know with an Outback or Morningstar MPPT has had problems, admittedly all were either sorted or very minor (display problems on the Outback) but issues nonetheless.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 19, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

  2. Good morning Paul
    Is it me or are these parts of the lost work resurfacing? In this ‘episode’ you have the Dude up the ladder helping to install solar panels while in a previous episode (day before yesterday?) he’s about to go back to school/goes back to school!
    What is the make of your weather station? It certainly provides comprehensive data to the Cumulus software. I would love to have a weather station; I keep looking at them and then dissuading myself because there are things that I need more!
    How’s the back holding up now that it’s been ‘injected’?

    Comment by Carrie — August 19, 2012 @ 8:40 am

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