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Just installed one set of the Harbor Freight 45 watt kits on my barn this past weekend.
So far it seems to be working pretty well for my needs.
Basically using it to power a flood light inside until I run the electrical service out to the barn.
My only question at this point is whether or not I should turn the charge controller off every night?
The user manual somewhat implies that you should, so I have not let it run through the night.
After reading a couple of these posts it seems I should at least have the panel feed to CC fused.
Any suggestions for reliability or safety from this point?
Welcome Jeff. As to leaving the CC on overnight...the HF CC does draw a small amount of power but many leave it running. You can always press the little button on the front and switch the LED readout off.
We are big believers in fuses and/or breakers here. Safety first! I am one who tends to go to the "overkill" side...I have breakers between the panels and CC, the CC and battery bank, the battery bank and my inverters and a big fuse between the bank and my dump load. The AC line running from my inverters to the house goes through a small 4 circuit breaker box.It would be helpful to list the following:
Type of lights are you running
Type of battery in your system
Distance from panels to CC
Wire size you are currently using
And finally : what are your future plans with your system...keep it small or expand it?
It looks good, and should do exactly what you want at this point. There are alot of variables that can be thrown in , but at this point.. it should be good.
I have never turned off my controllers in the evening. I have see it discussed here a bit and others may have a different experience than myself.
As for the fuse or breaker. As my system grew I did put breakers in line between the panels and the controller and also one between the controller and the battery bank. But that was after I grew the system to a point that I felt that I really needed it. I ran for well over a year without any fuses. If you have the fuses then yes, you should install them. Don't be confused, I'm not saying they are not needed. I'm just saying that it was not a priority when I was first setting everything up. It is always better to be safe of course.
Thanks for the welcome and the comments guys!
At this point I have one deep cycle marine battery running to an 800w inverter intermittently powering a 250 watt halogen work light. I've also got the two 12VDC kit lights hanging up.
My combiner box is approx 12' from the panels (or whatever the length of the panels lead wires are) from there I ran stranded 10ga copper for another 10-15' to the CC.
I haven't tested to see what run time I have yet but I doubt it'll be very long with this setup.
I'd be happy if I could get 2hrs run time with two 250watt work lights running.
I will be replacing the marine battery soon as its actually for my boat. From the opinions on this site it seems two AGM 6V would be the best bet.
As for the fuse, I'd assume a 10amp between the panels and the CC would be more than adequate for one or two 45 watt kits
Looks like a good start with plenty of room for more panels on that roof.
Then at some point you'll have your own service in the barn ;)
Jeff, welcome to the fray. You have a good start, it is nice when you can actually see the results of free power. Keep us informed of your progress,m send more pics.
Glad you are here