Category: Off-the-Grid Power

A New Sweeper for the Solar Array

By , February 9, 2020

In the winter, one of the most important chores of the homestead is keeping the solar array free of snow (see Solar “Extraction” and Sweeps Season). To do that, I’ve relied for several years on an extendable pole, with a sponge on one side, and a squeegee on the other.

It has served us well. The squeegee has scraped off all but the hardest ice, which I remove (mostly) with a broken extendible car scraper. The sponge worked surprisingly well to shove snow off the glass.

This last winter, this tool developed problems; the extension portion rusted enough to stick, and often froze, needing to thaw in the shower between jobs. The screw-on head has steadily loosened to the point that I’ve needed to tighten it every 2-3 passes on the panels. When the squeegee began to break, risking scraping the panels with the metal frame, I mentioned to Michelle that we needed a new one.

Sweeping the solar array

Mark uses the old sweeper to clear the solar array last December (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

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Shielding the Power System with Garbage

By , January 30, 2020

Ever since I installed a breaker box for our off-the-grid power system in 2015, (see Hangover), it has had a flaw, an Achilles’s heel, if you will: the breakers in the breaker box have been vulnerable to inadvertent switching.

The three breaker switches, which can cut off power flow to or from the battery, the controller, and the solar array, can get bumped, disconnecting any or all of these components.

Had I thought about it a bit more, I likely would have installed these switches upside down (are you old enough, gentle reader, to remember the old “Upizoff” joke from our childhood?) but I didn’t.

One or more of those switches has been accidentally switched every great now and then over the last 4+ years, especially since we put totes holding warm weather gear and work gloves on the old battery box.

off-the-grid power breaker box

You can see here that the breakers are vulnerable to clothing and other gear flipping them inadvertently (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

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