January 2013 was our first major power outage of the year. It was a partly-cloudy day after a very breezy night that knoked out the power lines. No problem for me, though. While our neighbors pulled out their generator, I simply grabbed some extension cords. From the 400 watt inverter, I was able to charge cell phones, iPods, iPads, laptops, and also power our DSL modem for Internet. At the end of the day, who doesn't like to watch some TV? No problem for me. I used a 40 inch LED tv that drew about 60 watts. The batteries had no trouble keeping it powered until I wanted to go to bed. Overall, I was very impressed with the system performance. It served all the needs I wanted it to. Maybe next time I'll look into our washing machine. Who knows?
Now, the next order of business. I recently installed a pentametric battery monitor system specifically designed for renewable energy systems. Basically, there are two shunts. One is positioned between the 100 watt array and the batteries, while the other one is located between the bus bars in the batteries. They measure amperage and voltage throughout the system. Both shunts connect to the pentametric input unit, which is just a computer that logs and tracks all this data. From there, I purchased the Ethernet unit. It runs from the system all the way to my router. Any computer in the house can instantly access all system data live, or review and save logged data for analysis. The system has since changed the way I see how much energy I use, and how much I really have to work with. Prior to installing this, I had no idea how full the batteries were, while knowing not to take them below 50%. Even during power outages, the batterie never seemed to go below about 80% full. Works for me. I'll try to upload some of the excel data files and some screenshots.
i think it's also VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT for me to say that the PENTAMETRIC IS MADE IN AMERICA! I will chose an American company any day regardless of cost. The company that builds them is in Boulder Creek, California and what they make is very high quality.
Note: I am not affiliated with any company in any way.
***UPDATE AUGUST 2013***
I'm finally attatching a GIANT spreadsheet of the data my pentametric has gathered over the past few months (March to be exact). Each "reading" takes place every 15 minutes and is stored on the pentametric's internal memory until I upload it to a computer. The internal memory only lasts about 6 days before I'm out of room and it begins to rewrite over some of the old data. Because of this, there are a few gaps in the data readings, but it's still a very accurate summary of what happens over the course of a typical day. Being a techy person, I wrote a program in java that takes my spreadsheet and calculates all sorts of data from it. The results are below:
File used for analysis: solarData.txt
Average battery volts: 12.860747758760798
Average solar Amp-hours: 0.0
Average % full: 96.76894865525672%
Battery is full 15.678484107579463% of the time
Minimum voltage ever recorded in this data series: 11.6 volts. Date recorded was: 7/19/2013
Maximum voltage ever recorded in this data series: 15.5 votls. Date recorded was: 3/10/2013
3/10/2013: System voltage is 15.1
3/10/2013: System voltage is 15.4
3/10/2013: System voltage is 15.5
3/10/2013: System voltage is 15.3
Since data recording began on 3/5/2013,
Total solar production to date: 17.60 KwH
This amount of electricity costs approx. $2.82
The KwH production isn't exactly accurate since there are gaps in the data, but it's something I can live with.
Being that the pentametric is connected to my router (and therefore the internet), I'm currently looking for ways to make its data accessible to all of you on the internet. The best way is to download the pentametric software (http://bogartengineering.com/support/software
Use the PMCOMM 2 beta. It's a lot simpler. However, it's not digitally signed so your computer may not be too fond of it).
After opening the program, click manage sites. Then, under connection type, click the TCP/IP (Ethernet) button. Under host, type pentametric.no-ip.biz and then make sure the port number under that is 1701. After that, click test connection, and if it says it's successful, congrats! You're connected to my pentametric. Click OK and then start under the live display option. Live data will then fill up the remaining gaps. If it doesn't work, it means that
1.) The internet is down on my end
2.) My hostname's IP is invalid (updates every four minutes)
3.) Too many users are using the live data feature.
The only solution is to wait a few minutes and try again.
I've set up firewalls to keep the connection just to the pentametric, and I'm just trying to do everyone a favor by letting them see what's up at any given time. I'd really appreciate it if you can be courteous and not try and screw everything up. It really took me a while to get it working and I'm doing it for everyone to get an idea about my electrical production. Thanks in advance.