Here are the real life numbers and details for solar panel power output at my off grid homestead. True solar panel output is affected by many things including weather, wire sizes, and more.
There has been a lot of recent discussion about my solar energy system and what seems to be the weak point in the system. People are theorizing what may be wrong with my solar power output. I have heard anything from wires, to connectors, to defective panels, bad batteries and more.
But the real deal is that solar panels rarely ever put out their full rated power. Only under ideal conditions will you see full solar panel output. I have 800 watts of solar panels installed at my off grid solar homestead right now but I am only averaging between 8 to 150 watts in the last two weeks at any given time.
Why is this?
It is the weather. I have not seen the sun for more than a couple minutes in over two weeks. When it is not raining it is partly to mostly cloudy recently. This greatly affects solar panel output.
I have my panels connected in series to give me about 130 volts DC at 16 amps running through the wires in my meadow to my off grid RV. This is fine for these wires. There is very little loss in the wires. But there is some loss. Here is where you will lose some of your expected solar power production.
I have an MPPT solar charge controller. This is a Maximum Power Point Tracking solar charge controller. This gives me the maximum power output of my solar panels at any given time. A standard PWM (Pulse Width Modulated) charge controller will have a lot more loss of power between the solar panels and the battery bank.
My batteries are doing fine. I have 600 Amp Hours of battery capacity.
The problem is that I do not get much sun all day. Also with stationary solar panels you will only get maximum solar power output for a couple hours per day when the sun is directly overhead and shining directly on your solar panels. 800 watts of solar panels will not give you 800 watts of power output in the morning and the evening hours or during cloudy or rainy periods. You will see much lower numbers during these periods.
A solar tracker will increase your total output considerable. I hope to set up a solar tracker next year and improve my overall solar panel output. This will rotate the solar panels to track into the sun from morning till evening, giving the maximum solar panel output during all hours of the day. But again, clouds and rain will decrease total output.
There is also a lot of discussion about wind turbines. These work best when they are above the tree line and not restricted by any other obstacles. I need to get a tower that is at least 60 feet up in the air in order to see the best wind power output.
I do hope to set up a wind turbine tower soon. Next year I also plan to thin out the trees to maximize solar and wind power output.
Trees will reduce power output of both solar and wind power.
Follow my daily progress on the path to self sufficiency on my off grid solar homestead.
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