Solar Power Details

Here we see the three SimpliPhi batteries being installed in the battery box (front cover is removed) that formerly housed 16 lead acid batteries.  These new lithium ion batteries were installed in August of 2017, and provide about the same useable storage as the L16’s did.  Since these batteries are located in an unheated barn, insulation and heat tape were added to insure that they remain above 32 degrees farenheit.

The components above the batteries consist of two Outback VFX3648 inverters, two Outback Flexmax 80 charge controllers, breaker panels for both AC and DC, as well as Outback Hub, X-240 transformer, and Mate 3.  Not pictured is the array combiner box.  The 24-panel array (7.8Kw) is located on the roof above this picture.

This setup is independent from, but connects to, both the original house array and a smaller one located on another barn.  Since this array is much larger, it is used to power all of the heavy house loads as well as charge the older lead acid batteries in the house and  barn.  It creates two 120 volt “legs” that can be balanced by switching on the X240.

Although the SimpliPhi batteries have a high up-front cost, they have several advantages over the L16 lead-acid batteries we started with in 2005.  They require no monthly watering, create no dangerous gases nor heat when charging, weigh about 30% less, can be fully discharged, and come with a 10 year warrantee.  They cannot, however, receive a charge when below freezing–thus the insulation and internal heat source.  I expect the price to fall with time.

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