Doug Kalmer

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since Nov 27, 2013
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Recent posts by Doug Kalmer

Annie Lochte wrote:.. Where I live the biting insects are a huge consideration for 4-5 months of the year... When I run out of repel and citronella oil it'll be tough. I have read up on natural repellants an tried some but nothing yet that really works like the deet/citronella.  

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5 months ago

Sue Shann of visited and interviewed us about solar space heating, solar water heating, solar electricity, solar cooking, greenhouses, and more. I get nervous on camera, and I misspoke at 16:26 and said 4600 KILOwatts when I meant watts, and 375*F is more like the highest heat I have seen in my solar oven, others have reported 425*
6 months ago

Cristo Balete wrote:All I am trying to say is that this original poster is suggesting kluging together two things, two solar electricity things, intentionally to avoid it being to code, to avoid it being a proper and safe system, to avoid taking the bigger picture into consideration.  avoid taking the landlady's dwelling into consideration, or taking the grid into consideration.   When dealing with electricity all of that is really important.

People who don't know about solar may think that this person is telling them, all you need is a panel, take a gizmo like the one in the picture, and you can run your stuff off one one panel, no matter what the stuff is.   People might think they don't have to know about electricity, they don't have to know about DC and AC.  What if somebody thinks everything you need is built into the panel?  I've seen that in forums all over the place.

I didn't mean this to question anyone's system, or any situation's code, or anything like that.  

I think you are missing the idea behind the OP's guerrilla solar- it is essentially a small grid tied system. The grid supplies all the power appliances need, the solar just offsets some of that. No controllers or disconnects needed. I am not vouching for the safety of the installation nor recommending it. Doug
6 months ago

Cristo Balete wrote:Doug,  so you've probably got 23 microinveters, one for each panel?  No batteries involved?

Not sure where you are, but DC disconnects, and AC disconnects are the code where I am.   The fire department and the county require it.   When I've had to work on panels, or work on batteries, like replacing them, the disconnect boxes are really great to have for safety reasons.

I've used my solar setup for 20 years, it's using batteries, not tied to the grid, so the controller keeps track of everything when it comes to the state of the batteries, and lets me know that all of the panels are working.  

As I said above I have 20 230 watt panels, so 20 microinverters.
I'm in TN, all of my installation is to code and passed inspection the first time.  I have AC disconnects, just saying there are systems with PV panel direct to inverter.
This explains my system-
6 months ago
Cristo Balete wrote-
"So there's a lot of equipment between the panels and the inverter, or there should be,  like the DC disconnect, the controller, the batteries or the grid-tie controller, another disconnect, and then the inverter.  If someone who isn't familiar with batteries and electricity, and they hook up the batteries wrong, that can blow the inverter.

But same thing can happen, if the panels are going straight to a microinverter (a 12V or 24V inverter ought to have a controller in the middle and a DC disconnect) and something happens to the panel or panels, then the appliance asking for power will struggle and struggle, and will eventually burn out.

There is nothing between panels and microinverters by code, it's perfectly safe. Microinverters will produce the proper voltage, or shut down., not burn out appliances. I installed my PV system and have been living with it for 8 years.Doug
6 months ago
Doug Kalmer wrote:
Also, microinverters are placed right on PV panels, changing DC to AC with no controller or disconnects in between. This is completely legal and according to code.  

Cristo Balete-
"Micro" is the operative word there, very small amounts of power, not enough to run household appliances that use much more than 100 watts in very low-voltage situations.

Doug-  I have 20 230 watt panels, each have a micro inverter, in my 4.6KW array. There are micro inverters for 330 watt panels.
6 months ago
Cristo Balete wrote-
"Either you have a DC motor, or you have an inverter changing the DC to AC that is sent to the motor.  Not sure which is the case.   If something happens to one of those panels, it stops putting out power, and your motor is asking for power and not getting it, it will burn it up."
My DC motors are always "asking for power", and as the panels power output decreases due to sunlite decreasing, they just run slower then stop at a certain low voltage. Been doing it for decades.
6 months ago

Cristo Balete wrote-
"Going straight from a panel (DC) power and going into an AC appliance will destroy that appliance.   Even going into a DC appliance is dangerous without the proper controller in the middle, and a Disconnect box to stop power in an instant from going into the inverter in case something happens.  Inverters blow really easily if the voltage coming to them is too high for what they are set for."
I have several systems that take DC from the panels and go directly to a motor with no controller. This type of setup has been well tested and proven. The one on my solar water heater has been working fine on my roof since 1990.  Also, microinverters are placed right on PV panels, changing DC to AC with no controller or disconnects in between. This is completely legal and according to code. Inverters properly sized to the panels will not blow. Doug

DC Direct-

6 months ago

kelly purdue wrote:So if one wanted to generate power just under the normal usage is there an easy way to monitor that? I guess I want to see how many watts are always being used at any moment in my house, not average usage or peak usage.

Just search- "home power monitor"
6 months ago

Chris Kott wrote:

Johan Thorbecke wrote:Often you hear people that they can't install solar because they rent or because the local power monopoly has problems with it. Renting a house doesn't mean you have to forgo solar because the landlord isn't cooperating. You can still cover a lot of your baseload in a discrete way without anyone finding out with only 1 or 2 panels.
At the moment I'm renting short term but I have two solar panels, one facing east and one facing west. By doing this instead of a peak generation midday you're smoothing it out over the whole day.

Installation is dead simple. plug the panel in the micro inverter and plug the micro inverter in a socket. That's it. Keep in mind of course that the socket is out of the weathers way. This setup generates between 100-300W constantly on a sunny day, depending on the time of day. Not enough to cover large stuff like an AC but it takes quite a chunk out of your usage and your bill.

Again, in the aforementioned setup, panel plugs into inverter, inverter plugs into wall. No hole in walls, no wires through windows, no nothing. And the idea is sneaky solar, or guerilla solar, if you will. The idea is that you're flying under the radar, so it is presumed that one would take all necessary steps, most of which have been mentioned above, to avoid anything that would cause power companies, authority figures, or the Department of Making You Sad from noticing that you're producing your own power. That means either controlling your usage such that none feeds back to the grid by means of diverting excess to household storage or simply having a generating cap.

One idea I have thought about since I became aware of UPS systems, and even more so since the advent of the concept of the Tesla Power Wall (which I think is a terrific concept whoever popularises it or makes it, be it a big company or homesteaders with kit packages) is the idea of using the UPS or Power Wall as a primary energy source during peak usage, and then charging when rates drop in the evening. This is only some slight savings for homeowners, but if your business relied on using power during peak hours, it could represent serious operational cost savings.

This, however, is neither sneaky, nor geared towards renters, unless somebody has an idea for a semi-portable (or at least movable) Power wall. Though it occurs to me that there might be an intersection here between home solar and home electric vehicle charging. I mean, the electric car is just a battery bank on wheels with some seats in it.

Great conversation, though. I look forward to seeing where it goes.


I bought a Chevy Volt a few months ago, it has an 18.4 kilowatt hour battery that will feed the 12-volt battery to keep it charged. If the 18.4 kilowatt-hour traction battery runs down, it will start the engine to charge them both up. The maximum you can take out of the 12-volt battery is 1500 watts. I just bought a 1500 watt pure sine wave inverter so that I can run my critical loads if the grid goes down. I have a 4.6 kilowatt solar array that produces more electricity than our home uses. The Volt is back up along with a 5000 watt Honda generator I can hook into the whole house wiring.  Meanwhile even out here in the boonies the grid is very reliable and I am delighted with the deal I've gotten from TVA to reimburse me for the electricity I put back into the grid.  It has paid me more than I invested in the system,  so now I have all the electricity I want and I am getting paid to use it.
6 months ago