Soaking Up the Sun
VEC Foreman Andy Naggy Uses Solar Panels to Power Job Trailer
VEC Electrical Foreman Andy Naggy put his skills to good use when he developed a solar powered electrical source for his fifth wheel camper that he hauls with him to job sites across the country for VEC. The system powers everything in his trailer and allows him to not depend on finding campsites with power hook-ups. Seeing the many benefits and independence the system had to offer, he decided to install a similar system in his job site work trailer at Compressor Station 203 in New Jersey.
With the help of Curt Nickerson, also a VEC member, they installed six solar panels to harness sunlight and convert it into 1590 watts of solar power. The panels are wired in a 3S 2P (3 series, 2 parallel) configuration that produces 25 amps at 60VDC. The solar charge controller takes this power, converts it to 24VDC and charges the battery bank consisting of two 12V, 100Ah, deep cycle batteries wired in series.
A 3,000 watt Victron inverter then takes the 24VDC power and inverts it into usable 120VAC power. These inverters can also be interconnected to one another using a standard Ethernet cable and ran in parallel, meaning the system could be built larger in multiples of 3,000 watts, should more power be needed.
Andy’s stand-alone 3,000 watt inverter is able to power things like the bender, threader, porta-pony, 2 inch sump pump, bandsaws, charging stations for battery tools, trailer lighting and on most days even other trades working on site benefit from the excess power produced.
This inverter can also be plugged into a generator or the power grid and will allow up to 50 amps of power to pass through it without needing to invert power from the batteries. This is helpful when solar power isn’t available or is inadequate for a short time. There is no need to unplug everything and plug in elsewhere, the inverter can be plugged into a generator and the load will be seamlessly transferred over to it. While plugged in, the inverter also acts as a battery charger and will charge the batteries. When fully charged the generator can be shut off and the inverter, acting as an uninterruptable power supply, will seamlessly transfer the load back to inverted power from the solar system.
It can also be used in conjunction with grid power to boost the output power of the grid connection or generator. This is helpful when you have a limited grid power source or undersized generator that can’t handle the full load. The max power taken from the grid or generator can be easily set and all power after that set point will be supply by inverted power. This eliminates the need for a large and bulky generator.
So far, 99% of all conduit has been bent, threaded and installed using only solar power. Andy also notes, “not having to fuel or listen to a generator all day is pretty nice!”