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Free Solar Energy training

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: Free Solar Energy training

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Mon 20 Mar 2017, 13:41:01

Tanada, using those screw-in circuit breakers that work as you described is illegal and extremely dangerous in every jurisdiction in the USA/Canada as they are NOT COMPLIANT with any National Electrical Code published since the 1970s.

BTW, what you described are "auto reset" thermal breakers, which are only usable in the USA in vehicular electrical systems, and are now banned in residences. (They never were legal in Canada.) They are not even a good idea in automobiles and trucks. When an overcurrent occurs, power needs to remain off until the fault is corrected.

The devices you showed a picture of are "manual reset" fuse replacements which trip after a prolonged overcurrent which as you noted, cooks the wires. Those breakers are reset manually by the black button in the center. Those that you showed pictures of are illegal in almost all jurisdictions, which require an Underwriters Laboratory and/or Canadian Safety Agency safety rating and marking - those are made in China and lack the UL/CSA markings.

The generic problem with fuse replacements is that older wiring is not the same as modern wiring which has insulation designed to tolerate the temporary overcurrent and to preserve insulating properties at higher temperatures. For example the Romex wire commonly used for residential wiring in wood-framed buildings:
Image
This wire has a temperature rating of 194 degrees F. That sounds like a lot, but it does not take a prolonged overcurrent to melt the wire insulation in an attic space that is already at 140 degrees F on a hot Summer day. The interior insulation is wrapped with brown Kraft paper which has been treated with Boric Acid or other fire retardants. Contrast these wires to the 70-100 year old wiring that one would find in a residence old enough to have screw-in fuses, which would likely have cotton-wrapped wires in a woven cotton jacket impregnated with now-100-year old oil-based enamel. Otherwise known as kindling.
Image
Which is why I am a believer in metallic conduits with metallic junction boxes that contain fire, when I spec my new house for construction. Except outside where for trench burial I favor plastic conduits that will not conduct massive amounts of electricity into the residence itself from nearby lightning strikes.

The painful truth: if you are experiencing an excessive amount of fuse replacements, you need to have an Electrician rewire all or a portion of your house, and eliminate the overloaded circuits. A total re-wire with modern wiring and a modern circuit breaker panel is the ideal corrective action. If you cannot afford to do that, you need to stick with the original fast-acting fuses.

Sorry to go all "EE" on you, but professional ethics will not allow me to pass when somebody is giving bad advice that potentially could harm others when followed.
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Re: Free Solar Energy training

Unread postby baha » Mon 20 Mar 2017, 15:23:07

Come on KJ...I was about to thank Tanada for a great idea. I guess that's why I have never seen those before :) The old 30 amp fuses will do...I have never popped a fuse since I lived here. But I am an energy miser.

Yes, my house has kindling in the wiring. Kind of makes you wonder what they were thinking. But as I moved each circuit to the CL breaker panel I replaced wires with Romex. The ceiling lights and bedroom outlets are still old wires and on the old fusebox. But they are low load as well. And I plan to just leave them there. I am back-feeding the old fusebox from a circuit in the critical loads panel so it is all powered by the solar/battery inverter.

I'm more concerned with the Lithium battery bursting into flames than the wiring :) You think I should put it outside?
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Re: Free Solar Energy training

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Mon 20 Mar 2017, 18:53:45

I think you should keep an expensive Lithium battery in a conditioned or partially conditioned space inside a metallic enclosure. It does not vent hydrogen like wet acid cells do, but it does get really hot from an internal short in one of the cells. That is the real reason a Tesla sedan weighs over 4k pounds, because Elon Musk understands that and wraps each cell in steel, and cools the battery. An attached garage would be a good spot, if it shares at least one wall with heated or A/C'd space. That would be the wall to choose to mount the battery. I believe if you look, you might find an online Tesla PowerWall manual that answers all your questions.
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Re: Free Solar Energy training

Unread postby sparky » Mon 20 Mar 2017, 20:19:26

Most modern wiring is quite OK if used at its power rating .
On the whole I would rather favor apparent wiring kept away from thermal insulation and cooled by natural convexion
if the wiring is buried under thermal insulation it's a disaster waiting to happen
we have Thermal overloads here , it's quite acceptable ,also having the 230 volts international standard help with the current , as I said above Earth leakage protection IS compulsory
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Re: Free Solar Energy training

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Mon 20 Mar 2017, 21:02:29

sparky wrote:Most modern wiring is quite OK if used at its power rating .
On the whole I would rather favor apparent wiring kept away from thermal insulation and cooled by natural convexion
if the wiring is buried under thermal insulation it's a disaster waiting to happen
we have Thermal overloads here , it's quite acceptable ,also having the 230 volts international standard help with the current , as I said above Earth leakage protection IS compulsory


The original house wiring from the early 1900's pre-dates the widespread use of insulation. It is called "Knob and Tube":
Image
Wherever it passes through wood, they insulated with a ceramic tube. It was secured to wood with insulating ceramic knobs. I have found it still in use in old houses, although the wires by then were bare, the cotton or linen having crumbled or been gnawed away by rodents. It is amongst the most dangerous of wiring, and it's also a source of asbestos, added to the cloth insulation to increase resistance to heat. It and all 2-wire, ungrounded receptacles and electric lighting should be upgraded and made safe.

My personal experience is mostly in specifying power for computer rooms, which can get very interesting in Brownstone buildings and Victorian-era offices.
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Re: Free Solar Energy training

Unread postby baha » Tue 21 Mar 2017, 05:32:40

Wow, you could get up close and personal with those wires. Just put alligator clips on the load and hook up anywhere.

Of course you're right KJ, manuals are wonderful things. I have downloaded Gbytes of manuals as I proceed.

Unfortunately Tesla has cancelled production of the DC coupled Powerwall. They are concentrating on AC coupled. This allows the Powerwall to be backfit into an existing grid-tied PV system or used purely as a grid backup. The price is the same but the AC unit includes a 5kw inverter/charger and a controllable transfer switch.

This is fine for Tesla's business, but not the most efficient way to implement a battery based PV system from scratch. There are losses incurred in the DC-AC-DC charging circuit. There are two inverters instead of one, which causes communications and control issues. And if the batteries die completely you have to have a grid to restart the system as well as to commission the system. This will not meet my requirements so I am going to use an LG Chem DC coupled 10 kw-hr battery. This is compatible with my Solaredge Storedge 7600 multimode inverter. https://solaredge.com/products/storedge#/

The Storedge inverter has an integrated charge controller operating around 400vdc which matches the PV voltage and charges the 400v battery directly. With the usage meter I can control grid vs PV vs battery and develop any control scheme I want. The inverter will produce a constant 7500 watts and charge the batteries at a 5000 watt rate, which is their limit. Running on batteries it will produce a constant 5000 watts. The transition between PV, battery, and grid is seamless. And I have complete monitoring from anywhere in the world. In fact I can make the monitoring portal available to the public if I want. So I might give you all a peek :)
Last edited by baha on Tue 21 Mar 2017, 06:51:04, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Free Solar Energy training

Unread postby baha » Tue 21 Mar 2017, 06:44:42

BTW - I have already purchased the PV equipment and installed the AC side. I am getting it wholesale so I have spent about $7500 so far. That's for a complete 6.7 kw PV system. The only remaining outlays are the battery and the equipment rental for the ground mount. I expect to bring this in under $13k. I will get 30% rebate from you guys :) so the final will be under $10k. A little over $1/watt for a battery based, fully off-grid capable, PV system that will run my entire house for at least 10 years and maybe 25. This is what you get for jumping in with both feet.

I have decided since you all have helped me pay for this I will magnanimously give my excess power to Duke energy. Until the electric VW is complete :)
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Re: Free Solar Energy training

Unread postby Tanada » Tue 21 Mar 2017, 08:46:58

KaiserJeep wrote:The original house wiring from the early 1900's pre-dates the widespread use of insulation. It is called "Knob and Tube":
Image
Wherever it passes through wood, they insulated with a ceramic tube. It was secured to wood with insulating ceramic knobs. I have found it still in use in old houses, although the wires by then were bare, the cotton or linen having crumbled or been gnawed away by rodents. It is amongst the most dangerous of wiring, and it's also a source of asbestos, added to the cloth insulation to increase resistance to heat. It and all 2-wire, ungrounded receptacles and electric lighting should be upgraded and made safe.

My personal experience is mostly in specifying power for computer rooms, which can get very interesting in Brownstone buildings and Victorian-era offices.


I grew up in a farmhouse my great grandfather built in 1911 that was wired during the 'rural electrification' campaign of the FDR Administration in the 1930's. Everything was knob and tube wiring right up until my father remodeled the two front porches into enclosed rooms around 1979 and replaced the master fusebox with a breaker panel. From then until about 2005 the house was rewired in stages, but when I sold it in 2013 as executor of his estate it still had a 4 circuit fusebox that powered the second floor bedrooms. The only room upstairs that fed directly into the breaker box was the bathroom, which was completely gutted, rewired and replumbed around 2005. You could still go upstairs to the third floor/attic and trace the knob and tube wiring through the floor joists which were exposed. The people who wired it originally were not idiots, just as in the photo you posted they separated the wires in their tarpaper insulation by a good foot to 18 inches so that if a rat or other rodent chewed off the insulation they could not short across both wires by doing so.

Modern Americans have become so risk adverse it is sad, that house is over a century old and was still using portions of the original wiring for 70 years without ever having a fire and never having a significant short. It is not about the quality of the materials, it is about the quality of the workmanship used to install those materials. Was it hyper safe three wire grounded super insulated in metal conduit? Nope. Was it safe? Well 70 years of evidence says it was. And before you pop off about exceptions none of the other farmhouses in the area built and wired the same way were suddenly bursting into flames either. If they had been nobody would have trusted electricity in their homes.
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