Author Topic: New member introductions (READ THIS FIRST)  (Read 49492 times)


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Re: New member introductions (READ THIS FIRST)
« Reply #240 on: April 10, 2018, 07:15:16 AM »
Hello, Richard here. I live win FL but have remote property in New Mexico. I just purchased a 150, 3 100W panels, and a 260ah full river agm for a remote cell tower. Just wanted to say HI.


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Re: New member introductions (READ THIS FIRST)
« Reply #241 on: April 11, 2018, 09:36:05 PM »
My name is Beyla, that is my online name. I live in Canada, Ontario, Ottawa. I’m very happy to have joined this forum. Many veterans and knowledgeable members to help me  ensure my installation  is safe and conforms to code. Looking forward to engage in fruitful discussions. Thanks for accepting me in the fold. I have read the history of Midnite Solar and the people involved in this product, the reviews are excellent and so are the people. My Classic is still in the box, can’t wait to actually have the infrastructure in place ready to turn on the magic. I will be asking questions but not silly ones that can be obtained with a little digging.  ::)
Classic 150, MNPV6, Canadian Solar 1540 Watts panels, Aims 1200W Pure Sine, 6 X12 volt panels, 4X Crown 6 volt batteries in 12V bank.

ME in EE Land

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Re: New member introductions (READ THIS FIRST)
« Reply #242 on: April 15, 2018, 12:36:02 AM »
Hello MidNite Forum!

I've been a lurker here and on the Fieldlines forum for a couple years while I designed & built my own new off-grid system for a full-size home.   Learned a ton (good and bad) from you folks—Thanks!!    After all the revelations about Facebook, big data, and the nefarious digital world, I’m not using my name here, so you can call me SeaDog, thus the stupid avatar…

Since I just installed a mess of new MidNite Classics, I figured I'd actually join this great forum so I can ask questions of the MidNite Community in the future when I need to.  And, why join without a proper introduction!  Besides, I’m a story-teller by trade anyway, so phooey on you if you regret reading my tale.  Hope I can keep you entertained!
I'm a crusty old mechanical engineer who always took an interest in what the Sparkies were doing, but I'd always thought their jobs seemed boring.  Who would want to work with electricity, when I could play with stuff that moved, used heat, and could be welded?   Turns out, I did, I guess!  Interesting journey these last three years have been.

Now, after a butt-ton of learning, I'm pretty damn proud of figuring out how to design and build a brand new off-grid system; so proud, in fact, that when I retire, I want to teach people how to do what I did, just for the fun of sharing the knowledge!  I’ll share some pictures in a future post.

How'd a gear-head learn how to keep the magic smoke from coming out of electrical gadgets? Well, interesting you should ask....

My wife's late husband had built a vacation home in the New England woods back in the early 2000's.  (He literally carved it out of the woods himself!)   For various reasons, both practical and moral, they decided that the house would be off-the grid.  They started with just a generator during initial construction, then moved up to a 24V gel battery bank with an Outback inverter, then, after those batteries died, the house grew to full size, and they needed more juice for the really deep well pump, they traded up to a set of stacked Schneider Xantrax TRs and a new set of 12 FLA 2V Surrettes.   Their first 6 Spanish solar panels, really well-made but only 150W each, cost a King's ransom back then.  Later, they added 6 more 235W Kyocera's on the roof of a barn, and life was good for a weekend home.  Unfortunately, periods of chronic undercharging during the winter, when the Northern New England snow was too hard to get off the roof, took a toll on them batts.  Along comes Mr. Newby here on the scene just as good old entropy was beginning to take its toll on that precious battery bank...    Time to learn a whole new trade!

My wife is really smart but had mostly left understanding the workings of the system to her late husband.  When we began our courtship, I didn't know Jack about how any of the parts of the system moved all those electrons around, but I knew I needed to learn everything I could about Solar power if I was going to be a part of her life!

I did tons of web surfing, Wikipedia research, FoolTube watching, and I even pulled out my old EE textbooks.  (Yes, MEs have to take EE classes, thank God.)    Eventually I found this and a couple of other good forums.  I took all the panel covers off of everything, traced all the wiring, wrote magic marker on everything, and made notes.  After a time, I felt reasonably comfortable that I knew what needed to be done to take care of what.   I was at that stage I often see young engineers at:   I thought I knew what I needed to know (NOT!) and I didn’t know what I didn’t yet know….. 

About a year ago, after several winter weekends where the Trimetric was consistently showing a terrible battery SOC; after foot after foot after foot of wet white stuff on the arrays; after the inverters kept failing to recognize the generator power to charge the poor batteries; and, after we decided to get married and that we would make this house our retirement home…..we decided it was time to invest in an entirely new battery bank.  Since we were going to do that, it also seemed like the right time to jump to a 48V system, put up a ground array that we could easily get the snow off of, and upgrade to a bigger inverter with true sinewave power.  (The old TRs had 33%THD, and all the new LEDs we put in flickered so much I thought I was going to have an epileptic fit.)   Since the batteries were the starting point in designing the new system, it was time to go to school on everything battery!  Luckily, my wife and her late husband had become acquainted with the Great, Roy Earley Jr.  at the RAE Storage Battery Co, the original Godfather of everything battery! (RAE Battery is the East Coast distributor of Rolls Surrette batteries.  Mr. Surrette used to work for Roy, way back when.  Roy also sells his own brand of batteries that are just as good but less well known.)  Roy is a wealth of knowledge and has played and worked with batteries his whole life—awesome, incredibly helpful guy.  His office is a time machine visit, if you ever make it there.

Wow, there was a lot I didn’t know during those prior two years!   

After all that research, I learned about battery chemistry and charging profiles, about proper load-vs-bank sizing, about how the arrays and charge controllers need to match the bank’s needs, about how to properly size wires, about how to make proper electrical connections, etc., etc…    When I’d gotten a handle on all that basic design parameter stuff, I had to decide on the right set of matched components.  I wasn’t too concerned about the PV panels—I chose 24 new Winaico 310W based on the recommendation of a local dealer—but after the prior years’ web and forum crawling, I learned to sort the wheat from the chaff of this industry on the balance of system side, and there was a lot of chaff!! Several names just kept coming to the top:  MidNite, Outback, Trace/Xantrax/Schneider, Magnum, TriStar, Rolls, Trojan, Crown.  (I didn’t know until I read Robin’s story how the beginning of that list was all started by the same DNA!)

I settled on MidNite Classics 200s as my MPPT units (why, in a minute…), a rock-solid Schneider ConextXW 6048 inverter pre-wired with a MidNite E-panel, 24 1000 Ahr Rolls 1400EX L16 2V batteries, and MidNite SPDs, breakers, and NEMA 4 combiner boxes.  (Yep, there’s a theme there—I like the MidNite stuff…)   I designed and built my own new ground array structure welded out of 3” Schedule 40 galvanized pipe, and trenched 3 sets of 150’ of 2AWG into the house.  (Building and wiring that was its own adventure—story for another day!)   I bought some really useful new tools along the way, and even learned to crimp all my own cables, incl 4/0!  We built a new shed addition onto the main house to put it all in, and I ran every wire through conduit and gutter boxes (except some comm lines…).  I hired a local solar installer to come do a complete wire check (consult) with me before light-off, and everything was wired correctly.   We lit it off, and virtually everything went perfectly on the first try.  (It turned out the old generator needed a new voltage regulator…that’s why the old TRs weren’t recognizing it!)  The system has now been up and running continuously since the end of March, and now I will fart around with computer setting so I can see all of my system (including the Conext Combox) remotely when I’m not here.  (Want to port-in directly vs use the MyMidNite access.)

In concluding my introductory story for tonight, I want to pass along a compliment to Robin, boB, and all of the rest of the crew at MidNite:  You guys sold me on your products by the sheer engineering of your stuff and the wonderful details in your manuals, videos, and literature.  (I know Ryan’s moved on to other endeavors, but his videos were fantastic.  I felt like I knew everything about the every part and program before I ever installed a wire. ) I read every one of your manuals before I decided what to buy. From one old engineer to another, yours is an >>Engineer’s<< Company!

Thanks for the dedication to your product and your customers!!!

-SeaDog (an ME in EE Land…)
Totally Off-grid:
48V (2V Rolls 1400EX 1000 Ahr)
9.8kW solar (as 4 arrays of varying age & locations)
Schneider 6048 ConextXW & MidNite E Panel
4 Classics 200's
MidNite Combiners, SPDs
12kW propane backup gen.
Hope to use an add'l 3kW PV ground array w/an Arduino for 120V space heating & a hot tub.


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Re: New member introductions (READ THIS FIRST)
« Reply #243 on: April 15, 2018, 04:16:58 PM »
Welcome SeaDog

Wish I'd been able to give you this link before you made the ground mount.
 covers a gentleman who installed a ground mount in snow country, and leaves a gap between rows of panels for snow to fall through, and how he uses a scraper to clear panels as needed when the steep angle does not self-clear
and this

Classic 200| 2Kw PV, 160Voc | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph )| Listeroid 6/1, st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | midnight ePanel & 4 SPDs | 48V, 800A NiFe battery bank | MS-TS-MPPT60 w/3Kw PV


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Re: New member introductions (READ THIS FIRST)
« Reply #244 on: May 01, 2018, 10:12:34 PM »
Hello,  my name is Ben.  My house was off the grid for 8 years, 24 volt system with 1800 watts solar and a Bergey XL1 wind turbine., and am now grid tied.