by Marsha Cowan
Added inside photos.
My tiny house is only 6 x10 with solar lanterns that have their own tiny solar panels, propane heater, alcohol stovetop, and so I do not need much electricity. I am hoping this set up with a 100 watt panel, 1000 watt charge controller, 1000 watt inverter, and a 12 volt sealed gel marine battery. I am hoping to run a fan in the loft window, and maybe a computer for an hour or so each night. Anyway, thought I would pass along the picture. I am painting the cabinet the colors of the house.
Here is a picture of the inside of the cabinet and the “stuff” inside. You can’t see the two plugs on the front of the red colored inverter in this picture, but you can see the air venting slit I left on the low side of the cabinet. There is an air slit under the drip cap in front of the cabinet, too, so plenty of air can draw through there, but both are protected from rain and other weather.
The best piece of information I got on actually hooking everything up was on Grape solar’s own site. They have videos, and in one of them, a man with an Australian accent stood there and showed step by step how to hook up a charge controller to a solar panel, and then to the battery. The only thing I had to figure out was hooking up the inverter to the same battery.
As it turned out, I was able to loop the silver hoops (crimped to the ends of the wires) of the charge controller over the battery pins and bolt them down, then clamp the claw like things on the ends of the inverter (like on a jumper cable) onto the rounded nubs sticking up next to the pins, so they both did not connect at the same place.
Those black things you see part way down the charge controller wiring are actually clips that can be undone quickly. I took off the inside of the controller to hook up all the wires and the grounding wire that runs under the cabinet into the ground through an electrical steel conduit pipe. Next, I made the adjustments to two controls recommended by the instruction book. Then, I replaced the back being careful that the tiny lightbulb went into its hole because it shows me when the battery is charging and when it is fully charged (blinking green when charging, solid green when charged).
I can’t tell you that I wasn’t holding my breath! This was a first for me. I have never wired anything in my life, but there is now so much information on the internet that I honestly think that anyone can make a small off grid solar generator, even this 60 year old grandma!
By the way, there is an on and off switch on the inverter. When I first plugged up my TV and fan, nothing happened. Then I noticed that switch. Whew! I was so happy.
In my state, you can not get a hose to connect an RV propane stovetop to propane without inspections and a contract for at least 120 lbs. of fuel at a time from a local dealer, so I converted my propane stovetop (took out all the insides) to use alcohol burners instead. I ordered White Box burners which fit into short small square metal canisters I found at Walmart, then sat them inside the burner space on the stove.
Today I did my first test run, and it worked great! I was afraid that everything around the burner would get too hot, but they did not get hot at all. It was a very controlled flame. I only used enough to boil about 3 cups of water, so it went out in about 20 seconds after I took it off the burner. The window was open because the weather is so beautiful right now, but even in cold weather, I would open the kitchen window a little for oxygen, and I would shut off the propane heater as well while cooking. Just safe practice.
Thank you for letting me share my tiny house experience so far.