Category: Off-the-Grid Power

A New Inverter for the Cabin

By , July 30, 2018

Yesterday, after playing hooky all week at the Southeast Alaska State Fair (more on that soon) I got back to the business of the homestead. In a hot, frustrating, day-long whirlwind of activity, I completed our electrical system revamp by successfully installing a new inverter.

It started with a new solar array (see Power Shift: Increasing Our Energy Independence). As part of that project, we invested in a new Nickel Iron (NiFe) battery. The array “healed” our old battery bank, which we used for several more years, but this summer I installed the new bank (see Racing to the Summer Solstice). The higher charging levels of the new battery defeated our venerable old inverter, a Trace Engineering Model 812, so I purchased and installed one that operates at higher charging levels.

The Trace cut off power at 15.5 volts (VDC) as a safety feature. The NiFe battery charges full at 16.5-17+ VDC. Since installing the new battery, we’ve had to cut power from the solar panels and let the battery charge drop to about 14.5 VDC before we could use the Trace. The new inverter cuts power at 16.5 VDC, the highest I could find.

The new inverter is a Samlex PST 1500-12. The 1500 nearly doubles the output of the Trace. It’s a bit of overkill, but we’ll endure, surely.


The new inverter on the wall, the newly arranged “gap tooth” breaker box (left) and the empty cubby where the old inverter sat (above). (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger.)

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Racing to the Summer Solstice

By , June 24, 2018

The summer solstice seems to be a favorite time for races (or, “runs”, as they’re generally billed). The famous “Only Fools Run at Midnight” springs to mind.

This summer solstice, I ran a race of my own, trying to bring our new Nickel-Iron (NiFe) battery bank on line in time to charge during the long days of solstice sun (see Homestead Going Dark for the Summer Solstice).

I’m happy to tell you: I made it!

More or less.

Nickel-Iron battery

The Nickel-Iron battery, all topped off, tied in, and charging (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

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