DIY Solar Installation

Reader Contribution by Joe Utasi
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Hello and welcome, all DIY Solar enthusiasts! I’ll be
speaking at the fair again this year, and I’ll have plenty of new material to
share with everyone! I’m finally getting around to adding batteries and an
inverter to my weekend house to make it “Off Grid Capable.” The service is only
100 amps, so I’m also adding a “whole house smart switch” rated for 100 amps.
This way, when the grid goes down, my whole breaker box just switches over to a
4KW 240VAC inverter. Of course, I have to make judicious use of the available
battery bank capacity, so this means only the fridge, computer, a few lights and
maybe a small TV can run if I expect to have anything left at the end of a 14
hour winter night!

Batteries require special care, and if you forget, or abuse
them, you can ruin an entire set in just a few days – and NOT get the 10 to 12
year life expectancy from them. If you look at the photos below, you can see
how my goodies arrived, packed neatly on a pallet, and what they all look like
spread out on my basement floor.

Left to right are the Magnum 4KW inverter, the
Magnum mini-mounting system with a Service Splitter box stacked on top, and the
whole house smart switch on the right. The wall mounting plate for the inverter
and mini mount is in back, and also acts as a heat sink. In front are the
battery cables – 4/0 Gauge so they can handle 250 AMPS at 24 volts DC! In front
on the right is a neat little in-line vent fan for the battery box cover. It
moves 6CFM, which is enough to keep hydrogen gasses from collecting in the box,
and only draws about 2 watts of power!

By the time I get to the FAIR in September, I hope to
have the installation complete and running, and will have lots of pictures to
show and discuss. If I can muster the courage, my seminar will be kind of a
“Let’s Talk Solar” session, with about 50% Q&A, so bring your questions and
I’ll do my best to answer them! In the meantime, you can visit my website at

See you at the FAIR!

Joe Utasi will present a workshop at the Seven Springs, Pa. MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. 

Please visit the FAIR website for more information about the Seven Springs, Pa., FAIR Sept. 24-25. Tickets will be available on site.

You can also get FAIR updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages.