Solar Project Update
We are so happy to report that our solar panel system is now up and running!
We received clearance to purchase the equipment we needed, even though our fund was not yet full. Because we (really, you our donors) have a history of fully-funding projects, LBT allowed us to borrow internally so that the equipment could be installed ASAP, confident that incoming donations will finish off the project soon.
Below are some photos of the installation process. As you can see, it was pretty involved.
First, eight batteries (each almost the same size as a car battery) were mounted on a rack on top of the closet in our spare bedroom. They were wired together to produce 4 battery banks of 24V each.
The batteries then got hooked to the big blue machine on the wall, which is an inverter. It converts 24V DC current from the batteries into 220V AC to power our stuff. (It can also charge the batteries from the mains current, if it’s cloudy or rainy and the power is on.)
The small white gadget on the wall is a charge controller. This is connected to the solar panels on the roof and the batteries in the house, and prevents the batteries from becoming over- or under-charged.
The solar panels themselves are much bigger than we were anticipating. They had to ride all the way from Lusaka hanging out the back of our pickup.
To mount the panels properly, they had to first be fitted to custom-made metal frames before being put on the roof. One half of the frame was bolted to the solar panel, the other half mounted to the roof. Then the two halves of the frame were bolted to each other. This involved some rather awkward posturing on the pitched roof as the workers got into position to mount the frames.
For those of you interested in the numbers and specs, we have eight 102 amp-hour batteries, a 1600Va / 16 amp inverter, a 20 amp charge controller, and two 300Wp solar panels. Basically this gives us a 4000 Watt-hour system, which means we can run 400W of appliances for up to 10 hours at a time before the batteries need to be charged again.
For those of you who just care how it works, it works great! We can run our fridge and fans, charge our computers and phones, and generally carry on with life as usual even when the power is out. With moderate use, the panels are enough to keep the batteries charged all on their own. And if we need to run a few more things for a longer period of time, the batteries can still be fully charged in about 6 hours with panels + mains.
The day after the solar was installed began some of the worst power cuts to yet hit us – we had about 5 days of 16-18 hours power cuts per day, meaning we were without power much more than we had it. Nevertheless, with the solar panels and batteries we were able to keep everything running, the fridge cool, and the fans blowing around the clock.
We want to thank each and every person who has so far donated to our solar project, and for those of you who will still donate in the near future. We have had seventeen gifts come in so far, totaling almost half of what is needed. For those of you who still want to contribute, you can follow this link to give to the Pluger Solar Project. More than that, we want to thank you for the show of support and interest we have gotten via email and social media – it’s a true blessing to know how many people care about us, our well-being, the progress of our translation project, and even our hot-season comfort levels.
Thank you, and may God continue to give you his mercy and grace!