Home Data Center Powerwall Build

gregoinc

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Thought I would start this thread, primarily to obtain help and guidance in building a grid connected or off-grid power wall... or something in between. I am very new to solar generation and battery storage, so will probably need a lot of help.

The home data center is a personal project I've wanted to create for some time. See the photos below, which show the buildingstages. The building is finally at lock up stage, so now is a great time to undertake the wiring for the solar panels and battery storage as that will be external to the data center.


image_kjbbay.jpg



image_noyqcn.jpg



image_shcwhk.jpg



image_ywhfsw.jpg



image_eaiigu.jpg


The roof is a skillion design and will probably only support a total of 6 solar panels. I was thinking of using a panel similar to the Trina 295 watt, but am open to ideas on the most cost effective units. I will need a solar panel mounting frame like this Clenergy Solar Frameand will probably need two frames to mount the 6 solar panels. I will also need a stainless steel cabinet of some sort to store the batteries external to the data center.

Anyway, that is my first update. Look forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas, and recommendations.
 

Wattsup

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Hi and welcome

I had to google home data centre :p

Google tells me is a man cave for the internet age ;)

Looks like an interesting build. I'll be following. I don't have much to offer knowledge wise, as I'm also on the steep learning curve.

I have a 48v LiFePO4 off grid system running some loads in my man cave.

Cheers
 

gregoinc

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Wattsup said:
Hi and welcome

I had to google home data centre :p

Google tells me is a man cave for the internet age ;)

Looks like an interesting build. I'll be following. I don't have much to offer knowledge wise, as I'm also on the steep learning curve.

I have a 48v LiFePO4 off grid system running some loads in my man cave.

Cheers

Hey there, sorry for the delay in writing. To be honest I call it a home data center, but man cave would certainly suffice. Not quite sure what it will be when I am finished, but as long as it gives me more space to run my compute loads and experiment then it will be a success in my eyes.

Right now I am doing all the boring stuff, like insulation and internal cladding. Will also wire the electrics for on-grid/off-grid and data. I purchased a used 45RU rack so that can be installed once the floor is completely sealed and the rubber flor tiles laid.Lots to get done.

Have also been looking at solar panels and mounts, with Trina Honey M Plus 300 wattlooking the best given my limited roof space. Have also been looking at panel mounting hardware, based on the roof sloping away from north I'll need a tilt frame that can do 30-60 degrees.

Any ideas, comments, suggestions greatly appreciated.
 

gregoinc

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Well the journey has started.Managed to get my hands on these Radiant panel mounts (6 in total) for $40... need to find the rails that go on top so I can attach the solar panels. No idea if the rails need to be Radiant brand?If anyone knows or can provide some advice that would be great.


image_wknlrv.jpg
 

not2bme

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Not sure how big these are so I'm not sure the orientation you're mounting it on but it looks like there's clamps on it already that would clamp down on the panels. But yes you can mix and match as long as you can figure out how to put it together. I am using unistrut channels which are readily available at most hardware stores like homedepot and not that expensive. Then i went for unirac end mounts. I searched youtube for lots of tutorial on mounting with these hardware.
 

Korishan

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The brand of the rails doesn't matter so much in conjunction with the panels; that is, unless there is some really super proprietary edge on the panels. The way you have the one standing up is the correct way to mount the panels onto those. You adjust the clips inside the track to match your panels. It looks to me as if the panels would go horizontal on those rails and not vertical.

In either case, I'd recommend connecting the back part (the right angle end of the triangle) on a hinge of some sort so that you can disconnect the lower end and tip the whole assembly backwards. This will allow you to do cleaning and maybe maintenance if needed easily
 

gregoinc

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not2bme said:
Not sure how big these are so I'm not sure the orientation you're mounting it on but it looks like there's clamps on it already that would clamp down on the panels. But yes you can mix and match as long as you can figure out how to put it together. I am using unistrut channels which are readily available at most hardware stores like homedepot and not that expensive. Then i went for unirac end mounts. I searched youtube for lots of tutorial on mounting with these hardware.

Korishan said:
The brand of the rails doesn't matter so much in conjunction with the panels; that is, unless there is some really super proprietary edge on the panels. The way you have the one standing up is the correct way to mount the panels onto those. You adjust the clips inside the track to match your panels. It looks to me as if the panels would go horizontal on those rails and not vertical.

In either case, I'd recommend connecting the back part (the right angle end of the triangle) on a hinge of some sort so that you can disconnect the lower end and tip the whole assembly backwards. This will allow you to do cleaning and maybe maintenance if needed easily

Hi Guys,

Thanks for the comments and advice. The Radiant tilt racks still require rails to be attached horizontally, upon which the solar panels are mounted vertically. This picture whilst not a Radiant system shows what I explained above.


image_zzfizm.jpg


I've contacted a Radiant suplier in Melbourne to get a price on the parts I'd need to be able to mount panels. The pricing doesn't look too bad, but since i dont have any panels yet I have time to find cheaper alternatives.

Hope this helps. I have a long way to go... andam still learning. Not to mention working out how to connect it all together :)
 

Korishan

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Try your local big box hardware store for pricing on aliminium channeling. It might be cheaper to just go that route and and fasten it all down that way.
 

gregoinc

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Korishan said:
Try your local big box hardware store for pricing on aliminium channeling. It might be cheaper to just go that route and and fasten it all down that way.

If only we had those stores in Australia... would be awesome. But thanks for the advice. I'll keep my eyes open for some second hand goods, or if all else fails I'll purchase from the Radiant supplier.
 

floydR

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Don't you have a Bunnings Warehouse near you? I think that would be the closest you can get to a home improvement big box store there. seemed they were all over Australia back in 2010, I visited spent three weeks flying and driving across the your fine country.

later floyd
 

Korishan

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Well, I did a search for Lowe's in Aus, and was surprised to find that they actually closed up shop in 2016. Altho, they were called "Masters Home Improvement" at the time. "Lowes" is an apparel store down there. I'll have to remember that when recommending people to go there :p

However, there is a Home Depot in Sydney, Dartmouth, New Minas, and Halifax.
 

gregoinc

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floydR said:
Don't you have a Bunnings Warehouse near you? I think that would be the closest you can get to a home improvement big box store there. seemed they were all over Australia back in 2010, I visited spent three weeks flying and driving across the your fine country.

later floyd

Yes, we have Bunnings, but have never seen solar mounting hardware. Be awesome if they had it... but they stockmore routine DIY products.
 

gregoinc

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Korishan said:
Well, I did a search for Lowe's in Aus, and was surprised to find that they actually closed up shop in 2016. Altho, they were called "Masters Home Improvement" at the time. "Lowes" is an apparel store down there. I'll have to remember that when recommending people to go there :p

However, there is a Home Depot in Sydney, Dartmouth, New Minas, and Halifax.

Made contact with a local supplier of Radiant products, and to my surprise the additional rails and mounting hardware is really cheap. So I am going to head over there next week and collect the parts I need. Still haven't been able to find reasonably priced solar panels... so may need to buy theseTrina Honey M Pluspanels.


Wattsup said:
You could try this place. There are a few solar places in this area

http://www.kingsengaluminium.com.au/

HiPhil, thanks for the tip. Hope you've had a great Australia Day mate.

Think I have the solar panelmounting hardware covered.

Hey, looking for some advice on the circuit design for the solar panels. Is there some specific hardware and cabling I'll need? Seems the Trina panels have MC4 connectors, so I figure I have to run them to the inverter/charge controller... but I figure I have to have some kind of protection in between i.e. an isolator? Any ideas?
 

Korishan

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Yes, you'll need (should have) fuses between your panels and hardware. Wire gauge sufficient to handle your voltage configuration and length.
 

daromer

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Check regulations where you need.

Minium is generally fuses + disconnect switch. Then you add upp lightning protection on many installs. Also beware that you need hardware approved for the current/voltage in the system. You can even buy prebuilt boxes like this one
 

Wattsup

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gregoinc said:
Wattsup said:
You could try this place. There are a few solar places in this area

http://www.kingsengaluminium.com.au/

HiPhil, thanks for the tip. Hope you've had a great Australia Day mate.

Think I have the solar panelmounting hardware covered.

Hey, looking for some advice on the circuit design for the solar panels. Is there some specific hardware and cabling I'll need? Seems the Trina panels have MC4 connectors, so I figure I have to run them to the inverter/charge controller... but I figure I have to have some kind of protection in between i.e. an isolator? Any ideas?

Thanks mate, was a good day, a hot one but good. Hope you had a great day as well! :)

As the other guys mentioned, you will need some disconnect/ fusing.
In Aus you're supposed to havea disconnect on the roofat the panels.

Keep asking questions here, lots of combined knowledge!
It may be worth seeking some advice from an off grid installer.
 

gregoinc

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Hi Folks,

Wanted to check my thinking from a solar versus battery calculation point of view.

I only have enough roof space to accomodate 6 solar panels, based on the panels being 992mm wide. I figure if I were to purchase 295w or 320w panels that gives me approximately 1800 watts of solar power.

So my questions...

1. Because the panels will be in groups of 3, I assume each group would need to have an isolator mounted on the solar panel racks?

Edit: These are some isolators I've been looking at...

image_lzcbmj.jpg


2. Do I base the battery size on the amount of power generated by the solar panels? If so, what would be the best method of calculation for LifePO4 batteries?

3. I assume I must run an earth cable from the solar panel racking to an earth spike driven into the ground?

4. Is there a difference between 24 volt and 48 volt inverters? What would be best for a small array of only 6 panels.

5. Based on question 4, to acheive the optimal DC voltage input for charging the batteries... Do you connect the solar panels in series or parallel?

6. With the DC isolation switches on the roof, what other isolation/fusing is required between the solar panels and the inverter/charger?

I think that is a big enough brain dump for now. I hope the conversations will answer any other questions I may have going forward.

Thanks again for your time, it really is appreciated.


A few pictures of progress... roughing in the power and data is pretty much complete. Focus now on insulation and internal wall cladding.


image_gluqrd.jpg



image_bgbsdk.jpg
 

gregoinc

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daromer said:
Check regulations where you need.

Minium is generally fuses + disconnect switch. Then you add upp lightning protection on many installs. Also beware that you need hardware approved for the current/voltage in the system. You can even buy prebuilt boxes like this one

Thanks for the update. Question... when isolation on the roof is required, do you use a breaker or an isolation switch? Seems to me a breaker would be better because it combines overload protection with a switch, whereas an isolator switch is just that a switch. Would be interested in advice, and what would be minimum to comply with Australian standards.
 

Korishan

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I would imagine just a switch. As there will never really be an overload of amp draw from the panels. You wire for the max amps what the panels can deliver, so they'd never get maxed out.
 
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