Display Panels 


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 Investing in a digital display is worth it, unless you install more batteries and solar panels than you actually need
Knowing how much power is being used and the status of the batteries is very helpful. This picture of the inverter's display panel shows that 19 amps are being used.  This is the power used by our three computers, the TVs and satellite receivers while plugged in but turned off.  We added power strips with on/off switches for the TV, video and satellite receiver so that we can eliminate 10 amps of idle power consumption. 

At the flip of a switch the Heliotrope charge controller will digitally display battery voltage, solar panel amperage, or amperage being consumed by the 12 volt lights and appliances.  In order to monitor the 12 volt power consumption, a shunt is installed on the battery cable.
A signal wire is run to the charge controller.  The Heliotrope controller requires a 50 ma shunt.  Be sure you get the right shunt for the gauge you select ... I didn't.  Many people talk about a meter called an "e-meter", so you might want to look into that one.

Using the digital display I'll learn which lights and appliances are most efficient. I'm still waiting for my correct shunt to arrive.  After that, I may decide to replace a few incandescent lights with florescent lights. 


The display panels were mounted next to the other factory installed AC, fan, and CO2 detection panels.  Again, this was not a convenient place for installation.  It took a little longer to route the wires but it kept all of the control and display together. 


After becoming familiar with the power requirements and solar panel capacity I don't use the panel too much.  Mostly I glance at the battery voltage each night. 

Fully charged batteries will be  12.68 volts or more

12.44 volts -- the battery is near 75% of its capacity

12.23 volts -- the battery is near 50% of its capacity and it's time to charge or reduce power consumption.

12.02 volts -- 25% capacity.  12.1 volts or less on a daily basis will wear out the batteries quickly

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May 18, 2000 and we are finally ready for Y2K

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