|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.
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.
|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.
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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