Ah yes … The truck.
A 1995 Mitsubishi Fuso FH100, and I, the original owner,
What a machine!
The FH100 was a left over model the local dealer “found” sitting on a dock in Florida waiting for something to do … And did I have something for it to do!
I had had the pleasure of working with John Minnehan and his company “the Ultimate Video show” bringing a high tech video night club to lots of college campuses that were … Let’s just say … Off the beaten path!
Lots of miles … Lots of heavy gear … And lots of hours listening to some of the hottest dance music the 90’s had to offer … I am still in recovery!
But the truck was amazing at it. With a GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) of over 17,000 pounds and weighing in at under 9,000 pounds empty the amount of gear it could handle was beyond belief … It surprised a lot of weigh station officials over the years … The sad look that would cross the faces of the DOT guys as they opened the door and read the GVW tag was always priceless!
But I digress …
The truck seems to have been built for my solar project. With it’s small size and super heavy duty frame, brakes, suspension and cargo restraining system moving a bunch of batteries around with the truck was going to be the easy part.
I wanted to find a better way to solar recharge the batteries between shows, and with business picking up I started looking up. With 120 square feet of flat roof on the truck, adding solar panels to the “attic” seemed like a good idea. If I could find a way to permanently mount an array on the truck I was going to save a lot of time and trouble moving batteries around.
I wanted to have the panels “rail mounted” flat above the box of the truck … With the rail system designed to protect the panels and any low hanging tree branches from each other!
I was curious as to how well the panels would work laying flat … (Instead of being angled at the sun) … But was pretty certain after 2013’s experiment that I would be able to recharge the batteries … I was just not sure how much the process would speed up, or how much power I would get … Never mind what, if anything was going to happen on those short winter days with the sun low on the horizon.
Time would tell.
While the truck was being worked on I went through and rebuilt the charging station I had made for the project back in 2013, tidying things up a bit, adding a web monitor and a wireless router to connect the rig to my I-phone and maybe someday even the world!
I think I’ll need to rent a teenager to get that far … Any leads on finding one would be greatly appreciated!
I got the truck back from the shop with the four solar panels installed on July 3, 2015 and spent the next two days adding the electronics and cabling … Personally drilling two holes in the truck roof for the “glands” that the cables were going to run through seemed really wrong … But the glands, and the silicone sealant that were used have kept everything nice and dry.
The next day I got up before sunrise and made it down to the truck as the sun was clearing the trees on the horizon and found I had already harvested .194 kWh of power … Before the sun had even hit the panels!
The readings I took from the web monitor at the end of the day showed that the charger went into “float” stage around noon … With a total harvest for the day of 1.41 kWh of power … I was not really sure what that meant … But I was impressed!
As I sit here on a Sunday morning in late January, with six months of learning “under my belt” I am still impressed!
As for the short days of winter … Yesterday, a sunny January 30, 2016 the Sirus Solar DS-201 web monitor showed I had put 143.7 amp hours of power back into my 12 volt battery bank … 1.72 kWh of power … Not bad for four 235 watt solar panels laying flat on a winter day in New England … Not bad at all!