With the old CitiCar batteries laying about, I decided it was about time to embark on a side project to charge my CitiCar with the power of the sun.
Three years ago, I started a little off-grid solar project. I already had everything tucked away in the garage. I brought everything out and started connecting the batteries in parallel, and then to the inverter.
I did a test and verified I could use the inverter to plug things in and power them on. It was only 1000 watts, but I decided to attempt to charge the CitiCar. The inverter started beeping and stopped supplying power.
I thought there was a chance of that happening. It looks like I’ll need an inverter that can supply a minimum of 1800 watts with 15 amps.
I continued to setup the solar charge controller and the solar panels to start charging the battery bank. I had trouble getting the 8-way splitter to work, and ended up using two 4-way splitters to connect seven of the eight panels.
The last part was to connect the Raspberry Pi to log data. I was able to get it up and running on the network over wifi and view the dashboard.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t see any data since the last time I had the system up and running. I was able to update the date in the charge controller, change the time-zone on the raspberry pi, and confirm that data was being saved into the MySQL database.
It turns out that the code that I had written was in its alpha stage while experimenting with the data being returned. It looks like I was using a separate logger to grab CSV files, and then hard-coding the website to load from them instead of the database.
In summary, I need a more powerful inverter, and I need to wire up the website to a website.
After reviewing a few old videos that I had made demonstrating the solarpi website, I found that I was looking at an older interface. The newer interface is wired up to the database and keeps updating itself to show graphs of the last hour of data for each gauge. In addition, the gauges have colors to indicate ideal areas that the needle should be in. The site still needs plenty of improvement as well as a way to view and compare history.
In other news
The current AiLi battery capacity meter keeps resetting to 0% during my drives. I think it’s due to a loose wire on bumpy roads. As a temporary backup solution, II wired up a previous voltage monitor that gives me a percent and graph based on voltage.
The garage is dark. Both lights have now burnt out.