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Authors Justine Cook
Location Arcata, California
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This is the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) manual for CCAT greenshed solar lighting. Please refer to it and keep it up to date with any O&M changes.

WARNING—Be very careful when working with batteries. Lead acid batteries can generate explosive gases, and short circuits can draw thousands of amps from the battery. Read all instructions provided with the battery.

Summary[edit | edit source]

Greenshed LED lamps

The CCAT Greenshed solar lighting system was installed during the spring semester of 2013. Due to campus permitting restrictions the Greenshed could not be wired to the main grid, and therefore was in need of an off-grid lighting system. A 100-Watt photovoltaic panel was placed on the roof of the Greenshed connected to a 12-volt battery located on the shelving above the Greenshed doorway. 12 LED lamps are hung around the Greenshed. The sunlight provides the Greenshed with plenty of light during the day, but the PV system provides just enough light for items to be put away at night. This manual outlines a number of things you should do to keep this PV system running well.

System components[edit | edit source]

  • 100 Watt solar PV panel
  • SunSaver-10 PV Controller
  • Interstate Power Patrol SLA Battery – 12 V 12 Ah
  • LED lamps: Firefly PowaPack Junior (Lamps only) 12 LED @ 15lux and 0.65W each

Operation[edit | edit source]

  • Inside the Greenshed door to the right is a light switch. This controls the LED lights that are powered by the PV system.
  • Be sure to turn the lights off when you are finished using them to prevent draining the battery.
  • Do not exceed the voltage or current ratings of the controller. Only use with a 12V battery.
  • WARNING—Be very careful when working with batteries. Lead acid batteries can generate explosive gases, and short circuits can draw thousands of amps from the battery. Read all instructions provided with the battery.

Maintenance[edit | edit source]

General[edit | edit source]

PV Panel and "boot" on greenshed roof
  • The PV panel located on the green shed roof should be cleaned every few months or so to prevent solar rays from being blocked by debris. A clean towel and warm water should suffice. If you wish to use a mild soap, be sure that the panel isn't hot to prevent a film from covering the panel.
  • The LED lights have a life expectancy of 50,000 hours. At an average use of 3 hours per day, the lights should last two years before needing replacement (See Instructions section below).
  • Check all terminals and wires for loose, broken, corroded or burnt connections or components
  • Use a multimeter to test voltage/amperes in full sun (See Instructions section below)

PV Panel[edit | edit source]

The PV panel is located on the Greenshed roof. Wiring for the PV panel is routed to the controller through the roof via a conduit and a rubber "boot".

The panel should be cleaned at least twice per year to prevent solar rays from being blocked by debris. Check conduit and the underside of the panel for any loose or damage wiring while cleaning the panel.

The PV panel is expected to last approximately 40 years before needing replacement.

If water is leaking through the roof where the "boot" is located, the boot may need to be removed and replaced. Refer to CCAT greenshed solar lighting project page for more information.

SunSaver-10 PV Controller[edit | edit source]

The SunSaver-10 PV Controller is located on the shelving above the Greenshed door inside a black container.

The SunSaver is a fully automatic controller that protects the PV system.

DO NOT short circuit the PV array or load while connected to the controller. This will DAMAGE the controller.

The controller should be protected from direct sunlight. Ensure adequate space for airflow around the controller.

LED Indicators: A GREEN LED light indicates that sunlight is available for battery charging. A RED LED light indicates that the battery has fallen below a charge level and so the load has been disconnected to protect the battery from further discharge and possible damage. After the battery is recharged to 40-50 percent of its rated capacity, the load will automatically be reconnected.

Yearly SunSaver Maintenance

  • Confirm that the correct battery type has been selected (sealed or flooded with the jumper).
  • Confirm that the current levels of the PV array and load do not exceed the SunSaver ratings
  • Tighten all the terminals. Inspect for loose, broken, or burnt wire connections. Be certain no loose strands of wire are touching other terminals
  • Check that the controller is securely mounted in a clean environment. Inspect for dirt, insects, and corrosion
  • Check that air flow around the controller is not blocked
  • Protect from direct sun and rain. Confirm that water is not collecting under the cover
  • Check that the controller functions and LED indicators are correct for the system conditions at that time.
Power Patrol SLA Battery

Interstate Power Patrol SLA Battery[edit | edit source]

The 12 volt 12 amp hour gel cell battery currently being used does not require regular maintenance.

The battery life is primarily dependent upon its usage (charge and discharge rates). The battery should last at least a few years before its capacity drops to 60% of its original rating.

To replace the battery contact …

LED Lamps

LED Lamps[edit | edit source]

The LED lights have a life expectancy of 50,000 hours. At an average use of 3 hours per day, the lights should last two years before needing replacement.

If the lights fail to turn on

  • Check the SunSaver PV controller in the plastic box on the self above the door (See Troubleshooting section below)
  • If this doesn't work, check the wiring on the access box located on the underside of the PV panel on the roof.
  • If neither of these work, contact...

If the lights seem unusually dim

  • They may need to be replaced.
  • The battery may need a replacement.

Instructions[edit | edit source]

Controller picture

Make sure to test the panel close to 12 pm in direct sunlight

Disconnect pv panel

Disconnect PV panel from the PV controller. The leads are on the left side of the controller labeled "Solar".

voltage test

Set your multimeter to read DC volts and turn the dial to a number higher than what the PV panel's volts are rated at (located on the back of the panel).


Connect the red lead from the multimeter to the panel's positive connection and the black lead to the negative connection. The voltage reading should be very close to the panel's rated volts, and should drop when you tilt the panel away from the sun. If this is true, then the panel is working properly.

Schedule[edit | edit source]

  • Clear PV panel on roof of any debris
  • Once a year checks on the SunSaver (listed in maintenance section)
  • Test voltage/amperes in full sun
  • Check all terminals and wires for loose, broken, corroded or burnt connections or components

Troubleshooting[edit | edit source]

Below lists how to troubleshoot basic operations for the CCAT Green shed PV system.

Problem Suggestion
Battery is not charging
  1. Check the green LED indicator. The green CHARGING LED should be on if it is daytime.
  2. Check that the proper battery type (sealed or flooded) has been selected.
  3. Measure PV array open circuit voltage and confirm it is within normal limits. If voltage is low or zero, check the connections at the PV array itself. Disconnect the PV from the controller when working on the PV system.
  4. Measure PV voltage and battery voltage at charge controller terminals. If voltage at the terminals is the same, the PV array is charging the battery. If PV voltage is close to open circuit voltage of the panels and the battery voltage is low, the controller is not charging the batteries and may be damaged.
Lights are not operating properly
  1. Check that the light switch is turned on.
  2. Check load connections.
  3. Check for proper LED indications on the SunSaver PV controller. If the red LED is on, the load has been disconnected due to low battery voltage. This is generally a normal state when the load exceeds the PV array output due to weather and other sunlight conditions.

Local solar technicians to contact if repair is necessary:

Suggestions for future changes[edit | edit source]

Because of the green shed location and the panel direction and placement on the roof, the sun only hits the panel in the afternoon. The panel could be relocated or repositioned to better maximize its potential.

It may be beneficial for a timer to be connected to the solar lighting system that would shut off the lights after (for example) 30 minutes, in the event someone forgot to shut off the lights. This would prevent unnecessary draining of the battery.

Data logging could be a worthwhile addition to the greenshed PV system.

FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Page data
Part of Engr535 Development Technology
Keywords ccat, ccat active project, photovoltaics
SDG SDG07 Affordable and clean energy
Authors Justine Cook
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Organizations Cal Poly Humboldt
Derivative of CCAT greenshed solar lighting
Language English (en)
Related 0 subpages, 2 pages link here
Aliases CCAT green shed solar lighting/OM, CCAT greenshed solar lighting/OM
Impact 291 page views
Created April 22, 2014 by Justine Cook
Modified January 29, 2024 by Felipe Schenone
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