CCAT yurt. Image credit: Samantha Seglin, Lily Pastel, Rachael McCain, and Tanja Hopmans
Project data
Authors Wkaris
Location Arcata, California
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This is the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) manual for CCAT yurt. Please refer to it regularly and keep it up to date with any O&M changes.

Operation[edit | edit source]

Yurt Power.
Yurt Inverter

The operation of the CCAT yurt is straightforward when all components have been well maintained. There is little that needs to be done in order for the retaining wall, roof, and Liter-of-Lights to operate. However, the photovoltaic system does require some further explanation.

PV System
  • The LED lights powered by the PV system and can be turned on and off using the switches on the side of the power center box that houses the inverter, charge controller, and spare fuses.
  • The option to plug in AC loads, however, is more complex. First, the loads must be plugged into the inverter, and then the inverter must be turned on. Be sure to turn off the inverter when loads are not in use. Finally, users must understand that AC power is limited, and may be completely unavailable during the darkest three months of the year.

Maintenance[edit | edit source]

To ensure the yurt lives a long productive life, regular maintenance of its different components is essential.

Schedule[edit | edit source]

  • Check state-of-charge reading on charge controller monitor
  • Clean solar panel
  • Inspect power center box for corrosion, debris, or loose/exposed wires
  • Check electrolyte levels of battery (Eye and Hand Protection Required)
  • Inspect battery terminals for corrosion, debris, or loose/exposed wires
  • Clean/dust Liter-of-Light bottles
Every 3 months
  • Equalize battery
  • Inspect retaining wall for weeds, debris, and weakened or damaged structures, especially after heavy rains
  • Inspect roof for loose or rusty shingles
  • Inspect Liter-of-Light flashings for leaks
  • Conduct IV curve to assess health of PV panel
Every 5 years
  • Replace the water/bleach solution in the Liter-of-Light bottles

Instructions[edit | edit source]

Below are instructions from manuals regarding the maintenance of different CCAT yurt projects. Those regarding the CCAT yurt roof were developed in the SALIRAJA Yurt Project and those describing the PV system were adopted from the 2006 Cal Poly Humboldt ENGR 535 class CCAT Yurt Solar PV System Users Manual.

Rusty Shingle
Identify loose or rusty shingle
Flickr crowbar
Remove rusty single using small crowbar or similar lever
Cut cans
Scrub the rust off with steel wool. Or, if beyond repair, cut a clean tin can using tin snips and flatten
Bend cans
Use pliers to bend the edges of the cans so they are less dangerous to work with
Spraying Cans
Spray cans with rust resistant paint (Eye and respiratory protection required)
Attach Fresh Shingle
After drying, attach the refreshed shingle using a staple gun

Deep cycle battery
Disconnect the battery
Back of PV Panel
Disconnect the leads from the back of the panel
Multimeter Diagram

Test the open circuit voltage (Voc) by setting the multimeter to test DC Voltage (don't forget to check the placement of the cables) and then holding the probes across the input and output terminals of the panel

Step 4 : Test the short circuit current (Isc) by setting the multimeter to test DC current, and again hold the probes across the terminals
Record Values
Record the readings for each panel and the ambient conditions (time, cloud cover, wind) in the comments section of the maintenance log. If the panels vary by more than 20% in either voltage or current, contact a solar technician
No Clouds
The readings should be taken as quickly as possible for minimizing the effect of the outside conditions and angle of the incoming sunlight. Ideally, readings will be taken on a day with either no cloud cover, or no moving clouds so that the available solar radiation stays constant

Deep cycle battery
Disconnect the battery

Clean off specific gravity hydrometer to ensure no foreign material could be introduced into the battery (Eye protection required) Step 3 : Open battery box and ensure door is secure.

Step 4 : Open left-most cell door

Depress hydrometer ball. Note: Never depress ball while hydrometer tube is in battery cell!

Step 6 : Insert hydrometer tube into the cell completely and release
Record Values

Note and record the level of the hydrometer float in the tube.

Step 8: Record fluid level of cell
Repeat for all cells
DI Water
With the help of the funnel add distilled water to any cell below the full line (approx. ¼ to ½ inch below bottom of battery vent) on the battery
Battery Cell

Ensure all cell doors are securely closed Step 12 : Close battery box

Step 13 : Perform battery equalization if specific gravity of any of the cells varies from the mean by 0.025 or greater

Rinse the hydrometer thoroughly and return to hydrometer holder. The

hydrometer holder should also be removed occasionally and rinsed to prevent corrosion

Battery box and power center box
Lift the lid of the battery box (the section of the bench)
Disconnect the battery from the system by turning the switch off within the battery box.
Deep cycle battery
Identify positive (red) and negative (black) battery terminals
Battery charger

Connect corresponding positive (red) and negative (black) clips of battery charger to charging tabs

Step 5 : Plug in and turn on battery charger
Battery Display

Monitor battery display every hour

Step 7 : Note time when display shows battery is full

Battery should be allowed to remain charging at a low current (approx. 5% of battery's 20 hr capacity in amps) for 1-2 hours after it is full

Caution: Leave yurt door open for maximum ventilation. If battery becomes heated over 125°F, the battery should be disconnected and equalization continued after battery cools.
Our hydrometer.jpg
If two specific gravity readings taken within ½ hour are equal, equalization is complete
DI Water
Turn off and unplug battery charger
Battery Cell
Disconnect clips from battery terminals
Record date of equalization and specific gravity measurements of each cell before and after equalization

Troubleshooting[edit | edit source]

The following table outlines potential problems and possible solutions that one may find when operating the yurt PV system.

Problem Suggestion
LED lights do not turn on Inspect PV panel, battery, and power center box for corrosion debris or loose/exposed wires
Battery does not charge Inspect PV panel, battery, and power center box for corrosion debris or loose/exposed wires
Battery only partially charges Inspect the electrolyte level in battery cells. Add DI water. Conduct battery equalization.

For a more in depth trouble shooting key, please see HSU's 2006 Engr-535 report: CCAT Yurt Solar PV Users Manual located at

Suggestions for future changes[edit | edit source]

Implementation of a CCAT yurt sign up sheet will help to maximize the yurt's potential as a gathering space and make it more accessible to different groups. The sign up sheet could be held by a CCAT co-director, or tacked near the door outside of the yurt.

Page data
Part of Engr535 Development Technology
Type Project
Keywords ccat, ccat active project
Authors Wkaris
Published 2014
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
Affiliations Cal Poly Humboldt, Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT)
Derivative of CCAT yurt
Impact Number of views to this page and its redirects. Updated once a month. Views by admins and bots are not counted. Multiple views during the same session are counted as one. 164
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