(Note: I asked this on https://engineering.stackexchange.com/ but I was told I should ask this here, so this is what I'm doing.)
I'm installing solar panels (not connected to the grid) in units out in a field for research we're doing, that looks like this (this is an outdated image, but I can't find the updated one unfortunately):
I have to safely measure power output from each unit (and there are 4 units).
Each unit has 9 panels with the following specs:
- Maximum Power: 100W
- Maximum System Voltage: 600V DC (UL) Optimum
- Operating Voltage (Vmp): 18.6V
- Open-Circuit Voltage (Voc): 22.3V
- Optimum Operating Current (Imp): 5.38A
- Short-Circuit Current (Isc): 5.86A
- Operating Temperature:-40°F to 176°F
- Output Cables: 14 AWG (2 ft long)
- Maximum Series Fuse Rating: 15A
(The panels are from Amazon so I'm not sure how accurate the specs are. The link to reference them is at the bottom.)
These panels are going into an agricultural field, so my primary concerns are: 1) Not electrocuting anyone, 2) not starting a fire, 3) being able to accurately measure the power coming from each unit.
This is my main plan so far, which I'd like feedback on:
- Wire all 9 panels in series to minimize amperage
- Use 14 AWG wire to take the power out of the field (2-12 meters of distance from the field to the load box) to some sort of resistive load to use the power
- The unit will be grounded using grounding rods
- On the circuit, there will be a 10A circuit breaker, a manual on/off switch
- The resistive load will be connected to a GFCI
- Power will be measured using some sort of Arduino based module powered by it's own battery
- I'm not sure what the best, safest (and if possible, cheapest) way to burn the power from the solar panels is. I was thinking using a space heater since each unit is allegedly only putting out a maximum of 900W and commercial space heaters are rated for 1875W. I know I could ground each unit and not have a load and the power will just discharge, but my understanding is I can't measure that.
- On the subject of measurements: Are any of the micro controller compatible power meters I find on Amazon going to be sufficient for this task, or do I need to look for something specific?
- I'm a graduate student who has to get this done but I lack expertise in electrical engineering to do this properly.
This has to be done ideally ASAP, but definitely before the end of May. Although, again, my main concern is doing this safely first and foremost. I am willing to hold off on measuring the power as long as there's as the primary concern is discharging power safely then figuring out how to measure power. I imagine that would involve routing power to a grounding rod, but I'm not sure.
Any advice and feedback is greatly appreciated, and I am happy to answer any questions.
Solar panel link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JXYTFF7