And I was in such a good mood.

Had a little … well, not even little, an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny … disaster yesterday afternoon. After rigging the solar panels and my newly sorta-kinda refurbished storage batteries together with the charge controller, it was time to bring the cabin’s whole electrical system on line. The only missing piece was a breaker box, which given that the maximum output of the inverter was (operative word here is was, alas) 1000 watts, was pretty much redundant but still – you gotta have circuit breakers. So yesterday morning I salvaged a tiny little breaker box out of an abandoned RV that M uses to keep some of his stuff out of the weather while he builds.

The design of the breaker box was pretty odd. I should have taken that as a cautionary sign – I really wasn’t sure how things were supposed to be wired in there, and shouldn’t have proceeded until I WAS sure. But I pushed ahead.

Got everything wired up. Connected the breaker box to the inverter. Threw the switch on the inverter, officially connecting the electrical supply to the cabin wiring.

Frantically threw the switch back off, as the inverter emitted a heart-stopping BANG and a column of acrid smoke.

I’ve looked at every single connection I wired into that breaker box, and would be ready to swear on a stack of holy books that there was no short circuit in there. But hard evidence insists that I threw a dead short across the inverter. I suppose I should be encouraged to learn that my battery bank is now capable of sending one hell of a lot of electricity into unfortunate places.

Sigh. I need a new inverter. And a breaker box that was designed in the last fifty years. There will be a brief pause in the program while I acquire those things.

That’s the bad news. The good news, as Landlady pointed out while handing me a beer, is that the cabin didn’t burn down.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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5 Responses to Awww…Crap.

  1. Mayberry says:

    I hate the smell of fried electrical stuff. Smells expensive… Well, that’s why one of my mottos is “When in doubt, read the directions”. Which makes the interwebs a wonderful thing, because the directions can usually be found. Oh well, like Landlady said, at least your cabin didn’t burn down!

  2. MamaLiberty says:

    Yes indeed. Most people give me a very hard time because I insist on having the straight scoop before I try to do anything – or let them try it.

    Pretty much avoid disaster that way. Even the owner’s manuals and instructions that that are written by people who only THINK they speak English… with patience you can usually figure it out.

    Breaker boxes and such used to come with schematics right on them, I think. Guess maybe that one was too old?

    Anyway, glad you didn’t burn up your house. Be careful… and more patient. 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:

    The inverter didn’t have a fused output? Or a thermal breaker? Seems odd. Some years ago, I found a new old stock residential fusebox for a couple bucks, to be used in a shack a friend of mine rented. Fuses won’t “hang”, circuit breakers will. If you get a used or older breaker box, stay away from ones made in the ’60 or’70s..they have a habit of “hanging”. Failing the smoke test can be expensive.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I popped my 400 watt inverter last year. It was neer designed to be taken apart, but a little brute force did the job. There were a pair of 30a blade fuses soldered into the circuit board that were popped. I melted them out (nothing to loose) and put in some new ones. Still works.


  5. Joel says:

    Yeah, this one’s got four fuses on its rear panel. The incident popped one of them, but when I tried to replace it I learned that the damage that destroyed it was apparently fatal – blue sparks jumped before I even got the new one seated.

To the stake with the heretic!