what happens to the system when it is really overcast or raining and the panels are not charging the batteries? does this damage the batteries? or does it simply mean that nothing will work as well as it should, if at all? thanks for any info. much appreciated!
We have solar panels for our hot water, and we have to use the electric back up booster if the weather is bad, otherwise we have cold showers!
I don't think it does any damage though!
Generally, batteries like to be charged.
You should not let them go down to ~75% discharged (~11.8volts or 12.1 volts... I don't know the numbers)... because that will shorten their life.
We don't get a lot of sun in the winter, so we run our generator almost daily (we only have 2 panels) to charge the batteries to 100% (12.8 volts).
"things" will work as long as the batteries have the power... of course, they will also be depleted faster.
Here's a good article... somewhat related (my DH knows the author): http://sustainablepreparedness.com/index.php/blog/fine-tuning-battery-charge-settings
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