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  1. #1
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    Need Some Assistance Trying to Design a Very Small Solar Panel Setup

    need some assistance here .....

    looking to build a very small solar set up, with some back up batteries, to power a flat screen TV, cable modem, router, laptop, maybe a few lights / outlets to charge flashlight batteries and maybe a refrigerator when I lose power ...... no furnace, no AC, although if I could squeeze a washing machine in that would be cool but not necessary ......

    lose power around 3 - 4 times a year, thinking I am close to being on the end of the line, although over the last few years the power outages seem to be less frequent so maybe some changes have been made to my service

    also, if I could, would be nice to wire part of the house on this set up year round, especially in the spring, summer, fall, when it is sunnier ( live in Cleveland Ohio ), to cut down on my electric bill

    have a roughly 12 ' x 12 ' foot flat roof to install this set up ..... not trying to spend a lot of money, but just so I am not completely powerless when I lose electricity and maybe knock a few dollars off my electric bill, plus it would be nice to be somewhat green ...

    but nothing serious at all but have absolutely no idea where to start ..... although I did purchase a small portable generator / inverter from home Depot yesterday, just to have a portable generator / inverter and to use for this set up to charge the batteries when they get low


    https://www.championpowerequipment.c...ter-generator/
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (hvacrskills)


    II CORINTHIANS 3:6

    “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

    the spirit of the law

    The intended meaning of a law by those who wrote it, as opposed to a literal interpretation thereof.

  2. #2
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    I'm willing to help but from the title I was expecting the questions to be about hydronic solar panel. I've built a fair number of those. But even for electric I'll ramble for a while. I am supposed to be grading dirt and painting today and neither one is anything I feel much impetus for Racing to get to. <g>

    I would start at the far end - what do you want to operate and how many watts they will require and how many hours they will be needing those watts.

    BTW: Rolls Battery makes the best batteries but you probably want to start with golf cart batteries or even just RV deep-cycle batteries to keep the initial costs down.

    Knowing how many watt-hours you need will help you size the battery bank accurately. I think this is often neglected / undersized by too-optimistic projections.

    You will need an inverter to get 120VAC from your DC batteries. Inverters are not 100% efficient so if you can arrange to make at least some of your desires operate on battery voltage it would increase the overall efficiency of the system. This is a vote for using a 12V battery setup. And there are tons of RV and Marine appliances, chargers, and widgets available in 12VDC right off the shelf. 12VDC LED lighting especially come to mind as one of the year-round-use items.

    If I were you I would take the washing machine and and refrigerator off the list. At least initially. <g>

    Home Depot and Harbor Freight seem somewhat similar to me so because you bought a HD generator I can note that HF has solar battery charging systems, with inverters and so forth. I've never owned one and have no idea of their quality though.

    Here is a video which gives and idea of the scale of what you are looking at.

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=harbor+fre...ai=X5tOLsS08wo

    PHM
    ------------------------


    Quote Originally Posted by hvacskills View Post
    need some assistance here .....

    looking to build a very small solar set up, with some back up batteries, to power a flat screen TV, cable modem, router, laptop, maybe a few lights / outlets to charge flashlight batteries and maybe a refrigerator when I lose power ...... no furnace, no AC, although if I could squeeze a washing machine in that would be cool but not necessary ......

    lose power around 3 - 4 times a year, thinking I am close to being on the end of the line, although over the last few years the power outages seem to be less frequent so maybe some changes have been made to my service

    also, if I could, would be nice to wire part of the house on this set up year round, especially in the spring, summer, fall, when it is sunnier ( live in Cleveland Ohio ), to cut down on my electric bill

    have a roughly 12 ' x 12 ' foot flat roof to install this set up ..... not trying to spend a lot of money, but just so I am not completely powerless when I lose electricity and maybe knock a few dollars off my electric bill, plus it would be nice to be somewhat green ...

    but nothing serious at all but have absolutely no idea where to start ..... although I did purchase a small portable generator / inverter from home Depot yesterday, just to have a portable generator / inverter and to use for this set up to charge the batteries when they get low


    https://www.championpowerequipment.c...ter-generator/
    PHM
    --------
    The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.

  3. #3
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    I am in Florida at the moment and around here I see advertising for a "no cost solar installation" deal. I am not familiar with just how it works - but maybe things like that are available in your area?
    PHM
    --------
    The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.

  4. #4
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by Poodle Head Mikey View Post
    I'm willing to help but from the title I was expecting the questions to be about hydronic solar panel. I've built a fair number of those. But even for electric I'll ramble for a while. I am supposed to be grading dirt and painting today and neither one is anything I feel much impetus for Racing to get to. <g>

    I would start at the far end - what do you want to operate and how many watts they will require and how many hours they will be needing those watts.

    BTW: Rolls Battery makes the best batteries but you probably want to start with golf cart batteries or even just RV deep-cycle batteries to keep the initial costs down.

    Knowing how many watt-hours you need will help you size the battery bank accurately. I think this is often neglected / undersized by too-optimistic projections.

    You will need an inverter to get 120VAC from your DC batteries. Inverters are not 100% efficient so if you can arrange to make at least some of your desires operate on battery voltage it would increase the overall efficiency of the system. This is a vote for using a 12V battery setup. And there are tons of RV and Marine appliances, chargers, and widgets available in 12VDC right off the shelf. 12VDC LED lighting especially come to mind as one of the year-round-use items.

    If I were you I would take the washing machine and and refrigerator off the list. At least initially. <g>

    Home Depot and Harbor Freight seem somewhat similar to me so because you bought a HD generator I can note that HF has solar battery charging systems, with inverters and so forth. I've never owned one and have no idea of their quality though.

    Here is a video which gives and idea of the scale of what you are looking at.

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=harbor+fre...ai=X5tOLsS08wo

    PHM
    ------------------------
    cool ..... glad you will be able to help

    I think this is going to be an ongoing project, years to build and upgrade as I get money, so not in a hurry, but whatever I do I do not want to jam myself up so I can not expand the system ( add batteries, panels ), but a whole house system is just not in the game plan at all, just so I am not powerless in an outage, ( or the inevitable solar flare, although if the grid is wiped out probably have more serious concerns than watching TV ), be somewhat green, and to stick my finger up to ' the man ' with my electric bill, even though it will be a somewhat small finger ......

    probably need to figure out a lot of the design at the same time ... so figuring out my wattage is my first step ? know nothing about this but thinking batteries will be a big chunk of this, even if they have to be charged at times by purchasing electricity from ' the man ' when the solar panels can not keep up ..... thinking a new refrigerator that will draw little amperage might be able to be in the picture here, but as I said I am clueless .....

    got to go do a few thing myself today but I will definitely be back on this thread, been wanting to do this for several years ..... good looking out man ....
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (hvacrskills)


    II CORINTHIANS 3:6

    “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

    the spirit of the law

    The intended meaning of a law by those who wrote it, as opposed to a literal interpretation thereof.

  5. #5
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    Thread Starter
    first question ....

    can I run separate outlets to power the devices / appliances I want to power from my system completely independent of my existing house wiring ? I would not mind switching those devices / appliances over to my regular outlets during the winter months
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (hvacrskills)


    II CORINTHIANS 3:6

    “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

    the spirit of the law

    The intended meaning of a law by those who wrote it, as opposed to a literal interpretation thereof.

  6. #6
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    A great deal of what you want to know has already be thoroughly hashed out.

    There are some good Yahoo Groups -

    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...messages/15485

    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...messages/33106
    PHM
    --------
    The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.

  7. #7
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by Poodle Head Mikey View Post
    A great deal of what you want to know has already be thoroughly hashed out.

    There are some good Yahoo Groups -

    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...messages/15485

    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...messages/33106
    ok I will check out those links ..... my initial thoughts is eventually about a 10 amp circuit with separate wiring / outlets, that way I am not connected to my existing house wiring other than having something that can automatically charge my batteries when the batteries are low and the panels cannot keep up .....

    TV is 165 watts, I will start checking out my other devises

    so sizing my batteries, solar panels, and whatever switching devices I will need for a 10 amp circuit, although the size of the 10 amp circuit can be changed ... I will just modify my usage according to the size of the system, no big deal ....
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (hvacrskills)


    II CORINTHIANS 3:6

    “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

    the spirit of the law

    The intended meaning of a law by those who wrote it, as opposed to a literal interpretation thereof.

  8. #8
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by Poodle Head Mikey View Post
    I'm willing to help but from the title I was expecting the questions to be about hydronic solar panel. I've built a fair number of those. But even for electric I'll ramble for a while. I am supposed to be grading dirt and painting today and neither one is anything I feel much impetus for Racing to get to. <g>

    I would start at the far end - what do you want to operate and how many watts they will require and how many hours they will be needing those watts.

    BTW: Rolls Battery makes the best batteries but you probably want to start with golf cart batteries or even just RV deep-cycle batteries to keep the initial costs down.

    Knowing how many watt-hours you need will help you size the battery bank accurately. I think this is often neglected / undersized by too-optimistic projections.

    You will need an inverter to get 120VAC from your DC batteries. Inverters are not 100% efficient so if you can arrange to make at least some of your desires operate on battery voltage it would increase the overall efficiency of the system. This is a vote for using a 12V battery setup. And there are tons of RV and Marine appliances, chargers, and widgets available in 12VDC right off the shelf. 12VDC LED lighting especially come to mind as one of the year-round-use items.

    If I were you I would take the washing machine and and refrigerator off the list. At least initially. <g>

    Home Depot and Harbor Freight seem somewhat similar to me so because you bought a HD generator I can note that HF has solar battery charging systems, with inverters and so forth. I've never owned one and have no idea of their quality though.

    Here is a video which gives and idea of the scale of what you are looking at.

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=harbor+fre...ai=X5tOLsS08wo

    PHM
    ------------------------
    the reason I bought that generator / inverter from HD is because it was open box and only $ 260.00, supposedly it was a return, had them start it and it started and seems to run fine, full warranty, it can be returned if I need to .... at 2,000 watts it should be able to get me through a power outage, powering my refrigerator, TV, router, modem, laptop, probably even make a cup of coffee or two, plus it is very portable, lightweight ( can even run a vacuum pump or recovery machine and for camping )... runs for 11 hours on 1.1 gallons of gasoline ... can set it out on my second floor back porch and be good to go .... plus figured with a name like ' Champion ' how could you go wrong ? ? ?

    watched the video, I guess those 10 amps are only at 12 volts so the two solar arrays at 200 watts total will only be around 1.6 amps, now I see why you wanted to remove the refrigerator .....

    TV is 165 watts, does not list amperage

    cable modem is .75 amps at 12 volts, but that is with a 120 transformer, so do I just calculate that in watts ? 9 watts ? or is there a loss with the transformer ?

    wireless router is 1.55 amps at 19 volts, so 29.45 watts ?

    laptop 6.2 amps at 19.5 volts, so 120.9 watts ?

    are all the calculations in watts ?

    so far

    TV 165 watts, mostly at night after the sunsets, usually left on all night
    modem 9 watts, powered all the time
    wireless router 29.45 watts, powered all the time
    laptop 120.9 watts, used intermittently during the day

    that totals 203.5 watts, maybe add a few watts to charge my 18 volt Makita batteries or a little bit of lighting


    this is pretty much all I am looking to power, my basics, but if I could add more later, like the refrigerator, and my AC system ( a box fan on high speed ), that would be nice ... have a gas fireplace so heating is not a concern either

    so how would you size a system like this ?

    basically in a nut shell how does a system like this work ? how do you size the batteries ? how do you switch between the solar panels and incoming electricity to charge the batteries ? also, you mentioned you lose efficiency with inverters, but I am thinking I mostly want to power 120 volt devices, so would a higher voltage system be more efficient with an inverter ?

    have a really cool battery place on the Westside of town that sells new and used batteries for around 25 % less than everyone else, could probably get some good pricing on some new batteries
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (hvacrskills)


    II CORINTHIANS 3:6

    “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

    the spirit of the law

    The intended meaning of a law by those who wrote it, as opposed to a literal interpretation thereof.

  9. #9
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    Thread Starter
    what are your thoughts on something like this ?

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KVMRJ4M...7-6f7785343a0e
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (hvacrskills)


    II CORINTHIANS 3:6

    “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

    the spirit of the law

    The intended meaning of a law by those who wrote it, as opposed to a literal interpretation thereof.

  10. #10
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    Thread Starter
    ok, watching some you tube videos trying to get an understanding ......

    question .....

    do they make an off grid inverter, or on grid inverter, that can charge the batteries by either a generator ( when there is a power outage ), or by the electric company ( when there are days, or several days of low output by the panels ?

    not trying to feed power back into the grid, but would like to be able to use the grid to charge batteries when they are getting low
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (hvacrskills)


    II CORINTHIANS 3:6

    “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

    the spirit of the law

    The intended meaning of a law by those who wrote it, as opposed to a literal interpretation thereof.

  11. #11
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    Thread Starter
    appears they do make an inverter that can recharge the batteries from a generator, or from the grid .....

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...556e1ec06165f2

    slowly piecing all of this together .....
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (hvacrskills)


    II CORINTHIANS 3:6

    “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

    the spirit of the law

    The intended meaning of a law by those who wrote it, as opposed to a literal interpretation thereof.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poodle Head Mikey View Post
    I'm willing to help but from the title I was expecting the questions to be about hydronic solar panel. I've built a fair number of those. But even for electric I'll ramble for a while. I am supposed to be grading dirt and painting today and neither one is anything I feel much impetus for Racing to get to. <g>

    I would start at the far end - what do you want to operate and how many watts they will require and how many hours they will be needing those watts.

    BTW: Rolls Battery makes the best batteries but you probably want to start with golf cart batteries or even just RV deep-cycle batteries to keep the initial costs down.

    Knowing how many watt-hours you need will help you size the battery bank accurately. I think this is often neglected / undersized by too-optimistic projections.

    You will need an inverter to get 120VAC from your DC batteries. Inverters are not 100% efficient so if you can arrange to make at least some of your desires operate on battery voltage it would increase the overall efficiency of the system. This is a vote for using a 12V battery setup. And there are tons of RV and Marine appliances, chargers, and widgets available in 12VDC right off the shelf. 12VDC LED lighting especially come to mind as one of the year-round-use items.

    If I were you I would take the washing machine and and refrigerator off the list. At least initially. <g>

    Home Depot and Harbor Freight seem somewhat similar to me so because you bought a HD generator I can note that HF has solar battery charging systems, with inverters and so forth. I've never owned one and have no idea of their quality though.

    Here is a video which gives and idea of the scale of what you are looking at.

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=harbor+fre...ai=X5tOLsS08wo

    PHM
    ------------------------
    Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you may be no priest to me. Because you have forgotten your God’s law, I will also forget your children.


    "You've got to Stand for Something or You'll fall for anything" (A. Tippin)


    Mat_15:24 But he answered, “I wasn’t sent to anyone but the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

  13. #13
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    The way I would do this would be to install another breaker panel next to the main panel. Wire it as a sub-panel - with separate neutral and ground conductors.

    Then move all the breakers and wires for the loads you want to solar electric power over to the new sub panel. Put them all on one side of the panel.

    In the sub panel and in the main panel install matching breakers - wire them to each other. With both of these breakers on - your street power will supply the sub-panel circuits. With both of those breakers off - the sub panel will be isolated from street power.

    Feed the output from your inverter into a breaker in the subpanel. With ONLY this feed-breaker on the solar electric will supply your subpanel circuits.

    Feed the output from your generator into a breaker in the subpanel. With ONLY this feed breaker on the generator will supply your subpanel circuits.

    ONLY USE ONE feed breaker at a time to avoid back feeding power to the other sources.

    YOU will have to manually isolate the competing circuits but it will save you from having to buy an expensive piece of switch gear.

    There is a very real possibility of burning things up by cross connecting them so I would color code the various breakers and post a big legible clear and permanent list of instructions for your reference - right next to the panels. While you are wiring it up you will be positive that you will never forget. But a few months later you will - so post the clear instructions and refer to them Every Single Time.

    PHM
    -------------



    Quote Originally Posted by hvacskills View Post
    first question ....

    can I run separate outlets to power the devices / appliances I want to power from my system completely independent of my existing house wiring ? I would not mind switching those devices / appliances over to my regular outlets during the winter months
    PHM
    --------
    The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.

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