Author Topic: Small Project need help  (Read 4982 times)

Offline Johnny MAX!

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Small Project need help
« on: June 16, 2009, 09:07:26 PM »
I am wanting to make a single Solar circuit that will run my refrigerator and freezer. I figure I need 4 major components (excluding wire and connector).

1) Solar Panels
2) Charge controller
3) 3 deep cycle batteries
4) Inverter

Has anybody found a goor source to order these items. I have found them on eBay, but I want a good deal and a quality product.

I think this single circuit will help a little on my bill, but the main reason it to same my food duting a power outage. We went without power for 6 FULL weeks after hurricane Rita (3 years ago) and 2 weeks last year for hurricale Ike. I would take down any solar pannels until the hurricane passes, then put them back up.

Any help and suggestions are welcome. I am working 72.5 hours this week, sO I may have some money to put towards this project and I figure I will have until September before we get hit again.

Offline “Mark”

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Re: Small Project need help
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2009, 10:30:47 PM »
I don't know your appliances specifically, but you should get a 2000 watt inverter to run your fridge or freezer safely (you'll have to alternate).

If you're running those appliances in the hot season, you're looking at running them both about 5 hours a day each. I don't know the exact specs of your appliances, so I'll assume 1000 watts consumption when running (the startup for the compression is much more, which is why you need the 2000 watt inverter). So if you're running 10 hours at 1000 watts, that's 10kwh a day.

At 12 volts, that's roughly 833 amp-hours.

Now assuming you want decent life out of your batteries (5 years), you want to keep them at 75% charged or higher (deep draining is hard on all batteries, even deep cycle). So you're looking at about 3300 amp-hours of battery storage, and you'll want to double that in case of cloudy days -- so about 6600 amp-hours of battery. And get the sealed batteries... the open ones you top up with water require special care.

And since the sun doesn't always shine, you'll want excess panel capacity. If you can get 8 hours of light, you'll need at least 1250 watts of panel just to break even. Of course, that doesn't account for cloudy days, so you'll want excess capacity to catch up when the batteries are low... so 2000 watts of panel should do.

Also note even partial shade totally kills a solar panel's output -- so they really need full sun as much as possible (clouds are unavoidable).

If you do go this route, you'll probably want to make sure you have a very energy efficient fridge and freezer to possibly reduce your solar needs.

This setup would pay for itself in a few years, if used all the time.

Or you could save thousands by buying a generator and paying the gas as needed. Solar ain't cheap for occasional use. 8)

Offline Johnny MAX!

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Re: Small Project need help
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2009, 05:45:17 AM »
I bought a meter that measures the draw and how many amps to start it up. You just plug it into the wall and plug the apliance into it. It will measure hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, average kw's and peak loads. I will get all that info first. I bought it from Harbor Freight for about $22 I think. We are going to put it on every plug in the house a figutr out where we are burning electricity.

Offline “Mark”

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Re: Small Project need help
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2009, 08:40:17 AM »
A well know one is the Kill-a-watt meter.

Be sure to check all the electronics as well. They use a surprising amount when turned off as they still need power to work remote controls, and things like wallwart plugs contantly drain power, too.

Offline archer

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Re: Small Project need help
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2009, 01:43:15 PM »
Here is a sight I saw on the forum that has deep cycle batteries that are used for 2 yrs.
http://thebucketguy.homestead.com/Batteries.html

Offline Johnny MAX!

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Re: Small Project need help
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2009, 07:35:26 PM »
I will check out the battery site Thnx.
Anybody know what type of charge comtroller I need for the batteies. I heard Jack mention on the show how important they are, but I have not found any information on exactly what I need, or where to find one.

Offline Pathfinder

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Re: Small Project need help
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2009, 04:06:13 PM »
I will check out the battery site Thnx.
Anybody know what type of charge comtroller I need for the batteies. I heard Jack mention on the show how important they are, but I have not found any information on exactly what I need, or where to find one.

The controller regulates the current to the batteries, so you need one capable of handling the current from the solar panel to the batteries. If you have a 1.2A panel like the Coleman 18W one I have, then you need a controller that can handle at least 1.2A, preferably more for a safety factor. The Coleman controller I bought with the panel can handle 4A, meaning I can link 3 panels through the one controller (3 panels x 1.2A per panel = 3.6A). 4A gives a 10% safety margin for this controller.

Bigger amperage panels, or more panels per controller, requires a bigger controller. And get a spare too.

Good luck with the project.

Offline Mr. Blank

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Re: Small Project need help
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2009, 07:44:22 PM »
Johhny,
Sorry to leave you hanging so long on this one. :) The meter that you have is a great start. The first thing you should do is measure the draw that your appliances is pulling, in AMPS. The reading the meter will give you will be the AC draw of the appliances. DO NOT confuse this with the amount of DC power that they will draw. The DC draw will be approximately 10 times what the AC draw is. I know this sounds crazy, but it is true.
Think of it this way...

110 volt pulling 2 amps = 220 watts
12 volts pulling 2 amps = 24 watts

Do you see a BIG difference in the amount of total watts being used?

12 volts pulling 20 amps = 240 watts. Looks a little closer to the AC draw.

Did I confuse you? Hope not. Just think of the appliances using 'X' amount of energy, be it AC or DC, that 'X' will be an approximate amount of watts.
If it takes 220 watts of AC to run it, and it was drawing 24 watts of DC, where does the extra energy come from? :P

So why am I confusing you with all this crap? You will need a rough estimate of how much DC wattage you will be pulling to know which batteries to start with.

What is your rough budget for this project? Let me know and I'll try to get you some sources for parts. :)

Offline Johnny MAX!

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Re: Small Project need help
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2009, 06:36:07 PM »
I think I know how to step into this one Purchase at a time.
I am going to buy One battery and the inverter and get it working and time how long the battery will last, then order twice the batteries I calculate to run for 24 hours.
Next step, the solar panels and charge regulator.

I am going to do all of this off the radar and not take a penny from the gubment.
I don't want them to one day tax me for having solar, TRUST ME it WILL Happen!
Let me see, you are evading the taxes we have added on th eutility bill, so we will tax you r solar energy intake, or it damages the environment to produce solar panels so you will be taxed, or what ever bull crap they can conjure up.

If the gubment can give money to GM and then fire people and then tell them what they can and cannot do, they have set a precidence. so if you take money from them they can tell you what you can and cannot do in your homestead! I better stop, this is the wrong board....
I don't wan't a damn penny from them. I will work to support my family!.... I better stop, the homebrew is kicking in....

danielle89506

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Re: Small Project need help/Help is just a click away
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2009, 10:54:38 PM »
Hey Johnny Max get in touch with the guy we used he really is an off-grid specialist, he has quite a reputation for over the top service design and support  people say here he is one of the best designers of alt-energy on the West coast.

We ended up going with his recommendation of  a dc/frig and freezer no inverter or batteries needed.

He also has right now a good used Xantrex 5500watt sinewave inverter power panel for sale if you were set on getting started on a system.

his site Universalenergyonline.biz

cheers

Dani