2aHawaii

General Topics => Preparedness and Survival => Topic started by: wirecounter on May 06, 2012, 04:06:45 PM

Title: My Little Solar Project
Post by: wirecounter on May 06, 2012, 04:06:45 PM
Finally got all the components hooked up this afternoon.  Everything works!  LOL.  Now I just need to mount all the components.

FYI, all components (except the battery) purchased from Amazon and ALL shipped for free.  Battery was an extra car battery (still good) I had around in the garage.  May buy 1 or 2 more to ramp up to full rated output of the inverter. 

2,300 watts would pull 200 amps from the battery(ies).  That is some serious current which requires large gauge cables.  I have 4 gauge cables hooked up to the battery, which would safely allow for roughly 135 amps.  So, I would either need to upgrade this cable to 1 gauge or have cables for each battery.

Cost of all components was around $600, excluding the battery.  May not be as portable as the $2,000.00 systems I have seen here, but cost is roughly 1/3 and I get more than double their rated output AND 4 times their standby capacity (provided power once the sun goes down).

I am running my tumbler off of free solar power in the pic! :geekdanc:

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Title: My Little Solar Project
Post by: Jl808 on May 06, 2012, 04:33:45 PM
Very cool!  Thanks for sharing
Title: My Little Solar Project
Post by: TeamMidori on May 06, 2012, 04:35:34 PM
Neato
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: Ufa Built on May 06, 2012, 05:06:15 PM
Nice set up  :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: bass monkey on May 06, 2012, 05:07:46 PM
Nice. I been thinking of investing in solar for my aquaponics pumps and I think a small system like this would be perfect. You got links to the parts you ordered?
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: wirecounter on May 06, 2012, 05:33:42 PM
Nice. I been thinking of investing in solar for my aquaponics pumps and I think a small system like this would be perfect. You got links to the parts you ordered?

Thanks!

This is what I ordered from Amazon:

(1)   HQRP Pair MC4 Solar Panel Connector male & female (M&F) for PV / Photovoltaic System plus HQRP Coaster (to connect the charger to the solar panel)  $9.99
(2)   Sunforce 60031 10 Amp Digital Charge Controller ($35.21)
(3)   Scosche EWFH Single ANL Fuse Holder ($6.95) Haven't connected this yet to my temporary test set up, but it is essential so you do not overload the inverter.
(4)    Raptor RANL2002 200 Amp ANL Fuses, 24K Gold Plated, 2 Pack ($6.06)
(5)   Cobra CPI-A4000BC 4-AWG Heavy-Duty AC Power Inverter Cable Kit ($25.51)
(6)     Power Bright PW2300-12 Power Inverter 2300 Watt 12 Volt DC To 110 Volt AC ($214.99) Buy one larger than you think you will need!!!
(7)     Instapark┬« NEW All Black 100W Mono-crystalline Solar Panel, 100 Watt ($279.90)  This is $30.00 less than what I paid two weeks ago!!!  Mono-crystalline is the best to get right now - should last 30 years.

I did solder the connectors on the 4 gauge cable (connectors provided) with my propane torch.  I also soldered the connectors for the solar panel connectors.  The yellow cable (with these connectors) is a 14 gauge copper speaker cable that I wire nutted (temporarily to the charger).
I also purchased the battery connectors from an auto parts store (~$1.00 each) to connect the charger wires & 4 gauge inverter cables to the battery.

I only intend to use this system for my tumbler, battery charger, etc.  May only need 500 watts of power, BUT never know how needs grow (like my rifle safe LOL) so better to have the extra capacity than needing to upgrade the inverter.  Just need to keep in mind that battery requirement will increase with power requirements = if you intend to utilize the full 2.3k watts of power available then you better purchase a few deep cycle marine batteries to power the system.
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: wirecounter on May 06, 2012, 06:05:03 PM
I have had my tumbler running for close to 3 hours now & the battery is still at full charge - I turn off the tumbler & the blue charging light goes off and the green maintain charge light goes on (on the charging controller) within a second or two.

FYI, the tumber draws 0.83 amps @ 120 VAC or ~100 watts.  So that means that the solar panel is keeping the battery fully charged at 6 PM with Hawaiian sunlight~   :geekdanc:
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: Inspector on May 06, 2012, 06:47:05 PM
Thanks for sharing all this information. My friend on the Big Island did a similar setup and now runs all of his lights (only) off of a small solar panel setup with a battery or two. He has enough power to run his lights all night and recharge and run some lights during the day. He has a plan to continue upgrading the system until he can run his entire house.
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: wirecounter on May 07, 2012, 10:35:24 AM
Thanks for sharing all this information. My friend on the Big Island did a similar setup and now runs all of his lights (only) off of a small solar panel setup with a battery or two. He has enough power to run his lights all night and recharge and run some lights during the day. He has a plan to continue upgrading the system until he can run his entire house.

Sure, any time.  Your friend may qualify for tax credits depending on how he moves forward.  Definitely worth looking into as the credits are pretty significant.

I recharged my Makita 18V battery this morning which requires 240 watts of power = 20 amp draw from battery.  No problem.

FYI, I heard that the Hawaiian sun is very strong (especially during the summer) and the output of solar panels may be 20% to 30% higher than their rating.  Lucky we live Hawaii!!!  :shaka:
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: 2aHawaii on May 08, 2012, 03:30:23 AM
Thanks for the post wirecounter. This is something I was looking at doing but never got around to.
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: Inspector on May 08, 2012, 06:08:42 AM
The retired couple that live behind me have 16 (I believe) solar panels on their roof and generate more power than they use every month. Even so to the point that they run their air conditioner 24/7. It costs them the $20 surcharge that HECO charges monthly.

Not sure about the rest of you but I prefer to have the windows open in my house as much as possible. I prefer this and running my ceiling fans to closing up the house and running the air. Which I would not do even if I had air.   :crazy:
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: wirecounter on May 17, 2012, 07:48:02 PM
Update:

I have been doing a little research for batteries for my little system and found out the following usefull information:

1) Costco has the BEST price for deep cycle batteries.  $83.99 (plus $9.00 core charge) for a 110 amp-hour battery.  And, reviews for their batteries are positive.

2) "Deep cycle" refers to the amount of battery depletion the battery is capable of without losing significant life.  Typically down to 20% of rated capacity (amp-hours).

3) Cold Cranking Amps, "CCA", rating for batteries are useless for solar powered systems.  It refers to the (high) current the battery is capable of providing for a very short period, such as starting your car/truck.

4) 110 amp-hour rating does not equate to drawing 110 amps for 1 hour.  Depending on the manufacturer (need to check their website for specs), the 110 amp-hour rating may be for drawing 10 amps for 11 hours.  Apparently, internal battery resistance becomes more of a factor at higher current draws.

5) "Reserve capacity" spec on batteries are useless for determining battery requirements for a solar powered system.

6) My system with one medium battery, reserve capacity rating of 80 ~ 50 Ah, is not capable of running my table saw.  LOL.  I had to try.
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: Inspector on May 17, 2012, 08:30:15 PM
Thanks for all the info. This is all stuff I find interesting. Please keep us updated.
Title: My Little Solar Project
Post by: Jl808 on May 17, 2012, 08:49:02 PM
Yes great info.  Thanks!
Title: My Little Solar Project
Post by: hnl.flyboy on May 18, 2012, 07:06:07 AM
Pretty sick!
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: wirecounter on July 31, 2012, 06:24:36 PM
All done!  Ended up buying two Costco batteries (115 Ah rating each) for this system.  No problem running my table saw now!!!  :geekdanc:

The orange extension cable that goes up is connected to my garage door opener.  The orange extension cable that goes down goes to a 4" square box with 4 outlets similar to the one mounted above the inverter.

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Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: wirecounter on July 31, 2012, 06:28:42 PM
Actually, almost "all done."  Waiting for this company http://www.sunsaluter.com/ (http://www.sunsaluter.com/) to begin production of their passive sun tracker system to mount my panel on.
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: Inspector on July 31, 2012, 06:47:33 PM
So sum the whole thing up for us. I would like to know things like total cost, all the items you run off of the system? Especially constant drain items or items use a lot for longer periods of time such as lights and such. Thanks again for keeping us up to date on this. I want to do something exactly like this when I move back to the Big Island.  :shaka:
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: wirecounter on July 31, 2012, 08:22:58 PM
Okay . . .

The seven items that I purchased from Amazon total $578.61. 
The two Costco batteries total $175.90.
Purchased four battery terminals and one foot of 1 gauge cable (211 amps capacity) from the auto parts store ~ $10.00
Purchased two terminal strips, eye connectors, and spade connectors from electronic supply store (IC Supply) ~ $15.00
Purchased 100' extension cord, four duplex outlets, two 4" square electrical box, two 4" square 2-duplex outlet cover plates, three male AC connectors from City Mill ~ $60.00

I had the 14 gauge 2-conductor yellow cable (for connecting the charging controller to the batteries & temporarily to the solar panel - need to buy UV rated black cable once I get the sun tracker) left over from another project, but a 500' box costs around $300 or purchase by foot from Home Depot

Grand total = $839.51

What I have attached/or use it for:

garage door opener: 7 amp draw (840W) for around 10 seconds.
fluorescent light with two 20W lamps: 0.33 amp draw (40W) for around two to three hours when I am pressing out boo-lets or fidling around my reloading bench.
table saw: 14 amp draw (1680W) for around 5 to 30 seconds depending on what I'm cutting.  This is drawing 140 amps from the batteries or 70 amps from each.
my kids 10' pool pump: 0.8amp draw (96W) for around 6 hours per day.
brass tumbler: 0.9 amp draw (108W) for around 4 hours when I clean my brass.
AA & AAA battery charger/cell phone charger: minimal draw ~ 5W to 10W

I was considering buying a generator, but my fridge draws 7.2 amps (864W) so theoretically I can hook it up to my little solar system depending on how many hours a day the compressor runs. So, I may add a panel or three and more batteries, but that is way later and definitely after I purchase the passive sun tracker.

Things to mindful of:

1) Buy exactly the same model batteries for your system.  Do NOT mix and match.

2) Be very very careful when you are connecting the battery cables.  One little oops and the positive and negative connectors touch and may arc weld together and cause the battery(ies) to explode.  Not good.

3) Soldering the 1 gauge and 4 gauge connectors are a pain in the a**.  And requires quite a bit of solder (which I have had in my toolbox for 15 years or so) and a propane torch to melt the solder.
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: bass monkey on July 31, 2012, 08:25:39 PM
Great write up
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: Heavies on August 01, 2012, 04:11:25 AM
Awesome writeup! 
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: Inspector on August 01, 2012, 05:33:50 AM
Awesome writeup!
+1 on the write up!!! And a big mahalos for it. I have one last question. Is it possible to estimate (doesn't have to be extremely accurate) how much money you are saving by using your solar power? Maybe on a monthly or yearly basis? I imagine if you save about $5/month you are pretty much averaging what a full size solar system is providing as far as return on investment. But if you are saving $10 a month that is fantastic!!! And a great return on your investment.
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: wirecounter on August 02, 2012, 08:32:21 AM
Thanks Guys!  I am glad that I can give back a little to this forum that I have gleaned much from.

To answer Inspector's question:

Figuring on current HECO rate of 33.6 cents per KWH (kilo watt hour) and
conservatively estimating 7 hours of good sunlight with a 100 watt solar panel which provides for 0.7KWH per day or 16.46 cents per day = $4.93 savings per month.  I probably get more useable power than this as the pool pump alone is 0.6 KWH usage.
Conservative payback (without rebates) is 14 years, not considering future rate increases.

Yours savings would be greater on the Big Island as HELCO rates are higher than HECO's.

A sun tracker will significantly increase the output of the solar panel, thus increasing savings, as it would rotate the panel to directly face the sun throughout the day.  Estimates have ranged from 30% to 40% increased output.  Plus we have better solar exposure here in Hawaii.
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: dmas on August 02, 2012, 07:48:10 PM
Hey wire,

Not trying to be negative but, you invested in this more as a learning experience and hobby project more than an investment project?

Would you says its relatively mobile?  The reason I havent jumped at the opportunity to mount PVS on my roof is that I figure the time I'm going to need them the most is right after a natural disaster.  There's most likely would be a hurricane and I don't think some solar panels would survive the wind and debris.  Might lose the whole roof right?  So, the heaviest components, batteries, would need to be protected from rain, flood, and flying debris which I don't think would be especially difficult.  Getting the panels down and protected quickly and safely would be more challenging right?  Have you made any considerations for this?  Are the panels light?  If I were to try setup a system my goal would be to have the panels taken down and protected during the event and possibly setup in the yard after.  Preferably concealed from the street or vantage points.  If I don'tgot a roof then iI'll set it up in my living room.  I'm anticipating power would be a precious commodity at that point, something I would not want to advertise by remounting to my roof.

I live far from the coast (well relatively), and am not planning on moving.  The resources my family requires would be too cumbersome to be moving around with.  Plus the pets situation.  And where would I go anyway?  Its an island.  So, primarily interested on your ideas on moving the panels and if its a logical concept.  Thanks.

D
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: wirecounter on August 02, 2012, 10:22:44 PM
I did this project both as a hobby and a hedge of preparation.  I only have one panel and it is not mounted on anything yet so it is "portable."  The 100 watt panel weighs less than 10 pounds.  But, the system is not portable like the Humless Sentinel.

I know that I will have some power if the grid were to go down.  Most (99%) PV systems do not have batteries so the house has no power if the grid goes down, even if the solar panels generate over 2.4KWH per hour.  It is very costly to back up this type of system because you will need a lot of batteries and the racks would take up all of your garage space for one car.  These would not be Costco batteries, but batteries specifically manufactured for PV systems and guaranteed life of at least 10 years and cost several hundred dollars each.

I would definitely hire a professional company to install a PV system for my house for net metering as I am not too comforable climbing on my 2 story house's roof and mounting brackets into my tile roof.  I am pretty sure that the mounting brackets are hurricane rated although it wouldn't matter if it took a direct hit from a category 5 hurricane.  Then it really doesn't matter what you have unless you have a basement.

Keeping the solar panel(s) portable for small systems like mine may be a good idea.  It really depends what you plan to use it for and what you are preparing for.

Power will be a very precious commodity in SHTF scenarious, but solar panels on the roof will not attract unwanted attention.  It will be the lights you have on at night and the food that you will cook (either with PV, fresnel lense,or propane).  But, that is a topic for another thread . . .

Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: Bcspy on September 06, 2012, 12:11:46 AM
Great Topic.  I made a project for my Aquaponic power and emergancy backup power to top off the battery for my generator.  I believe that this a great backup power supply for any doomday and power outage.  I also have PV for my house, if no power from HECO, no power for the house. I took it a little further. It was very bad when we had no power for about three days. I decided to buy a big generator, install a transfer switch to the house, and hook it up to my generator. It will power the entire house except the dryer. Great investment.  Prepare for any bad incident is a must.  I plan to stay home than evaculate.

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Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: wirecounter on May 04, 2016, 05:23:37 PM
Actually, almost "all done."  Waiting for this company http://www.sunsaluter.com/ (http://www.sunsaluter.com/) to begin production of their passive sun tracker system to mount my panel on.

Well . . . after 4 years they finally have it for sale on their website.  It appears that it may also be used to purify 4 liters of water per day (as in a solar distiller).  I just sent them an email, so we will see how much it will cost.  It seems very basic = should be less than $50.00.

Inspector!  You can probably have a few of these for power on the Big Island instead of mounting panels on your roof = much better output = less panels = save $$ to buy more toys  :D
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: Inspector on May 05, 2016, 04:44:46 AM
Well . . . after 4 years they finally have it for sale on their website.  It appears that it may also be used to purify 4 liters of water per day (as in a solar distiller).  I just sent them an email, so we will see how much it will cost.  It seems very basic = should be less than $50.00.

Inspector!  You can probably have a few of these for power on the Big Island instead of mounting panels on your roof = much better output = less panels = save $$ to buy more toys  :D
Actually, I already spoke to one company that was willing to pour some concrete footings and mount them in a rack on the ground rather than on my roof. Easier to keep clean. However, easier to steal. Unfortunately that can be a problem out there.
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: wirecounter on May 11, 2016, 04:01:24 PM
Actually, I already spoke to one company that was willing to pour some concrete footings and mount them in a rack on the ground rather than on my roof. Easier to keep clean. However, easier to steal. Unfortunately that can be a problem out there.

That's what the toys are for . . .  ;)
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: Surf on May 11, 2016, 06:03:07 PM
Well . . . after 4 years they finally have it for sale on their website.  It appears that it may also be used to purify 4 liters of water per day (as in a solar distiller).  I just sent them an email, so we will see how much it will cost.  It seems very basic = should be less than $50.00.

Inspector!  You can probably have a few of these for power on the Big Island instead of mounting panels on your roof = much better output = less panels = save $$ to buy more toys  :D
Great idea and looks like it could be easily replicated by sourcing all parts locally.
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: 83rdrecon on May 16, 2016, 02:14:43 PM
That's what the toys are for . . .  ;)
And pit bulls!!! Lol
Title: Re: My Little Solar Project
Post by: wirecounter on June 26, 2016, 08:47:39 PM
Coupla updates . . .

First the good: The Sunsaluter for rotating the PV panel is on the way.  $45.00 - $25.00 for the kit & $20.00 for freight.

The bad: The Power Bright 2300W inverter, barely four years old, gave up the ghost yesterday = it started smoking.  That is not acceptable for such a short period of time considering what I paid for it at the time ~ $220.00.  Maybe it wasn't rated for continuous duty - but, although it was on 24/7, it usually never had a load on it.  I am now considering replacements & considering Ren's question, they are a bit more expensive.

The ugly: the Sunsaluter is useless when my system is down . . .  :(

Now, I am looking to go much bigger kinda like my gun safe . . .