My Little Solar Project (Read 12074 times)

wirecounter

My Little Solar Project
« 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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Jl808

My Little Solar Project
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2012, 04:33:45 PM »
Very cool!  Thanks for sharing
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TeamMidori

My Little Solar Project
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2012, 04:35:34 PM »
Neato

Ufa Built

Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2012, 05:06:15 PM »
Nice set up  :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

bass monkey

Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #4 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?

wirecounter

Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #5 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.

wirecounter

Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #6 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:

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Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #7 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.
Officially Retired and living in the free state of Arizona.

wirecounter

Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #8 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:

2aHawaii

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Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #9 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.
I am not a lawyer.

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Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #10 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:
Officially Retired and living in the free state of Arizona.

wirecounter

Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #11 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.

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Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2012, 08:30:15 PM »
Thanks for all the info. This is all stuff I find interesting. Please keep us updated.
Officially Retired and living in the free state of Arizona.

Jl808

My Little Solar Project
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2012, 08:49:02 PM »
Yes great info.  Thanks!
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hnl.flyboy

My Little Solar Project
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2012, 07:06:07 AM »
Pretty sick!
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wirecounter

Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #15 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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wirecounter

Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2012, 06:28:42 PM »
Actually, almost "all done."  Waiting for this company http://www.sunsaluter.com/ to begin production of their passive sun tracker system to mount my panel on.

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Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #17 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:
Officially Retired and living in the free state of Arizona.

wirecounter

Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #18 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.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 08:28:04 PM by wirecounter »

bass monkey

Re: My Little Solar Project
« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2012, 08:25:39 PM »
Great write up