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Online Discussion: Tracking new emerging diseases and the next pandemic; Now tracking the Aussie Flu.

SOLAR ENERGY

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    Posted: February 02 2006 at 5:47pm

Is there anyone out there who could/would post information (in layman's terms) about solar power?

1)  using a solar recharger.

2)  Using a larger array/panel to power refrigerator and/or freezer.

3)  Installing a whole house system.

I am totally clueless on this and although I have tried to figure it out, I just zone out.

TIA

 



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 02 2006 at 5:57pm

I need to know too  I bought a generator and one solar panel and would

like as much imformation as posible.  They are just sitting in the box I planned  to be sitting with a candle one night trying to figure them out.  

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote meewee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 02 2006 at 5:59pm

Sophia;

Spoon made a really good post on the pandemic preparedness thread under electricity. It gives the web sites of two solar power companies. Another that would help you out is www.realgoods.com they were really helpful when I was off line.

Meewee

God Bless us all!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mightymouse Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 02 2006 at 6:47pm

SZ,

A really, really good site is http://hamiltonferris.com - they span the range from sailboats, camping trailers, and whole house systems.  They are great to work with.  I have been on a boat out at sea for many weeks at a time and between a wind gen. and 120w solar panel never had to turn on the engine alternator except when it was cloudy for a couple days and there was no wind.  Had two battery banks plus a seperate eng. start batt.  'Lived large' so to say off the grid.  Reefer, lights, radio, fans, etc. no problem mon.  One could do a house for simple needs for a reasonable $.  I know that some power cos. have programs to assist people with alternative energy.  Some programs are actually quite liberal.  Did I say good and liberal in the same sentence? - Whew! that was close.  As to reefers and freezers be sure to get one that is both 120v and 12v as it takes too much energy to run an inverter to operate a regular household reefer/freezer.  12v systems are much, much better insulated.  You can even get multi-units that run on 120v, 12v, and propane.  Some even run on kerosene.  Many sailors though learn to do without refrigeration altogether and that is probably the best option long term unless you have plenty of moola. 

Nothing matters - Therefore everything matters
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Spoon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 02 2006 at 7:35pm

I'm far from an expert, but this is what I learned so far.

Trying to replace the grid, in the average home, can cost $20,000+.  The first part of any good solar plan is to trim the fat.  High efficient bulbs, appliances, pumps, alternate heat, propane/gas stove, on-demand propane hot water heater, are all good starts.  I purchased the book The Home Energy Diet from Backwoods Solar.  A very helpfull book.  One of their tips talks about phantom power.  Some appliances actually draw power even when they're off.  It adds up at the end of the month.  A cheap switchable power strip solves that problem.

Once you calculate your minimum kilowatt (kW) usage from your power bill, you can start building your system.

The basic components include:

Solar panel(s) - Can be wired in series or parallel to produce 12, 24 or 48 volts.  There are several reasons for picking the proper voltage but 12v works well with a basic setup and with wire runs less than a 100' to the charge contoller.

Charge Controller - All solar panels wire directly to the charge controller.  The CC then regulates the amount of juice that goes into the battery(s).  When the battery is charged, the CC backs off to a float charge, basically keeping it topped off.

Battery(s) - This all comes down to how much power you want/need in reserve.  They come in many different flavors.  I decided to go with a couple of sealed AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries. They're about the safest battery to keep in a living area (no fumes).

Inverter(s) - Inverters convert the DC current from the battery to AC household current

There are many other options.  You can add a generator to supplement battery charging on overcast days and add a power transfer switch.  These switches can be manual or automatically switch among solar, generator, or grid.

Backwoods Solar is the place to dive deeper into the subject.



Edited by Spoon
It's not so much the apocalypse... but the credit card bills ;-)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 02 2006 at 7:40pm

Spoon, 

You supplied me with a bit of crucial information/understanding that I have apparently always failed to grasp!

That Charge Controller do-hicky!  Now the pieces are falling into place.

Thanks!



Edited by SophiaZoe
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Spoon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 02 2006 at 7:52pm

I put together a basic setup for about $1200.  If anyone is interested, I can put together a basic set of instructions on how I hooked up a 123w, 7 amp, PV solar panel to a rolling 1500w inverter with 60 amp hour (ah)battery.

This setup can be fully charged on a sunny day and half charged on a cloudy day.  I wanted the abilty to run my stove fans, TV, flourescent lighting or just recharge cell phones, flashlights, etc.

It's not so much the apocalypse... but the credit card bills ;-)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 02 2006 at 7:55pm

Spoon, I would personally love it if you would.  When I posted the thread I was looking for a good "Reader's Digest" kinda thing.

I promise, I have tried to understand this stuff.  And just what you posted so far has gone a long way in helping the pieces come together.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Spoon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 03 2006 at 2:22pm

After looking at several panels, and power storage options, I decided to buy a Sharp 123w, 7.16 amp, Solar Panel and Xantrex xPower 1500.

The Xantrex has a 60 amp-hour battery and the panel produces about 7 amps per hour.  It takes about 8 hours to fully charge the Xantrex on a sunny day.

When I purchased this equipment back in November, Costco.com had the best deal on both items.

  • Xantrex xPower 1500 - $299
  • Sunforce RV Solar Kit - Includes Sharp 123w Panel, 30 amp Charge Controller (connect up to four panels), Mounting Hardware, 20' Wire, Voltage Tester, Xantrex 175w Cigarette Lighter Inverter - $699.  The Sunforce Kit is missing, at the moment, from Costco.  I would keep checking back if you cannot find it somewhere else.  I've seen it disappear/reappear before.
  • Extension Cord - What ever length necessary to connect the panel to the charge controller (up to 100')
  • 6' Gray "Large Appliance" Extension Cord
  • 12 Wood Screws - Replaces sheet metal screws that come with RV mounting brackets, if mounting panel to wood.
  • Various Crimp Connectors
  • Female Cigarette Lighter Plug - I found a male to dual female splitter at an auto parts store and just cut one of the females off leaving a couple inches of wire

I will take a few photos this weekend to illustrate the connections.

 



Edited by Spoon
It's not so much the apocalypse... but the credit card bills ;-)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ella Fitzgerald Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 03 2006 at 2:24pm

Spoon-

You're the man!

Thanks

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Spoon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 05 2006 at 12:41pm

My Basic Solar Power Installation - Part 1 of 2

Disclaimer:  I am NOT a licensed electrician.  I taught myself by reading Wiring Simplified by H.P. Richter, and doing all of the electrical work in my home office remodeling project.  PLEASE treat all wires as "live" and always respect the dangers of electricity.  This panel produces 7 amps in the sun (it only takes about 0.03 amps across the heart to possibly stop it).

I first took the panel outside and tested the voltage.  The kit comes with a basic voltage tester if you do not have a multimeter.

My shed happens to be facing due south and gets about 7.5 hours of exposure/day in the winter.  I live on the western side of central New Jersey. 

I mounted it to one side of the roof, so I can add a second panel in the near future (panel alone runs about $580).  I drilled a hole in the roof and ran the wires through (red/black from panel's terminal block and green from grounding screw, both on back of panel)...  forgot to mention in my list of supplies above, that you will also need American Wire Gauge (AWG) 14 wire for grounding.  I replaced 12 sheet metal screws, that come in mounting kit, with wood screws and fastened panel to roof.  I ran wires down the inside of my shed and connected all three to a 1' cut piece (female end) of gray extension cord.  I used three crimp butt connectors.  You can also use solder or wire nuts.  The electrical tape is mainly for weather proofing.  I secured the wires with wire staples and then plugged in male end of 85' orange, heavy-duty commericial, extension cord.  This is a good time to keep track of the polarity of the prongs.  You will need to know this when you make the connections to the Charge Controller on the other side.  The easiest way is to use a multimeter or continuity tester to be sure.  If the extension cord was manufactured correctly, the prongs should be opposite to the slots when looking at both ends of cord side-by-side, right-side up (+-)(-+) or (-+)(+-).

It's not so much the apocalypse... but the credit card bills ;-)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pola33193 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 05 2006 at 12:51pm

Spoon , this is Pola"s husband  Joe , GREAT IDEA  please I need information on Charge Controller, and how many batts can you charge at a time thank you

pola
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote koolsteve Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 05 2006 at 1:05pm
i can help, but since the admin will delete my post just like  my others, I will be quick .

In "lamance terms"

All solar energy is basically a way of converting energy for your own gain. see,  when ever you do somthing, such as kick a ball, that is reffered to as kinetic energy. But there are many other types of energy such as soaler energy.  its energy is converted into somthing else by being ABSORBED into those black panels you see on the top. Now i am no expert in this field but this is what I do know from brief studies in school. 

If you dont understand how to use solar power, then i cannot put enough emphasis on the fact that you probobly cant install a whole house system. But there are many guides on this and it should be that expensive since no one really uses it too much. All i can tell you is that you should probobly higher a professional and that the your idea is a great one, depending on where you live that is. Right now it was raining and cloudy, and now it ridicously hot and sunny. all I ask is that  ADMIN DOES NOT DELETE THE POST UNTIL THE TOPIC STARTER READS IT.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CupcakeMom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 05 2006 at 6:42pm
Outstanding post, Spoon!  I have been on the verge of buying the same xantrex product with a solar panel.  It is great to get info from someone who has actually connected it all together and made it work.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Spoon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 05 2006 at 9:17pm

My Basic Solar Power Installation - Part 2 of 2

Disclaimer:  I am NOT a licensed electrician.  I taught myself by reading Wiring Simplified by H.P. Richter, and doing all of the electrical work in my home office remodeling project.  PLEASE treat all wires as "live" and always respect the dangers of electricity.  This panel produces 7 amps in the sun (it only takes about 0.03 amps across the heart to possibly stop it).

Meanwhile, behind the facade of this innocent looking patio room

The reason I use the female end of the gray extension cord in the shed is so I'm left with the female end of the orange extension cord in the house.  If the orange cord is laying around unplugged, I do not have to worry about exposed, live, prongs or someone trying to plug it into a wall outlet.

So, now I use the remaining 5' of gray extension cable to connect the orange extension to the Charge Controller.  I attach the wires from the gray cable using two crimp ring connectors.  The electrical tape is mainly used to take the stress off the wire. 

Note: Please make sure you attach the wires in the correct polarity.  It's important that the red(+) and black(-) match from the solar panel to the controller.

The green wire is crimp butt connected to more of the AWG 14 green wire and sent back outside to a 12' ground spike previously used for an electric fence.  I'm not sure how necessary this is.  It's just the anal part of me coming out.  You might also put a ring connecter on the other end of the ground wire and connect it to the middle screw of the closest wall socket plate.  That really is a good question for a licensed electrician.

Now we have a connection, and electricity, going from the panel to the controller.  It's now time to wire the charging side.  I set it up to charge anything with a cigarette lighter plug... like the Xantrex xPower 1500.  You can also set up a bank of batteries, wired in series or parallel.

I found a splitter (1 male to 2 females) at an auto parts store.  After cutting off one of the female ends, leaving a couple inches of wire, I used crimp butt connectors to attach it to some of the red/black wire left over from the solar kit.  Then, I attached the red/black wire to the controler with two more crimp ring connectors and electrical tape for strength.

You can now connect the male cigarette lighter plug, from the Xantrex, to the female plug connected to the controller.  After about eight hours of charging, on a sunny day, you can unplug the Xantrex and roll it anywhere in you home.  The AGM sealed battery is safe to use in any living space... no fumes.

You can also connect any battery backup device that can be recharged from a vehicle.  I found two smaller battery backups on sale at BJs and Target.  You can usually find 10-20 amp-hour portable power devices in the auto section of most dept. stores.  Just make sure they can be DC or car charged.

Please feel free to ask me any questions.

Jay

P.S.  I always forget one little detail... the polarity of the cigarette plug is negative along the side (barrel part) and positive in the center tip.



Edited by Spoon
It's not so much the apocalypse... but the credit card bills ;-)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 05 2006 at 10:38pm
That's very thoughtfull of you to do all that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Spoon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 06 2006 at 9:13am

Thanks Rick,

It's much easier for me to do, than explain.

It's not so much the apocalypse... but the credit card bills ;-)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote C104 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 06 2006 at 2:20pm
Spoon, Good stuff. One recomndation I could make is to put your charge controller and Xantrex out in the shed, then use the drop cord for your 110 power. DC has a higher line loss than AC. You will find you charge the Xantrex battery pack faster with it out in the shed, using the shortest distance for the DC wiring. You might also go with a bigger DC wire down from the panel to the charge controller and agian from the cc to the battery pack/inverter. Whatever line came with it...Double it (in size, half it in gage #).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote duncan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 06 2006 at 4:26pm
Originally posted by C104 C104 wrote:

Spoon, Good stuff. One recomndation I could make is to put your charge controller and Xantrex out in the shed, then use the drop cord for your 110 power. DC has a higher line loss than AC.


Agreed

If you can - purchase a regulator that will do 12/24/48 volts. 24v systems are more efficient than 12v and you offer yourself some flexibility.

Invertors ideally should be pure sine wave as opposed to square (alot of equipment can`t abide dirty power) - with 1500w a minimum.

Solar energy is very much a balance. Monster batteries are useless - if they can`t be charged.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Spoon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 06 2006 at 4:33pm

Welcome C104,

I agree.  The shorter the cable, the better.  As you can see, the design easily adapts by plugging the gray cords together up in the shed.  The orange extension cord helps if you want to limit your outside exposure... if things go horribly wrong.

It's not so much the apocalypse... but the credit card bills ;-)
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