Apartment Solar System

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Posted in WorkshopSolar

Introduction: Apartment Solar System

About: I'm Jonathan Pereira, a novice Electronics Engineer. I like to make Doze Lamps, Lumen Powered Thingamajigs, Almighty Brainy Buttons, Tweeting Fart Detectors and share them on Instructables.

This is a 'Green' and eco-friendly Instructable which creates a sustainable way of living which combines the use of Solar & BATTERIES. For example, the materials/ parts used do not consume electricity inorder to function. Instead it generates Clean Electricity from the Sun. No electricity is needed when it's not in use and in stand-by mode. The entire circuit is easy to repair, individual parts can be reused and also recycled down the line.

What is a Solar System?

A Solar System is a system which converts light energy into electrical energy, stores this electrical energy and also consumes this stored energy.

Main Requirement:

Sunlight

Why Solar?

Unlike Petrol, Solar energy from the Sun is free of cost and you dont pay taxes on it. The prices of fuel will always increase, but as production of solar panels increase the price of these panels shall decrease. You can store the converted solar energy in a BATTERY. A solar system can be assembled in any OUTDOOR WORKSHOP. Solar Energy is a Green Energy, its a Renewable Source of Energy and its good for our planet. And as long as the sun shines your system will be powered.

Step 1: Things You Will Need

IMAGE:

  1. Solar Panel- 12V, 50W
  2. Lead Acid Battery- 12V,65Ah
  3. Charge Controller and Charge Indicator
  4. Battery Conectors (Lugs/ Ring Terminals)
  5. 2.5mm or 3mm Wire.
  6. Inverter- 12VDC to 220VAC, 400W
  7. Switch Box/ Extension Box.
  8. Power Consumption Meter.
  9. Circuit Breaker.
  10. Spanner Set.
  11. Soldering Iron & Soldering Wire
  12. Wire Cutter.
  13. Screwdriver.
  14. Multimeter.

The Parts & Tools are also available at Radioshack. The links have been attached.

  1. Solar Panel- 12V, 50W or more. Sunforce® 50-Watt Pro-Series Amorphous Solar Panel
  2. Lead Acid Battery- 12V, 32Ah or 65Ah or more. Sealed Lead-Acid Battery
  3. Charge Controller and Charge Indicator. Sunforce® Charge Controller
  4. Battery Conectors (Lugs/ Ring Terminals). Insulated Ring Terminal (16-Pack)
  5. 2.5mm or 3mm Wire. 3mm Wire
  6. Inverter- 12VDC to 220VAC, 400W or 600W.Whistler® 400W Inverter
  7. Switch Box/ Extension Box. Belkin 6-Outlet Commercial Surge Protector (10 Feet)
  8. Power Consumption Meter. Power Monitor
  9. 2 X Circuit Breaker. Circuit Breaker-15A

Tools:

  1. Spanner Set.
  2. Soldering Iron. RadioShack® Digital Soldering Station
  3. Soldering Wire High-Tech Rosin Core Silver-Bearing Solder (1.5 Oz.)
  4. Wire Cutter. RadioShack® Gauged Wire Stripper/Cutter
  5. Screwdriver. RadioShack® 6-Piece Precision Electronics Screwdriver Set
  6. Multimeter. RadioShack® 15-Range Digital Multimeter


ALTERNATIVE PARTS LIST(CHEAPER):

  1. Solar Panel- 12V, 75W Aleko 75W Solar Panel
  2. Lead Acid Battery- 12V, 35Ah Universal Power Group Sealed Lead Acid Battery
  3. Charge Controller and Charge Indicator. Solar Charge Controller
  4. Battery Conectors (Lugs/ Ring Terminals). Insulated Ring Terminal (16-Pack) Ring Terminals
  5. 3mm Wire. 3mm Wire.
  6. Inverter- 12VDC to 220VAC, 400W Whistler 400W Power Inverter
  7. Switch Box/ Extension Box. Belkin 6-Outlet Home/Office Surge Protector with 2.5 feet Cord
  8. Power Consumption Meter. ® TS-836A Plug Power Meter Energy
  9. 2 X Circuit Breaker. Siemens Q115 15-Amp 1 Pole 120-Volt Circuit Breaker

There also various other places where you can find the required parts and tools for cheaper prices. If you do know any such place/shop/online store, you can share your parts list in the comment section below. Try leaving a link to each of those parts.

Step 2: Circuit Diagram

Follow the connections in the circuit diagram. The Red wires are Positive, Black are Negative. The Red wire between the Inverter and Plug Point is Live, Black is Neutral and Green is Ground or Earthing.

Be Careful while making connections. Do not switch anything ON while connecting all the parts and components.

Do not interchange the polarity and stick to the colour coding of the wires- Red, Black & Green.

Cut all the wires to length using the wire cutter and strip the PVC covering of the ends of the wire using the wire stripper.

Step 3: Solar Panel Connections

IMAGE:

  1. Solar Panel Connections

The Solar Panel is the device which converts the light emitted by the Sun into electrical energy. When the suns rays fall onto the solar cells, the electrons in the solar cells get excited and begin to flow, thus producing electrical energy.

Connect the wires to the Solar Panel. Let the Red wire be connected to the positive (+) terminal and the black wire to the negative (-) terminal.

Connect the other end of the red wire to the input of the first Circuit Breaker. Connect the other end of the black wire to the input of the second Circuit Breaker.

Tighten the screws of the terminals using a Screwdriver.

The diodes in the Solar Panel Connection Box are used to maintain the polarity of the solar panel. If the positive wire is connected i the middle terminal, the voltage is halfed.

Step 4: Circuit Breaker Connections

IMAGE:

  1. Circuit Breaker Connections

The Circuit Breaker is a kind of Switch which switches OFF/shuts down/shuts OFF when a certain amount of current passes through it. It will shut OFF only when the current exceeds the given specified amount. E.g: 15A etc. It also shuts OFF when theres a short circuit. The reason one MUST connect the Circuit Breaker between the solar panel and the rest of the system is to prevent the entire system from lightning. Lightning can cause the battery to explode and also damage the entire system. The Circuit Breaker immediately shuts OFF when lightning strikes the Solar Panel.

Connect the output of the first Circuit Breaker to another red wire. Connect the other end of this red wire to the Charge controller.

Connect the output of the second Circuit Breaker to another black wire. Connect the other end of this black wire to the Charge controller.

Tighten the screws of the terminals using a Screwdriver.

Step 5: Charge Controller Connections

IMAGE:

  1. Charge Controller Connections.

The Charge Controller is an electronic circuit which regulates the charging of the battery and also shows the battery level. The Charge controller prevents the battery from overcharging. Once the charge controller detects that the battery is fully charged it stops charging the battery. The charge controller also uses a voltage regulator to regulate the input voltage given from the battery inorder to give a stable constant output voltage. E.g: Consider a 12V soalr panel which is giving 12.5V. The charge controller will regulate and convert the 12.5V into a constant and stable 12V.

Connect a red wire to the output of the charge controller's positive terminal and connect the end of the wire to the positive terminal of the battery.

Connect a black wire to the output of the charge controller's negative terminal and connect the end of the wire to the negative terminal of the battery.

Tighten the screws of the terminals using a Screwdriver.

Step 6: Battery Connections

IMAGE:

  1. Battery Terminal.
  2. Red wire connected to the Positive (+) terminal of the battery.
  3. Black wire connected to the Negative (-) terminal of the battery.

The Battery is a device which stores the electrical energy in the form of chemical energy. A Lead Acid battery contains lead acid in it. As the battery is used it releases hydrogen gas.This hydrogen gas is too little to affect humans.

Solder the battery connectors to the wires. This will ensure that the wire doesn't come out and also prevents shorting. Connect the battery connectors to the Battery terminal.

Once you have connected the terminals of the battery to the output of the charge controller, you can connect the inverter to the battery terminals too.

Connect one end of a red wire to the positive battery terminal and its other end to the positive DC terminal of the inverter.

Connect one end of a black wire to the negative battery terminal and its other end to the negative DC terminal of the inverter.

Step 7: Inverter Connections

IMAGE:

  1. Inverter output connections.
  2. Cooling Fan of Inverter.

The Inverter is an electronic device which converts a low voltage DC input into a high voltage AC output. E.g: An inverter can convert 12VDC (from battery) into 220VAC (to appliance). An inverter is necessary if your appliances run on 220V AC.

The output of an inverter has three terminals namely Live, Neutral and Ground. Connect your Power Consumption Meter to the three terminals of the inverters output.

Step 8: Power Meter Connections

IMAGE:

  1. Power Meter Connections.
  2. Power Meter Connections.
  3. Power Meter Readings ( 58KWh consumed).

The power consumption meter measure the running total of the amount of power-hours that have been consumed by the appliances. It is measured in Kilo Watt Hours (KWh).

Connect the output of the power meter to the Plug point connections.

TEST: Test the solar system by plugging a CFL bulb into the plug point/ socket and see if it comes on. Make sure the switches are ON and everything is connected.

Step 9: Calculations & Expanding Your Solar System

Calculations(example calculation): This is an example. Using the formulas given below larger Solar systems with higher capacities can be made. Use these calculations to expand your solar system.

Appliance Load-

Appliance Quantity Wattage Total

Light Bulb 2 10W 20W

Fan 1 20W 20W

40W

Hence the total load is 40W.

Backup Time/ Running Time-

Now say you want to run these appliances for 4 Hours.

The total back up time will be 4 hours.

Wh-Then total Load x Hour (4hour × 40watt) = 160Wh.

Battery Amperage-

Battery Voltage= 12V & Watt Hour=160Wh

Therefore I= Watt Hour/ Battery Voltage

I=160/12= 13.33Ah ~ 14

I= 14Ah

Solar panel-

Generally a battery charging current = 10% of its AH Charging current = 1.4 A ( )

Power (W) = Current (A) X Voltage (V)

Solar panel needed = 1.4 A 12 V = 16.8 W

Charge controller-12 Volt, 1.4 Amp Thus a solar system is calculated

(System loss is not added with this measurement, so approximate 25% system loss will be added.)

Conclusion: So from calculation

1. Solar panel =20 watt (20 watt is available)

2. Battery = 12volt, 15AH (15AH, 20AH battery available)

3. Chargecontroller=12volt,2A(2Achargecontrolleravailable)

Efficiency of Solar panel: Here output power is the power we get from solar panel. Input power is proportional to the amount of light falling on the solar panel. Hence do not keep the Panel in shade.

Step 10: Caution, Safety, Things to Remember

IMAGE:

  1. Safety Rules written on Battery.
  2. Caution and After Use rules on Battery.
  3. Charging Guide.

Safety:

  1. While soldering do not touch the tip of the soldering iron.
  2. Wear Dark Glasses while installing the Solar Panel.
  3. Do not look Directly at the Sun.

Caution:

  1. Keep the battery away from sparks, cigarettes, open flames, etc. These can result ion explosions.
  2. Do not throw water near the battery or inverter.
  3. Avoid metallic contact between the terminals of the battery, as this can cause short circuiting.
  4. Lead Acid batteries generate Hydrogen Gas.
  5. Do not hit, hammer or damage the battery, it contains lead acid and can leak.
  6. Make sure the output of the inverter is grounded/earthed.
  7. Do not block the vents of the cooling fan in order to prevent over heating of the inverter.
  8. Do not interchange the polarity of any of the connections.

Things to Remember:

  1. Do not forget to install the Circuit Breakers.
  2. Do not switch the system on until all the connections have been made.
  3. The lead acid in the battery must be replaced at least once a year.
  4. Do not switch on the inverter if the charge controller is displaying the 'Overload' signal.
  5. Always use low consumption appliances such as CFL or LED bulbs.

After Use:

  1. This battery contains lead acid and sulphuric acid. Do not just through it in the garbage as it is hazardous to the environment.
  2. At the end of the battery life, return the battery to the authorised dealer for disposal.

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We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.

Tips

1 Questions

can i use 2 to 3 battery?

Yes depending on the voltage & capacity.

75 Comments

Have you made your own Apartment Solar System? I want to see it!

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OK let's say I have a TV that needs 12v DC 2.5 amps does it mean it uses 2.5ah?

and also if a 12v battery 50ah does it mean it'll give 50amps ? how do I go about connecting my TV to my battery?

10 replies

Your TV will draw 2.5 amps, and i can be hooked dirrectly to the 50ah battery, the TV will only take what it wants, it will not get the full 50 amps. Just like a car stereo.

Tp

it means that you can use your tv for 20 hours. 50ah / 2.5 = 20h

thanks, I finally did my own setup. works like a charm

Awesome. Do share some pics of it in the I made it section.

most batteries are rated at either 10 hours or 20 hours.. so a 50Ah battery will safely give you 5 amps for 10 hours or 2.5amps for 20 hours, depending on how it is rated. Higher discharge currents can be used, however they can also shorten the life of the battery if used at higher discharge rates for extended periods of time.

Also see their solar calculator:

http://www.batterystuff.com/kb/tools/solar-calculator.html

Have you made your own Apartment Solar System? I want to see it!

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Have you made your own Apartment Solar System? I want to see it!

Share a picture of your version of this project in the comments below and be awarded a 3-month Pro Membership on Instructables.com & a digital patch.

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inverter is to convert the low voltage dc to usable ac while UPS is an uninterruptible power supply it means when the main line is out this UPS will automatically switch on.. see the difference

A UPS normally contains an inverter, a 12VDC battery, and a charging circuit. When plugged in to the mains, the UPS allows power to pass through to the load while also charging it's own built-in battery. Then the input power is cut, the UPS instantly switches on the inverter and replaces the pass-through power, from the mains, with power from the battery supplied (via the inverter) to the load. When a UPS is used in a solar circuit, the built-in charging circuit of the UPS is removed and replaced by the charging circuit of the solar panel.

Harbor Freight
Mobedda-Detroit

With a 400W Inverter you usually can feed what kind of devices with that project? I mean, a single battery, a single panel and so on. Of course it can be upgraded, but I'm interested in getting a inverter that has 1200W and would like to know if I can light my room, turn on a TV plus a computer or a videogame with that startup project and, yes, upgrade when I get more time and money. That project can be 'partitioned', can it not?

i have lots of spare LiPo around.

Do you have any idea how to obtain stable 12/24V output from MPPT and feed through PCM to charge LiPo? I know MPPT compares the PV-Battery difference and adjust the output but are there MPPT commercially available for LiPO usage?

Another idea is whether or not to connect MPPT output to a DC charger which is able to accept 12-48V input and charge up to 12s LiPo.