Introduction: Apartment Solar System

Picture of Apartment Solar System

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

Picture of Things You Will Need

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  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

Picture of 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

Picture of Solar Panel Connections

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  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

Picture of Circuit Breaker Connections

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  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

Picture of Charge Controller Connections

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  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

Picture of  Battery Connections

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  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

Picture of Inverter Connections

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  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

Picture of Power Meter Connections

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  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

Picture of Caution, Safety, Things to Remember

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  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.

If you liked this Instructable , do Favourite, Vote and Share it. Feel free to leave your Queries in the comments section below.

Comments

Jonathanrjpereira (author)2016-03-16

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.

3-month Pro Memberships remaining: 2/2

Er.RameshBishnoi made it! (author)2014-11-01

the same is running at my home..i've used my PC UPS circuit board instead of a inverter to convert 12V DC into 220v AC... Cool Idea.. :-)

Awesome work!

kimnguu (author)Er.RameshBishnoi2014-11-06

Hi, can you show me how to connect ups to solar system

As shown in the instructable circuit layout. You can connect the ups instead of a inverter.

Hi Theedisoneffect.

you mean connect directly to Battery? i saw on Charge Controller it have Solar slot, Battery slot and Load slot.

can we use Load slot for UPS?

https://cdn.instructables.com/F94/MFYZ/HWE9TEAD/F94MFYZHWE9TEAD.LARGE.jpg

The battery must be connected to the battery slot. The solar panel must be connected to the solar slot of the charge controller. If the load slot gives a DC output which fulfills the requirement of the input of the UPS, then I suggest you connect the input of the UPS to the load slot.

kahrloz (author)2015-01-11

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?

tp.pa.12 (author)kahrloz2015-10-05

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

aresel28 (author)tp.pa.122016-05-17

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

kahrloz (author)tp.pa.122016-01-20

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

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

magnamino (author)kahrloz2015-03-08

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.

Thanks

sitaifun (author)kahrloz2015-03-07

The information and calculators on this site may help:

http://www.batterystuff.com/kb/articles/battery-ar...

http://www.batterystuff.com/kb/tools/calculator-si...

http://www.batterystuff.com/kb/tools/ac-to-dc-ampe...

http://www.batterystuff.com/kb/tools/calculator-fo...

Keep in mind that for best care of your battery you don't want to deplete it beyond 50% of it's capacity, and that higher amp loads will reduce the actual effective capacity as well.

sitaifun (author)sitaifun2015-03-07

Also see their solar calculator:

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

Thanks for the constructive advice.

Thanks for sharing these calculator's.

Jonathanrjpereira (author)2016-03-16

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.

3-month Pro Memberships remaining: 2/2

Jonathanrjpereira (author)2016-03-16

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.

3-month Pro Memberships remaining: 2/2

cobblereve (author)2016-01-29

I learned on INPLIX page how to make it easy

CarolynM15 (author)2016-01-21

Harbor Freight
Mobedda-Detroit

Joseph Korso (author)2015-12-09

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?

prodriverex (author)2015-11-02

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.

arifa15 (author)2015-10-08

http://www.linetech-tr.com

Dan39 (author)2014-06-17

nice article, thanks

omg the price of that solar panel from radioshack is OUTRAGEOUS! i get 120 watt flexible panels, near the same size, for that same price...

same thing with the battery. wow a lot of this radioshack stuff is just crazy priced. i get 100ah AGM batteries from deka for cheaper

tp.pa.12 (author)Dan392015-10-05

Radio Shack priced themselves out the market, hence they went bankrupt. I f I need something, and its not a need right now item, I will definitely go e-bay, or Amazon, I just make sure I am buying from a USA seller, ya maybe the items are still made in China, but at least the sale $ stays here.

Tp

billbillt (author)Dan392014-06-24

Check out Harbor Freight for the solar cells... It seems they are pretty reasonable there....

Dr.Bill (author)billbillt2014-10-16

Harbor Freight stuff. God. Always something goes wrong with Harbor Freight stuff. Their panels are only 15 watts each on a good day.

Jonathanrjpereira (author)Dan392014-06-17

Yes I will be posting a cheaper alternative list for all those parts. You can get cheaper reliable parts also in various other places and shops. If you like this instructable do vote, favourite and share it! Thanks for viewing.

Oddley (author)2015-07-08

I could not think of where else to put this... But some gentlemen were talking at the library the other day and I have been thinking about it all along since then. They were talking about the solar panels you buy at like harbor freight and not wanting to store the power but to use it as it is made. They said they used a kit from the store and a 2 male ended plug and plugged right into the house. They said they flipped the swatch to the power turning off the incoming power from the power company then cycled the power from the solar just by plugging it in, can this be done? This was a "good old boy talk" I was over hearing, so I couldn't ask questions. So here I am asking. At the Makers Faire in San Mateo several years ago a gentlemen was selling plug in units the sold back power, but I was trying to see everything that day and didn't get enough info then either!! lol He has not been back since I have looked every year since!!! I don't want solar on my roof I want it to hang from my back stone wall or from a shade structure like in the parking lots. I would love for it to be plug in so I can take it with me if I move. I would love for it to feed back to the grid but if not be able to run the house without the grid.

tp.pa.12 (author)Oddley2015-10-05

Just a note on attaching any unit to your circuit breaker box, DO NOT just turn off the breaker, and plug in power to an outlet, the breaker should be removed from the box, or the wires removed from it, if the power were to go out, you stand a chance of killing the line repair crew by possibly back feeding into their wires. Doing as you say, plugging the inverter into a outlet will send power to all the outlets, etc. on that circuit, that is what I do, but I remove the breaker from the box just in case, I prefer not to kill a line man.

Good luck in your ventures, keep it safe for everyone!

Tp

macyrlivyed2 (author)2015-05-31

Hello,

I briefly looked through the comments here, but was unable to find anything about what the projected cost for the full (13+ panel) setup pictured would be. I know that the prices fluctuate rapidly and that material cost will vary by region.

I want to build the full setup that you have pictured in the featured image with you on the roof. Do you have any idea of what it might cost? (I'm just looking for a ballpark estimate.)

Thank you!

daenergymon (author)2015-05-05

Good to see you are putting in safety fuses. Nowadays I would I would use a charge controller that can handle higher voltages (they have them that can handle up to 600 Vdc) to simplify the wiring.

stgflores (author)2015-04-13

does it matter if the circuit breaker is for 120v and not dc

It does not matter whether AC or DC.

Circuit breakers have power ratings. That means they can withstand only a certain amount of current and voltage. So buy a CB considering its voltage,current and Power ratings.

http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-Amperage-of-Circuit-Breaker

The link is a guide to determining which CB to use.

Sorry for the late reply. If you have any more questions feel free to ask me on the comments section or on my orangeboard.

lewisstreet2574 (author)2015-04-01

thank you for sharing your project online tonight. steve

michaelgc (author)2014-09-23

Thanks for the idea, I keep thinking about calling up one of those companies that help with this sort of thing but they are really expensive.

Hope this instructable helped then.

paolobertoncin (author)2014-10-17

wow great Job!

Thanks

NRG4UandMe (author)2014-12-07

You should mention the 'deep cycle' batteries that are better suited to this application.

Thanks for the constructive advice

NRG4UandMe (author)2014-12-07

why 2 diodes ?? more v drop ...

The two diodes act as by-pass diodes . Consider two solar panels connected in series. Now let's consider what happens if one of the panels in the below diagram is shaded. Not only will that panel not be producing any significant power, but it will also have a high resistance, blocking the flow of power produced by the unshaded panel.

schematic diagram of a simple circuit with blocking and by-pass diodes

This is where by-pass diodes come into play as shown in the diagram to the right. Now, if one panel is shaded, the current produced by the unshaded panel can flow through a by-pass diode to avoid the high resistance of the shaded panel.
By-pass diodes will not be of use unless panels are connected in series to produce a higher voltage.

Jonathanrjpereira (author)2014-11-20

Thanks everyone for voting for this instructable and also for favouriting it. It won the First Prize in the Green Design contest because of this.

ClaudioDonate (author)2014-06-17

Just to get an idea. For a 40W load (almost nothing) I'll have to spend 400 dollars? Did a I get that right?

stierney2 (author)ClaudioDonate2014-06-17

There are Instructables on how to make a solar panel that will put off the same amount of Watts. Some will cost you about $40-50 to built. up to you...

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Bio: 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 ... More »
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