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Picture of Run your Shed off grid!
Ever wanted to Be Green? Well now you can! This Instructable will show you how to Run your Shed, on a solar panel!

I Hope you enjoy my Instructable, This was one of my most enjoyable Projects! and I had good results from the little cost it has cost me.

Disclaimer:

I am not responsible for any damage to yourself or others from this 'instructable'. It is your decision to make this project. I would strongly advise to get an electrician or some in the 'know' to check out the all of your wiring.


Update: I will be hopefully showing how to install the 'ground' or 'earth' in a few months.
 
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Step 1: Parts List

1 X 10w (or above) Photo Voltaic solar panel   £33
1 X Solar Charge controller   £15
2 meters of 15amp cable ( Already had)
1 X 15ah battery   £20
8 X Spade connectors   £1
1 X Power Inverter ( Above the wattage of the the equipment you use )   £30
2 X 13amp switched fuseways   £4
1 X RCD   ( Already had)
2 X 13amp wall sockets £ 4
5 meters of 23amp mains cable   ( Already had)
1 X Energy saving lightbulb and Brakcet   ( Already had)
Wire connectors (I used like 20!)   £1
Other Items   £5

Total £110


Step 2: Mounting the solar panel

Picture of Mounting the solar panel
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I bought a 10w Photo Voltaic solar panel.  You must get photovoltaic, Nothing else!
10w is round about the starting range for solar panels. Its really depends what your going to be running in your shed.

I used two steel pipes to mount my solar panel. I attached the Pipes to the holes pre-drilled in the solar panel with m4 bolts and nuts. To mount it, I used 4, 1 inch screws with rubber washers.
Once you have done this, drill holes in your shed for the Cable, Make sure your seal them back up!

Make sure the cable from the solar panel is not being crushed.

You could also use mounting kits which I would recommend for big solar panels.

Thats really all it takes to mount it


Step 3: Charge Controller

Picture of Charge Controller
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I bought an 16A charge controller from Maplins. The charge controller really speaks for it says, attach the solar panel to where it has the picture of the solar panel and attach 15 amp cable to the battery from where the battery picture is.

My 16A charge controller is a bit of an overkill for a 10w solar panel as it only produces 1 amp, so you could go with something different..

And thats It!

Step 4: Battery And Inverter

Picture of Battery And Inverter
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In the Picture it is a 1.5 ah battery, My 15ah batterys had not arrived, yet to upload pictures

With the 15amp cable from the charge controller attach it to the battery then from the battery attach cables to the inverter.

Then from the inverter I have 13 amp cable going to my switched fuseways
I have the switched fuseways for safety, so if any goes wrong and I need to switch off the power (such as water leakage, thats why its in a water-proof enclosure)
.
As we are now handling mains voltage, I am not responsible for any damage to yourself or others whilst making the instructable.

Please note unless you are qualified to do this, It wont be true to regulations.




Step 5: Socket outlets and lights

Picture of Socket outlets and lights
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From the switched fuseway, I wired an RCD and then 23amp cable to the 2 mains sockets in a ring main.
This site may help you wire it all up if you don't know how to. Belive me, its actully quite easy!
Keep the cable tidy like in the photos to avoid tripping or damage to them.

Make sure all the power is off! And make sure you have no bare wires..

Before you do this, Read the next step!


Step 6: Lights

Picture of Lights
From One of the wall sockets wire a spur off it. I used 3A twin cable to attach the lights from it. I wired a toggle switch and a 3A fuse in an enclosure for the light, although you could just buy a light switch..

For the light, I do recomend a energy saving bulb, The 60w will drain your battery 6 X faster.

Step 7: You've finsihed!

Picture of You've finsihed!
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Now you can go and test it out!

I calculated that it would take about 24hrs of sunlight to charge my 15ah battery fully.
If you use the shed for about 2-4 hrs a day the battery should never drain unless you use heavy machinary for long peroids

I hope you had fun and enjoy being off grid!
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techie661 month ago

A few simple rules apply:
- Make sure a rgular battery is not under- or overcharged, a guideline: Charging with current between 1/8 to 1/12 of the Ah of the battery is perfect, special AGM cells can handle a bit higher current (look at the specs)
- Do not try to use more power out of your battery than 20%, that will extent the battery life, and now leaf you in the dark if you have some bad weather over a few days.
- remember for every watt you take out 1.5watt has to go in.
- higher power consumption should make you go up to 24V or 48V by using multiple batteries of the same values and age. Use a DC-DC inverter if you need some 12V for lighting.

Grtz

FarmerGeorge3 months ago

Hi im Trying to make a chicken enclosure in my shed and would be very interested in using solar panels and car battery to do this, but would a solar panel and battery be able to support a high wattage lamp, heater and heating controls ?,

Bearing in mind i stay in Scotland where the sun is very unreliable.

If i had the system on for 12 hours period how long would the battery last ?

any help would be greatly appreciated

george92hill@icloud.com

Great article, would it be possible to run an average household oil heater/radiator off this system? if not, do you know what extras I would need?

Thanks, Matt

AnthonyT65 months ago

Got tired of no power in one my sheds. Too expensive to run and connect power from home. My solution? I created a solar setup just for me! If dark and I am at front door, the outside light turns on. I walk inside and overhead lights come on and stay on until about two minutes after I leave the shed. In case of power loss, there is quick disconnect battery to take into house for my CPAP machine. All power outlets in shed run off 120vac, overhead lights run off 12vdc. chromedragon@hotmail.com

SolarShed.JPG
pidmyster1 year ago

Pretty cool, I know this is a couple years old now but for future readers: I'm about to put in a larger system, maybe up to 200W to run garden appliances etc. If you want to save power on your lighting you can just buy 12v lighting and run direct from the battery. There is lots cheaply available for campers/caravans many running LEDs and this reduces the drain as the inverter doesn't have to run which adds inefficiency. If all you are running is lighting there is no need for an inverter at all. Some Solar controllers have day/night mode and can also automatically turn your lights on when the panel is in darkness (night).

ton ton3 years ago
Cool dude,,, i also have that,, but my panel is only 5w,, and the battery is 12v 7amp, only,, in case i will use inverter,, how long it will take if i use, about 100w?
swap asap to LED 12 volt bulbs. to conserve yr battery strenght.
oscarthompson (author)  ton ton3 years ago
If your battery is fully charged, And you Bulb uses about 1amp. I would think around 6 hours
doomobob2 years ago
Please could you show in the instructable possible ways to get these required items from old and unused electricals, to lower the cost and make it even more renewable.
albinoraven2 years ago
@Peteoc Yes, you set up an battery array. The term you want to google is Solar Battery Array.

Good luck and don't forget to double check your ground.
Very NIce! Electricity in the shed is very useful for cloudy days and dreary nights. Don't forget to seal those holes in the roof with tar. If I may I would like to recommend a few changes for future installs if the users only needs power to run lights.

*Don't install the inverter - These are expensive and use additional power to cool the internals. Normally there's an internal fan running to cool the inverter,

*12 V Light Bulb - You can purchase these at you local hardware store.

*Automobile battery - provides larger storage of accumulated electricity.

Okay.

First you need a deep cycle battery, or a boat battery. You put a car battery on that you'll be replacing it every six months.

The inverter is needed to convert the electricity from DC to AC.

Goes like this Solar panel, battery array, inverter, plug.

I run a similar setup in my shed 250w panel on top of the shed, six deep cycle batteries and a 1000w inverter. This allows me to run power tools and keep the mess out of the house and since I'm in Canada I can run a little ceramic heater in there to putter around for a couple of hours.

If you are going to build a solar setup, build it so it's useful. Spending $500 to putter around with it is fun, but completely useless. So scale the system so you, the owner of it, can actually use it for something handy.
see above my question about multiple batteries
So right! I wish more people used common sense like this and just did things right from the start. Has to be a deep cycle, has to have an inverter and allow for growth, in your case the addition of a heater.
You can usually get used semi-truck battery's that are free around truck repair shops.
peteoc2 years ago
When using multiple batteries do you just daisy chain them?
Hello,

Nice shed, i personally do a similar thing! glad to see there are others like me out there. I have one tip though: instead of cutting the wire out of the socket you could just drill a hole out the back of the shed, make sure it is a tight fit though so there is no water. i prefer to use spur cable but you can use household 3 core flex 13 amp cable
falconrk3 years ago
Great Instructable. I did this for my shed and some outdoor "as-needed" lighting a few years ago using 2 10w panels, a small charge controller, 400w inverter and an old car battery (it would no longer hold enough charge for my car, but works fine for running my lights). In the future I plan on adding more panels and upgrading to deep cycle batteries. I've done all the installations myself to learn more about the best setups before eventually adding panels and a wind turbine into my home system. Of course I'll hire an electrician then to verify my work and make the final connections.
JoeAconite3 years ago
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-bottle-brighten-millions-poor-homes.html

A few of these bottle lights could help light your shed without electricity during the day.
I did a much simpler approach, I have a portable power pack unit (about $100, includes the battery, charging circuit, and inverter) and a 10W solar panel on the roof, and just hooked the panel to the power pack unit. This eliminates the need for any wiring except between the solar panel and the power pack. Not as powerful as your setup though, I'm sure, and it really would be nice to have plugs in the wall instead of plugging into the power pack. One tricky thing, the power pack does not like to have an input voltage less than 15V, which happens in the evening when the sun is not directly on the solar panel, it starts beeping and wasting charge, so I had to build a circuit to disconnect the panel when the sun is not shining on it. A pretty stupid flaw in the power pack in my opinion, it should be able to deal with a low charging voltage, just don't do anything, no need to complain about it.
I also have a separate solar lighting system in my shed where I hacked a solar powered house number sign, disconnecting the built in LED's and running wires to some battery powered LED 'puck' lights on the ceiling, you can get those lights at discount stores for about $1 or $2. No batteries in the lights, I soldered the wires onto the battery terminals inside so they run off the rechargeable batteries in the sign. I have a real light switch on the wall to turn on the lights in the shed, but it is only switching the 4.5V battery voltage.

...so I had to build a circuit to disconnect the panel when the sun is not shining on it.

I for one would like to see an 'ible on that!

Ideas I have had using diodes steal a volt or two but I am no electronics specialist. I recently found out germanium diodes 'steal' less voltage.
Here is the circuit.  I don't think I'll do an instructable on this, not many people likely interested as it's pretty specialized.  It doesn't eliminate the diode, that is still needed (not included in this circuit since there's one in the power box).
R1 is a CdS cell which senses when the sun is shining, the CdS has to be oriented in the same direction as the solar panel.  +15V and ground connect to the solar panel, "Load" connects to the power pack charge input. 
Solar_switch.jpg
Nice ! Thanks very much. (what is the diode you are using btw?)
I didn't need a diode because the power pack unit already has one inside. But something like 1N4001 would work. Just be sure to check the current rating of the diode (1N4001 is 1A) vs. the current capability of the solar panel (10W is about 0.8A). If you really want low voltage drop, use a Schottky diode such as 1N5817, but I think Schottky diodes have higher leakage current than silicon pn diodes so while you might save some power on charging, you could lose it again through leakage when the sun is not shining. I don't think you should really worry about the power lost in the diode, the current of the solar cell is pretty much dictated by the intensity of the sunlight so the charging current won't change much with the diode in the circuit, until you get to marginal sunlight conditions.
I know very little about these things, but some garden lights use a jule-thief type arrangement to boost the voltage of their solar cells above that required to charge the battery. Could you have something like that which switched in under low light conditions so that you don't waste that evening charging current?

Just a thought.
diodes work, but suck power when there is sun
Yup, but at least they stop voltage loss back to the solar cell when there is no sunshine. It's the small drop in Voltage across the Diode I am trying to reduce.
oh, you could have a tiny panel powering a relay!
relay in parallel with panel? panel connected to coil, contacts connected in series with charge controller and such. This may or may not use less power.

also, what type of diode are you using?
Well to be fair electric, you are using your inverter (power pack) in a way it wasnt designed to be used, the inverter that you have is designed to be used with a battery, and not directly connected to a solar panel as you have done, the beeping sound you are getting is the sound the inverter emits as a battery is going flat, and usually not long after this, it shuts down to prevent deep discharge and damage to your battery.

Adding a battery across the inverter will cure this, even if its a small one with a regulator.
oscarthompson (author)  jomac_uk4 years ago
My solar panel isn't directly attached to the inverter. It goes through a charge controller then to the battery. Then the battery is connected to the inverter.

Oscar
In your system, you wouldnt need the charge controller at all, you are using a 15Ah sealed lead acid battery, and its nominal charge is 10% of its rated capacity, which in this case would be 1.5 Amps, your solar panel outputs 10 watts maximum on a really sunny day, 10 watts is less then an amp
My power pack includes a charging circuit (charge controller), battery, and inverter. The solar panel is connected to the charging circuit, and it is this circuit that is giving the error condition.  See it here
Thanks for the comment.
Your setup would be really good for camping! I might build something like that, as I'm quite into the outdoors,

The Lighting system seems quite good. Im still using 230v energy saving lights. A bit silly really. For two reasons

They use more energy than 12v energy saving lights and If I wanted to just use the lights I have to power up my inverter to use them.

Thanks

Oscar
they use more power? whats the wattage on each?
oscarthompson (author)  hintss4 years ago
11watts, but they have to go throught the inverter which takes alot more.
noobduino4 years ago
can someone convert this to canadian dollers
oscarthompson (author)  noobduino4 years ago
173 Canadian dollars

Oscar
Very good,Simple is fun!
I think the most you can go on a 12 volt inverter is about 14 volts
so 18 volt may not work the inverter will go in safe mode
very nice Instructable thanks for sharing this idea
David
at www.solarcells101.com
munymuny2004 years ago
thanks but im using a 45 watt system
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