Solar Power System With Up-cycled Components.

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Introduction: Solar Power System With Up-cycled Components.

About: Howdy, I am a bit of a tinker gnome. I like playing with hardware/technology along with making stuff I want out of old stuff I have or find. I should warn you that I am like Dog from "Up". There will be ...

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    15 Comments

    This is awesome, and motivation for me to build a small one!

    Being a neophyte, are there particular batteries that are better to use than others? Could I use this one from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000RAVT58/ (12v and 18ah)?

    Also, how does the Amp levels of your charge controller and the Watts of the power inverter relate to the battery and the solar panels used exactly?

    My goal is to create a self-contained system that has 2 110v outlets I can plug things into, like yours, but at a smaller scale (I'd hang the panel securely from my window as I don't have a lawn).

    1 reply

    ezeisel, Thanks for the comments and the great questions.

    To size a system one has to figure out how much load they want to run and for how long. Watts = Amps x Volts. It has been my experience with my system so far that for a 100W AC load ( 100 watts = .83 amps x 120 volts) My inverter draws about 10 A DC at 12V or 120 W DC due to inefficiencies.

    With those calculations the above 18 Ah Battery that you listed would last for about 1 hour 30 minutes. But it would exceed the C rate for that battery.

    To determine the Columb (C) rate of what you can safely charge or discharge; Divide the capacity 18 A by 12 Volts to receive the Columb Rate of 1.5 Amp/hours charge/discharge that would be a 1C rate with a lead acid battery you do not want to usually exceed this number unless the manufacture specifies otherwise. This may cause some confusion as my battery bank is a 60 amp hours of capacity, but they are designed for rapid discharge and their C rate is 20 Amps


    Suppose that battery can only support a 1C charge/discharge rate you would be able to run a 18W 12v load or charge it with a 15w 12V panel. If you receive about 5 hours of good insolation (sunshine) every day most of North America in the summer receives 4-5 hours.

    You would multiply The hours of sunlight by the wattage of the panel to receive the watt hours collected per day. 5 hours x 15 Watts = 75 Watt hours / 12V = 6.25 = 3-4 good days of sunshine to bring the battery back up to full.

    So to start Figure out how much of a load you want to run and for how long and then size up from there.

    FYI in the time that I have had my set up running the panels have collected 70 Amp / hours 12V DC, and My loads have resulted in 25 Amp hours @ 12v

    Another FYI a 12v battery is considered fully charged at 13.8 and fully discharged at 10.8VDC Most of the time you dont want to discharge the battery below 50% unless it is a true deep cycle battery. If it lists CCA then it is a starting battery and they will get killed pretty darn quick.

    Nice project! Thanks for sharing.

    Such a Great post! Thank you for that!

    http://pvwatts.nrel.gov/

    If you have never seen it here is a really great tool put out by the National Renewable Energy Lab. It gives you a monthly breakdown of production based on location.

    1 reply

    Thanks Basicdave.

    I was not aware of that calculator Given my location and costs I will generate 290KWH/year if I did looked that up correctly.

    hi there, very nice post, but because I am a neophyte in solar stuff, I wonder if you could show me a computation or,much better, a complete specs if I consume 90-100 Kilowatt per month. I just need the solar installation for my submersible pump, refrigerator,a TV, and occasionally, an aircon. thanks!

    1 reply

    Jay Jay, The solar isn't that difficult however I am not that well versed with UK electrical practices. If you are looking to go completely off grid with no mains power the most expensive part will be the storage.

    Now if you go Grid inter tie you will not have the expense of the storage batteries.

    If you check out this calculator you will see that you will need about 12-15KW of solar panels. http://valentin.de/calculation/pvonline/pv_system/...

    I dont know a thing about UK electrical code or what panels would cost there but that would be about $20,000 USD for just the parts. I would really suggest you check with a local solar installer. If you can reduce your consumption then that would be less solar you would want to use.

    Thank you Tater, It was just one of those things that I have been wanting to do for a long time.

    Very nice. Length was not bad considering the information. Liked the amount of detail given in areas that most neglect. I have a very similar system with homemade panels ready to go online if the rain will ever cooperate. Nice instructable, keep up the good work!!!

    1 reply

    Thank you I would love to see pictures of your set up, I was pretty much shooting through holes in the rain my self. The cool thing is that even though it has been raining off and on for several days I have collected 55 amps of power and only used 16 of those collected. I am kinda of interested to see what it will do when I finally get a full day of sunshine.

    Hey, just a quick note on something I noticed, but I might be wrong. Whenever you use aluminum cable and especially when you connect it to copper, such as in a fuse box or a lug like yours, you need to coat the aluminum with a special anti oxidation grease. The one I have is called OX-gard. The stuff is cheap and you can get it at any hardware store. Anyway you should re do your connections and coat your cable ends. If you don't the aluminum will form an oxidation layer and will cause resistance to the power flowing. This will make the wires heat up and will waste your power. It can also cause a fire. It's the reason the use of aluminum wire for regular house wire was banned.

    1 reply

    Thank you Vyger, I appreciate ya looking out for me. I am not an electrician suppose I got so caught up with calculations on 10 gauge wire (less then 3 ft is ok for a 30 amp load before a 2% loss) that I neglected the jumper cables. I figured 4 gauge was more then enough. In retrospect I am going to cannibalize a pair of automotive booster cables and swap out the aluminum cable for copper.