Instructables
Picture of Solar power terminal
I have seen a few tutorials on here regarding solar power and what to do with it, so I thought I'd add my own.

My brother-in-law is expert at all things electronic, i stung him for a few bits for this project that he had just laying around. Remnants of his old projects i imagine.

So, here is what i started with:
- 6* 12v Solar panels
- Wiring for panels with croc clips.
- 150w Inverter

SPECIFICATIONS
Voltage    Maximum Voltage    Current    Maximum Current    Dimensions             Weight
12 volts   17.5 volts                   450mA     500mA                       11.3"x14.13"x.71"     .625kgs (1.4lbs)

I had no frame to mount them and had no idea what i was doing.

But first, mounting and wiring together!
 
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Step 1: The rear of the solar panel mounted on the pallet

Picture of The rear of the solar panel mounted on the pallet
Here is the rear of the pallet.

I thank Freegle/Freecycle for the pallet.

I connected the wires together maintaining it at 12 volts but adding the amperage together. I have used some old lawnmower cable to feed to the control box.

Total amperage= 6*450mA or 2-3 amps max

Step 2: The control box

Picture of The control box
This old wooden box with metal clasp was dumped behind my house. Handy i thought, to house the controller and batteries.

The 10a Solar controller was one of the cheapest on eBay

The batteries are 2*6v batteries wired together to give 12v.
These were on special at Maplin and far cheaper than 1 of the equivalent 12v batteries.

On the side is an outdoor switch which cuts power from the panels to the controller, should i need to alter or repair anything. This was £5 from Wickes hardware store.

Step 3: Indoors

Picture of Indoors
Through the window, is an ordinary household lamp wire with switch, providing an indoor cutoff to power.

I discovered too, that the output from the controller would blow my electronics without fuses.

The inverter is fused for 15a, This is the maximum i would want to draw into the house.

I had a spare 13a plug fuse spare and rigged up a holder on the unit to limit the initial amperage of any connected sockets.
Trike Lover2 years ago
Just curious about the amp-hour ratings on your batteries, and what type they are (I'm assuming SLA deep cycle?). I have ten 13.8 volt 1 amp solar panels, purchased at different times from a local hardware chain when they go on sale for $8-$9 or so. Each panel is designed to be connected to a car battery, to keep it "topped up". Each one seems to have a built-in charging regulator. However, I've used as many as six panels connected in parallel to a 20 amp-hour 13.8 VDC battery, the SLA type, and taken power from that. I've connected both direct 12 volt loads, such as car cellphone chargers, and a mobile thermoelectric picnic cooler, but also a 12 volt inverter which puts out 120 VAC. (I have several of these kicking around, ratings from 250 watt to 600 watt.
I found the six 1-Amp panels and the single battery an almost ideal combination while traveling by car on vacation - all the "secondary" accessories ran off of the SLA battery, and the six panels, arranged to fill the rear window of the car, did a pretty good job of keeping the secondary battery charged. That way,the very small main battery in the car was not "drawn down" if I was parked for some length of time (The only thing I had to remember was to park with the car pointing North, so that the solar panels in the back window got full sunlight. I made up a very temporary frame from some scrap aluminum angle stock, pop rivets, and used duct tape or double faced foam tape to attach the panels - the frame was just sort of hooked under the top edge of the inside of the window, and rested on the small deck area behind the back seats. The only down side was that the battery was a discard, and would self-discharge if left more than about 24 hours, even with no load. I used it mainly as a "float" for the solar panels, and a sink for intermittent current loads greater than the panels could provide. It died completely not too long afterwards, so I am once again looking for a battery or batteries.

The solar panel array I built won't work in the winter where I live - we get only about 6 hours of daylight, and the sun never gets more than about 25 degrees off the horizon. That's one problem with using solar in the winter at high latitudes. .

Anyhow, thanks for your article. It's motivated me to make a permanent fixture with all of the available solar panels, a variety of low-voltage outputs, and a 120 VAC inverter. A couple of cheap meters to read battery voltage and current draw are the only additions I'm going to make, so that I can keep an eye on the charge state and current draw from the battery.
Many thanks.
Put your panels on a tracking system......

Here where I am, the sun is 29* above the horizon mid winter....

Works wonders in low solar conditions.
I will look into that, Thankyou
SelfSufficientDan (author)  Trike Lover2 years ago
The batteries http://www.maplin.co.uk/productsearch?criteria=6V%204.5Ah%20SLA
ghwhitcher2 years ago
this is looking good.

Would you mind giving us a project cost?
SelfSufficientDan (author)  ghwhitcher2 years ago
Most of it was hand downs or scavenged. I only really purchased:
- The solar charger - eBay.co.uk £6.59
- The 2*6v batteries - Maplin.co.uk £10.99 reduced to £5.99
- The 12v cig socket - Maplin.co.uk £2.99
i was talking to a guy at my boat club about 230 and 12v cable, he told me that a switch for 230v has a smaller gap than 12v and vice versa as the 12v could jump the open gap on a 230v switch. im not sure if the switch you have used would be ok for stopping the power everytime from the panels but something to look into.
Definitely! The LED on the controller goes out once the connection is broken, but i will look into replacing the switch if i need to. Thanks for that.
i was talking to a guy at my boat club about 230 and 12v cable, he told me that a switch for 230v has a smaller gap than 12v and vice versa as the 12v could jump the open gap on a 230v switch. im not sure if the switch you have used would be ok for stopping the power everytime from the panels but something to look into.
SelfSufficientDan (author) 2 years ago
Next 'ible here:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Solar-Terminal-Upgrade-stage-1/
Not sure of the finer details, I have noted that some charge controllers are for wet lead acid only and others are for sealed lead acid batteries....

Not having a go at you, but there are an awful lot of house fires and nearly went up in flames events, to be very concerned about batteries and solar systems.

Not sure of your own countries legislation, but make yourself go and get (photocopy bits at a time) of the electrical standards for solar systems for your country.

Covering all the issues as mounts, wiring, connectors, battery storage, safety features and functions, and conforming with the requirements.

On one hand I can sympathise with wanting to be spared all the bureuocratic bullshit, but most of it really is derived from the experiences of all the people that got it wrong and did have their houses burn down, people getting electrocuted, blown up by their batteries, or had lots of expensive equipment destroyed...

It's one thing to give an account of yourself to the authorities when things go wrong, such as a fire and it's worse when some one dies and it's the house that your renting that gets burned to the ground etc...

The Australian Standards, while I hate the company for gouging everyone for everything, every step of the way, I think they are nazi thieves, the books of the standards ARE actually VERY GOOD.

"Ooooooooh this is how to do the wiring, Ooohhhhh this is how to FUSE the system... Ohhhhh this is the DIFFERENCE between "normal electrical wire insulation" and the wiring that is rated for EXTERIOR use, AND for use in SOLAR SYSTEMS......"

"Ohhhhh it has MUCH thicker UV rated insulation for 20+ years in external environments, and it's rated to 120*C, where as normal better insulation is thin, is ruined after exposure to 3 - 7 years of hot sun, and is only rated to 80*C......."

And so it goes........



Thanks for your comment, just a hobby project for now. But as it becomes a fixture, upgrades will be made. So far, just a proof of concept. It does prompt me to address the safety issue first though!
sstevenson32 years ago
DANIEL ANTHONY YOUNG! If you set our house on fire I will have your hide! Until then, I'm very proud of you! Love you! x
SelfSufficientDan (author)  sstevenson32 years ago
I promise! x