Introduction: (9) NEW Update 8/20/15 Morphed Into Emergency Portable Solar Power (see Step 10)
I moved from Hawai'i to Idaho and so now I can breathe and spread out a bit.
THIS is the new Portable System I have on line. I no longer have to power the things outlined in this i'ble, the Portable Power System is now capable of providing supplemental power to any Recreational Vehicle for as long as needed. I have a system that provides 115V from a 100W panel that needs no battery to operate for under $200. Now RV'ers can enjoy a fully powered RV with no worries of battery levels. Topping the battery banks in winter is a piece of cake now with the 'Set It And Forget It System' available from 'Seven Ridges Solar'.
For Emergency Backup this system can power your refrigerator, provide lights and radio during a power outage. Winter is coming and we are already in Hurricane Season on the East Coast.
The Solar Generator Is A Valuable Tool Guys, and one that will make YOU look like a Genius when the time comes..
And The Madness Continues..........
A link to a related Instructabes...
Step 1: Kill-A-Watt
The Kill-A-Watt Meter is a very necessary item to find out how many watts are used each day in order to be able to size your solar panels to the batteries to the load you want to use. Too many panels is ok. That just allows you to upgrade the battery bank at a later time. Too many batteries and you won't get a full charge on them during the day.
The Kill-A-Watt meter is used to record cumulative use of watts in thousands of watts used [KWH] for what ever is plugged into it.
The photo shows that a reading of 0.37 is less than a thousand so 370 Watts has been used.
If the purple KWH button is pushed the meter will read how many hours it took to use the 370 Watts from the time power was applied to the meter. In this case 8 hours.
The 'Hz' button reads the frequency of the electricity coming into the meter. I was surprised to find it was not always 60Hz.
I have not used the 'Watt' or 'Amp' buttons as yet because I have not found a need except to satisfy curiosity.
The 'Volt' button reads the Line Voltage coming into the house. Line Voltage in Hawai'i is never steady. I have found [it] to be as low as 114 volts all the way up to 125 volts. During the day Line Voltage drops I think because there is more of a load on HECO's system. To rev up the generators uses more fuel so HECO tries to maintain at minimum voltage during the day. At night the Line Voltage goes up because there are fewer major users.
Step 2: Photo Voltaic Panels
Peak Power 20 Watts
Open Circuit Voltage 22 Volts
Short Circuit Current 1.28 Amps
Peak Voltage 17 Volts
Peak Current 1.18 Amps
Maximum System Voltage 600 Volts
20 1/2" x 13 3/4"
The cables that came with the panels were too stiff. I removed them until I can get some heaver AWG wire to connect them with plugs and route the wires so they stay protected.
Step 3: Charge Controller
The DC to DC Converter provides me with fractional voltages 1.5, 3, 4.5@ 300mA, 6, 7.5, 9 and 12 volts @ 1.2A.
The meter is a Radio Shack cheepie and is switched (On/Off) with the Red switch to the bottom left corner of the meter.
The DC Outlet is the tap for small loads and is fused above it.
The main switch at top turns On/Off all DC to DC Conversion, Tap and Meter.
I purchased a SunForce 12 volt 30 amp digital solar charge controller.
They can be had online for about $89.
I paid $115.
I live Hawai'i.
Step 4: Wiring
All Wire #12 Stranded Cu for panels to charge controller.
Ground Wire #6 Solid Cu
Square 'D' Disconnect Box
Square 'D' Circuit Breaker Box
8 Amp Circuit Breaker For Solar Panels
30 Amp Circuit Breaker For Charge Controller
Step 5: 1 Battery Bank
The battery is a J185P-AC 185Ah 12 Volt Trojan and will give us 2 days autonomy for our application.
Recharges in 5 hours with direct sun on our inside window mounted panels.
Purchased at 'Battery Bill's' in Honolulu for $298 with tax.
I Live Hawai'i.
Battery box is not finished but does have castor wheels for easy moving.
Step 6: Inverter
Xantrex PROwatt SW 2000 Inverter For Possible Up Grade In The Future.
Step 7: The Load
A Peritoneal Dialysis Machine rated at 125 Volts @ 5 Amps = 625 Watts when everything is turned on at the same time.
A very misleading rating. My guess is they put this machine in a walk in refrigerator with the water bags on top of it connected to simulate PD Treatment. The machine struggles to keep the bags warm so the heater is on all the time and so the High Wattage Rating.
For us during any given night this machine only uses around 420 Watts +/- for 8 hours use.
This is where the Kill-A-Watt comes in very handy. When the system is up and running, the batteries charge in about 5 hours (or less) full sun.
The thing to remember is the Watts you take out at night you have to put back in during the day.
Step 8: Plus's & Minus's
In the winter I cut my HECO bill by 2.94 KiloWatts. Two kW was my Goal so I have met that.
In summer I cut my HECO bill by 12.6 KiloWatts. I can afford to eat now.
I live in a very small micro apartment with no lanai and no yard so all I have is windows to the world.
Even so, these windows to the world are lit by the sun for most of 7 hours in summer and 5 hours in winter. In summer I can use the system every day. In winter I can use the system every 3rd day.
I don't have the PV Panels directly pointed at the sun like they should be and yes they are in the windows.
Combine these two things and what I have is a system that operates at way less than 100% in winter. If ever I move to a better apartment with a Lanai or a Yard, my system will run amock making DC Power.
Nothing Is Cheap, I Live Hawai'i.
Step 9: After Thoughts...
Nuff said for now~
After using this solar power just 3 times in February I have seen my electric usage go from 145,000Watts in a month to just 114,000Watts. March usage was 125,000Watts and the bill was $51 and change. Big difference. I just think of when we are able to have a place to put the panels in the full sun outside, a lanai (aka porch) or a yard would be nice.
A solar install for home power is nothing without things that can be Plugged In.
As a result of not finding individual items that can be Plugged Into solar PV systems I have started a series of Instructables that produce 'Pluggables' to use with solar power as they would be used with "Normal" electric systems. Most without an inverter because I believe in lowering Home Voltages to 12 volts or less.
UPDATE: 7/3/15 Juliaetta, Idaho
I have converted all that you see in the above I'ble into a Portable Solar Power Cart that is easy to move from anywhere to anywhere. Google Search 'Seven Ridges Solar' for more info.
Step 10: Update 8-20-2015
Gone is the power panel !
The panel was incorporated into the side gate to make it more presentable and to tighten up the cart.
Prior to me doing this the cart would rattle every place I rolled it.
The equipment is installed in a thin sheet of plywood that was pop riveted into the frame of the removable gate.
The addition of the plywood made the gate tighter when locked closed so it no longer rattles when rolled.
I had to use string (the wrong kind) to Lace (bundle) the wires together because I had no zip ties. Very old school but NASA still uses it. I am not NASA certified to do this for them...I don't know the knots involved.
I had to air up the tires to 30 psi because they had very little pressure, in fact the pressure did not even show on a pressure gauge.
I can't tell you how satisfied I am with this Garden Cart and how easy it pulls with full tires.
I am sure there are more improvements to be done in the near future so stay tuned !