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Old 09-30-2019, 06:45 PM
JamesJackson JamesJackson is offline
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Not sure where to post this, so decided to put it here.

I won't be posting any links or links to articles, so I don't have to worry about the big copyright infringement policy...

So, what am I posting about, you ask?

I call it 'small-scale solar' (or S-cube power). I define small-scale power as 1 or 2 solar panels on the roof, providing about 20 to 200 watts of solar power.

Yes, I know you can cover your roof with a massive amount of panels. I am not going to discuss those designs. I consider those to be medium-scale power.

S-cube power consists of a solar panel, a charge controller and a battery. In the day, the solar panel will put about 20-volts of power into the charge controller which then charges the battery.

I can see many people rolling their eyes - as most everyone on this forum already knows most of this information - and then some. Hang on - it gets better (I hope).

About 15 years ago, my first panel was 20-Watts and my first battery connected to the charge controller was a 17-Ah SLA (Sealed-Lead Acid) battery.

To this I added a custom-designed printed circuit board (PCB) that consisted of a Low-Voltage Disconnect and an InfraRed (IR) switch. The purpose of this board was to add a user-selectable low-voltage cut-off for the load, which would disconnect the load from the battery. This would prevent the battery from going into deep-discharge which could permanently damage the SLA battery.

The second portion - the IR switch - allowed me to use a commonly available IR remote controller and turn ON/OFF the load. I could have used a small normally open (N.O.) switch, but that would have required running wires down the wall to a box, but I am a tad lazy and prefer to aim a controller at my board and press a button on the remote.

What did I put on the LVD/IR controller as a load? I put a set of 12-volt LED lights. When I first started, there weren't many 12-volt LED lights available, but I found some, and created a strip light in my living room. The amount of light was adequate, and did not overload the 17Ah battery.

Through the years, this system has been updated, and now it consists of a 68-watt solar panel and about a 195-Ah SLA battery. My LVD/IR control has been updated to use a micro-controller, and fits into a non-metallic single-gang electrical box.

The LED lighting is a strip light that uses about 900mA and is about 900 Lumens of light. It also has a dim 'nightlight' feature that is on 24/7 and is enough light to allow one to walk around at night and see, but not so bright that it illuminates more than what is needed. I call it 'moonlight', as it reminds me of a full moon.

The system is not designed to power more than LED lighting, but it can (and has) powered small 12-volt DC fans when the local grid-power has gone out. My home is the only one in the neighborhood with lights on, and is reminiscent of an episode of Twilight Zone.

This idea is not limited to just a 12-volt solar panel. One could put up a 24-volt panel, or 36-volt panel, and attach appropriate higher-voltage components.

The reason for my posting this is to offer assistance to others who may also be interested in putting up a small-scale solar system. I can help out with what sort of panel to get, what charge-controller to get, etc.

If there is interest, I will post how I added a squirrel cage blower to my storage building that is solar-powered - and uses super capacitors instead of a battery.
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Old 09-30-2019, 09:30 PM
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cujet cujet is offline
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Small scale solar can power efficient lights and for a short time, higher loads.

However, it's my opinion that the ability to run a fridge is most important. For that, more batteries and panels are needed.
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Old 10-01-2019, 11:02 AM
lasers lasers is offline
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I just bought 960 watts of solar panels, I haven't decided on a charge controller/s yet. My plan is to put them on my fish shack and be able to use them on the house as well if there is a power outage of more than a couple days.

I did some rough back of the envelope type calculations and I figure in feburary it would be enough to run a fridge or freezer, or a 1 hp motor for over an hour, or a huge amount of LED's, or 10 hours of tv,days worth of radio and phone charging, 4 hours of my desktop computer. One winter month would produce about as much power as 1 1/2 gallons of gasoline.

In the summer those numbers would double.

I figure the main emergency uses for electric would be:

refrigeration(less needed in winter by putting the freezer outside)

lighting(with modern LEDS the power draw of lighting a room or two is extremely small.)

Communications(mostly for listining to radio, or charging phone batteries)

Running the furnace blower(if outage occurs in winter, and natural gas keeps flowing. It requires a lot of power and isn't an option on the system I am scrounging together)

Moving water( water is very heavy and being able to move it up from the ground by electric pump is much easier than doing it by hand, although it also requires a lot of power and I am not set up for it)
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Old 10-03-2019, 07:35 PM
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Central Scrutinizer Central Scrutinizer is offline
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I could save some money simply by running my pool pump on solar.

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Old 10-04-2019, 03:58 PM
JamesJackson JamesJackson is offline
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Fellas, as far as running a fridge - if you have 960 watts of solar panels, you should be able to run a small fridge... keep in mind, you might need a battery of around 200Ah (or more). All you need is to power the fridge intermittently during non-sun hours. If in the daytime, the power will come from the solar panels.
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Old 10-04-2019, 04:03 PM
lasers lasers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesJackson View Post
Fellas, as far as running a fridge - if you have 960 watts of solar panels, you should be able to run a small fridge... keep in mind, you might need a battery of around 200Ah (or more). All you need is to power the fridge intermittently during non-sun hours. If in the daytime, the power will come from the solar panels.
My thought is to run a deep freeze only when the sun shines. Let it run all day to cool down, then at night allow it start to thaw then hope for sun the next day to run all day again. And so on until the power is back on or the freezer is empty, at which point it can be converted to a fridge or use intermittently after a large harvest to buy extra time to process the food.
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Old 10-05-2019, 12:07 AM
notyoung notyoung is offline
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I have both small scale solar - LED lighting in a shed out back, 30 watt solar panel, 15AH AGM battery, 5 meters of LED striplight - that's been running for about 9 months and somewhat larger solar - my "Wait until daylight" 420AH battery bank kept charged by one or two 250 watt panels and an MPPT controller with a 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter to run lights, fridge, freezer, furnace - that's been evolving over the past two years (currently able to provide limited power for 8 to 24 hours depending on the season). There's a spreadsheet that allows you to enter the things you want to power, how much power each needs, how many hours it's used each day and the specifics of your power source: battery AH, inverter power and efficiency. The lower half of the spreadsheet has sample solar arrays from 400 watts up (you can enter whatever you're using) and it shows you whether that array can support the use you want and the number of hours of useful sun it needs to do that and how many hours of generator use would be needed to recharge the batteries if you don't have sun. The spreadsheet is designed around a 12 volt battery bank because many small systems use 12 volts with the number of 12 volt devices that are available.

http://www.jecarter.us/files/My-Solar-Generator.xls

If you're working with a 24 or 48 volt system, use this spreadsheet instead:
http://www.jecarter.us/files/My-Sola...oltage-Set.xls

The shed lighting installation is here:
http://www.jecarter.us/files/shed-lights/

Be aware that the hourly values I have for the fridge and freezer are averages over a week. The fridge draws from 4 watts (single internal circulating fan running) to 560 watts (defrosters on in both fridge and freezer sections). The upright freezer draws about 290 watts in defrost mode. There is a page in the spreadsheet "NOCT with max" which gives the maximum and peak power draws of some things I've tested. Note that I do NOT run the "1100 watt" microwave oven on the 2000 watt inverter because the input power to the microwave is 1750 watts and nothing else could be on the inverter at the same time.

See my author page for the PAW fiction I write:
https://www.amazon.com/J-E-Carter/e/B01LVX00LP
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Old 10-05-2019, 12:18 AM
notyoung notyoung is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lasers View Post
My thought is to run a deep freeze only when the sun shines. Let it run all day to cool down, then at night allow it start to thaw then hope for sun the next day to run all day again. And so on until the power is back on or the freezer is empty, at which point it can be converted to a fridge or use intermittently after a large harvest to buy extra time to process the food.
Most freezers have a blurb in the owner's manual that tells how long it can keep food safe without power. Our upright freezer claims something like "below 25F after 24 hours". Chest freezers are usually better than that. If you can run the freezer 6 hours a day, it *might* be OK. Simple way to test that: put a timer on the fridge and slowly back the number of daily ON hours down until the temperature before power is restored is at the maximum you think is safe. Remember to allow for the difference in inside temperatures summer and winter. Most freezers are in warmer spaces in the summer but a freezer in the same room as a wood stove might be in warmer space in winter - at least part of the day.
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