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Discussion Starter #1
I live out in the sticks and have a deep well, and I priced a hand pump and wow they cost a small fortune. Then I decided I want to get a couple small solar panels just big enough to power my well pump and my fridge/freezer.
The thing is I do not want to get completely of the grid because I do not want everyone to know I have power when the lights go out so to speak.
I may even run up to three small panels that way I have extra power to run small entertianment eletronics for my daughter that way when TSHTF it will not be as much of a shock to her little system.
I have treid web searches and there are plenty of guys willing to sell you solar supplies. but I would rather deal with someone some has actually used and would reccomend. I would really appreciate any advice.
Thanks again,
Hillbilly
 

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there was a thread on here about a month ago where a guy documented a solar well pump setup to water his livestock. he had great pics and descriptions from start to finish.

search around or maybe some one else remembers where and who it was.
 

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audentes fortuna iuvat
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A few panels will not power your pump or freezer. Most living off the grid use propane to power super efficient freezers (think servel) and is your well 220? Both those applications are the biggest energy hogs there are. Three small panels will barely power your daughters electronics, thats about it. Go to the homepower website. I've subscribed to them since they started. They produce a great magazine that will give you all the info you are looking for. They usually have a sample issue you can download plus some articles available to download.

WWW.HOMEPOWER.COM
 

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audentes fortuna iuvat
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there was a thread on here about a month ago where a guy documented a solar well pump setup to water his livestock. he had great pics and descriptions from start to finish.

search around or maybe some one else remembers where and who it was.
Yea but his installation was not cheap! This guy would come out cheaper hand pumping than trying to do it solar. I'm going to install the simple pump and tie it into my existing plumbing. Then I can go out and pump and pressurize my tank. (I have a well) Then my toilets flush and my faucets all work, no hauling water and no electricity needed, just my labor. Check this link.

http://www.simplepump.com/residential.html

It's $750 but hey without water you cannot live. Ask the guy that did the solar what he has in his installation. MUCH MUCH MORE! If I had the bucks I'd go the way he did but I'm not as well off as he is. I have more labor than money. :thumb:
 

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Hi,

I'm sorry that I can't provide advice specific to your predicament. However, I noticed that you said you were planning on running your freezer on solar power.

I have a friend who lived on an off-grid farm for a while. He used a chest freezer, I think he got it for free on craigslist. Chest freezers are much more efficient than conventional freezers, as they are better insulated, and are less effected by opening and closing than stand-ups. He also had a little thermostat device that made his chest freezer into a refrigerator, so he could regulate his power usage better. He got it from a homebrew supply shop, it's convetionally used to turn a freezer into a keg-o-rator. He turned the thing down in the fall, and off in the winter. Depending on what sort of clime you live in, you may need to explore other options. As Thedishdoc said, freezers are major power hogs.

Best of luck
 

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Forever Vigilant
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Dankoff makes a 12V/24V pump for wells call the "Slo pump." You should know that your idea of a small system is flawed. Whenever the sun is down or low in the sky, you systems will not work. In most circumstances, your systems will only run a few hours when the sun is high.

A proper solar system, even a small one, must have a battery system for "holdover." Holdover is where the energy collected by the solar array is stored. I will give you some rough figures to use for determining the size of your system:

You need to first determine how many WATTS your appliance uses in a given day. If you have an upright frig/freezer where the doors open outwards, you are already screwed. As soon as you open the door, all of the cold falls out. Get TOP OPENING systems that will better retain the cold and add extra insulation to the outside. Better yet, build your own and use a 12V/24V marine system for the best efficiency.

Back to watts - Look on you appliance's mfg's sticker and determine the running current. This is usually displayed as 120V / 2.3 A / 60 Hz or similar. From this, you can determine the watts required: Volt times amps equals watts. So, for the example above, the running watts would be 276 watts when the appliance runs. Now for the hard part. You need to know how much it runs in a given day. You can either purchase a little gadget that plugs into the wall to do it for you, or you can monitor your appliance for several hours during the day. Say it comes on for 5 minutes and is off for 25 minutes, and so on. This means that your system runs for 10 minutes every hour on average. So, 276 watts divided by 60 minutes times ten minutes equals 46 watts per hour, times 24 hours equals 1104 watts per day. Now, you have to do this with EVERY appliance you plan on using - lights, computers, fans, tvs, radios, chargers, pumps, etc.

Once you add up ALL of the watt hours you will consume on an average day, you can now determine the size of solar system you need and battery system. If you plan on using 120/240VAC appliances, you will also need an inverter which will convert the DC power into AC power.

You can reliable use the rule of 4. Convert your total watt hours into amp hours by dividing your daily watts hours (2000Wh for this example) you require by the DC supply (12VDC for this example) - 2000 divided by 12 = 166 amp hours per day.

For the rule of 4 you would need a battery bank that was 4 times your total amp hour usage or 664 amp hours. This is because you will not always have full sunlight and you will still need to run your appliances on days without full sun and at night. You also do not want to deplete your batteries beyond a 50% discharge before they get recharged in order to get longer life from your battery bank.

You need minimum of 30% more solar output than your usage, 50% is better. You will suffer a 20% loss in charging efficiency alone, and you will need to make up for days with little sun as well. So, for your 2000 watt hour per day usage, you will need a 3000 watt array, and that is no small array.

Some examples from personal experience: A very efficient, top loading, 1.4 cu ft, 12VDC marine refrigerator will consume about 540 watt hours per day. A typical 12VDC slo pump will consume about 403 watt hours per day if it pumps all day from a relatively shallow well. Just those two small items would require a battery bank comprised of 4 golf cart batteries, and a solar array of with a minimum of five 75W panels, and 7 would be better. This is not small stuff, nor is it cheap. You also have to spend the money to get large cable for carrying the electrical load.

I have 750 watts of solar with a very efficient, small house and appliances, and it will only cover about 50-70% of my daily load when the sun is bright and there are no clouds all day. Without the solar, running off of the grid, my electric bill is generally about $65-80 - much less than average.

Small systems and poor planning will only serve to frustrate you and waste your money.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
SMM123 you sound just like the guy I need to talk to. So how much money do you think I am looking at with panels, batteries, and wire to power 1000-1200 watts a day? Also do know if I could combine a windmill to help with the not so sunny days. Thanks for all the great info.
 

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Forever Vigilant
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SMM123 you sound just like the guy I need to talk to. So how much money do you think I am looking at with panels, batteries, and wire to power 1000-1200 watts a day? Also do know if I could combine a windmill to help with the not so sunny days. Thanks for all the great info.
For a quality built system with you doing most of the installation labor, a system will cost about $1000 per 100W. This includes everything you need for a basic system. Double that for higher quality items, and triple it for premium quality equipment. These figures do not take into account any great deals on stuff that you may find.

Yes, you may use a wind generator in conjunction, as well as a back-up generator and/or hydro electric systems. Personally, I have found that I fall somewhere between a basic and quality system for my needs.

You also need to look at a sun chart for you particular latitude to properly determine the size of your system.
 
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