Solar Power And My Helpers

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viking

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Many people live in off-grid homes that are not hooked up to the power lines. It is certainly something that can be done and you can live a normal life but it is expensive.
The more you think you need to run in your home, the more expensive the system is going to be, think minimally, realize what you can do without, that's what we have done, we only have 1,560 watts for our solar array and 1,025 amp-hours in our battery bank running a 4,000 watt inverter, this will not run an electric water heater, furnace or dryer, short term it will run two refrigerators, a small chest freezer and a larger chest freezer and since we changed all lights to LED's it will run most of them and even a 42" LCD TV. One thing that I didn't expect from our solar array was it's ability to charge the batteries as well as it can on cloudy, rainy days, that's turning out to be a real blessing and that's probably because I used high voltage output solar panels and an MPPT solar controller. At this point we consider our solar system strictly a backup system and it does that job very good.
 

SheepDog

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If you examine solar power the first think you realize is that when the sun sets your power goes out. Look a bit closer and you find that you get 80% power for four hours a day, 50% power for four hours and 10% power the rest of the time. You do slightly better with a tracking system but it is never 100% of the capacity of your panels for more than an hour or so. If you want to use power after sunset then you need batteries AND a larger solar array to charge the batteries while you are using power during the day.
That sounds good until you get a week of overcast or a month of snow or foggy days. The easy way around a large bank of batteries and a huge solar farm is to add wind power to run a hybrid system. When there is fog there is no wind and cloudy days are not always windy. So you need a backup generator that can run the necessities and charge the batteries.
You can build a hybrid system with Water, solar and wind that might be able to provide a "turnkey" home but it is more likely that you will have to adjust the way you live to be off the grid.
I haven't mentioned geo-thermal but there are places where a simple geo-thermal system can keep a desert home cool all summer long with no external power use at all. You can have 55F air to cool your house in the summer and use a modified version to heat it in the winter as long as you have sunshine. That is the key, you need sunshine to provide heat, air movement, and even the stream you use for hydro.
Now you know why the sun was called a god in the earliest of times.
 

viking

I know a lot of things, but master very few
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When we bought our solar panels for our solar array, I asked the people at Grape Solar if I needed to have a system to adjust the panels for summer to winter angles and they told me to just set the angle to what parallel we live at, that turned out to be close to 45 degrees and that's worked out exceptionally well, in fact, I was very surprised to see that throughout the year the average voltage of output from our array is 72 to 80 volts, even on cloudy, rainy days and I've seen chargeable voltages even up to when sun was going down over the trees on a low ridge to the west. I am extremely grateful for the information that was given to me from AM Solar of Eugene, Oregon, where we got our panels and controller. I learned that it was important to use high cell count panels that gave out more voltage than I needed for the 12 volt systemin our motorhome, the panel we got put out nearly 22 volts in full sun, which meant when solar conditions were not ideal, I could still get voltages that were high enough to recharge the house batteries. I also learned that the best solar controller to use is an MPPT type, Multi, Point, Power Tracking, they are designed to take those higher voltages and charge battery banks even when solar conditions are not so favorable. The solar system we had on our motorhome became the test bed for the standby solar system we have for our home, thing is that even if the solar array is putting out voltages just above 25 volts, the battery bank will get some charging and yes there is a prime time during the middle of the day, but I have seen voltages that are good up to sun down. The thing is, I hadn't designed my system to be as efficient as it is, I just followed what I had been told and what I had done extensive research on. By the way, just a rough guess, our backup system cost about $18,000 to $20,000, I could have spent about the same for a really good generator system but were more than happy the way our solar standby system works, I think the inverter kicks in in about 14 microseconds, just a slight blink of lights and nothing shuts down, just a smooth change over from grid to solar.
 

SheepDog

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A grid tied system is best for most users. If you have to be off grid (like 25 miles to the nearest line) then you have to make sure that you make the most of the system you buy and consider all legs of the hybrid systems that you have available.
I am still working on a device that can power a home without any outside power at all. (I'm not even close yet but it will be on the net as open source when I do)
 

Supervisor42

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I installed a solar battery maintainer on my truck today! :woo hoo:
IMG_20200725_185410.jpg
I only drive it about 30 minutes per week (with 2 startups) so I had to charge the battery about once a month due to quiescent drain.
An awesome 10 watts in full sun should take care of that:p.
So, nobody can say that I am 'anti-solar'.:clapping:
 

Terri9630

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I installed a solar battery maintainer on my truck today! :woo hoo:
View attachment 47066
I only drive it about 30 minutes per week (with 2 startups) so I had to charge the battery about once a month due to quiescent drain.
An awesome 10 watts in full sun should take care of that:p.
So, nobody can say that I am 'anti-solar'.:clapping:
I need one for my jeep and truck. The jeep (no a/c) sits most of the summer unless I need the 4wd and my truck sits most of the winter (no 4wd).
 

Supervisor42

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I need one for my jeep and truck. The jeep (no a/c) sits most of the summer unless I need the 4wd and my truck sits most of the winter (no 4wd).
It will only work on vehicles left parked out in the sun ;).
(Believe it or not, some people complained that it did not work in a garage)idiot.gif
Well, no poop.png !
I'll have a full report on this one in a couple months. Preliminary tests look good.
 

SheepDog

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Let's see; 10 watts / 13 volts = 0.76 amps. The typical car battery produces 60 amp hours. Roughly 10 amps of constant draw over a 6 hour period. It takes 200 amps to start your car but it does so for only a few seconds so it uses 0.167 amp hours to start your car. That means your solar charger has to work 4.5 hours to replace the power used to start your car. That's not really true unless your alternator can't make enough power to run your car and charge your battery to some extent. It is a worthwhile tool but if your battery is not leaking, and there are no shorts in your electrical system it should be just a "feel good" tool. Keep your battery top and sides cleaned, terminals clean and tight and monitor for shorts and you won't need the solar charger. On the other hand if you only use your car once a month and the battery case is dirty then you should (clean it up) use a battery minder or a battery maintainer type of charger.
 

viking

I know a lot of things, but master very few
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I installed a solar battery maintainer on my truck today! :woo hoo:
View attachment 47066
I only drive it about 30 minutes per week (with 2 startups) so I had to charge the battery about once a month due to quiescent drain.
An awesome 10 watts in full sun should take care of that:p.
So, nobody can say that I am 'anti-solar'.:clapping:
I like to call that parasitic drain, it's the current used to keep the computers memory intact, the radio at the same station you were last on and remember where all your saved frequencies are and sometimes alternators will have some reverse current loss because of their diodes, our motorhome has a problem with that going on and I ended up installing a fuse in the charge circuit that I remove when the motorhome is not being used, that seems to help. Modern vehicles have a lot of things that can cause parasitic current drain, it seems like the vehicles generally come with larger batteries to help deal with that. I installed a 15 watt solar panel on the roof of the motorhome shed to help keep the engine and home batteries topped off, however I have found that 15 watts is not enough and it really should be at least 60 watts and it should be run through an MPPT solar controller and not the cheap Pulse Modified unit that I got.
 

Supervisor42

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I like to call that parasitic drain, it's the current used to keep the computers memory intact, the radio at the same station you were last on and remember where all your saved frequencies are and sometimes alternators will have some reverse current loss because of their diodes, our motorhome has a problem with that going on and I ended up installing a fuse in the charge circuit that I remove when the motorhome is not being used, that seems to help. .
Parasitic drain is also a correct term.
Unlike a motorhome with other batteries, I only have to keep the one up that cranks the truck.
The culprits for me are: the ECM is always listening for a stupid key fobbrickwall100.gif, and a trailer electric-brake controller, which must be powered directly connected to unswitched battery positive.
Over weeks, just sitting, these take a toll. Not a big one, but enough to break out the battery-charger once a month.
The good news: while I'm baking my a** in the 95°+ heat down here, I'll have something to smile about:p.
Go ahead! Charge my battery for free!!! :woo hoo:
 

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