Solar powered barn? (gable fan, lights, heat, etc)

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zannej

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I have a separate thread about the barn I want built, but I want to delve specifically in to the solar powered aspect. I would like to have a solar panel mounted on the south wall of the barn either above or below the gable fan (not sure which would be better. Roof will slope down at 3/12 pitch east and west.
I need the barn to have some sort of gable fan to move air to cool it when it gets too hot. I know there are some little discs that can be used or there can be thermostats. I'm debating which would be better. A thermostat that is easy to see and allows for some wiggle room in terms of temperature would be nice. I'd like for it to turn on around 85 but turn off around 80 (internal temperature). I would also like to be able to turn it off manually with some sort of switch- either one on a cable that has a toggle/rocker switch, or wired to a wall-mount rocker switch near the doorway.
In addition to the gable fan, I would like to be able to run some 4' LED shop lights. I need to figure out how many watts they draw. I'd also like to have some sort of small space heaters that are safe for barns (that I could set somewhere the cows can't hit them). I don't think one space heater alone would work. I was looking at this 140w chickenhouse one and this 165w chickenhouse one. I'm not sure if either would be great, but I'd like to have at least something to generate warmth if we get more winter storms in the future.
I'm debating whether or not I would want at least one outlet to plug in a lamp or something.

I don't know near enough about solar power and I want to rectify that.

I saw some Eco-Worthy products that come with solar panels, charge controllers, batteries, etc and a DC powered fan (but the fan had bad ratings for motor failure). There's also Quietcool which has some "hybrid" fans. I believe they have some sort of inverter but they only come with 40w max solar panel.

I don't want less than 50w. I'd like to get a 100w (even if it might be overkill) and some sort of lithium ion battery (Eco Worthy has ones up to 50AH, but I think 20 or 30 would be OK). The shop lights would only be used when I need to go in and there isn't enough light. I believe 1 of my shop lights would be sufficient to light the entire inside part of the barn.

I also want a solar powered sensor light on the gable part of the very front. It might not get any sun so it will need a wire to run to a small panel. I may also want a light for the porch area. A single shop light for the lean-to would probably be sufficient. So, possibly 3 or 4 of my shop lights being powered for short intervals. The front gable light would be separate from my setup.

Things I believe I need:
Solar Panel (100w?)
Inverter (no idea what kind)
Lithium Ion Battery 10 to 30AH (maybe from Eco-Worthy)
Energy efficient gable fan (Quietcool or something else?)
Insulated battery clips/cables
Thermostat (energy efficient but easy to see/read and set)
Charge Controller (not sure what type)
Cable (12 or 14 gauge?)
Flexible Non-metal conduit
Rocker switch
1 or 2 gang switch boxes

I know they sell very slim lightweight LEDs that are rated for damp areas that I might be able to use and not draw a lot of power. I could use magnetic tape or double-sided sticky tape for some (if my barn's metal is magnetic- or I could us rare earth magnets or something).

Any suggestions? I don't want to spend a ton of $ on this, but I know it won't be cheap.

I'm at a loss when it comes to how many amps, watts, etc the controller and inverter will need to be.
barnideasfromsitedoor1c.png
barnunderside.png
 

zannej

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More info: The solar lights are either 40w or 50w each (depending on which ones I use). Most likely the 50w version. They will only be on for short periods of time. The rest of the time I can have those cheap battery operated sensor LEDs that you stick to the wall with doublesided sticky tape.

I also am wondering if this gable fan with thermostat and humidity sensor could work if I got the right inverter or maybe even the 10" version. 12" uses 220w and 10" uses 180w.

I would likely only have 2 of the lights on at once and I could try to set it up so I can turn the fan off when the lights are on. Fan will not be on if I have a heater on, but I don't expect to need the heater often or for long periods of time.
 

zannej

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So, I figure if I have everything running at once it would be 500w usage. But I won't be using the heater while the fan is on and vice versa. So, it wouldn't be that much, but I want enough juice to support that much. Would I need a 500w solar panel or would a 100w be sufficient with a decent enough battery?

Still not sure what sort of inverter and charge controller to get. Is it ok to go with a higher powered inverter? I think my friend knows about this stuff but he hasn't been replying to me much. He's got guests hogging his computer.
 

SheepDog

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If you are planning on a battery big enough to supply the power then you need a solar supply that is big enough to keep the battery charged.
NOTE: you will need a battery and at least a 500 watt supply. It is always better to get an inverter and charge controller big enough to cover future expansion. Remember that your panels will never make 500 amps for more than a few minutes a day and as they age their output drops to 80% of new. All winter they will produce about 30% of rated output on the good days and considerably less on overcast, rainy or snow days. You are going to need additional power for more than half the year.
 

zannej

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Thanks, Sheepdog. I wish there were solar panel experts in the area I could consult with, but Louisiana isn't big on renewable energy. I may end up having to go with regular electric & see about upgrading to solar later. I'm still interested in finding specific equipment to make it work though. We get a LOT of sun here at least, but then there's also a lot of rain. It's raining right now.
 

PopPopT

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I'm far from an expert, but I'm kinda seeing that a 50w panel or a 100w panel wouldn't really be getting you much. A 12 volt attic exhaust fan could easily pull 100w all by itself. Granted, that would probably be running when the sun in shining. I'm not so sure a heater is a good match for a solar setup like you're thinking. The heat you'd get out of a 100w heater is pretty comparable to the heat you'd get out of a 100w light bulb, not much. Some LED lights would be good on a small system.

That's just my own gut reaction from what I read above. Hopefully, there will be others more qualified that will be along shortly. Good luck!!
 

zannej

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I think what I'll do is go with regular power from that pole outside (didn't realize I still had that breaker box out there) and look for some sort of supplemental/backup solar power for emergencies. If not solar, maybe even wind turbine, but I'm hoping technology will improve and prices will go down. Not much chance of the latter though.

I still want a solar powered sensor light for the front at least. Need to find something with a little panel I can put on the roof ridge easily & have the light attach to the front gable end. I saw some indoor/outdoor battery operated sensor lights as well that don't stay on long but could work long enough to flip a light switch.
 

zannej

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Thanks, PopPopT. I'm not comfortable with roof penetrations- worried it will cause leaks. I'm ok with cutting in to the side though.
 

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