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Solar Project for the Barn; Input Needed!
This is a discussion on Solar Project for the Barn; Input Needed! within the Alternative Energy (Wind, Solar, Hydro etc) forums, part of the Off-Grid Lifestyle category; I'm hoping my man
will weigh in on this (as well as others)!
I have been building my barn for the past couple ...
Solar Project for the Barn; Input Needed!
I'm hoping my man
will weigh in on this (as well as others)!
I have been building my barn for the past couple of years and now I am ready to get some lights and power out to the barn.
The Barn is located about 50 yards or so from the house and I really don't want to run any power lines from the house to the barn either underground or overhead. Right now I have a couple of inexpensive solar battery powered motion detector lights that allow enough light to not bust my shins on anything but other than that the barn is off limits in the dark.
We've been thinking about mounting some solar panels on the barn, adding some batteries and running some wire to add lights and some charging stations for my battery powered tools or to give me some power to run some tools.
I do not know shit from shinola on where to start so I'd love suggestions on what to do.
Panels? How many, # of Watts, and what mfg'er?
Batteries? How many to run the lights and some charging stations
Inverter? Brand? Size? etc
It would be great if someone made a Pre-Made Kit that had everything I need and I just mount everything, plug and play?
Home depot have kits in various sizes (wattages). I started with a 400 watt kit that included panels, wires, charge controller, and inverter. i paid $1400 years ago. It is much much less now.
The charge controller and inverter in this kit allow for a few extra panels to be installed later if desired. The kits do not include batteries.
Are you thinking about mounting stationary panels on the barn's roof? If so, is it the roof south facing? What is its angle in relation to the optimal angle of incidence for your latitude? you didn't mention it, but those considerations are the starting points.
If none of the barn's roof sides are south facing, you may want to consider a more portable ground set up with or with or without panels that can be seasonally adjusted (to maximize capturing solar energy as the sun shifts through out the year). Also, how much wattage will you need?
Quantum Harvest as a fairly decent FAQs and a line of portables including some pretty big ones. They're fair expensive IMHO but that's because the guts are all in a Faraday box. Interesting stuff to look at and learn from if nothing else.
Tom set up a cheapie system out in his garage for music & lights
(He uses a line run from the gen to run tools)
45watts of panels (3- 15w he had stashed away) mounted on a rack on a pole
- wired in to a charge controller he got on eBay for $30 (it also has a USB port on it for phone charging)
- wired from there down to a single 12v deep cycle battery he got from Walmart for $99 that had a 2yr warranty.
From the battery he wired a bunch of lights (12v)... shop lights, rope lighting (lol), security camera, etc.
Tom says Harbor Freight has an okay package, but you could go cheaper getting the components off of wish.com, his only later upgrade might be a second battery, but so far the one has been more than enough.
MG says - the easiest way to think about all this is as a two-part system:
1. Running things off a battery - and
2. Charging up the battery... cause you only need three things to do that - panels, and a charge controller, and the sun.
This ^^ is all for DC 12v uses.
Here's the HarborFreight 100w solar kit for $189 - (DC system, just add batteries!)
It even includes some lights, lol
Portable and easy to set up, this reliable, durable solar energy kit delivers 100 watts of free, clean and quiet energy. The amorphous solar cells offer efficient output in both bright and cloudy conditions.
Four 25 watt solar panels give you plenty of clean, quiet energy
Amorphous silicon solar cells for maximum output in both bright and cloudy conditions
Lightweight, weather resistant construction - easy to set up and maintain
Blocking diode prevents panels from discharging your battery at night
Charge controller protects your battery from overcharge or discharge
Comes with mounting hardware, 12V Light Kit, battery terminal clamps and universal DC power adapter
USB port for charging smartphones and tablets
If you want bigger/more -you'll also need more panel watts, an inverter (for AC), and more battery capacity. Buy a lot of capacity. Even the inverter pulls on them. We have three systems up here now LOL. The huge AC one for the cabin, a small AC one for the Chalet, and the teeny DC one for Tom's garage.
If/when you get to the point of knowing what your needs are going to be out there - I can help you size out a very simple system, if you want. I like simple!
Last edited by MountainGirl; 02-07-2020 at 03:07 PM.
If you're only looking to run lights we can avoid the cost of an inverter and instead hook a few 12v or 24v strip lights wo some batteries that solar panels charge up. About 30 inches of a strip light like this one puts out as much light as a 60 watt bulb. https://www.superbrightleds.com/more...of/5602/12552/ Figure about 10 watts of power using LEDs to provide the same light as a 60 watt bulb.
But if you're running any sort of battery charger you'll probably need a PSW (pure sine wave) inverter. Battery chargers don't run well when powered by cheap MSW (modified sine wave) inverters.
Samlex PSW inverters are a good choice for powering the battery chargers and other small electronics. https://www.amazon.com/Samlex-Solar-...68&sr=8-2&th=1
Last edited by Elvis; 02-07-2020 at 03:13 PM.
Hey Slip .... whats wrong with keeping a couple of them mexcans out there full time with lanterns filled and ready to go? teach 'em how to pul that start rope on the 6500-watt generator and you should be golden.
I will choose to enjoy the journey that God has prepared for me. Hidden Content
You might want to check Northern Tool and Equipment. When we were living in MN we had one of their retail stores about 3 miles from our house. They always had some pretty good deals on complete small solar packages. They do ship all over the country as I have bought stuff from them since we moved to AZ.
rest in peace Corporal Bradley Coy 06/08/92-10/24/14
Rest in Peace Sgt Mackie. 10/19/19
It's usually best to determine how much power you need first and size the system based on that. 60 watts for light (whether one 60 watt bulb or multiple LEDs equaling 60 watts) for 1 hour a day = 60 watt-hours of power required, for example. AC or DC doesn't really matter for doing the math, that 60 watts of light will pull about 5 amps from a 12v DC battery, or 0.5 amps from a 120 AC plug, but it's still 60 watts either way.
Since you mentioned a charging station for battery powered tools I checked my Dewalt 18v battery charger. The spec plate shows it uses 2 amps (nominal) at 120 volts AC. 2 amps x 120 volts = 240 watts. Using it to charge a power tool battery pack for 1 hour each day requires 240 watt-hours.
So if you needed 3 hours of light (60w x 3 hours = 180 watt-hours) + 1 hour of power pack charging (240w x 1 hour = 240 watt-hours) each day, that's 420 watt-hours of power you need to put into the batteries each day just to meet the demand.
A 45 watt solar array, in a perfect world with no losses, for each hour of full sun provides 45 watt-hours. Getting an average 5 hours of full sun a day, which might be a good average for the southern states (I use 4 hours up here) is 45 watts x 5 hours = 225 watt-hours each day.
Once you have the power requirements you'll be able to determine the size and number of solar panels. The battery bank is also sized off of the daily power used, a typical sized bank being large enough to supply 2-3 days of power without draining the batteries too deeply. This allows some extra battery capacity for multiple cloudy/rainy days in a row.
Originally Posted by Crunch
Sizing a system would be a helluva lot easier if we could know beforehand what our 'power requirements' would actually be. Oh - it's easy enough to calc the numbers, etc; but who knows what we'll run for how long each day? So what we did, was make a really good guess & then did the math, lol. ( @Slippy - The only "critical" thing imo for an AC system - is to add up the watts of what may be running at the same time - and make sure the Inverter chosen will cover that. If our earlier guesses had turned out wrong, we could have always added another panel, or battery.)
Tom brings in all his Dewalts to charge here in the cabin, off the big system. Much easier and less expensive than trying to have a second 'charging' setup for them in his garage. He did wire the garage for AC, and has wires running out to it, but now that his solar is set up out there for lights etc, he has a better option.
Last edited by MountainGirl; 02-08-2020 at 10:52 AM.
Slippy, are you ever going to put 120V AC in the barn? 240V is nice......
Might want to wire it for that with bigger/thicker wires (12V DC doesn't carry well, loss over footage), then you can run 12V lights off the wiring or use an inverter/generator if you want 120 AC.