Input Needed For Solar Setup
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Input Needed For Solar Setup

This is a discussion on Input Needed For Solar Setup within the Alternative Energy (Wind, Solar, Hydro etc) forums, part of the Off-Grid Lifestyle category; I have wanted to go solar for two decades, but with this virus crap, I decided this was the time to at least dip my ...

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Thread: Input Needed For Solar Setup

  1. #1
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    Input Needed For Solar Setup

    I have wanted to go solar for two decades, but with this virus crap, I decided this was the time to at least dip my toe in the water. I bought a 400watt, 4 panel kit from Lowes that included the four solar panels, wiring and the charge controller. I then bought two 100aHr marine batteries from BatteriesPlus. I already have a couple of 700watt (continuous) inverters.

    Just for testing purposes, I am right now running a stereo, my TV and an LED lamp on the inverter/batteries just to see how long that will hold.

    I would like to install the panels on the roof of my shop, that is about 75 feet away from my home. It faces south and gets full sunlight through out the day.

    Here's how I am thinking about running everything: The panels will be connected to the controller about 10-20 feet away. The batteries will be right there at the controller - within 5 feet or so. Here is where I am unsure the best route to go. I had planned on mounting the inverter at the batteries and connecting it to the underground cable and then tapping off that at the house. Or... would it be better to run the 12v from the battery over the underground cable and installing the inverter at the house.

    Running 12v over the cable would give me 12vdc at the house I could use if necessary, but I understand that the voltage drop will be higher than if I run 120vac over that line instead.

    I am not going to be running high current devices - stereo, tv, light or three, battery chargers... basic survival type needs. We're already a simple family, so...

    I've been an electronic technician for 30-ish years, and I know basic electrical wiring/formulas/etc, but installations like this are not my forte... Any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Slippy likes this.

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    Make sure your batteries don't produce flammable gas when charging if you're keeping them inside. Otherwise you may hear a big boom sometime.

    Are your inverters modified or pure sine wave? The former isn't too compatible with many electronics.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Back Pack Hack View Post
    Make sure your batteries don't produce flammable gas when charging if you're keeping them inside. Otherwise you may hear a big boom sometime.

    Are your inverters modified or pure sine wave? The former isn't too compatible with many electronics.
    Yeah... I'm not going to be charging them in the house. I've been charging them outside in an open air, fenced in shed. The current set is just for quick testing purposes. And yeah, they are modified. I haven't noticed any issues with the tv and the stereo is as old as I am (well, maybe not quite)... I should look for a pure sine wave inverter, I know...

    Oh... just remembered... I have a power line conditioner I picked up at a yard sale years ago. Never knew what I was going to do with it... Now I think it might help with the modified sine wave inverters.
    Last edited by rebeltaz; 03-26-2020 at 12:48 AM.

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    With your limited expected usage, have you looked into switching your equipment to 12VDC? That would remove the worry about where the inverter goes.
    There are lots of options if you look for "RV compatible" electronics. You won't suffer the efficiency loss of inverting the voltage either, saving more charge in your batteries and getting a longer drain time. That equates to shorter charge times as well, if you're using less.
    It removes the need for the conditioner too.

    Just a thought.
    I like keeping things simple.


    EDIT: This little 32" number will work with AC or DC: https://www.amazon.com/Supersonic-SC...cs&sr=1-3&th=1
    Last edited by Kauboy; 03-26-2020 at 03:40 PM.
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    If you stick to your original plan, run 120 volts to you house. It requires smaller, less expensive wire than running wire for 12 volts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chiefster23 View Post
    If you stick to your original plan, run 120 volts to you house. It requires smaller, less expensive wire than running wire for 12 volts.
    What he ^^^^ said is gospel. Anything 50 volts and below requires much larger wires and involves a significant power drop over any distances.

    Consider putting in a small second panel, . . . send your 120 volt electricity to that second panel, . . . and let that second panel provide power to your lighting, TV, and computer, . . . as well as sockets for your phones, and cell phone chargers.

    I did that here in my house, . . . then installed all LED bulbs, . . . so my family can use the regular lights and light switches whenever the power goes down, . . . plus TV, computer, etc.

    It's not a perfect system, . . . but it sure beats the devil out of chasing down a flashlight and candles every time the power goes down.

    I go into my pantry, . . . flip the bottom switch to the left, . . . plug in the pigtail you see, . . . I'm in business.

    I've also got my solar panel for charging the batteries, . . . just have not installed the rascal yet. Its a 2020 project.

    May God bless,
    Dwight
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Input Needed For Solar Setup-electric-panel-2.jpg  

    Last edited by dwight55; 03-26-2020 at 10:09 PM.
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    make sure you have batteries that are able to take/ all the panels are giving... IE - if your batteries recharge in a short period of time.. you need more batteries

    if it take them too long to charge you need more solar panels

    also charge both batteries as if they were one cell IE connect +PLUS to one battery and -NEG of the other (treat all batteries as one large cell)

    pull charge from all batteries connect the opposite + and - as the charge
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maine-Marine View Post
    ............also charge both batteries as if they were one cell IE connect +PLUS to one battery and -NEG of the other (treat all batteries as one large cell)

    pull charge from all batteries connect the opposite + and - as the charge
    The downside to this is you have much more power losses when converting from 12v to 120v. Converting from 24v, all else being equal, has less losses. And 48v even less. 24 and 48v inverters are not as common, but they can be had.
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  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kauboy View Post
    With your limited expected usage, have you looked into switching your equipment to 12VDC? That would remove the worry about where the inverter goes.There are lots of options if you look for "RV compatible" electronics. You won't suffer the efficiency loss of inverting the voltage either, saving more charge in your batteries and getting a longer drain time. That equates to shorter charge times as well, if you're using less.
    It removes the need for the conditioner too.
    I would like to get some 12v equipment later on, but right now, I'm just working with what I've got. I'm on a limited budget, so I will have to do this a little bit at a time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chiefster23 View Post
    If you stick to your original plan, run 120 volts to you house. It requires smaller, less expensive wire than running wire for 12 volts.
    Quote Originally Posted by dwight55 View Post
    What he ^^^^ said is gospel. Anything 50 volts and below requires much larger wires and involves a significant power drop over any distances.
    That was what I had thought... I just wanted a second (and third ) opinion. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by dwight55 View Post
    Consider putting in a small second panel, . . . send your 120 volt electricity to that second panel, . . . and let that second panel provide power to your lighting, TV, and computer, . . . as well as sockets for your phones, and cell phone chargers. I did that here in my house, . . . then installed all LED bulbs, . . . so my family can use the regular lights and light switches whenever the power goes down, . . . plus TV, computer, etc. It's not a perfect system, . . . but it sure beats the devil out of chasing down a flashlight and candles every time the power goes down. I go into my pantry, . . . flip the bottom switch to the left, . . . plug in the pigtail you see, . . . I'm in business. I've also got my solar panel for charging the batteries, . . . just have not installed the rascal yet. Its a 2020 project. May God bless, Dwight
    I like that... I'll have to do something like that as I go along. Thanks for the idea. No better time than a national shutdown to get around to those "round tuit" projects

    Quote Originally Posted by Maine-Marine View Post
    ...charge both batteries as if they were one cell IE connect +PLUS to one battery and -NEG of the other (treat all batteries as one large cell) pull charge from all batteries connect the opposite + and - as the charge
    I didn't think about that, but that is good advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Back Pack Hack View Post
    The downside to this is you have much more power losses when converting from 12v to 120v. Converting from 24v, all else being equal, has less losses. And 48v even less. 24 and 48v inverters are not as common, but they can be had.
    While that is true, in my case, though, the system is already setup up for 12v, so that is what I have to work with.
    MountainGirl and 0rocky like this.

  11. #10
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    If you are on a limited budget, consider the following. Run your 120 volt line into a central location inside your house and terminate it at one duplex receptacle. Then use extension cords from there to power the various things you want to run. This method is cheap but inconvenient. With your small battery capacity you will only be running maybe one or two items at a time. (You are gonna find that 200 amp hrs of batteries doesn’t last very long). Extension cords present a tripping hazard but this system is cheap and quick to get up and running. And it works just fine for emergency back up situations.

    I use this method with my 2000 watt Honda generator.

 

 
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