Prepper Forum / Survivalist Forum banner

1 - 20 of 45 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
How many of you out there would like to know a lot more about solar ? Especially from someone living entirely off the elec grid with solar and wind power for over 16 years ? I do NOT sell anything so don't be nervous about me. I would only like to help you by determining what you would really need . Not what some salesman will try and sell you. Want to learn? Inquire within
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,074 Posts
Okay mate, shoot, it's always best to hear from somebody like you who's walking the walk, rather than for us to look it up in dry dusty net articles..:)
Two basic questions spring to mind:
1- What sort of sizes would the solar panels and windmills have to be to power basic home essentials such as lighting, TV, cooker, computer, heating, hot water etc?
2- What happens when the suns not out? Presumably excess electricity can be stored for use on such days? And what if the sun didn't come out for a week or longer, would you have enough stored to tide you over?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,683 Posts
These days even an overcast day will charge a panel. It won't be super strong but it will still produce current. Solar has come a long way this past ten years. The washer, fridge, cable box and stove will be the biggest drains on a system. HE appliances are a good place to start. LED replacements for all your lights are recommended. Depending on how big your house is, it might take up to 50 panels and like 15-30 batteries if you want to live at the same consumption levels. There's also a company selling big powerplants they make from utility and horse trailers, I would personally get one of those and have some extra batts on hand in case the ones onboard it ever go bad.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,829 Posts
I'm into this right now. The problem I'm having is actually finding a solar panel company that has good reviews. I know Sharp solar panels are some of the best but of course some of the highest prices out there, but I guess its what you pay for is what you get. I've heard that buying panels from places like ebay are risky unless you know the buyer because some soldering joints in the panels can be done incorrectly, which can cause the panel to heat up, the film to bubble and come off the panel, as well as start a small fire. Also know that there are a lot of sellers out there that are using factory "seconds" that are cracked or chipped to the point of a small hairline, but still sell them anyway.

Right now, I'm going to experiment with a 30watt panel for my rain barrel with a pump on it to see what comes of it, the move up in watts as time comes on.

When the sun is not shining, then the wind can kick in at night time or during a overcast. I have a 2012 tahoe alternator that I'm in the process of hooking up, trying to calculate the speed it will take to generate 12volts. Here in kentucky, we have rolling winds over the mountains, with normal wind speeds up to 3-4, so I don't know how good my turbines are going to hold out. Regardless, the TV antennas are going to have dipole antennas located on top of them for future hookup.

My current energy comsumption is extremely high. Around 1700 kwh/month which means I'm a huge way on going totally off grid. Mainly going to convert a non-tie solar/wind system in as the time comes along. My log cabin is supposed to be energy efficient, but that is not the case since the chinking was incorrectly applied, as well as the interior and exterior was not sealed correctly as well. The cabin does "breathe" throughout the year, so I know the stonemill cut logs are working the way they are supposed to, so I have to refinish the in/out of the logs to make it more efficient.

Soooo.... if anyone wants to come to Kentucky for some good ole home cooking, then I'll put you to work! :p
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
OK, Solar power for your home. First thing I will tell you, is that yes , it is expensive. But one of the most important things about solar is that it will NOT learn to live with you, you will have to learn to live with it.

I am not a good person to crunch the numbers to tell you what you need. However, as a person living on solar for over 16 years and having built my entire system, 1 panal at a time, I am the person who can help you go in the right direction. I will be able to help you find the best deals on solar, the best equipment to buy and how to install it. And like Survivor has already found out, quality does cost more, especially in this area.

The first thing you need to do , is to figure out what you really could live without. For instance, ANY elect heating/cooking device's need to go. Elec Ranges, etc will not do ! Next, how to you cut your consumption of grid power down ? In the case of ranges, water heaters and regular heaters, you need to switch to propane/natural gas . Now in your heating system, you can heat rooms one by one that you actually live in or use as I do. One of the best propane or nat gas heaters you can buy is a unit made by "Cozy". They are the safest and most reliable heaters you can buy. Amazing heat and also on thermostat. I have been using one of them in our bedroom for about 8-9 years now. Vented directly through the wall. Now my living room heater and here in my office , I use the cheaper heaters like the ones from Northern Tool. The older models were not good as they were not efficient and did produce a lot of carbon monoxide , again , not good. The newer models are really good. About 99% efficient and now safe even for bedrooms. The better ones like in my living room also work on a thermostat.

Now lets look at lights. I know a lot of people are now starting to look into led lights. They work great for my flashlight, but in the house I prefer "whole room lighting" So, about 15 years ago , I made the plunge and paid about 20.00 for my first compact fluorescent bulb. Never went back to incandescent again. They come on slower then the older model bulbs, but they work overall very well. I now use them in every room. I can run about 6 of them at the same time and only use the power of about one old fashoned 100 wattl bulb.

Solar panels. Oh s...t. This is a big area and needs a lot of big words to describe. Survivor, I have 2 of the sharp panels, along with 2 mitsibishi panels, and 12 of the Kyrocera (best) panels, all in about the same voltage and wattage. I also run 2 new panels that are much larger on a different voltage, but am able to accomplish this by using an outback mppt 60 charge controller to convert my voltage to 12 volts which the rest of my system is.

We will get into much more detail later if you really want to know more. But be advised , the JUNK you will find at ebay and especially harbor freight is not worth the shipping charges, much less the money you spend on hopeing to get something usefull.

You will need to figure out the things on consumption and then we will have more to talk about. Believe, me, this is a very lengthy subject and I will try and post some pictures here of my system very soon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Lucky Jim. Un-fortunatlly, where you live , solar is really not an option. Unless it has changed in the last few months, fog is your prevailing weather , which is really bad for solar. You need at least 5-6 hours a day to have a viaoble solar system, unless your made of money and could put up about 50 expensive and large solar panels. You have to have the sun to generate the power, and need about 1/2 of the power to charge your battery bank for night use. Now and then as your full sun days are will not work for you. Sorry but no bannana !
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,074 Posts
Lucky Jim. Un-fortunatlly, where you live , solar is really not an option. Unless it has changed in the last few months, fog is your prevailing weather..
Well I'm as good as done for then, I'm already in a bad enough situation-
1- living only 50 yards from the Atlantic (tsunami and global warming sea level rise danger)
2- in Britain,(where only criminals can get guns)
3-in the heart of the city of Plymouth where I'd have to pedal the gauntlet of miles of zombs to escape to the country on my bike.

As if all that's not bad enough an enemy sub could deposit a nuke on the seabed just offshore with a time fuse, or disembark suicide-squads in rubber boats to come ashore at night.
And to cap it all, British nuclear-powered subs at the dockyard down the road regularly leak radioactivity into local rivers and seas-
"Radiation has leaked on 10 occasions at Devonport Dockyard since 1980 according to a recent MoD admission"
Plymouth nuclear Dump Information Group, Latest Hot News

So I think my best survival bet is to find an American widow tourist off one of the cruise liners that put in here, marry her here after a whirlwind romance and then go live with her in America and take out US citizenship. Somebody like this gal would do me fine, she can rope me, throw me and brand me anytime she likes..:)-

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Actually Lucky Jim. If you live up to your pen name here, that may be very dooable for you ! Go for it. We would welcome you over here across the pond. At least we have sunshine most of the time and a lot more room.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,074 Posts
Actually I'm lucky in one respect, namely that I'm single and live alone with no dependents and no pets, so on Doomsday I'll only have my own scrawny neck to worry about!
(I've got a sister and a few nieces and nephews scattered around but hardly ever see them, the only time they get in touch is when they want money, ha ha)..:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,829 Posts
Chime in for those who knows of a website that shows the cheapest prices for good quality solar panels. I guess I'll start with a 240w and build up. Or is there other things to consider first?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Survival, below you will find a link to a place that gives you prices. Some are for single panels, and some are for pallets etc. But good prices. Now adays, there starting to get a lot better coming from China. When I started with my first Kyrocera, it was 5.00 per watt. now , even they have come down , but nothing like the prices you will find with this co.

Free Solar Panel Price Survey | EcoBusinessLinks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,829 Posts
Awesome site. I've been on it since you posted this link. Now I don't have to worry if I'm getting ripped off by someone where I didn't know the going rate.

I have worried about hail damaging the panels, which I see on some descriptions hail proof solar panels etc. I've also heard of some people putting plexiglass over top of them (which could reduce efficiency) of the solar panels. Is there a certain type, keyword or something I should look for when purchasing? I know a lot of people will mention that the homeowners insurance will take care of that, but in a shtf environment, I don't think the insurance companies will care if they are damaged.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
You will still have to make the ultimate decision of what type of solar panels you need. 240 watt panels will be 24 volt. Keep that in mind. They can however be wired to make 48 volts. The better panels will come with at least a 20 year warr. That will tell you a lot . Anything with less than that, not so good. Unless you have the golf size hail, not a problem. I used to worry, but after several hail storms with no damage, I sleep a lot better. NO plexieglass or any other type of cover over the front of the panels. To much heat, and will burn them out !
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Lucky Jim. The big guy in the picture is Holmes. He is a good tv money maker, but what he knows about solar I can write on my thumb nail. Just because someone puts something up on u-tube doesn't make it so. He is really into making money, and not much else. Never go to solar sellers or installers to ask questions, they may have been selling used cars last week. They are there to SELL you things, not help you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,829 Posts
Dumb question here, but how many volts do I need? Is there a pro/cons about the 24 volt? The only reason I ask is because that wattage is what "everyone" is crazing about. I figure the more wattage on the panel that I can afford, the better.

I want to migrate portions of my home over to solar, with my understanding that I run some conduit into the home, have a electrician disconnect one room and have it wired/transformed/converted to the panels. Over time, I can add yet another room as the more panels I get. Right now, I'm at 30 something kwhs per day.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Survival. Let us look at it this way. First of all, watts are the rated power of the panel. If you looking at a 240 watt panel, that means it is "rated" to put out 240 watts per hour of good strong sun. Volts is the rating given to the panel which is its operating range of power. For instance, you car/truck is rated at 12 volts. In order to use any of these panels 12v -24v your system needs to be matched to it. 24 volt panels, 24v battery bank and 24 volt inverter. I am a 12v system, as when I first started, 24volt systems were rare and very costly. See, I started with one single Kyrocera 85 watt panel, 2- 6v batteries wired in parallel to make 12 volts, a cheapo charge controller and a used Trace 1512 inverter. The inverter was about the best I could afford . 1512 means 1500 watts and 12 volts. It was a modified sine wave inverter, which destroyed several of my saw motors over the years. will go into this down the road.

To go with a 24 volt system, I would have had to buy 2 - 85 watt 12v panels wired in parallel to make 24 volts. 12 + 12 = 24 volts !
The batteries would have had to be doubled as well 4 x 6 = 24

Since, I was just recovering from two major operations and 18 day stay in the whorespotal, with no insurance , that was all I could afford at the time.

When looking at the two main elect components , look at the brand "outback" They are made up in the N.W. and not in down under as the name implies. We will get into the why's a little later. But the inverter will be your single most expensive unit and then next will be batteries

Since a Killawatt is actually 1,000 watts, then it would take roughly 5 kyrocera 85 watt panels 1 hour to produce 1kwh

Now, maybe that gives you an idea of why you need to deep six all of your electric heating units. By cutting down the items that need to be powered , such as the power sucking heaters , range and water heater, you will reduce your 30kw usage to probably about half or even more. Swimming pool heaters and filters included. Motors of any kind require power and lots of it. Air conditioners are another no no for the moment. Although I have heard of a new one that is supposed to be solar friendly.

Once you get past those hurdles , you will be in fairly good shape.


Confused yet ? Yea, I know, it took me a long while to really start figuring this stuff out too. Not to worry, it will come to you all at once for the most part.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Survival. There are a couple of advantages to going with the higher voltages. One, by going to higher voltage, your amps would stay lower, allowing you to control twice as many solar panels as with the next lower voltage. One other thing comes to mind, which is you can also double the amount of panels on your elec. wire run from the panels to the charge controller. Save's you a few bucks that way. Disadvantage's 1 battery goes bad in say a 24v system, means you actually need to disconnec one string of 24v batteres. After all, you can't run a string of 18 volts with remaining 24 volts. Your strings of batteries and solar panels need to stay the same as the voltage originally intended. You can't put a Euro coin in an american vending machine either ! One other advantage that comes to mind, is that it can also reduce the amount of charge controllers needed to do the same job

Lets try and simplify that one step further. With 12v, my 85 watt panels each put out 5 amps . So, with a string of 10 of them wired in pararell, I will be running 50 amps down the wires to my controller.

If we take the same 850 watts in 24 volt panels, I would only be running about 25 amps. So, smaller wire if wanted or double the amount of solar panels to 1700 watts all on the same wire and controller. Controllers (good ones) are expensive. Going 48 volts even doubles that amount of panels=wattage you will be bringing in to the controller down that same smaller gauge wire.
Beginning to make a little more sense to you now ? I hope I haven't confused you even more then when you first started.

I will lay out a med sized system for you in a little while. Med sized being about my size which is a little over 1800 watts. Then you simply double most of it for a much more functional system for the average house.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Now, this will appeal to you I think even more. You call your local solar co. and get them to give you an estimate for a basic off grid system with about 5,000 watts. When you get that, and the 50k price tag, don't have a heart attack, as I should be able to show you how to do almost the identical system for about 20,000 frn's or less by doing the buying and installing yourself. Sound like a plan ? I thought so.
 
1 - 20 of 45 Posts
Top