Reply
Go Back   TexasBowhunter.com Community Discussion Forums > Topics > D-I-Y Projects
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 07-03-2014, 12:17 PM   #1
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default DIY Solar Panels

In this thread I will try to break down the basics of solar panels and the different setups since the demand for information on this subject is increasing.


Here will be the subjects discussed;

1. Solar Panels

2. Grid Tie and Off the Grid solar setups,

3. Grid Tie solar setup basics

4. Off the Grid solar setup basics


A. Grid Tie inverters
B. Solar Charge Controllers
C. Batteries
D. Wiring
E. Power inverters


If there are any requests for certain information then just ask. It will probably take me a couple of weeks to cover everything. I am on Percoset right now so please forgive me if something doesn't make sense. Just ask me to clarify and when I'm clear headed I will.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-03-2014, 12:20 PM   #2
Tuffbroadhead
Pope & Young
 
Tuffbroadhead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Weatherford.....
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by 91cavgt View Post
I am on Percoset right now so please forgive me if something doesn't make sense. Just ask me to clarify and when I'm clear headed I will.
HAHAH that is greatness!!!!!

Would love to hear about the "off the grid" set ups, I would not want to share my collected power with a coop, but from what I understand when it is tied into the grid you are compensated or credited for what you harness ..?
Tuffbroadhead is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-03-2014, 12:21 PM   #3
3DW5
Pope & Young
 
3DW5's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Pearland
Hunt In: Leon Co, Jim Hogg and Starr Co.
Default

Awesome, I'm having a guy come and give me an estimate for my house. No interest for 6 years, guy next door said it would save me about 70% of my electric bill, any idea????
3DW5 is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-03-2014, 12:25 PM   #4
down2hunt
Ten Point
 
down2hunt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: College Station, TX
Hunt In: Freestone Co.
Default

Very interested in this...following
down2hunt is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-03-2014, 12:41 PM   #5
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

1. Solar Panels

Solar panels take the sun's light and transform it into direct current (DC) power. Solar panels have 2 ratings that you need to pay attention to; Wattage and Voltage

Wattage; There are solar panels out there that are rated from as little as 0.25 watts to as high as 250 watts or higher. You need to match up the solar panel size to your demands.

Voltage; Solar panels are rated for either 12 volt, 24 volt, and even some that are 36 volt. However, what the panel is rated at will not be what it actually puts out. For example, a 12 volt panel can put out as much as 22 volts in peak sun light. A 24 volt panel will put out around 33 volts.


There are also several different kinds of solar panels. Amorphous, Monocrystalline, and Polycrystalline. Confused yet? Don't worry as it's really quit easy. Amorphous solar panels are typically the cheapest, however they only have about a 5 year life span. Monocrystalline panels are about the best you can buy as they are the most efficient with Polycrystalline panels being the second most efficient. Both Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline panels both typically have a 25 year warranty for power output and are the best for the long term setups.


Choosing the right size panel for your needs is the tricky part. I'm not going to get into that here just yet. If you send me a message though, I can give you some guidance.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-03-2014, 12:44 PM   #6
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuffbroadhead View Post
HAHAH that is greatness!!!!!

Would love to hear about the "off the grid" set ups, I would not want to share my collected power with a coop, but from what I understand when it is tied into the grid you are compensated or credited for what you harness ..?

If you have a grid tie setup, you will basically be putting all the power you produce back into the grid. The only problem with this setup is if the power goes out, your power goes out too even if it is during the day and your panels are producing power.

In a grid tie setup, the power your setup produces and gets put back into the grid, you do get paid for it, or you get a reduction in your electric bill depending on how much power your setup produces.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-03-2014, 12:46 PM   #7
lilbradford
Ten Point
 
lilbradford's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Katy, Tx
Hunt In: Anywhere I can find
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3DW5 View Post
Awesome, I'm having a guy come and give me an estimate for my house. No interest for 6 years, guy next door said it would save me about 70% of my electric bill, any idea????
What is the name of the company. I have a friend in your area.
lilbradford is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-03-2014, 12:49 PM   #8
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3DW5 View Post
Awesome, I'm having a guy come and give me an estimate for my house. No interest for 6 years, guy next door said it would save me about 70% of my electric bill, any idea????

That would be a grid tie setup. The main questions to ask are who maintains the setup after it is installed, how much do you pay per month for it, if the panels get damaged (hail strike, lightning strike, or limb falling on them) who picks up the bill, what happens if you need a new roof put on in a few years, and if you move then what happens to the setup?


Most of the time if you don't have to pay for it then that means that the company is using your roof to put up their panels, and they own the panels, not you.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-03-2014, 04:34 PM   #9
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Grid Tie and Off the Grid systems.


So what in the world is a grid tie system?

Grid tie systems are those setups that are tied directly in to the power that comes into the house and these setups will decrease your electric bill. These setups need solar panel(s), a grid tie power inverter, and some kind of transfer switch. One important thing to remember about the grid tie setup is when the power goes out coming in to your house, you will also loose power as well.

I need to talk briefly about power inverters in order to explain what a grid tie inverter needs to be. There are 3 types of power inverters. Square wave (the cheapest), modified sine wave, and pure sine wave inverter. The only type of inverter that you can safely use for a grid tie system is a pure sine wave inverter. A pure sine wave inverter gives the exact same kind of clean power that already comes out of a wall outlet. All of the power companies will require a pure sine wave inverter for any type of grid tie system. A non-pure sine wave inverter can actually cause problems in the electric grid, and your power company can in fact fine you for using a non-pure sine wave inverter.


Off the grid system.


An off the grid system is ideal for the hunting lease, cabin, or a work shed out back. An off the grid type of system needs the following components;

Solar panels
Solar charge controller
battery bank
power inverter

With an off the grid type of setup, typically one goes this route because of the expense of running power to the area is too high, or is impossible to do (like if you only have your RV on the lease during deer season). An off the grid setup has a big advantage over a generator in that it makes no noise. On the other hand, a generator is nice to have in the Texas heat because you need a large off the grid solar setup to run an air conditioner. However, during the fall, winter, and spring, you can have a small off the grid solar setup that can provide you with most of your power needs(especially at the lease).
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-04-2014, 01:50 PM   #10
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Grid Tie solar setup basics;

A grid tie solar electric system – also referred to as grid-tied or utility intertie photovoltaics (PV) – uses solar panels, a power inverter and other components to turn sunlight into electricity for your use, while your home remains hooked up to the local utility. This is different from an off-grid or stand alone solar system, where your structure is not hooked up to utility power.

The most common reason people install a solar grid tie system is to reduce their utility bills. Once your system is operating the power it provides is free, and there is little or no maintenance required. While it runs, your PV system reduces your electrical bills, not only because it decreases how much power you pull from your utility, but also because any excess power you produce is pushed back into the grid (net metering) effectively turning your meter backwards. Eventually your PV system will pay for itself, but your energy savings will continue long after.

In addition to what you save on your electric bill, having a grid tie system raises the value of your property. Solar also makes a home more attractive to potential buyers, particularly when compared to an otherwise identical home. This can make a big difference should you decide to sell your home in a tight real estate market.

Another great incentive for installing solar is that the Federal government, and many states and local utilities, offer rebates, tax credits, low interest loans and other incentives for adding solar power.

When sunlight shines on solar panels they produce Direct Current (DC). That DC electricity is converted into household AC power by your power inverter, and it is then available for household use. This process happens silently and automatically every day.

When a grid-tie solar electric system generates more power than you are using in your home, the excess electricity is sent out into the utility grid. The excess power going into the grid spins your meter backwards, allowing your neighbors to use clean, quiet solar power. If you use more power than your system is producing, your inverter will automatically pull the needed power from the utility grid – and you’ll never notice a thing.

This is back and forth process is called “net metering”, and it means you are only billed for the “net” electricity purchased over the entire billing period. At the end of each billing cycle your meter will not have spun as far forward when compared to not having solar electricity, saving you money. If you produce more than you use during a billing period, your utility company will retain it as a credit, which will then be applied to future electric bills or they will send you a check, depending on the electric company.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-04-2014, 04:39 PM   #11
Vap
Eight Point
 
Vap's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Alabama
Hunt In: L.A. Alabama
Default

Thanks for the info. Please keep going we are in the talking about it phase.
Vap is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-04-2014, 04:53 PM   #12
TallTexan
Pope & Young
 
TallTexan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Silsbee
Hunt In: East Texas
Default

Very interesting so far
TallTexan is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-04-2014, 05:13 PM   #13
RaiderRed
Spike
 
RaiderRed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Sugar Land, TX
Default

Following!
RaiderRed is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-04-2014, 05:58 PM   #14
treestand
Ten Point
 
treestand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Houston
Hunt In: Junction Texas
Default

How many square feet of solar panel is needed to produce 1000 KWH per month in a grid tie system? That would be about half of my average usage at home. Would it be all of my roof or what? I have a 2400 ft2 single story home. How long would the payback period be if I am paying 10 cents per KW? In other words, is it worth the investment?
treestand is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-04-2014, 08:30 PM   #15
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by treestand View Post
How many square feet of solar panel is needed to produce 1000 KWH per month in a grid tie system? That would be about half of my average usage at home. Would it be all of my roof or what? I have a 2400 ft2 single story home. How long would the payback period be if I am paying 10 cents per KW? In other words, is it worth the investment?

It would be best for you to have a rep come out to your house and actually take some measurements as they can give you a MUCH better idea if it is worth the investment for you. There are LOT more variables involved than the ones you listed. Things like roof pitch, direction the roof is angled at, efficiency of the panels a company uses, and even where you are located all play in to the equations. Which, right now with the pain killers I'm on, it's a bit more than I can figure out with correct numbers in the end.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-04-2014, 08:32 PM   #16
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Off the grid solar basics will be covered tomorrow. It's too late and I'm too tired to do it tonight. That sponge bath I had earlier took a lot out of me.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-05-2014, 03:00 PM   #17
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Off the grid. What does that mean? It means you are not connected to the power/information grid that our lives revolve around. Like when we go hunting, a lot of us prefer to leave the comforts of technology back at home. But there are some comforts that are very nice to have and could be very beneficial.

So, let's talk about off the grid power setups. Most of us know that there is a trade off for being off the grid. If you want power for off the grid, unless you are going to shell out a small fortune, you will not have all the creature comforts that the grid provides. However, lights, fans, short term refrigeration, charging of wireless items, and other small conveniences of home can be attained.

There are 2 trains of thought when it comes to off the grid setups when trying to size one for you. Either go as big as you can comfortably afford and just deal with not having a few creature comforts, or go really big and have your off the grid setup run everything in your daily life. Most of the hard working average Joe types prefer the first route. So, where do you start?

The back bone to your off the grid setup is a battery bank. If you choose poorly with wrong batteries or the wrong number of batteries then you could end up with nothing else working quit right. So a battery is a battery is a battery, right? Nope, not at all. For example, old used car batteries would be VERY bad for solar use as they are designed to give out a LOT of power over a short period of time and will not last long at all in a setup where a moderate amount of power is asked from them for any length of time. Not only that, but you would also have to constantly monitor water levels in the batteries to prevent deadly hydrogen gas buildup.

So what batteries are best? That's kind of like asking what caliber round is best for deer hunting. There's a whole lot of opinions out there. Some are right, some are wrong, but here is some info on batteries so you can make your own judgement.

Flooded lead acid batteries are common in golf carts, and in solar setups. They produce a lot of power over a long period of time and have a decent lifespan if treated right. You do always have to make sure the water levels are full in the cells though. These also can not be mounted inside a building because they do out-gas. If you do use these in a building then they need to be well vented to the outside.

Deep cycle batteries are very similar to flooded lead acid batteries. Deep cycle batteries are often smaller than the flooded lead acid counterparts and can be found for cheaper, only because they are smaller and do not put out as much power as flooded lead acid batteries. For example, Academy has a special right now on a 100 amp/hr(more on this rating soon) deep cycle battery for $80. That is a pretty good price! Just like the flooded lead acid batteries though, these need to be vented to the outside as well.

Sealed, AbsorbedGlassMat(AGM), or gell cell batteries are similar in characteristics to the deep cycle batteries as these are typically a smaller battery but you do not have to monitor these batteries as they are completely sealed. Because they are completely sealed, they can be mounted and used in any physical orientation, and they are safe to use indoors without outside ventilation. If properly maintained, these types of batteries have about the longest life span. For example, I have a pair of Hawker brand, 50 amp/hr batteries that have a build date of the year 2000. I have one of these and my brother currently has the other one and both of them are still working great, even with being 14 years old!!

So what battery is best for you? Well, if you intend to have your off grid setup attached to your RV then it makes sense to go with a couple of the deep cycle wet cell batteries. Different setups will yield one of the different types of batteries to work best for you. I for one have a 400 amp/hr battery bank of AGM batteries because I needed them to be mounted inside a building.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-05-2014, 03:10 PM   #18
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

So what is this amp/hr deal that I keep hearing about? It is kind of like the horse power rating of a battery. A batteries amp rating is rated over a period of 20 hours. So, we'll use a 100 amp/hr rating battery as an example. A 100 amp/hr battery can supply 5 amps of current, continuously for 20 hours (100 divided by 20 = 5). After that 20 hours, the battery is going to need to be recharged fully in order to prevent long term battery damage. So, it is always best to have slightly more battery than what you think you might need.

So how much power am I going to use? Well, only you knows what that will be. Here is a chart of common 12 volt items found on a boat, and what it's corresponding amp draw is;

12-VOLT ITEM
Bilge Pump (500 gph) ——— 2.0 AMP Draw
Bilge Pump (1000 gph) ——– 2.9 AMP Draw
Bilge Pump (1500 gph) ——– 4.9 AMP Draw
Bilge Pump (2000 gph) ——– 8.4 AMP Draw

Navigation Lights (3 mile) — 1.5 AMP Draw
Live Well Pump ————— 7.0 AMP Draw
Fresh Water Pump————– 4.0 AMP Draw
Refrigerator (12v) ———— 6.0 AMP Draw
Ice Maker——————— 6.0 AMP Draw
Head (Macerator) ————- 9.0 AMP Draw
Anchor Windlass (900lb) ——- 75 AMP Draw
12v. Housing Lighting——— 15 per 10 Watts AMP Draw
Spot Lights (100k cp) ——— 8.0 AMP Draw
Spreader Lights (3k cp)——- 3.0 AMP Draw
Radar (24 mile) ————– 5.0 AMP Draw
GPS ————————— 0.80 AMP Draw
LORAN————————- 0.70 AMP Draw
VHF Radio - transmit———- 6.0 AMP Draw
VHF Radio - receive———– 0.50 AMP Draw
Depth Sounder (LCD)———– 1.0 AMP Draw
Depth Sounder (Color)——— 3.0 AMP Draw
SSB - Transmit—————- 3.0 AMP Draw

INVERTERS*
SSB receive——————- 2.5 AMP Draw
Autopilot——————— 5.0 AMP Draw
Stereo (50 watt) ————– 0.50 AMP Draw
Fan————————— 1.0 AMP Draw

TROLLING MOTORS (12VOLT)
24lb Thrust——————- 27 AMP Draw
30lb Thrust——————- 30 AMP Draw
36lb Thrust——————- 36 AMP Draw
42lb Thrust——————- 40 AMP Draw
55lb Thrust——————- 55 AMP Draw




Now you know how much power you need, so now you can go buy the batteries, right? Not so fast. We need to make sure you can afford enough solar panels to keep these batteries charged up good.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-05-2014, 03:40 PM   #19
Axe Man
Ten Point
 
Axe Man's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Karnes County
Hunt In: Karnes County
Default

Thanks for the info. I am interested in being able to power an RV if it doesn't break the bank. Lots to learn.
Axe Man is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-05-2014, 04:26 PM   #20
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

So solar panels. Which ones do I need to buy? That is a very hard question, about like trying to find out what battery type and size you need. For most affordable systems, the over all area that you have to mount the panes dictates which ones you can go with.

When I first got into solar, I went with a bunch of small, 15 watt 12 volt solar panels. I figured that by having a bunch of small panels, it would decrease the chance of a hail strike decreasing the over all electrical output compared to if I only had a couple of larger panels.

As time went on, I found that most all solar panels are rated for at least a 1/2" hail strike traveling at terminal velocity. Also, when mounting the panels, if you mount them perfectly horizontal then any hail strikes will have a direct hit on them. However, if you mount the panels at an angle, preferably aimed toward the sun, then the hail strikes will be more of a glancing blow as opposed to a direct strike.


Panels range greatly in price, size, and type. As stated earlier in this thread;
Quote:
There are also several different kinds of solar panels. Amorphous, Monocrystalline, and Polycrystalline. Confused yet? Don't worry as it's really quit easy. Amorphous solar panels are typically the cheapest, however they only have about a 5 year life span. Monocrystalline panels are about the best you can buy as they are the most efficient with Polycrystalline panels being the second most efficient. Both Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline panels both typically have a 25 year warranty for power output and are the best for the long term setups.
The 45 watt kit from Harbor Freight is good for entry level systems as it comes with most things you need (just add a battery). The solar panels in the Hardor Freight kit are amorphic 15 watt panels. You can get this entry level kit for about $150 with a coupon. This 45 watt kit will give you a realistic 2.5 amps of current in direct sunlight which is barely good enough to trickle charge a single battery.

However, for the same $150, you can go online on Ebay and find these solar panels; http://www.ebay.com/itm/Solar-Panel-...item3f298e4e6c
This setup gives 100 watts of power, quit a bit more and a little more useable 5 amps of current to recharge the battery(s). This panel also comes with a charge controller.


Wait a minute, we haven't talked about charge controllers. Well, hold on to your horses, we'll get to it in a bit. There is more information to talk about regarding solar panels first.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-05-2014, 05:01 PM   #21
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

So there are a LOT of places to buy solar panels from, but you just have to keep in mind that typically, shipping will be extra. Ebay, Amazon, sometimes you can find solar panels on Craigslist, a place called solarblvd.com is another good place to buy solar panels. Just be careful if you buy panels off of Craigslist to make sure the panels are NOT damaged! I am finding more frequently broken panels being sold on Craigslist.

So when you start looking more into solar panels, you will see that the most common ones come in 12 volt models or 24 volt models. The benefit in going with the higher voltage models is that you don't have to run as large of a cable from the panels to the charge controller.

For example, let's say that you have 200 watts of panels at 12 volts and your buddy down the street also has 200 watts of panels, but at 24 volts. Both of your charge controllers are mounted 30 feet away from the charge controller. Using this calculator for wire size;

http://www.freesunpower.com/wire_calc.php

We find that your 200 watt 12 volt system will need at least 10 gauge wire for an allowable 5% drop in power over the 30' run.

However, your friend's same 200 watt setup, but at 24 volts will only need 14 gauge wire for only a 4% drop in power over the same 30' run.

So, in the long run, having higher voltage solar panels will make it so that you don't need to run nearly as large of wires from the solar panels to the charge controller. This typically frees up a little extra money in some people's budget to go with the higher voltage panels instead. All else fails, you can always buy the 12 volt panels, then wire 2 of them in series to get 24 volts. If you have any questions on wiring up of series or parellel then just let me know.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-05-2014, 05:23 PM   #22
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Charge controllers are VERY important for a solar panel setup. A charge controller controls the solar panel output and then sends it on to the battery(s). If you do not run a charge controller then there is no way to automatically disconnect the solar panels when the battery bank is charged. So, if you overcharge your battery bank, you will severely decrease it's lifespan and overall amount of power it is able to give you.

There are 2 primary types of charge controllers for off the grid solar setups;

Pulse Width Modulated(PWM) and Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT). PWM charge controllers are typically the cheaper models, and they will require that your solar panels be the same voltage rating as your battery bank. So, with a PWM charge controller, a 12 volt solar panel must be connected to a 12 volt battery bank. Once the battery bank gets up to charge, the charge controller will change from charger to maintainer.

With a MPPT charge controller, you can connect a 24 volt solar panel up to a 12 volt battery bank! This increases the options you have with wiring (higher voltage means lower amperage thus, smaller wire). I just purchased an MPPT controller that can take in up to 100 volt on the solar panel, and can work with either 12 volt or 24 volt battery banks. So the MPPT charge controllers are more versatile, but as a consequence, they are also more expensive.

For example;

Here is a PWM charge controller that is rated for 20 amps for $30.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Instapark-PR...item2327b0387f

Here is an MPPT charge controller that is also rated at 20 amps, for right at $100!!

http://www.ebay.com/itm/141024539209...84.m1497.l2649
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-05-2014, 05:41 PM   #23
horns07
Ten Point
 
horns07's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: hobbs, new mexico
Hunt In: SE New Mexico, Robert Lee
Default

Following.
horns07 is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-05-2014, 06:04 PM   #24
pure lefty
Ten Point
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Huntsville, Texas
Hunt In: Leon County and wherever
Default

I am sure glad you posted this thread.
pure lefty is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-05-2014, 06:47 PM   #25
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Tomorrow I'll try to cover wiring and power inverters in a little more detail.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-06-2014, 01:21 AM   #26
one2bowhunt
Eight Point
 
one2bowhunt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Round Rock
Hunt In: Robert Lee,TX
Default

Thanks! Following
one2bowhunt is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-06-2014, 03:12 PM   #27
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Wire. Wire plays a HUGE part in a well designed solar setup. What size wire do I need for my setup is a VERY common question. You can't just use lamp wire for everything. In wiring, the smaller the gauge of the wire the larger the number. 16 gauge wire is actually smaller in size than 12 gauge wire. 16 gauge wire is about equal to lamp cord wire. 10 gauge wire is equal to the REALLY cheap jump start cables that you can buy. 4 gauge wire is pretty common for welding wire. Take this chart for example;



This chart shows that typical lamp cord (which is around 18-16 gauge) is only rated to handle a maximum of 5 amps, and for only 15 feet max. Small wire in the range of about 12-16 gauge is acceptable for connecting solar panels to the charge controller for short distances, as long as the length of the cable and the amperage going through it is on the chart then you're ok.

For going from the charge controller to the battery bank, I prefer to use a larger gauge wire, depending on your particular system needs of course. With my systems in the past, I have used 12 to 10 gauge wire for this. When connecting your charge controller to the battery bank, if you only have 1 battery then just wire it up to the + and - sides on the battery. If you are running multiple batteries then how you connected up your charge controller really depends on how you have the batteries wired. The most common way of running multiple batteries is in parallel though. This is where the + from one battery is connected to the + of the other battery, and on the - side, the - of one battery is connected to the - on the other battery. You can continue this for as many batteries as you want in a battery bank and you will end up with the exact same voltage for the group of batteries as a whole as you would with just one battery. For this kind of setup, you only have to connect the charge controller to 1 battery and all of the batteries will end up with an equal charge. When wiring batteries in series, it is a lot more confusing so I won't go into detail about it here. You can PM me and I can try to explain.

Now when it comes to the wiring from the battery bank to high power consuming devices like a power inverter, you need some HEFTY wiring AND PROPER wire ends. With a small, 800 watt continuous power square wave inverter, I ran 4 gauge wire for it. For my 1,000 watt pure sine wave inverter though, I went over kill and went with 00 gauge wire! When it comes to connecting items that have large power requirements, you can't use wire nuts and be ok! You need the proper, large gauge terminals that crimp on to the wire.

Now, you can't just connect everything up and expect every single component to work for it's entire lifespan and never short out. So, we need to add in some protection for your electrical devices and for the wiring. This means fuses for low powered devices and either really large fuses or circuit breakers for the larger items. I ran a 250 amp circuit breaker on my 1,000 watt power inverter for example. I had each one of my batteries in the battery bank with a 50 amp circuit breaker, and then I bought a small distribution block so I could have everything else fused that is powered off of the battery bank.

It is possible to run a system for years with no fuses or circuit breakers and never have a problem. However, if anything ever shorts out, having to replace the broken device and a blown fuse is a LOT better than having to replace your entire system, AND whatever else is around it because it all caught on fire. Circuit protection is no joke.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-06-2014, 03:40 PM   #28
Etxbuckman
Pope & Young
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Spring
Default

Subscribed. This is great stuff.
Etxbuckman is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-06-2014, 04:05 PM   #29
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Power inverters. Once again, there are a LOT of power inverters out there, and there is a lot to know about power inverters. There are everything from power inverters that will fit in your truck cup holder to ones that need multiple, large gauge power wires connected to it and a WHOLE LOT in between. So, let's chat about the different types of power inverters.

The ONLY difference between these different types of power inverters is how clean the power is that the inverter produces. Square wave inverters, modified sine wave inverters, and pure sine wave inverters are the 3 different types of power inverters.

So what is the difference between those 3 different types of power inverters?

Square wave inverters are typically the cheapest first off. Square wave inverters are going to have the dirtiest power out of all of them. Ok, so what does that mean in the real life? It means that items that need clean power will either not run off of a square wave inverter, or if they do run then the power inverter could do damage to the sensitive electronics. Take any item that charges a lithium battery for example. Most lithium battery chargers will not work at all on square wave inverters. So what will work on a square wave inverter? Lights, fans, and most power tools will run just fine. The really bad thing about square wave inverters is that you have to look in the specifications of the inverter to find out if it is a square wave inverter.


Modified sine wave inverters are getting to be very common and are pretty affordable. They will run some sensitive electronic devices as the power is cleaner than a square wave inverter, but not as clean as a pure sine wave inverter. You can run devices like TVs, microwave ovens, most computers, and a majority of other devices off of these. They are by far the most popular power inverters to use because of the lower price but yet still some decent power.


Pure sine wave inverters on the other hand will produce power that is identical to your home electrical outlet (it may in fact be more stable). You can run pretty much any device you want to off of these pure sine wave inverters and you don't have to worry about damaging sensitive electronics, and lithium battery chargers will work on pure sine wave inverters. The down fall is that they will cost more.


No matter what power inverter you go to buy, look at the specifications to find out what type of power inverter it is. Also, plan ahead when buying a power inverter. You might not need a pure sine wave inverter now, but down the road you might need one. At bare minimum I would buy a modified sine wave inverter.


Keep in mind too that there are some things that you just don't want to plug into a power inverter. Items that produce heat are one thing that are HUGE power hogs! Most power inverter can not run a toaster, no matter what the power inverter's power rating. Toaster ovens, blow dryers, electric clothes dryers, electric heaters, all of those are items that VERY few power inverters can handle. Those that can handle it will use a consume a LOT of power to power them.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-06-2014, 04:32 PM   #30
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

So, is there anything that I posted that you didn't quit catch or that you would like for me to go over again? Is there anything that I did not cover that y'all would like to hear about? Just post up and ask me!


Now my foot is telling me that it is time to take a pain pill and log off for a bit.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-06-2014, 06:56 PM   #31
Texas Grown
Pope & Young
 
Texas Grown's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Burleson, Texas
Default

Very informative thus far .
Texas Grown is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-07-2014, 09:33 AM   #32
ballgame
Ten Point
 
ballgame's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Houston
Hunt In: Hill Country
Default

Great Thread! I will reference this when I update my system.
ballgame is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-08-2014, 08:50 AM   #33
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

So is there anything regarding solar panels that one of you out there would like to know more about? Any questions??? I don't know what to cover next as I THINK I covered everything but am unsure.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-08-2014, 10:13 AM   #34
Roger_Roger
Eight Point
 
Roger_Roger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: E-Tex
Hunt In: Anderson Co.
Lightbulb Problems with batteries, basic feeder system

Great stuff for larger systems and all the info on the boat equipment, amp draw all the good stuff on wire size for everything. So how could I still have a question well is guess I'm just old and slow but I'm still having problems with solar feeder systems i.e..
As an example lits just use these:

http://www.wildgameinnovations.com/p...l#.U7wFS15H2lI

with this battery:

http://www.wildgameinnovations.com/p...l#.U7wF1V5H2lI

and this charger:

http://www.wildgameinnovations.com/p...l#.U7wIjl5H2lI

I don't always use the same brand battery but I always use 6v rechargeable, some of the batteries last a week some may last 6 weeks but none last like some of the guy on here talk about, a year. What am I doing wrong? Do some panels come with controllers and how do you know if they have them?

I know this is about as basic as you can get. What do I need to do to make it work?
Roger_Roger is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-08-2014, 10:38 AM   #35
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger_Roger View Post
Great stuff for larger systems and all the info on the boat equipment, amp draw all the good stuff on wire size for everything. So how could I still have a question well is guess I'm just old and slow but I'm still having problems with solar feeder systems i.e..
As an example lits just use these:

http://www.wildgameinnovations.com/p...l#.U7wFS15H2lI

with this battery:

http://www.wildgameinnovations.com/p...l#.U7wF1V5H2lI

and this charger:

http://www.wildgameinnovations.com/p...l#.U7wIjl5H2lI

I don't always use the same brand battery but I always use 6v rechargeable, some of the batteries last a week some may last 6 weeks but none last like some of the guy on here talk about, a year. What am I doing wrong? Do some panels come with controllers and how do you know if they have them?

I know this is about as basic as you can get. What do I need to do to make it work?

Do you ever pre-charge the batteries before putting them to use? I know several people that will open a brand new battery and find that it is not in very good shape. So they will always make sure the battery is fully charged before installing them.


Another thing to take into consideration is the solar panel itself. Have you ever cleaned the solar panel? Dust will build up on the plastic cover and that can decrease the solar panel output. Also, what direction is the solar panel cells pointed in? Did you zip tie the panel to a leg on the feeder? If you did then that solar panel is not making much power at all. Is the feeder under trees? If it is then the solar panel won't produce much power at all. The solar panel needs to be 100% in the sun as much as possible. This means it has to be mounted on the sunny side of the feeder, with the cells aimed at the sun during the middle of the day.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-08-2014, 12:58 PM   #36
Roger_Roger
Eight Point
 
Roger_Roger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: E-Tex
Hunt In: Anderson Co.
Default 91

91 Tkx and yes all your guide lines have been followed. The solar panel is the one listed above and is in direct sunlight, at least 6hrs, screwed to the 55gal feeder barrel using mounting bracket. I have purchased a digital DC amp meter to ck draw of feeder motor and the timer draw but have not had a chance to put it in line, I will be there on the 15th and hope to get it up and running.
Do you know if there is a diode or any type control in these small panels to stop discharge of battery at night or overcharge in full sun?
Roger_Roger is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-08-2014, 01:35 PM   #37
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger_Roger View Post
91 Tkx and yes all your guide lines have been followed. The solar panel is the one listed above and is in direct sunlight, at least 6hrs, screwed to the 55gal feeder barrel using mounting bracket. I have purchased a digital DC amp meter to ck draw of feeder motor and the timer draw but have not had a chance to put it in line, I will be there on the 15th and hope to get it up and running.
Do you know if there is a diode or any type control in these small panels to stop discharge of battery at night or overcharge in full sun?

Definately use the amp meter and find out what the feeders are pulling, and how much power the panels are producing. It could be possible that your feeders are pulling more power than normal for some reason.


On the solar panels, all of the panels made today are supposed to have an internal diode to prevent the battery from being discharged at night. To test this you can connect your amp meter up between the solar panel and the battery. Read to see how much power the panel is putting out, then completely cover the panel and take another reading. If the amp meter shows power draw from the solar panel, then a small and cheap diode installed would prevent the power drain on your battery.

There are not any solar panels out there that will stop charging by themselves if the battery voltage gets too high.

Out of curiosity, how many times do you have the feeder set to go off, and how long is it set to go off each time?




I know on my dad's feeders, a 4.5 amp/hr 6 volt battery would last for about 3 weeks with twice daily, 5 second runs from the feeder. Once we got solar panels installed to the setups, one battery would easily last all season with twice daily runnings of the feeder of 5 seconds each time.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-08-2014, 02:35 PM   #38
Roger_Roger
Eight Point
 
Roger_Roger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: E-Tex
Hunt In: Anderson Co.
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by 91cavgt View Post
There are not any solar panels out there that will stop charging by themselves if the battery voltage gets too high.


I know on my dad's feeders, a 4.5 amp/hr 6 volt battery would last for about 3 weeks with twice daily, 5 second runs from the feeder. Once we got solar panels installed to the setups, one battery would easily last all season with twice daily runnings of the feeder of 5 seconds each time.

I was under the impression if you use a controller it would cut solar power off to the battery (s) when they reached full charge like the auto electric chargers of today. BTY I burned a perfectly good RV battery up with a small panel with out any type controller after about 2 months without using the Camper, so I know even little panels can cause damage.

I have mine set up 3 sec twice daily but will bump it to 5 about mid Sept.
Will post again here when I check amp draw etc.

Tkx for all the input. RR

Last edited by Roger_Roger; 07-08-2014 at 02:38 PM.. Reason: changed to quote
Roger_Roger is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-08-2014, 03:34 PM   #39
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger_Roger View Post
I was under the impression if you use a controller it would cut solar power off to the battery (s) when they reached full charge like the auto electric chargers of today. BTY I burned a perfectly good RV battery up with a small panel with out any type controller after about 2 months without using the Camper, so I know even little panels can cause damage.

I have mine set up 3 sec twice daily but will bump it to 5 about mid Sept.
Will post again here when I check amp draw etc.

Tkx for all the input. RR

You are correct. If you connect a charge controller then it will basically drop them to a trickle charge once the batteries are full. And yes, it won't take long if you over charge a battery, even with a small panel.



I'll wait and see what your results are after you check things out.



Now off to la la land for me.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-14-2014, 11:58 AM   #40
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Does anyone else have any questions regarding solar setups?
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-14-2014, 06:27 PM   #41
lovetohunt
Ten Point
 
lovetohunt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Arlington, Tx
Hunt In: Young County
Default

I was wondering if it would be possible to use solar with battery storage for a pump house that would use 220v pump. It would be used for about 4 hours a week.

Thanks for all the info you have given.
lovetohunt is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-14-2014, 06:54 PM   #42
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by lovetohunt View Post
I was wondering if it would be possible to use solar with battery storage for a pump house that would use 220v pump. It would be used for about 4 hours a week.

Thanks for all the info you have given.


Yes, it could work. You would need a power inverter that puts out 240v instead of one that puts out 120v. They are out there, but not as easy to find.

I know there are mathematical formulas out there that you can input your needs into and it will tell you the battery bank size and solar panel wattage requirements but I don't know of any right off the top of my head.


Are those 4 hours a week that the pump will be running be non-stop, or is that 4 hours spaced out evenly, say a half hour each day?


Let me look around to see if I can find an online calculator.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-14-2014, 07:06 PM   #43
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Here is a cheap 240v power inverter. It only puts out 5,000 watts constant though so I don't know if that one would be big enough for you or not. Also, it requires a 24 volt battery bank.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/5000W-Pure-S...item3a885bd8c9



Here is a calculator you can use to find out how large your solar setup would need to be to run the pump;

http://www.wholesalesolar.com/StartH...alculator.html
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-14-2014, 08:04 PM   #44
lovetohunt
Ten Point
 
lovetohunt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Arlington, Tx
Hunt In: Young County
Default

It would be for watering the yard, and it would probably run for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours at a time.
lovetohunt is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-14-2014, 08:26 PM   #45
Brazos Hunter
Pope & Young
 
Brazos Hunter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Brazos County
Hunt In: Brazos Co, Leon Co, and with God every time I go out.
Default

David, you don't have a 30A+ charge controller to part with do you? I am just about to have a 145w panel (I'm building) in service on the shop!
Brazos Hunter is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-14-2014, 09:25 PM   #46
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by lovetohunt View Post
It would be for watering the yard, and it would probably run for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours at a time.
It depends on the power consumption of the motor as to how large of a setup you would need. Do you have any idea how much power it consumes?
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-14-2014, 09:28 PM   #47
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brazos Hunter View Post
David, you don't have a 30A+ charge controller to part with do you? I am just about to have a 145w panel (I'm building) in service on the shop!

Is it a 12 volt panel or a 24 volt panel?



I've got a 30 amp PWM charge controller at the cabin but it is designed for 12 volt panels. Right now it is connected to a single 18 watt panel on the shed that is charging a 14 amp/hr battery bank. Basically it is just setup to run all of the 12 volt stuff in the cabin. If you have a smaller charge controller you could swap the big one out for then you could use my 30 amp one.
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-14-2014, 09:34 PM   #48
Brazos Hunter
Pope & Young
 
Brazos Hunter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Brazos County
Hunt In: Brazos Co, Leon Co, and with God every time I go out.
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by 91cavgt View Post
Is it a 12 volt panel or a 24 volt panel?



I've got a 30 amp PWM charge controller at the cabin but it is designed for 12 volt panels. Right now it is connected to a single 18 watt panel on the shed that is charging a 14 amp/hr battery bank. Basically it is just setup to run all of the 12 volt stuff in the cabin. If you have a smaller charge controller you could swap the big one out for then you could use my 30 amp one.
It is 12 volt. I don't have a smaller one not being used right now. I could pick up one from HF and switch it out when I can get over there. I have the other three panels, controler, single red battery, and the 350 watt inverter kepping my radios going and a fan. I plan to connect the 145 watt panel to the two grey batteries and the 1k watt inverter. Thanks Dave! The next time you are down or we are your way we will shop for me one to order.
Brazos Hunter is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-14-2014, 09:36 PM   #49
Brazos Hunter
Pope & Young
 
Brazos Hunter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Brazos County
Hunt In: Brazos Co, Leon Co, and with God every time I go out.
Default

Is this one yours? If so, I'll just order it.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/30A-AMP-Sola...item2ece659ee2
Brazos Hunter is offline   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Old 07-14-2014, 09:43 PM   #50
91cavgt
Ten Point
 
91cavgt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Waco
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brazos Hunter View Post
Is this one yours? If so, I'll just order it.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/30A-AMP-Sola...item2ece659ee2

Nope, this is the one that is at the cabin now;

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sunforce-600...item233a28428b
91cavgt is online now   Reply With Quote Back To The Top
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:47 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 1999-2012, TexasBowhunter.com