New Here, and stunned lol

hitanktankhitanktank Registered Users Posts: 14
My head is spinning reading about solar trying to figure out which way is up. I have a chunk of land I am building a tiny house on and am looking at solar power for some areas. I'm sure glad I found this place, I was looking at that Powersource 1800 generator and then read about it on here. Obviously the best way to do things is build my own system, but obviously I am clued. So as time passes and I read and learn more I will be grilling all of you with questions, cause you clearly know whats what when it comes to solar. Looking forward to it.

Comments

  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,996 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    Yes, we'll all suggest you define your loads. If you just go out and buy something your mostly shooting blind.

    Since you have the land and looking at building a "tiny house" now would be the time to figure out if your going to try to AC the house. If you do you'll want to build in the shade, and have 6"+ insulation, and the smallest area you can deal with, even AC only a sleeping room. You might even consider an earth structure of some type,... and so it begins...
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • hitanktankhitanktank Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    ya Im going very slow, taking my time and learning instead of going blindly. The build will not start til May and this entire winter is for learning and applying what I learn. Im good in a lot of areas but solar and also plumbing Im pretty dim
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,509 admin
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    Welcome to the forum!

    Here is a thread with lots of information, projects, and links. It is fairly random, but can give you a wide array of ideas of what is possible for your new home.

    If you have not, look at Home Power Magazine and other sources for building an energy efficient home/structure.

    In the end, you will be farther ahead in the game if you work hard to reduce your electrical/power needs up front.

    To give you a working idea... There are folks here that have small systems that give them around 1,000 WH (1kW) per day and they have lights, laptop computer/Ipad, Internet, fan, cell phone, etc...

    In the olden days (a decade or more ago), solar power was very expensive (panels were >$10 per watt), and people could live a fairly normal lifestyle (above, plus well pump, refrigerator, washing machine, TV, etc.) on ~3.3 kWH per day (100 kWH per month). And that is still a good aim point today for a system that is not too expensive or too complex for a first time DIY off grid power project.

    As you go up on power (10kWH per day/300 kWH per month), that is pretty much a standard/very every efficient home (no A/C, no electric heat).

    Some folks here even run Air Conditioners and even electric hot water heaters--But it requires picking the correct appliance for the job (mini-split A/C; Hybrid water heater, etc.).

    This is compared to the "average" north American home that is around 1,000 kWH per month (33kWH per day).

    You can have a system that will supply 1,000 kWH per month--It will just be large and expensive to install and maintain.

    Energy usage is a very personal choice. There is no right or wrong answer--But it means that it is very difficult for us to tell you need ABC for your idea off grid power system.

    More or less, you have to measure your existing loads (say 100 watts for 5 hours per day = 500 WH). A Kill-a-Watt type meter is great for 120 VAC 15 amp maximum appliances. There DC AH/WH meters, and you can even use a DC Current Clamp meter to measure larger DC loads (well pump, etc.).

    Once you have a good handle on the loads (and any conservation you can do--i.e., laptop vs desktop computer, CFL/LED vs filament lamps), then we can start sizing your system.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • hitanktankhitanktank Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    ok the confused one here again

    lets hypothetically, and purely hypothetically say,...that all I needed to run was a mini fridge and recharge the laptop battery every so often. Once again, I dont know squat about solar, but after looking at items it seems theres gotta be a better way to run a couple items than dropping 5 or 6 thousand dollars on solar. Help?
  • DillDill Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    yep, an EU2000i Honda generator.
  • hitanktankhitanktank Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol
    Dill wrote: »
    yep, an EU2000i Honda generator.

    so bizarre you type that just as I am looking at a Honda EU2000i generator.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,509 admin
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    Again--I would highly suggest you get a Kill-a-Watt type meter for something like $30 (Home Depot sells them too).

    Understanding your loads is the first step to designing a cost effective solar power system.

    For example, a small bar fridge may average ~300 kWH per year. And a full size frost free kitchen fridge/freezer may average 400 kWH per year.

    For a guy in a cabin, you can get a chest freezer, put in a refrigerator thermostat, and get a 7+ cuft "chest refrigerator" that may use 0.250 per day instead of 1-2 kWH per day for a typical fridge (for a lot less money too--you can use this money for your solar power system).

    I have a 15+ year old home stereo/CD/tape player. It takes ~80 watts turned on and ~40 watts turned off (just to run the clock/memory).

    It is really amazing, the size and name plate on an appliance has very little impact on the power usage (many times). The yellow Energy Star Tags seem to be pretty accurate to me (if not a little pessimistic if you are not in a hot climate).

    And to give you an idea--One summer I got my electricity usage (3 bedroom home in SF Bay area, 4 people) down to 187 kWH one summer month (I am sure I use closer to 250-300 kWH per month these days). The average power would be:

    180,000 WH per month * 1/30 days per month * 1/24 hours per day = 250 watt average load 24x7

    So--If I don't watch what is left on "in standby" (40 watts for a stereo in standby, a 20 watt digital receiver in standby, 9 watts for a washer/drier turned "off", etc.)--I can easily add add 25% to my electric usage.

    I know this may sound silly to go and measure all the usage of your appliances--But it will really help you identify power waste and usage. And will help you design your system to meet your needs (cost effectively).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 393 ✭✭✭
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol
    hitanktank wrote: »
    ok the confused one here again

    all I needed to run was a mini fridge

    Ahh...there lies the rub Tank. Refridgeration makes solar more challenging. Even though a fridge 'only' uses 100-200watts when running, its compressor motor needs many times more (8-12x) to get going, requiring a bigger inverter. Also a "small" fridge can often draw more Kw/h that a better insulated larger model.

    A Kill-a-watt meter was my first purchase. It helped me determine my current usage and projected loads.
    Good luck on the journey
    -SP
    Outback Flexpower 1 (FM80, VFX3048E-230v, Mate, FlexNetDC) 2,730watts of "Grid-type" PV, 370 AmpHrs Trojan RE-B's, Honda 2000 watt genny, 100% off grid.
  • hitanktankhitanktank Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    ya I have a lot figured out for this tiny house way off grid project but I am really fighting this whole fridge issue
    Ya proper insulation is a major factor Im finding out

    I sure like the Honda EU2000i for non solar as it is clean power and is quiet, gets excellent reviews. Good call on that.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,509 admin
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    There is nothing wrong running the cabin for weeks or a few months on the Honda eu2000i or equivalent... Using a Kill-a-Watt meter to measure you actual loads for a few weeks-months, then design/build a solar system to meet those loads.

    For seasonal cabins (weeks, few weeks at a time), a small solar power system for lights, laptop computer, water pressurization, cell phone charging and such (night, quiet times). And use the Honda for bigger loads (power tools, all the lights/TV well pump filling tank, etc.). A MorningStar 300 Watt TSW 12 VDC inverter with two to four golf cart type batteries and 300-1,200 watts of panels is about perfect for this type of use. And a used RV propane powered fridge until you have a large enough power system/need.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • hitanktankhitanktank Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol
    BB. wrote: »
    There is nothing wrong running the cabin for weeks or a few months on the Honda eu2000i or equivalent... Using a Kill-a-Watt meter to measure you actual loads for a few weeks-months, then design/build a solar system to meet those loads.

    For seasonal cabins (weeks, few weeks at a time), a small solar power system for lights, laptop computer, water pressurization, cell phone charging and such (night, quiet times). And use the Honda for bigger loads (power tools, all the lights/TV well pump filling tank, etc.). A MorningStar 300 Watt TSW 12 VDC inverter with two to four golf cart type batteries and 300-1,200 watts of panels is about perfect for this type of use. And a used RV propane powered fridge until you have a large enough power system/need.

    -Bill

    this is why I came to this forum---this sounds perfect
  • hitanktankhitanktank Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    ok work with me like I am 6 years old here, I obviously am super new to this and am actually kind of scared of this whole solar thing-lol-seems difficult

    So the solar panel collects the energy of the sun, moves it to a solar controller which then moves it in a controlled fashion to (in this case) a 12v battery. This battery is wired to the inverter which converts the power from DC to AC which runs most things. Am I good so far? Now here's my question, as ridiculous as it probably sounds. Does this inverter have the plug ins (outlets) where you would plug in your, for example, fridge? Im kind of lost where these outlets are.

    thanks for being patient with me
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol
    hitanktank wrote: »
    Does this inverter have the plug ins (outlets) where you would plug in your, for example, fridge? Im kind of lost where these outlets are.

    Inverters come both ways. So do generators, for that matter. The eu2000 is a portable generator with outlets. It was not designed to be 'hard wired' into your house wiring.
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • DillDill Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    ditto to what vtmaps said above.

    The Morningstar Sure Sine 300 which is so favored here (by myself included) does not have outlets on it, so it needs to be wired with either a small wire lead and some plugs, or into a junction box (preferred). You can see mine mounted on the wall here above my batteries, which is then fed into the small junction box which feeds the outlets and lights in my little cabin. These pictures are from a bit earlier in my construction phase, but you get the idea. Eventually I will have the batteries in a vented, but enclosed box to keep them isolated from the dog :)

    I primarily use my system at the cabin for lights, a radio, and to charge phones/laptops. My electric drill and jigsaw also run off the little SureSine no problem. I have a Honda EU1000i for cloudy days or to run my 5000 btu A/C and other small tools in the summer.

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  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,509 admin
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    And remember, since you are "the power company", you have to know your loads--Both average loads (sizing the battery bank and solar array) and peak loads (starting power, motor surge current, etc.)... Sort of like sizing your fuel tank based on your MPG, and engine size for pulling a trailer up hill.

    User "2manytoyz" has a personal website with lots of photo/information on his "smaller" solar power system (although, it looks to be getting bigger):

    http://2manytoyz.com/

    And he has a section where he is redesigning/re-installing his system with lots of pictures:

    http://2manytoyz.com/altpowerboard.html

    One warning--Use the correct size wiring and fuses for safety. He is mounting everything in wood and needed to ensure that the risk of fire is as small as possible.

    I do like mounting on sheet rock or concrete backer board--This can reduce the chance of fire spreading if something "goes wrong".

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • hitanktankhitanktank Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    way off topic, but this is the first forum I have seen that goes bottom to top and page 1 has the most recent posts, while pages 2 and on are earlier posts
  • EverlongEverlong Solar Expert Posts: 36 ✭✭
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol
    hitanktank wrote: »
    way off topic, but this is the first forum I have seen that goes bottom to top and page 1 has the most recent posts, while pages 2 and on are earlier posts



    Yuup, it quite f
    g annoying, especially if you want to read a 20 page post.

    we moderators also get quite annoyed when somebody feels the need to complain in a vulgar way here on the forum. leaving one letter obliterated did not detract from the word enough to suit me. i left 2 letters there and it's still not very nice. consider this a warning as next time you will receive a ban from me and other mods can still act upon this if they feel my warning isn't enough. niel
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol
    hitanktank wrote: »
    way off topic, but this is the first forum I have seen that goes bottom to top and page 1 has the most recent posts, while pages 2 and on are earlier posts

    That is the default behavior, but you can just go into your Settings and change it to your preferred oldest-first format.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,509 admin
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    In the "SETTINGS" link upper right of screen, then "GENNERAL SETTINGS", you can edit the "Thread Display Mode".

    This link should get you to the correct screen:

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/profile.php?do=editoptions

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • hitanktankhitanktank Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    ok question time again

    once I do my kw/h figures and know where I am at,...I have rough estimate as it is

    Is there such a setup as this?
    solar panels>>>charge controller>>>2 batteries>>>>inverter WITH 2 AC PLUG INS ON IT>>>>run cords from inverter to whatever I am powering

    I ask in this format because I am looking for simple way and not a bunch of wiring

    again, being new to this, I am unfamiliar if this is apossible setup
    thanks for responses

    I am 100% getting a Honda EU2000i generator to start and then want to do the solar after all is built so as to have both options
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol
    hitanktank wrote: »
    ok question time again
    ...
    Is there such a setup as this?
    solar panels>>>charge controller>>>2 batteries>>>>inverter WITH 2 AC PLUG INS ON IT>>>>run cords from inverter to whatever I am powering

    I ask in this format because I am looking for simple way and not a bunch of wiring

    Yes. There is just such a thing. But a lot depends on how large an inverter you will be using. Some, mostly the smaller ones, come with outlets built in, while others, usually the larger ones, have only a place to attach hard wiring (conduit or other) to a distribution system.

    But if you get one of the latter, it is not hard to simply attach an outlet box to the hard-wired port of the inverter and wire to it, then extend to where your loads are using appropriately sized extension cords.
    Keep in mind that a 20 amp 120 volt circuit is about 2400 watts, so a larger inverter will need at least two 20 amp circuits as well as two or more circuit breakers to handle the full output power.
    Also keep in mind that extension cords are not supposed to go through windows, doorways, or holes in walls, so you may have to do a little fudging to make this work out.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • hitanktankhitanktank Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    Ok here comes the big attempt at a system for what i need
    Correct me obviously where I am wrong

    2 x 100 Watt Monocrystalline panels
    1 charge controller
    1 Deep Cycle battery 12V [email protected]
    1 300W 12V Inverter with 2 AC power outlets

    and all the cables to connect it all

    remember, I only need to power 2 things here, a mini fridge and a laptop, and obviously the laptop is here and there

    oh a side question--can you run like 200 watts of solar panels into a 600W inverter that peaks at 1200?
    and then add more panels as time goes on?
  • hitanktankhitanktank Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    just computing out loud my kwh/month

    laptop = 7
    mini fridge = 20
    water pump (minimal, shower/sink) = 10
    Im gonna put misc = 10 cause I dont know what else Im running off solar, I have everything else off the HondaEU2000i or other forms of power

    so 47 per month---round off 50

    reasonable calculation?

    I got that fridge calcualtion at 10 hours per day,...hmmm maybe change that?
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    Okay, a bit wrong-way-'round you are going there. :D

    First, read through this thread on refrigerators: http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?12272-Just-how-bad-a-small-frige-is
    Second, the inverter's Watt rating is its maximum output, not a constant. And it has nothing to do with the quantity of panels.
    Third, the Watt hours for an off-grid system should be calculated on a daily, not monthly, basis as that is what the cycle is; use power and replenish batteries daily.
    Fourth, the panels need to be of sufficient capacity to recharge the batteries or else you'll be using the generator daily which is usually not desirable.
    2 x 100 Watt Monocrystalline panels
    1 charge controller
    1 Deep Cycle battery 12V [email protected]
    1 300W 12V Inverter with 2 AC power outlets

    Your list of components is 100% speculative. Don't even think about spending a dime until you actually know what power you need.
    For instance, a 300 Watt inverter probably won't even start a refrigerator of any size so that would be a mistake. 115 Amp hours of 12 Volt battery is only about 600 Watt hours of power maximum, and even a small refrigerator can use double that in a day. 200 Watts of panel would recharge that size battery fine but may only 'harvest' about 400 Watt hours per day (depending on conditions of insolation) which again is likely to be woefully inadequate for running the refrigerator, much less anything else.

    This is why you really, really need accurate numbers on power consumption before you try to design a system. It's too easy to come up short on the power needed or else spend more money than you want.
  • hitanktankhitanktank Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol
    Okay, a bit wrong-way-'round you are going there. :D

    First, read through this thread on refrigerators: http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?12272-Just-how-bad-a-small-frige-is
    Second, the inverter's Watt rating is its maximum output, not a constant. And it has nothing to do with the quantity of panels.
    Third, the Watt hours for an off-grid system should be calculated on a daily, not monthly, basis as that is what the cycle is; use power and replenish batteries daily.
    Fourth, the panels need to be of sufficient capacity to recharge the batteries or else you'll be using the generator daily which is usually not desirable.



    Your list of components is 100% speculative. Don't even think about spending a dime until you actually know what power you need.
    For instance, a 300 Watt inverter probably won't even start a refrigerator of any size so that would be a mistake. 115 Amp hours of 12 Volt battery is only about 600 Watt hours of power maximum, and even a small refrigerator can use double that in a day. 200 Watts of panel would recharge that size battery fine but may only 'harvest' about 400 Watt hours per day (depending on conditions of insolation) which again is likely to be woefully inadequate for running the refrigerator, much less anything else.

    This is why you really, really need accurate numbers on power consumption before you try to design a system. It's too easy to come up short on the power needed or else spend more money than you want.

    I agree
    I was speculating and jumping the gun
    I will go do better research and come back with better numbers and a proper idea

    I get a little antsy at times
  • hitanktankhitanktank Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    geezus this s--t is confusing

    ok carry on now :p
  • DillDill Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol

    stick around for a few months, the muddy water will begin to clear
  • hitanktankhitanktank Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol
    Dill wrote: »
    stick around for a few months, the muddy water will begin to clear

    no worries there Im committed to a solar setup even if I start my hair on fire accidentally a few times
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: New Here, and stunned lol
    hitanktank wrote: »
    no worries there Im committed to a solar setup even if I start my hair on fire accidentally a few times

    Not a problem: by the time you get the first design worked out you won't have any hair left anyway! :p
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