Lake Dock Setup

jackson5jackson5 Registered Users Posts: 2
Hello all,
I am attempting to put together a solar powered lighting system on the dock of my lake house. I want to be able to light up the entire dock from dusk to dawn. I have been researching different lighting solutions and believe I have found the setup I want and now must determine how to produce the power to run it.
I plan to run 410' of LED strip lights along the outside of the dock and under the roof to make it "glow". These lights run 2.2 Watts per foot for a total of 902 Watts. If I want to run these all night (which I figure as 12 hours), I need to produce a total of 10,824 Watt-Hours per day. I am also going to run some led spot lights for added visibility bu these will be on their own solar cells so they are excluded from the calculation.
I believe I will need a photocell charge controller that will switch the lights on at dusk/off at dawn, a battery(s), and a solar panel(s) (totaling 1000W since I have 12 hours to charge producing a total of 12kWh?). Can someone please give me some guidance on the specs I need for each? I plan to run on 12v and I am located in North Texas. 
Thank you to anyone willing to assist and teach me about all of this stuff!


  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,496 ✭✭✭✭✭
    A few questions:
    Is the dock near a supply of grid power?

    Is cost a consideration, or is this a sort of "I want to do it, just because" sort of thing?

    What are the dimensions of the dock?

    Is it a floating dock, and if so, is there a place (eg shore connection) to put batteries and related stuff?

    I assume North Texas gets cloudy weather at least somtimes. How many days of cloudy weather would you like to be able to keep the dock lit?
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • bsolarbsolar Solar Expert Posts: 103 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2017 #3
    hmm, im no good at calculations but running ~900 watts all night you'll need a giant system .. just a 'guess' about 50 golf cart batteries and enough solar panels to cover a football field to recharge them ....  really, being unlearned in the more techical specification stuff, think its pretty unrealistic to make that kind of power unless your filthy rich .. you'd be better off getting some efficient much smaller LED spotlights rated at say, 35watts, and they'll pull probably about 15watts on a 12V system .. should cast a very bright beam 100-150 yards .. aimed right, 4 of those should cover it and light it pretty well .. now with that setup you can build a much more reasonable system (guessing again) with 4 or so golf cart batts and 4-6 full size panels ..

    *something like these, i use these on my motorcycles and theyre bright as fk -->

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,571 ✭✭✭✭✭
    2.2w per foot, 410' 12 hrs = 10824wh or about 11Kwh per night.

    That's huge.   My house runs 8kwh  24hr in the summer.

    You will need close to a 8 or 9 KW PV array, a huge battery bank and a lot of $$ to pull this off.

    or rethink it and price out trenching to the dock and installing underground power lines.

    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    gen: ,

  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 975 ✭✭✭✭
    Why, why why?  Why would you want to light pollute your area of the lake, not to mention the effect it will have on the rest of the people around the lake?  From dusk to dawn pretty well covers the hours that anyone will be stargazing on or around the water.  Dock lights reflect off the water surface and can have a very negative impact on others around the lake.

    Please think about it, ask yourself if you'd like it if someone played their favorite music all night long accross the lake.  Sound and light travel well over water.

    Been there, Hate that.
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,496 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Ralph Day - I agree, but that's why I located where I did in a quiet, remote area. I get bothered when fishing boats get too close! Not everyone likes this though. I've seen some lakes that are more of a party central vibe, and those folks seem to like it. Courses for horses.
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • jackson5jackson5 Registered Users Posts: 2
    Just to clarify, while they are LED strips, the idea is for them to glow purple, red, or blue - not white. I think I may have painted the wrong image in some of you guys' heads. This is more of what I am going for.
    The 410' includes the perimeter of the awning for the boat and the entire perimeter of the dock (which includes a 110' walkway). After rethinking, I may just do the outside edge and a little of the sides as seen in the picture and do the awning as well. I also may have it on a timed basis where it only goes until maybe 2am or something to cut down on the energy needed. Nonetheless, LED Strip lights pull a LOT of power..
    I like the idea of those LED spot lights and will consider adding those on the awning to use as a spotlight on the deck while fishing!
  • jonrjonr Solar Expert Posts: 1,386 ✭✭✭✭
    I think you would get the effect you want even at .5W per foot.

    I am available for custom hardware/firmware development

  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,496 ✭✭✭✭✭
    One issue to consider is voltage drop. Going long distances with low voltage DC (12v?) will need either a lot of big wire to keep voltage drop acceptable, or more likely inverting to higher voltage AC and using multiple transformers for DC distibuted around the dock.

    This close to water with higher voltage AC, you will likely want multiple ground fault interrupt AC circuits. These also have distance limitations to avoid nuisance trIps.

    Very roughly, you should figure on about $10,000 worth of panels, and 4,000 to rack an array that would need a completely unshaded south facing area about 150' (east/west) x50'. Batteries would run ~$5,000 to last a couple of half nights with no good sun in the day. If you ever go more than a few days of cloud, you will need a generator to charge, as batteries will be damaged sitting at a low state of charge for any length of time, especially in hot conditions. Figure 5,000 there, twice that for a proper diesel that will last. Another 10,000 or so for inverters & misc.

    So you are in the $35,000 range so far. Add the cost of the lighting and transformers, and installation.

    Panels should last 20-25 years.
    Inverters maybe 10. Batteries 2-10 years, Diesel 15+, cheap gas generator who knows. Call it around $3,000/yr.

    Assuming 5kw/day*365=1825kwh/yr to run lights. 3000/1825=$1.64/kwh. In most places that's about 10x grid rates.

    We can play around with the numbers based on a better understanding of needs, but that's the ball park you're in.
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
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