Help me spend $3,000

B737B737 Registered Users Posts: 5
Hi all,

Complete newbie here, but have been lurking for months...some very smart folks here!

I am hoping to tap into those smarts, and start a "group" project.

I know this is a completely backwards way of doing things, but as an exercise, I want to see what kind of a system can be built for $3,000 +/- $150...no exceptions!

I, intentionally, want to give as few usage/design parameters as possible, (so as not to stifel creativity) but there are a few:

1. Reliability trumps output! All top quality components.

2. Upgradable.

3. Portable. AGM batteries.

4. Off grid.

5. No generator suggestions--already have honda eu2000i ;)

I know this is very little to work with, but that's all ya get!:p

If this gets rolling, I will build the system and post progress reports with photos.

Thanks all! Rob

Comments

  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,372 ✭✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    Ok, send me your $3000 and I'll spend it.
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    i'm having great troubles melding #2 and #3 unless it is portable as in trailer.

    as was pointed out to you already, you can't design something if you don't know what it's for and all specific applications.
  • n3qikn3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    Paypal me the money, will in return send/post pics of my install.

    We need more info:

    I/we could spend 3K just on batteries.

    http://www.solar-electric.com/crinba24vo62.html
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    How about a portable unit like this, Eco 1800S Solar Generator, it's a mobile unit, well it has wheels anyway.

    Taking up to 12 “sun hours” to fully charge which means when used on camping trips the batteries will be charged during the day while you are out having fun and be ready to use come evening when you need a radio, lantern or any other AC powered gadget. When it comes to home backup and emergency power, the ECO1800 can supply power to refrigerators, TVs, radios and mobile phone chargers during a power outage, as well as emergency power for lights, garage doors and sump pumps to help reduce the chaos of storms. In an emergency, a fully charged unit can provide up to four hours of emergency power for a cordless phone, television, clock radio and lamp. The ECO1800 is also ideal for small office use as it can power a cordless phone, printer, laptop computer and wireless router for up to 10 hours in the event of an outage.

    " up to " being the operative words. With $1,500 left over.

    http://www.atbatt.com/product/23977.asp?utm_source=frog&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=textlink-power-inverters-dc-to-ac&utm_campaign=frog1&utm_term=ECO1800S
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    Okay guys, let's try to be nice.

    So far we know the budget is $3,000 +/- $150.
    Obviously the Op is looking for the most "bang for the buck". He doesn't want low-quality, 'bargain' equipment such as some of the famous ones found under "scams" on this forum. :roll: He wants to use AGM's even though they're more expensive per Amp hour than FLA's. Obviously not grid-tied. Given the budget constraints it is unlikely to be a higher system Voltage than 12.

    But a choice has to be made as to whether this is DC only or and AC system.

    "Upgradeable" is neigh-on impossible with any budget. There are operational limits that can only be exceeded by tossing almost everything but the panels and controller and starting over.

    "Portable" is subjective. Mack used to run an add with a house sitting on a trailer behind one of their cabs and the caption "Anything is portable if you have a big enough truck."

    One idea:
    Exeltech 1.1 kW inverter $600 http://www.solar-electric.com/exxp12vol11w.html
    Two Concorde 224 Amp hour 6 Volts $650 http://www.solar-electric.com/pvx-6220.html
    ProStar 30 Amp controller $120 http://www.solar-electric.com/ps-30.html
    Two Kyocera 135's $650 http://www.solar-electric.com/kyso130wa12v.html
    Total: $2020, leaving $980 to buy wire, fuses, hardware, mounts, et cetera.

    But that's just one idea.
  • B737B737 Registered Users Posts: 5
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    Thanks to all for your responses, even the couple of jabs! I knew I'd get a few, and I expect more--deservedly. All in good fun.:D

    As for the specific applications, I have none. :blush: Power rarely goes out here. I'll use the system to power whatever I reasonably can. No unrealistic expectations.

    Bottom line, I don't need solar. With a few exceptions, if we're honest, very few really need it...but who doesn't want it:D

    Coot, I like where you are going. Will the 2 Kyrocera 135s provide adequate charging for the 224 Ah batteries? I'm new at this, bear with me. 2 pv panels @ 135W = 270W. 270 x .77 =208W. At an average voltage of 13.6 that's about 15.3 amps. Over 4 hours of sun that's 61 amp hours. Assuming 50 percent discharge of the 224 ah batteries, wouldn't i need about 134 amp hours to fully recharge the batteries? Is my math correct?:confused:

    If so, would 2 24v pv panels with a mppt controller work?


    Thanks, Rob
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000
    B737 wrote: »
    Coot, I like where you are going. Will the 2 Kyrocera 135s provide adequate charging for the 224 Ah batteries? I'm new at this, bear with me. 2 pv panels @ 135W = 270W. 270 x .77 =208W. At an average voltage of 13.6 that's about 15.3 amps. Over 4 hours of sun that's 61 amp hours. Assuming 50 percent discharge of the 224 ah batteries, wouldn't i need about 134 amp hours to fully recharge the batteries? :confused:

    Thanks, Rob

    See what happens when you start to look at the details?
    For instance, using the Icarus formula on the system you get this:
    270W * 4 hours * 0.50 = 540 Watt hours AC daily.
    That is short of the potential for the batteries at 50% DOD or even 25% DOD. But you didn't specify a power load. The panels will meet charge current minimum (208W / 12V = 17 Amps or 7.5% charge rate), so they would recharge the batteries - eventually. If you want to use more battery power on a regular basis (daily) you would need more panel to replace the usage:

    112 Amp hours @ 12 Volts = 1344 Watt hours / 4 hours = 336 Watts or 436 Watt array. That might give you 28 Amps of charge current, or 12.5% charge rate. (Rough calculations; not precise parameters.)

    There's much to the designing process that involves tolerances and compromises. Many factors can be adjusted, and need to be to suit the application. But there is no specified application here.

    See why it's better to know what you want the power for before you try to find a way to produce it?
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    realistically, i can't advise you on what you may want as that may be something you need to determine with a bit more of an idea, not for us, but for yourself, of the purpose or goals it will have. even when it seems clear-cut to us what somebody should do, it is totally up the one asking to finally decide what is to be decided upon. it sounds like you want to play or tinker with it. you don't need to spend $3000 to do that imho.
  • B737B737 Registered Users Posts: 5
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    Yeah, I've read through the forum enough to know that my approach is backwards, but again, I have no specific needs. Lets just call it a solution looking for a problem.;).

    However, If I am going to tinker, I want the outcome to maximize functionality. I may run my some of my office on the system or maybe use it for emergency back up....yeah, I know, a generator is better, and I have one. Who knows.

    You have given me some ideas, though. I would like to stick with a two panel, two battery system with 50% DOD.

    Starting with your suggested system, I'd need to use smaller batteries, or larger panels, or, most likely, some combination thereof.

    Suggestions?
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,511 admin
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    I assume that you are somewhere down in Arizona--so you have a goodly amount of sun most of the time.

    And I would build out a system with ~10%-13% or so of solar panel charging to battery bank. This allows you to run the most power (when the sun is shining) and lets you quickly recharge the battery bank (for longer life and a useful amount of power the following sunny days).

    Plus, running a "smaller" battery bank would keep battery costs (and replacement every 3-10 years or so) much less expensive. And start out with "golf cart" type batteries (3-5 year life).

    It allows you do do pretty much everything you want to experiment over the next few years--and if you want a larger battery bank (or AGM, fork lift, etc.)--you can do that and not feel to bad about scrapping/selling the old bank.

    Your other question would be--are you after a number of hours of low power use (300 watts) to run lights, tv, radio, computer late into the evening... Or are you looking for a 1,500 watt inverter to start a refrigerator and run some power on the side?

    If you can swing more than 500 watt of solar panels--running a refrigerator for most of the year (without needing to run the genset) is a real possibility.

    And, depending on your inverter peak output power--you have a choice between 12 volt (around 1,200 watts peak) and 24 volt (1,200 to 2,400 watts or so)...

    Many charge controllers can be configured for 12 or 24 volt battery banks--But inverters are hard built to one or the other.

    An MPPT controller would be nice for the larger array, but that adds another $300 or so to the build.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • B737B737 Registered Users Posts: 5
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    Thanks for your input.

    Unlikely to be running the refrigerator, more likely tv, lap top, a few lights, possibly cable modem (not the cable box) and wireless router...if that. Again, I'd like to keep the system portable. Two panels & two batteries.

    May add more later.
  • thenderson4thenderson4 Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    From my own experience, you will want to "grow" the system. The most common mistake many of us have made in the past is we have purchased components which we have out-grown. Therefore I would suggest the MPPT controller, at least 45 amp. The Morningstar and Xantrex are both really good. This will sit in the "electical" middle, between the solar panels and the batteries. The load on the batteries will be either an inverter (my favorite is Xantrex, XW series) or DC applicances and lighting. My entire house is lighted with 12 volt devices, LED and compact flourescent. With DC, you avoid the power loss of converting from DC to AC and back to DC, which is what lights LED bulbs.

    As others have said, the balance needs to between the total watts of PV and battery size. Not enough PV and the batteries will present a problem.

    Just more suggestions, have fun. I did not NEED to convet to solar. The first half of my system went online about the time the oil rig blew up in the gulf, and the last half went online about the time the nuclear plant in Japan melted down. Alternative energy, it is the way to go!!!

    6KW of solar, 6 KW of inverter, 16 ea L16 RE batteries, two MS-MPPT 60 charge controllers. I began with one SS-MPPT 15L which is a small charge controller and one 135 watt panel into a few 12 volt RV batteries.

    Trust me, yours will grow too!!
  • B737B737 Registered Users Posts: 5
    Re: Help me spend $3,000
    From my own experience, you will want to "grow" the system. The most common mistake many of us have made in the past is we have purchased components which we have out-grown. Therefore I would suggest the MPPT controller, at least 45 amp. The Morningstar and Xantrex are both really good. This will sit in the "electical" middle, between the solar panels and the batteries. The load on the batteries will be either an inverter (my favorite is Xantrex, XW series) or DC applicances and lighting. My entire house is lighted with 12 volt devices, LED and compact flourescent. With DC, you avoid the power loss of converting from DC to AC and back to DC, which is what lights LED bulbs.

    As others have said, the balance needs to between the total watts of PV and battery size. Not enough PV and the batteries will present a problem.

    Just more suggestions, have fun. I did not NEED to convet to solar. The first half of my system went online about the time the oil rig blew up in the gulf, and the last half went online about the time the nuclear plant in Japan melted down. Alternative energy, it is the way to go!!!

    6KW of solar, 6 KW of inverter, 16 ea L16 RE batteries, two MS-MPPT 60 charge controllers. I began with one SS-MPPT 15L which is a small charge controller and one 135 watt panel into a few 12 volt RV batteries.

    Trust me, yours will grow too!!

    Very nice set up! Please...don't tempt me!;). Where did you find DC LEDs for home use?
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,511 admin
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    If 300 watts (600 watt 10 minute surge) of True Sine Wave inverter is good enough for you--then I would suggest building your system around the MorningStar unit.

    It has the features usually found on larger/more expensive units--DC Remote On/Off and Search ("sleeps" at low power until >6 watt AC load is applied, then turns on).

    Plus you can power 12 volt loads directly (car accessories, etc.). And you can get a cheap 1.2 kW MSW inverter to power an electric saw, etc...

    For small systems, conservation--both of your loads and your inverter/etc. is critical... Just leaving an inverter running with zero load can consume much of the output of a small system.

    And, with a smaller battery bank, you can get a nice AC battery charger for line and eu2000i use too as backup.

    Batteries, you can go with "cheap flooded cell" or sealed AGM's... The AGM's are about the "perfect" lead acid battery (no water levels to check, cleaner, won't spill, freeze resistant, high surge current capability. The downsides are real--2x or more the cost, and may not last as long as a good quality flooded cell battery.

    If you want to really experiment, there are some interesting LiPo battery packs. Very light weight and high surge current... But you really have to want those for weight/portability issues.

    Lastly, solar panels... Big panels (175 watt and larger) are usually the least expensive and not much required in the way of connections. However, they are large and if you need portable (and less expensive to ship), the 135 watt size (kyocera and such) are much easier for a single person to handle.

    Remember solar panels are single weight (~1/8") tempered glass--And a hard knock will shatter those in nothing flat--Leaving you with a piece of modern art--and not much else. So storage/moving from site to site/unpacking/mounting to ground or trailer are all "hazardous" to the panel operations--Treat them well.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • thenderson4thenderson4 Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    Independence Electric Company in Canada usually have a good selection.
    www.ledcentral.net
    I suggest internet searches. Lowes is one of my sources. GE energy smart, with a MR16 base. This is a 4 watt narrow flood, but othe degrees of deflection are available.
    The sockets can be bought on Amazon. The bulb will snap into the rectanglular hole in a handy-box switch cover, just re-drill the two mounting holes in the cover, the original hole do not line up with the screw holes in the box.
    Use LED in hallways and other places where you do not want the slight delay associated with DC compact flourescentswhich are engineered to light in cold cabins, so there is a heater inside the bulb.
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    Best easy, bang for the buck I know of is the Xantrex PowerHub system.
    And I don't mean those "solar generator" ripoffs that the internet sells.
    PowerHub 1800 with 2 batt boxes - $850
    4 quality solar batts - $760
    Morningstar 60A MPPT CC - $500
    3 - 230W PV modules - $750 (non dealer price from an unmentioned source)
    PV cabling - $50
    Total: $2910

    Could do better than this with a do-it-all yourself system but not practical for most people.
  • SteveKSteveK Solar Expert Posts: 277 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    "Help me spend $3000"

    I've been here and done this before. A friend once asked me to do a similar thing with his $2500. Problem is I don't remember much of the entire extended weekend but we did spend the money somewhere...;)

    Rouge MPT-3024 = $300
    Choice of mono panels, 1080W = $2300
    Johnson Controls T105 Batteries x 6 = $410
    Exceltech 1100W inverter = $600
    Sell the genny = -$600

    That leaves $140 for you to get creative sourcing cables (junkyard maybe), mounting brackets (scrap yard maybe) and furnish a breaker box setup using used SquareD stuff from Ebay.

    Like somone said above, portability is to each his own.

    Don't knock the batteries either, you can change them out 3-4 times as often as the "better one's" for the same price. Why consider the lower cost batteries? Because the expensive one's will sulphate just as easily and this is your first system. I'd prefer to trash some cheapo's first while learning to live off of this system, wouldn't you?

    And the Rouge does not mess with the quality aspect, believe you me, and the non-UL listing is negated because you said portable...8)

    Oh, and don't blame me for needing to sell the genny, I am not the one who brought it to the table!...lol

    Future upgrades are a loaded statement too. You could upgrade to a smaller inverter like Bill said or upgrade to Concorde batteries like Coot said or upgrade to a bigger controller, more panels, seperate batt bank. Thorium Reactor....etc
  • TheBackRoadsTheBackRoads Solar Expert Posts: 274 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    I agree with what Thenderson4 said in post 14. Getting a MPPT charge controller will allow you to upgrade and be "set" in that regard.

    I started my system a lot like the OPs trying to do. I got some of this, these, and then realized I needed more of these and that. I have no NEED for solar, very stable, cheap grid etc etc but the technology interested me and I enjoy this stuff. I like what post 7 by Cariboocoot, I'd take that and build off it, maybe another panel and different charge controller or something. You get the idea. Also, I'd recommend some form of AH meter, (trimetric, Xantrex, Victron) helpful to understand your system better.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000
    How about a portable unit like this, Eco 1800S Solar Generator, it's a mobile unit, well it has wheels anyway.

    Taking up to 12 “sun hours” to fully charge which means when used on camping trips the batteries will be charged during the day while you are out having fun and be ready to use come evening when you need a radio, lantern or any other AC powered gadget.
    Careful! 12 sun hours is way more sun than any location gets in a day.

    To see how much sun a location near you receives, see http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/old_data/nsrdb/1961-1990/redbook/sum2/state.html

    Even in Phoenix, AZ, in August, a flat plate collector at latitude tilt and 180 degree azimuth only gets, on average, 7.0 sun hours per day.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000
    ggunn wrote: »
    Careful! 12 sun hours is way more sun than any location gets in a day.

    To see how much sun a location near you receives, see http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/old_data/nsrdb/1961-1990/redbook/sum2/state.html

    Even in Phoenix, AZ, in August, a flat plate collector at latitude tilt and 180 degree azimuth only gets, on average, 7.0 sun hours per day.

    Gee, I get 16 hours of sun up here. In July. That doesn't make up for the 6 hours (if it isn't snowing) in December. :p

    It'd be rough if you took that camping and used up all the power on the first night and only got 4 hours to recharge with the next day!
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000
    Gee, I get 16 hours of sun up here. In July. That doesn't make up for the 6 hours (if it isn't snowing) in December. :p
    Sun hours as calculated by NREL are the number of kWh/m2 incident on a surface with a specific orientation (with or without tracking, shown in different tables) over the course of a day, not the number of hours that the sun is over the horizon. For sun hours/day at a location close to you for surfaces with various orientations and with/without tracking, see http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/old_data/nsrdb/1961-1990/redbook/sum2/state.html

    16 hours of sunlight does not equal 16 sun hours. A sun hour is 1000W/m2 for one hour on a surface with a particular orientation. It can also be 500W/m2 for two hours, or 100W/m2 for 10 hours, etc. No place on earth gets anywhere near 1600Wh/m2 (16 sun hours) in the course of a day, any time of year, even with two axis tracking. EDIT: the north pole on the summer solstice with 360 degree tracking, maybe?

    But you know that, don't you? Sorry if I treated a joke as a serious comment, but it is a common misconception.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    ggunn; yes, I know. Hence the 'smiley' - and the repeated use of the phrase "equivalent good sun" around here. But we do have to make these things clear for those reading who don't yet understand this stuff. Sometimes the jokes can confuse. :blush:

    Even with a tracker you can't pick up all the hours of daylight as "equivalent good sun". People forget that in the morning and afternoon the sun travels through more atmosphere than it does mid-day and that eats up some of that 1000W/m2. There's an old rule-of-thumb in photography about keeping colour temperature up by not shooting two hours after sunrise or two hours before sunset; it's all related.

    So is being at higher elevation and having less atmosphere to block light so your panels actually average a higher output than they would at lower elevations. That's the small advantage to living in the Cariboo. ;)
  • bluewickedburnerbluewickedburner Solar Expert Posts: 78 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Help me spend $3,000

    Have you thought about getting some tested good but used equipment? Here are some prices you can find with a little patience:

    4 130 watt Kyocera Panels for $650.
    1 decent brand MPPT controller for $150
    2000 watt Inveter,/charger with ATS for $600
    4 AGM pulls 220 amp/hr for $600

    Total $2000 just add wire, boxes and fuses. Money left over and if you muck it up, so what? If you decided that it was a waste of time you could probably get 80% of that money back by selling it.

    You'd have a system that can power more than a mobile phone and really see what solar can do. As a 12 volt system it is easy to manage, portable, reliable and all that. Buying new is nice but eats up money real fast for tinkering.

    Why buy a brand new car if you're learning how to do body and paint work?
Sign In or Register to comment.