New here. I have an Aime's 1250 watt inverter that I bought to power a nebulizer, floor lamp, and a floor fan and a small dorm type fridge.  I am in Florida and the hurricane season is upon us :roll:.  I originally intended to run this off my car's battery but I thought it would be better to get some deep cycle batteries instead. Is it possible to get a small solar panel to keep these charged and if so how do I hook it up and what will it cost. I am new to all of this and I thank you for your replies. I thought about a generator but a family here died due to carbon monoxide and others had their generators stolen in the middle of the night. My feeling is that I could keep all this indoors including the solar panel at night. Thanks.


  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭

    seems to me with up to 1250w of power being utilized that your car battery would not have lasted for very long and i never recommend doing that unless it's an emergency. solar panels or more accurately photovoltaics (pvs for short) can be used to charge deep cycle batteries, but you must remember watts - watts losses = watts usable. in other words if you want to operate something for some length of time you must put that much power into it plus the losses involved. when dealing with watts over time we reference this to watthours. in a example it may be 500w of pv providing a charge for 5hrs making the total pv power to be 2,500whrs. subtracting losses of say around 20% overall leaves about 2000whrs (or 2kwhrs) of battery power from the batteries. if you are utilizing the inverter's full power handling ability you will realize about an hour and a half of use. total systems are running about $8-$10 per watt nowadays so that 500w pv example would be in the range of $4000 to $5000. you could subtract the cost of your inverter though as you've got one.
    incidentally, the pvs are large and can be heavy. the usual way would be to mount them on a roof and thus keeping them out of the way of would-be thieves, but in harms way for hurricanes. temporary ground mounts that would be easier to work with in an emergency place them at risk of thieves. the solution may be some kind of emergency covering to protect the pvs during the hurricane just as the plywood is applied to windows during such a period. i don't know if plywood is a good idea because of the difficulty in getting it onto the roof and over the pvs easily or safely.
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin

    Niel is right.
    Unfortunately, there is a lot of miss-information out there, some of it being spread by certain retail outlets. Here in Canada, a nation wide retail outlet, "Canadian Tire", (tires are actually a small part of their sales these last decades) is selling a device that they imply, is able to run household appliances such as full size fridges, microwaves etc during power outages and because of the advertising, some people believe it like a religion.
    When opened up to see what's inside, we find 2 little 12 volt motorcycle batteries and an inverter.
    The batteries aren't even Deep Cycle, but would that even matter, seeing that the total storage capacity is only about 15 or so Amp Hours, which would run an average full size fridge for about 15 minutes to 30 minutes max., before the batteries go completely flat.
    But not to worry, you could cook one microwave meal before the batteries go dead, as long as you didn't use the fridge and if that meal could be cooked within 10 minutes max!
    So what good is a device like this? Other than to make money for the retailer, I don't know.
    You tell me. Please.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,493 admin

    If you don't need too much power, a Honda eu2000i seems to be a good choice... You get a little more than 5kWhrs per gallon of gasoline (or 1.1 gallons for up to 15 hours of runtime max at 1/4 power--400 watts) for less than $1,000. The eu1000i, according to Honda, uses about the same amount of gasoline as the 2000 brother with the same loads.

    Getting CO detectors for your home and keeping the generator away from your home will help. The Honda is small enough to chain to a tree and bring in at night for storage. You can use a couple of storage batteries for night-time lighting power (LEDs, CPFLs, radio/small / TV) and charge them during the day with the generator (and run the fridge).

    Basically, for me, solar panels are too expensive to only use in an emergency. They work much better (price wise) if they are connected and supplying power 365 days a year. Even my system (3,500 watt of panels) only generates an average of 10-15 kWhrs per day (about 2-3 gallons of gasoline). And during December, it may only generate 1kWhr per day (0.2 gallons of gas) worth of energy for days on end). Also, the generator is portable--if I have to leave my home, I can take it with me--I can't do that with batteries and solar panels (earthquakes are the big problem here).

    In the end, the generator and 10 gallons of gas (with stabilizer), plus the gas and a syphon hose for fuel in my cars, seemed like a very cheap and easy way to provide backup power.

    If I was planning on needing several weeks or more of power (more than 20 gallons of gasoline)--then I would have probably not installed a Grid-Tied only system, but a hybrid battery/Grid-Tied system--but that would have been much more money, less efficient, more space to store batteries, and more costly for maintenance (new batteries every 7-15 years). For here in an urban area (near San Francisco, CA), I just could not justify it.

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset