New guy here

BuougBuoug Registered Users Posts: 12
Hello all!! First of all, thank you all for taking the time to help a new guy out!!! I'm a military guy who is currently deployed but wanting to start up something small when I get back to Colorado. Small enough to power my living room TV and dvd player. My idea here is not to have everyone research what I need but to help me with the list of things to think of for the research. I'm the 5 year old trying to learn high school right now just to give you an idea where I'm at. Again thank you for the help!!

-Items needed for research-

Watts per hour
--This is for all items that will need power in total. (Current? Voltage?)

How many hours per day I will be needing the power for
--I will calculate for the most, not avg per day, that way the sys can handle max load.

From these two things I should be able to come up with a sys I want or atleast this is what I'm thinking. This is where I need your help at. Are these the only things I need to know to start off with? Or should I be looking at another variable before doing all my research for parts?

Ground Rats Rule!!!


  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: New guy here
    Buoug wrote: »
    Watts per hour
    --This is for all items that will need power in total. (Current? Voltage?)

    How many hours per day I will be needing the power for
    --I will calculate for the most, not avg per day, that way the sys can handle max load.

    Welcome to the forum,

    first, are you on grid? Second, are you planning a battery based system? Battery based systems are not cost effective when the grid is available.

    Next, you must learn about the units. "Watts" is a rate. "Watts per hour" is a rate of a rate. If you are drawing 10 watts at noon, 15 watts at 1 PM, 20 watts at 2 PM, 25 watts at 3 PM, etc then your power consumption is growing at 5 watts per hour.

    What you need to do is figure out what is your maximum load in watts. You also need to figure out what your cumulative energy use is. That is measured in "wattHours". If your load draws 30 watts for 1 hour that is 30 watthours. If your load draws 45 watts for 3 hours, that is 135 watthours.

    Get yourself a kill-a-watt meter. It will allow you to know your loads.

    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,625 admin
    Re: New guy here

    To add to what vtMaps said... Here is a link to one type of Kill-a-Watt meter... There are different models and even different brands these days. When you are back in the states you can, sometimes, pick one of from your local hardware store.

    Pretty much, the order to do things:
    1. Measure your loads.
    2. Look at replacing loads with most energy efficient devices you can. Turn off any unused devices (sometimes on "standby", devices draw significant amounts of power).
    3. Define your power requirements (typically a battery bank large enough to power your loads for 1-3 days without sun and 50% maximum discharge).
    4. Do several paper designs and see what best meets your needs. Generally, Loads define battery bank. Then size of battery bank defines size of solar array. And, the amount of sun plus loads also define size of solar array.
    5. Once you have "done the math" and the paper design of the basic system--You can start looking for hardware (solar array, charge controller, battery bank, AC inverter, tools, misc. hardware, etc.).

    There are a lot of decisions to make along the way--Without a good handle on your loads/power requirements, it is very difficult to design a system.

    For example, older TV's may draw 100-200+ watts, newer flat screen LED TVs can draw as little as ~15 watts... That is a 10x size difference in the size of your off grid system.

    This is a multi-step process... It can get very confusing very quickly if we try to discuss designing a system without very good power estimates. The yellow Energy Star tag can be a big help--But direct measurements are always the best source of data--Especially for devices that have variable power usage/cycling (like a refrigerator).

    Once you go through a design cycle for "your system"--Things will start making a lot more sense and we can start adding backup AC battery charger/generator, etc....

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BuougBuoug Registered Users Posts: 12
    Re: New guy here

    Thank you for the responses, exactly what I was looking for!!! I will copy these to a word pad so I have it for later. Well, I have 5 more months of research and once I get home I'll do the measurements. Again, thank you for the time you took to give me some input!!
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