Solar Power and Reptile Care

magspelicanmagspelican Registered Users Posts: 1
Hi everyone, 

I have a ball python which requires a 70-85 degree enclosure and a bearded dragon that requires a 95-100 degree hot spot in her tank. The heat pad is pretty efficient and has a thermostat, however the beardie lightbulb has to be on for 12 hours a day and provide UVB. Right now I have a 100 watt bulb to maintain temps. I have been looking into van living quite a bit and know solar power is a popular way to do so. I need to know straight up: are the heat and UV requirements for my bearded dragon too extreme to work under solar power? I fear my beardie lightbulb will use all of the solar power. Please, how can I find super efficient uv bulbs and do you know anyone who has used solar to provide for their scaley friends? Is the battery more important than the panel itself when you are talking about energy usage and storage? Thanks!


  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,478 ✭✭✭✭✭
    A really efficient UV bulb won't give as much heat, so assuming you need 100w of heat 24hr, that's 2.4kw/day. That would be a decent chunk of the power budget for a modest but relatively comfortable house/cabin system. Doing it with solar alone in a mobile application is likely impractical.

    Generally speaking, heating anything is tough for solar PV. A small propane fueled water heater would be more practical.
    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
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,943 admin
    Heating is difficult to do from solar--More or less, ~$1-$2 per kWH is common (compared to $0.10 to $0.20 per kWH for utility power).

    Get a Kill-a-Watt type meter (some libraries will "loan one" to their patrons). Something like this for 120 VAC:

    If you can find DC solutions, a DC Amp*Hour/Watt*Hour meter is nice (another example link):

    Do you know what type of UV lighting you need? There is near UV (the purplish lights that are common in LED around 400 nm), and true UVA LED (not as common, more expensive, ~365 nm). And UVB (generally a mercury vapor/i.e., florescent lamp without the phosphors). UVA can make your eyes fell a bit gritty from exposure, UVB (and UVC) cause tanning and burns... (you can find ~$20-$30 or so).

    It looks like a UVB (sunlight) lamp is around 100-160 Watts. * 12 hours per day ~1,00 to 1,920 WH per day (not including nighttime temperature control.

    That is (potentially) a lot of power for a small "inexpensive" soar power system. Roughly 3,300 WH per day is enough to run a very efficient cabin/small home off grid (refrigerator, lights, well pump, washing machine, TV+Laptop, etc.).

    Can you confirm an estimated power usage (battery sizing) and nearest major city (for panel sizing).

    In general, if you are on grid / have utility power, off grid solar (panel+charge controller+battery+AC inverter) is not going to save you money.

    A Grid Tied solar power system (panels+GT inverter) can save you money--But they are usually sized to power the whole house and you need approval from your utility+building department (at least). Can save you money overall, but not going to be worth installing a small system just for a reptile or two.

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