Solar Setup for simple use

SammaronSammaron Registered Users Posts: 15
Sup fellas. I'm going to try asking this here after getting some off topic answers on another forum, and hopefully you folks can help me out (not to mention, a second opinion could really help me out). I'm planning on using this set up for a simple 12 volt system (powering 50 watts tops, 30 mid, and usually 15 or less).

Panel and Controller
Battery
Inverter

If you think this could suit my needs, i was curious; how would i find out how much energy i could draw from my fully charged battery? I tried googling, and came up with some stuff about kilawatts and amp hours, which kinda flew over my head :p

I would really apreciate any help:D
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Comments

  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,306 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    How can we tell you if it will meet your needs if you haven't told us what your needs are.

    As we have said again and again,,, Do the math. Figure out what your loads are in some accepted measure,, watt/hours, or amp/hours or KWH or what have you. Then, we can begin to steer you in some direction.

    Second, spend a bit of time learning what's what. Find out for example what a kilowatt is, and a kilowatt hour is. (A kilowatt (kw) is 1000 watts). A kilowatt/hour is a 1000 watt load for one hour, (kwh).

    Spend some time reading, and then avoid the Ready, Fire, Aim syndrome.

    Tony
  • SammaronSammaron Registered Users Posts: 15
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    my bad :( I thought it was cool to ask stuff like that in the Begginers section, chill

    I didn't know more information was necessary, and still don't. i would be running off 50 watts tops, for short times, 30 for lengths up to an hour, and 15 or less for 3, maybe four hours at a time. I tried reading up, with little success. I learned w = va, what typical electric draw is for common items, and about AC/DC Currents. After about 1 month or so of looking, i could only remember that. Your post chewed me up:cry:

    I'll be glad to provide more information, just tell me what you need.

    What I hope to be able to use it for is charging a cellphone, and maybe puttin some juice into a laptop.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,306 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    It is fine to ask any question, and in fact the only "dumb" question is the one that isn't asked. Having said that, your question can't be answered because you haven't provided enough information. For example, 50 watts doesn't mean anything unless it has a time element attached. This holds true for both the charge side (panel) and the load side.

    What I can tell you by looking at the links provided that the 18 watt panel will provide almost no useful energy on a per day basis. In rough terms, by the time you calculate all the efficiencies of controllers, batteries and inverters, you end up with ~ 50% loss. so your 18 watt panel will give you ~9 watts of useable power. On an average solar day, you might get 4 hours of charging,,,or 9X4= 36 watt/hours. Enough to run a 15 watt cfl bulb for about 2 hours, or 50 watt stereo load for something under 1/2 hour.

    Icarus
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    icarus is right as we have no idea what it is you are trying to power and for how long. also try to refrain from the general links to other sites as we really don't know exactly what you're referencing to, as for instance look at how many batteries are listed on your link. which one are you refering to? it would be fine for you to be more specific such as just saying, i was thinking of say a 12v 300w msw inverter, giving the make and model, and a 100ah battery from brand abc and the 4a sunguard controller with a xx watt pv of make cba and model number xyz. these descriptions would probably do us more good than the links you gave.
    if we need the links we'll ask for them without hesitation and you may have given the description and the links, but not just the links. i'm not scolding as a moderator, but just advising you to make it easier for us to help you.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,417 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    1) it's a real pain to look up the links for your gear, a summary would have been better:

    PV 18Watt photo on amazon looks like an Amphorus panel, will loose 20% the first year.

    battery - (ignore for now)

    Controller: is it the sungard 4 or the Sunsei SE-CC10000 10 A
    (did you buy the pair on woot?)

    So what you could harvest, with a well located panel, and 5 hours direct sun each day.

    18W - 20% initial break in = 14.4W
    14.4w - 15% real life losses = 12.2W per hour x 5 hr = 61Wh per day.
    Convert 100% to battery charging 15V = 4Ah day.

    20% losses in charge controller & battery 61 x .8 = 48.8W /15v = 3.25 Ah day that you can actually accumulate.

    My cell phone charger is 6watts

    A laptop charger takes about 100W

    So as long as you don't use more than 48W per day, you chosen battery will stay charged, if you have full sun on the panel
    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

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,634 admin
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Watts = Volts * Amps this is a "rate" like gallons per hour

    Watt*Hour = Watts * Time (hours) this like gallons

    Amp*Hours sort of like watts, but missing the voltage (assume 12 volts for car battery)

    The standard electrical formulas:

    V=I*R (volts * resistance in Ohms)
    Watts=V*I=V^2 / R=I^2 * R
    kWatts = 1,000 watts (1 Kilo-Watts)
    kWHr = 1,000 Watt*Hours (your home utility power billing $$ unit)

    When you try to figure out your loads... You need to know the average power (watts) and for how long (hours):

    1,000 watts * 1/10 hour = 100 Watt*Hours (say a microwave for 6 minutes)

    50 watt * 8 hours = 400 watt*hours (say your laptop running for 8 hours)

    Notice, that the microwave actually uses less energy running for 6 minutes vs a laptop running for 8 hours.

    The inverter needs to run the maximum load (1,000 watts or 50 watts)... But the battery and solar array have to be able to restore the whole amount of energy used -- whether it is a microwave running for 6 minutes or a laptop running for 8 hours.

    The battery is typically rated in Amp*Hours... This is really about the same as Watt*Hours, except that we divide by the battery voltage to get Amp*Hours...

    So, lets say you want to run your laptop for 3 days without sun, and you don't want to discharge your storage battery by more than 50% (these are typical rules of thumb that give a cost effective system with good battery life)...

    250 Watt*Hours per day * 3 days * 1/50% max disch = 1,500 Watt*Hours of storage

    Batteries being rated in Amp*Hours (typically at the "20 hour rate") would be calculated as:

    1,500 Watt*Hours of storage / 12 volt battery bank = 125 Amp*Hour

    This be a 12 volt battery roughly the size of two average car batteries.

    Now, how much solar panel do you need... Basically, most people get around 4-6 hours of solar for around 6 months out of the year (there are more exact ways of calculating this--but lets keep it simple for now). Also, there are losses with inverters, batteries, charge controllers, and even with hot solar panels. So, using 50% as another rule of thumb we could guess the approximate size solar panel to run your laptop 8 hours per day:

    250 Watt * 1/(4 hours of sun) * 1/(50% sys eff) = 125 watt solar panel (rated Vmp ~ 16-17 volts minimum).

    So, you need to measure/estimate each load you want... What is its average wattage and how long it is on per day...

    Add the sum of all of appliances (watts) while on (~2x this number would be the inverter power rating in watts--computer+tv+cell phone charger+etc).

    And then the Watts*Hour one of all appliances during the day you want to run... The Watt*Hours sizes the battery and the solar panels.

    A really nice and easy 120 VAC meter (North America?) to use is the Kill-A-Watt meter. You just plug the meter into the wall outlet and the appliance into the meter and run the load for a few days.

    wind-sun_2038_172010Kill-A-Watt AC Power Monitor Meter
    P4400 Cumulative Killowatt-Hour Monitor

    Even if you never "go solar"--this is still worth the money for you to figure how much energy your major appliances consume (fridge, stereo, TV, computer, cell phone charger, etc.).

    Also, last thing to remember is that solar power is expensive... Do everything you can to reduce your power use (efficiency, insulation, turn off what is not needed, new EnergyStar appliances, etc., just turn things off).

    As a quick reference... ~$0.10 per kWhr for home electricity. $0.25 per kWhr for "Grid Tied" solar (cheapest PV solar). Larger Off-Grid Solar costs $1-$2 per kWhr (roughly the same cost for a properly sized gasoline generator). And your small system, probably over $2.00-$10.00 per kWhr.


    Your 18 watt panel in 4 hours of sun would give you:

    18 watts * 4 hours of sun * 50% system losses = 36 Watt*Hours of useful power per day.

    It will run:

    50 watt computer: 36WH/50W = 0.72 hours or 0.72h*60m/h= 43 minutes

    13 watt CFL: 36WH/13W = 2.75 hours

    6 watt cell phone charger: 36WH/6W = 6 hours

    Does this help/make sense?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BrockBrock Solar Expert Posts: 633 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Sammaron, we are not trying to make fun of you or confuse you. Basically the questions your asking would be like asking a car enthusiast what tires to get far a vehicle without knowing what the vehicle is (truck or sedan) or for highway, track or off road. We just need to know what your want to actually power with the equipment and for how long, and where you are.
    3kw solar PV, 8 L16's, xw 5548, Honda eu2000i, iota DLS-54-13, Leaf EV, 4 ton horizontal geothermal, grid tied - Green Bay, WI
  • SammaronSammaron Registered Users Posts: 15
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Wow, thanks for the replies :D Sorry about the vague links (hehe, there really messed up) , i must have forgot to click the actual one :) I'll try to put more info into my posts, and provide a link after that.

    What will the system power: I was hoping to be able to keep my phone, and my brothers phone powered off grid, all solar. I was thinking about charging a laptop for short periods, up to 2 hours, but that's probly out of reach. I'll be happy with the phones. We have a 'kill-a-watt' knock off, and can show how many watts are being drawn (up to 500) and how many amps. It's called AmWatt, and i can't really testify to it's accuracy. It says the phone, when in use and charging, only uses about 1 - 2 watts. It started at 5 and 6, and slowly flickered lower. I was suprised to see it report it drawing 00.0 amps, so it seems like something is wrong.

    Specs:

    Solar Panel
    • PV module performance, rating at: 1000w/m2, 25C
    • lpmax: 1200 mA
    • Maximum Power: 18 watts
    • Minimum Power: 14 watts
    • VPMax: 15 volts
    • lsc: 1225 mA
    • Max Sys V: 50volts
    • Voc @ 0 C: 24 volts

    That information is copied straight of the back of the solar panel. The model number is SE-1200. I got all this 'cause it arrived today :D

    Charge Controler
    • Max Charge Content: 10 Amps
    • Nominal System Voltage: 12 VDC
    • Max input Volume: 30V with 12V Battery

    (more info available, if requested)

    Copied straight from the back of the charge controller. The model is Sunsei CC10000.

    Battery

    I have not purchased a battery, since i'm not sure what to buy. I was hoping to keep the price to a minimum, and planning on purchasing a 21 amp Wheel Chair Battery This is the only information supplied:

    Deep cycle lead acid sealed battery
    F.A.A. C.A.b. D.O.T.
    Approved for Air Transport

    I was a little confused when it was called a Wheel Chair Battery. Do you think it would still work to power other things? I would be willing to purchase other batteries, but i'd hate to have to spend over 70$ on it.

    Inverter

    Again, this has not been purchased, but was recommended to me.
    • Input Voltage 12V DC
    • Frequency 58 Hz to 62 Hz
    • Output Voltage 109 to 120V DC 5V DC

    The product is made by Cobra, and is labeled as Cobra CPI 475 400W AC-to-DC Power Inverter - CPI-475. I was wondering about the 12V DC input. Will the inverter only draw this much? That seems small, as the panel's max system voltage says it's 50. That kind of worries me.

    Bill: O.o Thanks for the help! I really 'preciate it :) i owe you one


    Questions and Musings:When my phone takes up 10 watts while charging (i just made that up, cause it's easy to multiply :D), does this mean 10 watts every second, so in a minute, would draw a total of 60 watts, and 3600 in an hour?

    Watt*Hours = Watt Hour.
    10w*1h= 10wh

    I think i'm getting it!

    I still dont' think i get amp hours, and how that relates to powering stuff. I'll look at the posts at little more, and try some googling. Thanks for the help! Please ask if more info is needed.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,634 admin
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use
    Sammaron wrote: »
    What will the system power: I was hoping to be able to keep my phone, and my brothers phone powered off grid, all solar. I was thinking about charging a laptop for short periods, up to 2 hours, but that's probly out of reach.
    Not really--it is just understanding your needs, and sizing the panels/batteries to support them (and sufficient $$$).
    I'll be happy with the phones. We have a 'kill-a-watt' knock off, and can show how many watts are being drawn (up to 500) and how many amps. It's called AmWatt, and i can't really testify to it's accuracy. It says the phone, when in use and charging, only uses about 1 - 2 watts. It started at 5 and 6, and slowly flickered lower. I was suprised to see it report it drawing 00.0 amps, so it seems like something is wrong.
    No, the AmWatt (?) is probably working fine.... For low wattage, 1 decimal point is not enough:

    120 volts * 0.1 amp = 12 watts
    5 watts / 120 volts = 0.042 amps (below 0.1 minimum displayed range)

    The reason the Kill-A-Watt meter is so much handier, is because the K-A-W also totals the Watt*Hours used over time... For something like a fridge, that runs 20 minutes and turns off 40 minutes--you would have to "watch" the AmWatt meter the whole time with a piece of paper and a watch.
    Specs:

    Solar Panel
    • PV module performance, rating at: 1000w/m2, 25C
    • lpmax: 1200 mA
    • Maximum Power: 18 watts
    • Minimum Power: 14 watts
    • VPMax: 15 volts
    • lsc: 1225 mA
    • Max Sys V: 50volts
    • Voc @ 0 C: 24 volts

    That information is copied straight of the back of the solar panel. The model number is SE-1200. I got all this 'cause it arrived today
    Vmp=15 volts is pretty low... Normally a lead acid battery is charged around 14.2-15 volts or so... On a warm day, Vmp (plus controller drop + wiring drop) will not be high enough for the most efficient power collection--reducing your power collection.
    Battery

    I have not purchased a battery, since i'm not sure what to buy. I was hoping to keep the price to a minimum, and planning on purchasing a 21 amp Wheel Chair Battery This is the only information supplied:
    ...
    I was a little confused when it was called a Wheel Chair Battery. Do you think it would still work to power other things? I would be willing to purchase other batteries, but i'd hate to have to spend over 70$ on it.
    For now, a perfectly OK battery for experimenting. I would not worry (as long as you do not expect too much power from it).

    Inverter

    Again, this has not been purchased, but was recommended to me.
    • Input Voltage 12V DC
    • Frequency 58 Hz to 62 Hz
    • Output Voltage 109 to 120V DC 5V DC
    The product is made by Cobra, and is labeled as Cobra CPI 475 400W AC-to-DC Power Inverter - CPI-475. I was wondering about the 12V DC input. Will the inverter only draw this much? That seems small, as the panel's max system voltage says it's 50. That kind of worries me.
    The downside is this is a very large inverter for such a small system (18 watt panels, 21 AH battery).

    If you run the inverter at 475 watts--it would empty your battery inside of 15-20 minutes.

    Not sure what DC 5V DC means (sounds like it may have a "remote inhibit" function).

    The 50 volt system voltage--that just means you can put two panels in series safely (Voc = 24 volts, so 2x24 volts = 48 volts maximum "system voltage")...

    This is really needed for high voltage solar panel strings used in Grid Tied systems where the system voltage may rage from ~200 VDC to 600 VDC... It is also an NEC requirement that the minimum AC rating of insulation be 600 volts--so all of the devices in the PV to AC mains connections need a 600 volt minimum rating too.

    Questions and Musings:When my phone takes up 10 watts while charging (i just made that up, cause it's easy to multiply :D), does this mean 10 watts every second, so in a minute, would draw a total of 60 watts, and 3600 in an hour?

    Watt*Hours = Watt Hour.
    10w*1h= 10wh

    I think i'm getting it!
    The time unit is whatever we choose it to be... For standard electrical, the time unit is 1 hour (in Watt*Hours or kWatt*Hours). For your physics and chemistry classes, it may be 1 second (1 Watt*Second = 1 Joule). Joule is a very small number (3,600 Watt*Seconds or Joule = 1 Watt*Hour).
    I still dont' think i get amp hours, and how that relates to powering stuff. I'll look at the posts at little more, and try some googling. Thanks for the help! Please ask if more info is needed.
    Amp*Hours * Voltage = Watt*Hours

    That is all the difference is... For batteries, voltage varies over time (charging at 14 volts, discharging down to 10.5 volts for a dead battery, etc.). So the watt calculations (watts=Volts*Current) gets a bit messy (average voltage over time, etc.).

    Turns out that batteries are almost perfect Amp*Hour storage containers... Take out 100 amp*hours, it will take 100 amp*hours to recharge it.

    Whereas with watts, take out 1,000 Watt*Hours, it may take 1,250 Watt*Hours to recharge it (80% efficient) because the voltage is lower when pulling out the power and higher when pushing current back in.

    Hope you are having fun!

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • n3qikn3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Look to see if your phones have an auto adapter. The just hook directly to the battery. Then you can skip the DC-AC inverter.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,306 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Sam,

    Now we're getting somewhere!

    An amp/hour (ah) is another measure of power used. For example at 12vdc, a 12 watt load draw ~ 1 amp. In 1 hour that would use 1 ah of electricity. Or stated another way 12 watt hours.

    Remember the golden rule of electricity. VxA=W W/V=A

    Wh and Ah both measure the same thing,,, the power used (or generated) but stated differently.

    (I just noticed that Bill has added a post that is going to duplicate what I was going to continue to say,, so I will quit)

    T
  • SammaronSammaron Registered Users Posts: 15
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Okay. So getting 4 hours of 9 watts (taking inefficiency into accout) = 36 watt hours. The battery is 21 amps (presumably hours?). 36wh/24v = 1.5 AH. So we're talking 14 days for a full charge, and a week for a half charge. 10.5 wh a week, tops. Cool (right? did i do it right?)

    Edit:// A KWH where i live costs about 7 cents. Producing (ideally) 36 wh a day, this means in about 27 days (we'll call it a month) i'll save my parents 7 cents on their bill. In more than 100 years, this panel will have paid itself off :D BUT, assuming each kwh of energy used makes 1.5 pounds of carbon waste, i'll save about 10-20 punds of carbon every year (cause of bad days, right?)! But now, i would like to know if it would have been better for the environment to NOT purchase this stuff. Is there a good site where i can find out how much energy i'm REALLY saving? It seems like it would take quite some energy to make a Solar Panel, a Charge Controller, a Battery, and an Inverter.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,634 admin
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use
    Sammaron wrote: »
    Okay. So getting 4 hours of 9 watts (taking inefficiency into account) = 36 watt hours. The battery is 21 amps (presumably hours?). 36wh/24v = 1.5 AH. So we're talking 14 days for a full charge, and a week for a half charge. 10.5 wh a week, tops. Cool (right? did i do it right?)

    Close... I think you pulled a 24 volt, whereas you are talking about 1x 12 volt battery. Doubling the voltage of the battery bank, doubles the amount of stored energy (watt*hours).

    (Note: Below, the 50% overall efficiency takes into account solar panel derating, charge controller losses, battery losses, and AC inverter losses).

    The way I would do this (you could sub 14 watts for 1 yr+ older panel if you wanted):

    18 watt panel * 4 hours of sun per day * 50% overall eff. = 36 Watt*Hours per 4 hour sunny day

    The battery, averages around 12 volts at 21 Amp*Hours, so to calculate the Watt*Hours of storage:

    12 volts * 21 Amp*Hours = 252 Watt*Hours of storage

    To recharge a completely dead battery (not recommended to take battery to dead):

    252 WH or battery / 36 WH per day = 7 days "of sun" to recharge

    Which--is about dead on for our 6x daily load/panel size for battery capacity (you have 7x, we say 3 days no sun to 50% max discharge).

    There are a lot of areas where we could pullout efficiency for each device and argue 80% vs 90% or 85% vs 92% and such--but for a basic sizing--this will be pretty close.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SammaronSammaron Registered Users Posts: 15
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    O! so better than i had originally thought, i think. You said doubling the voltage doubles the amount of energy stored, but i think halving it doubles the energy stored. 36/24 = 1.5 ah, 36/12 = 3 ah. Still, i'm wondering how good for the environment this really is... see what i edited in to my last post, so i don't get repetitive :D
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,306 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Your getting it,,but you don't have it quite right yet.

    Your 21 ah battery (12vdc) would have a theoretical capacity of ~250 wh. On the other hand , you don't ever want to draw a battery down more than 50% or IMHO never more than ~20%. So that would be you could draw 50-125 wh.

    I suggest that you read some of the following

    http://www.batteryfaq.org/
    http://www.windsun.com/Batteries/Battery_FAQ.htm#Lifespan%20of%20Batteries

    Also, remember that it will take ~120% more energy to charge the battery than it will give you, given any given set of conditions.


    I don't know what you are suggesting in terms of 10 or 14 days? Please explain,, perhaps I am getting thick,,, as has been suggested often!
    Tony

    Once again, Safari ate my post and BB beat me to it. Mods, you might want to delete this post, save for the battery faq links.
    T
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,634 admin
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use
    Sammaron wrote: »
    Edit:// A KWH where i live costs about 7 cents. Producing (ideally) 36 wh a day, this means in about 27 days (we'll call it a month) i'll save my parents 7 cents on their bill. In more than 100 years, this panel will have paid itself off :D BUT, assuming each kwh of energy used makes 1.5 pounds of carbon waste, i'll save about 10-20 punds of carbon every year (cause of bad days, right?)! But now, i would like to know if it would have been better for the environment to NOT purchase this stuff. Is there a good site where i can find out how much energy i'm REALLY saving? It seems like it would take quite some energy to make a Solar Panel, a Charge Controller, a Battery, and an Inverter.
    YOU HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT!--It is a train coming from the other end of the tunnel.

    No, this is not green or good for the environment in any way.

    If you want to be green--then work on conservation throughout your home and your life.

    Personally, I am not an AGM/Green type of guy... I am a conservative--in the sense to not waste and to try and leave everything a little bit better after I am gone.

    Look at your power bill, get a kill-a-watt meter. Look at your home... Insulation, double pane windows, more insulation in the attic/ceiling, Energy Star appliances, turn things off that are not being used, look at alternatives for power (more efficient and/or ground sourced heat pumps, domestic hot water/solar thermal systems, CFL's, etc.).

    Depending on where you live--many conservation projects can save energy in multiple ways... Insulation saves heating and cooling. New windows same thing. A new Fridge uses less energy and puts less waste heat in the home--saving A/C costs. Same thing with (ugly) CFL's--less money for lighting, and less money for A/C in summer...

    Heat Recovery Ventilators to improve ventilation in a well sealed home, without the heat gain/loss of opening windows.

    Once you have done everything to conserve energy, then you can, economically, look at Solar Grid Tied or other options for power.

    -Bill

    By the way, get a "real" deep cycle storage battery. A car battery is not designed for deep cycling--it is designed to be light weight and provide short shots of high current to crank the car. Not designed for 50%+ cycling (RV/Marine batteries are hybrid between a starting battery and a deep cycle battery--OK for what it does, but not designed to be the best at either).
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SammaronSammaron Registered Users Posts: 15
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Hey :D Sorry i've been absent so long, my computer crashed :(

    That's a real bummer, that i'm not helping my cause. I'd look into that stuff, but i kinda blew all i had on that panel. Pooh. But, i already got the panel, and figure i might as well go through with it. I'm trying to save as much money as possible, but i've run into a couple problems:

    1. I want to use an inverter with a max wattage as small as possible, like 50, or 75. Unfortunately, all these inverters have a DC Male end and an AC Female end, instead of having Alligator clips. This means i can't attach my battery to it :( Is there any work around to get the inverter attached to the battery still, or should i just get a higher watt inverter?
    2. I don't have much money, so i was thinking i might just purchase a DC Rechargeable Battery Charger (for AA sizes, AAA sizes, may C or D). My solar panel does come with a DC female Jack, but i can't run that through the Charge Controller. Should i try splicing the ends of the jack, leaving me with the Female End and a Red and Black wire? OR, would it be save to charge skipping the charge controller? The box does say it was meant for charging 12 volt batteries though, so i'm a little uneasy about trying this. However, this would be a good alternative for me if it is viable.

    I do not have any particular model in mind at this moment for the AA Battery Charger. It's late, and i'll try and have one up tomorrow once school lets out (or i could go totally AWOL in my Computer Class. Cause that'd be cool too). If you need anything, I'll try and dig deeper. Expect more specs soon.

    Thanks bunches :D
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,417 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Look at a radio shack type store, for an aux cig lighter. They have some with "hippo clips" to attach to a battery terminal. Then you can plug your cig lighter 50W inverter in. Be sure to keep the vent holes clear so air can circulate and cool the inverter.

    But why convert 12 to 120, to reduce to 12V for charging.

    I've had excellent results with chargers from:
    http://www.thomas-distributing.com/index.htm
    They have many that come with a 12V lighter cord for car use. I suggest looking at this one: MAHA MH-C401FS-DC which has fast/slow charging for each cell (1,2, 3 or 4 at a time.) AA or AAA
    Great if you have stuff that takes 3 batteries.

    the MAHA MH-C204 only charges in pairs,
    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

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,634 admin
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    It is your money and your product.

    Plugs many times are better than clips--which are very easy to connect backwards and blow your expensive equipment (and leave you with out your off-grid power).

    Cigarette lighter plugs are probably just about the worst thing out there--bulky, low current capabilities, easy for kids to stuff dimes in and blow fuses, etc...

    However, if you have DC adapters that plug into them--they do work.

    Bolting your system together with crimp connectors and ring lugs--with fuses and switches bolted/soldered in... All mounted to a simple plywood box/carrier board is usually a good place to start.

    Ending up with a jumble of plugs, wire nuts, and stuff is just a pain.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SammaronSammaron Registered Users Posts: 15
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Just to be clear, would you guys recommend trying to hack my Female DC Plug and putting that into the charge controller and another DC device? The detailed plan would be this:
    1. Strip off Solar Panel Tip of the DC Female Jack, revealing the red and black cords
    2. Attatch the Charge Controller to the solar panel
    3. Attatch striped ends of Female DC Plug to Charge Controller
    4. Plug in DC AA Battery Charger into Female DC Plug

    About a system that is all bolted in, I'd have to try and find a DC extension cord, so for now, i'll push that off. I just want a panel that can charge batteries.

    Here are the AA Charger Specs:
    Rapid Charge Current: 1000mA (AA), 500mA (AAA)
    Slow (Gentle) Charge Current: 300mA (AA), 200mA (AAA)
    Trickle Charge: 50mA
    Charging Cell Configuration: One to Four NiMH / NiCD AA / AAA Batteries
    Microprocessor: Moving-Window Negative Delta V, four independent channels
    Power Supply Voltage: 12V 1000mA
    Power Supply Included: 100-240V Universal AC Adapter, & 12V Car Power Cord
    Certifications: UL, cUL, FCC, CE, C-tick, ITS CB, GS

    Again, my concerns are that the charge, even though filtered through the Charge Controller, will be too strong for the AA Battery Charger. If this is not a problem, and is a workable system, I'm ready to go full steams ahead :D

    Thanks for the help fellas (and fella-etes)
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    "Again, my concerns are that the charge, even though filtered through the Charge Controller, will be too strong for the AA Battery Charger. If this is not a problem, and is a workable system, I'm ready to go full steams ahead :D"

    well i think if it were to be too strong then they certainly would not have permitted use in a car with an adapter they provide for it as car battery voltages also go high.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,417 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    > Trickle Charge: 50mA

    That's too high to leave AA & AAA batteries on, once they are full. 10mA would be better.
    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

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • SammaronSammaron Registered Users Posts: 15
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Would there be a way to change that? I'd be willing to do some SIMPLE welding and resistor stuff, but, ya know, a switch would be awesome.

    I'm not sure what you mean by trickle charge too. There is definately no two options on my panel, one for main charge and one for trickle. Is trickle just the charge that is passively in effect or something?
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    you would not be able to change the trickle charge current levels without affecting the main charge current levels. it may be fine if it won't be left on that trickle charge stage for very long, but i agree with mike that that level is high so don't leave them on it for days.
    trickle charges are like float charges and they are meant to either maintain a charge level so as to keep a battery at full by overcoming normal battery shelf losses or very very slowly put a charge into the batteries. i suppose they are interposable terms, but i tend to think of trickle charging as feeding more current than float charging normally would.
  • SammaronSammaron Registered Users Posts: 15
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    O, okay. That's all cool, because i'll be getting a charger with an all charged light. I don't like to leave my batteries in that kind of stuff, because i always lose them that way. As soon as that lights on, i'll take 'em out.

    Well. I guess it's time to go to work. Thanks for the help fellas (and, of course, the fella-etes) . I'll post again in a day or two, with pics, and updates. Thanks for all the help :D
  • SammaronSammaron Registered Users Posts: 15
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Well, my first attempt failed. I tried it with my iPod, and that didn't work (the ipod lost power, and did not identify that it was charging). Th positive and negative ends are in the correct spots of the solar charger. The solar charger's light, however, meaning to indicate charge, is not lit (the solar panel's is). I'm unsure to the problem. If you would like other pictures, i'll take some other ones. Thanks for any help :D
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,634 admin
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    I cannot see what brand/model that charge controller is...

    Many (most, all?) solar charge controllers need to be connected to a non-dead battery before they will actually begin to pass current/voltage/energy.

    Also, most charge controllers do not really "regulate" voltage on their output the way you would expect. They need the 12 volt storage battery to properly regulate voltage (in reality, the 12 volt battery is really regulating the voltage, the charge controller is regulating the level of charge of the battery--if that makes sense).

    If you are going to do something like this... You need to put a 12 volt battery (lead acid) on the charge controller which the solar panel will then keep charged. Then you plug your Ipod/DC device into the battery and run the device(s) normally.

    You probably want to avoid plugging your DC devices directly into the solar panel (or even as you show in your pictures)... At best, they probably will not work correctly and at worse, the solar panel's high voltage (higher than a normal 12 volt battery will support/allow) can damage your DC adapters/devices.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SammaronSammaron Registered Users Posts: 15
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Man, that's a real bummer. I was hopping to have to avoid getting a big volt battery. I'll probly just get the cheapest one that i can find, maybe 10 amps. This leads me to a new question though; is it safe to have the battery and an inverter plugged in while the battery is charging? Also, how would i avoid having the two touch? Are there different polse for input and output? Sorry for all the questions :D

    Edit:// Earlier in this thread i gave the specifics of the CC model, but it's a Sunsei CC10000
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,634 admin
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Have you read the manual yet (PDF download--assuming I found the correct one).

    The solar panels + charge controller is pretty much the same thing at the alternator on your car... When the sun is up, it is charging the battery at ~14.5 volts--just like the alternator charges when the motor is running at ~14.2 volts.

    Having the inverter/loads connected to the battery and just leaving the charge controller+solar panels connected is the normal state.

    Basically, everything is connected to the battery--it is the source (and sink) of all current in your system... The inverter draws energy from the battery. The charge controller pumps current into the battery.

    During the times the inverter is not drawing too much energy (less than 14 watts) and the panels are in full sun, and the battery is fully charged--the current, more or less, goes from the controller to the inverter... But the battery still "regulates" the ~12-14.5 volt range that your loads (and the charge controller) will see.

    You cannot avoid the battery with this charge controller (appears to need a non-dead battery to work correctly).

    And, in reality, the battery is your friend. It stores the energy captured over the hours (and days) generated by your solar panel so that it can power your inverter/DC devices at night or for short/high powered needs (such as an inverter powering an electric drill--more power than the solar panel can output even in full sun--surge current provided by the storage battery).

    But, the downside is the storage battery does age and wear out--and small sealed batteries don't usually last much longer than a year or two before failing (and if the batteries are abused, they will die in months or weeks).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SammaronSammaron Registered Users Posts: 15
    Re: Solar Setup for simple use

    Rats. I guess i'll be buying a battery :D

    My main worry about this was that I would be unaware of the batteries energy state. Is there anything that can tell me when it's dying or whatever?
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