Going Solar..Help

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by beckland farms, Apr 23, 2015.

  1. I am moving into a 750 sq ft house that I am body. I feel like a solar dummy. I need help !!!!!! Lots of help!!!! I know I need the panels, batteries. Converter.....here is where I am stumped...

    1. Do I wire the house the same?
    2. How much Sun do I need on a daily basis?
    3. Can the Panels be connected so I can buy what I need in 3 steps?
    4. Do you have suggestions for best type of appliances to use?
    5. can you run completely solar and backup generator without utilizing any type of propane you around?

    I appreciate any and all answers.every piece of information is a huge help.
  2. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Several members will be along shortly to answer better than I, but here goes.
    1) yes. Will you be using a mix of 12VDC and 120VAC appliances?
    2) depends on how much energy you use. You will need to calculate your average energy usage, storage capacity, solar aspect (avg hours per day you get sun) to do a good calculation on what you can produce
    3) yes
    4) energy star rated appliances for 120vac, check with RV stores for 12V ones.
    5) Cooking with solar electric may be possible but better with propane, same with heating, IMHO.

    @BTPost may provide better answers.

    But I will say I am in the process of putting together my solar setup for an off-grid cabin.
  3. I am trying to determine if I should replace my regular appliances with more of RV type appliances.
  4. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    I'd wire the same as you would for 120VAC and run 12VDC instead. You might want to run a large conductor from your batteries to a centrally located (middle of the home) distribution (breaker) panel. I recommend 2/0 welding cable 2/0 AWG QuickFlex Welding Cable (Red) -(per foot)
    beckland farms likes this.
  5. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    There are a few things that you need to establish before you get to much farther into your design.
    1. Just what things are you planning on running from electrical Power, either Grid, Generator, or Solar?
    2. What things are you going to use that are powered by Propane, Burning Wood, or other fuel Sources?
    3. Is Grid-Power even available at the site.

    Best to wire the building, as if you have Grid-Power, and you can never have to many Wall outlets.
    Should you start out with Only DC Power, but find you want to expand to an Inverter based System, you will NOT have to rewire the whole place, just split the old DC Breaker Panel, into two panels. One AC, and one DC.
    Many Off-Griders use wood for heat, as it usually is a cheap source energy. Many use Propane for cooking, and some use only wood. Back in the Day, Kerosene, and Propane Lighting, was common, but with today's technology, CFL and LED Lighting, is much more common, and much easier to install and maintain. Refrigeration is commonly, electric, Propane, or both. RV type Refers can give you the best of both Worlds. My cabin has a Demestic 3Way 120Vac/12Vdc/Propane Refer, and it works very well. When the GenSet is running, the Refer runs on 120Vac. When not on the GenSet, then it runs on 12Vdc, first, and if that goes below 12.2Vdc, it then switches to Propane. The Freezer Compartment is't Large, but more than adequate for two people.
    If you go to an Inverter/Battery/Solar System, then this rule of Thumb should be Remembered.
    1-2Kw Inverter needs a 12Vdc Battery Bank of sufficent AmpHour to carry your loads.
    2-4Kw Inverter needs a Minimum 24Vdc Battery Bank.
    4Kw+ Inverter needs to be at least. 48 Vdc Battery Bank.
    The INPUT Voltage of the Inverter is the ONLY thing in a System that is Fixed, in a typical System.
    Batteries can be ReArranged to whatever Bank Voltage is required by the Inverter, and Batteries can be added to a Bank in increments, as the System Requirements, change.
    Solar Panels, just like Batteries, can be ReWired, to supply whatever Voltage is required by the Solar Charge Controller. The Solar Panel Bank can be added to, as System Requirements grow, or increase.
    The Solar Charge Controller, if it is a MPPT type Controller, can be programmed to convert ANY Solar Panel Bank Voltage, to any Battery Bank Voltage. Most folks I know, who buy Quality equipment, will look at the OUTBACK Brand, for the Inverter/Charger and Solar Charge Controller. They cost a bit MORE, however they are engineer by Folks who have been in the business for DECADES, and are Known for their Reliability.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
    Mike, Mindgrinder, Tully Mars and 4 others like this.
  6. Can I do this without propane usage?
    Mike likes this.
  7. sec_monkey

    sec_monkey SM Security Administrator

    Yep, but a backup energy source is always good to have. :)

    The backup does not have to be propane.
    Mike likes this.
  8. Can it be generator?
  9. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Yup, All it takes is a Generator....
    Mike, beckland farms and sec_monkey like this.
  10. How about this kind of setup?

    It won't let me attach a link
  11. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Once you get a few more Post around here, you will be able to post Links.... It is part of the AntiSpamm Software...
    Mike, beckland farms and Mindgrinder like this.
  12. T. Riley

    T. Riley Monkey+++

    If you know nothing I would buy a Grape Solar kit. It is the only product sold by most major retailers (SAMs, Home Depot, Walmart, Lowes, Costco). I have a 900 watt system I have put together with a lot of help from them and I like it. Like money, it's not what you make, it's what you spend that counts. Plan wisely and you can get by with a much smaller system. A/C is out! LED lights, fireplace, wood or gas cook stove, etc. I would not run 12 volt wiring, the wire size has to be larger (expense) and the fixtures and appliances are way more expensive. With 750 sq feet you can do it if you live were the sun shines. Get on the Internet. Lots of info.
    beckland farms likes this.
  13. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja|RIP 12-25-2017

    I did not know this existed! SWEET! (sorry op)
    beckland farms likes this.
  14. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja|RIP 12-25-2017

    If you get to know propane i think you'll like her more.
    beckland farms likes this.
  15. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    When it comes to an inverter, read what BT says about the wattage rating vs. the 12, 24 and 48 volt DC systems required to power them. It's a good guideline.
    I've seen inverters advertised as 5000 watt that supposedly run on 12 volts. Don't buy those. In order to supply the inverter with enough DC power to run at its full potential, it would take well over 400 amps. That's a huge set of cables and a dead battery stack in short order - highly impractical.
    beckland farms likes this.
  16. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    Not realistic in todays living , with LPG you have a real quick way to cook . I have lived with one airtight (wood stove for everything on an remote island) in the summer I would use a colman stove , but having a Premier gas stove
    lets you not have to fire up a woodstove for a bowl of soup in 3 hrs . Solar induction cooking is ok as a reheat in microwave but I like good quality food with real nutrition still in the food .. After you get the stove synced in to altitude temps , It's great.
    Are you on grid power now ? if so buy one of these and have your eyes opened !!!

    Im Down in WA now picking up these : Hybrid Inverter for Solar Power - Conext XW+ | SE Solar
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
    beckland farms likes this.
  17. My problem with propane is that I have used it for heating source. It's very very expensive. I had a large tank and ended up filling it up about 4 times during winter at About $400 each time.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2015
  18. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Doubt you'll be able to heat using electric from solar.
    Is there an option to install a wood or pellet burning stove?
    beckland farms likes this.
  19. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Just a note about batteries connected in an array...

    Be sure they are all about the same age, the same capacity and manufacture. Internal resistance and capacity changes with age and cycle times, batteries of different capacities require different charge times and have different discharge rates. This "difference" creates a load for the other batteries in the array and they will attempt to equalize with them. The older and different capacity batteries will not recharge as quickly as the newer ones or those of lower capacities either, and that may cause overcharging and electrolyte boil out in the newer and lower capacity cells. As a result of the weaker batteries, the charge controller will see a reduced overall battery capacity, lower than it would be if the older batteries were not in the array, and therefore attempt to bring up the array to a point beyond its capacity. IOW, the charger never shuts off.

    Make sure to keep all terminals and connections clean. Install a battery isolation switch to remove the array from the charger and any load before servicing the connections. D/C is dangerous at high capacities. Work slowly and methodically when servicing, watering and checking terminal connections. Always be on the look out for a battery with a weak cell. It will be the one cell or battery you do not have to water at all.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2015
  20. I will have a wood burning stove as primary source
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