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#249262 - 07/31/12 04:14 AM Re: what are your thoughts on re-charging? [Re: freeballer]
spuds Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/12
Posts: 822
Loc: SoCal Mtns
Just about anything....drills,dremel,12 volt impact wrench,the netbook on a trip......gonna get a quality electric chainsaw when work situation stabilizes,thats slowed a lot of projects we would like to do.

Really great when vehicle camping or visiting off grid friends.120 volts at the roadside rest stops on trips,major cool. Truck is our major bug out vehicle so its the cats meow to have 120 power on it.

Duck light was just a photo to show it working.

Havent had a need yet but next power outage it can do the lights around here and computer perhaps? The battery backup with inverter at house is good stuff.

Not so much end of world but live on a snowy mtn with old infrastructure,power outs for hours or a day arent unusual so its a good thing.

Im no electrician at all,and if a schmuck like me can set it up any backyard mechanic/homeowner tinkerer type can.IE,if you can unclog a pipe or fix a dripping faucet you have the skill do to this,its such simple mechanical hookups.A drill maybe,screwdriver,wrench,ability to strip a wire for a wire nut is the toolkit needed

BTW,the first time you make solar electricity,no noise,no nothing but a plugged in fan blowing and lights lighting,it was a major impact moment in my life,really tweaks your mind when you actually see your power there,in the real world,mind blowing.

Mrs thought solar was a cool concept,when we hooked up our first one and plugged in goodies she just sat there looking,totally enthralled and awed.

Our barn has solar lights and outside light from the small three panel system (250 watts) that charges the 8 batteries,uses zilch power really and keeps batteries fully charged for the outages.A large usage would take a couple weeks to recharge,but it is what it is,small generation over a period of time to keep the backup batteries charged, not to power big loads daily.

So many charging options with solar. I call myself Electro-Amish.When the situation gets tough I want to go George Jetson,not Fred Flintstone.

Gary at BuildItSolar site has so many ideas,from simple cheap to high end state of art,his site can give you all kinds of ideas,and if something isnt clear email him,he is a great guy and very receptive to spreading the word and helping.


Edited by spuds (07/31/12 04:33 AM)

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#249302 - 07/31/12 09:25 PM Re: what are your thoughts on re-charging? [Re: spuds]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1308
Thanks Spud. I am already into solar for extended base camp and household use and so far have a couple of panels that are not the highest output but work fine for present needs and feed into an AGM group 34 deep cycle battery.

All 12 and 120 volt lights (single and stringed type) I have purchased so far have been LED. Up until a couple of weeks I would run the 120's of a 700 watt inverter but the drawback of the otherwise, very reliable inverter is that the fan is a bit loud and runs continuously. Last week, I picked up a 300 watt inverter on sale and with this model, the fan only runs when needed and is much quieter.

I also picked up on sale, a portable 700 MCA battery booster pack as one of my concerns of being 60-100 miles north from civilization is the truck battery deciding to go south and no way of starting the truck if there is no other vehicle around. The battery pack also has a USB and 2 x 12 volt receptacles for charging or powering smaller gadgets, AA batteries etc.

The other night once it was dark, I did a test run with new battery pack and the 300 watt inverter connected to a 16' string of LED lights. The lights lit up the kitchen/living room well which will be good if and when we ever have a prolonged power outage. I also have 1/2 dozen, 6" diameter LED lights that give quite a bit of illumination. They each take 4 x AA batteries that I have charged many times with the solar/battery setup.

2 days ago, I also ordered a 5 meter string of 5050 SMD, 12 volt lights which should be here in about 2 weeks. What I like about these light strings, is that they are designed to be cut and allow new connections easily soldered on to make custom lengths.

Depending if my SO decides soon if she is going to Africa for another 8-12 month volunteer stint, I am interested in purchasing a couple of larger panels and a few more deep cycle batteries and expanding on the alternate energy idea.
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#249323 - 08/01/12 05:01 AM Re: what are your thoughts on re-charging? [Re: Teslinhiker]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2580
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: Teslinhiker
2 days ago, I also ordered a 5 meter string of 5050 SMD, 12 volt lights which should be here in about 2 weeks. What I like about these light strings, is that they are designed to be cut and allow new connections easily soldered on to make custom lengths.


Aha! This is exactly what I'm looking for. I want to do low-level "navigation lighting" in my house, barn, cabin, and sheds. If you'd PM your source, I'd appreciate it.

Originally Posted By: Teslinhiker
Depending if my SO decides soon if she is going to Africa for another 8-12 month volunteer stint, I am interested in purchasing a couple of larger panels and a few more deep cycle batteries and expanding on the alternate energy idea.


If you pursue this, please post ongoing details. This would motivate me to do more with the alternative energy stuff I've already got. Heck, I have a 2000W pure sine wave inverter that's still sitting in the box ...

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#249324 - 08/01/12 05:06 AM Re: what are your thoughts on re-charging? [Re: spuds]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2580
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: spuds

BTW,the first time you make solar electricity,no noise,no nothing but a plugged in fan blowing and lights lighting,it was a major impact moment in my life,really tweaks your mind when you actually see your power there,in the real world,mind blowing.

Yep, it is indeed a moment to stand back and admire, while a little voice in your head says "This is completely and utterly awesome."

I'm enjoying your posts. I thought I was all alone out there, putting up solar panels (in oil country, no less!). Keep it up, will ya?

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#249327 - 08/01/12 12:40 PM Re: what are your thoughts on re-charging? [Re: freeballer]
spuds Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/12
Posts: 822
Loc: SoCal Mtns
Ah,more solar folks,love it.

I have the JNC battery pack,the 660.Got it for the Jetta which was start perfect,next day the battery was TOAST,after a couple of those times got the jumper pack.Since sold vehicle and replaced with a nice original 67 Jeepster Commando,better for snow anyhow and no electronics nonsense.I can fit in a monster battery too,unlike barely eek in the tiny batteries many new vehicles have 'to save weight for economy',NO THANK YOU!

However,the alternator failed on the Dodge Cummins and it started TWICE with the Jumper pack,Im sold on em.Before I did the truck solar.

On my 300 watt inverter fan was noisy as well,saw a guy who said just cut the wire on em,not needed anyhow.He was right,little 300 wattters produce so little heat,so I did it,no problems,then again I really dont run that one hard.

Agree on the LED strings,not great light but darn nice on a porch or kitchen,you can see anyhow.For very little energy use.Actually its a really soothing light on the porch.

Been experimenting with LED light bulbs.Got a couple from Deal Extreme and they are NICE,ran bout 8-10 dollars.If you order from them read ALL the reviews,most are junk but they usually have a few that have all the right stuff.

Yes,keep us updated on all your solar toys....whatta ya think of the Lithium 100 amp hr batts....weigh 28 lbs for 700 bucks but can be discharged 100%.... times 2000 cycles and only lose 25% capacity???? At that performance comparable cost wise to lead acid over lifespan.Read they dont know yet how long they will last at 80% discharge,amazing!!!! Battery tech is FINALLY going to shake up our world,prices dropping,love it!

BTW,since 2001 over a million Prius's have been sold and Toyota claims they havent seen a single battery pack wear out yet,amazing!

Alternate energy is in a Golden Age right now,cheap (Panel prices down 75% in last three years,wow!) and innovations all over,a perfect storm!


Edited by spuds (08/01/12 01:27 PM)

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#249344 - 08/01/12 05:52 PM Re: what are your thoughts on re-charging? [Re: freeballer]
freeballer Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 08/25/06
Posts: 60
Loc: nb, Canada
Very cool projects. I don't understand all of it, but producing your own electricity is very cool. Ever since I saw a show called "canada's worse handyman" I realize solar/wind is more mature technology than I previously assumed.

What sort of knowledge do you need for these projects? I can solder, and understand the basics of electricity but thats it. I'm checking out the builditsolar, and the "Getting Started" hopefully that'll fill in some gaps.

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#249346 - 08/01/12 06:21 PM Re: what are your thoughts on re-charging? [Re: freeballer]
spuds Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/12
Posts: 822
Loc: SoCal Mtns
This is a very basic,cheap setup in our Barn.Nothing here is fancy but it does work real well for a few lights and to charge backup batteries. I wound up with 3 panels just lying on a porch roof (no wind issues here at all).Could use a grounding wire from panels to ground.

Super simple,wires from panel to charge controller,from there to battery.From battery to the 120 volt inverter.A fuse in each line.

From that point its just a matter how big and how robust the equipment is,all still remains simple.

===========================
First thing to do is hook the 2 panels together.Wire the positive to the positive of each panel together and add a pigtail wire to go to the charge controller.Same story with the negative wires.Im using 12 ga wire because its such a short run to controller

CLICK TO ENLARGE PICTURES






Flip the panels over....We are using the 2 panels on the left (180 watts total of 12 volt panels),the 3 on the right and above will be used on a different system to charge the battery bank that powers the house during power outages (wound up giving away 2 panels on right to Bud who needed them)






Run wires through wall...




And mount the Charge Controller.This doodad controls panel output to get maximum charge rate from panels while avoiding overcharging battery




Now make wires to run from battery to charge controller




Oops,forgot to wire inverter to battery.This device changes the 12 volt DC battery power to 120 volt AC household power




Connect those battery wires then run them up to the Charge Controller




Now Connect the wires from the panels to the Charge controller.One should be ideally black (The 2 wires on left) But I have a lot more red wire so red it is.I did mark the end of the negative wire with black zip ties to tell it apart.Also note there should be a fuse in both the panel and battery circuit,I will add later as I didnt have handy.Regular 20 amp automobile type fuse is fine.




There we have it,all hooked up and devices plugged into the inverter receiving 120 volt AC power






Edited by spuds (08/01/12 06:39 PM)

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#249347 - 08/01/12 06:22 PM Re: what are your thoughts on re-charging? [Re: freeballer]
spuds Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/12
Posts: 822
Loc: SoCal Mtns
Running a fan,a CF Light bulb and a string of LED lights

Click to enlarge photos



Costs for this system retail is 259.00 for Gel cell sealed 12 volt solar battery

About 800 to a thousand for the panels (nowadays figure 2 dollars/watt,so 250 watts is 500 bucks)

Charge controller is 120 dollars (now about 55)

Cheapie inverter 300 watts is 40 bucks or so.

I had the wire.


Total is new retail is 1200-1400 dollars
--------------------------------------------------------------------
From Craigslist....used stuff

I paid 35 dollars for the panels,one was free because it was covered in Calcium (got it pretty clean with CLR,output is at specs),and other 70 watts I got for 35 dollars because frame is bent (Eventually bought about 3000 watts of used panels from him at 2 dollars a watt)

The controller was hooked to a panel I bought,gave to me free.

Battery free for testing it for guy I bought solar from.(He had a source to buy a ton of em from a hospital replacing their 2 year old back up batteries) Later bought more from him at 50 bucks each,three years later still are awesome.

Inverter 40 bucks.

I had the wire.

Total cost used parts and freebies....75 dollars!!!


......... smile
=====================
Added this....

Got those other three panels hooked up to the house battery backup batteries.10 amps now going into those.

TOMORROW i WILL HOOK UP A COUPLE LIGHTS OUTSIDE DOOR NEXT DOOR AND ON BACK SERVICE PORCH WHERE BACKUP SYSTEM IS.Dang caps lock.

I have a 12 volt tractor light I got at thrift store,35 watts,that will run off the barn system from the morningstar controller

Added 20 amp fuses to battery line and solar panel line as its a 20 amp 12 volt Morningstar Charge controller...

The 2 wires on the left are coming from the solar panels.The 2 wires in the middle go to the batteries.The 2 wires on right go back outside and power the porch ligh as this controller has the optional light control circuit.




6 Deka batteries and small inverter,6 more Dekas coming hopefully....




Inspected and passed by Code Enforcement...




.............

========================

The Porch light.....

My Latest project,all from Thrift Store parts so dirt cheap.I have no idea cost,last basket was 28 dollars and included 2 of the 35 watt tractor lights and the bracket.

I bent the bracket into a shape I liked...

Click to enlarge pics,lower resolution pics so dialup friendly



Run wires through wall to Charge Controller timer circuit,they are the 2 wires on Right.See,solar even loves me,wires are an upside down heart,LOL!...






All wired up...




It works! All set up to run 3 hours after dark and 1 hour before Dawn.That Morningstar Controller is fine!




Im sure Mrs will paint it up real cute (edit,She did,looks great),but pretty cool light,eh? I went out at night and it lights the whole backyard,Nice! And on free sun power,gotta love it!



..........


Edited by spuds (08/01/12 08:26 PM)

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#249357 - 08/01/12 08:41 PM Re: what are your thoughts on re-charging? [Re: dougwalkabout]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1308
Originally Posted By: Teslinhiker
2 days ago, I also ordered a 5 meter string of 5050 SMD, 12 volt lights which should be here in about 2 weeks. What I like about these light strings, is that they are designed to be cut and allow new connections easily soldered on to make custom lengths.

Originally Posted By: dougwalkabout

Aha! This is exactly what I'm looking for. I want to do low-level "navigation lighting" in my house, barn, cabin, and sheds. If you'd PM your source, I'd appreciate it.


Doug, the 5050 SMD lights are available on EBay from many different sources, usually from Hong Kong. I was at first hesitant to order any electrical parts from over there. However previous research on other websites and forums, and also past experience with a couple of sellers I have purchased a few things from, including lights, 12V voltmeters and other electrical items have proven to be good quality and much cheaper (and no shipping fees) then North American sellers who sell the same products.

When I get these particular LED lights delivered, I will post some pics and my thoughts on the quality etc.

I'll send you a PM of the Ebay sellers I use, if you are interested.
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#249359 - 08/01/12 08:47 PM Re: what are your thoughts on re-charging? [Re: freeballer]
spuds Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/12
Posts: 822
Loc: SoCal Mtns
Tes,that looks major cool,cant wait to hear your test results/projects with them,looks nice!

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