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#288335 - 03/07/18 02:00 AM New Solar Kit
CJK Offline
Addict

Registered: 08/14/05
Posts: 530
Loc: FL, USA
Just got a 100w Solar Kit from Harbor Freight (usual disclaimers on all named companies and products). Got the kit with the panels, charge controller, and also got a 35 amp hour battery. Haven't set up yet but am happy that i know I'll be able to charge the phones, tablet, Ipod (music), portable DVD and am looking for a 'small' digital battery TV, and to run battery fans. I'll try to update but don't think I'll be operable for a bit (other commitments). If you have any questions I'll be happy to try to answer them. So far it looks good.

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#288336 - 03/07/18 03:26 AM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: CJK]
Ratch Offline
Stranger

Registered: 08/05/17
Posts: 20
A great resource on solar is is solarpaneltalk.com

My strategy has been to standardize on AA batteries, and use battery chargers with 12v car adapters to charge them

I don't plan to run any large appliances, only keep small electronics, 2-way radios, etc going

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#288337 - 03/07/18 03:54 AM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: CJK]
LesSnyder Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1506
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
+1 on Ratch's comment on standardizing to AA (NiMH)... after 2004 I switched to Eneloop AAs for my area, task and head lights, weather alert and AM/FM radios... while I have a 7W Goal Zero charger, I used a power strip to connect multiple NiteCore chargers when I ran the generators keeping the computer, TV, and refrigerator up for Irma, the solar is relegated to a back up position ... if you live in storm country, invest in a generator

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#288339 - 03/07/18 05:02 AM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: LesSnyder]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6428
Loc: southern Cal
Originally Posted By: LesSnyder
the solar is relegated to a back up position ... if you live in storm country, invest in a generator


By the same token, if you live in sunny, earthquake prone California, a solar rig makes more sense. I keep a couple of small panels in an ammo can, along with other solar goodies, so that they will come through the anticipated Big One still functional, or at least will have a better chance than a genny. My post quake initial strategy will be to attempt to stay on my property, essentially camping out next to my ruined home, using solar to keep small stuff (lights and phones) running. I was easily able to take my solar stuff with me when we did our recent wildfire evac, although I never needed to deploy the panels.
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#288340 - 03/08/18 03:33 AM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: CJK]
Ratch Offline
Stranger

Registered: 08/05/17
Posts: 20
Both generators and solar are useful to have. The genset is nice to have for regular power outages in snow country. But I believe in having a backup in solar. Mine consists of USB AA chargers that run directly off solar, and also larger panels that will charge a 12v agm battery, that can in turn power some small led lights, or run a aa battery charger. If you are interested in solar, goal zero, solarpaneltalk, and modernoutpost are a few good sites.

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#288346 - 03/08/18 04:43 PM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: Ratch]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6428
Loc: southern Cal
I realize that I have a generator sitting in our driveway - our Prius! Checking around, it seems that it is feasible to hook up an inverter and draw AC from the vehicle. Apparently the larger battery will top off the starter battery as it depletes and the engine will turn on automatically to replenish the propulsion battery.

Anyone have experience/sxpertise with something like this? I am definitely not an electrical engineer...
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#288350 - 03/08/18 09:27 PM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: CJK]
LCranston Offline
2
Member

Registered: 08/31/09
Posts: 164
Loc: Nebraska
Regrading the Prius-- This is possible.
However, there are some issues to keep in mind.
1) your draw is going to be limited. In my last car, the fuse on the lighter plug was a 10 amp--- which means 10 amp * 12 volts- 120 watts. Surge over 120 watts can blow out that fuse, breaking your system. This will not happen charging a phone, but do not plug in anything big.

2) Are you willing to leave your car ""running"" with the keys in the ignition? The ignition must be in the on position for this to work, otherwise you are just killing the starter battery. Maybe keep it in the garage, but run a pipe to outside for exhaust like a Car Shop? Sit in car while charging? Not nice to have a generator that can literally drive away.....


Regarding Generator vs Solar. I kinda think this is size dependent, and time-frame dependent.

Small and long term Solar wins hands down. I have a 21 watt Aukey I bought on Amazon (now 45.00, I got for 34 on sale). It will charge 2 devices at 2 amps each; no gas, no noise, good for a decade. It is only USB, so will not charge 12 voice stuff, but for small/camping, do not care. Not perfect, I have 2 or 3 of those 10$ 4000Mah battery thingies for rainy days.

Big and short= generator. I have a 1200 watt Menard's Special; will run my fridge and freezer, will run 5 hours on tank, have a 5 gallon can that I dual use for lawnmower and generator to keep fresh.


Big and LONG?.... ick.
I have several larger Solar panels and batteries that I have play--- unm... I mean EXPERIMENTED with. Hypothetically, I could run either my fridge or my freezer (not both) indefinitely, or at least until the gold cart batteries die of old age. I did the freezer for 24 hours as a test, no issues.

frankly, the parts for the solar cost more than just buying gas would have cost (assuming I can get gas) between the panels, charge stuff and batteries, though WAY cheaper than 10 years ago.

Frankly, a 50 watt panel, a 15$ controller, and a golf cart battery could charge all the small stuff in a house for less than 200$ phones, tablets, laptops, smaller AA,AAA,D....

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#288354 - 03/09/18 03:41 PM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: hikermor]
Ian Offline
Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 180
Loc: Scotland
Yes I have run the house off of our Prius. Just clipped a 12VDC to 230VAC inverter to the 12V battery and connected the output to the house via the generator/grid change over switch.

The Prius is turned on as 'ready' and sits in the driveway locked.

As the house consumes power the 12V battery is recharged via the car's DC:DC inverter from the 5kWh traction battery. When the traction battery is low the engine starts and runs for 10-15 minutes and charges it up then shuts down for an hour or so. The output is limited by a 100A fuse in the DC:DC inverter so a 12VDC inverter limit of 1,000W is recommended. Fuel consumption was less than half a litre an hour, about a pint. It will of course vary with the demand on the 12VDC inverter. A full tank will run for days and overall the whole rig is very quiet.

One kilowatt obviously won't do everything but is enough for lighting, refrigeration and entertainment.

My inverter is a 'modified square wave' which is not that good, so I had to disconnect the mains powered smoke and CO alarms as their instructions say they are sensitive to supply waveform.

I forgot to add.
We have 6kWp of solar but it is grid tied. When in grid out I try to connect it directly to the house, the Prius rig or to the Honda generator, the system voltage hunts up and down violently and quickly shuts down the solar inverter. It really needs the buffer of a live grid to work properly.


Edited by Ian (03/09/18 03:51 PM)
Edit Reason: Additional thoughts

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#288355 - 03/09/18 05:44 PM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: Ian]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6428
Loc: southern Cal
Thank you both for the helpful replies. I am thinking of using the "Prigenny" during the aftermath of an earthquake when the roads may well not be derivable and we would just be keeping the frig happy, hopefully with internet access...
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#288358 - 03/10/18 12:33 AM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: CJK]
CJK Offline
Addict

Registered: 08/14/05
Posts: 530
Loc: FL, USA
My apologies....I had planned on adding more info but time constraints at the time kept that from happening. Again standard disclaimer...

We have a Thunderbolt Magnum 100w solar charging kit. Comes with 'everything you need' to 'start up' except the battery (again a 35 amp hour). It is 'small' self contained and independent of everything else.

During Irma we watched as neighbors ran out of gas. Having this will ensure our small electronics and fans are good to go for the duration. Also got a 'float charger' to keep up the battery...added benefit is that it will keep our ride on mower good to go too.

The kit has the solar panels, charge controller (with 2 built in USB spots) and two LED light bulbs (plus all the wires). Think 60 watt bulb and you have an idea. One will light up the entire room (especially aimed upwards towards the ceiling). Our small lanterns are good for the immediate area lighting. The bulbs will be good for 'we really need to SEE' everything.

Obviously it can REALLY be tested until an outage. Plans are that the the float charger will keep everything ready (in the battery) and when the power goes out we'll charge off that. Then the panels will charge the battery.

Preliminary (VERY INFORMAL) 'test'...had one single 25w panel laying down inside on the couch in front of a North facing window (about 5pm)...registered about 4-5 volts output. Just standing it up facing out the North window and the voltage jumped to about 8-9 volts. When I took it outside and faced the sun...25 volts. Sun was very low in the sky. So no REAL test but I'm optimistic.

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