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#288448 - 03/19/18 03:01 PM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: UTAlumnus]
LCranston Offline
2
Member

Registered: 08/31/09
Posts: 172
Loc: Nebraska
I love the concept of Grid- tied systems for saving money every day, but with few exceptions (hybrid systems) they are useless in outages.


I love the IDEA of full off-grid systems, but the batteries are the weakness; they are expensive for what you can store, and do not last. The newer Lithium type-- Tesla, etc., have more cycles and less weight, but 10 times the cost right now. I worked out the math a few years ago, and it was something like 43 cents per KW, about 4 times retail costs in Nebraska after buying the batteries.


I am a fan of small scale solar for emergencies,(small scale meaning 4 or less golf cart batteries) At 85.00 per battery (about 450 watt hours each) I currently have 2, or 900 watt hours stored. It is enough for lights, fans, and Fridge OR freezer (not both). I do not have the panels mounted full time....

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#288473 - 03/21/18 11:39 PM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: LCranston]
Roarmeister Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 09/12/01
Posts: 894
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: LCranston
I love the concept of Grid- tied systems for saving money every day, but with few exceptions (hybrid systems) they are useless in outages.

I love the IDEA of full off-grid systems, but the batteries are the weakness; they are expensive for what you can store, and do not last. The newer Lithium type-- Tesla, etc., have more cycles and less weight, but 10 times the cost right now. I worked out the math a few years ago, and it was something like 43 cents per KW, about 4 times retail costs in Nebraska after buying the batteries.

I am a fan of small scale solar for emergencies,(small scale meaning 4 or less golf cart batteries) At 85.00 per battery (about 450 watt hours each) I currently have 2, or 900 watt hours stored. It is enough for lights, fans, and Fridge OR freezer (not both). I do not have the panels mounted full time....


Watt hours? Batteries are usually sold with the C20 amp-hour designation (i.e. how many amps of power can be supplied over 20 hours of connectivity). An $85 golf cart battery - I assume you have Trojan T-105s or something similar? Lithium batteries are very low maintenance and have more useful power and considerably more cycles but are crazy expensive. Roughly 4-5x the initial cost of flooded lead acid. The cheapest lithium battery I can get in Canada is $1200 - for just one 12v 100ah battery. (That's just plain NUTS!)

I am presently upgrading the solar on my teardrop trailer. The manufacturer used cheap components and only a single 100w panel which is not enough for off the grid camping. 2 new 200w panels are on the way, I finalized on the batteries I want to get (two 6v 230ah Surrettes), I've got the MPPT controller, temp sensor and remote programmer. Now I just have to confirm if my current cabling will suffice and upgrade the fuse terminal block. Not quite sure what I am going to do with the old stuff yet - the 12v marine batteries will probably go to my brother fishing lodge; the 10amp Chinese PWM controller is a throw away and the 100w panel may or may not be reused.

I am working on a project at work that if approved will have 24k ft2 of solar which is way more than I need for the building but will be sold back into the grid (I work for the power utility!) I am looking forward to proceeding with this project.

You are correct in that the technologies for battery storage and solar panels are definitely improving and getting cheaper. The next few years appear to be promising for solar.

My younger brother is contemplating building a residence at the farm and basically living off the electrical grid. The quote to bring power lines from 2 miles away is at least 2x what it would cost him to build an off-grid solar array. He is a little cash strapped right now and really needs to invest in a storage shed for the farm equipment first. The house trailer was purchased and is ready to go to site this year.

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#288474 - 03/21/18 11:48 PM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: CJK]
Roarmeister Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 09/12/01
Posts: 894
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: CJK
Possible problem I've heard is that some places won't allow it's use in a mass outage as the backfeed from solar to grid may be an issue. Not sure how they 'monitor' this but...


The power utility will figure it out pretty quickly in an outage. Either they will be surprised and somebody will get shocked at which time they will hunt down the backfeed source and shut you down OR they will test the service wiring first to determine if safe and then hunt you down! smile At that point you will very likely be the last one on the system to be re-energized.

Yes, a grid-tied system is supposed to have a cut-off inverter switch to prevent backfeeding the grid. But I think a switching inverter is going to set you back quite a bit more money so you can use your batteries during an outage.

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#288488 - 03/23/18 01:57 PM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: Roarmeister]
LCranston Offline
2
Member

Registered: 08/31/09
Posts: 172
Loc: Nebraska
It is not so much that they cannot be used; all the LEGAL ones account for this.
Link for reference only; I do not work/sell blah, blah
https://www.altestore.com/store/inverters/hybrid-inverters-c561/

Prices start at near 2,000.00 for the inverter alone, before batteries.


WE are way off the original topic, new solar kit. The Harbor Freight kit does intrigue me as a quick and dirty.

Roarmeister, you mentioned your brother has a way off grid farm.
I would never suggest that this could replace a ""real"" system.

Could the extra 300 Watt/hr to 800 watt/hr be a useful supplement?
(sun hours Saskatchewan (Estevan High 8.3 hrs, Low 3.2 Hrs, Avg 6.0 Hrs)

Is the kit WORTH it? Will it work for years? No idea, do not have one.
I bought the 45 watt kit years ago; Parts of it were cool,some parts sucked. It sounds like the 100 watt kit fixes a lot of the sucky pieces; there is an Actual controller in the 100 watt kit. I like the LED bulbs, the old kit had Fluorescent, they were ok....
The stands for the panels on the old kit were terrible, the new one looks to be more modular, and the panels appear to have better mounting holes.

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#288525 - 03/26/18 06:58 PM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: LCranston]
Roarmeister Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 09/12/01
Posts: 894
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: LCranston
It is not so much that they cannot be used; all the LEGAL ones account for this.
Link for reference only; I do not work/sell blah, blah
https://www.altestore.com/store/inverters/hybrid-inverters-c561/

Prices start at near 2,000.00 for the inverter alone, before batteries.

WE are way off the original topic, new solar kit. The Harbor Freight kit does intrigue me as a quick and dirty.

Roarmeister, you mentioned your brother has a way off grid farm.
I would never suggest that this could replace a ""real"" system.

Could the extra 300 Watt/hr to 800 watt/hr be a useful supplement?
(sun hours Saskatchewan (Estevan High 8.3 hrs, Low 3.2 Hrs, Avg 6.0 Hrs)

Is the kit WORTH it? Will it work for years? No idea, do not have one.
I bought the 45 watt kit years ago; Parts of it were cool,some parts sucked. It sounds like the 100 watt kit fixes a lot of the sucky pieces; there is an Actual controller in the 100 watt kit. I like the LED bulbs, the old kit had Fluorescent, they were ok....
The stands for the panels on the old kit were terrible, the new one looks to be more modular, and the panels appear to have better mounting holes.


Yes, I figured the posts had strayed a bit far from the original intent of the thread.

"Way off grid?" - well sorta. He is 2 miles from the nearest power line. In my province, that's peanuts for distance. smile There are lots of people with well designed off grid solar. Dave wants to put one together to live at the farm; any way you slice it will be cheaper and more effective than a grid-tie in. My other brother operates a fishing camping off the grid north of Yellowknife (Lat 62) with solar, generator and propane and flies in the fuel to run the equipment but at considerable cost. Panels are aimed almost vertically to capture the sun, but the good things is that during his operating season the sun stays very long in the sky.

FYI, southern Saskatchewan's useful sunhours is closer to 4.2 hours average and a mere 2.7 hours in the winter.

Best of luck/wishes on your expanded solar kit.

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#288528 - 03/27/18 12:58 AM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: CJK]
Ratch Offline
Newbie

Registered: 08/05/17
Posts: 26
Solar power can be a controversial topic. My take is that if power company lines are available, they are the most affordable far and away. However, having been through lengthy power outages, I have wanted some options.

A solar panel running a 30 Ah agm battery can do a lot in terms of charging smaller aa batteries or charging power tools with a D.C. Charger. The harbor freight system might be inexpensive, but it seems to me that's a lot of solar panel square footage to get 100w. You can get a smaller kit from a place like renogy or windy nation etc., say 50 or 60 watt panel, and use it to run a 25-30 Ah lead battery. However, the problem with this, as I've discovered is having to keep that battery charged up and from going dead. Requires some attention, and even an agm battery is not going to last forever.

A better solution, I think, for the frugal prepper wanting to power small devices, is smaller panels charging power packs and the like. Here's some ideas:

Goal zero is pricey but good quality, their USB quick 10 charger (which I've used and it works) will charge 4 aa batteries and can also be used to recharge a phone. Their 14w foldable solar panel will run that quick 10 charger but also can charge small electronics directly. The charger is $40 and the panel is $150

I have a Duracell power pack pro 1300, which functions as a car jump starter, and as a home power source in outages, with a 12v PowerPoint and USB slots. It has an 18Ah agm battery internally and runs $175. Amazon lists a $100 instapark solar panel for it which I have not used. The Duracell has worked well for me.

Also there is on amazon an Anker 21 watt foldable USB solar panel for I think about $50. It can power both small electronics or an anker, or anyone's, powerbank.

These are some ideas I thought I would put a it there. This sort of stuff won't give you easy living in a power outage, but can be used to keep your small electronics, aa lanterns, small short wave and 2-way radios running. I've included prices not to try to sell anyone, but because it does matter to people, and to give an idea of what the outlay is.

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#288537 - 03/28/18 01:42 PM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: Ratch]
LCranston Offline
2
Member

Registered: 08/31/09
Posts: 172
Loc: Nebraska
Ratch,
I agree with your affordable comment; At this time, grid is cheaper, per watt, than any other solution.

Off Grid, either too far away, or backup is where it is muddy.
If I need a tiny system, The difference between the 100 Watt Harbor and a 100 Watt Renogy sitting on my deck is not big enough to matter.
--If I am trying to generate 5000 Watts an HOUR I want the best panels.


If you have power NOW, screw solar, a house charger is nothing, like 20.00. Buy your 30 Ah battery, plug it in to a good charger and walk away. Lead Acid, Lithium, Nickel Iron, If you can charge it from your house, WHO CARES? lol, seriously, At grid prices 11 cents per 1000 Kw/hrs., like .01 cents per watt.
You have a good point about several smaller sources, instead of one larger battery; You do avoid a single point of failure....

I have my OH CRAP system in my garage, with the batteries plugged in to the grid. No Hail risk, no lighting threats, no stealing, bird poop.....

If you have a solar system plugged in to a 30 AH battery, and are having issues, something is wrong with the setup. Again, Lead Acid, Lithium, whatever. If the system is charging correctly, and not overcharging your battery should be full. If you have stuff hooked up to it for a load, and it is not staying full/topped up, it is not balanced correctly.


When I was testing my Oh Crap with my freezer, I had screwed up my loading calculations-- I did not account for wire losses correctly, and kept running out of power.

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#288539 - 03/28/18 05:43 PM Re: New Solar Kit [Re: Roarmeister]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1120
Loc: Alaska
Alaska has numerous solar/hybrid power installations in remote off grid locations. The coolest set up I've seen was a house out near McCarthy. A big modern house, out in the middle of nowhere. The guy had a big solar panel, wind turbine, and a gasoline generator linked into a hybrid system. He powered an entire house, including fridge, washer, dryer, etc. It was set up so the gasoline genny would automatically come on when the load exceeded what the solar & battery system could handle.

This guy's set up is the "Cadillac" model, but many remote lodges and cabins in Alaska have something similar. Do a bit of googling and you will find a number of businesses around the state who specialize in installing this sort of remote hybrid system.
_________________________
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
-Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz

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