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Bus Discussion => Bus Topics ( click here for quick start! ) => Topic started by: cody on January 23, 2010, 07:54:25 AM



Title: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 23, 2010, 07:54:25 AM
The more I think about solar for the bus for Q the more corn fused I get, thinking about that brings up the question of why can't I do the same to help offset the power use at the anti-KOA, there i could set up a couple of wind turbines and some solar to help feed juice to batteries that would use an inverter to feed the breaker box.  So far I think I understand all that, my next question is the REA, (local electric supplier) is required to buy any excess power you produce and that would probably happen during unoccupied times, how can a person regulate that power being backfed into the system and how to backfeed it safely so linemen during power outages don't get fried.  Also, how is that power calculated, when they talk about 400 watts I realize that is the amount the panel could produce under ideal curcumstances, so how does a person calculate that over a 24 hour period or a 30 day period, the idea of the power company buying excess power is easy to understand, the meter runs backwards lol and at the end of the month if the meter has run forward more than it moved forward then I owe, if the meter is lower than it was, they owe lol. When a panel is rated at 400 watts is that 400 watts per hour or what? If I'm asking dumb questions, please don't tell me I'm dumb cause I think I'm kinda a smart guy, maybe I'm too dumb to know how smart I'm not lol, expiring minds want to know.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: belfert on January 23, 2010, 08:22:10 AM
Enough solar or wind to supply power for the average house is going to be five digits easily unless you are a master at finding cheap used stuff.  A grid tie inverter presumably monitors the incoming utility power and cuts off power to the utility if there is no incoming power.  I am certain they have it figured out.  People who are really serious about solar either spend a ton of money or they use very little electricity by conserving and converting as much as possible to run on DC power direct from the panels.

Your electric utility may buy electricity from you at full retail today, but that will change as more and more people sell them power.  They don't buy power from a coal or nuclear plant at full retail so why would they pay you full retail?

I'm looking at geothermal as the way to save on energy.  If I can ever sell this house my next one will have geothermal.  I spend more on natural gas than on electricity.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 23, 2010, 08:43:46 AM
By statute the power companies in michigan are required to buy the excess electricity, at what rate I don't know, I would assume they pay wholesale for it.  I don't figure to completely replace the commercial power with solar or wind, only to suppliment it, the rates charged by REA are at a horrendous rate, it wasn't uncommon to see a bill of 100 to 150 a month when we wern't even there.  I have a dusk to dawn light thats the old mercury vapor type and rated at 180 watts, that light would burn all night and go off in the morning, with just that and the refrigerator plugged in, my bill would be in excess of 100 a month, REA doesn't generate any power, they buy and resell all the power they distribute and they do know how to turn a profit lol, I've been looking at everything from the small 400 watt 12 volt wind turbines to the larger ones that sell for 4K, I'm also trying to find the old crank up style tv towers that looked like a truss and went up 30 feet or so to plant the wind turbines on.  The Skanee house is already oriented to the south for maximum exposure to the winter sun so thats a big help, I've had solar heat panels on it back in the 80's but over time they wern't maintained and failed.  I know solar and wind will work up here because a lot of the remote hunting camps that are too far off the grid use it now.  My intention is to suppliment the existing system not to replace it, replacing it would be a killer money wise, things like the 220 for the well would be tough.  One thing I would imagine I would have to get is a cut off device that would sence the electricity being down and would kill the backfeed automatically to make it safe for linemen working on the lines in the event of a power outage.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: TomC on January 23, 2010, 08:46:25 AM
With mobile use, the simplest is to have solar panels on the roof running through a voltage regulator charging your batteries.  Then just run your 120vac needs through the inverter.  I don't believe campgrounds are setup to be feeding electricity back into the system-that's just plainly getting to complicated. Most campgrounds frown on mechanical wind generators because of their noise and eye sore factor.
Whatever system you use on the bus keep it simple!  I don't have anything automatic.  That keeps me in control, and assures that (for instance) an automatic transfer switch won't hang me up if I'm dry camping.  Good Luck, TomC


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NewbeeMC9 on January 23, 2010, 08:49:54 AM
Cody,

The trace 4024 can handle grid tie and selling back for you, you do have to be set up with the power company to do that.  I'm not sure about the newer ones. :)    HTH


400 watts for one hour would be   400 watt-hrs or .4 kw-hrs      around here 1 kw-hr is 12 or 13 cents

at .4 kw-hr it would take 2.5 hrs to make 12 cents.         roughly speaking ;)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 23, 2010, 08:54:02 AM
Tom, I'm talking about stationary use at one of my houses, the house is on 13 acres and I'm trying to offset the electrical costs there, I'm also setting up several rv sites for friends that come over on the property, the goal of the sites is to provide a spot for friends, I call it the anti-KOA cause if there is a rule the KOA feels is mandatory, I'm going to have a rule against the rule lol. I'm more interested in offsetting the electrical usage as much as possible to bring the cost down, the cost from REA is .47 now, 12 cents would be a giveaway price up here. 


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: mikelutestanski on January 23, 2010, 09:06:03 AM
Hello:    Most states allow the power company to set the rates for buybacks and they will not let the meter run backwards. They will furnish another meter in the same line and you  might be paid the wholesale rate less a discount for the amount that you send back. in other words because you are a very small power company your power is worth less.   Go figure.
    Anyway I did some searching and you can do the same to find out what your state will allow the power company to do . 
    Part of your success will depend on the public utilities commission and how well the power companies have smoozed with its members.
      The sad part of it all is that companies are people now albeit giant people and they have the right to gouge you as much as possible  .   The AMerican way..
      I do not know what is the best way for you in your situation.  Here in florida  the sun is usually offers the most bang for the buck but it has its drawbacks also.
    Regards and happy bussin    mike


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 23, 2010, 09:15:03 AM
MIke, I've already printed the regs out as far as the state goes and as usual, they are clear as mud,  I've talked to the power company and they hung up on me, each time I call the lady says the private generation of electricity is illegal and if I continue to attempt to do it, they will see to it that I am procuted and sent to prison so information from the power company hasn't been all that helpful lol.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Lin on January 23, 2010, 09:20:17 AM
Cody,

$.47 per kwh is very expensive.  Are you sure about that?  Here, there is a tiered system.  The first 900 kwh are .12.  The next tier is .14 and so on up to tier 5, which is .30.  At .47, a large home solar or wind system would probably be cost effective.  I used about 35 kwh per day in December.  At .47/kwh, home production would save over $500/month!  A 10kwh wind system would cost me about $35,000 here after state rebates.  At .47/kwh, it would give me another pension.

If you need more information for your state, speak to those that sell/install the equipement.  Their figures will be on the rosy side, but they can be gushers of information.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Sean on January 23, 2010, 09:59:40 AM
... I'm talking about stationary use at one of my houses, the house is on 13 acres and I'm trying to offset the electrical costs there, ... I'm more interested in offsetting the electrical usage as much as possible to bring the cost down, the cost from REA is .47 now, 12 cents would be a giveaway price up here.


The general rule of thumb is that it takes about 20-25 years to pay back a solar electric system in the southern US, and this number increases the further north you go (incident solar radiation decreases dramatically above 40 or so north latitude).

That "rule of thumb" is based on an average cost per kWh of electricity in the US of about $0.12, give or take.  If your electricity is significantly more costly than that, your payback may be sooner.

Most fixed solar installations rely on the grid to be the buffer, rather than battery banks.  Most serious solar grid-tie inverters today don't even have a provision for battery connection; they tie directly to the photovoltaic panels.  When the grid goes down, your power is out, even if it's sunny, because the inverters shut down when the grid does (long story).

The Xantrex (Trace) SW series is an example of a grid-tie inverter that does use a battery bank and can tide you over through outages.  However, this adds significantly to the cost of the system; you don't figure payback on this part of the system in terms of energy dollars saved, but rather in the costs saved by avoiding commercial outages.  Costs of these systems on a whole-house basis are well into six figures, and annual maintenance goes up dramatically over battery-less systems.

All of the above pay-back discussion assumes grid-tie and selling excess power to the utility at retail rates, something that many states mandate by law for residential (but not commercial) accounts.  If the utility does not buy power, or you don't invest in a grid-tie system, payback on a solar system will be much longer, because you must store every watt you don't use, and you must buy at retail any watts you need when your system is maxed out.

Lastly, "off-grid" systems are never more cost-effective than buying power from the grid when a grid connection already exists.  These systems become cost-effective in remote locations where the customer would have to pay the utility to run power over a long distance or harsh terrain to reach the structure; usually, this is several miles.

I'm not telling you not to do this; just that you should understand you'll need to be ready to invest dozens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars into a system that will not pay itself off for two or more decades.  You either need to really want to be a long-term investor in this sort of technology, or have a burning desire to save the planet even though it will cost you up front.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com (http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: belfert on January 23, 2010, 10:15:59 AM
I'm not up on every power company, but I have heard a lot will pay retail for generated power.  Some are forced to do so by state regulators.  It is widely believed the practice of being paid retail rates for power will end as more people sell power to the utilities.

I find it hard to believe that one could not generate their own power legally.  It would seem to almost be cheaper to have your own generator than to pay 47 cents a KW.  Fuel only to run a 16 KW generator I figure around 20 cents a KW or less.  A private high school locally has their own power plant even though they could easily just buy power.  20 years ago they didn't even have a connection to the grid at all.  No backup if their power plant went down.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 23, 2010, 10:28:41 AM
I made the mistake of having the power shut off because we wern't going to use the house for a period of time, now, becuase I asked about solar they are requiring me to post a 5 million dollar bond with them to protect their lineman before I can get the power restored, just having a generator on grounds, which I do, is reason enough for them to require the bond.  I know of at least 4 camps that are powered by solar or wind with generators as back up, they are not using  a lot of panels but are enough to do what they want and nobody I know of is paying the hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it.  I just can't believe that I can't run a few light bulbs and a tv and refrigerator off a cheaper system, I'm looking into the legality of them requiring the bond and haven't gotten any legal opinion on it yet but the electric company is playing hard ball, being the only source of power in this area it's hard to go against them if they make a decree, so far I've found out that they are not regulated by the state power commission because they are privately owned and they own everything themselves, including the wires and light poles.  If they were a public utility it would be different.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Sean on January 23, 2010, 10:32:59 AM
Sorry, missed answering these:

... how can a person regulate that power being backfed into the system and how to backfeed it safely so linemen during power outages don't get fried.


The phenomenon you are describing is known as "islanding" and the law requires all grid-tie alternative energy systems to incorporate an "anti-islanding" feature.  IOTW, this feature will be built-in to the inverter you use.  Such inverters are known in industry parlance as "Non-islanding utility-interactive inverters" and common examples are Sunny Boy and Xantrex.  The Xantrex/Trace SW4024 that I use in my bus is a Non-islanding Utility Interactive model and I could set it to send power back into the grid, except that it would be illegal for me to do so.  All such installations must be inspected and approved by the utility and sometimes state regulators as well.

Quote
 Also, how is that power calculated, when they talk about 400 watts I realize that is the amount the panel could produce under ideal circumstances, so how does a person calculate that over a 24 hour period or a 30 day period


The "ratings" you see on solar panels are maximum output in bright sunlight at right-angles to the incident rays and at about 40 latitude.  In real life, photovoltaic panels never put out this amount of power.

There are rules of thumb for calculating output over time, however you are best advised to use tables specific to your region (which account for incident sunlight and number of sunny days per year).

An upper limit is generally to assume the average output of a panel is half the nameplate rating for eight hours on a sunny day.  So a 400-watt panel properly mounted and angled would give you an average of 1600 watt-hours or 1.6 kWh (200 watts times eight hours) for every sunny day you have.  If your region has, say, 240 sunny days per year, that's an average of 20 each month, for an average of 32 kWh a month for that 400-watt panel.  At your claimed electric rate, that panel would save you an average of $15 per month on your electric bill.  Since a typical price for such a panel would be around $3,000, it would take nearly 17 years just to pay back the panel alone, not counting all the other costs such as inverters, mounting hardware, maintenance, cables, etc. etc..  Also note that 15-20 years is the average life of a photovoltaic panel (and their output decreases steadily over that time), so you'd be replacing this panel just a year or two after it paid itself off.  And remember, I said upper limit -- in your far-north location, the numbers are probably worse.

FWIW, whole-house systems require ten times that number of panels.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com (http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Sean on January 23, 2010, 10:37:52 AM
I find it hard to believe that one could not generate their own power legally.


Generating your own power with photovoltaic panels is legal everywhere (although some building codes may require the panels to be hidden from view).

There's a difference, though, between generating it and selling it back to the utility.  Backfeeding the grid is definitely not permitted everywhere; this varies widely by state and PUC.  Many states encourage it, but it is by no means universal.

Utility-interactive inverters such as the Trace SW series can always be used to offset utility power on the consumption side.  You just can't enable the sell-back feature without approval from the utility.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com (http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Sean on January 23, 2010, 10:44:50 AM
...  I just can't believe that I can't run a few light bulbs and a tv and refrigerator off a cheaper system ...


You can.  But it will still take decades to pay back.  You are much better off reducing your bill by changing your consumption.  Replacing incandescents with fluorescents, or fluorescents with LEDs, will have a much more immediate payback (years instead of decades).  Same goes for replacing CRTs with LCDs, resistive heaters with heat pumps, single-pane windows with thermal glass, etc. etc.

Again, if you are not already connected to the grid, such as those hunting camps you mentioned, the economics change dramatically.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com (http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com)
(with apologies to everyone for four separate posts in a row)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 23, 2010, 11:00:41 AM
The minimum monthly charge is 45 whether you turn a light bulb on or not, then after all the service charges fees and taxes, the minimum you can pay is 62 dollars a month, after that you have the usage to deal with. 


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Lin on January 23, 2010, 11:22:03 AM
Sean,

I know that I have seen 200 watt panels with 25 years warranties in the area of $600. each.  Since your 400 watts would then cost you $1200, your payback would be 5-7 years.  That, of course, is based on rates staying the same.  If rates were to increase, which is quite possible, the payback would be faster.  Another thing to look into is whether the particular state has some sort of rebate program.  CA was paying about 1/3 of the cost on approved grid-tie systems.  I do not know if they still have the program.  Anyway, this would be based on the very high rate that Cody quoted.  I do not think most people pay even close to that.  We probably averaged about .13 last month.  At that rate, payback is not part of the concept.

People also sometimes move and sell their existing systems.  Although state subsidies would be unlikely, they could be good enough deals to make a system viable.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: belfert on January 23, 2010, 11:43:12 AM
Lin, a total system for a house is a lot more than just the solar panels.  You need an inverter unless everything is DC powered.

Now, if you're adding solar panels to an RV that already has batteries and inverter then you're correct that you only need the panels.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: belfert on January 23, 2010, 11:52:27 AM
You can.  But it will still take decades to pay back.  You are much better off reducing your bill by changing your consumption.  Replacing incandescents with fluorescents, or fluorescents with LEDs, will have a much more immediate payback (years instead of decades).  Same goes for replacing CRTs with LCDs, resistive heaters with heat pumps, single-pane windows with thermal glass, etc. etc.

Where does one find an LED light bulb that can rival an incandescant bulb in light output?  All of the LED bulbs I have seen are 1/3 to 1/2 the lumens of a regular bulb.  If I want to save money by having less light why don't I just install 25 watt incandescant bulbs at a far lower cost than LEDs?

I do use CFL bulbs and don't mind them.  My only problem is the CFL bulbs I use in my ceiling fan burn out constantly.  I currently have 9 burned out CFLs.  I haven't used the fan in six months and I'm still burning out CFLs.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Sean on January 23, 2010, 12:03:31 PM
... I know that I have seen 200 watt panels with 25 years warranties in the area of $600. each.  ...


I'm sure lots of people would like to know where you can get individual panels for that price, if you would care to share your source.

Photovoltaic panels are a rapidly fluctuating commodity item.  Prices have swung up and down between $2 per watt and $8 per watt in the last few years.  Right now, they are running on the high side.

The per-watt price also follows something of a bell curve, with very small and very large panels being on the higher side, and 150-200 watt panels on the lower side.  So, yes, at this moment, 200-watt panels are cheaper per watt than 400-watt ones (or 30-watt ones).  I used the 400-watt panel as an example simply because that's the one that Cody mentioned.

Remember also that advertised prices on photovoltaic panels are often by the box, case, or pallet.  So for example right now I see 25-year panels from BP at $618 for 140-watts ($2.60 per watt), but that's only by the pallet-load (20 panels), for over $12k.

Even at Cody's electric rates, I don't think he can get a payback on any type of solar in less than a decade -- remember he's in Michigan, so less than half the solar energy of a place like Arizona, the epicenter of solar power in the US.

Speaking of which, the best deals on solar panels are also usually in Arizona, for the same reason, and so Cody would need to add freight to any of those killer prices, or figure a different way to get them.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com (http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Sean on January 23, 2010, 12:13:37 PM
Where does one find an LED light bulb that can rival an incandescant bulb in light output?  All of the LED bulbs I have seen are 1/3 to 1/2 the lumens of a regular bulb.  If I want to save money by having less light why don't I just install 25 watt incandescant bulbs at a far lower cost than LEDs?


High-intensity LED lights are now widely available.  However, they are better suited to task lighting than general lighting, because LEDs are highly directed.

Installing lower-wattage incandescents will not save nearly the energy that can be saved with other technologies.  Yes, you'll save money up front, but you will pay more in the long run.

If you simply prefer the light output of incadescents, that's a highly subjective matter and simply says you are willing to pay the price to have it.  All of the lighting in our bus is incandescent (high-efficiency xenon-filled) for exactly this reason, with the exception of low-level (floor) lighting for moving around at night, which is LED.  That said, the color temperature of LEDs is improving constantly, and lamps are being made now with spread patterns that mimic many types of incandescents; for example the many MR-11s we have throughout our coach.  If I were building the bus today instead of seven years ago, I might well have chosen more LED fixtures.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com (http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Lin on January 23, 2010, 12:22:59 PM
Brian,

I did mean to say that you only need panels.  I was just using that as an example of possible payback.  I had a system with 12 200 watt panels and a grid-tie inverter that I got on a trade.  I decided that it did not make sense for me to use it, so I sold it for about $7k.  The system had been used for only 1 year and was still covered by warranty.  The retail on the inverter was about $3k.  The buyer had a problem with it and the manufacturer just sent him a new one.  I think that if I were paying .47/kwh, I would have used them.  

Sean,

Just a quick google:

http://www.solareffects.com/viewitem.php/solareffects/pd1921901/Evergreen_Solar_Panel_ES-A-Series_200_Watt_B_Module_ (http://www.solareffects.com/viewitem.php/solareffects/pd1921901/Evergreen_Solar_Panel_ES-A-Series_200_Watt_B_Module_)

http://www.siliconsolar.com/gridmaxx-200-watt-solar-panel-p-501564.html (http://www.siliconsolar.com/gridmaxx-200-watt-solar-panel-p-501564.html)

I do not know if it would work for Cody in his situation, but $3/watt makes it much more of a prospect than $8/watt.  Actually, I am told that wind gives more watts for the buck than solar if you've got the wind.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: belfert on January 23, 2010, 12:34:23 PM
I don't have anything against LED builbs other than the amount of light outputted sucks.  A 75 watt incandescant bulb produces 800 lumens of lights.  I've looked at the LED bulbs at major retailers and I haven't seen any of them anywhere close to 800 lumens.  There probably are LED bulbs that can produce 800 lumens, but not at a price the average person would consider affordable.

I don't have any special love for incandescant bulbs.  All of my high usage light fixtures have CFLs in them.  It doesn't make sense to put CFLs in fixtures that might get used a few times a month at most for a few minutes at a time.  At least not until the existing bulbs burn out years from now.

I am planning to put LEDs in my bus.  I bought the LEDs last year, but didn't install them yet.  I like the fact they are dimmable compared to the overly bright flourescents I have now.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: philiptompkjns on January 23, 2010, 01:19:41 PM

I am planning to put LEDs in my bus.  I bought the LEDs last year, but didn't install them yet.  I like the fact they are dimmable compared to the overly bright flourescents I have now.
belfert, what sort of LED's did you get for your bus?  I'm going to use LED's as well but haven't bought any yet, I'm looking though.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Sean on January 23, 2010, 01:31:16 PM
Just a quick google:

http://www.solareffects.com/viewitem.php/solareffects/pd1921901/Evergreen_Solar_Panel_ES-A-Series_200_Watt_B_Module_ ([url]http://http://www.solareffects.com/viewitem.php/solareffects/pd1921901/Evergreen_Solar_Panel_ES-A-Series_200_Watt_B_Module_[/url])

http://www.siliconsolar.com/gridmaxx-200-watt-solar-panel-p-501564.html ([url]http://http://www.siliconsolar.com/gridmaxx-200-watt-solar-panel-p-501564.html[/url])

I do not know if it would work for Cody in his situation, but $3/watt makes it much more of a prospect than $8/watt.


I actually came across both of those in my search earlier.  However, they are the exception rather than the rule, and the price does not include shipping or tax.  I agree that $3 is more reasonable than the $7.50 today for the 400-watt panels; again, I used that for my example only because that is the size that Cody mentioned.

Quote
 
Actually, I am told that wind gives more watts for the buck than solar if you've got the wind.


True; however wind has several drawbacks.  It's noisy, and maintenance is much higher than photovoltaic.  Wind also virtually mandates batteries, whereas many solar systems get by without them.


I don't have anything against LED builbs other than the amount of light outputted sucks.  A 75 watt incandescant bulb produces 800 lumens of lights.  I've looked at the LED bulbs at major retailers and I haven't seen any of them anywhere close to 800 lumens.  There probably are LED bulbs that can produce 800 lumens, but not at a price the average person would consider affordable.


Well, Lumens is not really an effective measure of usable light, because it does not account for the light that goes in an unwanted direction.  You're really looking for Lux, or maybe even candlepower at the target.  Again, LEDs are highly directional, which means that for certain types of task lighting, they are ideal, as all the generated light ends up in a usable direction, whereas incandescents and fluorescents require sophisticated reflectors to maximize the usable light.  "Lumens" in this case is virtually a meaningless number.

Unless you are an experienced lighting designer, you really can't buy lighting based only on published specs -- you really need to try the products in the intended locations.  I include myself in this category.

FWIW.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com (http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: oldmansax on January 23, 2010, 02:18:47 PM
Cody,,,
You need to move, my friend!

I thought the communist state of Maryland was bad until I started reading about yours. They charge us $15 a month here, whether or not you use any electricity. Besides, it's warmer here & you will use less!



TOM


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 23, 2010, 02:55:06 PM
The 400 watt number I listed is what a wind turbine (like nick has) was rated at but it could work with a person connecting 60 or 80 watt solar panels too, I have no urge to look at a payback, tho it would be nice, Jamie and I just got back from the skanee house we went out to do some puttering and the meter is gone with a note on the door that if I continue with my attempts at illegal power generation they will see me in prison, on the door, nice huh?  MY mission is clear now, I've got to do whatever I can to generate as much power as I can, I'd like to see them try to get me arrested for it, I'd even invite then to the party when I throw the switch and light up the house, I just can't believe their attitude.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: belfert on January 23, 2010, 04:23:10 PM

I am planning to put LEDs in my bus.  I bought the LEDs last year, but didn't install them yet.  I like the fact they are dimmable compared to the overly bright flourescents I have now.

belfert, what sort of LED's did you get for your bus?  I'm going to use LED's as well but haven't bought any yet, I'm looking though.


I bought a 5 meter strip of LEDs that are warm white.  They are sold by many sellers on Ebay.  See http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/5m-Warm-White-SMD-3528-Waterproof-Flexible-LED-Strip_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQhashZitem5ad6957464QQitemZ390147175524QQptZMotorsQ5fCarQ5fTruckQ5fPartsQ5fAccessories (http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/5m-Warm-White-SMD-3528-Waterproof-Flexible-LED-Strip_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQhashZitem5ad6957464QQitemZ390147175524QQptZMotorsQ5fCarQ5fTruckQ5fPartsQ5fAccessories) for an example.  The usually ship from Hong Kong.  Some ship from the USA, but they usually cost more.  I bought the dimmer seperate.

Someone here recommended this type of LEDs.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: philiptompkjns on January 23, 2010, 04:23:52 PM
Why is your power generation illegal Cody? What is their reasoning?


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NeoplanAN440 on January 23, 2010, 05:54:41 PM
Living in New Mexico,one of the few perfect places to use Solar,still has shown me that even the State here has Problems to understand or accept it.After buying my Property outside of the city limits,i had the challenge to get Power out here.I got tired of begging to get power or how could i even ask for 3 phase to set up my Lathe!!
so i started to build my own offgrid Power system.we are living now on Solar ,Wind and WVO powered backup generator and heater for over 4 years and enjoy every day of it.

from what we learned,is that its still cheaper to go on the grid,if its available.solar power is still to expensive,and most installers dont know what they do (my opinion).also you have to be ready to change your lifestyle and work and learn with your system.there will be up s and downs,as with most bus conversions (at least mine).

as for the bus.i used almost the same system.large battery bank,xantrex inverter,kubota engine running as dc charger.solar panels on the roof will help keep the batteries up,but you will never have enough space to live on it.ok maybe i saw one bus with a enclosed trailer that had also panels on the trailer.but that very rare i guess.

just my cents to it



Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: buswarrior on January 23, 2010, 06:41:31 PM
Perhaps by combining wants and needs, some of our busnut equipment can, in some way, help pay for itself, and provide some security of power?

Using the coach as a power supply when it is parked at home?

The design goals for boondocking with an electric coach would allow you to wean the house refrigerator and perhaps freezer off the grid?

A good inverter to make 120VAC with utility power pass-through, a nicely sized solar array, a generator with ample fuel supply, an auto generator starter to charge the batteries when the utility power has failed and/or the day is too cloudy, a good sized battery bank, and a heavy gauge wire between the coach and the house loads/refrigerator/freezer being weaned from the grid.

Will it completely pay for itself? No, but if I'm going to buy all this equipment, it would nice to defray some of the costs, and keep it all operational, while it sits there waiting for the next outing.

happy coaching!
buswarrior





Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 23, 2010, 08:37:25 PM
Just got home from doing a benefit for a burned out family, was great, we raised over 2K for them tonight, nice couple with 2 small kids, not sure what the final tally will be but at 10 it was 2100 and still had the place hopping lol.  We had to shut it down at 11 cause thats the rules at the armory but it was fun anyway.  To get back to the thread, private power generation is not illegal in michigan, as a matter of fact it is very common, REA has a major problem with it because of their need to control who has access to power and it has to be on their terms.  They successfully fought a ruling that was designed to bring them under the governship of the utilities commission in Lansing back in the mid 70's, because they are all privately owned and not a public utility the court ruled that they existed outside the regulations of the commission, the same thing would apply to me if I had a large enough array of panels to supply power to my neighbor (if I had one lol) I could charge whatever I wanted and if they wanted my power they would have to pay it.  I"ve still got enough of the radical in me to want to go against them and live on my terms, thats why I can't deal with HOA's and other organizations.  I'm kinda like the native american that found out that the government hadn't gotten the ok to build US41 thru the reservation, so he set up a toll booth. He charged everyone a quarter to pass thru, he made a fortune, even the state police had to cough up a quarter before they could go in a negotiate a new treaty lol.  He even charged the federal officials a quarter when they came in to sign the easement the tribe had drawn up, was kinda funny at the time lol.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: philiptompkjns on January 23, 2010, 09:20:21 PM

I am planning to put LEDs in my bus.  I bought the LEDs last year, but didn't install them yet.  I like the fact they are dimmable compared to the overly bright flourescents I have now.

belfert, what sort of LED's did you get for your bus?  I'm going to use LED's as well but haven't bought any yet, I'm looking though.


I bought a 5 meter strip of LEDs that are warm white.  They are sold by many sellers on Ebay.  See http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/5m-Warm-White-SMD-3528-Waterproof-Flexible-LED-Strip_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQhashZitem5ad6957464QQitemZ390147175524QQptZMotorsQ5fCarQ5fTruckQ5fPartsQ5fAccessories ([url]http://http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/5m-Warm-White-SMD-3528-Waterproof-Flexible-LED-Strip_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQhashZitem5ad6957464QQitemZ390147175524QQptZMotorsQ5fCarQ5fTruckQ5fPartsQ5fAccessories[/url]) for an example.  The usually ship from Hong Kong.  Some ship from the USA, but they usually cost more.  I bought the dimmer seperate.

Someone here recommended this type of LEDs.


thanks, I was thinking about this one:
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.3422 (http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.3422)
that is Hong Kong direct, lol.  I think yours is a better deal though.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: belfert on January 23, 2010, 11:40:38 PM
I don't quite understand why a private power company wouldn't be regulated and a public one would be?  That is government for you I guess.

I thought the whole reason for regulating power companies is they get a monopoly on power, but they get regulated in exchange?  Government decided they didn't want every Tom, Dick, and Harry running power lines all over the place.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 24, 2010, 07:12:16 AM
Brian most power companies were created back in the 30's as part of the governments push to electrify america and bring power out to the farmers who were largely still living as they had for generations with oil lamps, some power conpanies were formed by becoming co-operatives where a group in a region banded together and with the government grants ran lines and hooked into the larger system, our power company up here was formed by a coalition of the owners of some of the copper mines, they had the money to go ahead without a penny from the government and because they never got big enough to be a threat to the income of the larger utility companies they were left to exist and to flourish or die out as needed.  The larger power companies actually liked having them around because they served a purpose for they, they bought up large blocks of power at exhorbinant rates that enhansed the coffers of the shareholders of the large companies. Our power company has resisted offers to be bought out many times by the larger companies and even tho they charge an arm and a leg for the power they provide, they keep the power on for around a thousand people and exist as a 'for profit' utility and do it quite nicely, however, it's on their terms all the time, not part of the time, but all the time and without any government money, most power companies wouldn't exist today without the influx of government money, this one won't take a penny from the government and pays every penny they owe in taxes, it's kind of an example of capitalism at it's brightest and darkest moment.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: DaveG on January 24, 2010, 08:22:09 AM
Wow Cody, interesting plight...does seem like REA has gone a bit overboard...maybe time for another state review of their practices?

Sean-thanks for your professional insight/knowledge and input...this board is a terrific place.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 24, 2010, 09:51:53 AM
OK, I've got a dumb question and please don't condemn me for it, but I'm wondering if I were to take my honda 3000 generator and make a new cord where I could plug it into the 30 amp outlet on the generator and then plug the other end into the 30 amp outlet on the wall of the house would it back feed power thru the breaker box and power any lights or outlets in the house.  I know I'd have to create a custom cord and I know that an electrical inspector would have the big one and flop around on the ground like a dying partridge but I'm just asking if it would work.  The wiring to the outlet on the house is overkilled and I have some very heavy cords.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NewbeeMC9 on January 24, 2010, 10:50:44 AM

You can buy those plugs and wires.  Even with the auto transfer switch built in. ;)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 24, 2010, 10:58:06 AM
Without grid connections I'm not sure if I would need the transfer switch and I've got a lot of 8-3 wire and even some 6-4 wire.  For the solar and wind i have an inverter/charger that has a transfer switch built in.  I'm 12 volt, not 24 volt.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NeoplanAN440 on January 24, 2010, 11:09:46 AM
you can backfeed with your gen no problem!

you just have to know what you do!!!
the phase of the gen and your grid have to be insinc.if not it can kill you!!!!
also if your gen will shortly change rpm frequency it will get out of phase and booom!
that basicly the same what a grid tie inverter does.he checks the grid for power and phase,then sincs the output to it and connects.they have safety features to not feed if the grid is down or out.

so dont do it if you dont know what you do and let nobody know!!

im running slow speed listeroid and old oilfieldengines as gens and there its fun to see how stable we can get them!!

there is a nice site


www.utterpower.com (http://www.utterpower.com)

the guy is also a little crazy on diy
lots to read and learn,but please dont try it all!!


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Sean on January 24, 2010, 12:04:55 PM
OK, I've got a dumb question and please don't condemn me for it, but I'm wondering if I were to take my honda 3000 generator and make a new cord where I could plug it into the 30 amp outlet on the generator and then plug the other end into the 30 amp outlet on the wall of the house would it back feed power thru the breaker box and power any lights or outlets in the house. 


Not only is this illegal, it is also extremely dangerous.  My advice to you is: don't do it.  The extra parts to do it the right way are not that expensive.  No need to buy the fancy expensive generator panels; all you need is a transfer switch, a cord, and some miscellaneous connectors.

you can backfeed with your gen no problem ...

... let nobody know!!


Look, folks, this kind of advice will get someone KILLED.

It is not legal to backfeed the grid with anything other than an approved, inspected, non-islanding device, and for good reason.

First off, synchronizing a generator to the grid is a non-trivial task.  You need a special regulator board to do it, a special governor, and a way to quickly disconnect should an out-of-synch condition develop -- within milliseconds.

Secondly, you absolutely need a way to detect islanding and disconnect within just a few milliseconds.  Otherwise, not only could you kill someone working on the lines, but your generator will suddenly assume the entire load of the island, however large that might be, which can not only damage the generator, but anything in the island that might be sensitive to power issues.

Do you really want to be on trial when you're hokey system kills someone three blocks away who uses a ventilator, or some other medical device?

DON'T DO THIS.

If you really want to generate power and sell it back to the utility, generate it in DC and run it through a UL-listed non-islanding inverter.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com (http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 24, 2010, 12:12:27 PM
Sean, the only way I could kill someone 3 blocks away is if the electricty could leap thru the air and hit them, the power company has taken the meter, there is no longer any connection of any kind to the grid, I'm told they will even be taking the wires that used to run the power from the road to the meter.  I'm asking questions and just not getting answers to my questions.  What I'm saying is simpley this, how can I hook the generator into my breaker box, if I cant backfeed 30 amps thru an outlet that is wired with 2 guage wire, how do I do it, can I run it directly thru the mains?


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: belfert on January 24, 2010, 12:18:51 PM
I think Sean made the assumption you were still connected to the grid.  You still reall ought to get a manual transfer switch for that day you go back on the grid.  I think they sell for about $60.

Doesn't REA want to make money from selling you power?  You don't have solar or wind today so I can't figure out what they are complaining about.  You can't be the only customer with a backup generator in case the power goes out.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NeoplanAN440 on January 24, 2010, 12:19:07 PM
yes you are right !!!

dont do it at home!!!

but its possible,and sometimes to read about how things work can help understand the system!!!
ist always such a secret whats about selling power or grid tying or how to backfeed!!!
so most people get scared even asking about a solar or alternative system!!!

it has to be done right and by the code!!!!


as for the grid itself

here in new mexico its pretty unstable and by trying to sell via approved xantrex inverter!!!
so its legal!!!my friend had to find out that 30% of the time the grid was out of specs,so the inverter wouldnt connect and sell!
i bet nobody blames the power company for their fried motors or pumps??????



Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: philiptompkjns on January 24, 2010, 12:21:15 PM
Sean, the only way I could kill someone 3 blocks away is if the electricty could leap thru the air and hit them, the power company has taken the meter, there is no longer any connection of any kind to the grid, I'm told they will even be taking the wires that used to run the power from the road to the meter.  I'm asking questions and just not getting answers to my questions.  What I'm saying is simpley this, how can I hook the generator into my breaker box, if I cant backfeed 30 amps thru an outlet that is wired with 2 guage wire, how do I do it, can I run it directly thru the mains?
Yeah It'll work cody, people do this all the  time  down here when power goes out for the hurricanes....


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NeoplanAN440 on January 24, 2010, 12:31:18 PM
cody

if the house is allready disconnected no problem!!

you can go into you main breaker box.problem is that the house will be separated into two phases to share the load for the 100amp or 200amp its rated!!!
a 3000 honda will get you only 1 phase 110v if i get it right
so you will have to connect the two main busses in the breaker box to use all circuits in the house!!
for 3000 watts 10 gauge is good!!!

as for a cord to a sockett
problem is that the plug will be unprotected incase some body takes it out while the gen is running!!
gen connector are build opposite .no power can be touched when unplugged!!
look at the marine shore connector they are the same as gen conectors or panels


but for this ,be sure you house is disconnected from grid,or a certified electrician installs a disconnect!!!!


hope this gets me into the right light!!!
i just like to try everything!!!


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 24, 2010, 12:32:18 PM
I didn't know the meter had been removed until jamie and I went out to the house yesterday, my asking them for guidance on the idea was enough to put the wheels in motion for them,  The note left in the door clearly explained that they are taking premtive measures to insure that I won't be generating any power, problem is that they can't stop me but they certainly can prevent me from being in anyway connected to their grid.  The equipment I have is a small honda inverter generator (3000 watts) and a magnum 2800 watt inverter, I have a lot of heavy wire ranging from 00gauge to 14 guage romex, I realize the wire won't leap from the generator to the breaker box so I'm asking how to complete that gap.  I also have a 6500 watt onan generator that after I complete a quiet box for it will replace the honda but for now the honda will do until I suppliment it with wind or solar and the onan. I also plan on buying enough batteries to create a battery bank for storage but the finances dictate a slow start on the project.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NeoplanAN440 on January 24, 2010, 12:42:15 PM
when i started ,i found that the cheapest way was to start on the generator site.

if you do it longer you will find out that a diesel is must!!!

i went later with a Listeroid engine coupled to st gen head.
running all night on two gallons and heating the house by using the waste heat from the coolant!!

i went trough severall onan,kubotas,you name it.
got tired of maintenance and cost for filters gasketts.......

whenyou got the gen.you can focus on an inverter and a battery bank.
keeps you from running the gen at night,when almost no power is needed!!


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NeoplanAN440 on January 24, 2010, 12:47:34 PM
after doing it a while,you will find that you change your lifestyle and need only half the power or you get tired and go to the grid again!!
if you keep on going,you have to find out wind or solar.
whats best in your location??
i went for solar first,started with only 400watts just enough to trickle charge.
went to 1000w  build my sun tracker with cheap actuators and some trow away 5w panels.
then i got wind for the stormy season

now i ended up getting a outdoor jacuzzi as a heat sink to waste my excess power,as her in new mexico the coop only gives credit for power.they dont pay for it.so i said why hassle with them if i dont get anything


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 24, 2010, 12:56:20 PM
The intent of starting the thread was to explore the possibility of solar and wind but I don't have the hundreds of thousands of dollars I'm told it takes, I couldn't convince anyone that the need is minor, I just added up the total wattage of the light bulbs in the house and if every bulb was on it would total only 220 watts unless I turned on the dusk to dawn light, the refrigerator has a start up of 6 amps and runs at conciderably less.  I felt that a couple of 400 watt wind turbines to take advantage of the almost constant breeze, coupled with around 320 watts of solar and tied into the 8 AGM batteries I have now and the 2800 watt magnum inverter would take care of some of the needs and the honda would assist when needed.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: belfert on January 24, 2010, 01:05:56 PM
I don't know who told you hundreds of thousands of dollars, but a system for the average house will be over $10,000 and probably well over that.

Notice I said average house.  Your house may use well less than average.  I am probably a bit below average and I use about 20 KW a day in the winter by my figuring.  (I think I recycled all my bills.)  Figuring maybe 8 hours a day of light and 50% usable watts I would need as much as 5,000 watts of panels to go completely off grid.

My usage doesn't figure in the air conditioning I use in the summer.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NeoplanAN440 on January 24, 2010, 01:13:09 PM
there you see

as belfert says.he has a 20k usage.that was me before i went this way.
i bet after watching the power in and out like i had to do the first year,you wonder why you are down to 10k or like me less then that.im still living the same.look tv,have my computer and play in my shop welding milling and drilling....
its just the small things like the light in the hall,the tv at night...you get it.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NeoplanAN440 on January 24, 2010, 01:17:18 PM
i build my first generator from a vw engine and an st head for less then $500
had 15k of power on diesel and wvo.

then i build my gen from a listeroid and a 5k st head with heat exchanger and water heater as storage for less then 2k
saved money as i was heating the house with the coolant via hydronic heating.
then i searched for my first panels 400w  ther went my next money.

but i did it in steps and upgraded while learning to live with the system


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 24, 2010, 01:18:39 PM
Sean told me the hundreds of thousands of dollars figure, I just can't even see how it would cost the 10K your talking about, heres the numbers and you tell me what I need, I have 8-12 watt CFL light bulbs, a 32 inch LCD tv, the toaster and coffee pot are the heavy hitters but only run on occasion, a refrigerator that uses 6 amps at start up, the laptop, and a well pump that uses 9 amps when it's running.  I don't know the amps needed for the tv and the toaster and coffee pot would be the major hitters but I don't know the wattages of them, occasionally a microwave, it's a 450 watt unit. thats the total power thats out there at this time, now I can't see where that adds up to any major usage.  I'm trying to find out how to do it, I've already got enough people telling me I can't do it.  I have no A/C, no electric heat, no electric water heater, nothing like that just a simple basic household.  I just pulled my last light bill out of the file, I had used a total of 78 KWH for that month, does that help in figureing it out?


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Sean on January 24, 2010, 01:21:52 PM
Sean, the only way I could kill someone 3 blocks away is if the electricty could leap thru the air and hit them,


Dan, just to be clear, that was not directed at you, but rather at the advice (which could be read here by anyone) that it is possible to backfeed the grid with a generator.  Simply put, not safely.

Quote
the power company has taken the meter, there is no longer any connection of any kind to the grid, I'm told they will even be taking the wires that used to run the power from the road to the meter.  I'm asking questions and just not getting answers to my questions.  What I'm saying is simpley this, how can I hook the generator into my breaker box, if I cant backfeed 30 amps thru an outlet that is wired with 2 guage wire, how do I do it, can I run it directly thru the mains?


The simplest way to do this, if there is no longer a meter and you don't plan on one for some time, is as follows:

  • Open the main panel.
  • Disconnect the two hot and one neutral wire coming in from the meter.  Tape off the ends with electrical tape, and secure them out of the way.
  • Punch a 3/4 hole in a convenient place on the panel.
  • Get a sufficient length of 8-4 or 6-4 (depending on generator capacity) type SO cord.  You could also use 8-3/10-1 or 6-3/8-1 if that's available (ground is permitted to be one trade size smaller).
  • Also obtain a type SO connector/strain relief, and the proper plug for your genny.  All these items are available at Lowes or Home Depot.
  • Run the cord through the strain relief installed in the hole.
  • Connect the red and black wires to the two hot lugs, the white wire to the main neutral lug, and the green wire to a spare ground lug.  Leave the existing ground in place, as it likely runs to the driven ground at the meter.
  • Install the plug at the genny end per instructions.

You are permitted to run this type of installation for 90 days as a "temporary" installation.  If you need to do something more permanent, the code really requires you to completely remove the meter connection, put a proper junction box ahead of the panel; install a driven ground connection, and run conduit over to the generator location.

Hope this answers your question.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com (http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NeoplanAN440 on January 24, 2010, 01:23:47 PM
your mainproblem is your well pump!!!
depending how the start box is working its drawing some serious amps to start.
and you wont play with it as they like to burn out if low on voltage.

is it 110 or 220??

you will need some real inverter like xantrex or outback

most others claim ratings they never hold


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NeoplanAN440 on January 24, 2010, 01:31:03 PM
xantrex dr inverter are nice starter units,but will give trouble with some electronics.
for sample i had stripes on my tv

i went with a xantrex sw4024    4000w 9000 surge
i can even weld on it with a tranformer or now i have them tied to have even 240v

there is a ps2524 or 2024 on ebay and the guy is asking $690 for it
it will handle all the load you have at this time and can be upgraded to have same functions as the sw

looking around and knowing what you want can save lots off dollars

this time lots of people selling solar stuff to make money!!!
i dont say it loud,but looks like thay cashed the tax refund and now get rid of the components!!

found my sw for $800 in original package

just look


what in your bus (gen etc???)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 24, 2010, 01:36:05 PM
Thank you sean, the breaker box is already grounded to a rod driven into the ground, the meter is completely disconnected and in a box in the back of the linemans truck somewhere, the line that went into the meter box is already in conduit and at the side of the house at a convienent level for a plug in spot for the generator, the well pump is 110 volt and the inverter is a magnum 2800 watt pure sine wave inverter/charger, I kinda think it is a REAL inverter unless I'm mistaken which I could be.  This is the information I was looking for, so my understanding is that I can use the line that used to go to the meter box to connect a plug from the generator, I realize that I will need to modify the system at the point where I add solar or wind turbines to it.  I already listed what all uses electric in the house and it really doesn't add up to a lot of power requirement, as I said the last bill only I had only used 78 KWH total, and that was with the house being lived in full time.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 24, 2010, 01:46:25 PM
The equipment that I have right now are a choice between the honda 3000I or the 6500 watt onan generator, I have a 2800 watt magnum pure sine wave inverter/charger with ample surge, and 8-105AH AGM batteries.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Zeroclearance on January 24, 2010, 01:47:41 PM
To put this into the mix..   My son has a HS Science project this year..   The theme is "green"  We have decided to make a efficient solar panel.

I have located 6" x 6"  German made "mono"solar cells rated at 4watts..   I am getting them for $3.50 each.   I am going to make a small panel to "show" that it is possible to have a very current panel at cheaper costs per watt.    The 210 watt panels made by Evergreen or Sharp run between $600 to 750.    I'll toss the panel on top of the bus to keep my "start batteries" maintained when my son is done with the project.    It's also interesting to see the new cells coming in from China.   Back to back testing has not been done by anyone.  So it's a buy beware situation.  

In the end I will buy Kyocera 210 or 220 watt panels for the bus.  


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 24, 2010, 01:55:51 PM
Sun force has a panel rated at 100 watts that are the CIGS technology, northern tool has them for sale at 599,    http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200379208_200379208 (http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200379208_200379208)     I'm looking at these for starters, one of these next year would be nice too   http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200405533_200405533 (http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200405533_200405533)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Sean on January 24, 2010, 02:04:46 PM
Sean told me the hundreds of thousands of dollars figure,


No, I said "dozens if not hundreds," and I was talking about an average house.  The average house in the US uses 30 kWh per day (on average) of electricity.

Quote
I just can't even see how it would cost the 10K your talking about,


If you want 100% solar, it's easily that.  Let's do the math:

Quote
heres the numbers and you tell me what I need, I have 8-12 watt CFL light bulbs, a 32 inch LCD tv, the toaster and coffee pot are the heavy hitters but only run on occasion, a refrigerator that uses 6 amps at start up, the laptop, and a well pump that uses 9 amps when it's running.  I don't know the amps needed for the tv and the toaster and coffee pot would be the major hitters but I don't know the wattages of them, occasionally a microwave, it's a 450 watt unit. thats the total power thats out there at this time, now I can't see where that adds up to any major usage.


OK.  Without more specifics (you really need to measure those unkown items, especially how long the pump runs each day, the fridge, etc.), we can take a guess.  I have an extremely energy-efficient bus, and I use most of those same appliances (LCD TV, coffee pot, microwave, a few lights, etc.) with the exception of the well pump.  Also, I have a super-efficient fridge, which uses less than one tenth what yours does.  With all that, I use about 4.3 kWh per day, when I don't need A/C.

Lets add another 2.5 kWh for your fridge, and 4.2 kWh for your well pump (which would be about two hours run time each day).

That brings your daily requirement to 11 kWh, give or take.  That's still far less than a normal household.

Quote
... I had used a total of 78 KWH for that month, does that help in figureing it out?


It would, except it doesn't square with what you just told us above.  That would be 2.6 kWh per day, just barely enough to run a household fridge.  Was this a month where nobody was home?  Or perhaps is there a "base quantity" of kWh included in the flat rate you must pay, and the 78 is a number over and above that?

In any case, I'll do the math both ways:

Lower limit, 2.6 kWh per day:

With panels ideally angled (due south at 46 elevation, with no shade-producing elements nearby), at your latitude, tables generally suggest a four-hour "sun-day", which means each panel produces its rated wattage for that amount of time each day.

To generate 2.6 kWh in that four hours, you would need 650 watts of panels.  However, you will be storing this in batteries, and the storage/retrieval process extracts about a ten percent penalty; you will need an inverter to change DC to AC which extracts another ten percent, so you will  really need about 820 watts of panels.

At the best prices today, 820 watts will cost you about $2,500.  That's not including cabling, mounting, etc. etc..

Now you will need to store that 2,600 watt-hours of energy.  At 12 volts (the most common nominal battery voltage), that's 217 amp-hours.  Because batteries should not be drawn down past about 50%, you'd need at least two 220 aH batteries, but you'd never be able to change them to 100% with this system.  Batteries follow the 80/20 rule, so we really want the 217 aH to be drawn between the 50% and 80% levels on the batteries; that means you'll need about 720 aH of batteries.

If you are willing to maintain wet batteries, a dollar per aH is a really good price.  So add around $720 for the batteries.  Now you are up to 3,220.

You will need a good sine wave inverter to run your system, at this rate about 3,500 watts.  If it is 100% solar, you do not need a charger.  Still, you will need one capable of starting the pump and fridge, and it will have to produce both 120 and 240.  You will need to budget at least $2,000 for such an inverter.  Now you are at $5,220.

Add to this the cost of battery racks, cables, mounting hardware, junction boxes, etc. and you will easily be over $6,000.  That's just for 2.6 kWh per day.

If my original estimate of about 11 kWh per day is closer, you'd need:

2,750 watts of panels, $8,250
3,055 amp-hours of batteries, $3,055
A bigger inverter, $3,000
Miscellaneous cables and hardware, $1,000
Total: over $15k

And, again, the average house uses three times this amount of energy, and some even more, which is why I say it runs to dozens or in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com (http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NeoplanAN440 on January 24, 2010, 02:07:52 PM
your magnum inverter is a pretty good start.
if you have the batteries also you are set

yes you can use the feeder.just look into the main breaker bob and get the two busses connected to run with your gen.
i would go with the larger gen unit.
the inverter adjust charging rate on the peak voltage available.
the small honda is allready on its limit for the charger ,not getting you full rate.
you will try to keep your batts full charged most off the time (we call it floating)
that will extend their lifetime.
on the other hand you want them to charge also not to slow,as these inverters will charge in  three steps.
if it takes to long to get from charge to float you will have excess gassing and shorten the life again.

that one of the secrets of a balanced system.everybody that has battery problems has mostly to big off a bank or to small.yes you can have to much also.you need to get them fuly charged in reasonable time.


neverending story


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Sean on January 24, 2010, 02:12:22 PM
... the well pump is 110 volt and the inverter is a magnum 2800 watt pure sine wave inverter/charger, I kinda think it is a REAL inverter unless I'm mistaken which I could be.


Sorry, my last message assumed a 240-volt well pump -- not sure where I got that.

Your 2800 pure sine will probably run everything, except you might have a problem if the well pump and fridge both tried to start at the same time.  These are good units.

So you can take that part out of the calcs.

In order to size the batteries and panels, though, we really need to know which is closer, 2600 watt-hours or 9,000.  (I overestimated the pump usage based on the incorrect voltage.)

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com (http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: cody on January 24, 2010, 02:26:37 PM
The 8 batteries are rated at 105AH and are AGM so that is 840ah of power with 420ah usable, the well doesn't kick in very often cause of the 100 gallon pressure tank and the refigerator doen't run very often and is new and energy star rated, I was wrong on the amperage for it, I just dug out the paperwork on it and it says 3.8 amp, I went thru the power bills for 12 months and the highest power bill was 104 KWH and the lowest was 58 KWH, I intend to use the 6500 watt onan but not until I get a quiet box built for it, then I'll put the honda back into the bus.


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Sean on January 24, 2010, 02:45:46 PM
The 8 batteries are rated at 105AH and are AGM so that is 840ah of power with 420ah usable,


Those should work.  I would invest the $150 or so into a really good solar charge controller, such as the Blue Sky, to maximize the output while at the same time protecting these batteries.

Quote
the well doesn't kick in very often cause of the 100 gallon pressure tank and the refigerator doen't run very often and is new and energy star rated, I was wrong on the amperage for it, I just dug out the paperwork on it and it says 3.8 amp, I went thru the power bills for 12 months and the highest power bill was 104 KWH and the lowest was 58 KWH, I intend to use the 6500 watt onan but not until I get a quiet box built for it, then I'll put the honda back into the bus.


OK, so sounds like 90 kWh would be a good average, or 3 kWh per day.  That, by the way, is really, really low for a house.  Congratulations.

Since you already have the batteries and the inverter, you'll just need to add the panels.  Based on the 3 kWh, I would estimate you would need roughly 1,000 "watts" of panels, well aimed.

For winter use, you would want to tilt them at latitude+15, or about 60 from horizontal in your location (pretty tall!).  For year-round, go with latitude or about 45.

If your inverter is 12v, you'll want to go with 12v (nominal) panels in parallel.

If you really shop around, you might pick these up for $3,000 or so.

Don't skimp on the wire.  Use at least #6 to wire from the panels to the charge controller, and #4 charge controller to the batteries.  Better to use #4 for the whole thing.  I'd use 0000 for the inverter battery connections, with a 450-amp class-T fuse.

Here are some good references:
http://www.solar4power.com/solar-power-basics.html (http://www.solar4power.com/solar-power-basics.html)
http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/yago90.html (http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/yago90.html)
http://www.qsl.net/ve3lgs/solarpnl.htm (http://www.qsl.net/ve3lgs/solarpnl.htm)
http://www.solar4power.com/solar-power-sizing.html (http://www.solar4power.com/solar-power-sizing.html)


-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com (http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com)


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NeoplanAN440 on January 24, 2010, 03:44:18 PM
i guess everybody here is right on some part!!

i just try to tell everybody,dont get scared go for it.

i was counting the same as sean has done it here.and from the numbers he is right.
but i found that there are many factors that cant be counted.
i designed my system with no background on solar.went with the same numbers as i was living before etc...
when i had my first 1000w panels up i was allready starting to build the second rack for the next array.
as i had planned my system needs to be way bigger.
my living and energy conserving changed so much,that by the time i was ready to set up the second rack i didnt need it for living!!

its the small things,like unplug the tv,turn off lights,remove the defrost timer in the fridge and defrost manual etc,that makes together real savings!!!
again,if you dont learn from it and dont change you will have to pay for it!!!

so go for it,try it!!! you have the basics to try and learn and go with it.
just take you time to watch,learn and understand whats going on.

as i say,its like my bus
lots of ideas in the beginning,and then you find out whats important when on the road and whats
just wild dreams and made no sense!!


that me


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: Lonnie time to go on January 24, 2010, 04:14:42 PM
when i started ,i found that the cheapest way was to start on the generator site.

if you do it longer you will find out that a diesel is must!!!

i went later with a Listeroid engine coupled to st gen head.
running all night on two gallons and heating the house by using the waste heat from the coolant!!

i went trough severall onan,kubotas,you name it.
got tired of maintenance and cost for filters gasketts.......

whenyou got the gen.you can focus on an inverter and a battery bank.
keeps you from running the gen at night,when almost no power is needed!!



Ok few questions

what size    Listeroid engine
                 generator head

How often do you run

How many watts is produce

any info would be appreciated

Lonnie






.









Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: NeoplanAN440 on January 24, 2010, 04:25:46 PM
for the house i run a 6hp single
i have a 5kw head on it.its way overkill for the engine,but the extra mass on the rotor makes it more stable on starting loads!!

run time depends on lots of things
like weather,how much wvo im processing etc.
in winter i run it between 8-14 hrs to also heat the house

i have set it at a light load to work as a charger mostly
set at 1500 watts,trying to keep it loaded all the time

for busy times,lots of welding or work on my lathe i have a
witte 12hp oilfield engine running next to my shop
its also connected to charge house batteries while running ,so its never running
unused if once started

i like old engines,and this gave me also the chance to run them with a reason.
next project would be a fairbanks YH 25 hp single
but thats next summer or????...


Title: Re: Solar for dummies
Post by: belfert on January 24, 2010, 05:52:05 PM
Cody, I suspect you'll find a way to use solar or wind for electricity and do it on the cheap.

I do admire you for being able to get by with so little electricity use.  I have no idea how I am using so much electricity.  Certainly, leaving my computer on all the time isn't helping things.  I don't own a big screen TV or much in the way of electronics.

My energy usage overall is relatively low for living in Minnesota where it gets cold.  My average electric/gas bill for last year was $133 a month.  It helps that I have a pretty new house that has an air exchanger, extra insulation, nice Andersen windows, and was sealed against air leakage during construction.  I'm still using a lot more electricity than you are.