all 8 comments

[–]yetanotherone_sigh[S] 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I should note that I built my solar panel system piecemeal. THIS IS THE WRONG WAY TO DO IT UNLESS YOU ARE INSANE.

You should start with a plan. What is your load? Then you work backwards from there. How big of an inverter will you need? How many batteries? How large of a charge controller? How much sun do you get in your part of the country? How many panels will you need? This is called a SOLAR SURVEY and it's very important. So naturally I didn't do any of this.

I started out in a completely different way: I wanted something portable that I could go camping with. A 100W solar panel, an ammo box of batteries, a charge controller, a USB charger for my phone, and a cigarette lighter plug to run small 12V devices or a small inverter for a laptop.

When I started this solar plan, I didn't have a piece of property at all. So this morphed into "let's power a cabin". And I didn't have a pile of money, so I bought the panels one at a time. The deep cycle UPS batteries were free from work and they are EXPENSIVE ($1700.00 new). So I worked around what I had.

[–]MobiusRacetrack 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (2 children)

I installed 2 large Kyocera panels, charge controller and a few marine batteries about 15 years ago. Still working well. When I traveled a lot out west I noticed many places use hybrid solar/wind/small generators. I'm waiting for batteries to get better.

[–]yetanotherone_sigh[S] 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I have the advantage of getting free batteries at work. They are deep cycle lead acid (large car batteries, but rated for UPS duty). That would definitely have been a very large chunk of money... thousands of dollars. Please feel free to post a pic of your setup!

[–]send_nasty_stuff 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I'm waiting for batteries to get better.

I would just start working the used battery websites until a big deal comes up. There are lots of government, military and private companies that are forced to retire batteries well before their lifespan. You can therefore get a LOT of really high quality batteries for cheap. You just need the expertise to wire them together, test them, etc. There are a couple of youtube channels that monitor these sales as well.

[–]HeyImSancho 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

Good on you for making your own way. I've got some land, and am working on alternative energy compliments to it. I'm looking at hydro(have a creek), solar, wind, and also some sort of biogas generator, as I'm in a forest.

[–]yetanotherone_sigh[S] 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Nice! Please feel free to post here. I am eager to hear everyone else's experiences.

[–]yetanotherone_sigh[S] 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Load: how are you using your power?

I wanted to keep everything in native 12V from the batteries unless I have something specific that I need to power.

Most of the load will be running LED lights. Those are easy to find in 12VDC. I have several interior lights and porch lights up now. Need to add more outdoor lighting for security and to see if you are being stalked by a wild animal at night (yes, this happens).

Some of the load will be pumping water. I have several small 12V pumps for running the shower and whatnot. Need a larger one for the creek.

The 900W inverter is used, believe it or not, for watching TV. It gets dark quick and the nights are long at a high latitude. No TV antenna reception in a valley. So we have a small Western Digital box that hooks up to a HDD full of TV shows and movies that I brought out. Mostly Ray Mears survival shows. lol

[–]yetanotherone_sigh[S] 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Next projects:

Possible to set up a tower and put in a very small wind turbine.

Possible to set up a bridge across the creek and put in a micro hydro system.

All three of the systems, the solar, hydro, and wind power, are all intermittent and seasonal. You get more solar in the summer. You get more water in the winter. So they should balance out.

Currently have a 2kW Honda suitcase generator for backup. Would like to put in a converter so that it can be run on both propane and gasoline.