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kyle wrote:Awesome! Thanks for sharing.
Do you have any horror stories or advice you can share with those of us who have serious interest in setting us something similar?
How long will they take to pay off, considering material cost and what you'll be saving in utility bills?
Rock2Fox wrote:A chest type deep freezer and a washing machine. We'll see in the next few days how hot the wires get and if the breakers trip. I'll continue to post with what I am able to run and what-not.
Rock2Fox wrote:Cost-wise, this project quickly became a money pit. I think there are really two mindsets for doing something like this: (1) to try to do if for the least amount of money, and get the most watts/ amps per dollar, or (2) to build a system that is as safe as possible. I made a sort of hybrid attempt of (1) & (2).
A little background info on the project first. I have a gasoline generator to use in emergencies; so one day I told my wife I was going to fill some 55 gallon drums full of gas to keep on hand to use to provide power. I gave her the choice between having a fairly large quantity of flammable liquid in our garage, or spending some cash on an alternative energy source. Thus the genesis of this system.
I first planned on using marine batteries, but based on my needs and not wanting to have a vented battery box which had a way to get rid of the hydrogen by-product of deep cycle charging I chose to spend more money and get the most "maintenance free" batteries I could. I chose the MK/ DEKA 8G4D (I think that is the model, listed at 183 amp hour @ 10hr. rate) $375/ per batt.
As far as the panels, I chose these based on cost, they were $475 + freight from an internet vendor (Mr. Solar). These prices are not awesome, but I believe you get what you pay for and nothing really screamed "quality" on Ebay.
Cables, were not a cost that I considered before hand. This is definitely an area where you could save money if you wanted too. I hope to expand this system as I get more cash, so I opted to buy larger battery cables (#2/0) that would handle the largest loads. I firmly believe that I could have bought #4/0 AWG from Wal-Mart and been just fine with this setup (but I didn't). So all in all the cables cost about $130 (for 2.5' of #2/0 AWG battery cable between the DC breaker and the batteries; 12" of #2/0 battery for parallel wiring as between the batteries; 2.5' of #10 AWG wire as between the charge controller and the batter; 52" of #10 AWG intermodule cables; 25' of #10 AWG output cable, this is basically the same thing as the intermodule wiring, but in a heavy duty light resistant outer insulation; and lastly a 100ft. 12ga. outdoor extension cord).
The UniRac mount ran about $150; Trioxin made his for free, so I don't know if this was necessary, but b/c I live in a VERY windy part of the US, I didn't figure this was an area to cut costs on. Plus I don't have a bed frame or any welding skills.
The Xantrex C40 controller was about $199, w/ the digital display and battery temperature sensor (used to help the controlling functions be more accurate I suppose) added in (purchased new on Ebay).
The Xantrex Prosine 1800w Inverter was the most questionable of my purchases b/c it had been refurbished. However for $460 I took the gamble. A new unit retails WITHOUT a GFCI (the plug for your extension cord) for around $1100. I paid for the name, and paid for the "pure-sine" wave aspect, which I gather you need to run complicated appliances such as laptops and the like.
The DC breaker was $175 including the 150amp breaker; also something you don't need, but it gets me closer to being up to local electrical code and allows me to disconnect the batteries if I ever need to work on the AC side of the system.
The other DC breaker that works as the panel disconnect, is an OutBack solar combiner box which cost $120. Also not exactly necessary, and I'm also not using it for its intended purposes which was to combine multiple panel arrays into one output. But whatever, it is part of what makes this system just a little more expandable in the future.
So the short answer is I spent a LOT of money, MUCH MORE than I intended, but I think it has staying power and will facilitate future upgrades with ease.
Hope this helps.
The Syndicate wrote:Nice setup, I have been looking into something like this myself. The only thing I see a possible problem with is your ground. You really want the rod into wet/moist earth, two feet just sound's awfully shallow.
Gunny wrote:And people ask me, 'Gunny, why do you have $20 worth of Immodium AD in your IFAK?" Well, in truth, no one asks me that. But it's in there. One can ill afford dying ass first when social order breaks down.
Roknrandy wrote:The Syndicate wrote:Nice setup, I have been looking into something like this myself. The only thing I see a possible problem with is your ground. You really want the rod into wet/moist earth, two feet just sound's awfully shallow.
Again nice setup but I agree with Syndicate about the ground. Make sure it's several feet deeper and in a spot where it can be in moist earth. Just trying to point a potential safety problem.
Rock2Fox wrote:Update on power tests. Running a washing machine has proven too demanding for the system. The washer drew about 1500 watts on its initial surge to start the motor, and maintained its operation at 750 watts/ ~60 amps. It pretty much quit spinning the basket about halfway through the cycle--- I'm not sure exactly why, there should have been enough power in the batteries to make it work, but whatever.
So as of today: 1 freezer, 1 rechargeable battery back for my drill, one cell phone and a "dust-buster" all sucking juice, but not from the grid, from the sun.