Solar Power 101

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Solar Power 101

Post by Blast » Tue Mar 02, 2021 6:44 pm

Advance Notice: On Thursday, March 4th, 2021, episode #96 of my show Merriwether's World! I'll be going over the basic equipment, their pros & cons, and the necessary math you need to figure out what size solar system you need. This won't be covering "whole house mega-arrays" but sub-1,000 Watt systems. You can join the presentation live at either:
www.youtube.com/user/drmerriwether
www.facebook.com/foragingtexas

Replays will be available afterwards at both locations and I'll add those video perma-links to this thread after the presentation is done.
-Blast
Foraging Texas
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Re: Solar Power 101

Post by Blast » Thu Mar 04, 2021 10:30 pm

This is an introductory-level presentation covering basic info and calculations needed for solar panels, batteries, charge controllers, power inverters, and so-called "solar generators". Feel free to ask questions in the YT comments or here in this thread. Hope it helps!
Blast's Guide to Solar Power: https://youtu.be/1nwUJXDAv7c?t=6
-Blast
Foraging Texas
Medicine Man Plant Co.
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*As an Amazon Influencer, I may earn a sales commission on Amazon links in my posts.

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Re: Solar Power 101

Post by woodsghost » Fri Mar 05, 2021 4:07 pm

So far this has been fun to listen to and informative. Good job!
*Remember: I'm just a guy on the internet :)
*Don't go to stupid places with stupid people & do stupid things.
*Be courteous. Look normal. Be in bed by 10'clock.

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -Bilbo Baggins.

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Re: Solar Power 101

Post by sheddi » Mon Mar 15, 2021 12:16 pm

Blast wrote:
Tue Mar 02, 2021 6:44 pm
(Blast's announcement of his Solar Power 101 video)
I don't want to stal Blast's glory, but he's posted a second YouTube video on the topic of solar power. I want to call it Solar Power 102 but I'll leave that to Blast:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjI9-gUm-8Y

I'm watching it now and it's as much fun as the first one was :D

(Also, I hope Blast gets his fence fixed, and that Animal Control came along for the grumpy pit bull.)

[Blast, if you want to post your own announcement please do so and I'll delete this message.]
Be Pure!
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Behave!


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Re: Solar Power 101

Post by Blast » Mon Mar 15, 2021 12:41 pm

sheddi wrote:
Mon Mar 15, 2021 12:16 pm
Blast wrote:
Tue Mar 02, 2021 6:44 pm
(Blast's announcement of his Solar Power 101 video)
I don't want to stal Blast's glory, but he's posted a second YouTube video on the topic of solar power. I want to call it Solar Power 102 but I'll leave that to Blast:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjI9-gUm-8Y

I'm watching it now and it's as much fun as the first one was :D

(Also, I hope Blast gets his fence fixed, and that Animal Control came along for the grumpy pit bull.)

[Blast, if you want to post your own announcement please do so and I'll delete this message.]
I'll take any free advertising I can get! :lol:

Update on the dog...a Canadian fan contacted a friend of hers who lives near Houston. That friend will be picking up the dog from the shelter today after it gets fixed. International dog rescuing!
-Blast
Foraging Texas
Medicine Man Plant Co.
DrMerriwether on YouTube
Ham Radio Call Sign: KI5BOG
*As an Amazon Influencer, I may earn a sales commission on Amazon links in my posts.

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Re: Solar Power 101

Post by sheddi » Thu Apr 08, 2021 10:14 am

I don't want to start a new thread (although I might change my mind :D ) ...

Batteries.

We all know there are different types of batteries but until I recently went down the rabbit hole I never realised just how many variations within the individual sectors there were. I'm going to illustrate this with one brand from one UK supplier (mixing either of those into this would just make my brain hurt). I'm not an expert but I've read the spec sheets where provided; if there *is* a battery expert in the house, please speak up and point out my inevitable errors.

I'm looking at 12v lead-acid batteries with nominal capacities of 100-120Ah, branded Leoch, supplied by Alpha Batteries: https://www.alpha-batteries.co.uk

Here are six (yes six) different options. For each I will mention the capacity, quoted price and manufacturer's claimed cycle life at 50% depth-of-discharge. Prices are in GBP including taxes; our taxes mean the USD sticker price, for the same battery in the US, is likely to be roughly the same (so a £100 product in the UK sells for $100 in the US).
(Note: these are all sealed-for-life batteries, so you can't top up electrolyte. Charging will have to be controlled to minimise water loss, else the batteries will die early. See below for a "wet" option.)

Not surprisingly, as the price goes up so does the cycle life, but there are some interesting features that can be pulled out from the list

The basic "Adventurer" battery, despite the name, doesn't sound much use for anyone on an adventure. If cycled daily it will reach its claimed life after little more than 6 months use. On the other hand if you're a recreational RVer and want a battery for weekends and the occasional longer vacation, it's likely to be adequate (at two cycles a weekend for 25 weeks of the year, it will be good for four years). And it's cheap so if you're a casual user, not fastidious about charging your batteries and leave them discharged between trips, you won't cry too much when you kill it and have to buy another.

The "Adventurer AGM" looks like a decent upgrade from the Adventurer, costing 30% more but lasting 3x as many cycles. Unfortunately for the AGM, the AGM Lead Carbon is only another £10 more and doubles the cycle life again. 1300 cycles is 3 1/2 years of daily up-and-downs and chould suit many people who aren't long-term off-gridders.

The more expensive versions, to me at least, seem best for people with a good need for extended life or who have other special demands. 2000 cycles is ~5.5 years, and 2500 is almost 7 years. The two PLH+ batteries (the two most expensive ones) claim to charge to 90% in one hour, which could be useful provided you have a way of supplying that much currrent.

I did say I'd mention a "wet" option for people who like to care for their batteries (and applications where they're unlikely to spill, like homes and conventional RVs but not enthusiastically-driven off-road vehicles).
Two of thoe would cost £240 but would provide twice the 12v capacity of the batteries listed above. With care and regular topping-up you might expect to match the life of the best of the batteries in the previous table.
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Re: Solar Power 101

Post by raptor2 » Fri Apr 09, 2021 10:30 am

I have literally spent decades working (and for while) living with DC power systems on boats. Both power and sail. This is true off the grid living when you are cruising and at anchor. Granted there is a lot of new technology but still the key flaw to solar power systems (other than night time :clownshoes: ) is battery technology. Battery technology has not improved in the same manner/level as many of the other aspects of this technology.

The marine world has taught me to buy quality batteries and get them in easy to remove and replace components. In other words 2 Rolls brand 6 volt batteries are a lot better to deal with than a single 8D battery. Rolls makes them in2 volt cells but I have never used those. I have however manhandled a single 8D battery up out of a compartment. That needed a boom and a "comealong" to accomplish vs. 2 strong backs to hoist a single 6 volt battery to replace it. Batteries (like generator fuel) needs a lot of thought. The decision requires a lot more than price and capacity. You need to assess your load but more importantly how you will recharge them. Batteries have a fininte life and the fastest way to shorten that life is over discharge and over re-chargaing them. This decision is NOT like buying a car battery.

Where am I going with this?
Stick to grid tied panels.
PV panels once installed with a grid tied inverter are relatively simple in operation. They are not plug, play & forget but they are simple...at least until you add batteries to the equation. The batteries will add very significant upfront and recurring costs to the system as well as lot more maintenance and supervision needs. Yes a Telsa power wall requires a lot less R&M than say a wet cell 8D rolls battery but the cost difference between the two is an order of magnitude. The 8D has a much shorter life cycle which may or may not make up for the Tesla Power Wall initial cost. That and both can easily have have their life shortened dramatically by improper use.

My suggestion to anyone starting off is to stick to a grid tied system and see if the cost & effort of the installation makes sense. If you are going to install batteries do it as a "phase 2" upgrade and start off small by building in expansion capability. This will also allow for future technology to be used.





For the record when I was cruising the caribs in the 90's, if the current generation of lithium group 31 batteries were available I would have built my DC system around their needs/capabilities instead of the wet cell 8D batteries I used. The daily chore of checking the 8D battery water level, finding distilled water for them and the other headaches associated with them is one reason I ran the generator...a lot. :clownshoes:
Duco Ergo Sum


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Blast
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Re: Solar Power 101

Post by Blast » Fri Apr 09, 2021 10:46 am

Yep, batteries make or break the system. To go sideways for a second, one of the things that always drives me nut nowadays about sci-fi robots is I can't set aside my belief about the impossibility of any battery tech being good enough to power them. :lol: Logic and an understanding of science ruins many escapes.
-Blast
Foraging Texas
Medicine Man Plant Co.
DrMerriwether on YouTube
Ham Radio Call Sign: KI5BOG
*As an Amazon Influencer, I may earn a sales commission on Amazon links in my posts.

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