Small Off Grid Solar System ... I'm Taking the Solar Plunge

Re: Small off grid solar system ... I'm taking the solar plunge

PostBy: Rob R. On: Thu Sep 10, 2015 7:38 am

I am impressed. Stage 2 is a propane cook stove, percolator coffee pot, and some water storage for toilets, etc.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy


Re: Small off grid solar system ... I'm taking the solar plunge

PostBy: Lightning On: Thu Sep 10, 2015 3:55 pm

Wow nice job Larry!
Lightning
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Overmodified/Bored out Clayton 1537
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/Awesome Size

Re: Small off grid solar system ... I'm taking the solar plunge

PostBy: lsayre On: Sat Sep 12, 2015 8:02 pm

No sooner do I report my success, then a couple days of clouds, cold, and rain appear, the likes of which have driven me to finally use my battery charger, and to disconnect the refrigerator from the inverter, leaving only the deep freezer connected to it.
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (13.5 KW)

Re: Small off grid solar system ... I'm taking the solar plunge

PostBy: davidmcbeth3 On: Sat Sep 12, 2015 8:35 pm

Don't worry ... sunny days will come back !



^^ for inspiration !
davidmcbeth3
 
Coal Size/Type: nut/pea/anthra
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

Re: Small off grid solar system ... I'm taking the solar plunge

PostBy: lsayre On: Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:29 am

For those looking to design their own solar panel system, and in need of a means by which to determine how much potential energy the PV (solar) panels will deliver in any given month (based upon your total of panel Watts, your fixed panel angle, and your regions nominal monthly sunlight and weather conditions), I have developed a spreadsheet to aid in all of this. The program assumes that panels are oriented toward due south.

User input is required for only the 3 blue background cells. Everything else is calculated. There is a drop down to select the month. Click on "Month" to reveal the drop down arrow and select the month.

On the right hand section of the spreadsheet there is an array which contains nominal monthly hours of sunlight and nominal monthly percentage of sunlight (percentage of clear sky) data for my local area. To make this spreadsheet usable for your area you would need to unprotect it, enter into this section your regions actual local data, reprotect it, and save it.

Here is the solar design program:

Watt Potential For Solar Panels.xls
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lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (13.5 KW)

Re: Small off grid solar system ... I'm taking the solar plunge

PostBy: WNY On: Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:55 am

Nice job. :)

I need to get up and check the battery bank at my sisters summer home. it's been online for 2 years now and works really well.!
WNY
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker 90K, Leisure Line Hyfire I
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker, LL & CoalTrol
Stove/Furnace Model: 90K, Hyfire I, VF3000 Soon

Re: Small off grid solar system ... I'm taking the solar plunge

PostBy: Rob R. On: Sun Jan 31, 2016 9:00 am

Larry, how has your system been working in the winter months?
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Small off grid solar system ... I'm taking the solar plunge

PostBy: lsayre On: Sun Jan 31, 2016 9:19 am

Rob R. wrote:Larry, how has your system been working in the winter months?


Just about as bad as the spreadsheet indicates. You can't cheat mother nature. But as long as I don't use the energy that is stored in the batteries, it is there for emergency use.

That said, I have stubbornly continued powering my refrigerator and deep freezer off of the solar system straight through the winter, and in doing so I've had to charge the batteries daily on the cloudy days (which means on most days). I'm charging them from grid electricity. If I didn't have that, I would need to charge them via a generator. What I have learned through my stubbornness is that I have not had a single instance where I've tripped the lowly 1,500 Watt budget model inverter due to the fridge and the deep freezer kicking on at the same time. This tends to validate my initial assumption that for those having this problem it is mainly a matter of having insufficient battery amps available, with the resulting voltage drop tripping the inverter.

The one thing I have learned is that in the winter if there is enough solar panel surface exposed (free of ice and snow) to begin generating a current, the heat that is evolved melts off the ice and snow and clears the panels nicely.

As we progress through February the system should begin to provide sufficient sunlight to run my fridge and deep freezer without having to resort to much (if any) external battery charging.

In the end it looks like I have insufficient panels to accomplish running the fridge and deep freezer strictly off of sunlight derived energy from about mid November through most of January, and partially into February. I could mitigate some percentage of this problem by steepening my panel angle.
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (13.5 KW)


Re: Small off grid solar system ... I'm taking the solar plunge

PostBy: WNY On: Sun Jan 31, 2016 11:33 am

the panels tend to work a bit better in the cold. I have seen some good numbers on my Controller to the batteries when it was really cold. maybe 10% INCREASE.

The better higher wattage pure sine wave inverters work well.

yes, depending on what you are powering, sometimes you have to compromise. do you have the freezer and refrig insulated? the fridge we have at the summer home has additional 4-6" of foam board all around it and the doors to super insulate it. it doesn't run much once it's cold. the compressor is vented out the back bottom into the garage. We sometimes just use the small dorm refrigerator for small stuff when we are up there. works quite well.

Larry, PM me your setup if have a diagram. would like to look at it. thx. :)
WNY
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker 90K, Leisure Line Hyfire I
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker, LL & CoalTrol
Stove/Furnace Model: 90K, Hyfire I, VF3000 Soon

Re: Small off grid solar system ... I'm taking the solar plunge

PostBy: lsayre On: Sun Jan 31, 2016 11:56 am

PM sent.

My refrigerator/freezer and deep freezer combined use roughly 2 KWH each day.

For comparison, the single 125 Watt heat lamp that I'm keeping on 24/7 to keep 6 chicks warm is consuming 3 KWH per day.
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (13.5 KW)

Re: Small off grid solar system ... I'm taking the solar plunge

PostBy: Rob R. On: Sat Jan 14, 2017 10:54 am

Another year has passed by. Any updates?
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Small off grid solar system ... I'm taking the solar plunge

PostBy: WNY On: Sat Jan 14, 2017 11:18 am

On our summer house, I added 2 more panels (250W each) this past summer, total almost 1000 watts.

(hopefully get the greenhouse rebuilt this summer. it's getting a bit ragged, lol)

System working quite well now, run everything and charge, you can see 27+amps to the battery bank. :)
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WNY
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker 90K, Leisure Line Hyfire I
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker, LL & CoalTrol
Stove/Furnace Model: 90K, Hyfire I, VF3000 Soon

Re: Small off grid solar system ... I'm taking the solar plunge

PostBy: lsayre On: Sat Jan 14, 2017 2:13 pm

Rob R. wrote:Another year has passed by. Any updates?


2 winters (OK, one and a part) have proven for me that solar in the winter is flat out not very useful in my neck of the woods. I've cut back on the load to my panels, which are now running only 2 desktop computers. Combined they demand on average somewhere around 1.4 KWH per day. And even with that light load I'm still charging the batteries after the sun goes down perhaps 4 to 5 days out of 7 to make up for the lack of winter sunshine.

Very happy with it for about 2/3 of the year though. Not much (if any) need for the battery charger from about mid March through mid November. And they can carry appreciably more load during those months as well.

Some research has shown me that N/E Ohio (the roughly Cleveland to Akron zone) is actually the second lowest "fully clear days per year" region in the nation. The lowest in the USA is the greater Pittsburgh area. Believe it or not, Seattle Washington does better in this regard, and everyone thinks the sun never shines there.

We get only about 63 fully clear days per average year around here. Pittsburgh gets only about 56. Seattle gets 71.

A band that runs through Columbus, Indianapolis, and St.. Louis gets between 117 and 120 clear days per year. Nearly twice as good for solar as my dismal region.
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (13.5 KW)