DIY Solar panel setup on a budget

Discussion in 'Hobby Engineering' started by Mathuisella, Oct 15, 2013.

  1. vk2fro

    vk2fro Member

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    Miserable day in sydney town today for solar - pissing down with rain and very cloudy. I had to break out the hobby charger to feed some amps into my pack after the 3 weeks of not noticing the solar cable had come loose from the controller :p
     
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  2. Recharge

    Recharge Member

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  3. CQGLHyperion

    CQGLHyperion Member

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    I have been keeping an eye on it. I am assuming at that price no batteries. Maybe grab some surplus ones from work when they get replaced.
     
  4. aXis

    aXis Member

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    What's the efficiency on online UPS's versus an inverter? Fundamentally similar tech but different priorities.
     
  5. Recharge

    Recharge Member

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    you'd have to test, I doubt that data is available, if it's even been compared.
     
  6. vk2fro

    vk2fro Member

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    I can answer that question, having used an inverter and a ups (online, powerware 9210). The Online ups will use just slightly more than the standalone inverter (victron 3000VA 48V) due to it constantly checking the input for a mains voltage. Otherwise they should be similar, and only dependant on its topology (switchmode high frequency like the powerware, or LF bigass transformer based, like the APC ones).

    UPS's will need to be upgraded cooling wise to run them full time unless they are an Online model, Line interactive ones are only designed with cooling in mind for the expected runtime of the internal batteries, or the maximum amount of batteries that can be externally connected "Offically" as determined by the manufacturer. With 200Ah of packs connected to the APC 3000VA UPS, I get over 3 days of runtime, however, UPS's are designed primarily to protect data, and will kill batteries if used to their full runtimes, they don't obey the 50% DOD rule for LA's, and need tweaking in firmware to be used with other battery chemistries (e.g. LiION or LiFePO4), and possible hardware modifications.

    The APC models are easy to modify, just requiring a serial connection, or a USB to TTL connection for the newer ones.
     
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  7. Recharge

    Recharge Member

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  8. vk2fro

    vk2fro Member

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    I am just andersoning up all my connections bar the panels. This will make disconnecting stuff easy. And I get a bonus. Fuses in my little distro box. Hate having a battery laying around unfused.

    edit: I hate andersons, its my fault for not having the correct crimper, I might need to get one :)

    All done!
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
  9. aXis

    aXis Member

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    I've a big fan of the smaller Anderson Powerpoles (PP45), and was converting all of my portable battery appliances (eg lights, chargers etc) and smaller battery systems (server closet 12V UPS) to these.

    I then started to aquire a few more camping panels, and the preferred option for the extension cables and car/caravan connections are all the larger 50A Andersons. I can see their merit with lower contact resistance, stronger connection force and overall durability, it's just a shame to have to adopt two standards now. I've bought a 10 pack and still have a few more things to convert over.
     
  10. vk2fro

    vk2fro Member

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    I'm using the PP45's for the radio gear, the charge controller's battery input and the 12V to 5V converters. I need to put one on the switch and the modem as well, and that will use up my current stock of PP45's
     
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  11. aXis

    aXis Member

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    I also found the PP45's are great intermediate plugs to build adapters from. So far I've built short powerpole adapter leads with the following second connector - 12V cigarette (both genders), SAE (both polarisations), Deans plug, DC Barrel plug, and Aligator clips.

    The next project is powerpole to USB QC2.0, to trigger 12V from USB powerpacks and chargers that have quickcharge functionality. I have a prototype that works, just need to shrink it and build a circuit board.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
  12. vk2fro

    vk2fro Member

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    Love the little kit I got from VK2BV (Waverly Amateur Radio Society). Its a breakout for andersons. My charge controller runs through it, so the battery side of the controller is fused. So do a few 12V appliances. That has at least solved my fusing problem. Everything on my solar is now fused. As a result, I sleep better at night.

    I need 4 more of these lifepo4's so I can start inverting and powering more stuff. Inverting 12V is a waste of time. A 2.5kWh battery won't last long. I also want an E-Scooter. Sick of walking the hill to Newtown. Decisions.... ;)

    I know I've been banging on about it but I seriously now need to think about racking, and possibly selling off these 59v panels. They'll be a nightmare to wire, as 124V dc is too high (outside ELV) and stringing them all in parallel won't work when I eventually upgrade to a 48V system as money permits more LifePO4 cells. Due to my shading issues I can really only run one row of 6 1650x992 panels to avoid it, so I need to get as much power out of that string as possible.

    My plan is to get some 310-315W panels that are 24V model and wire them up in strings of 3. Thats two strings, one blocking diode and one $260 rack.

    In the crappy position my 2 270W panels are in, they have my batteries at float by midday. 1890W (1500W realistic power) should fine at the 48V battery level.

    I think I'll get more LFP cells, the racking and a 24V inverter and 24V - 12V stepdown for the radios then move stuff over thats always on. Switch to LED lighting and put the savings toward the scooter. I can walk for a little while longer :p

    Later this week I'm going to put a CSUN out front along with a pair of Vision LA's and the 20A Victron and see how south facing panels perform. If even remotely viable, I'll run another 6 on the south facing side of my roof. It gets no shade, so I can add 2 rows if I'm feeling ambitious.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
  13. Recharge

    Recharge Member

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  14. vk2fro

    vk2fro Member

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    That video was very useful. Now I know what amps I'm gonna pull roughly depending how much I load up the inverter. A 2kW job will be fine. Biggest load I'll put on the inverter is my convection microwave. I need to get one of those plug in meters to see how much it draws in microwave and conventional cooking modes.
     
  15. OP
    OP
    Mathuisella

    Mathuisella Member

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    Get a pure sinewave inverter, but it also needs to be transformer based, not electronics based...

     
  16. vk2fro

    vk2fro Member

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    Yes I plan to - all Victrons are transformer based.

    Mind you so are the Reliable's - your thinking "get a LF bigass transformer based unit, not a HF switchmode little transformer based unit" ;)
     
  17. Renegade40D

    Renegade40D Member

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    Figured this would be a good place to start.

    Does anyone have any experience with 12v security camera setups (before I start looking at inverters). I setup a solar panel and 12v battery at the horse agistment so my partner has lights and a pump for filling up the water troughs.

    Well it seems some people have felt it's ok to steal hay and horse feed from everyone who agists there. So I looking into camera / recorder options for 12v.
     
  18. aXis

    aXis Member

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    Most home security cameras are 12V. The other common alternatives are 24VAC (mostly commercial), or 5VDC.

    A lot of the cameras pull something like 5W, which ends up being a decent load to manage with a solar setup.

    With a 12V battery, you'd end up needing 10Ah per day, to cover 3 cloudy days then you'd want 30Ah, so at 50% DoD that's a 60Ah battery that's going to set you back $300ish.
    Also need a minimum of 30W solar panel, 100W would be better and you can get them around $120 on ebay these days.
     
  19. Renegade40D

    Renegade40D Member

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    Current solar setup is a 250W panel, and 2 6V deep cycle batteries, they are ridiculous over spec for what is used there currently but I would need to double check the Ah.

    Assuming the battery isn't an issue I would just be a matter of connecting the cameras and recorder to the 12v out on the mppt charge controller
     
  20. Recharge

    Recharge Member

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    you might also want to consider a low voltage cut off so as not to destroy your batteries if something goes wrong.
    I links and ali express one earlier int he thread, mine arrived a few weeks ago, it's a cracker of a little unit.
     

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