The Green Cabin
Today I want to talk about setting up a solar panel system.
To start with you need to know a little about what your doing. Being a handyman or tinker helps but with a little research, anyone can setup a solar power system. For a stand alone system you need these basic components; A solar panel, a system or charge controller, a battery bank (one or more deep cycle batteries) to store the power. a power distribution panel (optional), an inverter and some wire.
The solar panel makes the power, the charge controller keeps the solar panel from over charging the batteries, the batteries store the power, the power distribution panel divides the power output, the inverter changes the DC power to AC power. But the power distribution panel will let you tap into the DC power before the DC reaches the inverter, for use else where or in other ways to drive a DC device or two while at the same time sending DC power to the inverter.
Most of these you can make yourself if handy or you can opted to buy them already made. You need one thing most of all, a dedicated room or safe area to store your battery bank and the electronics to keep them safe, and safe from the kids and to keep you and your family safe from them. The batteries should be kept is a well ventilated place but also kept from extreme temperature changes and dry. Lead-Acid batteries off gas Hydrogen gas which is very flammable when they get in an extreme state of discharge and need to have said gas vented to the outside. But while in a good state of charge the batteries are safe to the extent their off gassing is very very low. Making the major hazard a shorting hazard by shorting them out. The system or charge controller keeps the batteries from over charging shortening the life of your batteries. Thus the controller saves your batteries and extends their live.
For my cabin design I need only one or two deep cycle batteries, a small charge controller, a power distribution panel, a solar panel or two and an inverter. I should be able to get the system up and running for under $1,000 by building most of it myself.
Took my first step today. I ordered a "Led-light" off of
eBay. Two bright white tail-lights for cars that is make up of "leds" for
only $1.00. But shipping to my door is $3.95. Making the total $4.95. I'm
thinking this may be the led-light fixture I'm looking for for my cabin. I
will have to add a reflector later on but we'll see how that goes.
Also found another web site on building a "Solar Panel". http://www.diypvsolarenergy.com/basic-solar-panel-design/
To make a Solar Panel you need to do your reach until you are comfortable
with what you intend to do. IE: have an understanding of most of the fazes
of the construction and of the different parts of the project.
My Parts list in order of construction and testing;
Solar Cells -- off "Ebay"
Multi-meter -- Have already. to be used for continuity, voltage, polarity and current output testing.
Misc; Wire, solder, soldering iron, euro style connector strip, project box, heat shrink tubing, cable routing clips (see note#1) -- Radio Shack
Trailer Connecter "2-wire Flat" to be used to connect panel to system so as to make it easy to disconnect.-- Local Auto-parts store
Silicone Caulk, Acrylic plastic sheet, screws, nails, plywood and other wood to make the rails of the panel frame with -- Local lumber supply store
Note#1 Silicone Caulk may also be used to secure wiring inside the Solar Panel then there is no need for the wire routing clips.
Note#2 Make vent holes in the Solar Panel to let it breath and vent heat or moisture to the outside. But do not make the holes so large as to allow rain water to enter the panel and remember to angle the vent holes downward to keep water out of the panel case.
Note#3 make all electrical connections water proof.
Once the Solar Panel is constructed, buy or make a charge controller to keep from over charging you battery bank.
Acquire one or more deep cycle 12V batteries. (If you wish to use standard 12V car cranking batteries) Please note that cranking batteries are not designed to do discharged and recharged over and over again, while deep cycle batteries are. But you can use cranking batteries to get the system up and running.
Note #4 make sure to store your batteries (battery bank) in a safe, dry and well ventilated space. And install fuses in all power circuits.
Acquire a DC to AC inverter to change your DC power from the battery bank into AC power in order to use your AC devices.
Note; The size of the inverter and the battery bank has a direct affect on how much or how big of an AC device you can operate on the system. If you make enough panels, have a big enough battery bank and inverter you can run your whole house off of the system. IE; live off the power grid. But as you increase the size of the system, so too increases the safety issues involved in the system. With that said I plan to start small and get fully familiar with the system before I try to make one to supply a "normal" household.
#1 Buy a smallish "pull behind" camper.
Reason being, campers are already setup to use AC, DC and Propane gas to power all of the appliances in the camper. They also already have all the plumbing done.
#2 Build solar panels to recharge the battery system on the camper. Then buy more deep-cycle batteries to increase the power capacity of the battery bank.
#3 Buy a state of charge controller to control the charging of the battery bank so that that solar panels do not over charge the batteries.
#4 Build a "wind turbine" to help the solar panels keep the battery bank charged at night or whenever the wind is blowing.
#5 Buy an inverter (one or more) to change the 12volt DC power from the battery bank into 120volt AC power to be used with the appliances that can not be found in 12v DC. The size and capacity of the inverter depends on the item it is providing power to. At the same time install a junction box to be able to tap into the 12v DC power before it reaches the inverters so I can use 12v DC power when and where needed.
#6 Once I have my own land, move the camper to said land and built a permanent camp site with an outdoor fire pit. And cabin to live in during colder weather and to house a washer, wood stove (for heat and cocking). Use low wattage LED's for lighting where ever possible and also use low wattage appliances. IE; washer, micro-wave, a cloths line for dry my cloths.
#7 Build a workshop as going green will be an on going project.
#8 Build bigger and better as time and money permits.
The "led" tail-light replacement bulbs came in. They look great but I still have to see how much light they put out.