April 13, 2014 at 6:35 pm #8453
You shouldn’t attempt to assemble this system if what I wrote below is greek to you. Electricity can be dangerous and you should be careful and utilize normal safety protocols. It’s on you if you electrocute yourself!
All prices are at the time I wrote this post. (Knowing Amazon they have already changed.) It is worth having Amazon Prime if you plan on ordering all of this — you will make your money back on the shipping cost for the batteries by themselves. I am currently building this system a little bit at a time. Today my array is 400 watts and I plan to finish the rest this summer.
I hope that I don’t need to address why we should all have a small off-grid solar system. My original impetus was to power my ham radios in the event of a power outage but it’s purpose has grown since then.
12 RENOGY 100 Watt 100w Monocrystalline Photovoltaic PV Solar Panel Module 12V Battery Charging $1800
4 Odyssey 20A MC4 Solar PV In Line Fuse Holder Waterproof $72
1 Y Type (1 to 4) MC4 Solar Style Branch Panel Cable Connectors $33
1 Solar Panel Cable 30 Ft – Mc4 Pv Extension- 14 AWG – 600vdc- Sunlight Resistant $30
1 Morningstar TS-MPPT-60 TriStar 60 Amp Charge Controller 12-48V $555
4 Optima Batteries 8050-160-FFP D31T YellowTop Dual Purpose Battery (75Ah) $894
2 AWG #2/0 Black Battery Interconnect Cable 6″ with 3/8″ Lugs $18
2 AWG #2/0 Red Battery Interconnect Cable 6″ with 3/8″ Lugs $18
1 Whistler Pro-3000W 3,000 Watt Power Inverter $246
Grand total: $3,420 (or $4350 with 8 batteries)
The 30 foot solar panel extension cable above should be twice the length from where your panels are located to where your charge controller and batteries are located. When wiring up the system you’re going to cut this cable in half, plug the MC4 connector into the 1 to 4 branches and then run the cable to your charge controller and batteries. My panels are on the south side of my house and I only have to run the cable through my basement wall and down to the floor of my basement. The cut end of the wire will connect directly into the charge controller.
The solar panels are connected three in series and then the four series of panels in parallel using the branch cable. Place one fuse inline on each parallel set of panels. The MC4 connectors make assembly pretty easy. You should verify that this particular setup is good for your conditions. Use this calculator and only change the numbers for the record low temperature and the average high temperature. You can usually find the data you need for those two numbers on weather websites.
Connect the batteries in series/parallel for a 24v bank with 150Ah of storage. You will need heavy gage wire to connect the charge controller and the inverter to the batteries. I recommend using as heavy of a gage as possible (4/0) to minimize losses since they should not be terribly long.
The linked inverter puts out a modified sine wave pattern. Some electronics may not work with it as a power source. You can get pure sine wave inverters but they are much more expensive.
In most of the US 8 of the batteries linked would be close to optimal for an array of 12 of the linked panels. You can expand the battery bank at your leisure. It is also possible and reasonable to build this system one piece at a time. Optimally the array will produce about 7200 watts per day if you have 6 hours of good sunlight. The rule of thumb is to divide by 8 for a worst case scenario which would leave about 900 watts on a cloudy, winter day.
A support structure for your panels is outside of the scope of this guide.April 13, 2014 at 8:53 pm #8474
Thank you, Edheler. Lot of good information
Found some YouTube information to start building my knowledge about electricity. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_5sV8s9ZEA We are almost used to not having electricity for a few hour up to a whole day every month. Some of my clients been running there business permanently on solar panels. Friend living at the coast also making use of wind turbines.April 17, 2014 at 1:22 pm #9143
That’s a great setup Edheler! We have a pretty similar system. What do you plan to power with yours?
This is the system we install at our homestead. We have a company doing this but document every step so we know whats going on.
It is good for basic needs to power a medium sized fridge, fan and laptop for a few hours and some lights at night. We also have a generator running as backup. Overall this was about 4300 USD. We cook with gas, on a charcoal grill or in a clay oven and do all the washing by hand.
- 6 x Solar module Poly-crystalline 240Watt
- 1 x Charger Controller Power Master Premium 24V/60A
- 8 x Battery Deep Cycle 125Ah/12V
- 1 x Inverter Power Master LC-Series 24V/2400W Pure Sine Wave
- 2 x DC breaker ONESTO 2 pole 500V/63A
- 1 x DC Surge ONESTO 2 pole 1000Vdc Max. discharge 40KA
- 18 x Connector MC4 for DC cable
- 10 x Connector MC4 for DC cable “double”
- 1 x DC cable for Inverter LC-Series (from batteries to Inverter)
- 1 x AC Breaker “safety cut” 30A
Alea iacta est ("The die has been cast")April 17, 2014 at 1:33 pm #9148
The 12 RENOGY 100 Watt 100w Monocrystalline Photovoltaic PV Solar Panel are very good panels.
I just did my garage flat roof new so that I can start planning a setup for the solar panels. After studying many panels I like these the best and have the space to put up to 15 on the roof. I will start with 12 which is a good amount.
Great idea and product which will last a long time. Here in South Florida there is so much sun that I should do real good with them.April 17, 2014 at 1:37 pm #9151
Also wanted to tell you that it is a good idea to have a setup for two panels with four batteries to take with you if you have to run to a bug out. Just have a way to pull out two of the panels from the roof and four batteries and the setup for running it like the inverter some extra cables. Now you are mobile.April 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm #9171
Jay, my system is built to supply power for my primary electronics, charging of rechargeable batteries, a limited amount of lighting and my ham equipment. This is perhaps 10-15% of my total electrical load today. I am going to have an electrical contractor run extra lines to specific places in my home with different colored sockets so it is easy to tell that they are a part of the off-grid system. My off-grid system will be completely independent and unattached to my on-grid system.
If you want a mobile system I would just build a small, independent one. Two panels with a basic 30-amp charge controller, two batteries and a smaller 1200 watt inverter only runs about $650. I plan to do this on my RV at some point in the future. (Four batteries are just too heavy and bulky to lug around.)April 17, 2014 at 3:06 pm #9178
Edheler, That mobile idea is great and cheap!May 9, 2014 at 4:23 am #13084
Edheler – thanks for posting. Always helpful to see what others are using successfully. Your the first one I’ve seen that chose Optima Yellow Tops. I’ve got red tops in all my vehicles and I love them as they take a beating, but curious how the yellow tops compare to the normally used golf cart batteries or those made specifically for PV systems. What led to the choice?
Jay, you hand wash all the clothes? Don’t want to hijack the post, but I’d be interested to see what type of setup you’re doing that with. Real handwashing in a bucket or sink seems like it would take hours….
Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property... mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.
- Thomas PaineMay 9, 2014 at 10:18 am #13105
If you want a mobile system I would just build a small, independent one. Two panels with a basic 30-amp charge controller, two batteries and a smaller 1200 watt inverter only runs about $650. I plan to do this on my RV at some point in the future. (Four batteries are just too heavy and bulky to lug around.)
Thanks Edheler. Solar work on RV (or small camper) is especially interesting for me, so yes, looking forward to that.
For example:May 18, 2014 at 6:35 pm #14230
The Optima Yellow Top version is meant for electrical demands where the batteries are drawn down further between recharge cycles. The Red Top version is meant for high draw engine startup. You might find their FAQ interesting: http://www.optimabatteries.com/en-us/support/faqs
There are some better choices if you want to get batteries specialized to solar applications. I like the Optima so that the system can be split up and reorganized if I ever need that flexibility. Since my system isn’t meant to wholly power my home but just be a useful supplement in a grid down situation they are good enough for the purpose.
So long as I don’t run out of time to prepare I will eventually get Iron Edison batteries for my off-grid solar solution but they are very expensive.June 2, 2014 at 9:33 pm #15484
I can only think of two things that I NEED power for.
1, my pump, it’s 80 ft and currently running on 220 v It fills a 2500 gallon tank about 100 feet uphill from the pumphouse.
2, I want to run a small chest like freezer.. to make ice blocks so we can put into a large ice box. 5 gallon bucket size ice blocks would do fine. Any advice? I don’t think I need anything big, but I really don’t know much about solar power.June 16, 2014 at 5:44 pm #16722
I bought some land and plan to set up an orchard of fruit and nut trees here in WV on the banks of a large river. I will also have a large vegetable garden. I am going to build a pole barn to have under roof area to start solar panel construction. This site will be invaluable to me in setting up a 10k watt solar system. I was thinking about solar flare and emp and how it would effect the equipment and thinking that inside my pole barn, I should make a grounded metal box (faraday cage) with spare everything in case my whole setup becomes damaged by a electrical burst. I also plan to construct a wood gasafier to run electrical generator during especially bad weather or to give me time to replace my solar setup from the spare parts I will store safely away. So I am looking at the cost being doubled, but think it would be worth it. It really increases the cost of prepping but money won’t be worth worrying about if the SHTF.June 16, 2014 at 6:59 pm #16743
Hillbilly – take a look at the freezer I use by Sundazer and would recomment. No battery. Direct solar powered.June 16, 2014 at 7:45 pm #16747
Gentolman, I have read that the solar panels my survive a solar flare and an EMP attack but the wiring may not. Batteries may not survive too but if you are able to store in a faraday cage the wires and inverter and all parts that may go you can still have the solar system work. Remember that the freezer and much of the wiring in your house will go(burn up) if it is a very strong EMP. I am thinking of saving in a steel trash can a lot of wiring(romex) 14g and 12g and some extension cords.June 16, 2014 at 8:39 pm #16763
if you ground a sea can and line inside with wood or other non conductive you have a large Faraday cage for a few thousand and in this time you can get it moved if you need to with everything conveniently inside already. Plus it has built in security with the locks and housings that are standard.
the solar panels that are anti ISLANDING all have chips in them so emp will wipe them out the fuse closed so it wont work. where i live it is code each panel needs to be individually grounded and then the whole array one more time wont stop a massive one but up to a lower x band no problem. the inverters and change controllers will be junk if hit by emp since they need to be close to source (panels) it can cause some problems since they need ventilation and connection to panels which mean incomplete emp protection.
thank god for wind and hydro power.
when buying panels like everything i look to ones that can take most abuse and survive….. the sea going buoys used in north America and the signal ones all use one panel a Day-4 http://day4europe.com/ reason for that. E camion http://www.ecamion.com/ for storage. how good is a deal when it fails and you cant get warranty?
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