To run the charger, we start the generator, plug the charger into one of the extension cords, and also plug the inverter power line into the other extension cord. The generator only needs to run for about 30 minutes to bring the batteries back up to Then the generator is shut off, the battery charger unplugged, and the inverter power line plugged back in. This process takes only a minute or two, and the restored batteries have sufficient power till the rooftop panels start to get light the next day.
Close-up of battery charger. An alternative energy system can be used to provide electric power to any number of electric devices, such as appliances, tools and computers. The bigger the system, obviously, the more power it will provide. To give you an idea of the capacity of a small system like ours, here is what we use our solar energy system to power:.
The refrigerator draws 40 watts of power and can be converted to a freezer by replacing the thermostat. Since the refrigerator is a DC model, it is wired directly to the battery, bypassing the inverter. So the refrigerator keeps running even if the inverter is turned off.
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Our refrigerator has been running continuously for over 8 years without any problems. Even during the dark days of winter, the solar panels provide adequate power to keep it running. Music : Our home has a Vers sound system which lets us use an iPod or direct cable from an iPhone or computer to deliver a rich sound while drawing relatively little power. We can run this sound system about 3 hours a day in winter, and as much as we want in summer.
Light : The big change for our home is electric lights. We have replaced our kerosene lights with a few of these LED lights, which are only 7 watts each. Internet : Our solar system also provides adequate power to run a laptop computer, a tablet and to recharge cell phones. Small tools and appliances : The system also recharges small tools, such as a battery-powered driver-drill.
Our system recharges the battery for this tool in about 30 minutes. These are the principle applications we use which are provided by the solar power system described above. However, you can use a wide variety of electric devices as needed. Today, we enjoy the benefits of our system without feeling a technological intrusion into our off-grid homestead and lifestyle. The refrigerator especially has made a big improvement in our day to day living, since storing food is so much easier. It does require some restraint to keep things simple, but the few electric amenities we now have are most appreciated!
Greg Seaman Originally from Long Island, NY, Greg Seaman founded Eartheasy in out of concern for the environment and a desire to help others live more sustainably. Greg spends his free time gardening, working on his home and building a wooden sailboat with hand tools. Read Article. Bringing some of the benefits of electrical power to our off-grid home has been a hit-or-miss affair. This was time consuming and inefficient. Charge Controller We use a Morningstar ProStar30 Charge Controller that automatically adjusts the amount of power running into the battery.
Charge Controller. Battery Bank Two 6-volt golf cart batteries are wired in series for a 12 volt system. Inverter The final piece of the system is a small inverter which converts the 12 volt DC power into volt AC power.
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This is our small Nexxtech inverter. Backup optional This past year we added a battery charger to the system that serves as supplemental power. What this system provides: An alternative energy system can be used to provide electric power to any number of electric devices, such as appliances, tools and computers. From Our Shop. Farmstead Raised Garden Bed. Natural Cedar Raised Garden Beds. VegTrug Raised Garden Planter. Jora JK Composter - 9. I decided to secure my W solar panel mount on my roof with concrete.
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I roughened up the surface at each leg of the stand by using a sharp object. I made around a 1 square feet size rough surface on the roof at each leg. This is helpful for perfecting the bonding between the roof and concrete. Prepare concrete mix : Take cement and stones with ratio then add water to make a thick mix. Pour concrete mix at each leg of the stand. I made a heap shape concrete mix to give maximum strength. You can of course secure it into place using other methods than concrete, this is just an example of a solution for my specific situation.
Mount the panels to the stand : At the back sides the solar panel have inbuilt holes for mounting. Wire the solar panel: At the back sides of the solar panel there is a small junction box with positive and negative sign for polarity. In a large size solar panel this junction box have terminal wires with MC4 connector but for small size panels you have to connect the junction box with external wires. Always try to use red and black wire for the positive and negative terminal connection. If there is provision for earth wire the use a green wire for wiring this.
After calculating the battery capacity and solar panel rating you have to wire them. In many cases the calculated solar panel size or battery is not readily available in the form of a single unit in the market. So you have to add a small solar panel or batteries to match your system requirement. To match the required voltage and current rating we have to use series and parallel connections.
To wire any device in series you must connect the positive terminal of one device to the negative terminal of the next device. The device in our case may be solar panel or battery. So if these devices were batteries and each battery had a rating of 12 Volts and Ah then the total value of this series circuit would be 48 Volt, Ah.
If they were solar panels and each solar panel had a rating of 17 volts Osc voltage and were rated at 5 amps each then the total circuit value would be 68 volts, 5 amps. In parallel connection you must connect the positive terminal of the first device to the positive terminal of the next device and negative terminal of the first device to the negative terminal of the next device. In parallel connection the voltage is remain same but the current rating of the circuit is the sum of all the devices.
Similarly if two solar panels of 17V and 5 amps are connected in parallel then the system will produce 17 Volts, 10 amps. I made the above inverter and battery stand with the help of a carpenter. The design idea I got from this instructable. The design was really helpful to me. At the back side I made a big circular hole just behind the inverter fan for fresh air suction from the outside.
Later I covered the hole with plastic wire mesh. A few small holes are also made for inserting the wires from the solar panel, charge controller and inverter to the battery and AC output to the appliances. At both sides 3 horizontal holes are provided for sufficient ventilation. A glass window is provided at the front side to view the different led indications on the inverter. In the inclined plane of the inverter stand I have mounted the charge controller. In the future I will also install my own DIY energy meter.
The first component we are going to wire is the Charge Controller. At the bottom of the Charge Controller there are 3 signs in my charge controller. As per the charge controller manual always connect the Charge Controller to the Battery first because this allows the Charge Controller to get calibrated to whether it is 12V or 24V system. After connecting the battery with the charge controller you can see the Charge Controller indicator led lights up to indicate the battery level.
After connecting this, inverter terminals for battery charging is connected to corresponding positive and negative terminals of the battery. Now you have to connect the solar panel to the charge controller.
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The terminal wires are normally smaller in length. To connect the wire to the charge controller you need a special type of connector which is commonly known as MC4 connector. See the picture below. After connecting the solar panel to the charge controller the green led indicator will light up if sunlight is present.
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Note: Always connect the Solar Panel to the Charge Controller while facing the Panel away from the sun or you may cover the panel with a dark material to avoid sudden high voltage coming from the solar panel to the Charge Controller which may damage it. Safety: It is important to note that we are dealing with DC current.
If it gets mixed up, the equipment can break and may catch fire. So you need to be extremely careful when connecting these wires. It is recommended to use 2 color wires i. Additional Protection: Though charge controller and inverter have inbuilt fuses for protection, you can put switches and fuses in the following places for additional protection and isolation. If you are interested to know how much energy is produced by your solar panel or how much energy being consumed by your appliances you have to use energy meters.
Besides this you can monitor the different parameters in your off grid solar system by remote data logging. For a DIY based energy meter you can see my instructable on building an energy meter which have both metering and data logging capability. You'll find them in The Self-Reliance Catalog ; a carefully curated collection of the best plants, tools, shelters and systems for self-reliance and resilience.
Ben Reade , December 18, Nordic Food Lab , October 4, Anna Sigrithur , September 29, John Robb , January 30, Filtration Purification Rainwater Harvesting. Batteries Charging Heating Solar Wind. Kirsten Dirksen , January 18, John Robb , December 22, Pat Henry , December 21, The batteries I use for my solar system. Top view of the batteries. A big W solar panel 24V.
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An example charge controller. Another charge controller. My VA pure sine wave inverter. The stand for my big solar panel.
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The DIY stand for my 10 watt solar panel. My 10 watt solar panel mounted on the stand. Mounting the solar panel. The junction box. Parallel Connection. The battery and inverter stand that I built. Inside view of the inverter stand. How to wire the system.