Does anyone have experience setting up a small scale solar kit / solar rig? Struggling a little bit in researching a project and looking for help or product advice.
I want to:
- set up a semi-permanent outdoor power station (all season all weather)
- use solar panel as energy input
- store power in a battery
- connect to an inverter to supply power via standard 110 plug/socket
- only needs to store power enough for a few lightweight things: a fan with thermostat, small pond fountain/agitator, maybe a plug for occasional incidental usage, maybe some small lights
I'm getting tripped up around the battery/inverter/all-weather requirements. I can find a few options that fit all the needs but they are more geared towards camping or outdoor activities and not so much year round installation. Then the items that do support installation seem too heavy duty (I'm not looking to power an outbuulding, heavy tools, etc).
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Way back when, some of us being off the grid(not able to afford power connection, distance from last pole,etc.), the first step into off grid elec. WAS what was available for camping, sailing,wilderness cabin,etc. so that market has been around quite awhile. I do have a 6 panel system that at this time of the year will recharge the batt system to full and I am able to use excess power later in the day, which is how I researched and sized the system. Research,research,research. Some of the first arco panels we bought(1979), are still working today, same as the day they were installed. When you say power tools, some of us think, battery(rechargable) power tools.
Yeah, I agree, the first thing you need to do is figure out how much power you need. A kill-a-watt is a great idea to have for this project. You can also get an idea by looking at the nameplate rating - everything with a cord should have little stamped or printed area on the back that tells you how many watts or amps it uses. Multiply volts by amps to get the watts if that is what is provided, and then by the number of hours you want to use it. A little 6" desk fan for example pulls 16watts, a 20" box fan on high will pull 200. So 200 watt-hours will run the big fan for an hour, or the little one for 12 and a half hours. Then size the inverter to provide enough power, and get a big enough battery to supply it. Estimating solar power output is a little harder, but in general if you can store 3 or 4 days worth of power in your battery, and get a complete charge from your panels in 3 or 4 hours, then your system should be good in all but the greyest times of year.
As for weatherproofing - you could probably just put all the electronics in a large plastic tote with the holes for the wires drilled into the bottom. Solar panels will need to be mounted to something anyway, so you could also just build a tiny battery shack with the solar panels standing in for the roofing.
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