I just dropped the price of
the permaculture playing cards
for a wee bit.

 

 

uses include:
- infecting brains with permaculture
- convincing folks that you are not crazy
- gift giving obligations
- stocking stuffer
- gambling distraction
- an hour or two of reading
- find the needle
- find the 26 hidden names

clickity-click-click

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Photovoltaic Starter Kit  RSS feed

 
Harley Fredericson
Posts: 7
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Hey guys, I'm looking at getting something basic to familiarize myself with solar panels and the system around them.

Looking for a basic preferably one stop kit for this. Looking at mostly charging portables, iPhone, iPod and cell phone.
Possible some basic lighting for night time reading/emergency lighting. And possibly some battery charging. The only
thing I might be able to pick of locally is a small 45 watt kit from harbor freight, that has mixed reviews but for cost
and what I need might be worthwhile, but some in depth looking a lot of high and mighty folks look down on it for being
basic and the charge controller on it not lasting long, which concerns me some.

Does anyone have any recomendations of products they would recommend? Also would need some recommendation
on batteries.

Thanks.
 
Vern Faulkner
Posts: 35
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Harley Fredericson wrote:The only
thing I might be able to pick of locally is a small 45 watt kit from harbor freight, that has mixed reviews but for cost
and what I need might be worthwhile, but some in depth looking a lot of high and mighty folks look down on it for being
basic and the charge controller on it not lasting long, which concerns me some.


Go to solarpaneltalk.com, read the stickies. Most folks in your boat end up buying useless junk that doesn't meet their needs.
 
Chris Griffin
Posts: 54
Location: Eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mnts. Virginia
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I use the "Harbor Freight" kit to power my electric fence and provide lighting in our barn. The 45 watt kit takes a little time to get the batteries charged though. If you are handy I would think more along the lines of an MPPT charger controller and a single 100 w panel. If the Harbor Freight kit used a small MPPT controller they would charge the batteries much faster, but the cost would double. The Harbor freight kit on the other hand is a good start. They are monocrystaline PV panels that seem to last. We are on our third year using one kit. The charge controller that comes with the unit went "belly up" after about a year and a half, but other than that it has been a decent testing platform to work with.
 
Harley Fredericson
Posts: 7
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Alright, well after a lot of searching about, I found a lot of basic panels for about the same watts would equal about the same as the harbor freight kit, give or take after shipping and such. Also after reading a lot of reviews it seems the charge controller seems to be the biggest thing that might cause problems, and it seems like it shouldn't be too expensive to get one to replace it if need be. So I ended up getting it. Put it all together today, testing things out, I'm in Spokane, WA it was about noon, and the panel angle I certainly didn't measure I just set up the legs on the kit, but it was certainly putting out nearly 16 volts at 3 amps so it seems to be working correctly.

Still looking for all sorts of information regarding battery charge times and such. Which is fairly hard to put things together. The battery I got with it is just a 35 amp hour battery, but I currently don't plan on using much more then charging some usb devices off it, and perhaps when the weather gets better and I have outside get togethers using the light kit that came with it on my patio. I'll be looking at keeping an eye on it and seeing how things go.
 
Nathan Wrzesinski
Posts: 79
Location: Austin Texas
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The Harbor freight charge controller is garbage, most of their solar stuff is garbage. It was tailored to people who wanted to get "in" on the green movement but didn't know jack from squash. It is overpriced and very sub par. Don't get me wrong, Harbor freight does import some good tools sometimes, GREAT tools sometimes, but this isn't one of those times.

If you want something done right you have to do it yourself, charge controllers are no exception to this rule. If you REALLY want a "kit" that will teach you the ins and outs of solar, this is the way to go. This kit: $40

http://jasonkits.bigcartel.com/product/555-based-charge-controller-kit

Makes a WONDERFULLY SIMPLE charge controller
If you have no interest in soldering your board together, they do offer an assembled unit: $60

http://jasonkits.bigcartel.com/product/wind-turbine-solar-555-based-charge-controller

I have used these kits to build the majority of the charge controllers I use because they can handle up to 40 Amps which allows plenty of room to experiment and expand if you should choose.

As for the panels, You can build those too.

My name is Nathan Wrzesinski, and I am the creator of Project Upcycle.

Project Upcycle is a renewable energies education project aimed at people just like you. People who want to learn about their systems and really get to know their systems so that if something DOES happen (your array output is 4v on a sunny day...bad) you can diagnose the problem yourself. Replace only the pieces that need replaced, as opposed to replacing whole panels because "it broke".

Project Upcycle sells Upcycled Solar Panel Kits designed to teach the user everything they need to know about their system. This intimate understanding is what makes renewable energies such a viable option. If people go into renewable energies with a "get a new one when it breaks" attitude you are going to come out broke and hating hippies. Solar cells are paper thin, too much shock can fracture a cell and drop the entire panel out of productivity. A new cell costs $0.25 and can be replaced in 10 minutes, A new panel costs anywhere from $50-$250 and you could spend an hour unmounting and replacing it, but I mean it's your call.


Actually it's funny that I logged on here today because as of yesterday, Project Upcycle launched it's social media campaign by starting a giveaway for people who "like" us on facebook and "Share" our page. The prize? An Upcycled Solar Panel Kit! It includes everything you can't Upcycle locally that you need to build an Upcycled Solar Panel, including an education on how it works, how to diagnose problems, and how to fix it. Everything that someone wanting to actually get involved with solar energy needs.

I am sure there is no coincidence that this happened.

Project Upcycle on Facebook

Project Upcycle Blog

Think Positive, Change the World.
Nathan Wrzesinski
 
Matt Saager
Posts: 48
Location: Oregon - Willamette Valley
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Here is an excellent article on a battery backup power system, including integration of a solar PV module and the proper way to install it.
Battery1234

Steven Harris has been a guest on the survival podcast several times.
He does a very thorough job researching the available components and demonstrating how to use them effectively.
He provides enough free info on his website to put a system together, and sells some additional content as well.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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seriously hard shipping, but this is an awesome box.

Serious sheet metal, 3,5,8, and 12v out options.
Get an extra 17 v panel, and he can fit it inside.

I got 2 for an extra 10 bucks on the shipping.

he is a chinese solar engineer. has great electronics too.

http://stores.ebay.com/ZHUOKE-Shop/Solar-Power-System-/_i.html?_fsub=1478939013&_sid=846592063&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322

 
Harley Fredericson
Posts: 7
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So old post.

but I've had the harbor freight kit for awhile now. I thought the charge controller went out on me when I used to to fill up a tire but turns out the fuse burnt out on it.

Still works fairly well. Charge my kindle with it every couple weeks when it needs it. Charge my phone when I'm outside doing things and have been running lights off it in the evening.

Working out pretty well. Have used the light kit briefly inside when we had a power out and it was the lady's first day of her new job.
 
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