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Posted: 8/15/2013 2:42:01 AM EDT
My wife and I were in our local BJ's yesterday and stumbled across a solar kit they sell for $169. It's a Nature Power kit. It's 72 watts vs Harbor Freight's 45 watts.

Has anybody seen or used these before? I haven't had a chance to see if these panels could be used with Harbor Freight's.
Link Posted: 8/15/2013 6:32:38 AM EDT
Advantages:

1. Includes an AC inverter
2. Nearly complete kit - All you add is batteries.

Disadvantages:

1. The inverter has a "modified sine wave" output - Power quality isn't nearly as clean as a true sine wave inverter.
2. The panels are stupid huge for the amount of power they produce (which is why you need 4 of them to produce any significant power).
3. The 8 amp charge controller doesn't leave you with much additional capacity for adding more panels.

Have you poked around any on Solarblvd.com's website?
Link Posted: 8/15/2013 9:55:55 AM EDT
If the panel is of a wattage/surface area of current panels, it sounds like a hell of a deal, no matter what comes with it.


Link Posted: 8/15/2013 10:50:28 AM EDT
The panels are Amorphous silicon - They're 1 x 3 feet each, but manage to squeak out just 18 watts.
Link Posted: 8/15/2013 11:00:21 AM EDT
That sucks...  
Link Posted: 8/15/2013 7:11:52 PM EDT
I've run the numbers and cost... unless you are in the boondocks and believe gas, diesel, propane, or other fuel will become crazy expensive in the future or non-existent.... it doesn't make sense to get anything less than a full house system.

If you DO believe we're going to have EMP/nuclear war, peak oil, etc. in the near future....then spending your money on rice and beans and a dynamo attached to a bike is probably a better use of your money. I like the idea of efficiency and independence...

Of reducing the overall wattage of my home, etc. and I believe in 5-10 years we'll have the breakthroughs in batteries and solar panels to make it worth while - as well as efficiency in LED lighting and other gizmos we use for life.... eventually most homes will be solar and micro-wind and micro-super-capacitor (generating electricity from normal vibrations in the floor, in stairs, heck, even ones you can wear that powers your smart phone..).

But for now it's just too clunky.
Link Posted: 8/15/2013 7:51:15 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
I've run the numbers and cost... unless you are in the boondocks and believe gas, diesel, propane, or other fuel will become crazy expensive in the future or non-existent.... it doesn't make sense to get anything less than a full house system.
View Quote


I disagree.

It doesn't take a "full-house" system to keep a few essentials running during an extended power outage.

With some careful planning, a few hundred watts of panels and a half-dozen golf cart batteries will keep your food cold, charge your flashlights, run your coms radios and keep a few lights on at night - and those panels can also be earning their keep during normal times.
Link Posted: 8/15/2013 7:59:23 PM EDT
We need to put our heads together and come up with a few SF "reference" solar systems - complete with real-world parts - in order to illustrate capabilities and costs.
Link Posted: 8/16/2013 12:21:29 AM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Have you poked around any on Solarblvd.com's website?
View Quote

Dear God in Heaven! What a find! Thanks Skibane! The prices are really good - to the point where I could get our grid tie system going a bit sooner than I though...
Link Posted: 8/16/2013 4:11:18 AM EDT
Link Posted: 8/16/2013 5:10:00 AM EDT
Here's a start.  I built this using the HF 45 watt system a a base then added two 75 AH deep cycle batteries, one 2,000 watt inverter and one 800 watt inverter.  I built the battery cables myself using 2-0 cable and solder-on connectors.  I stuffed the whole mess in/on an old electronics rack I had and made a quick-disconnect cable for the panel connection.  Everything included (except labor) it cost just under $650.











I also got one of these so I could find out how much power different appliances draw.



I can run one refrigerator, some lights, the TV and the satellite receiver for about 16 hours.  The inverters are modified sine wave and will NOT run some of the things I need, like my wife's oxygen concentrator, so I'm still tied to a generator until I get another pure sine wave inverter.  My next step is to upgrade the panels and charge controller so that charge times are shorter.
Link Posted: 8/16/2013 5:16:57 AM EDT
Nice setup...and you run an impressive amount of stuff off 2 batteries!
I suspect I know how you got the 2 inverters wired up, but can you provide a wiring diagram of some sort so I can better understand it.
What size refrigerator and TV are you running off this setup?
Link Posted: 8/16/2013 5:51:42 AM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
We need to put our heads together and come up with a few SF "reference" solar systems - complete with real-world parts - in order to illustrate capabilities and costs.
View Quote



We have, but the topics are quickly forgotten.


Link Posted: 8/16/2013 5:54:01 AM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Here's a start.  I built this using the HF 45 watt system a a base then added two 75 AH deep cycle batteries, one 2,000 watt inverter and one 800 watt inverter.  I built the battery cables myself using 2-0 cable and solder-on connectors.  I stuffed the whole mess in/on an old electronics rack I had and made a quick-disconnect cable for the panel connection.  Everything included (except labor) it cost just under $650.

http://i1181.photobucket.com/albums/x432/jcooney10311/Zombie%20Apocolypse/IMG_0991.jpg

http://i1181.photobucket.com/albums/x432/jcooney10311/Zombie%20Apocolypse/IMG_0990.jpg

http://i1181.photobucket.com/albums/x432/jcooney10311/Zombie%20Apocolypse/IMG_0992.jpg

http://i1181.photobucket.com/albums/x432/jcooney10311/Zombie%20Apocolypse/IMG_0996.jpg

http://i1181.photobucket.com/albums/x432/jcooney10311/Zombie%20Apocolypse/IMG_0998.jpg

I also got one of these so I could find out how much power different appliances draw.

http://i1181.photobucket.com/albums/x432/jcooney10311/Zombie%20Apocolypse/IMG_0999.jpg

I can run one refrigerator, some lights, the TV and the satellite receiver for about 16 hours.  The inverters are modified sine wave and will NOT run some of the things I need, like my wife's oxygen concentrator, so I'm still tied to a generator until I get another pure sine wave inverter.  My next step is to upgrade the panels and charge controller so that charge times are shorter.
View Quote




Yes, charge times are the real bugaboo...

Link Posted: 8/16/2013 6:13:31 AM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Nice setup...and you run an impressive amount of stuff off 2 batteries!
I suspect I know how you got the 2 inverters wired up, but can you provide a wiring diagram of some sort so I can better understand it.
What size refrigerator and TV are you running off this setup?
View Quote


OOPS!  I misstated the run time.  It's actually about 9 hours if the fridge doesn't come on too much.  

The refrigerator is a Maytag wide-by-side full size that runs when it wants to.  We try not to open it unless I really, really need beer.  When it's running it draws 235 watts and about 400 watts for a few seconds during start-up.  The TV is a 50" LCD that draws 150 watts.  We've swapped out most of our lights with CFLs and we have no more than one or two on at a time.  The satellite receiver draws 9 - 12 watts depending on whether the DVR is in use or not.

Link Posted: 8/16/2013 6:29:30 AM EDT
Tag for info for later. Great stuff here!

Would LOVE to build something like this that could run fridge, some lights, TV & satellite for under $1000.00! Then upgrade as you go and before long the whole house is of grid!
Link Posted: 8/16/2013 9:50:28 AM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Tag for info for later. Great stuff here!

Would LOVE to build something like this that could run fridge, some lights, TV & satellite for under $1000.00! Then upgrade as you go and before long the whole house is of grid!
View Quote




OK, what would you like to know in addition?


http://www.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=10&f=17&t=638662



Link Posted: 8/16/2013 2:32:45 PM EDT
JC10311, would you be interested in dong a how-to thread on your system?  I've seen the other excellent battery box threads and would like to compare....eh  I guess it's already built but maybe identify the parts?  Mods if I jacked this thread please delete.
Link Posted: 8/16/2013 3:19:39 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
JC10311, would you be interested in dong a how-to thread on your system?  I've seen the other excellent battery box threads and would like to compare....eh  I guess it's already built but maybe identify the parts?  Mods if I jacked this thread please delete.
View Quote


My thread would be very short:
1. Take one old equipment rack box.  I found two on Craigslist for $50 each.
2. Put batteries inside.
3. Close doors.


The batteries are stock NAPA items.  12 volt, 75 Amp-hour dual purpose.  They aren't the best batteries for a solar system because they're a compromise between starting and deep cycle rather than pure deep cycle.  I believe that they will survive a few hundred cycles whereas "real" soalr batteries will last a couple of thousand cycles.  For my purposes they're fine because they spend most of the time at full charge and get discharged every couple of months at most.

The inverters are both modified sine wave units that I got from Harbor Freight.  I found out that there are a few appliances thar really DON'T like MSW.  Most things with a motor will run hotter with modified sine wave than with pure sine wave and some sensitive electronics may be damaged.  I plan on getting a pure sine wave inverter as part of my next upgrade.

I got the battery wiring idea from another solar energy forum.  Basically, you want to have the load and charging circuits going across the entire battery bank and not just connected to a single battery in the string.

One thing that doesn't show well in the picture is the piece of foam I put in the bottom so the batteries aren't resting directly on the metal cabinet floor.  

The hardest part was making the heavy battery cables because the cable is very stiff and not forgiving.  The rest of the build was extremely simple using cable and connectors from the local auto parts store.
Link Posted: 9/12/2013 6:14:16 AM EDT
Nice!! and a bump
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