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Posted: 8/16/2010 9:52:15 AM EDT
So, I am looking into solar again... I need more lighting at the front gate/fence/driveway, which is located about 700' from the nearest power. I am thinking running a small scale solar set up to power some lighting that will come on with a timer each night, plus some cfl floods that I can turn on with a switch. Additionally, it would be nice to have an a/c outlet or two up by the gate, even if I don't have the power to run power tools, just to be able to charge drill batteries and whatnot up there would be nice. other than the 10w panel I have on the automatic gate opener (located right next to where I want to put this set up actually), this is my first actual dive into solar power. I had planned on powering a shed a while back with solar, but business took a nosedive so it didn't happen.

I am planning to run two 120 w 12v pv panels hooked to a small battery bank via a charge controller. from the battery bank, I will run an inverter to convert from 12v dc to 110ac. the batteries, charger and inverter will be in a box that I am planning on building in under the panels, which will be on a home made mount.

materials:
1) panels: I am looking at these 120w dm solar panels, which are $216 a piece, $120.96 to ship, for a grand total of $552.96 for 240 rated watts of solar. I know that these are not name brand panels, but their website does indicate a similar warranty. I can get kyocera panels for not too much more, but the minimum order is insane.

2) charge controller: looking at a 20a controller, not sure of brand or price, any suggestions are welcome.

3) batteries: Should I go with 12v marine batteries? I would like to run two if the budget allows, OR, should I go with a pair of golf cart (6v) batteries? Which would get me the most bang for my buck and overall value???? How much is a golf cart battery??? I know I can go down to my local WM for a marine battery? Oh wizards of SF solar, help please??? I know if I am going to be wiring multiple batts together, I need to make sure the battery cables are the same length to keep the charge levels the same. Oh yeah, one other tidbit of info, these babies will be outside, and 110* isn't unusual in our area. I can't think of a way to avoid this. Should that info change my battery selection?

4) inverter: I have a few 250w inverters floating around, but would like to pick up a new one if the budget allows. Anything special I should be looking for? any reason why I couldn't use the same style inverter I have been putting in my cars for the last 15 years?

5) I'm sure there are some special cables needed to hook up the panels, are these costly? Anyone know?



Please, if someone has a better idea than what I am planning, chime in. If there is something I am missing, or something in my plan that is going to cause a boom , point it out.

I had another solar thread a few months ago when I was looking into powering the shed, but it looks like it dropped off over the weekend, damn Murphy...

Link Posted: 8/16/2010 12:15:43 PM EDT
I am partial to name brands. Kyocera has a good reputation. I saw a 205watt evergreen panels (USA made) for 399.99. There is a deal on solar blvd for 200 watts Sunwize panels plus a Morningstar MPPT controller for 559.99

I've got several morningstar controllers and so far have had good luck out of them with small systems. Those two panels you are looking at put out about 15 amps, so you could use a 15 amp controller. Morningstar says you don't have to de-rate the output of stuff. Xantrex also makes some small controllers.

I would not go with marine batteries in this application. GC batteries are available at my local Sam's and Costco for about 80.00-85.00 each. Combining two will give you 220-240 amp hours as 12V. The plates inside are supposedly heavier, making them better suited for deep cycle use. I have heard many refer to GC batteries as best bang for the buck in deep cycle applications. Some will disagree and say that you'll only get 5 yrs out of them whereas an expensive batt made for alt energy could go 10 yrs or more.

If you're planning to leave your inverter hot all the time, you need to get one with very low standby current draw, such as a morningstar suresine.

MC4 cables are available from every solar reseller. They're not too bad in price, about 1.00/ft. I believe the cables are usually both sunlight resistant and OK for burial. You'll also need a multibranch connector cable to connect the two panels together (if you get two panels)
Link Posted: 8/16/2010 8:32:33 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/16/2010 8:33:10 PM EDT by oldrock]
those are some good prices per watt on those panels. I just paid 191 shipped for an 80 watt panel and thought I did pretty good but under $2/watt would be nice!
Link Posted: 8/16/2010 9:28:59 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/16/2010 9:34:11 PM EDT by Skibane]
Another vote for golf cart batteries. For the money, nothing else delivers more capacity or a longer service life.

Also, you might want to drop the timer-operated lights in favor of PIR motion sensor floodlights - They pull almost zero current from the inverter when they're idle, but still provide plenty of light when they come on. You can further reduce their current consumption by using compact florescent floodlight bulbs - A 16 watt CF floodlight provides roughly as much light as a 60 watt incandescent.
Link Posted: 8/17/2010 8:34:15 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/17/2010 8:34:43 AM EDT by PATCH5]
Originally Posted By Skibane:
Another vote for golf cart batteries. For the money, nothing else delivers more capacity or a longer service life.

Also, you might want to drop the timer-operated lights in favor of PIR motion sensor floodlights - They pull almost zero current from the inverter when they're idle, but still provide plenty of light when they come on. You can further reduce their current consumption by using compact florescent floodlight bulbs - A 16 watt CF floodlight provides roughly as much light as a 60 watt incandescent.


Actually, the plan is to have all of the flood lights on a manual switch, but have the lamp post lights on a timer. I'm planning on having everything be CFLs at this point. A motion sensor would just go bat shit crazy with all the 'yotes, raccoons, possums, rabbits, cats and other assorted critters that go past the gate (the neighbor is the only house on the street without a perimeter fence, so every damn animal under the sun uses his property to get to the orchards across the street which have water...
Link Posted: 8/17/2010 11:34:50 AM EDT
Where the heck did you find those prices?? I've never seen them go that cheap unless you're ordering like 50+ panels at at time.
Link Posted: 8/17/2010 11:56:45 AM EDT
Originally Posted By stereoman405:
Where the heck did you find those prices?? I've never seen them go that cheap unless you're ordering like 50+ panels at at time.


HERE

Most of them have high minimum orders, but these have a min. order of 2.
Link Posted: 8/17/2010 8:25:45 PM EDT
Originally Posted By PATCH5:
Originally Posted By stereoman405:
Where the heck did you find those prices?? I've never seen them go that cheap unless you're ordering like 50+ panels at at time.


HERE

Most of them have high minimum orders, but these have a min. order of 2.


Group buy?
Link Posted: 8/17/2010 8:57:49 PM EDT
Originally Posted By HomeSlice:
Originally Posted By PATCH5:
Originally Posted By stereoman405:
Where the heck did you find those prices?? I've never seen them go that cheap unless you're ordering like 50+ panels at at time.


HERE

Most of them have high minimum orders, but these have a min. order of 2.


Group buy?


That would be nice
Link Posted: 9/12/2010 5:54:13 PM EDT
DAMNIT! I just missed a pair of sharp 160W panels new in box on craigslist for 320 bucks cash... Said the guy left about 10 minutes ago with the panels for $300 even...
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