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    Small Scale Solar Setups

    You don’t have to go big right away with solar.
    by Samantha Biggers

    Tuesday, May 18, 2021, 12:47 PM

You don’t have to go big right away with solar. A small solar backup power system is an excellent way to gain experience with solar or just have some backup power if there is a power outage in your area. Small solar arrays are great for camping, boating, and those that live in RVs part or full time.

My husband and I built a house with a small solar system that powers most of the lighting in our home. We also have 12V outlets we can use when we want. Our plans include switching most of our home over to solar power, including our well pump.

Since we have a small farm, we have several small mobile solar arrays. Currently we have the Jackery 1000 and 500 power center as well as a Goal Zero Yeti 400.

Advantages of Solar Power Stations vs. Gasoline Generators

You can use solar power stations inside.

Gasoline generators produce exhaust. You could set it up so that your solar station is entirely inside, with connectors running to panels that are outside.

Solar power is practically silent.

A tiny quiet fan is all you will ever hear. Gasoline generators can be fairly loud and draw attention. During a long emergency, the last thing you want is everyone knowing you have power when they don’t.

Gasoline generators mean you are dependent on gasoline.

The cost and availability of fossil fuels are concerning. Considering that we are in the 4th turning, reducing reliance on fossil fuels is advisable. Just this week, the Colonial Pipeline, the supplier of 45% of the gasoline on the East Coast of the United States, shut down due to a cyber attack. At the time of writing, they are still working on getting this issue resolved. If it is not, then we will see shortages and higher prices within days.

Straight Out of the Box Solutions

Jackery

Jackery is an affordable and lightweight brand that my husband and I have been using for years. During my time writing for Backdoor Survival, I received several different units in exchange for an honest review. I do not take any commission for recommending these units.

Advantages

  • Lightweight
  • Lithium-Ion Batteries
  • Several Sizes to meet your needs and budget
  • Rugged
  • Great for use on the farm

The larger Jackery 1000 is big enough to use to power our electric pole saw so we can keep trees and briars out of our roadway or safely trim limbs that are hanging and dangerous to deal with using other equipment. You could also use it to power a smaller electric chainsaw. Consider how nice that would be if you cut your own firewood and find yourself unable to get gasoline or mix? A solar panel and this power center could allow you to use an actual power tool rather than handsaws.

The smaller centers are great for those that live in apartments, dorms, campers, or that like to get out in the woods but want a little electricity for lighting, music, etc. Any of these units could provide a good backup power source for those that live alone or if you wanted to make sure that elderly relatives have a backup for medical equipment or lighting during power outages.

Large Whole House Back-Up Systems

Goal Zero Yeti 3000x and 6000x

If you are interested in a straight out-of-the-box system that can take on the power needs of your entire home, then you should consider the larger Yeti systems. Yes, they are a serious investment at around $3,100-$5,000, but you don’t have to do any major configuring or work. The 6000x will power a standard refrigerator for 110 hours on a single charge. The costs I quoted do not include solar panels. The Yeti can be charged from a 110V plug in at your house in about 12 hours. Solar charging times will vary. This does mean that you can buy your power center and add panels later.

 

Types of Panels

The cost of solar panels has decreased a lot over the last decade. My husband and I have started to purchase American-made solar panels on eBay for under $1 per watt. Most panels will work with various power centers and systems as long as you have the right connectors or cords. Product manuals often tell you what you need but sometimes you have to do a bit of research yourself or call some manufacturers.

Portable panels are nice to have for mobile applications. There are several styles to choose from.

Folding Panels

Smaller folding panels can be attached to a backpack to charge devices as you walk. They have USB ports for charging. Usually, these are standard USB ports, so you should make sure your cables are compatible. These panels can be used with portable power centers as well. They are not always made as durable as you might think. Always follow the guidelines that come with your panel. Leaving them out in bad weather can damage some styles. You can get folding panels in a wide range of sizes. Amazon sells some that are over 300 watts! You can always have multiple folding panels on hand to up your wattage when needed.

Semi-Rigid flat panels

These are very thin panels that weigh 25% as much as a standard panel of comparable wattage. They are great for those that want to mount panels on golf carts, UTVs, or roofs that they do not want to stress too much. You can also store them in an RV and put them out when you park. They are usually a better value than folding panels.

Power centers have a max amount of inputs that you can use to charge. This means that more panels do not always mean faster charging.

 

Building Your System

There are some advantages to building your solar arrays.

  • Less expensive per watt
  • Customized to meet your exact needs
  • Usually easy to expand when needs change, or your budget allows

List For Homemade Basic Solar Set Up

Charge Controller

Solar Panel

Battery

Inverter

The items listed above come in various sizes. Your charge controller needs to be sized to handle the output from the solar panels, and your batteries need to be able to store the electricity your panels are producing. If you don’t have enough batteries, then your panels might be generating power that is wasted.

Building a small solar array is all about balance.

Inverters allow you to covert 12V power to 120V or even 220V depending on what type of inverter you have.

Here is an example of a small solar array you can put together in practically no time at all.

Trolling Motor Battery Box

Sealed Marine Battery

Solar Panel

My husband designed this little system back when we had a canoe. The battery provided power to the trolling motor, but it also allowed us to have outlets, so we had some electricity when camping out. When we pulled into shore to camp, we had power even at very remote locations on the lake. Taking a small solar panel with you would allow you to keep your battery topped off.

We used the Minnetonka brand of battery box. I was unable to find this exact box so I included a pic and link to a brand that is currently available.

 

Expanding Your System

Adding more battery storage and panels is fairly easy, but you need to make sure that your charge controller can handle it. If you start with a very small system, a charge controller is under $30. Remember that you can always save your smaller charge controller and use it for a separate small system. Large or whole home charge controllers are what is expensive. It is still a good idea to buy a charge controller that does allow for at least some expansion. For example, if your panels produce 30 amps of power, you may want to get the 50 amp charge controller, so you have at least some room to grow before having to invest in a larger charge controller. If you have no plans to expand your system, you should still plan to get a controller that exceeds your needs by a few amps just to be safe. For example, if your panels produce 20 amps, you might want to get a charge controller that can handle 25 amps or more.

Transport and Moving Systems

Solar components can be heavy. Many of the homemade solar systems use lead-acid batteries that weigh considerably more than the lithium batteries used in many of the power centers you can buy and use straight out of the box.

Painted metal garden wagons can be used to create a mobile system that is easy on the back. Garden wagons are often found at hardware stores for under $150. If you can find one used on Craigslist or at a yard sale, you can save some cash.

Old handcarts and strapping can also be utilized.

Important Considerations For Those Going Solar

If you plan on using solar to meet a large portion of your energy needs, you will likely need to make some lifestyle changes. This is easier said than done. We are creatures of habit. Those with kids and teens will have the additional challenge of getting them into better energy habits. Here are a few things we have discovered about solar over the years.

  1. It is essential to perform maintenance on your system regularly. If you are using batteries that require water, you need to set reminders to make sure that you top off the water every few months.
  2. Never run your batteries down to less than 50% of their capacity.
  3. If you have a gloomy and gray day, you will need to reduce your energy consumption unless you have enough stored in batteries to get through until sunnier days.
  4. Electric heat or stoves are not a feasible option if you are relying on solar power. We have 110 V electric service to our house as well as solar. Air conditioners are another appliance that is very challenging to run on solar energy.

Panel Efficiency

When you buy a panel, there should be an efficiency rating listed. More expensive or well-made panels will have a higher efficiency rating. I am going to tell you something that you don’t want to hear: Panel ratings are often inaccurate in a real-world setting. This means you should try to buy a panel that is rated with the highest level of efficiency you can afford and then expect less. Maybe you have a good site for your panels, and the efficiency will be right in the range of what the manufacturer claims? Over the years, despite living on a South facing slope and experimenting with positioning many different portable panels, our experience has led us to conclude that those ratings are for particularly ideal lighting conditions and the best panels from a production run.

No matter how good the panels are that you start with, they lose some of their efficiency over time. Most panels will come with a warranty that explains what efficiency levels are guaranteed and at what age.

Suggested Reading and Videos

A few good reference books are always good to have on hand when dealing with anything electrical.

Off Grid Solar Power: How to Design and Install a Mobile Solar System for RVs, Vans, Boats and Tiny Homes (DIY Solar Power) by Paul Holmes

DIY Solar Power: How To Power Everything From The Sun

Off Grid Solar Power Simplified: For Rvs, Vans, Cabins, Boats and Tiny Homes

Videos

Simple Solar Power System for an Off grid Cabin by Bushradical

Tiny House Solar System For High Power Use by Tiny House Giant Journey

Conclusion

Small scale solar is a great way to get power where you need it on a larger property or at a remote location. Although many people get experts to install solar panels for their home, there are plenty that choose to do it themselves and save a ton of money in the process. 12V power is a bit safer to work with than standard 110V. I encourage you to learn more and get started with some small solar backup systems today.

Do you already have some small-scale solar? How about larger systems? Any tips for others that are just getting started? Are there any brands of panels, charge controllers, or inverters that you highly recommend? Any that have failed to perform well? Please share with the Peak Prosperity tribe in the comments below so we can learn together!

 

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33 Comments

  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 1:10pm

    #1
    westcoastjan

    westcoastjan

    Status: Gold Member

    Joined: Jun 04 2012

    Posts: 479

    2

    This is great!

    Just the kind of article I wanted to see as I am looking to create a small scale back up system. Thanks for all the great info. The pics are especially important as I tend to learn best with visuals that supplement written information.

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 1:21pm

    #2

    Oliveoilguy

    Status: Gold Member

    Joined: Jun 29 2012

    Posts: 1137

    2

    Building an off grid system

    I’m building a 1200 sq.ft. House for a client in Texas. Do to the heat he has requested central AC. The house is too big and spread out for mini splits to work well but we are going with a 3 ton Mitsubishi Inverter type AC/Heat system (works like a mini split) that has only 17 amps at start up and 13 amps running. This load is driving the solar design being 90% of the demand.

    Currently looking at a Sol-Ark 12K inverter and (28) 455 W modules and three 7.5 Wh KiloVault Lithium batteries.

    There are a lot of choices out there.....I’ve used the Outback GS 8048 inverter up until now and have been very pleased, but thinking hard about the new Sol-Ark technology.

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 1:58pm

    #3
    Netlej

    Netlej

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Dec 09 2020

    Posts: 179

    1

    portable

    10 or 12 years ago or so I put together a portable sys. I bought a hand truck, installed a 24" X 36" X 1/2" thick hdpe sheet on the up right and 24" X 9" on the blade part. I put two 12v deep cycle batteries on the bottom, mounted a 2000 watt inverter  and a 20 amp charge controller to the panel above the batteries. Also on the panel I mounted a 5 outlet power plug strip and a 4 outlet 12v cigarette lighter type strip.

    I have two 100 watt solar panels hooked together with a 5' bridle then to a 15' cable to the charge controller. I put the panels wherever the sun is.

    With this rig I can unplug the cable and roll the unit wherever I need it on the farm. When the power goes out I can keep the led lights on, the fridg and freezers charged and have internet if it is still up. I take it out into the field on the tractor to run power tools.

    I built a 28' aluminum boat using only the batteries from this rig to power a wire feed mig unit. I would take the batteries off as needed. I would charge two 6v batteries too and use one with a 12v to get 18v for mig. Totally solar built boat.

    I have replaced each component over the years but not the panels.

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 2:06pm

    #4

    travissidelinger

    Status: Member

    Joined: Nov 17 2010

    Posts: 255

    1

    Semi rigid folding panels

    We have several and use them often.  I would recommend your panel is large enough to generate over 100 watts.  Keep in mind that max power and real power are often not the same.  Clouds and time of day do change your power level.

    Some panels allow you to chain them.  If you are hiking with a group, you could carry four smaller panels and then connect them.

    How much time do you really have to sit in one spot while you charge up?

    The larger panels do get heavy.  My two smaller panels are nice to carry in my pack, but often just not worth the effort.  Even the 28 watt panel just takes too long to charge my cell phone.  Sure, if I could leave it in an open field for 5 hours, I would be all charged up.  But often we are near trees.  The panel could be in a good spot, but then an hour later it's completely shaded when I come back to check on it.

    We have a ROCKPALS SP003 100W Foldable Solar Panel.  It works greats.  We can charge two cell phones in about an hour.

    And we have several 18650 battery banks.  These can store a lot of power for the size.  Here is one brand we have: HAWEEL 4 x 18650 Charger Box, Portable Power Bank

    Thus, recommendations:

    * Ditch the cell phone.  Get a separate digital camera.

    * Carry a 18650 battery bank

    * Get a larger 100w+ panel.  Lug it from the car to the campsite, but not for hiking.

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 2:46pm

    #5
    Mike Anderson

    Mike Anderson

    Status: Member

    Joined: Nov 25 2019

    Posts: 31

    0

    off grid solar

    I've built several small off-grid solar systems and am currently putting together a system that should be able to power three refrigerator/freezers through the short, cloudy days of winter without using a generator.  Refrigeration for food preservation is the killer app in my climate, and heating is nice if you can get it, but I'm not optimizing around air conditioning as many would.  I just don't need it.

    Here are some things I concluded were a good fit for my system:

    16 x 3.2V 280Ah LiFePO4 cells from a Chinese manufacturer such as CATL, Lishen, or EVE.  They are a better value than lead acid chemistry, keeping in mind you can regularly get 100% of the rated capacity without destroying the cells. The Lishen factory was backed up as of a few days ago, and many are now ordering 302Ah CATL calls.  Last I checked (a couple months ago) the price was around $0.10 per watt-hour including delivery to North America, depending on how you calculate it.

    You need a battery management system (BMS) to run those LiFePO4 cells to protect against freezing temperatures and to balance the power to individual cells as they age.  The charge/discharge voltage curve is quite flat for the middle 90%, so you need to count electrons going in and out of each cell or else you'll end up with cells with dissimilar states of charge.

    In order to avoid using a generator during the winter, I made provision for 9000 watts of panels.  They were used 250W-rated panels that were rotated out of a commercial solar farm in Georgia (USA), and I got them for merely $0.20/watt.  Ground mounting allows an optimal high angle for winter and avoids the 2017 NEC rules for arc-fault and rapid shutdown that are now required for roof installations and that favor newer, more complicated, grid-friendly, but less-flexible equipment such as micro-inverters for each panel.

    With so much power available during the summer, I need a BMS that can take high charging currents.  None of the common Chinese-made options are sufficient without modification, but some are compatible with relays or, more reliable and generating less waste heat, solid state relays (SSR) such as are made by Crydom.  I don't need a high-power SSR to allow the BMS to turn off the inverter, since there is a signal input on the inverter for that purpose.  The high-power ones would need to be on the solar input, before or after the charge controller (supposing it does not have a similar on/off signal input), and also before any DC loads from the battery.  A FET-based SSR (such as is typical of Crydom models) can also be used with some charge controllers to pulse-width modulate at around 500Hz or less when the battery voltage reaches a setpoint, allowing you to use the energy that would otherwise be wasted to do something like heat water, make ice, or run a deep well pump to a cistern.

    For more information about batteries (including group buys), BMS, mounting, and general topics I recommend DIYSolarForum.com.  For all the commercial equipment and parts necessary to get things into regulatory compliance I also use Northern Arizona Wind & Sun's forum.solar-electric.com .

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 2:54pm

    #6
    Tonya McKinney

    Tonya McKinney

    Status: Member

    Joined: Feb 06 2020

    Posts: 45

    0

    Love This Article!

    I have been wanting to get some backup power for a while now and just didn’t know where to start. Thank you! Your article is perfect and now I know where to begin!!

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 3:10pm

    #7
    Coronaphobe

    Coronaphobe

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    Joined: Mar 07 2011

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    Coronaphobe said:

    This is a great article, and the timing is perfect for me!

    And, thanks to all of you who've added details about your setups.  And, big thanks in advance for anyone providing links to items they've purchased.

    Cheers!

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 3:20pm

    travissidelinger

    Status: Member

    Joined: Nov 17 2010

    Posts: 255

    0

    Battery types for off grid

    Mike, you seem to know your stuff.  The LiFePO4 batteries seem better all around, but I keep seeing that they need to be protected from freezing.  What happens when they freeze?  Will they short out and catch fire?  Will it just damage the plates?

    If you have a cabin in the middle of nowhere that could see temps below -4F, and you will be several hundred miles away, are sealed lead acid the next best option?  What happens lead acid batteries get below -4F?  In researching lead acid batteries, most are also rated down to only -4F.

    Basically I need a system where we can turn it off and walk away without worrying that will be break in the winter.

    -Travis

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 3:36pm

    #9
    VegasJim

    VegasJim

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Mar 19 2020

    Posts: 110

    1

    VegasJim said:

    Big or small , backup power systems are great to have.  I built one last year from pieces and parts.  Solar is a great way to go with it, but you really need to get out and find the truth behind what it can (and can't) do.  There are some snake oil salespeople out there.  Here is the link to an article about my system back then:

    What do you use for backup power?

     

    I am currently reworking it,  now that we are full time RVers.

    Cheers,

    Jim

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 3:43pm

    Mike Anderson

    Mike Anderson

    Status: Member

    Joined: Nov 25 2019

    Posts: 31

    0

    Mike Anderson said:

    LiFePO4 cells made in the USA by Battle Born include a thermostat and internal resistance heaters.  LiFePO4 cells are permanently damaged by charging at temperatures below freezing, but I'm not certain the exact temperature, perhaps -3C.  Sealed lead acid such as AGM merely has its capacity reduced 80% or so.  I have some AGMs in a different system, and I've been very disappointed with their capacity when cold.  I'd say try to make the lithium chemistry work with an insulated battery box and some sort of temperature-activated heater of less than 5 watts, maybe some plumber's heating "tape" that would use mains voltage, or better yet a DC circuit that bypasses the inverter.

    I have a fair bit of experience with leaving buildings unoccupied and unheated when it's -4F outside, and it seldom gets below freezing inside because of thermal mass and solar gain through south-facing windows.  Unless you have absolutely no insulation or solar gain, I don't think you should be too concerned.

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 4:02pm

    #11

    travissidelinger

    Status: Member

    Joined: Nov 17 2010

    Posts: 255

    0

    Should I use DC or AC in my house?

    Another related topic.

    Found this on Amazon, and it started me thinking:

    Thus, I'm leaning on going with 24VDC throughout the house, with local 24V to 12v + USB conversion.

    Factors:

    • Cost of appliances:  110VAC stuff is just cheap.  5V usb stuff is also fairly cheap.  DC appliances are usually not cheap.
    • Cost of wiring: The lower the voltage, for the same power you need more current ( Power = Voltage x Current ).  More current needs larger wiring to overcome resistance losses.
    • What are your highest loads:  Your highest loads will probably dictate the system you need, such as your refrigerator and well pump.

    Currently I'm leaning on doing a 24v system throughout the house.  10 gauge copper braided wiring will be used.  The 24 VDC will float with the battery charge, probably between 22V and 29V.  Locally at an outlet, I will convert the 24VDC to 12V cigarette lighter +USB ports.  The important part there is that we can see the 24VDC readout in every room.  Thus, if the battery gets low, we will know to stop running the whatever we have plugged in.

    Lighting will be on the 24VDC system.  They sell 24V lights that look like normal socket light bulbs.  Then I will just use normal house boxes and switches for the lighting.

    We will have some 110VAC power, mainly in the kitchen and the utility room.  Normal 110VAC boxes and switches will be used.  We like our food processor, the stick bender, a small microwave oven, and a small frig.  In the winter I'm temped to put the frig on the porch where it won't need any power.

    Most of our small electronics will be USB powered, including any fans.  There will be no big TV screens or other power hungry electronics.  The vacuum cleaner will be a push broom.

    Our water well, I'm planning to get a hand pumped well.  Kinda silly, but why not?  It should last 100 years.  We'll pump the water to a stainless steal tank in the attic.  There won't be anyone wasting water in this house, and no well pump needed.

    Maybe I'm all wrong here and I would just go with 110VAC.  I just don't want a plug it in and forget it house.  That's the reason we end up with so much waste.

    Thoughts on off grid house wiring?

    -Travis

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 4:26pm

    travissidelinger

    Status: Member

    Joined: Nov 17 2010

    Posts: 255

    0

    travissidelinger said:

    Unless you have absolutely no insulation or solar gain, I don't think you should be too concerned.

    The house will be well insulated with a concrete floor.  The batteries will be stored in a closed room directly on the floor.

    I agree with your assessment.  My guess is temperatures may get down to 20s F in the house, but probably not any colder.  We do know the ground does freeze to maybe 10 inches, but under the house, probably not.

    My concern on the heated batteries, we'll shut the system down before you leave.  If they start to heat themselves, it may need to last for month.

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 4:34pm

    Mike Anderson

    Mike Anderson

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    Joined: Nov 25 2019

    Posts: 31

    0

    AC or DC in house

    I have that 12V outlet device installed on a small system, minus the built-in USB charger.  I have it installed near the battery and wouldn't want to run expensive large-gauge wire through the walls of a house.  That's what AC is for, or at least AC voltages.  Mots has developed a device that makes interrupted DC at AC voltages (100-240V ?) that might be a fair compromise if you don't plan to use AC motors and transformers with it.  But for lighting?  24V LED strips can be strung up everywhere because they have their own buck/boost power supplies at each set of LEDs.

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 4:59pm

    MarkM

    MarkM

    Status: Gold Member

    Joined: Jul 22 2008

    Posts: 551

    3

    Mots-Take Back the Power

    https://www.amazon.com/Take-Back-Power-Marvin-Motsenbocker/dp/B08P2C6HB4

    Some AC motors will run with it (power tools), some will not (constant speed motors and some other things).

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 5:33pm

    #15
    Resilient in KY

    Resilient in KY

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    Joined: Oct 08 2018

    Posts: 8

    0

    Excellent book on the subject

    Jeff Yago wrote a book titled Lights on. I highly recommend it for emergency solar information.

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 6:53pm

    #16
    Chris Martenson

    Chris Martenson

    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: Jun 07 2007

    Posts: 5993

    5

    YouTube Premier at 7:30 PM EST tonight (5/18/21)

    Thread hijack alert!

    Tonight (soon) at 7:30 my latest YouTube video premier will begin.

    Come for the data, stay for the logic!





    I'll be there hanging out in the chat window.  Here's hoping that the censors are okay with me reporting on CDC and major health center data...

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 7:24pm

    Pappy

    Pappy

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Jun 29 2020

    Posts: 147

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    Careful engaging in YouTube chat

    YT live chats are like the Wild West, Dr. Chris.

    Be careful who you engage. You might want some allies as moderators from the paid subscribers.

    Just my two cents.

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  • Tue, May 18, 2021 - 7:35pm

    #18
    Mots

    Mots

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Jun 18 2012

    Posts: 446

    5

    100-120 volt DC for house lighting

    I will bring a couple circuits that run regular home depot/lowes lights from high voltage DC.  The trick here is to throw away their circuit boards,  combine the lights in series and use constant current to supply them.  The lights last longer, can be connected to a string of solar panels without any equipment, and I have a simple doo-dad that I add to each light to keep the string going if one light burns out.  If you see me in June I will have these, and I want to give away to someone who is serious about high voltage DC.

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  • Wed, May 19, 2021 - 12:52am

    Arthur Robey

    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1937

    3

    Power 'n stuff

    I am living the dream. I haven't had a power bill for many years (except petrol, to be discussed).

    The big factor is what is the aspect of your land. My land, in the Deep South, is south facing therefore it is adversely affected by the aspect. (My land faces away from the equator.) In effect this de-rates the photocells on one hand; one consideration amongst many. On the other hand, my calculations show that I will not be able to consume all the firewood that is captured by photosynthesis in my 15Kw stove.

    Because it is winter, I have to buy a small amount of petrol.

    =========

    Ingo Swann, the late remote viewer makes a fair fist of his claim that consciousness is made up of at least 3 components. Logic, Emotions and Intuition (Spidey sense).

    I am weak on logic (and telepathy), but strong on intuition. Therefore it behoves me to listen to those strong on logic; hence Dr. Chris Martenson.

    So, how do You assess yourself? A+ on all three? Whoopie doo.

    Here's the deal. The reported experience of near-death cases is that we are Not our bodies. Reality is procedurally generated. Do I want to die? Not on your Nellie, being alive is a great privilege and endlessly entertaining, but I do not fear death. At seventy years old and as fit as a fiddle, I am aware that death looms.

    I have been alive many, many times before and fully anticipate getting a new assignment. My role now is to prepare the world in which I wish to live. I hope to return to a world where one of my granddaughter's children has been chosen as Overmother.

    Ref: Our Oera Linda and the Dharma Manifesto.

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  • Wed, May 19, 2021 - 2:34am

    #20

    Arthur Robey

    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1937

    0

    Overmothers

    The female of the species is more into the humanities than males. (No. I am not going to discuss outliers.)

    We need to make use of these proclivities and have our societies run by carefully selected virgin females. (To my mind, men who desire to run societies are suspect. Did they play with dolls?)

    Reference The Oera Linda.

    Here Evolutionary psychologist, Dr. Dutton discusses the psychology of children of divorced parents, which is not unrelated to the Left/Right schism that plagues our civilization today.





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  • Wed, May 19, 2021 - 3:18am

    #21
    AndrewOregon

    AndrewOregon

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    Joined: Mar 13 2020

    Posts: 91

    0

    Adenovirus correction Chris

    Great video Chris. Correction for one comment you made, that the adenovirus vaccines give us some part of the virus.

    They give us DNA which is transcribed inside the cell and proteins are made.

    https://youtu.be/GOq8-FR8s1E?t=225  Medcram

    https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/vaccines/report/types-of-covid-19-vaccines

     

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  • Wed, May 19, 2021 - 4:55am

    #22
    RandomMike

    RandomMike

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Mar 12 2020

    Posts: 247

    2

    US made long flexible solar panels

    The Unisolar PVL solar panels were made in the us 10 or more years ago, they are still available. Unique size; originally made to actually be a roof shingle type thing, but much bigger:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/124731143460?epid=1919778909&hash=item1d0a8e3524:g:qT8AAOSwq7RgaMt5

    I got some years ago and have 12 of them generating up to 800 watts in a sub optimal location. They seem to last forever. They are eighteen feet long!

    Mine had MC3 connectors, some on ebay have no connector, just a solder point.

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  • Wed, May 19, 2021 - 10:35am

    VegasJim

    VegasJim

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Mar 19 2020

    Posts: 110

    1

    He's Back...

    Good to see you again.........Mr Wick.

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  • Wed, May 19, 2021 - 10:57am

    #24

    Boomer41

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Nov 30 2008

    Posts: 220

    0

    Whole-House Off-Grid System

    I built a whole-house off-grid system in 2001 and have been improving it for 20 years. It is now working extremely well and I am very happy with it.

    The load is a fully equipped household with all modern conveniences including a large fridge/freezer, dishwasher, microwave, clothes washer and dryer, central heat (hot water radiators), two laptop computers and 12 volt LED lighting.

    The primary electrical power source is 8 x 100 watt solar panels with a backup 12 kW diesel generator. Storage is a 24 volt lead acid fork truck battery of 1000 AH capacity. The domestic hot water heater, generator and optional central heat are powered by home heating oil. Cooking is propane gas.

    The solar panels and battery provide enough electrical power for everything except the washer/dryer. Normal operating procedure during summer months is to run the generator for about four hours twice a week for the laundry and to fully charge the battery. In the winter, the generator might have to be run for a total of 16 -20 hours per week. I am thinking of adding more solar panels to reduce generator run time in winter.

    120 volt AC power for kitchen appliances etc. is provided by a 3 kW inverter. Lighting is all 12 volt LED. I started off with 24 volt incandescent and fluorescent lighting then, as LEDs became available, switched to all LED. 24 volt LEDs are hard to find, but 12 volt bulbs are ubiquitous and cheap, so I installed a 24/12 volt DC-DC converter for the lighting circuit.

    The biggest electrical energy hog is the fridge freezer, followed by (surprise) the laptop computers. Intermittent high power loads, such as the microwave or hair-dryer take a lot of current, but only run for a short time so do not use a lot of energy.

    Cooking is done on a propane gas stove with an oven. I disconnected the electric grill element in the oven and the water heating element in the dishwasher because they both consumed more power than the inverter could provide.

    Central heat uses home heating oil, which also is the fuel for the generator and the hot water heater. Air conditioning is out of the question.

    Actually, providing continuous domestic hot water is the biggest problem and easily the greatest use of energy in summer. I have a 50 gallon hot water tank with a built-in heat exchanger. During the summer, the water is heated by a crazy-small oil-fired gadget which was designed to pre-heat diesel engines. https://mvheating.co.uk/product/mv-hydro5-v/ In winter the wood-stove and central heat furnace heat the water.

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  • Wed, May 19, 2021 - 3:17pm

    #25
    mntnhousepermi

    mntnhousepermi

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Feb 19 2016

    Posts: 318

    2

    off grid

    While every bit we do helps, we are never truly all the way off grid when running the house off of propane or heating oil.  It is a journey, I know.  I am still moving along this path too.

    I also get alot of solar photosynthisis that makes alot of fuel easily, so I heat with wood.

    I mostly cook on the wood stove on days I have it running for space heat.  And cooking with a solar oven on days with enough sunlight on my deck.  If I had to, I could make do with those 2 options.  My built in stove is electric which I cannot run off of my solar electric system.  I have no propane, gas or heating oil appliances.

    I am presently switching my well from an AC run well pump to one that is direct DC, so it will only pump out water when the sun is shining.  I have large storage tanks now, installed the last few months.  Because of code and such, I did reinstall a house pressure pump, but I just spent 3 months without one.  I know what it is like to live without a water pressure boosting.  The tanks are uphill enough that it is doable, but not like having normal water pressure.  It takes longer to fill up pots at the sink and to fill up the clothes washer (I also recently downgraded to a top loading 1980s clothes washer, so it doesnt mind filling up slowly), taking a shower has less pressure but I seem to get just as clean.  Even the upstairs toilet will eventually fill its tank, but the upstairs shower is unuseable.  All the water spigots outside work better than the house plumbing and garden is even more downhill, so watering is great.  That test is done, so water, no problem.

    Hot water heating is the next thing to tackle, but my last few months of living as a fire refugee off grid on my own land has shown me that it is not bad to wash off with cold water when hot is not available.  Either with wash clothes at a basin, or seated with a shower spray nozzle mostly off and just using spot by spot when needed.  I have a broken, older solar hot water system that I need to revive, so if it is just me, I can happily have plumbed hot water when the sun has been out or otherwise have a pot with hot water on the woodstove when I need space heating, or just wash with cold.

    My solar eelctric system is 22 years old, and not very large by todays standards.  I also have some battery backup.  I could run the house pressure pump off this, but after the fire, now, I have decided my default is not to and to leave the battery back up for refrigeration, lights and communication needs.  I could move a wire over oint he garage if I ever change my mind on this.

    As my system is older and producing less, I am toying with the idea to run a refrigerator directly off a couple DC panels.  Is anyone else out there doing this ?  In other words, I agree with the distributed DC concepts and moving forward when getting new system components I am going that way as opposed to fixing my existing system as is.

     

    Woudl love to try out one of your cirucuit boxes MOTS, my idea would be washing machine and refrigerator paired, the washing cycle interrupted when the fridge compressor kicks on.... ( enjoyed a fresh outlook from your book)

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  • Wed, May 19, 2021 - 3:50pm

    #26
    Chuck in Belize

    Chuck in Belize

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: May 23 2020

    Posts: 216

    6

    Current projects and adventures here

    Right now, I am working on a general-purpose controller board for brushless DC motors. I want to get a low-power version going first, but am making sure it is "scale-able" to larger motors using heftier driver transistors.  Also I am working on a Graphical User Interface to allow you to "tune" various timing and current-decay parameters and customize and optimize the circuit board and drive transistors to a particular motor and load situation.

    Having done that to my satisfaction and having a solid, easy-to-use set of Drive Electronics on a one-board solution, I'm going to look at a custom-programmed controller IC that isn't a Microprocessor, per se.  There are chips around that you can use that are pure logic, but programmable, so that a one-time programming from a PC is all it takes, and the same physical chip and driver board can be used in any number of applications.

    If all this sounds esoteric to you, that's OK.  I'll post more as I make progress.

    The bottom line is, from a Horsepower standpoint, for any appliance like, say, a refrigerator, there are Brushless DC motors that can take the place of the old 60-cycle AC motors, and can be much more tolerant of voltage fluctuations, and are able to "soft-start" so they don't draw huge surge currents, and don't have pesky and failure-prone starting capacitors, and don't have carbon brushes.

    Not only that - brushless motors are the wave of the future.  Just ask Elon. He'll tell you.

    I like the idea of being able to operate the same appliance on DC or AC, without all the problems we already know about.  I don't mind the idea of a retrofit of a motor, in some purchased appliance.

    I'll keep you all posted and contribute when I can.
    I like what Mots has done, very much.

    -- Chuck

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  • Wed, May 19, 2021 - 6:31pm

    Mots

    Mots

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Jun 18 2012

    Posts: 446

    1

    Chuck`s projects

    I am very happy to see your good comments and would like to use your eventual product.  I hope that you make very simple instructions and circuit boards for others to follow.  I assume that you are using Eagle software to make those boards and I can send you some files that I have made.

    Other thoughts.......
    I see that companies recently are selling brushless DC motor fridges in countries like Nepal that rely on very unreliable voltage water power.  LG is a big maker of DC motor refrigerators.  Sanyo pioneered DC motor compressors for air cons and all of our heat pumps in Asia have been DC for over 10 years.  In fact except for the air fans my own heat pumps can run on pure 110V DC (I use square wave only because the fans need it and they are very happy on the 110V square wave).

    I have had good luck scaling up to higher power with a few caveats:
    1. higher power transistors need bigger drive circuits. I had to supplement lower power PWM output drive with a PNP/NPN bipolar pair in order to get much stronger drive (push in and remove electrons onto the massive capacitances of the gates of the larger MOSFETS). Also make sure to place a 10-100 uF electrolytic capacitor physically close to those transistors to ensure enough instantaneous power is available for switching.
    2. replace high voltage caps with higher voltage

    3. look real hard for better quality transistors with lower on resistance because you will generate much more heat as you get bigger.  In doing this I find that a large proportion of these higher cost transistors are fake.  Even if bought from Amazon.  I have specific transistors that I find work well and can explain more if you want.

    4. heat dissipation becomes very limiting so be careful to use plenty of aluminum to mount the transistor.  I am sure that you know this.  I find that large 2 or 3 gang aluminum utility boxes from home depot are excellent for this purpose and will have some to show in Virginia next month.

    5. when making circuit boards for the high power, try to wire directly to the source and drain pins of the MOSFETs since the copper circuit board tracings cannot handle high power (another big difference from the small power projects that you are starting with)

    looking forward to hearing your progress

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  • Wed, May 19, 2021 - 7:55pm

    Mots

    Mots

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Jun 18 2012

    Posts: 446

    8

    Small Scale Solar Setups

    The most important use of electricity is for night time lighting, cell phone charging and computers. In my opinion Small Scale Solar Setups (“SSSS”) are very valuable for this and I have a number of redundant SSSS for reliable independent energy systems wired up at 12 volts, 24 volts, 48 volts and at 96 volts for various things like outhouses, lighting, separate room lights, water pumping. The parts are bought everywhere and easy to implement.  I will have an electricity seminar on June 24 near my old workshop (Richmond area) that will start by showing how to put together an SSSS.

    Caution points:
    The biggest problem I see is that people let their batteries run down. If you wire a light directly to a battery for example you should consider using a “low voltage dropout” to disconnect the light or other load at low battery voltage. If your deep cycle lead acid battery goes to about 10.5 volts or below just once, its over for that battery and you need to replace it. Many charge controllers (charges battery from solar panels) have a load output that can power your lights and will disconnect those lights to protect the battery from low voltage. They work great when they work. But many of these devices don’t work (even fresh out of the box) and break easily. Most cheap charge controllers break by shorting out their charging transistor and will over charge the batteries and ruin them. For this reason it is helpful to monitor the battery voltage to make sure it is not being overcharged (too high voltage) or running down (too low voltage). I like to use a voltmeter prominently displayed so that I can check (“are my batteries happy today?”) every time I walk by, with just a glance.

    Lithium batteries have become much better over the years but are still chemical entities that change chemistry with time and require much care and thus have little computers or smart chips in them to do that for you. In recent years we have had an explosion of new patents and new chips designed to carefully monitor and control each cell of the lithium battery as they change. Even my new lithium batteries come with a warning to charge before use to get maximum performance, so that the internal smarts can begin to fix the battery vagaries before you start slowly destroying them.

    Batteries should not be kept in a dwelling (building where people sleep). I had an expensive name brand charge controller running batteries for a fridge that burned out (after 4 years) and overcharged batteries so bad that the escaping hydrogen gas exploded with much damage to the shed. Lead acid batteries in particular should not be stored in a house or in an enclosed space.

    Avoid challenging the limits of your system. Better quality and more expensive inverters claim to shut down and resist over loading. They actually do that sometimes. But they still blow up and burnout when stressed enough.

    Engineers know how to build stuff that lasts for many years but have to use transistors and capacitors (in particular) with much higher ratings and much higher cost to do that and no one would buy their product. If your MPPT charge controller is rated for 160 volts don’t use it at 125 volts for example. I had two blow up after a few months (their capacitors were rated for 160 volts but got hot because they were crammed into a cute little box with no space at all inside). All these ratings are based on room temperature. Everything gets derated at higher temperature (lower voltage, lower current) so it is helpful to check the temperature (put your hand on the box, if it feels hot, can you do something like improve air circulation or remove from exposure to the sun?) If you have 16 amps of solar panels, don’t use a 20 amp charge controller. Use a 30 or 40 amp charge controller (it has a bigger power transistor that will last more months or years before it burns out, destroys your batteries and forces you to pony up more money for the most expensive part of your system). Whatever ratings your equipment has remember that short term profits is the biggest factor in that calculation and try to buy something that is two times oversized.

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  • Fri, May 21, 2021 - 12:18pm

    Mike Anderson

    Mike Anderson

    Status: Member

    Joined: Nov 25 2019

    Posts: 31

    0

    LiFePO4 charge rate vs. temperature

    I found this chart on DIYSolarForum.com, a LiFePO4 manufacturer's specifications on charge rate vs. temperature vs. state of charge, and as you can see charging rate should not be a hard cutoff at 0C, but rather something tapered off slowly from room temperature depending on what capacity-rate you are able to charge at. A trickle charge at 0C should be fine. https://diysolarforum.com/attachments/screenshot_2020-11-28-gfb_100ah_ps_en_11fa_20191104_-pdf-png.28852/

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  • Sat, May 29, 2021 - 3:48pm

    mntnhousepermi

    mntnhousepermi

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Feb 19 2016

    Posts: 318

    1

    mntnhousepermi said:

    I have salt water batteries, but they are not easy to get right now.

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  • Sat, May 29, 2021 - 4:47pm

    #31
    LBL

    LBL

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 11 2020

    Posts: 273

    0

    LBL said:

    I have one 24x24 panel.  Puts out about 18 volts.

     

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  • Thu, Jun 10, 2021 - 10:36pm

    SunFarmer

    SunFarmer

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Mar 07 2019

    Posts: 40

    0

    SunFarmer said:

    Use a Meanwell HLG-480-30A or 48 or 54  to convert PV Power 100-400 VDC to  Safe 24, 48 or 54 DC.  They are universal AC or DC.  The output is Isolated. You can charge LFP Batteries also.  Make sure it's a Type A or AB.

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  • Thu, Jun 10, 2021 - 10:47pm

    SunFarmer

    SunFarmer

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    Joined: Mar 07 2019

    Posts: 40

    0

    SunFarmer said:

    Amazon description.   Stable 12 24 or 48 on Cloudy days from 4-8 60 cell panels.  Fans, Pumps, LED grow lights, etc   USE a 30 Volt to charge 24 Volt Battery.  15 for a 12 Volt Battery
    MEAN WELL HLG-480H-48A Constant Voltage and Constant Current Switching LED Driver Output Adjustable by Internal Pot, 48V 10A 480W

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