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Old 10-31-2018, 06:59 PM   #1
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Please critique/comment on/improve my solar plan

My wife and I are planning to do a small-ish solar array on our shortie. We've located a good deal ($0.35 per Watt) on some used 325 Watt panels that we'd like to make use of in our build, but we're not exactly solar experts. I've read quite a bit on DIY solar setups, but would appreciate any advice that can be given.

vAMPires

120v AC:24v DC:
  • LED Lights
  • USB Wall Chargers for Phones, Etc.
  • Vent Fan
  • Water Pump

Solar Setup
We're going to obviously have to create a 24v DC Battery Bank and am open to suggestions as to battery type/brand/configuration.

Thank you in advance for your suggestions and help!
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Old 10-31-2018, 10:16 PM   #2
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Dunno the panel brand.

Good voltage to get a big output wattage boost from quality MPPT. I reco one Victron 75/15 SmartSolar controller per panel, each gets their own optimization, ideal handling of any partial shading issues.
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Old 10-31-2018, 10:20 PM   #3
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The best battery value by far is Duracell (actually Deka/East Penn) FLA deep cycle golf cart batteries,

4x6V, around $400 per 200+AH @24V,

from BatteriesPlus or Sam's Club. Deka labeled same batts also sold at Lowes.

But why are you going 24V ?

Will be difficult / more expensive to find many device types, standard 12V much cheaper and easier.

If really justified, then look at Victron Orion DC converters to provide 12V circuits as needed.
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Old 10-31-2018, 10:22 PM   #4
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Fridge / freezers, laptop power and other screens much more efficient powered off DC, no inverter needed.

AIMS not a great quality inverter, but yes, crazy cheap compared to the good stuff.

But IMO inverters best avoided anyway for energy efficiency if possible.
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Old 11-01-2018, 10:07 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
Good voltage to get a big output wattage boost from quality MPPT. I reco one Victron 75/15 SmartSolar controller per panel, each gets their own optimization, ideal handling of any partial shading issues.
Looking at the data sheet for those controllers, it doesn't seem that they're able to handle 325 Watts at 12 V DC (which is one of the reasons I've been considering 24 V). The 100/30 can take 440 Watts, but each controller goes up to $195.00

Quote:
Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
The best battery value by far is Duracell (actually Deka/East Penn) FLA deep cycle golf cart batteries,

4x6V, around $400 per 200+AH @24V,

from BatteriesPlus or Sam's Club. Deka labeled same batts also sold at Lowes.

But why are you going 24V ?

Will be difficult / more expensive to find many device types, standard 12V much cheaper and easier.

If really justified, then look at Victron Orion DC converters to provide 12V circuits as needed.
My main reason for going 24v DC is to simplify our setup with only a single charge controller. Lots of DC lights that I've looked at are able to accept 12 or 24 V, as are the USB wall outlets. The reason I'm looking to invert is to keep costs down and avoid having to purchase many new things just for our Skoolie. We're planning to move most things from our house into the Skoolie, so it doesn't make sense to buy a new 12V TV or source a more expensive 12V Fridge. I may consider installing "Cigarette Lighters" around for charging our laptops to get the benefits of DC charging, but that'll depend on the cost and availability of DC chargers for our computers.
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Old 11-01-2018, 11:42 AM   #6
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Dunno the panel brand.

Good voltage to get a big output wattage boost from quality MPPT. I reco one Victron 75/15 SmartSolar controller per panel, each gets their own optimization, ideal handling of any partial shading issues.
Based on your comments I may consider using two of these Charge Controllers. They're a good price and can handle the wattage of our panels, which would give us the flexibility of a parallel install. I'll have to do a bit of reading on how to install multiple charge controllers on a single battery bank. Thank you for your input!
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:22 AM   #7
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I'm using a midnite solar classic 200. If your interested, this link has a good calculator for charge controller sizing of the midnite classic series

http://www.midnitesolar.com/sizingTool/
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:40 AM   #8
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I'm using a midnite solar classic 200. If your interested, this link has a good calculator for charge controller sizing of the midnite classic series

MidNite Solar - Classic Sizing Tool.
Awesome! I appreciate the resource!
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:55 AM   #9
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Looking at the data sheet for those controllers, it doesn't seem that they're able to handle 325 Watts at 12 V DC (which is one of the reasons I've been considering 24 V)
Well the reco was based on your saying it would be a 24V bank. At 12V need to double the amps capacity.

As long as you have plentiful mains or genny power usually available, inverter based system with household appliances is fine.

But going off-grid, especially trying to be solar-mostly, the main investment needs to be on lowering consumption, being as efficient as possible.

Spending huge money on infrastructure just to enable using appliances designed for mains availability is silly.

Yes a conservation-first approach means some IMO minor compromises in lifestyle.
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Old 11-08-2018, 10:50 AM   #10
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We have a 600W solar panel array charging (4) 12v SLR155 lead acid batteries. The need to monitor Lead Acid Batteries so as not to draw down more than 50% of their capacity is turning out to be a major challenge (and expense - needing a $300 SmartGauge to avoid having to constantly monitor and calculate actual battery capacity). So my recommendation would be to invest a little more upfront to get Lithium batteries. It will save on price in the long run and stress worrying about over discharging and killing your battery life.
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