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Old 07-12-2009, 08:22 PM   #1
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Solar power questions...

I am adding solar power to our bus (it is going to be our office at our new cabin) & it will power our laptop, laser printer, satellite modem & a radio. I am assuming I will need to figure out daily watt hour usage to know what kind of power we will be using but am not sure how to calculate this. I am guessing I may be able to find out the amps & voltage on the power adapter for the laptop? Also, if this is correct do I then multiply the amps X volts to come up with daily watt hour usage? I am taking a stab at it & haven't been able to find any set way to calculate my usage to come up with a total to know what power panels will cover my needs.... Also, is 24V that much better than 12v & is it much more money?

Any help is appreciated as we are ready to purchase a system but budget is very tight so we really want to be sure we know what we are doing!
Jonathan
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Old 07-12-2009, 10:50 PM   #2
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Re: Solar power questions...

I just came across solarbus.com... Found some good info here & a nice (I think) Crown bus they use to teach about solar power! Check it out!
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:05 AM   #3
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezbme
I just came across solarbus.com... Found some good info here & a nice (I think) Crown bus they use to teach about solar power! Check it out!
It would appear that solarbus.com sells network equipment. I think you meant solarbus.org.
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:32 AM   #4
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by baadpuppy
Quote:
Originally Posted by ezbme
I just came across solarbus.com... Found some good info here & a nice (I think) Crown bus they use to teach about solar power! Check it out!
It would appear that solarbus.com sells network equipment. I think you meant solarbus.org.
jim
LOL! Just testing you Jim & you are correct, my bad! Welcome back... How was the vacation in Oregon?
Do you know much about solar power & how to calculate usages?
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Old 07-13-2009, 02:26 PM   #5
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Re: Solar power questions...

You mention a Laseprinter, laserprinters draw lots of power, sure they print nice, but an inkjet will use way less power.
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Old 07-13-2009, 02:47 PM   #6
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezbme
Quote:
Originally Posted by baadpuppy
Quote:
Originally Posted by ezbme
I just came across solarbus.com... Found some good info here & a nice (I think) Crown bus they use to teach about solar power! Check it out!
It would appear that solarbus.com sells network equipment. I think you meant solarbus.org.
jim
LOL! Just testing you Jim & you are correct, my bad! Welcome back... How was the vacation in Oregon?
Do you know much about solar power & how to calculate usages?
Still in Oregon, won't be home till Thursday.

As for calculating power usage, I've done it based on the label provided on the equipment, and I can say that those labels aren't as accurate as you'd think. Much of my equipment varies based on how it is being used.

A kill-a-watt meter will be your best bet for figuring this stuff out accurately. Record the settings for all your equipment, add it all up, then add a nice 10% safety margin, and go from there.

Also, with a laptop or computer, you need to get the measurement when off, on, and heavily loaded as well as charging or not charging. My "85 watt" laptop actually uses in the range of 26 watts most of the time.

hope this helps,
jim
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Old 07-13-2009, 06:14 PM   #7
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by swinada
You mention a Laseprinter, laserprinters draw lots of power, sure they print nice, but an inkjet will use way less power.
Thanks swinada. The reason we went with a laser is because we print out shipping labels everyday (7 days a week) along with business documents (many many) & it is so much less cost-wise to use a laser as the toner lasts much longer than any inkjet we have tried... I understand that the inkjet is much more efficient tho... catch 22! Anyone recommend an inkjet that has longer lasting catridges that are still compariably priced? Maybe we could just get less power-hoggin' laser. I don't know yet. I don't want to spend an arm & a leg for solar panels just because of the laser tho!

Quote:
Originally Posted by baadpuppy
[
As for calculating power usage, I've done it based on the label provided on the equipment, and I can say that those labels aren't as accurate as you'd think. Much of my equipment varies based on how it is being used.

A kill-a-watt meter will be your best bet for figuring this stuff out accurately. Record the settings for all your equipment, add it all up, then add a nice 10% safety margin, and go from there.

Also, with a laptop or computer, you need to get the measurement when off, on, and heavily loaded as well as charging or not charging. My "85 watt" laptop actually uses in the range of 26 watts most of the time.

hope this helps,
jim
Thanks jim! I had a couple other people mention the Kill-A-Watt meters... We just purchased one off of ebay. Better to be sure now than sorry later...
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Old 07-14-2009, 08:52 AM   #8
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty
Quote:
Originally Posted by ezbme
Do you know much about solar power & how to calculate usages?
Not sure if this will help or not?

http://www.macandchris.com/ElectricalSystemSizing.htm

Smitty
Thanks smitty, that is a VERY helpful site. Much appreciated!

For others that are looking into solar I found another also: http://www.backwoodssolar.com/
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Old 07-14-2009, 09:06 AM   #9
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Re: Solar power questions...

you may also need to get a fancy (expensive) pure sine wave inverter to run that printer. I am of the understanding that a laser printer is one of the few items that will not work properly with a modified sin wave inverter. I have not actually tried it myself.
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Old 07-14-2009, 01:46 PM   #10
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by lapeer20m
you may also need to get a fancy (expensive) pure sine wave inverter to run that printer. I am of the understanding that a laser printer is one of the few items that will not work properly with a modified sin wave inverter. I have not actually tried it myself.
Thanks lapeer, I am slowly edu-makating myself in solar & starting to realize that my direction may have to change...
I am thinking that we just need to sell the laser printers (we have 2) & buy an energy star inkjet & maybe just fill our own ink cartridges to save on cost as we do alot of printing. Has anyone ever filled their own ink cartridges? Any input/advice?

Would a modified sin wave inverter be sufficient for a laptop?
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Old 07-14-2009, 01:53 PM   #11
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezbme
Would a modified sin wave inverter be sufficient for a laptop?
Yes any device that converts the power back to DC before it uses it will be fine (for example it has a power brick). Radios and televisions that use analog amplifiers will also exhibit noise when used with a modified sine wave but that is becoming less a problem with modern devices.
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Old 07-14-2009, 05:34 PM   #12
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Re: Solar power questions...

Refilling ink cartridges isnt hard. Just a pain. You have to find the fill hole, punch in the factory plug, fill cartridge slowly, then cram in one of the new plugs. Depending on the cartridge, it might use a little plastic ball as its plug, some refill kits use these little balls and after a dozen refills, your cartridge is full of the balls. Or, the kit might give you one of the removable posts.

Easy to do, but make sure you wear gloves when filling, and do it over a sink or bucket... I came home one night to find my father had stained his fingers black... I was green and red. Also make sure to keep an eye on the cartridges as they have a slight tendency to leak.

*edit*
Sorry, just found a picture with most of what I was talking about... Plugs, BBs, The BB Puncher, Drillbit for non-punchable plugs......

You might try Sams Club or Costco or one of those places for a $20 kit...

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Old 07-15-2009, 07:38 AM   #13
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Re: Solar power questions...

Thanks Sojako, that helps answer my questions. I guess we are going to ebay the lasers & go back to inkjet. Anyone know of a fast PPM inkjet?
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Old 07-15-2009, 07:40 AM   #14
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
Quote:
Originally Posted by ezbme
Would a modified sin wave inverter be sufficient for a laptop?
Yes any device that converts the power back to DC before it uses it will be fine (for example it has a power brick). Radios and televisions that use analog amplifiers will also exhibit noise when used with a modified sine wave but that is becoming less a problem with modern devices.
Appreciate it steve, good to know... Getting closer to figuring out what we need to buy. Any reccomendations on what brand of inverter?
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Old 07-15-2009, 07:44 AM   #15
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Re: Solar power questions...

Always questions... Since I do not have time to make basement storage before we move, the batteries are going to have to be inside the bus. I am sure this has been done before but I haven't searched the forums. I would imagine I need to secure the batteries & enclose the bank in the bus but would probably need some sort of venting to the outside correct? This would just be so much easier to setup the system for now...
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Old 07-15-2009, 09:52 AM   #16
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Re: Solar power questions...

All of my batteries were inside, the regular deep cycles batteries I put into a container that had a vent to the outside.




The UPS batteries that I have are just sitting under the benches securely held down. No need to have them contained.

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Old 07-15-2009, 10:05 AM   #17
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Re: Solar power questions...

I don't have those batteries connected the way in those pictures anymore. It should look like this:



Oh and FYI - I am not longer using ANY of those regular deep cycle batteries. They just make too much of a mess and I am going to pay extra for proper batteries from now on. I would suggest not using those types of batteries anywhere on your bus except for your engine battery depending on where it is located.
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Old 07-15-2009, 12:23 PM   #18
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezbme
Quote:
Originally Posted by lapeer20m
you may also need to get a fancy (expensive) pure sine wave inverter to run that printer. I am of the understanding that a laser printer is one of the few items that will not work properly with a modified sin wave inverter. I have not actually tried it myself.
Thanks lapeer, I am slowly edu-makating myself in solar & starting to realize that my direction may have to change...
I am thinking that we just need to sell the laser printers (we have 2) & buy an energy star inkjet & maybe just fill our own ink cartridges to save on cost as we do alot of printing. Has anyone ever filled their own ink cartridges? Any input/advice?

Would a modified sin wave inverter be sufficient for a laptop?
How about keeping one laserprinter and only use it when you are connected to shore power? or are you planning to live off grid all the time?
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Old 07-15-2009, 12:27 PM   #19
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Re: Solar power questions...

battery location consideration: i mounted the house batteries under the bed at the very back of the bus (Pusher model) however after our first trip i think it should have been somewhere else since that engine puts out lots of heat and warms that compartment up pretty good, not good for batteries inverter and charger. So use the space for water tank and you will always have warm water after a drive
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Old 07-15-2009, 12:32 PM   #20
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by cincinnati_kid
What batteries do you recommend
I am using these in both of my skoolie and coach:

http://www.cdstandbypower.com/applicati ... pshrm.html


I also use yellow top Optimas in my skoolie.

We are trying a bank of the blue top Optimas in Granzows skoolie. I will be using the blue tops in my bus next time.

http://www.optimabatteries.com/optima_p ... /index.php
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