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Old 07-24-2009, 08:00 PM   #41
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Re: Solar power questions...

OOPs...it submitted twice!
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Old 07-24-2009, 10:18 PM   #42
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Re: Solar power questions...

Well I hope I am on the right track... we just won an ebay auction for:
New 85 Watt Solar panel + Used Xantrex 1000w True Sinewave inverter, with automatic transfer switch and 20amp Charger/Regulator.
This is a start to our business solar power... Just gonna need another 85 watt panel or 2! I am STOKED!!


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Old 07-24-2009, 10:36 PM   #43
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Post up some pics when you get a chance.
Here are some shots of the lil cabin (lots of changes will be made in time!) & the property!



Driveway









From the top of the property:



If you look close you can see the blue/green roof of the cabin in the center of the photo...





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Old 07-25-2009, 08:07 AM   #44
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Re: Solar power questions...

Thanks so much! It is good to hear something positive about our adventure...
The property is actually in a subdivision called Homestead Subdivision. There are about 30 lots in the subdivision (I am guessing-cant remember how many) & alot are summer residences. The cool part is there are no paved roads, curbs, sidewalks etc in the subdivision. The roads just wind around the hills - absolutely beautiful. The lots range from 3 to 19 acres. It is surrounded by state & federal BLM land on 3 sides! Room to roam & get lost! We got 9.35 acres & the cabin for only $35,000 & the cabin is hooked up with solar & propane fridge etc... off grid & ready to live in. I think it was a great deal. We found it online after searching & inquiring for about 6 months. I can hook you up with some realtors that were very helpful in finding exactly what we were looking for (& they are starving so they go waaay beyond most realty companies even for small purchases). Any questions, don't hesitate to ask! The more schoolies in NM the better!! If anyone wants to vacation out our way we would love meeting new people & seeing your busses. Come stay for a spell we say.
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Old 07-25-2009, 04:16 PM   #45
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Re: Solar power questions...

Your property looks great! Hoping to land somewhere similar if I ever stop running around. If I'm ever up there I'll give a holler...you can do the same if you're ever down near Silver City.

I use HughesNet for internet, and I use it daily for work, for nearly three years now. There are different service levels, starting at (IIRC) $60/mo and going up. More $ gets you more speed and higher bandwidth limits. If watching costs, and it doesn't have to be a mobile system, you can get used hardware from ebay or satellite internet forums and get a system for ('m guessing) under $500 in hardware. My dish is on a tripod that has user controls to easily point the dish, which upped the cost quite a bit. If you're going to bolt your dish to the cabin, then that won't be necessary -- just point it once, tighten everything and forget it.

Reliability...I've had two "major" problems that resulted in a few days' worth of stress and finding alternate internet access.

The first was when moisture was entering the outdoor transmitter unit, causing it to fail whenever (or shortly after) it rained. I had to fight with my reseller (Maxwell Satellite, suckfest) to convince them that it was a problem, and that I needed the transmitter replaced under warranty.

Second, just in the last two weeks, I had poor upload speeds...slower than dial-up. First was an hour-long call with tech support (script-reader) in India, having me clear cookies & cache, check browser settings, etc. Then a half-hour with Level II tech support, who told me to run speed tests 3 times a day for three days and call them back when done. I did the tests, called back, and they said it would be two more business days before "advanced" tech support could have a look at it & call me back. They never called back, but my service was magically restored on the 2nd business day. So all in all, it was about a week of downgraded service with no explanation and lots of phone time; and about the same for the moisture problem. Both times I had to go to the nearest town and use an internet cafe (or a laundromat, as was the case here in silver City) to get my work done, especially to send larger files.

Specific details on tech support:
If you have a mobile system, the reseller is your point-of-contact for all hardware tech support, and warranty fulfillment. If HughesNet knows that you are on a mobile system, they will not help you, and one of their installers will not look at a mobile system unless you call them and are paying them hourly.

If you have a stationary setup, you deal directly with HughesNet.

At $80/mo I get 1400kbps down/190kbps up. It gets slower in the evening because HughesNet oversubscribes and the network gets overloaded. But most of my usage is during the day so I don't sweat it.

I looked at internet via cell service, but they have a 5GB monthly limit with metered access after 5GB, so it wouldn't work for me.

Good luck
Sean
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Old 07-25-2009, 09:49 PM   #46
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Re: Solar power questions...

SeanF, how does your internet speeds compare to something like Verizon Wireless or Cable internet?
They are the only two I've had contact with recently and am curious how frustrating internet via satellite might be.
For example... could you play an online game like World of Warcraft? That's not a twitch game, but still has enough interactions to require a decent connection speed.
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Old 07-25-2009, 10:00 PM   #47
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty
Congrats on the start of a sweet solar set-up, and the score on the nice cabin! You should look into building your own panels (if you have the time), the procedure doesn't look at all hard, and you can build the panels for 1/3-1/2 of buying them. So if you build them, you can have 6 panels for roughly the cost of 3.

I think I posted a video down in the "alternative fuel" board.

Smitty
Thanks smitty, I will check out the video...in time I would really enjoy taking the time to build some quality panels & learn from trial & error. But for now we must fork out the dough & purchase a couple more panels...
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Old 07-26-2009, 11:08 AM   #48
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TygerCub
SeanF, how does your internet speeds compare to something like Verizon Wireless or Cable internet?
They are the only two I've had contact with recently and am curious how frustrating internet via satellite might be.
For example... could you play an online game like World of Warcraft? That's not a twitch game, but still has enough interactions to require a decent connection speed.
Download speeds are tolerable -- I get ~1400kbps download speeds, is enough for YouTube vids and relatively large files in general. For comparison, the residential cable-based internet I've used was about 3-5000kbps, which makes my head spin when I get a chance to use it. Upload speeds are not in the same league...I get about 190kbps. The different service levels/speeds are here. For reference, I am on the "Pro Plus' plan.

But the real problem with online gaming (so I read -- I'm actually so un-hip that I've never played an online game) is the latency between the request from my PC, and that request being answered. The satellite is 23,000 miles up in space...so the request goes from my dish, 23k miles to the sat, 23k miles back down to the Network Operations Center (NOC), to the internet, then the website (or whatever I requested) goes back through NOC, up to the satellite and finally back to my dish. Almost 100k miles of travel..which even at light speed takes a few seconds. So when I click on a web page, there is a significant and noticeable lag before the web page begins loading. I think that has been the bane of satellite-based internet service for anyone who needs real-time access to the internet, for stock trading, gaming, etc.

Also, satellite-based internet is expensive, both in terms of setup and monthly costs. I pay about 2x monthly what I was paying for cable-based i-net. And startup costs are high. The only upside is that I can set it up virtually anywhere with a clear view of the southern sky, and have internet. I would (and do) get cable or DSL if at all possible.

HTH
Sean
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Old 07-27-2009, 08:44 AM   #49
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Re: Solar power questions...

Sean, What wattage panels are you using? Actually if you don't mind what is your system comprised of - panels, batteries, inverter etc? I am curious as to the approx useage (wh) you are using daily & the sytem you have set up... Thanks!

Jonathan
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Old 07-27-2009, 01:26 PM   #50
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezbme
Sean, What wattage panels are you using? Actually if you don't mind what is your system comprised of - panels, batteries, inverter etc? I am curious as to the approx useage (wh) you are using daily & the sytem you have set up... Thanks!

Jonathan
4 x KC120 panels (120 watts each, tilted to 50 degrees in winter months)
400 watt wind turbine (not currently set up)
4 x Trojan L16H batteries (6 volts, 420 Amp hours each)
MorningStar Tri-Star TS-45 solar charge controller
Square-D fused safety disconnect
Exceltech pure sine wave inverter
Xantrex DC Load controller
Trimetric 2020 system monitor

I use about 80-100 amp-hours per day (960-1200 watt-hours).

Loads:
Desktop PC/flatscreen monitor 9 hrs/day x 5 days/week
Laptop computer about 60 hours per week
Satellite internet modem, router, 60 hours/week
DC fridge, draws 25 watts, runtime depends on bus temp
LED lighting
DVD player, car stereo, 10 hours/week
2 small muffin fans, always on
Various chargers - cell phone, AAA & AA batts, cordless power tool batteries, etc
Occasional coffee grinder, food processor, electric shaver, water hearer exhaust fan, water pump

That's about it.
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Old 07-27-2009, 07:17 PM   #51
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Re: Solar power questions...

Man that sounds like a nice system Sean!

I was looking at the Trojan batteries, was told there is nothing better! If you don't mind me asking, how much are those batts each? Your DC fridge only draws 25 watts? Thats really good! What size is the fridge?

We were thinking about a wind generator but are unsure how much wind we will get on the property & I would imagine if we were to place it on top of the hill we would have a good wind but the wire run would be way too long to make it efficient...We shall see when we get there!

So what do you do for water & waste disposal while living in yer bus? I am guessing it is just you? Oh yea, your bus looks like it is a bit short... how long is it? The interior is very nice & I am digging the round window door, very cool...
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Old 07-27-2009, 07:56 PM   #52
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezbme
Man that sounds like a nice system Sean!

I was looking at the Trojan batteries, was told there is nothing better! If you don't mind me asking, how much are those batts each? Your DC fridge only draws 25 watts? Thats really good! What size is the fridge?

We were thinking about a wind generator but are unsure how much wind we will get on the property & I would imagine if we were to place it on top of the hill we would have a good wind but the wire run would be way too long to make it efficient...We shall see when we get there!

So what do you do for water & waste disposal while living in yer bus? I am guessing it is just you? Oh yea, your bus looks like it is a bit short... how long is it? The interior is very nice & I am digging the round window door, very cool...
The batteries were about $200 each, bought at a Batteries Plus store.

The fridge is a Nova-Kool R4500, 4.3 cu ft, teeny freezer. After doing an analysis of electrical consumption, for many households, it turns out refrigeration is the #1 electrical load. An inefficient fridge may mean an extra panel and a battery or two, so in that way, a $200 dorm fridge may cost more than an $800 efficient fridge.

For water, I just have to park where there is a water supply. I don't really have a way to haul water (with a motorcycle...would be interesting). Grey water goes onto the ground where allowed, otherwise into a sewer connection, or I use a 22-gallon Blue Boy to lug it if the sewer dump is far away. No blackwater because I use a waterless composting toilet.

Yep it's just me in the bus, along with the cat. The bus is 29' bumper-to-bumper, 23' interior length from rear of doghouse to back wall. A good size for one person, or two people who get along really well.
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Old 07-29-2009, 04:41 PM   #53
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Re: Solar power questions...

Thanks for taking the time to answer all of my questions Sean, it has been alot of help for me to understand solar power a little more! I will check out the battery store next week to see what my options are & to get some advice from them also. You really use alot of solar power for your business, quite impressive! I hope I am able to get ours working efficiently & to our needs but still have so much to learn. I am on some solar forums & so many people have so many different opinions & it really is discouraging sometimes...
I really like your bus, you have done a great job setting her up!

Jonathan
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:27 PM   #54
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Re: Solar power questions...

A couple of things from the older posts:

1. Your homesite looks great. Personally, my only worry in buying something like that sight unseen would be if it had a good water supply. Good luck and have fun.

2. When you used the online battery sizing calculator, you left the second column (which is daily use) at zero for the heavier loads. If you look at the "Total Daily WattHours required" box, its total of 820 is just for the computer and misc loads. The first column is instantaneous loads, and is useful for inverter sizing. The second column is for accumulated usage, and is the basis for the battery bank sizing.

Since you have a Kill-a-Watt, let it accumulate the usage on each appliance for 24 or more hours, and in the second column enter the accumulated watt-hours adjusted to 24 hours (two-thirds of a 36 hour total, one-half of 48 hours, etc). This will come up with a somewhat larger battery requirement.

3. If the photovoltaic panel label in the next photo is the panel you got, notice that it only makes 90 watts at 17 volts! (Max power 17 volts x 5.29 amps = 89.93 watts in 'standard' sunlight) If you have a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) charge controller, you can get close to the 90 watts, with the panel running at around 17 volts and its output being down-converted to 12 volts for the battery. If you use a simple 'disconnect when full' overcharge prevention limiter, you will get much less power.

Look at the 5.77 amp Isc short circuit current and the 21.5 volt Voc open circuit voltage. The power curve for a panel generally looks like a horizontal line at 5.77 amps starting at zero volts up through maybe 15 volts, then falls off to zero amps as it curves down to 21.5 volts. The maximum output point is on that curve between the maximum current and maximum voltage points.

Connected directly across a battery with no controller, or a shut-off only controller, the panel is loaded down, and you will get:
5.77 A x 10 V = 57.70 watts into a discharged battery
5.77 A x 12 V = 69.24 watts into a half-discharged battery
5.77 A x 14 V = 80.78 watts into a full battery

So, without MPPT, the more you need a recharge, the less you will get. (I have two sites with older disconnect only control, and the result has been disappointing.)

There are charts that estimate average sunlight hours per day adjusted to 'standard sunlight' for different areas. Around here it's about 4.5 hours in winter. So I could estimate that with MPPT your single panel would give me 90 x 4.5, or 405 watt-hours per day. There's obviously more light in the southwest. It looks like the one panel won't make you generator-independent, but will cut a big chunk out of the requirement.
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Old 07-30-2009, 12:42 PM   #55
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Re: Solar power questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redbear
A couple of things from the older posts:

1. Your homesite looks great. Personally, my only worry in buying something like that sight unseen would be if it had a good water supply. Good luck and have fun.

Hey thanks! We can't wait to make the 2,000 mile trek to see it! There is a great water source as the development was a stop off for the cattle drives back in the day & water is still very plentiful. We will have to fill up tanks from the subdivision well (about 3/4 mile from cabin) & then pump the water into the holding tanks at the cabin using a generator.

2. When you used the online battery sizing calculator, you left the second column (which is daily use) at zero for the heavier loads. If you look at the "Total Daily WattHours required" box, its total of 820 is just for the computer and misc loads. The first column is instantaneous loads, and is useful for inverter sizing. The second column is for accumulated usage, and is the basis for the battery bank sizing.

I need to redo the online battery sizing calculator as we have made more changes since I posted that calculation... Here is the very basic needs that we have at the moment:
The house is self sufficient, has solar & is not in the equation. It is completely separate from the bus/office.
The system I am setting up is in the bus & will power the office supplies only...

Laptop = 50w per hour - 4 hours per day
Modem = 50w per hour - 4 hours per day
Inkjet printer = 29w - 2 hours per day

100W x 4 hr + 29 x 2 = 458wh / 5 charging hours = 91.6W Is this correct?

Since you have a Kill-a-Watt, let it accumulate the usage on each appliance for 24 or more hours, and in the second column enter the accumulated watt-hours adjusted to 24 hours (two-thirds of a 36 hour total, one-half of 48 hours, etc). This will come up with a somewhat larger battery requirement.

I will do this...

3. If the photovoltaic panel label in the next photo is the panel you got, notice that it only makes 90 watts at 17 volts! (Max power 17 volts x 5.29 amps = 89.93 watts in 'standard' sunlight) If you have a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) charge controller, you can get close to the 90 watts, with the panel running at around 17 volts and its output being down-converted to 12 volts for the battery. If you use a simple 'disconnect when full' overcharge prevention limiter, you will get much less power.

This is the panel we got & are lookng at at east one, maybe 2 more 85 watt panels. I am not quite understanding all you are saying (man, I wish I understood this more)

Look at the 5.77 amp Isc short circuit current and the 21.5 volt Voc open circuit voltage. The power curve for a panel generally looks like a horizontal line at 5.77 amps starting at zero volts up through maybe 15 volts, then falls off to zero amps as it curves down to 21.5 volts. The maximum output point is on that curve between the maximum current and maximum voltage points. Connected directly across a battery with no controller, or a shut-off only controller, the panel is loaded down, and you will get:
5.77 A x 10 V = 57.70 watts into a discharged battery
5.77 A x 12 V = 69.24 watts into a half-discharged battery
5.77 A x 14 V = 80.78 watts into a full battery

So, without MPPT, the more you need a recharge, the less you will get. (I have two sites with older disconnect only control, and the result has been disappointing.)

There are charts that estimate average sunlight hours per day adjusted to 'standard sunlight' for different areas. Around here it's about 4.5 hours in winter. So I could estimate that with MPPT your single panel would give me 90 x 4.5, or 405 watt-hours per day. There's obviously more light in the southwest. It looks like the one panel won't make you generator-independent, but will cut a big chunk out of the requirement.


I was told that the insolation in New Mexico in the winter is 6 hours which I would imagine is very good. I really need to learn this more & maybe simplify it so I can understand it. I really just want to be sure I can run what we calculated without power loss or having to run the generator every day to charge the batteries...

I really appreciate your help so far!!

Jonathan
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