OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

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OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

wayne burdick
Administrator
Hi all,

Some of our friends are putting in large solar arrays that feed power back into the electrical grid. I'm looking for something smaller and simpler since our electricity use is very low overall.

The reason it's so low is that we've converted all of our lighting to LED. (LED bulbs that consume 10 W yet have 60 W equivalent light output relative to incandescents are getting remarkably cheap -- 3 for $10 at Home Depot.) Consumption goes up when we use the electric range, etc., but that's infrequent, and I don't mind paying the city at such times. As for the radios, I run 10 W more often than 100 W, and the computers don't use much, either.

So I figure we could run the house from a 500- to 600-W array most of the time. Other requirements:

- I'd like to forego feed-in to the power grid. We don't need to watch our meter turn backwards, and with a small array it would turn pretty slowly anyway. But I do want city power in parallel when we exceed solar array capability.

- I want a backup battery that's sufficient to hold us for a couple of days during a blackout. Every once in awhile on a really hot day, city power consumption exceeds what's available, and a transformer blows somewhere. Very entertaining until you have to go buy ice for the fridge.

Systems that meet the above requirements seem to cost a lot more than the sum of the parts. So what I'm looking for is a good source of roll-your-own-solar info. I'll hire an electrician to wire up the solar system in parallel with the city supply, but I could purchase the components and do most of the installation myself.

Any suggestions? Please contact me off-list.

tnx
Wayne
N6KR







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Re: OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack,

fredem
hi Wayne.
I just read your post about wanting to try a limited power solar array with much interest. I think is is a brilliant idea. Here are a few initial thoughts which I also had to consider when planning my own backup power.

I built a parallel capable switching array into my last home. What I found to be vitally important in my installation was the need to automate the transfer of power sources for safety first and convenience second.
My greatest initial expense went into the acquisition and permitted installation of an ASCO automatic transfer switch. My electrician and the electrical code insisted that this was necessary to protect the utility personnel who would have to work on whatever caused the grid to fail in the first place. While I understand the operation of these things, I not only hired a qualified electrician to hook it up, but I took out every permit necessary for the work so that the installation was legal, and equally importantly, that my insurance carrier would have no excuses should the unthinkable happen. Just a thought.

There are manual means to transfer between utility and solar power but they are ponderous and inconvenient. They are also potentially hazardous if not executed with absolute diligence.

I trust this gives you a little grist for the mill as you begin to explore your project’s feasibility further.
Stand alone systems that do not parallel with the utility are much easier to deploy but they require redundant wiring and are difficult to make attractive (hidden from view so that She who makes the rules will approve.)

I will watch this topic with interest since most participants just cannot take these things off of the forum.
Cheers, Fred VE7FMN
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Re: OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

N7US
In reply to this post by wayne burdick
60W equivalent LEDs are $3 for a pack of three at Costco in the Chicago area due to an instant rebate from ComEd, the area power company.  I really like them, so I need to find a home for my inventory of CFLs.

Jim N7US
Sent from my iPad


On Sep 25, 2015, at 10:33 AM, Wayne Burdick <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi all,

Some of our friends are putting in large solar arrays that feed power back into the electrical grid. I'm looking for something smaller and simpler since our electricity use is very low overall.

The reason it's so low is that we've converted all of our lighting to LED. (LED bulbs that consume 10 W yet have 60 W equivalent light output relative to incandescents are getting remarkably cheap -- 3 for $10 at Home Depot.) Consumption goes up when we use the electric range, etc., but that's infrequent, and I don't mind paying the city at such times. As for the radios, I run 10 W more often than 100 W, and the computers don't use much, either.

So I figure we could run the house from a 500- to 600-W array most of the time. Other requirements:

- I'd like to forego feed-in to the power grid. We don't need to watch our meter turn backwards, and with a small array it would turn pretty slowly anyway. But I do want city power in parallel when we exceed solar array capability.

- I want a backup battery that's sufficient to hold us for a couple of days during a blackout. Every once in awhile on a really hot day, city power consumption exceeds what's available, and a transformer blows somewhere. Very entertaining until you have to go buy ice for the fridge.

Systems that meet the above requirements seem to cost a lot more than the sum of the parts. So what I'm looking for is a good source of roll-your-own-solar info. I'll hire an electrician to wire up the solar system in parallel with the city supply, but I could purchase the components and do most of the installation myself.

Any suggestions? Please contact me off-list.

tnx
Wayne
N6KR


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Re: OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

Jim Finan
In reply to this post by wayne burdick
Try backwoodssolar.com They have a variety of things for off-grid as well as grid-tied. Lots of good info on the website as well.

Jim Finan
AB4AC
[hidden email]
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.
  Original Message  
From: Wayne Burdick
Sent: Friday, September 25, 2015 12:26 PM
To: Elecraft Reflector
Subject: [Elecraft] OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

Hi all,

Some of our friends are putting in large solar arrays that feed power back into the electrical grid. I'm looking for something smaller and simpler since our electricity use is very low overall.

The reason it's so low is that we've converted all of our lighting to LED. (LED bulbs that consume 10 W yet have 60 W equivalent light output relative to incandescents are getting remarkably cheap -- 3 for $10 at Home Depot.) Consumption goes up when we use the electric range, etc., but that's infrequent, and I don't mind paying the city at such times. As for the radios, I run 10 W more often than 100 W, and the computers don't use much, either.

So I figure we could run the house from a 500- to 600-W array most of the time. Other requirements:

- I'd like to forego feed-in to the power grid. We don't need to watch our meter turn backwards, and with a small array it would turn pretty slowly anyway. But I do want city power in parallel when we exceed solar array capability.

- I want a backup battery that's sufficient to hold us for a couple of days during a blackout. Every once in awhile on a really hot day, city power consumption exceeds what's available, and a transformer blows somewhere. Very entertaining until you have to go buy ice for the fridge.

Systems that meet the above requirements seem to cost a lot more than the sum of the parts. So what I'm looking for is a good source of roll-your-own-solar info. I'll hire an electrician to wire up the solar system in parallel with the city supply, but I could purchase the components and do most of the installation myself.

Any suggestions? Please contact me off-list.

tnx
Wayne
N6KR







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Re: OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

Oliver Dröse
In reply to this post by N7US
Please don't start another off-topic thread, guys! Wayne requested
responses off-list ...

Thanks,
Olli

Contest, DX & radio projects: http://www.dh8bqa.de


Am 25.09.2015 um 19:01 schrieb Jim McDonald:

> 60W equivalent LEDs are $3 for a pack of three at Costco in the Chicago area due to an instant rebate from ComEd, the area power company.  I really like them, so I need to find a home for my inventory of CFLs.
>
> Jim N7US
> Sent from my iPad
>
>
> On Sep 25, 2015, at 10:33 AM, Wayne Burdick <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Hi all,
>
> Some of our friends are putting in large solar arrays that feed power back into the electrical grid. I'm looking for something smaller and simpler since our electricity use is very low overall.
>
> The reason it's so low is that we've converted all of our lighting to LED. (LED bulbs that consume 10 W yet have 60 W equivalent light output relative to incandescents are getting remarkably cheap -- 3 for $10 at Home Depot.) Consumption goes up when we use the electric range, etc., but that's infrequent, and I don't mind paying the city at such times. As for the radios, I run 10 W more often than 100 W, and the computers don't use much, either.
>
> So I figure we could run the house from a 500- to 600-W array most of the time. Other requirements:
>
> - I'd like to forego feed-in to the power grid. We don't need to watch our meter turn backwards, and with a small array it would turn pretty slowly anyway. But I do want city power in parallel when we exceed solar array capability.
>
> - I want a backup battery that's sufficient to hold us for a couple of days during a blackout. Every once in awhile on a really hot day, city power consumption exceeds what's available, and a transformer blows somewhere. Very entertaining until you have to go buy ice for the fridge.
>
> Systems that meet the above requirements seem to cost a lot more than the sum of the parts. So what I'm looking for is a good source of roll-your-own-solar info. I'll hire an electrician to wire up the solar system in parallel with the city supply, but I could purchase the components and do most of the installation myself.
>
> Any suggestions? Please contact me off-list.
>
> tnx
> Wayne
> N6KR
>
>
> ______________________________________________________________
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Re: OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

Elecraft mailing list
In reply to this post by N7US
Hello Wayne,
First, to really get a handle on your power usage, get one of the power monitors.  Like UPM model EM100.  It is a plug in 120 vac monitor that reads voltage, power being consumed, you put in the cost per KW and it calculates the $ usage.  It was a eye opener for some of the appliances, computer, servers, lights etc.  Not withstanding the electric range I assume everything else is plug in except the LED lights, you can calculate that in your head.  Anyway that will give you a start on what your total house load is sans the stove. 

There are solar calculators on line that will take that info and when you give them your long and lat, will calculate the worse case winter solar power needs.  As for me, the 100 w radio, computer and LED lights here are running nicely on a 85 w panel and a 140 Ah battery for normal SSB use.  No I don't contest with it only, and yes I have a booster charger as standby. 

Just a different approach. 

      From: Jim McDonald <[hidden email]>
 To: Wayne Burdick <[hidden email]>
Cc: Elecraft Reflector <[hidden email]>
 Sent: Friday, September 25, 2015 10:01 AM
 Subject: Re: [Elecraft] OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting
   
60W equivalent LEDs are $3 for a pack of three at Costco in the Chicago area due to an instant rebate from ComEd, the area power company.  I really like them, so I need to find a home for my inventory of CFLs.

Jim N7US
Sent from my iPad


On Sep 25, 2015, at 10:33 AM, Wayne Burdick <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi all,

Some of our friends are putting in large solar arrays that feed power back into the electrical grid. I'm looking for something smaller and simpler since our electricity use is very low overall.

The reason it's so low is that we've converted all of our lighting to LED. (LED bulbs that consume 10 W yet have 60 W equivalent light output relative to incandescents are getting remarkably cheap -- 3 for $10 at Home Depot.) Consumption goes up when we use the electric range, etc., but that's infrequent, and I don't mind paying the city at such times. As for the radios, I run 10 W more often than 100 W, and the computers don't use much, either.

So I figure we could run the house from a 500- to 600-W array most of the time. Other requirements:

- I'd like to forego feed-in to the power grid. We don't need to watch our meter turn backwards, and with a small array it would turn pretty slowly anyway. But I do want city power in parallel when we exceed solar array capability.

- I want a backup battery that's sufficient to hold us for a couple of days during a blackout. Every once in awhile on a really hot day, city power consumption exceeds what's available, and a transformer blows somewhere. Very entertaining until you have to go buy ice for the fridge.

Systems that meet the above requirements seem to cost a lot more than the sum of the parts. So what I'm looking for is a good source of roll-your-own-solar info. I'll hire an electrician to wire up the solar system in parallel with the city supply, but I could purchase the components and do most of the installation myself.

Any suggestions? Please contact me off-list.

tnx
Wayne
N6KR


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Re: OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

Jim Brown-10
In reply to this post by wayne burdick
On Fri,9/25/2015 8:33 AM, Wayne Burdick wrote:
> Some of our friends are putting in large solar arrays that feed power back into the electrical grid. I'm looking for something smaller and simpler since our electricity use is very low overall.

Sticking with the original title of supplying only lighting, computers,
and shack, I'll provide some general information that may help you think
about designing a suitable system. My QTH is in a clearing surrounded by
very tall redwoods, so an array of solar panels doesn't get a lot of
illumination. As a result, I've made no effort to run 120V gear from it.

My system is pretty simple. It starts with four 55W panels retrieved
from the dumpster at an agency where a neighbor ham maintained remote
instrumentation sites. Because of the shadows cast by the trees, I have
two strapped together and located to catch the sun before noon, the
other two for the end of the day.

I use a Genasun MPPT charge controller between the panels and a pair of
Trojan 6V 220 Ah lead-acid batteries. This system runs everything in my
shack with the exception of the computers, the rotators, the SteppIR
controllers, and my power amps. For lighting, I'm using the LED strips
sold by a Pacificon vendor. Four strips taped to the ceiling provide
illumination that's adequate for operating in the shack, and draw about
1.2A. The low power 120V stuff is connected to a small UPS. Because the
draw VERY little current, a UPS can keep up for quite a while.

If I want to run power during a power failure, I can fire up the Honda
2000i.

The downside of this system is that the lead-acid batteries discharge
curve starts around 12.5V and goes down below 11V for full capacity.
That's fine for a KX3, but not great for a K3. The batteries cost me
about $240, the Genesun about $120. The Genesun is available in several
voltage and current ranges, and for both lead-acid and several Li
chemistries. Buy direct from Genesun.

This system can yield 33Ah or more during the summer half of the year,
but dips to MUCH less during the winter months. Also, if I want to
contest with the K3s, I need a lot more power than I can get from this
system, and I'd like higher voltage to keep the signal cleaner (those
reading the mail may not know that the IMD in the K3 is lowest at high
DC supply voltage).

So -- for contesting, and during the winter months, I must float charge
the batteries from a small regulated supply.  10A is enough to keep up
with a single K3 at 100W, but 20A is needed for heavy duty SO2R.

Because of their relatively low voltage discharge curve and the K3's
need for higher voltage, I'm searching for battery chemistry with a
discharge curve that stays above at least 12V, and higher would be
better. There are some Li chemistries that are candidates, but cost is
currently prohibitive.

If you have enough batteries and enough sun, you can start thinking
about inverters to run your fridge and other 120V stuff when the power
drops. Samlex has models for several power ratings, and two lines -- one
that meets FCC Part 15 Class B, and another that does not. Appliances
like refrigerators require a lot more current to start than to run.
There are refrigerators specifically designed to run on DC for
off-the-grid homes.

Samsung makes both computer monitors and TVs that run from a nominal
14V. I'm running their monitors from my 12V system, and they work fine.
My cable modem and wi-fi router both run from 12V; they're not in the
shack, so I run them from a  sealed 12V lead-acid cell that is float
charged by a linear wall wart that gives it a bit more than the gear
draws. The result is a poor-man's UPS that holds internet up longer than
Comcast does. :)  Batteries for their fiber electronics repeaters are
rated for 6 hours of operation, and it's common for power failures here
in the Santa Cruz  Mountains to last a LOT longer. And they want to sell
me a package telephone service? No thanks.

73, Jim K9YC
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Re: OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

Roger D Johnson
A possible solution is a 24 volt system. The solar panels are available as are
24 to 12
volt solid state converters.

73, Roger


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Re: OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

Roger D Johnson
On further thought, you can use a 12 volt system with boost/buck converter to ensure
constant voltage to the K3.

On 9/25/2015 4:05 PM, Roger D Johnson wrote:

> A possible solution is a 24 volt system. The solar panels are available as are
> 24 to 12
> volt solid state converters.
>
> 73, Roger
>
>
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Re: OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

Jim Low man
In reply to this post by Oliver Dröse
Yes, Wayne did so and I obliged, asking him to post a summary of the
replies that he receives.
One function of mailing lists like this is to share information. This is
a topic that I don't recall being discussed here.

I disagree that the thread is off-topic in the first place.
It deals with power for the shack, presumably to power Elecraft equipment.

73 de Jim - AD6CW

Letting Eric handle the list management.  I don't think he needs any help.

On 9/25/2015 11:14 AM, Oliver Dröse wrote:
> Please don't start another off-topic thread, guys! Wayne requested
> responses off-list ...
>
> Thanks,
> Olli

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Re: OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

wayne burdick
Administrator
I received many helpful replies on my quasi-off-topic post. Once I've digested it all and have something meaningful in the way of a summary, I'll send an update.

tnx
Wayne
N6KR


On Sep 25, 2015, at 2:57 PM, Jim Lowman <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Yes, Wayne did so and I obliged, asking him to post a summary of the replies that he receives.
> One function of mailing lists like this is to share information. This is a topic that I don't recall being discussed here.
>
> I disagree that the thread is off-topic in the first place.
> It deals with power for the shack, presumably to power Elecraft equipment.
>
> 73 de Jim - AD6CW
>
> Letting Eric handle the list management.  I don't think he needs any help.
>
> On 9/25/2015 11:14 AM, Oliver Dröse wrote:
>> Please don't start another off-topic thread, guys! Wayne requested responses off-list ...
>>
>> Thanks,
>> Olli
>
> ______________________________________________________________
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Re: OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

NK7Z
Wayne,
Does this mane you will be developing the phase canceling RFI remover
what was discussed here a few months ago?  Kidding of course...
--
Thanks and 73's,
For equipment, and software setups and reviews see:
www.nk7z.net

For MixW support see;
http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/mixw/info
For Dopplergram information see:
http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/dopplergram/info
For MM-SSTV see:
http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/MM-SSTV/info


On Fri, 2015-09-25 at 15:04 -0700, Wayne Burdick wrote:

> I received many helpful replies on my quasi-off-topic post. Once I've digested it all and have something meaningful in the way of a summary, I'll send an update.
>
> tnx
> Wayne
> N6KR
>
>
> On Sep 25, 2015, at 2:57 PM, Jim Lowman <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > Yes, Wayne did so and I obliged, asking him to post a summary of the replies that he receives.
> > One function of mailing lists like this is to share information. This is a topic that I don't recall being discussed here.
> >
> > I disagree that the thread is off-topic in the first place.
> > It deals with power for the shack, presumably to power Elecraft equipment.
> >
> > 73 de Jim - AD6CW
> >
> > Letting Eric handle the list management.  I don't think he needs any help.
> >
> > On 9/25/2015 11:14 AM, Oliver Dröse wrote:
> >> Please don't start another off-topic thread, guys! Wayne requested responses off-list ...
> >>
> >> Thanks,
> >> Olli
> >
> > ______________________________________________________________
> > Elecraft mailing list
> > Home: http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/elecraft
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> > Message delivered to [hidden email]
>
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Re: OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

Wes (N7WS)
In reply to this post by Oliver Dröse
It says OT right at the beginning. That said, I believe this might be of
interest to many Elecraft owners, particularly considering the QRP DNA of the
founders and many of the faithful.

Personally, I'm in favor of more nuclear power and I live in Arizona, where it
is alleged that solar is the answer (to what question I'm not sure.)

Don't get me started on government/utility subsidies that transfer the cost of
light bulbs from one customer to another.


On 9/25/2015 11:14 AM, Oliver Dröse wrote:

> Please don't start another off-topic thread, guys! Wayne requested responses
> off-list ...
>
> Thanks,
> Olli
>
> Contest, DX & radio projects: http://www.dh8bqa.de
>
>
> Am 25.09.2015 um 19:01 schrieb Jim McDonald:
>> 60W equivalent LEDs are $3 for a pack of three at Costco in the Chicago area
>> due to an instant rebate from ComEd, the area power company.  I really like
>> them, so I need to find a home for my inventory of CFLs.
>>
>> Jim N7US
>> Sent from my iPad
>>
>>
>> On Sep 25, 2015, at 10:33 AM, Wayne Burdick <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> Hi all,
>>
>> Some of our friends are putting in large solar arrays that feed power back
>> into the electrical grid. I'm looking for something smaller and simpler since
>> our electricity use is very low overall.
>>
>> The reason it's so low is that we've converted all of our lighting to LED.
>> (LED bulbs that consume 10 W yet have 60 W equivalent light output relative
>> to incandescents are getting remarkably cheap -- 3 for $10 at Home Depot.)
>> Consumption goes up when we use the electric range, etc., but that's
>> infrequent, and I don't mind paying the city at such times. As for the
>> radios, I run 10 W more often than 100 W, and the computers don't use much,
>> either.
>>
>> So I figure we could run the house from a 500- to 600-W array most of the
>> time. Other requirements:
>>
>> - I'd like to forego feed-in to the power grid. We don't need to watch our
>> meter turn backwards, and with a small array it would turn pretty slowly
>> anyway. But I do want city power in parallel when we exceed solar array
>> capability.
>>
>> - I want a backup battery that's sufficient to hold us for a couple of days
>> during a blackout. Every once in awhile on a really hot day, city power
>> consumption exceeds what's available, and a transformer blows somewhere. Very
>> entertaining until you have to go buy ice for the fridge.
>>
>> Systems that meet the above requirements seem to cost a lot more than the sum
>> of the parts. So what I'm looking for is a good source of roll-your-own-solar
>> info. I'll hire an electrician to wire up the solar system in parallel with
>> the city supply, but I could purchase the components and do most of the
>> installation myself.
>>
>> Any suggestions? Please contact me off-list.
>>
>> tnx
>> Wayne
>> N6KR
>>

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Re: OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

wayne burdick
Administrator
>> Am 25.09.2015 um 19:01 schrieb Jim McDonald:

>>> 60W equivalent LEDs are $3 for a pack of three at Costco in the Chicago area due to an instant rebate from ComEd, the area power company.  I really like them, so I need to find a home for my inventory of CFLs.


The proper place for CFLs, working or not, is a well-sealed toxic storage facility. Have you ever broken one? Clean-up of mercury dust is dicey at best. Having suffered through that, I don't want the stuff anywhere near my kids or pets again.

Hopefully, cheap LED bulbs will lay to rest fluorescents of all types. You can even get LED replacements for tubular fluorescent bulbs now. The LED equivalents brighter and have a warmer color. Once Home Depot replaces all of their ceiling bulbs with these, their display of new LED bulbs will look even better.

Wayne
N6KR


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Re: OT: Small solar array to handle just the shack, computers, and lighting

bs usb
On Sun, 27 Sep 2015 10:56:35 -0700
Wayne Burdick <[hidden email]> wrote:


>
> The proper place for CFLs, working or not, is a well-sealed toxic storage facility.

Maybe...... I prefer to leave them in the store that is foolish enough to try and sell them.

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