There is a huge mis conception out there. Conservatives love the idea of solar. We really do. Pulling power out of thin air…..hey, give me some!
Totally different than the fallacy of the world running their cars on lithium batteries. Some day the dreamy eyed liberals planet savers will realize there isn’t enough lithium and cobalt in the ground to run our cars, but that is another article.
I have been half-assing my way through learning and using the basic solar home kits for a couple years now. This last year I took it more seriously and wanted to put something down to help other people interested in putting in a small system.
Judging by the number of people who ask me about it just driving by my house, it appears there is a great deal of interest in these little home systems
I am no expert, but anyone getting into this will soon be amazed how knowledgeable (and how quickly) you become. Amps, watts, sun angles, ….ya, there is math….sorry.
Its fun though and there are a few light bulb over the head moments that you will get a kick out of.
I live in probably the absolute worse place in the entire country to even attempt to put up a small commercial solar kit and expect to get anything. Sitting on the tip of the Olympic Peninsula rain forest in Washington State.
It rains all winter, cloudy. I have giant fir trees all around me. Worse, my two story house blocks the low winter sun in the morning cutting my direct view of the sun to the panels. It is a horrible place for sun. Garden….forget it.
Still, I wanted something that would give me light and charging during power outages, natural disasters, or God forbid, something worse.
Sure sure, you can go mad trying to figure out peak sun hours, angles of your solar panels, Im way to lazy for that. I just wanted to set them up and forget about it, so those of you who obsess over these things will find lots of things to do to tweak your system and eak out more useable watts.
About now I know what you are thinking…get a generator. Great idea, but gas runs out and I wanted something self sustaining.
I bought initially a little two panel 400w kit off of Amazon. Quickly bumped it up to a four panel system. 800w system.
I also went a tad overboard and purchased three deep cycle marine batteries and wired them together in series (don’t worry, you will learn about that) to make a giant storage battery. Along with a 2000 watt Inverter to deliver my stored power to the house. I know it all sounds complicated, it isn’t. Trust me.
Total cost going overboard…..around $1,200-1,500. A fair amount of money, but not too bad.
WHAT CAN YOU POWER?
This is the bottom line. From about April – October with my little system I can run a small chest freezer, all the light you want, charge up anything you want. Run a load of laundry (no dryer), make a couple pots of coffee. Even watch a few hours of TV in the evening. I even have a small green house light system going. Pretty much do anything you want other than run things like heaters or a stove. Day after day after day. Even with an occasional storm, the battery bank will keep you running.
Winter months. not so good. Although, not so bad either.
Now we get to the problems of living where I live. No more freezer. The washing machine….. every other day. Plenty of light, charging and still some TV time, but all the extra is gone. Still, so very much better than nothing and waiting by candle light for the power to come back on…….and these days with what is going on in the world….if it ever does.
I seem to be getting a good 400 watts of usable power on the absolute worse day you can imagine in the middle of winter. 3,000 maybe in summer.
400 doesn’t sound like much, I know. But remember these new LED 60 watt light bulbs only use 2-3 watts a hour to run. I put a meter on everything and was surprised that things like running a load through a washing machine was only using about 150 watts. 400 will get you through the day quite nicely during an emergency. Or a week, or a month.
My small chest freezer uses about 435 watts a day. April through October….no problem. Where I live, I would need to bump up to an 8 panel system to run one year around. My pesky winter months. If you live in a better climate and don’t have the physical problems I do, a 4 panel system would probably do it.
Just knowing that I can’t run my little freezer during the winter months is bugging the crap out of me. Next time I feel rich……its getting bumped up.
It is a marvelous bit of technology. Simple and easy to set up.
Personally, I am interested in the ability to be able to use these little systems in a broader sustainability concept. A few 2x4s, a roll of plastic and staple gun and you have a greenhouse. A solar kit provides all you need and more to keep grow lights producing food year round. Again, the technology has changed and strip greenhouse grow lights use hardly any power anymore. Something to consider as we watch factory after factory burning to the ground around us that produces our food. Don’t worry though, it all a conspiracy theory. Right?
A couple of videos to watch to sort of get your head around what is going on, but you can’t really mess it up. We can indeed now pull power out of the air. Good luck taxing us on that!
The research I did was telling me all the home kits were about the same. I went with the Renogy system available on Amazon. Happy with the quality. If I was to do it all over again, knowing what I know now……I would double what I did. I was tentative, unsure if it would even work or be worth it and didn’t want to over spend. Totally jealous of people in sunny places that can put them on their roof.
For someone that just wants a system to provide emergency light and charging of devices…..a cheap two panel system with nothing more that a car battery for storage would do fine. Actually it will do much more than that. I imagine you are like me though. As soon as you set it up you would be thinking..damn! I should have bought a bigger system, it sure would be nice run a washing machine and my electric lawn mower.
After all, who says our lawns can’t look nice in the apocalypse?
- Get a good 2000w inverter with your kit. You want something big and more beefy that will deliver power.
- Buy extra extension cables to run from your panels to where you plan to store your batteries. Often times your panels are way out in the yard and your battery storage is quite a ways from them.
- Buy good Deep Cycle Marine batteries to store your electricity.
- The little inverter that comes with the kit that you will replace is also a nice back up that can be hooked up to your car battery. Until you run out of gas that is.