Alternative Energy

Reply

  #1  
Old 11-13-12, 08:31 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 35
Alternative Energy

To begin I do not know if this is the right place to post this.

After seeing the power outages from hurricane Sandy and how long people have been without power. And then the rationing of gas for generator! I would like to invest in a solar power system. My plan is to alternate what I plug into the system. So, I am thinking that If I need to survive I need to be able to power a 20 amp outlet constantly so about 2500 watts. I would plug the fridge in for a while, then unplug it and plug in a portable ac, then microwave, etc. I noticed that harbor freight has solar power kits. My budget for this project would be about 1200 dollars. Is this possible? How many solar panels? What size batteries and how many?
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 11-13-12, 08:46 AM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NJ - USA
Posts: 43,515
2500 watts off an inverter is a big load. Normally in a solar backed up house an ammonia type fridge is used on propane. Solar is changing so fast that I would have to research into it further but my guess is you'd be looking at more then 1200.00. The batteries are a major cost in the project. Check out the link below as a starter.

80 Watt Do-it-Yourself Solar Energy Kit
 
  #3  
Old 11-13-12, 08:54 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 35
Let me know if you think this is still doable?
 
  #4  
Old 11-13-12, 08:55 AM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,834
Hi Mopar,
I haven't run the numbers in awhile, but the longer you wait the lower the price will be. Improvements in solar panels are happening rapidly. Today you can buy plug and play for a lot less than yesterdays $20,000 start-up costs. But a system to meet the needs you outlined will still probably exceed your current budget. Search on plug-in solar systems and see what is out there today. Here is a 2011 article from CNN that discusses some of the changes we are seeing, and it gives some numbers.
Do-it-yourself solar power for your home - CNN.com

Post back with what you find as this is a hot topic.

Also, don't forget that your area and available sunshine has to figure into this project as well. Pa is not Fl.

Bud
 
  #5  
Old 11-13-12, 09:20 AM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Canada
Posts: 2,541
I looked into a very small setup to run my sump pump and boiler only. I was given a ball park pricing for materials only in the $2500 range for pannels and batteries. Tie-ins and other wiring would be extra on that.

I'd also be concerned with pannels being damaged during a storm like Sandy.

I'd suggest first looking at minimalizing your dependency on electricity, then look at feeding the remaining requirements.
 
  #6  
Old 11-13-12, 11:09 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 35
Here is what I was thinking harbor freight sells a 45 watt solar panel kit for 150 bucks. Sams club sells a
1 amp hour rate:68.2
100 amp hour rate:110
20 amp hour rate:105
3 amp hour rate:85
5 amp hour rate:86
6 amp hour rate:87.4
8 amp hour rate:90
BCI Group Size:31

type battery for 160 dollars.

Then harbor freight also has converter for relatively good price.

Can I make a system buying multiple of these materials?
 
  #7  
Old 11-13-12, 11:50 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 32,678
I'd include wind power in the mix. Sun isn't out all the time and wind doesn't blow all the time but you should have better luck keeping a battery bank charged. Maybe to protect the wind generator from storm damage and neighbors muttering eyesore it could be something kept in storage but quickly erected when needed.
 
  #8  
Old 11-13-12, 12:39 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,834
There is a learning curve to setting up a back-up system so a good idea is to start small and see how it goes together. Ultimately, if you invest in a substantial solar panel array it would be a shame to have it sitting there working at 10% when you don't need the energy. Thus the grid tied systems that can absorb what you are not using.

In the beginning, the storage system (batteries) can start off with a full charge from the grid. Then improvise solar, wind, car, generator, bicycle, or whatever energy source you can put together to start replacing the energy as it is used. The key is to be able to survive at some comfort level for some period of time. Going into weeks or months, plan on company as few others will have that ability.

With LEDs lighting has become a small load. Hot water would be a challenge, so a solar capability would be nice. Cooking can be handled for awhile on a Coleman stove. Heat is another huge load and a wood stove can keep a house from freezing and provide hot water and cooking.

It's a project.

Bud
 
  #9  
Old 11-13-12, 04:02 PM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 4,941
I'm not sure solar is going to be ideal for what you are trying to accomplish. I think you may be better off buying a small generator.
 
  #10  
Old 11-13-12, 05:06 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 1,147
I think Bud is on the right track. But, what exactly is the risk, I see you are in PA. Hurricanes, ice down power lines??

Anyway, if the mission is to keep the equiv of a single 120v recept up and running, get the honda 2kw portable. At your price point, and it's light and quiet, can keep in the attic or closet out of harms way.

Keep this in mind. I'm from FL and a lot of us bought gensets after/during the 2004 hurricane festival. Few of us have used them since. A lot bought whole house generators and they turn on weekly and otherwise haven't worked any real events in 7 years.

One last comment; if you are on a sewer system, see if your closest lift station has a generator on site. If not, and your city/county doesn't have a bunch of deployable generators, rethink staying in your home over a week. having the toilets not flush is a no-go to stay at home for most sane people, time to head out.. Even if you have a genset, solar, whatever.
 
  #11  
Old 11-13-12, 05:51 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 35
I want to stay away from gas power because in a very bad emergency it can become even IMPOSSIBLE TO GET!!! REALLY!! So, I want a solar system that can help survive through the next Armegeddon. Here is my plan for winter I will have my wood furnace installed, to cook I will have my charcoal grill powered by wood and I will use it as a grill, stove, and an oven. If it is cold out will will set my food in the fridge and freezer outside in coolers. During the winter I will need solar power to power the furnace fan, the tv, maybe microwave, laptop. I have well water that is hand dug so I will drop a bucket down the well to get water if times are bad. I will heat the water in a pot over the grill to get hot water.

For the summer power outages I have a problem I will need power to cool the fridge, run a small ac, use tv, laptop, maybe microwave.

Do you think I can use the supplies I mentioned befopre to make a system to power these neccessary appliances?
 
  #12  
Old 11-13-12, 06:17 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,834
Convert all of your appliances to KWH. Watts times amps divided by 1,000 time the hours you will run them per day. Then multiply your solar panels power in KW by the effective solar hours per day. In winter in PA that would be between zero (clouds) and 4. There are charts that give you the useful solar exposure for your location, but PA is not going to be high. For example, you might only be able to anticipate an average of 2 hours per day to collect full power from your panels. That means a lot more panels and a lot more batteries.

Since you should have a small generator anyway, start there. If you get your solar system up and working, sell the generator. Setting up the electrical power transfer for the generator can be incorporated into your final configuration. Running out and buying that list of panels and equipment is putting the cart before the horse. Before you do that you need to be able to tell us how it is all going together, hit the books or internet as it may be.

A wild guess for what you want, will be over $10,000.

Bud
 
  #13  
Old 11-13-12, 06:46 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,221
I need to survive I need to be able to power a 20 amp outlet constantly so about 2500 watts.
2500 watts is no small solar setup. Forget constantly, that's the biggest problem with solar, the sun goes down. For what your meager budget is, I'd try to save a little more and go for a natural gas powered back-up.
 
  #14  
Old 11-13-12, 07:03 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 35
I didn't add up watts yet but really I would need to jyst power the fridge and furnace blower (800 cfm). How many watts and what setup needed? I figure 400 watts for blower and at most 1400 for fridge probly is 1200 so lookin at 1600-1800 watts. Or is this still not doable?

I realized that running even a small ac is difficult on solar because of the amount of running watts. So if it is very hot outside we will have to go to the basement and garage to stay cool. It is not a finished basement but in an emergency it will due. The floor is about 6 feet underground so it should stay cool even on the hottest day. No?

Thanks again for all input just want to be prepared!
 
  #15  
Old 11-13-12, 09:28 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NJ - USA
Posts: 43,515
ac..... not.....maybe a fan. Did you look at the site I left you in post # 2 ? Ok.....here we go....you mention 1800 watts. If you required that amount of power for one hour you would need 150 amps of battery power. That would be three 55 amp hour batteries. That would be the full capacity for three batteries. An 80 watt solar kit (like I left you in that link) will produce roughly 23 amp hours per day. It would take a week to replenish those three batteries. One week of sun to generate 1 hour of 1800 watts of power. See the problem. Go online......search solar power because there are people that are extremely into it. They run their entire house (year round) on solar.


Please don't pick apart my math.....it's just for demo purposes. Efficiency and loss play a big part in the math which I didn't even touch on.
 
  #16  
Old 11-14-12, 05:14 AM
Member
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 994
Check out this link: Solar Generators | Solutions From Science for solar powered generators.
 
  #17  
Old 11-14-12, 09:23 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 35
I read about otherways to keep food cool such as putting it in my 32 ft hand dug well. My question is that I am looking at adding a wood furnace to my house. Wood is cheaper than oil and if necessary I have 6 acres of woods to cut tress down. I was wondering if I could use a solar kit and a battery to power the blower on the furnace. I am not sure how to calculate how much power I would need since at night there is no sun to recharge the battery and it is not constantly on?

Also, from my understanding your saying that the solar generators that say 1800 watts with an 80 watt solar panel will take days for the battery to be fully charged again. And the 1800 watts is only for a short period of time? Right?

I found the green outlet generator though and it says it can constantly power at 2500 watts.
 

Last edited by mopar969; 11-14-12 at 10:25 AM.
  #18  
Old 11-14-12, 08:31 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NJ - USA
Posts: 43,515
My answer to you is yes. Not sure about the green outlet generator Maybe a link to a site ?
 
  #19  
Old 11-14-12, 09:34 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 32,678
Is this the site you mean? The Green Outlet, LLC ~ Keeping Solar Simple~ Took a quick look and saw no real information, just puffery mostly.
 
  #20  
Old 11-16-12, 11:44 AM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
Here's an article that discusses a solar installation in PA: A 1920s House Goes Off the Grid. It's a different setup than you're looking for - ground mounted instead of roof mounted, and used to power the owners' geothermal HVAC system, but it is solar and in your state.

Here's what I remembered from the article, and why I looked it up for this thread:
Originally Posted by Lynn Elliott in Old House Journal
The region can play a role in the system’s power potential, too. “The Northeast is a great place to install solar,” says Michelle. “[The Neiblums] get almost 95 percent as much sunlight as Florida.”
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'