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Thread: Learjet's dodgy 12V solar installation

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    Default Learjet's dodgy 12V solar installation

    I probably wouldn't have done any of this if it wasn't for that cyclone we had last year that knocked out power for 4 days. Because of that, I wanted to have access to power when the grid goes down. Something to power a small fridge, lights, radio and TV gear. A work in progress, this is where I'm at in this point in time.

    The solar panels...


    Never mind the microphone stand turnstile antenna for NOAA weather satellites.
    The highest power panel here is a Powertech monocrystalline 80 watt panel, the largest in size is a heavy 14kg thin film "amorphous" 40 watt panel.

    These are professionally angled by using flowerpots...



    And bricks.



    Rather than clad the house in vinyl cladding, I'm going to cover it in solar panels.

    For western Sun there is a panel facing west. It came from the dump and doesn't work so good lol.



    Same for the eastern Sun.


    This parallel array all wired up produces about 300 watts at 12 volts. Each panel has schottky diodes to prevent backfeed from sunlit panels to the shaded ones.

    The various panels are fed into this expandable combiner box before going to the solar controller - regulator.


    From there it's fed into the regulator via some analog amp meters.


    Continued...

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    The regulator has a 3 stage battery charger and distribution outlet.



    The battery bank consists of 4 used 12V 75 amp hour AGM batteries wired in parallel. Notice the thick wire going from the batteries to the controller. I used all strands and braid soldered together of RG-213 coax for just the negative lead and 2 x 3 strand each heavy duty extension lead all wires soldered together for the positive as I noticed a significant voltage drop in the 5 metre run from the batteries to the controller with anything less!



    Power from the controller then goes into several switchable power outlet boxes. This one runs various radio gear, video monitors and camera, TV, fan etc.





    This one daisy chained to the other runs more monitors, cameras, preamps, antenna rotator, modem, more receivers etc.



    Which is daisy chained to yet another box that runs 12V lights which are dimmable.



    Continued...

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    The world wide shortage of banana plugs and sockets can be linked directly to my power outlet boxes.

    2 X five metre LED strip lights running around the ceiling produce as much light as the regular 240V fluro. I like warm white ones.



    12V CFL's are available also which I am experimenting with.



    The only things not connected to this present 12V system are the big fridge, main computer and air conditioner. Everything else runs off 12V.

    The system will continue to be expanded until I blow the house and myself up!

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    This bloke is incredible!!!
    A couple of years ago he was building wooden Satellite dish's and now to Solar Power.
    How about old car jumper or ex welding leads if they appear at your local 'shopping' centre (Tip) ?
    To be honest I would prefer Learjets home brew solar system to a commercial one.
    Your East and West panels are a brilliant idea to maximise collection area.
    Curious question, which do you feel is more suitable, fixed as you currently have or trackable ones?
    I stand unequivicably behind everything I say , I just dont ever remember saying it !!

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    G'day Gordon. The jumper leads might be a good idea but the dump didn't have any of those at the time lol.

    This array is getting quite heavy now, a solar tracking system would be possible but a bit more tricky... The plan is to expand to 1kw, adding one panel at a time as I go.

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    I think the led strip lights are a fantastic idea
    have you thought about a 12v fridge down the track?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Learjet View Post
    ... 12V CFL's are available also which I am experimenting with ...
    Bog std CFL's run very well of a mod sine wave 12 -> 240v inverter.

    Depending where u are on the curve ... a mod sine wave inverter can be 90% efficient.

    So 'use' the existing the 240v lighting wiring, add the inverter plus cfls throughout ... and Bob's your uncle.

    Love the LED strips.

    I've a few on order to have a play with. Where did u get yours?

    Cheers

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    I have a 12V cooler, but a compressor 12V fridge would be better. They draw a few amps though. A bit taxing on my present system running 24x7 so only for emergencies.

    LED strips are from ebay Hong Kong. The 5 metre SMD LED ones are brilliant. Just be careful though to find a seller that offers refunds if the item doesn't turn up as Hong Kong post sucks big time. It's actually worse than Australia Post!

    I want to try and avoid inverters as much as possible due to radio noise. That and the risk of killing myself is lower at 12V.
    Last edited by Learjet; 27-01-11 at 10:02 PM.

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    good work there Learjet you all ways come up with some good idea's

    Tagg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Learjet View Post
    LED strips are from ebay Hong Kong. The 5 metre SMD LED ones are brilliant. Just be careful though to find a seller that offers refunds if the item doesn't turn up as Hong Kong post sucks big time. It's actually worse than Australia Post!
    from ebay I presume?

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    Learjet, I am also impressed with the setup, as finally found a use for the empty garden pots our household seems to accumulate

    Have you worked out what you are saving in mains electricity with this setup?
    We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them - Albert Einstein

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    Fuses or circuit breakers so the whole lot doesn't go up in flames and maybe even covers for the battery terminals?

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    mate i love it. keep up the the good work. do you watch the show "Boneyard" by any chance?

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    There are fuses inline not showing in photos. LEDS are from ebay Hong Kong. And yes I need to cover the battery terminals so a metal bar doesn't fall on them and create an almighty short. Or a snake slide over them. Will do that soon.

    Electricity bill is definitely lower.

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    What do your family of snakes think about their newly created beds?

    Just another spot to be wary of I guess?

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    I love the fact that your having a go, good on ya.

    I just have to wonder what will happen during the next cyclone, will you loose your flower pots and mic stand???? make sure you use a white marker pen and put your address and phone number so they can be returned

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    Yeah they tell us there's a couple of cyclones on the way. I did make metal brackets for two panels this afternoon, but since the panels just unplug, I think I might just bringing them inside until the cyclones bugger off.

    Haven't seen any snakes under them.... yet, but I imagine it's just a matter of time. I'll be sure to upload photos when I do.

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    A small update. I got my electricity bill today and was quite surprised. For the same billing period last year when I had no solar panels the average daily use was 15.3 kWh. For the same period this year it has dropped to an average daily use of 9.9 kWh.

    I have saved $76 just by taking some appliances off grid and running on 12 volts. This has encouraged me to keep on going.

    I think the next appliance to go off grid will be the fridge. Being a hermit, I think I would be quite comfortable with a 12V camping fridge-freezer like one of the larger Waeco / Engel / Evakool models. I actually bought a small compressor Waeco fridge on special a couple of weeks ago for emergencies in cyclones etc. It's only a small one but it works extremely well on 12 volts drawing only 0.67 amphours for an inside temp of 5C with external temp of 32C. One major flaw in my evil plan is it's radio noisy and spews RF every 10 kHz all over HF and 6 metres!

    Anyone know of a 12 volt "radio quiet" fridge-freezer?

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    Well done Learjet, nice job. I have similar plans in my head - the most difficult appliance to convert though will be the mrs...

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    Well done, MacGyver..


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