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So, guys, I built an aquaponics system. It is low energy, only consumes 18 Watts. It is up and running, have tilapia in it, so far so good.

I ordered solar panels, charge controller, inverter, whole nine yards. The plan is to run the aquaponics on solar, as well as charging some batteries.

Now, my dilemma is this: do I start running the system on solar now while we still have power? My concern with this is that it might take a while till SHTF, if ever, and the components will start to wear out. So when they are really needed, they might be broken by that time.

Or - do I test it and store it away? I would prefer that, but worried that the battery will go bad due to not being used.

What do you think?
 

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I'd use it now. There may be issues to work out and it would save you on electricity. If your worried about it breaking/wearing out then take the money your not spending on electricity to buy a spare system.
 

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So if you wait for nasty times to put the "system" together and it doesn't work right, . .what will you do then.............?????
 

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So if you wait for nasty times to put the "system" together and it doesn't work right, . .what will you do then.............?????
That's why I wanted to test first :).

@terri, money saved will be negligent, it's only 18 watts.

I'll run my current system through the KillAWatt to see how much it draws in a week.
 

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I'd buy back up "dry" batteries for long term storage, along with electrolyte for charging them up when necessary. I'd also have back up power inverters and load controllers stored in a Faraday box.

You may decide to enlarge your system at some time, and at 18 watts draw a couple 45 watt panels from Harbor Freight in storage would allow for quite a bit of growth.
 

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Don't know what size or type of solar system you are talking about, but quality solar components should have 10 to 25 year warranty.
 

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So, guys, I built an aquaponics system. It is low energy, only consumes 18 Watts.
18 watts over what time period ? Without a time period, that doesn't mean much.

For example, 18 watts continuous means 18watthrs x 24 = 432 watt hours per day. You'd need enough solar panel and battery storage to handle that, plus inefficiency losses, plus rainy days.

Assuming 6 hours of sun per day, 432/6= 72 watts of solar panel very bare minimum. I'd double that to allow for system loss, rain, etc.....and maybe triple it.....so figure 150-200watts of panel.
 

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Nothing but some solar panels have a "10 to 25 year warranty" .
But good *quality* equipment will last that long.

On the very bottom of the list for instance, is the controllers from harbor freight.
The warranty there is "30 seconds or 30 feet"

Bottom line is; Get the good stuff in the very beginning.
 

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I'd use it now. There may be issues to work out and it would save you on electricity. If your worried about it breaking/wearing out then take the money your not spending on electricity to buy a spare system.
So, guys, I built an aquaponics system. It is low energy, only consumes 18 Watts. It is up and running, have tilapia in it, so far so good.
I'm sure you've heard it said often: store what you use, use what you store.

Well, it applies here too. Use what you propose to use, learn it, learn from it, learn to fix problems, learn to use the output and adjust it if necessary while getting it right is easy and getting it wrong isn't a deadly mistake.

If you want to count savings, then count what you don't have to buy while you're eating the vegetables and fish that come from your aquaculture plant, not only the minimal electricity cost. That should add up to enough to finance a substantial replacement aquaculture plant. You'll use, and use up, your spares. You'll learn how to use them, and how to cope with problems, while you have replacement supplies and income available. And you'll finance a more up-to-date and more robust system to replace the one you've been learning on.

There's also the simple fact that this way you get some value from your investment. There is no absolute guarantee that the S will HTF, and if we've got any sense we'll hope we don't get visited with those types of troubles. However, you've made an investment. It would be nice to get some return on your investment. Using it let's you do so, and you get some payback in terms of improved quality of life, including but not limited to a simple hobby. Not using it means you have dead money, dead goods, sitting in a corner eating YOUR head of as they depreciate. Using it and getting a return on investment is better.
 

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Nothing but some solar panels have a "10 to 25 year warranty" .
But good *quality* equipment will last that long.

On the very bottom of the list for instance, is the controllers from harbor freight.
The warranty there is "30 seconds or 30 feet"

Bottom line is; Get the good stuff in the very beginning.
Having gone through this, I have to disagree a little.

There's a mid-grade between Harbor Freight junk and ultra-pricey Magnum and Outback quality.

I can buy 4 mid-grade components for the price of the "good stuff", allowing me to build a level of redundancy into the system that I can't afford to do with the high quality (high price) stuff.

And the high price stuff STILL breaks. Even when it's under warranty (and the makers of the good stuff tend to honor their warranties well), it still takes 6-8 weeks to get your component repaired and back to you. When you're truly off-grid, that's a long time to sit without any power at all, or having to run a generator. OR you have to do what I did, which is go buy the cheap stuff anyway to limp by until your good stuff is repaired.

Spares are as good as a warranty, and in SHTF ... vastly superior to the best warranty ever made.
 

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There's a mid-grade between Harbor Freight junk and ultra-pricey Magnum and Outback quality.

I can buy 4 mid-grade components for the price of the "good stuff", allowing me to build a level of redundancy into the system that I can't afford to do with the high quality (high price) stuff.
I agree with this post. I won't say that having spares beats having a warranty but it sure allows you to get back online faster.

Remember the saying: Two is One and One is None
 

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If a system is designed properly, up front, then the system is never required to stress the components. My bet is that when people buy only by the price tag components are then stressed badly and fail.
As a for instance inverters; People will buy a inverter that is way too small. When a 400 watt load is constantly put apon a 500 watt inverter that inexpensive inverter is going to run hot.
Heat kills ....................
Where as a 2000 watt inverter is just coasting along . . . . . You need a big enough fudge factor to not stress components.
That 2000 watt inverter (or larger) will handle surge start loads that will be killing with heat the tiny cheap stuff.
Poor thinking is buying way under rated (Price tag) components........

Systems I have installed, too often the the failure factor has been human . . . Not watering those nice big expensive Trojan L16 batteries . . . . .......... And Not the components.

So I will continue to advocate buying top quality equipment.......
 

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You're absolutely right, Jimmi, in that most failures are caused by poor maintenance and such.

Which is why I wish I'd learned to monitor and developed good maintenance habits on the cheaper stuff. :)

As to the inverters, you can run multiple inverters off of the same battery bank. Instead of our very expensive Magnum 3,000 watt inverter which runs at about 1500 watts, I could have bought 4 1500 watt inverters and divided up the load from the house so that no one inverter had to carry more than about 600 watts worth of load.

If money were no object (or if I were installing other people's systems using their money) then I would certainly be an advocate for the top of the line stuff in all cases. But I've yet to meet the person where money was truly no object.

And I find that when you put together a shopping list with only the most expensive components, it provides a barrier of entry to a lot of people who might otherwise get into solar if they could only afford it.

They say a BMW is the best car out there ... how many of us drive one?
 

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"how many of us drive one"
I went to raise my hand, . .but then I looked out the window and found my Bavarian Motor Works had some how turned back into my trusty ol Chev pick up..........lol
 

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