starting out with solar

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by greenacres, Mar 8, 2005.

  1. greenacres

    greenacres Well-Known Member

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    North Central Texas
    With the prices of oil going up, I have pondered the idea of going solar, or partial solar power. It seems to be real expensive though. What are my options and how would I start to save up and/or start buying things to get started with solar power? I would also like to hear others input on how they did it, etc.. Thanks.
     
  2. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    WI
    Check out Home Power magazine, the latest issue is available free on-line. http://www.homepower.com
    Go to an energy fair. My favorite is in central Wisconsin in June. Http://www.the-mrea.org
    Others are listed at Home Power: http://www.homepower.com/events/fairs.cfm
    I think that Home Power has a pdf article on basics of solar power that would be a good place to start.
    Solar electric is expensive, but cheaper than it was 23 years ago when we bought our first PV panels. Look at it as paying your electric bills for 10 to 30 years or more up front. It is sort of like insulation or a garden or orchard--you get more out of it in the long run than it cost, and it is there no matter what the government does.
    We have 2 sets (arrays) of PVs totalling about 1800 watts output, and a windgenerator rated at 2500 watts. First started using windpower in 1977, and have seen many changes over the years.
    Check out the websites that I mentioned, and p-message me if you have any specific questions.
    Solar hot water can be cheaper in initial costs, and also pay for itself in only a few years compared to gas or electric water heating.

    Jim
     

  3. patarini

    patarini Well-Known Member

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    Nov 19, 2004
    Location:
    tn
    I am at 2 panels right now -- 200 watts solar, a xantrax c-60 charge controller, 2 batteries, using a cobra 2000 watt inverter from the semi, and a homemade dc breaker box. Gives us lights and tv is all right now, am adding panels as I can fit them in. Want to go to 600 watts solar. 1 small wind turbine and a Aquair submersable gen for the rock creek for after rains! Doesnt flow all the time but it has about 200 maybe 300 watershed that feeds it! Umm next time will not do the dc lights -- just use the ac compact fluorescents -- easier to wire ansd dont need 2 circuits.
     
  4. jgbndaudio

    jgbndaudio Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    New York
    Hello,

    I have slowly started going off grid. As of now, I have one 40 watt panel and two 6v 220ah batteries. I use a cheap 250w coleman inverter to run the circulator on my propane boiler so we can have heat even if the power is out. I also have a couple CF's plugged into it. It saves me at least eight bucks a month meaning it will repay itself in under five years. Probably less as I strive to get each watt out of it. I hope to soon add at least two more batteries a larger solar panel and another inverter capable of a KWH or so.

    Remember before spending money on solar generation you should upgrade to all the most energy efficient appliances you can get. There's some rule of thumb that says for every dollar you spend saving energy, it'll save you about four dollars in solar install cost. Home power Magazine is a great place to start. Maybe you can search for one of their articles called pirate solar. This is the article that got me started.

    Seeing as how your in Teaxs - you'll definitely want to start with a solar hot water system. They're the cheapest to start and then you'll have the savings to help offset future purchases of other equipment that will in turn save you money. It's a vicious circle but a good one!

    Scotty


     
  5. wildwanderer

    wildwanderer Momma, Goatherder etc....

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    Arkansas
    We are transferring now into a solar system. We have purchased our panels through sportsmans guides (we don't need much electricity) so we are working on trying to get a 220 inverter for the well pump and I have not been able to find one. So far we are doing well but our electricity requirements are rather small.
     
  6. BackwoodsIdaho

    BackwoodsIdaho Well-Known Member

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    Idaho
    One thing you can do to get 240V power is to stack the inverters. Xantrex provides a cable that allows you to get both 120 and 240V power out of stacked SW inverters. Outback provides a transformer for 120/240V power output as well

    Expensive but worth it if you have to have 240V. What are you powering that requires it?

    jim
     
  7. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Those new vacuum tube hot water heating systems are just toooo outrageous.Super efficiency.

    BooBoo
     
  8. wy0mn

    wy0mn Transplanted RedNeck

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    I spent the last four years learning about battery maintenance using two JCWhitney PV battery boosters, an Air-403 wind jenny, and 460AH of marine storage.
    This supplied power to my emergency lights, HF/VHF radios, a 12v TV, and a micro fridge. (Not all used simultaneously, nor continuously.)
    Lose ALL the phantom loads. Wind up clocks still work fine. A hand cranked coffee grinder is blissful. Brooms & mops instead of vacuums.
    There ARE solar water pumps out there.
    I recommend Southwest Wind Power & BP Solar. I Have the Air-403 & like the reviews I've read about the BP Solar PV panels.
     
  9. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    I have BP Solar panels,excellent quality on mine,highly recommend them.

    BooBoo
     
  10. BobBoyce

    BobBoyce Well-Known Member

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    SE TN/SW NC
    Pretty much the only single inverters (not paired) for 230 VAC that I have seen are the 50 Hz european models. I have one here, made by Trace, but have not set it up yet. It was given to me by a friend that bought it off of eBay. He thought it was a 120 VAC model by mistake.

    Most 60 HZ AC electric motors will run just fine on 50 Hz AC, albeit at a slower speed. I have yet to try opening it to see if the frequency can be changed to 60 Hz.

    Bob