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...anyone experimenting with supplemental solar in their home?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I have rigged a small 10 watt solar module on my roof to run a couple small fans in my attic to help it not get quite so hot - helps with home AC usage...  I also have a solar AA battery charger i converted from retired solar landscape lighting.  ...and a solio I use for my cell phone and a couple other devices.   ...of course, I also have solar landscape lighting front and back of my home...  Planning on building a reasonably sized solar generator for garage usage.

 

I know there are some of you that have some good few hundred watt solar systems supplementing their homes as well...

 

Would love to hear how you're learning to use solar around their home in smaller ways to supplement, or even off-set their energy use?

 

(I don't mean like 3+ KW grid ties, just folks learning to work with solar in their daily lives)

post #2 of 17

Hey SoCalSolar, you probably already know this since I've documented it on the TreeHugger forums, but I'm a huge fan of supplemental solar.

 

My "main" use is a 330-watt array charging a 105-ah battery (hope to put a second one in soon) and then I use that power to run a living room light fixture, the 27" TV in the living room and a small oscillating fan.  The fan helps me keep the a/c settings a few degrees higher than my wife would prefer if there was no air moving around.  Use the wind chill factor to your advantage, I say! :)

 

I recently finished a side project using a 5-watt, 6-volt panel and a 6-volt 33-ah battery to run a couple of 6-volt tractor headlights to provide brief lighting in my garage.  Eventually I'll wire in a 6v charge controller, but man are they hard to find!  In the meantime I'm manually disconnecting an alligator clip until I need more charge in the battery.  I have grid-based CFLs which light the garage well, but I wanted something I could flip on and off for just a couple minutes (or less) when I need to grab a wrench or throw something in the recycling bin.

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hey MikeBeavis,

Thanks for the update on your stuff.  Cool idea with the headlights.  When I finally get around to my bigger solar project I want to do some CL-5 LEDs over my workbench since they only pull 5 watts each and are brighter than the CL-3. 

 

I am finding myself pulling a tree that's attacking my house out this next month - and using the area it was in for a new-improved-and-much-bigger veggie garden (tree is a ficus type with horrible roots - will make good firewood...).  Wife approved veggie garden as well - she is realizing the food transport issues we talk about as well ...

post #4 of 17

Hi Guys,

 

I am experimenting with the xpower 1500 with a 50w BP Solar Panel for off-grid / back up power and on the grid tied side I am playing with a 250 watt grid tied kit with with 2x 130w Sharp Solar Panels.....

 

Have you guys played with the xpower 1500 inverter and battery combo?

 

 

 

 

post #5 of 17

*bump* is anyone else playing with supplemental solar power systems at their home?

post #6 of 17

I want to, but they aren't cheap.

post #7 of 17

mattress,

 

supplemental solar does not have to be expensive, we're taking about a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand to play around with small systems. Mike put together a nice small setup, he even made his own solar panels!

 

I suppose the great part is that you get to learn how solar power works which can go along way.

post #8 of 17

a couple hundred to a couple thousand is a large range and a couple thousand is certainly not cheap (at least for me). Even a couple hundred is not necessarily something I want to be spending just to 'play around'

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

Regarding cost - the semi-portable solar workbench concept I have been figuring out will cost about $1k...  including the workbench.  About $850 for the solar power system components.

post #10 of 17

Sorry for the newbie question, but you can't hook up these sorts of systems to your household grid, can you? E.g. if you want to power the same light off your supplemental solar, and then off your grid power, you have to physically unplug and replug it, right?

post #11 of 17

Which retailers are best for small - medium panels these days?  I've seen displays at ACE hardware, but is it better to go to a retailer that specializes in solar?

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

Yes, these systems being discussed are seperate from your grid system - so, for example, you might plug your garage lights over your workbench into an inverter that gets it's power from solar charged batteries... or your TV, radio, etc.  A way to take some of your power usage off your electric bill, or add to your electrical usage without touching the grid power...

post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by frank:

Which retailers are best for small - medium panels these days?  I've seen displays at ACE hardware, but is it better to go to a retailer that specializes in solar?


 

Yes frank, its always better to goto a retailer that specliazes in renewable energy. You can find retailers on this website by browsing through the product reviews. The more important question is what are you going to do with the "small to med." solar panels?

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by dordal:

Sorry for the newbie question, but you can't hook up these sorts of systems to your household grid, can you? E.g. if you want to power the same light off your supplemental solar, and then off your grid power, you have to physically unplug and replug it, right?

 

Hi Dordal,

 

Well it depends, you can connect a system to the grid by using a grid tied inverter. I am playing with a 250 watt grid tied inverter that you can plug right into your household electrical outlets! No electrician required to connect to the grid!

 

You could also design an off-grid system which would require you to buy batteries and an off-grid inverter. Ther are plenty of options out there, but to figure it all out it all starts with the goals of your project in particular.

post #15 of 17

Does anyone have any links to good resources for getting started with solar?

post #16 of 17

Kiwi:

 

GreenHome.Huddler has some great information its wiki, have you checked it out yet?

post #17 of 17

I have now - thanks!

 

We have our meeting at working about getting started on this coming up next week, so I'm planning to make a pitch for adding supplemental solar! :)

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