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Expandable kit to start off with to use in the event of a hurricane.

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  • Expandable kit to start off with to use in the event of a hurricane.

    I live in south MS about forty miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. I like the idea so solar but currently we are renting with the option to buy and we have not decided whether we want to stay in the area or not. I would like to have something I can run my 5 cubic foot freezer and a small under the counter refrigerator with, maybe a couple of fans and be able to charge lap tops off of in case of a hurricane. I can use a generator for backup but with all the free rays why go stand in line for gas in the heat and get ripped off on the price? I am thinking a kit might be great for this but I would like something I could expand on latter if I wanted. Because of renting I would not want anything grid tied. I am thinking about setting the panels up in the back yard (faces south) & I also have a huge laundry room on the south side of the house that I could store the panels in to protect from a storm coming in. I could use them to run my freezer, washer and sewing machine off of normally. The dryer, I realize would probably have to stay on incoming power. Since I am renting I doubt if I can get tax credits on this. Good idea or bad idea?

  • #2
    Hello NItalynn and welcome to Solar Panel Talk

    Depending on the actual watt hour usage of your equipment you will probably be spending a lot more money then you think

    A basic solar/ battery system will cost about $2000 for each kWh it can delivery. That is 1000 watt hours or about a load of 40 watts for 24 hours.

    A system that can power a couple of refrigerators, charge laptops and run some fans will probably consume about 3000 watt hours per day. That will cost you somewhere between $5000 and $6000.

    While a 2000 watt inverter style generator is about $1000 plus fuel.

    Do you still think you want to go with a solar / battery system for emergency power?

    Comment


    • #3
      Buy a generator. As Sun Eagle said you cannot afford what you want.
      MSEE, PE

      Comment


      • #4
        The other part of the equation is that the hurricane may be over, but you might be facing a week or more bad weather to follow with very little to no sun!

        Imagine how frustrating that would be to have a kit and not be able to recharge it. Just something to think about.

        Comment


        • #5
          Great comments but what those of you that don't live on the gulf coast is that Gas is not available a few days after a hurricane therefore your generator is only a short term solution. I to am looking for a similar solution but only want to run a few items (e g Fans, fridge) for comfort while the power is out but the sun is not. I have also wondered about a wind/solar combined solution. And no you don't have weeks of rain with any hurricane i have survived, it is always hot, sunny after the storm passes. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I will continue to research and educate myself as many of the articles on this site assume you know more than I have consumed at this point. I really need a Solar for dummies book.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by jwill View Post
            Great comments but what those of you that don't live on the gulf coast is that Gas is not available a few days after a hurricane therefore your generator is only a short term solution. I to am looking for a similar solution but only want to run a few items (e g Fans, fridge) for comfort while the power is out but the sun is not. I have also wondered about a wind/solar combined solution. And no you don't have weeks of rain with any hurricane i have survived, it is always hot, sunny after the storm passes. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I will continue to research and educate myself as many of the articles on this site assume you know more than I have consumed at this point. I really need a Solar for dummies book.
            I live in Florida and have the potential of being without power for many days due to a hurricane. While I have built a couple of small solar/battery systems I have come to the conclusion that the $$$ could have been better spent elsewhere.

            Along with my 2 small solar/battery systems I have 3 generators of various size and fuel consumption. Prior to a hurricane I would stock up on gasoline as well as bottled gas. Between the cost of all of my "emergency" power systems I could have installed a 11kW whole house generator along with a big propane tank which would last for days and allow me to power all of my critical as well as comfort providing loads.

            The choice is up to you but remember that solar only works during sunshine and wind is not constant or strong enough here in Florida to provide any worthwhile power generation.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Nitalynn View Post
              I live in south MS about forty miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. I like the idea so solar but currently we are renting with the option to buy and we have not decided whether we want to stay in the area or not. I would like to have something I can run my 5 cubic foot freezer and a small under the counter refrigerator with, maybe a couple of fans and be able to charge lap tops off of in case of a hurricane. I can use a generator for backup Good idea or bad idea?
              Bad idea for a few reasons.

              1. you do not need any solar to do what you want, and can be done a lot less expensive and more reliable.
              2. You cannot expand as batteries need replaced with every upgrade.
              3. It is not free and any power taken off grid cost 5 to 10 time more than buying it from the POCO if used every day. When used as back up power the cost goes to over 100 times more.

              The best way to do what you want you already have some of the equipment, the generator. What you need is a Battery Charger of the correct size. properly sized battery to carry the load for at least 3 days (same size battery with either generator or solar). and an True Sine Wave Inverter.

              So what you do is get the batteries and put them on a charger and leave them on a charger until needed. When power fails connect the Inverter and your emergency loads to the Inverter. The batteries if sized properly can last 2 or more days depending on how you design the system. With a minimum sized system on the third day run the generator and charger to recharge the battery and run your loads. Then you are set for another two days, repeat as necessary.

              It will save you a thousand dollars and will work better than solar.



              MSEE, PE

              Comment


              • #8
                Thank all of you for your feedback. I will look into the option proposed by Sunking. I do store up the gasoline and If I ever build a new house will have the generator with propane. Kinda a buzz kill as I was looking forward to learning more about solar but I appreciate the honest feedback.
                One more question: do you have recommendations (as I see a number of articles on this site) for Batteries? Or point me to an article for properly sizing, I know I need to understand what will be operating during the outage but I have seen a number of comments on what true power you get out of a setup (more confused than informed at this point). Again I appreciate all of the honest feedback.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hurricane Zones
                  1) You know a couple days in advance the storm is coming, buy fuel then.
                  2) Winds that take down your neighborhood power poles, will destroy your panels with flying debris.
                  3) your neighborhood may be spared, but the grid 100 miles away damaged and you have no power - that's when PV could help.
                  Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
                  || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
                  || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

                  solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
                  gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Yes, I already buy fuel (as much as I can store) prior to the storm hitting. I was in my head thinking my solar panel setup would not be mounted to my roof and I would be able to store them in a safe place in the event of a storm. You will have to educate me on the acronym "PV" as I am not familiar.
                    It seems as if Solar has not reached to point that I can afford a backup system that will recharge batteries without being cost prohibitive in nature. I appreciate everyone's feedback.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jwill View Post
                      I do store up the gasoline and If I ever build a new house will have the generator with propane.
                      No need to store gasoline, it i snot 1940 something, you wil know a few days ahead of time. For a whole house genny you would use LPG, NG, or diesel.

                      Originally posted by jwill View Post
                      One more question: do you have recommendations (as I see a number of articles on this site) for Batteries? Or point me to an article for properly sizing, I know I need to understand what will be operating during the outage but I have seen a number of comments on what true power you get out of a setup (more confused than informed at this point). Again I appreciate all of the honest feedback.
                      That is super easy to figure out.

                      1. Determine how many watt hours you need for a 24 hour period. The hardest part.
                      2. Mulitply the watt hours for a minimum 3 days. For off-grid minimum is 5 days. However for emergencies and RV you can get away with 3 days. In an emergency system only 80% of the capacity is usable. So with a 3 day minimum give you 2 days before you have to recharge.
                      3. Get out of the 12 volt toy box, batteries are not 12 volts.
                      4, Determine battery voltage based on Daily Watt Hour usage
                      a. 1 Kwh or less 12 volts.
                      b. 1 Kwh to 2 Kwh 24 volts.
                      c. 2 Kwh to 4 Kwh is 48 volts.

                      Example let say you use 1 Kwh per day x 3 days = 3000 watt hours of 3 Kwh.
                      Battery AH = Watt Hours / Batter Voltage

                      so

                      3 days x 1000 wh / 12 volts = 250 AH.

                      Be careful what you ask for because for each Kwh per day will cost you $300 to $400 in batteries. You want 3 Kwh per day is a $$900 to $1200 battery every few years.

                      Method to the madness and why batteries are not 12 volts. If you stick to the rules you will not need a battery larger than 250 AH or an every day 6 volt golf cart batteries available anywhere you live at reasonable cost .I dare you to find a 12 volt 250 AH battery. If you do be sure to rent a battery lift to pick that sucker up because it will weigh 150 pounds or more. A 6-volt 250 AH golf cart battery is heavy enough at 70 to 80 pounds. Your back and balls will understand if your brain does not.

                      DO NOT EVER PARALLEL BATTERIES. BATTERIES ARE NOT !2 VOLTS, they are 2-Volts in 2-volt increments. from 2 volt 8000 AH cells down to 36 volt 10 AH ebike batteries. There is no reason to ever parallel batteries unless you need more than 8000 AH used on a nuke sub, and nuke subs do not ever parallel batteries. Their lives depend on the batteries and would never be stupid enough to parallel batteries. Understand?

                      There is one exception top use a 12 volt battery. If you only need 100 AH or less. But you are talking a very small daily load of less than 400 wh/day. A toy system.
                      Last edited by Sunking; 06-10-2018, 08:17 PM.
                      MSEE, PE

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jwill View Post
                        I was in my head thinking my solar panel setup would not be mounted to my roof and I would be able to store them in a safe place in the event of a storm.
                        Now that is funny stuff, I don't care who you are. If you did that, you would need a battery charger to keep the batteries charged. If you have a battery charger, you dont need solar. Ironic huh?


                        Originally posted by jwill View Post
                        You will have to educate me on the acronym "PV" as I am not familiar.
                        PV = Photovoltaic Solar Panels



                        MSEE, PE

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jwill View Post
                          Great comments but what those of you that don't live on the gulf coast is that Gas is not available a few days after a hurricane therefore your generator is only a short term solution. I to am looking for a similar solution but only want to run a few items (e g Fans, fridge) for comfort while the power is out but the sun is not. I have also wondered about a wind/solar combined solution. And no you don't have weeks of rain with any hurricane i have survived, it is always hot, sunny after the storm passes. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I will continue to research and educate myself as many of the articles on this site assume you know more than I have consumed at this point. I really need a Solar for dummies book.


                          I live on the Texas coast and I can tell you that solar is the last thing you want. I have two generators, one gas for the RV and the other is Diesel, why Diesel.. well you said it.. everyone is running around looking to fill their gas guzzling V8 trucks and there is none to be had.. therefore there is almost always plenty of Diesel is to be had.. been there, done it, got the T shirt.. get yourself a Diesel genny and be done with it.... i'm 60+ and seen more hurricanes than i can shake a stick at.. but that Diesel genny has always pulled me through time after time..


                          Last edited by OldSmokey; 06-10-2018, 08:32 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks Sunking, will be in go mode to purchase my batteries, charger and Inverter. BTW I my dream world I would take my solar panels back out after the storm to charge the batteries. But point taken on not the solution for me.

                            Oldsmokey - thanks for the feedback, unfortunately already have a gas/propane generator so I will plan my emergency power around that main piece of the solution.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Here's my $.02 - While I merely tinker with solar (very much a newbie), I bought an inexpensive generator (4000watts). It runs on both gas and propane (think cookout grill 20# cylinders). I run the generator once or twice per year for several hours to keep it lubed/change the oil. My plan is to continue buying inexpensive propane tanks (at yard sales, etc) and have them filled at Costco or swap for filled ones. My understanding is that if they don't leak, they will keep for years without issues that gas would have.

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