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  • DIY Solar Generator Review

    Hi all, I am trying to build a portable solar generator. Here is what I have so far:

    Solar Panel:

    100w, 12vFolding solar panel: http://amzn.to/2iNeCR7

    OR

    100w, 18v folding solar panel: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/100-...255323267.html


    100 AH, 12v battery: http://amzn.to/2iqfOgH

    Battery Box:http://amzn.to/2ig85kX

    1500W, 12v to 110AC Inverter: http://amzn.to/2iqbyOl

    30Amp 12v/24v solar charge controller: http://amzn.to/2hCPqRp

    What do you think of this design? Are these all the correct parts and sized properly? Am I missing anything? ...and do you think this would this be able to run a refrigerator?

    Thank you for your input or suggestions. I appreciate it.

  • #2
    Hello spguykdl and welcome to Solar Panel Talk

    Your system is very similar to mine.

    If you use that 100Ah battery you should use 2 x 100 watt panels. Only one will not be enough to properly charge it since you will need about 10 amps of charging and those 100watt panels get you about half that.

    Next that 1500w inverter is a little big for your battery. I would go with something around 600watts. If not then make sure you use wire between the battery and inverter to handle at least 150 amps and include a fuse around 125amps.

    Here are a couple of pics of my system. It has an 80watt panel (I should have gotten a 100 watt) a 65Ah battery and only a 250watt inverter which is enough for what I need.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by SunEagle View Post
      Hello spguykdl and welcome to Solar Panel Talk

      Your system is very similar to mine.

      If you use that 100Ah battery you should use 2 x 100 watt panels. Only one will not be enough to properly charge it since you will need about 10 amps of charging and those 100watt panels get you about half that.

      Next that 1500w inverter is a little big for your battery. I would go with something around 600watts. If not then make sure you use wire between the battery and inverter to handle at least 150 amps and include a fuse around 125amps.

      Here are a couple of pics of my system. It has an 80watt panel (I should have gotten a 100 watt) a 65Ah battery and only a 250watt inverter which is enough for what I need.

      Really great design! Thank you for sharing. So excuse my ignorance here, but how do you know how much solar panel you need to effectively charge a battery?

      For example, what's the max battery I can get with a 100w solar panel? ...and would that be able to power something like a refrigerator?

      Thanks again.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by spguykdl View Post


        ...and do you think this would this be able to run a refrigerator?

        No, unless you charge the batteries for several days, then run the refrigerator for one day.
        Have you picked a refrigerator model yet?
        Dennis
        SE5000 18 each SW185

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by spguykdl View Post
          Really great design! Thank you for sharing. So excuse my ignorance here, but how do you know how much solar panel you need to effectively charge a battery?
          For example, what's the max battery I can get with a 100w solar panel? ...and would that be able to power something like a refrigerator? Thanks again.
          Hi and welcome.
          If you would like, there are some posts already made (stickies) that can answer most of your questions.
          As to how "we" know, SCIENCE. Science and Math tell us everything

          Like the Fridge, most fridges (even little dorm fridges) need about a 1200W inverter to start the compressor up, Some inverters are better than others, some fridges worse. So, in order to be successful, one has to oversize the inverter a bit. That's just the power needed to start the compressor. Running, is much less, 160W or less even.
          How long the battery can run the fridge depends on the size of the battery

          The needed size of a solar panel, to recharge a battery is a pretty solid, preset ratio. Too small of panel, and your battery suffers from undercharge, too large, and you waste $ on expensive panels you don't need.

          This one sticky covers most of it:
          https://www.solarpaneltalk.com/forum...battery-design

          and for more info - here - https://www.solarpaneltalk.com/forum...-panel-systems
          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


          • #6
            Howdy and welcome. before anyone can really help, you have to answer a question a very important question. If you do not answer it, can lead to very nasty surprise. That question is: Will what you want, do what you expect? No one here can answer that for you, only you can.

            I cannot tell you if if meets your needs or expectation, but 90% of folks who come here like yourself all make the exact same common mistake. What they want to buy comes no where close to doing what they think it can do. What I can tell you about the items you listed cannot do much, and the Inverter is grossly larger than anything a 12 volt battery can do, especially such a small battery. It is flat out dangerous. If all you want to do is run a laptop, charge a few cell phones, and run a few small low power 1 watt LEDs it will will sort of work, but beyond that not anything meaningful. It wil generate 200 to 400 watt hours a day at best or 2 to 5 cents of electricity per day.

            OK assuming you are OK with that lets move on to what you have selected.

            The panels are way over priced, you can get decent 100 watts panel almost 1/2 that cost. Example any Wally World, Blue or Orange stores box stores sell Grapes for half that cost and no shipping cost.

            The battery is an inexpensive 2 year at most AGM battery. You can do better for the same money.One huge mistake you are making is thinking you can runn a 1500 wat Inverter with the battery. That battery can deliver fairly high discharge current of about C/4 or 25 amps. That is about 1.5 hours at 300 watts. You hit that battery with 150 amps required to run 1500 watts, one of two things are going happen. Either the Inverter is going to trip off line from under voltage if you are luck, or melt the battery Term Post off.

            The charge controller you are looking at is a Chi-Com fake. It claims it is a MPPT charge controller but in reality a $25 PWM controller that turns your 100 watt panel into 50 watts, and a tbest limit you to only 100 to 200 watts of usable power, half of what a real MPPT controller can do.

            The Inverter if I were King would be illegal for the simple fact is no 12 volt Inverter should be larger than 1000 watts and even that is risky. First problem a 12 volt 1500 watt Inverter requires some very large expensive copper cables neither your battery or Inverter Terminals can terminate. We are talking 150 amps and to handle that kind of current you are talking cable th esize of your thumb and some serious large surface area connectors. Secondly to run a 12 volt 1500 watt Inverter takes a lot more battery than you have, At best as a rule of thumb C/6 is about all a lead acid battery can handle where C is the battery AH capacity So at 150 amps you would need a 6 hours x 150 amps = 900 AH or 9 more of the batteries you are looking at. Ideally so you do not wear your battery out to quickly and to be safe you limit battery discharge and charge current to C/10. That means with th ebattery you have is about right for a 150 watt panel with a MPPT controlle, and a 150 watt Inverter. So you have some serious issues with your Inverter choice.

            Oh almost missed it. How do you size the battery and panel wattage. Well as a rule of thumb you size the battery for 5 day capacity so you can get a decent cycle life ou tof it and CYA for 2 or 3 cloudy days. A 12 volt 100 AH bayyery is good for 12 volts x 100 AH / 5 days = 240 watt hours lets just call it 300 watt hours to be optimistic and to make a sell.

            The perfect charge rate is C/10 or C/x where C = the battery Capacity in Amp Hours and x = hours. So for a 100 AH / 10 hours = 10 amps. In terms of power is on a 12 volt 100 AH battery is 12 volts x 10 amps = 120 watts.

            To generate 10 amps depends on th etype of charge Controler you use being PWM or MPPT. With PWM Output Current = Input Current. The input current of a PWM controler is th epanels Imp current and those panels you are looking at 5.9 amps. So into a 12 volt battery you get 12 volts x 5.9 amps = 70 watts.

            For MPPT Output Current = Panel Wattage / battery voltage. Do the math and see what a 100 watt panel will do with a 100 watt panel .

            So there you go, now ask yourself if you really want to do this or not for 3 cents worth of electricity a day. I say goferit, it is solar.

            Good Luck
            MSEE, PE

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Sunking View Post
              Howdy and welcome. before anyone can really help, you have to answer a question a very important question. If you do not answer it, can lead to very nasty surprise. That question is: Will what you want, do what you expect? No one here can answer that for you, only you can.

              I cannot tell you if if meets your needs or expectation, but 90% of folks who come here like yourself all make the exact same common mistake. What they want to buy comes no where close to doing what they think it can do. What I can tell you about the items you listed cannot do much, and the Inverter is grossly larger than anything a 12 volt battery can do, especially such a small battery. It is flat out dangerous. If all you want to do is run a laptop, charge a few cell phones, and run a few small low power 1 watt LEDs it will will sort of work, but beyond that not anything meaningful. It wil generate 200 to 400 watt hours a day at best or 2 to 5 cents of electricity per day.

              OK assuming you are OK with that lets move on to what you have selected.

              The panels are way over priced, you can get decent 100 watts panel almost 1/2 that cost. Example any Wally World, Blue or Orange stores box stores sell Grapes for half that cost and no shipping cost.

              The battery is an inexpensive 2 year at most AGM battery. You can do better for the same money.One huge mistake you are making is thinking you can runn a 1500 wat Inverter with the battery. That battery can deliver fairly high discharge current of about C/4 or 25 amps. That is about 1.5 hours at 300 watts. You hit that battery with 150 amps required to run 1500 watts, one of two things are going happen. Either the Inverter is going to trip off line from under voltage if you are luck, or melt the battery Term Post off.

              The charge controller you are looking at is a Chi-Com fake. It claims it is a MPPT charge controller but in reality a $25 PWM controller that turns your 100 watt panel into 50 watts, and a tbest limit you to only 100 to 200 watts of usable power, half of what a real MPPT controller can do.

              The Inverter if I were King would be illegal for the simple fact is no 12 volt Inverter should be larger than 1000 watts and even that is risky. First problem a 12 volt 1500 watt Inverter requires some very large expensive copper cables neither your battery or Inverter Terminals can terminate. We are talking 150 amps and to handle that kind of current you are talking cable th esize of your thumb and some serious large surface area connectors. Secondly to run a 12 volt 1500 watt Inverter takes a lot more battery than you have, At best as a rule of thumb C/6 is about all a lead acid battery can handle where C is the battery AH capacity So at 150 amps you would need a 6 hours x 150 amps = 900 AH or 9 more of the batteries you are looking at. Ideally so you do not wear your battery out to quickly and to be safe you limit battery discharge and charge current to C/10. That means with th ebattery you have is about right for a 150 watt panel with a MPPT controlle, and a 150 watt Inverter. So you have some serious issues with your Inverter choice.

              Oh almost missed it. How do you size the battery and panel wattage. Well as a rule of thumb you size the battery for 5 day capacity so you can get a decent cycle life ou tof it and CYA for 2 or 3 cloudy days. A 12 volt 100 AH bayyery is good for 12 volts x 100 AH / 5 days = 240 watt hours lets just call it 300 watt hours to be optimistic and to make a sell.

              The perfect charge rate is C/10 or C/x where C = the battery Capacity in Amp Hours and x = hours. So for a 100 AH / 10 hours = 10 amps. In terms of power is on a 12 volt 100 AH battery is 12 volts x 10 amps = 120 watts.

              To generate 10 amps depends on th etype of charge Controler you use being PWM or MPPT. With PWM Output Current = Input Current. The input current of a PWM controler is th epanels Imp current and those panels you are looking at 5.9 amps. So into a 12 volt battery you get 12 volts x 5.9 amps = 70 watts.

              For MPPT Output Current = Panel Wattage / battery voltage. Do the math and see what a 100 watt panel will do with a 100 watt panel .

              So there you go, now ask yourself if you really want to do this or not for 3 cents worth of electricity a day. I say goferit, it is solar.

              Good Luck


              So incredibly helpful. Thank you very much. I really appreciate your detailed responses. Thank you again.

              So let's say you had $300 to spend on a solar generator, how would you design it to get the most bang for your buck?

              And on the other had, what if you could spend $800? How would you design it to get the most bang for your buck?

              I really appreciate your input. Thank you again.

              Comment


              • #8
                So we have a idea of a budget for a $300 and $800 systems.
                The problem is, we don't know what the loads are, Is it a big load for 4 short periods a day, or a light load 24hrs every day. That sort of shapes the way the system get's designed.
                And for $300, you don't get to do much at all. Heck, my nice 300w PS inverter cost more than $300, but it's very efficient and the battery always has power regardless of the weather, because the inverter does not burn power in idle.

                One path
                $100 12v deep cycle battery size 24 (about 80ah)
                $100 PV panel, but you have to buy it locally and save shipping costs
                $ 80 charge controller
                $ 20 LED lights
                But if you need a system for YOUR aquarium air pump, I have no inverter to run the pump with.
                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


                • #9
                  spguykdl - just know at this point to design a solar generator effectively, one has to know ALL the parameters, not just a few. With only a few, we can only suggest common shopping-cart items, which may or may not fit your needs. Essentially, you are winging it.

                  To do solar right, one doesn't buy anything at all at first! You measure the power draw of your device, multiply that by the hours per day you plan to run it. This determines the capacity of your battery. It gets even larger if you need multiple days of no-sun operation. THEN, based on your geographical location's solar-insolation for winter-time, and amount of solar power needed to be replenished to the battery, determines the size of your solar array. You then see if it is a decent match for your battery bank.

                  What I'm saying is that one *never* starts out with "how much can I get for $xxx dollars". You either end up paying way too little because the system won't even support your load at all, OR in rare cases, is total overkill, and money is wasted on a system too large.

                  To determine this, you close wallet and start reading and measuring. One tool to add to your kit would be a P3-International Kill-A-Watt meter.

                  But, if you just want to add something to your shopping cart right now, all I can say is what are your plans when you have no / insufficient sun to recharge that 100ah battery? You don't want to let it sit around discharged or it will slowly destroy itself.

                  Since the chance of getting a half-dead battery online is pretty high (unless you can vouch for the seller), or if your project ends up trying to kill the battery itself, you'll want something to save it. Ie, an ac charger. You should use one of these first before even starting a solar project, to help ensure you get your battery off to the right start.

                  It may seem pricey, but this is the price to pay when one doesn't know (or want) to get into the nitty gritty of battery charging and maintenance. This Optima 1200 model will serve you well to maintain and/or save that 100ah battery:

                  https://www.amazon.com/Optima-Digita...a+digital+1200

                  The upfront price shocks some, but if your solar project goes bust, it will easily take care of your vehicular batteries, for friends, family, and yourself. It will revive batteries as low as 1.25v, assuming they haven't been left in a discharged state for an eternity. Many other chargers won't. It's a good investment whether you continue on with your solar project or not.

                  There are many charger options out there. For your skill level and environment, this may be your best option right now.
                  Last edited by PNjunction; 12-31-2016, 03:46 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sunking View Post
                    Howdy and welcome. before anyone can really help, you have to answer a question a very important question. If you do not answer it, can lead to very nasty surprise. That question is: Will what you want, do what you expect? No one here can answer that for you, only you can.

                    I cannot tell you if if meets your needs or expectation, but 90% of folks who come here like yourself all make the exact same common mistake. What they want to buy comes no where close to doing what they think it can do. What I can tell you about the items you listed cannot do much, and the Inverter is grossly larger than anything a 12 volt battery can do, especially such a small battery. It is flat out dangerous. If all you want to do is run a laptop, charge a few cell phones, and run a few small low power 1 watt LEDs it will will sort of work, but beyond that not anything meaningful. It wil generate 200 to 400 watt hours a day at best or 2 to 5 cents of electricity per day.

                    OK assuming you are OK with that lets move on to what you have selected.

                    The panels are way over priced, you can get decent 100 watts panel almost 1/2 that cost. Example any Wally World, Blue or Orange stores box stores sell Grapes for half that cost and no shipping cost.

                    The battery is an inexpensive 2 year at most AGM battery. You can do better for the same money.One huge mistake you are making is thinking you can runn a 1500 wat Inverter with the battery. That battery can deliver fairly high discharge current of about C/4 or 25 amps. That is about 1.5 hours at 300 watts. You hit that battery with 150 amps required to run 1500 watts, one of two things are going happen. Either the Inverter is going to trip off line from under voltage if you are luck, or melt the battery Term Post off.

                    The charge controller you are looking at is a Chi-Com fake. It claims it is a MPPT charge controller but in reality a $25 PWM controller that turns your 100 watt panel into 50 watts, and a tbest limit you to only 100 to 200 watts of usable power, half of what a real MPPT controller can do.

                    The Inverter if I were King would be illegal for the simple fact is no 12 volt Inverter should be larger than 1000 watts and even that is risky. First problem a 12 volt 1500 watt Inverter requires some very large expensive copper cables neither your battery or Inverter Terminals can terminate. We are talking 150 amps and to handle that kind of current you are talking cable th esize of your thumb and some serious large surface area connectors. Secondly to run a 12 volt 1500 watt Inverter takes a lot more battery than you have, At best as a rule of thumb C/6 is about all a lead acid battery can handle where C is the battery AH capacity So at 150 amps you would need a 6 hours x 150 amps = 900 AH or 9 more of the batteries you are looking at. Ideally so you do not wear your battery out to quickly and to be safe you limit battery discharge and charge current to C/10. That means with th ebattery you have is about right for a 150 watt panel with a MPPT controlle, and a 150 watt Inverter. So you have some serious issues with your Inverter choice.

                    Oh almost missed it. How do you size the battery and panel wattage. Well as a rule of thumb you size the battery for 5 day capacity so you can get a decent cycle life ou tof it and CYA for 2 or 3 cloudy days. A 12 volt 100 AH bayyery is good for 12 volts x 100 AH / 5 days = 240 watt hours lets just call it 300 watt hours to be optimistic and to make a sell.

                    The perfect charge rate is C/10 or C/x where C = the battery Capacity in Amp Hours and x = hours. So for a 100 AH / 10 hours = 10 amps. In terms of power is on a 12 volt 100 AH battery is 12 volts x 10 amps = 120 watts.

                    To generate 10 amps depends on th etype of charge Controler you use being PWM or MPPT. With PWM Output Current = Input Current. The input current of a PWM controler is th epanels Imp current and those panels you are looking at 5.9 amps. So into a 12 volt battery you get 12 volts x 5.9 amps = 70 watts.

                    For MPPT Output Current = Panel Wattage / battery voltage. Do the math and see what a 100 watt panel will do with a 100 watt panel .

                    So there you go, now ask yourself if you really want to do this or not for 3 cents worth of electricity a day. I say goferit, it is solar.

                    Good Luck
                    Hi SolarKing,

                    Is there a way to message you privately or get a hold of you another way? I work for a publishing company who is looking for an author/ghostwriter for a solar energy book. You clearly have a strong mastery of solar energy and solar generators. I looked through many of your other posts and think you would be perfect for this. Please respond to this message or private message me if possible to discuss this. Of course this would be paid and you would be educating people on solar energy. Thank you.

                    Admin Note, I have (will) send SunKing your email adresss

                    Comment

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