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  • NEWB looking to the experts for help

    This is my first post but I've been visiting for some time now. Thank all of you on here that have taught me what I've come to know over the last year or two concerning solar. I love being able to read the advice of some very smart people on here. Information is PRICELESS!
    Next, I will give a rundown of what I currently have and what I'm trying to accomplish.

    EQUIPMENT: 3 x 110ah AGM 12V Batteries wired in parallel
    3 x 150W 12V Mono Panels
    Morningstar PS-30M Solar Controller
    3 x 30amp Breakers for panels
    Stainless steel enclosure for all electronics
    Now, as I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong....again....newbie here) I am getting 330ah from the batteries wired in parallel, which in turn gives me around 4Kw from fully charged batts. What I would like to do (yes, I know it's a bit of a tall order) is....you guessed it....run my WELL PUMP (LOL) from something like this or similar. The actual long term plan is to be able to be fully independent of the grid when needed. I know I cannot do this with my current setup, not even close. My energy usage is still yet to be determined, but I run a 240V well pump, dryer, AC, and range. The current energy usage is high, but I know that I can get that way down. Running AC isn't needed. The dryer is also optional. The range is a must, BUT I can use only one small element to save energy there.

    Here is another idea that I've floated... I currently have a gen disconnect with outlet on the side of my house. The circuit includes my well pump, one refrigerator, some lights and outlets, my furnace, and my range. I would say this is potentially the easiest way to get started on the essentials. I've been thinking about getting 3 more 110ah AGM batts along with 450 Watts in new panels....essentially doubling my system. If I wire them in series and then parallel, I would have the same Ah rating but would make the voltage 24v. This would give me around 8Kw in fully charged batts. I'm confident that I can manage the rest of the energy in the house on that (~4Kw), but I have to use most of the power draw in the daylight hours. My problem becomes....yup....the pump. I may have to bite the bullet and get a different pump (either DC, soft start capable, or supply tank with pump) to make this feasible, but wanted to hear it from those who actually know what they are talking about concerning MY setup and pump, not someone else's. Another thing (both good and bad) is that my well pump is 180' down, and about a MONTH OLD hahaha. The bright side being, I know EXACTLY what is down there.

    The pump is a 1/2HP Grundfos pump running at 230V, 60Hz, with Max SF amps at 6 and SF of 1.6. It's ~180 feet deep and pumps 7GPM. My pump is also a 3-wire with a control box and cap/relay. Using my current setup or something relatively similar, is it feasible to even try to run this pump? I've heard others being shot down quickly and yet others that have had success on less.

    Also, a BIG part of this equation is the inverter. I don't currently have one, so I am both not limited to AND lacking in that equipment.
    Last edited by AspiringHermit; 03-09-2020, 03:43 PM. Reason: Edited to include the wiring of pump

  • #2
    I would start with clarifying your power needs. The measurement of power over time is best expressed in kWhrs. That is also how to measure battery capacity.

    Are you currently on the grid? If so does your power company offer Net Energy Metering?
    9 kW solar. Driving EVs since 2012

    Comment


    • #3
      AGM batteries in parallel is always a tough act to properly balance. Plain flooded can do it because they have higher internal resistance and helps distribute the current more evenly.

      I'd suggest for starter system, 6V 200a golf cart batteries, wire 2 in series and you end up with a rugged 12v, 200ah battery with no parallel issues. But it's not sexy, just tough & cheap.
      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


      • #4
        Originally posted by Ampster View Post
        I would start with clarifying your power needs. The measurement of power over time is best expressed in kWhrs. That is also how to measure battery capacity.

        Are you currently on the grid? If so does your power company offer Net Energy Metering?
        My "needs" are essentially limited to my pump. All other power I am confident I can deal with... The only other energy hogs are the AC, range, furnace, and fridge. I don't need the AC at all, the stove I can virtually eliminate by using a single element or even fire if needed. The fridge I will have to figure in, BUT I have a root cellar ready if I decide to downsize that...and the furnace I plan on eliminating in the future. I am currently on grid power, but have ZERO desire to tie into it. I'd like this system to be stand alone AND expandable if I can manage that.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Mike90250 View Post
          AGM batteries in parallel is always a tough act to properly balance. Plain flooded can do it because they have higher internal resistance and helps distribute the current more evenly.

          I'd suggest for starter system, 6V 200a golf cart batteries, wire 2 in series and you end up with a rugged 12v, 200ah battery with no parallel issues. But it's not sexy, just tough & cheap.
          Mike, thanks for the suggestion. I have read many of your posts helping others and am glad that I have the chance to thank you for teaching me some of the basics along the way.

          That being said...I'm not at all worried about it being "sexy" lol. Tough and cheap is much more my speed! So, as you suggest...two 6v flooded batts in series bringing that up to 12V would give me ~2.4kw, having roughly 1.2kw of working battery power to use. Correct me if I am wrong, but that doesn't seem anywhere close to what I would need to start my well pump (my main concern). I would THINK (again, just my thoughts here) that I would need about double that in batts to start and operate my pump....at least in the evening or when the sun isn't out. Also, does your suggested batt setup apply to the solar panels that I currently have? (3x150W at 12V) Or is this a completely new system with panels and all?

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree with Ampster. Detail what loads you are going to support with the system and come up with an "energy budget" that you can use to size your system components.

            I think that you may find that 450 watts of panels and a 200-300 a/h 12v battery bank won't do as much as you thought. . I have 300watts and a 12v 230a/h battery bank on my travel trailer. If I go up in the mountains and park in FULL sun, in July it will support my refrigerator, cell charger and a few 12v LED lights. When I want coffee I either use the propane stove or run the generator. You get the idea.

            An electric stove, clothes dryer, heater and air conditioner will be challenging to run without a significant investment. Go propane or natural gas where you can.

            One place I will buck the tide: I am not fond of propane refrigerators. I have lived with them and one tried to kill me. Some DC refrigerators are pretty slick but they are expensive. I am working on two projects where, based on cost of refrigerators and solar gear, it was decided to go with a bit larger solar and a 120v refrigerator. The one that I am using consumes 500-650w/h daily in warm weather as measured with kill-a-watt meter over a six week period.

            Good luck with your project.
            Last edited by PNW_Steve; 03-10-2020, 12:08 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by PNW_Steve View Post
              I agree with Ampster. Detail what loads you are going to support with the system and come up with an "energy budget" that you can use to size your system components.

              I think that you may find that 450 watts of panels and a 200-300 a/h 12v battery bank won't do as much as you thought. . I have 300watts and a 12v 230a/h battery bank on my travel trailer. If I go up in the mountains and park in FULL sun, in July it will support my refrigerator, cell charger and a few 12v LED lights. When I want coffee I either use the propane stove or run the generator. You get the idea.

              An electric stove, clothes dryer, heater and air conditioner will be challenging to run without a significant investment. Go propane or natural gas where you can.

              One place I will buck the tide: I am not fond of propane refrigerators. I have lived with them and one tried to kill me. Some DC refrigerators are pretty slick but they are expensive. I am working on two projects where, based on cost of refrigerators and solar gear, it was decided to go with a bit larger solar and a 120v refrigerator. The one that I am using consumes 500-650w/h daily in warm weather as measured with kill-a-watt meter over a six week period.

              Good luck with your project.
              Thanks Steve.

              I understand that 450W isn't anything to write home about, but I really don't need many creature comforts. As you said with the stove, dryer, AC, heater....I'm not even considering having them on my batt system. I will simply not use them if I am in a no power situation. My fridge is something I will have to deal with. I'm guessing a smaller, energy saving "chest" style will be needed at some point to realistically run from batts.

              My train of thought is leaning toward powering different things with different setups. The setup I currently have I'm thinking can be used for lights, TV, modem, and light energy usage. I'd like to be able to have options when using this system as I expand as well. If I had a few separate systems powering different things, I could gradually bring the power up to accommodate the ESSENTIALS I would need until I get even further into expanding with more batts and panels. This may not be the best way to go about this, but it's what I was thinking. Anyhow, thanks for the input. I will definitely have to get a kill-a-watt meter at some point as I go. Guessing isn't an option and the money involved doesn't make it feasible to simply "overbuild".

              Comment


              • #8
                I have 300 watts of solar and a 12v 230a/h battery bank on my travel trailer. In absolutely perfect conditions, mid summer, it will run my 10.8cf refrigerator, cellphone charger and a few LED lights in the evening. If I want to run anything else, or if I have cloudy weather or trees, I have to run the generator.

                As my Wife finds a blow dryer and curling iron to be essentials when we are camping in the mountains all by ourselves I have yielded and I get up in the morning and start the generator. I let it run long enough to make coffee and my wife to do her hair then shut it down. While I am running the big loads from the generator I am also getting a headache start on charging my batteries as well.

                My new RV has 1800 watts of panels and a 24v 400a/h battery bank. I'm hoping to cut down generator run time even more

                Edit: the kill-a-watt is cheap. I have seen the basic one on sale for less than $20.
                Last edited by PNW_Steve; 03-10-2020, 12:47 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by PNW_Steve View Post
                  I have 300 watts of solar and a 12v 230a/h battery bank on my travel trailer. In absolutely perfect conditions, mid summer, it will run my 10.8cf refrigerator, cellphone charger and a few LED lights in the evening. If I want to run anything else, or if I have cloudy weather or trees, I have to run the generator.

                  As my Wife finds a blow dryer and curling iron to be essentials when we are camping in the mountains all by ourselves I have yielded and I get up in the morning and start the generator. I let it run long enough to make coffee and my wife to do her hair then shut it down. While I am running the big loads from the generator I am also getting a headache start on charging my batteries as well.

                  My new RV has 1800 watts of panels and a 24v 400a/h battery bank. I'm hoping to cut down generator run time even more

                  Edit: the kill-a-watt is cheap. I have seen the basic one on sale for less than $20.
                  1800w of panels and a 24V 400ah batt bank sounds pretty nice!!! And yes...I suppose the "essentials" is a term that is open to interpretation to some hahaha. I am beginning to think I may be in WAY over my head here. If you are running that setup on an RV, I have some serious upgrading to do before I get my well pump running on this. Even though it is only one single load....it is a big one with high startup requirements. The kill-a-watt is also going to be useless for the pump. I was going to just do the numbers and provide extra (~3x) for startup juice for that.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Well, a well pump has a VERY high surge for starting and will need a large inverter. If you can find a nameplate for the well pump, and figure out what size pump you have, that's important. Many well drillers simply stock one oversize pump and use it everywhere. You may not need a large pump. here's the generic chart, Franklin makes most of the pump motors in use today, and other brands will be just about the same power for the same size pump

                    Well Pump Motor Specs.jpg
                    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


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mike90250 View Post
                      Well, a well pump has a VERY high surge for starting and will need a large inverter. If you can find a nameplate for the well pump, and figure out what size pump you have, that's important. Many well drillers simply stock one oversize pump and use it everywhere. You may not need a large pump. here's the generic chart, Franklin makes most of the pump motors in use today, and other brands will be just about the same power for the same size pump

                      Well Pump Motor Specs.jpg

                      My well pump was just replaced last month after crapping out on me. It was sudden and the wife was NOT happy without water for even one day, so I didn't have the luxury of thinking this whole thing through before replacing it. But I DO HAVE THE NAMEPLATE. (I also kept the old, shorted pump to play with....which was a Berkley)

                      The pump is a 1/2HP Grundfos pump running at 230V, 60Hz, with Max SF amps at 6 and SF of 1.6. It's ~180 feet deep and pumps 7GPM. My pump is also a 3-wire, single phase with a control box and cap/relay.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Half HP is good, and 3 wire is good. Only needs starting power @ 21a for about 1 second. So your search for an inverter begins.
                        From my own inverters meter, my 240V 1/2hp pump, logs 1,000watts running. So does your pump run when watering the garden , or only after 3 toilet flushes ? Getting a 12V system to run in daytime is possible, but at night, much tougher.

                        21A starting current, is 4830w at 230VAC

                        100A @ 48V
                        200A @ 24V
                        400A @ 12V So at 12V, your battery cables have to be stupid thick to carry enough amps to not cause the inverter to shut down from under voltage.
                        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


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Mike90250 View Post
                          Half HP is good, and 3 wire is good. Only needs starting power @ 21a for about 1 second. So your search for an inverter begins.
                          From my own inverters meter, my 240V 1/2hp pump, logs 1,000watts running. So does your pump run when watering the garden , or only after 3 toilet flushes ? Getting a 12V system to run in daytime is possible, but at night, much tougher.

                          21A starting current, is 4830w at 230VAC

                          100A @ 48V
                          200A @ 24V
                          400A @ 12V So at 12V, your battery cables have to be stupid thick to carry enough amps to not cause the inverter to shut down from under voltage.
                          Ok. So I have a pressure tank, although not sure exactly how large, and the pump kicks on via the pressure switch. It doesn't kick on every time I turn on the water.

                          Seems I definitely need to get my system up to at least 24V to be able to run reasonable gauge cable. Using the 6V golf cart batts as you suggested before, it seems that I would need:

                          ~ 8 x 6V 200 amp golf cart batts wired in a 4x series and then in parallel to give 24V @ 400 amps. This would give me 9600w at the batts for starting and running
                          OR
                          ~ 4 x 12V 200amp deep cycle batts wired again in series and then parallel to give the same numbers

                          Those numbers seem to give me enough to start and run the pump one time before my batts are around 50% capacity, rendering the system useless until more sun hours...although I may be (and likely am) wrong here.

                          I actually was just looking at 6v 230ah deep cell duracell batts for about 160ea. Having 4 of THOSE wired in series up to 24V and then with 2 parallel strings would give me over 11kw to work with. BUT...with all of the new equipment I'm looking at now...I might as well look into getting a DC well pump or solar setup for what I would spend on just batteries alone. I can likely change my well pump on my own if I go that route....so it becomes even more of a viable option the more I am looking at costs.

                          Looking at your setup...it seems you run your similar pump on a timer during peak hours. I assume you have a storage tank that you then either gravity feed or pump to your fixtures? I am also seriously considering going that route, as it seems it would be a game changer.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If you can arrange for gravity water pressure, I'd suggest it in a heartbeat. I've got 12,000 gallons at 160' elevation on a hill, which gives lots of pressure. Then just a simple timer & float switch, and you have water - lots of it. 1500gallon tank would be enough for a house for a week, more if you need landscape water.
                            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


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mike90250 View Post
                              If you can arrange for gravity water pressure, I'd suggest it in a heartbeat. I've got 12,000 gallons at 160' elevation on a hill, which gives lots of pressure. Then just a simple timer & float switch, and you have water - lots of it. 1500gallon tank would be enough for a house for a week, more if you need landscape water.
                              I can definitely think about options. I have a little bit of land to work with on the side of a mountain. Although the higher elevations that I would use for this purpose are in undesirable locations, I can certainly consider using a much lighter duty pump to pressurize my lines from a storage tank located elsewhere. This is not something I have researched as much as solar. I will have to do some homework and brainstorm and check out my options.

                              It seems that for the solar power I would need to power my existing pump, I could probably design a system to cover my entire house AND build a gravity/storage water solution.

                              Comment

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