A couple years ago, my parents got me a used solar panel and charger for my birthday. It was the middle of the winter so I didn't get it up and running for a while.When it warmed up I mounted the solar panel on my roof and hooked it up to some batteries and got it up and running.Here is the solar panel
The solar panel faces south west, because of my roof I had to point it slightly to the west in order to take advantage of the afternoon sun since it doesn't get any morning sun. The solar panel is a 35W Siemens panel that used to be mounted on a RVThis is the charge controller
Originally I was going to purchase a digital controller but this one has proved to work very well. Right now you can see its charging the batteries at 2.5 amps. If you flip the switch it shows the voltage of the batteries. It also automaticly stops charging when the batteries are fully charged.I have four 75 hour, lead acid batteries as a battery bank
I got these batteries used from a UPS. They replaced the batteries in the UPS's because they were getting old. They still have some life left in them so I rigged them up. I have had these batteries for two years now and they still work great for my needs.Everything wired up
Here I have my four lead acid batteries wired up in parallel, plus one more small battery. They are all wired up using neutral bars out of electrical conduit boxes secured to a 2X4, works really well for my needs. I also have a harbor freight 400 watt inverter to run various 120 volt loads.
My total battery bank capacity is about 280 amp/hours of capacity, if the batteries are in peak condition which I am certain they are not due to there age.The batteries are under my car port and occassionaly get wet when the wind blows the rain. I should put them in a battery box and pretty up the wiring, I just haven't gotten around to it.Overall, the solar system works well. I hope to get a larger inverter someday so I can run some small power tools like my dremel or a drill. The 400 watt inverter will run my stereo in my shack, small lights, and occassionally I run my 20 inch TV in my living room.
It will not run any power tools or anything. Also if the load has a large startup power needs the inverter will die out. I hope to get a 1,000 watt inverter someday to run those occassional loads like power tools.I have ran my 20 inch TV (36 watts) for 10 hours off of the solar panel without a single problem.
I was curious how much it costs to generate power off of the solar system vs. using grid power, so I fired up excel and did some calculations.
Long story short, a 30 watt solar panel that costs $200 brand new will take roughly 20.3 years to pay itself off generating power every day for 12 hours per day when comparing it to the power rate we pay at our house of $0.08 per KW/Hr
Someday, I hope to rig up a wind generator to this system and possibly rig up one of my appliances to run off of the solar system.
In an emergency, I can rig up my home made battery charger made out of a lawn more engine and car altenator to charge the system. This system easily puts out 15 amps of charging current with the engine at idle. I can also use any of my vehicles to charge up this system simply by using a set of jumpers and bringing up the idle RPM slightly.
I can also power my ham radios for communications.
I do not plan to run freezers or any high loads off of this system, thats what I have my Onan generator for