Solar options?? Help please

Discussion in 'DIY / Self Sufficiency' started by mtripp, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. mtripp

    mtripp Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm looking for someone with knowledge on solar units. What I'm looking to do is have a warming light run by solar power. I am just wondering if anyone out there currently does this or at least knows about different options for me. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Have a look on our sister site www.SufficientSelf.com. I saw an interesting discussion on solar power there.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2012
  3. DennisK

    DennisK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have been on Solar power for more than 15 years – exclusively. I started out something like you in that I began with a few 60 Watt panels, but then the system grew until we now run everything from the sun. Well, almost everything. We still pump water from our well with a gas powered generator (yuk). We are currently saving for two solar water pumps to run the well and a spring that we are currently developing.
    But to your project: First, you need to decide if you want to simply augment the electricity that you are already getting from your utility provider, or if you want to run your light independently. If you want only a stand-alone system, you will need solar panels, an inverter, batteries, a charge controller, and a circuit breaker box. I am imagining you want the heat lamp for a brooder. So let’s say the bulb that you will use is a 100 Watt bulb, and that you will want to run it 24 hours a day. For just that small amount of power, you can get a cheap 200 watt inverter from stores like Harbor Freight for about $20. That will convert the DC current from your batteries into 60Hz, 120 volt power that your bulb will need. The batteries are the weakest link in a solar system, and they are the most expensive. For just a heat lamp, I would get a couple of deep cycle marine batteries – hook them up in a parallel circuit (positive pole of one battery connected to the positive pole of the other battery – negative pole to the negative pole of the other battery). I would tell you to get the biggest, deepest battery you can get your hands on, but then you will need to buy solar panels large enough to keep these batteries charged. Many people, who get into solar, make the mistake of not balancing their solar panel output with their battery capacity. You don’t want to keep your batteries undercharged, but then you don’t want to buy a lot of panels that create electricity with nowhere to put it! It is a balancing act, and that will depend on how much sunlight you get. You will need a charge controller that will take current from your panels and charge your batteries. A charge controller is simply a battery charger which is designed to work with solar panels. I hope that is enough info to at least get you started.
     

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