Solar panel on roof of coop??

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by poohtob, Mar 19, 2018.

  1. poohtob

    poohtob In the Brooder

    Aug 25, 2016
    SE PA, DE/PA border
    I'm looking into possibly putting a solar panel or two on the roof of my coop. I'm only looking for it to power a warmer plate for their water and maybe some light for the backyard. A fan for the summer might also be nice.

    If anyone has any suggestions can they let me know.

    Thanks, Teri
    ChickNanny13 likes this.
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Crossing the Road

    Apr 6, 2014
    Melrose Park Illinois
    You can get a solar panel setup, but there is more to it than just a panel. You will also need a storage battery as well as a converter. Not sure how much power consumption you will encounter with warmers and lights. The solar power is only practical if regular house current is not readily available to run to coop.
    Here is a Basic solar product. Study and see if it will meet your needs.
    I don't endorse this item, It is just for information. You can buy your items from wherever you think is best.,f,Sale+Rank,f&q=solar+panel
    WISHING YOU BEST....... :highfive:
  3. totalloser

    totalloser In the Brooder

    Mar 14, 2018
    If you are going to bother with a panel avoid that type like plague. (Please take no offense :)) Short lived and fragile- those are referred to as "thin film" technology, or "amorphous silicon" panels.

    You want polycrystalline or monocrystalline. And used (!!!) is almost always fine for these types they live for many decades with minimal degradation. If you aren't too picky, they are often given away FREE when damaged during removal, and most use safety glass, so they often still function, but with a slight drop in performance from the refraction of light along the cracks. I got a pile of unbroken 150w monocrystalline (best type) for $35 each from an industrial roof tear-off.

    As long as what you are trying to do has minimal power requirements and you can live with running DC only, all you need is the battery, a charge controller, and a panel.

    The charge controller in my other thread IIRC is about $20 (Ebay) and I have had good luck with them. Stone age simple to wire up. Heat is a challenge to make from solar though. It's very easy to use a LOT of juice making heat. AC heat elements work fine if you don't mind doing a little math. I am running 240v water heater elements as dump loads for my non-chicken solar/wind system. But lower voltage means lower current passes through the element. Making light is a different story- LED's are about as efficient as fluorescent, and are particularly suited to low DC voltages.

    In "theory" you can use a matched panel without a controller, but in reality it sucks pretty badly to do so. This arrangement "regulates" by having a panel that only makes max voltage nothing more. Which means your lower voltage production periods do NOTHING, and now and then the voltage *will* spike and overcharge the battery despite the theory.

    MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) controllers are best, but a PWM (Pulse Width Modulated) is probably fine for a coop. They both allow a higher voltage panel so that you get production almost all of the time there's light, and won't overcharge the battery boiling away the electrolyte. Watch that you stay within "open voltage" specs on the controller when planning though.

    One last detail- I specifically chose a dedicated solar even though both grid and Alt-e nearby. Not only is there no extension cord running across the yard (obvious safety hazard) but the charge quality of even the cheapo charge controllers *far* surpass even most of the best shop battery chargers. Most wall chargers are either unregulated or surprisingly wasteful.

    A major deciding factor for me is that I have run various rarely used 12v winch and electric over hydraulic systems in my shop, and one of two things happens: I either forget to charge them and ruin the battery, or put them on a "float charger" that very slowly boils away the electrolyte until the battery explodes. I have even had this problem with sealed AGM batteries. The solar CC's just seem to work. I finally decided to keep *one* battery on a small solar system and just swap it in as needed.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
  4. CLSranch

    CLSranch Songster

    Sep 23, 2015
    NE OK
    I just bought a $200 set up from Missouri wind and solar for the exact same thing. Wish I had it over the winter but I didn't have the $. 100 watt panel charge controller and a little bit of wiring.
    It would cost $100 in extension cord to run to my coop then the horses would step on it and cut it in half. I could bury it but now were talking more work and money than the solar set up.
    I used an old truck battery. But a new deep cycle marine is $150 or less. $350 total.
  5. CLSranch

    CLSranch Songster

    Sep 23, 2015
    NE OK
    plus the inverter. Under 400 still for everything. That's a lot but you can take the panel in my case camping in the summer and run a fridge.
  6. totalloser

    totalloser In the Brooder

    Mar 14, 2018
    Sounds slick. But consider carefully when picking the inverter. Cheaper ones are just "on" or "off" which renders them useless as a standby power source. This is because they draw power all the time just being "on". Even 10 watts adds up when it's on 24 hours a day.

    Slightly more sophisticated inverters have a "sleep" mode which comes on every 10 or 20 seconds to look for a load, and if one is detected they kick fully on. This feature is very important on a small system, as it cuts idle power consumption down dramatically. Even fairly sophisticated inverters have trouble detecting some loads though.

    Then there's square wave which some electronic devices won't cooperate with, modified sine, high frequency true sine wave, and the best type, low frequency true sine wave. Watch out for exaggerated ratings based on "surge capacity". High frequency inverters may have a surge rating that is only good for a fraction of a second, far below their rated capacity. And of course, remember- anything with a motor is going to have a stout increase in surge load to start the motor. IE that fridge may only draw 5 amps running, but might need 20 when the motor starts, and will almost certainly draw it for more than a high frequency surge capacity is rated for.

    Not sure if anyone really cares, but here's some differences:

    Square wave just flips from positive to negative in the AC pattern.

    Modified square wave has some steps to even it out a bit.

    High frequency Sine has a bunch of tiny steps to make a fairly smooth waveform.

    Low frequency Sine uses a small transformer in addition to transistors to make the sine wave and generally can carry a surge load long enough to meaningfully help start electric motors.
    CLSranch likes this.

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