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SolomonMan

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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #1 
All,
I have a little knowledge in Electronics (College Course) and some practical experience rewiring two complete homes but never anything solar and I am not a electrical engineer but a Software engineer.

I am considering three small Solar projects to get started and they are in order of complexity.

1) For a Small Pond (1/4 acre) want to power a small air pump (I mean small - personally seen Aquarium pumps larger).

2) Outside Light (Maybe easier than #1 but have not decided on light/type yet - are there 12 Volt Lights that are good for lighting Large Yard/on a pole/Building? The section of yard to light up is ~1 acre.

3) Complete Barn Lighting (LED) and possibly small wattage heat wire (internal to pipe) for watering system.

Currently this is all going to be "Off the Grid"...Basically small installations...everything if currently running is on long Extension cords (not my setup...just bought the place).

Location of all items are spread over 3 acres of yard so I am thinking separated small installations will be best.

One thing I am having problem is how to figure the System (components/size).

If I know the device(s) electric needs how do you calculate the size of Panels (wattage) and Batteries (amp size). The Inverter should be straight forward I believe....

This is a wide open 3 acres Farm (no trees), Sunny, and windy. Located in Northwest Ohio.

Thanks
Chris





stmbtwle

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Reply with quote  #2 
The pond is probably the easiest, get a 12v pump of the size you want and a 12v panel big enough to run it (probably 150-200% of the pump rating depending on your latitude), and connect the two together. When the sun shines the pump will run. If you want it to run at night you'll need to add a battery or two, charge controller, and at least another panel.

The lights are more complicated. You'll need to determine what your total wattage is going to be and multiply by the number of hours you want it to run between charges. Divide by 6 will give you the amp hours of battery for a 12v system. Try to determine how much of sunshine you get (see a website called PV WATTS). You'll need at least as many watt hours of solar as you are using with your lights, plus a hefty margin. How much depends on the weather.

Yes you can get LED floodlights, but you'll probably need more than one.

You may find it more convenient/cheaper to use 120v lights instead of 12v, in which case you'll also need an inverter big enough to carry all the load you expect to use at any given time, and possibly a timer.

It's not rocket science but when in doubt go bigger. Mother Nature has a habit of throwing curves.

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Solar is like the wind. It may be free, but putting it to work isn't!
Willie, Tampa Bay
SolomonMan

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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #3 
stmbtwle,

Thanks for the response!

I was also able to find the below youtube Channel that helped me greatly...at least to get me around a few things I had some issues with verbage/syntax;

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlgXG93-wIfZYFbPasCvOwltqJ2h5pPpo

I will have to break out a few sheets of paper to calculate the needs but I think I have a fair amount of information to get me started...

On the pond...going to have to see what size that pump is exactly to see what a 12 Volt equivalent one will run me....Hopefully not more than a Inverter...Was thinking of making it run 24 hours but I will have price/figure everything out.


Again Thanks for the help,
Chris
stmbtwle

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Reply with quote  #4 
I had forgotten about it, but that "tin hat ranch" series is very informative and helpful for nonprofessionals like you and me.
__________________
Solar is like the wind. It may be free, but putting it to work isn't!
Willie, Tampa Bay
stmbtwle

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Reply with quote  #5 
A note on the pond pump. 12v pumps of any size aren't cheap. The most common ones are marine bilge pumps, but they're brushed pumps and won't last long in continuous service. You might be better off using the pump you already have with an inverter. I just looked at a 700 gpm, 120v pond pump of mine and it's rated at less than half an amp, or about 60 watts. A small 150w inverter costs about $30... you can do the math.

I also tested a small inverter of mine on a solar panel. When the panel was shaded, the inverter shut down as expected, but when the shade was removed the inverter started back up, "automatically". Something to consider.

__________________
Solar is like the wind. It may be free, but putting it to work isn't!
Willie, Tampa Bay
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