Solar Power Confusion

Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 11:03 am
I want to install a solar system on my trailer. I've been reading a lot about the subject. I'm not planning on doing the wiring, I'll have an expert do that. However, I need to know what to buy and how to fix the system if something goes wrong. Maybe I'm over thinking this but I just don't understand some (obvious) easy concepts.

I'm considering two 6 volt deep cell batteries for the power reserve and flexible roofing laminate solar panels, my roof will hold two. Each panel weighs 8lbs, is 62 Watts, 12v, 4.3 amps.
These panels don't get hot like the glass panels, will take a beating, and don't care where you are parked, they work best when covered with snow... go figure.
Anyway, to get back to the bone headed questions at hand.

Batteries - How much juice will these panels put into storage given perfect conditions and how fast will it happen? How many or how big should the batteries be?
Why is it faster when you get a boost from a vehicle, or is it? Can this kill batteries? Do batteries get charged faster from a generator? These questions many sound really dumb, but I've never charged a battery, just watched it being done..

Secondly, I know I have to get an inverter and a controller, but do I also need a control panel? Say I bought a 1200 Watt inverter and my system only uses 100 Watts, is this overkill and why? Will an inverter drain power? Does it matter as long as it can handle the maximum load.. I'm so confused!!

Can an appliance or light that runs on DC power be converted to run on 110v, if not, how do you wire for DC? I'm assuming you need separate wiring but how do you hook it up? would this go through a panel?

Wiring? Everything I've been reading says to buy the right sized wiring? Great, but what I don't understand is, is some wiring too big and why? How do you know when to knock it down a size or two?

If someone, anyone has any idea about this I'd appreciate some insight. Thanks.
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Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 02:39 pm
I don't know either, except that I've never heard of a problem from the wiring being too large. Too small for the load can cause the wiring to overheat and even cause fires. Also, AC motors are stressed when the voltage is too low for the design.

Your starting point should be to analyze the current needed if everything on the circuit were being used at once. We can probably find a chart showing wire size for a given current draw. Your electrician can probably do this in his head.

In case you've forgotten, the smaller the gauge size; the bigger the wire.

Definately don't do it yourself.

Now, I'll bump the thread up for farmerman. He knows all about this stuff, and has a similar rigup.
Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 04:05 pm
I use solar just to charge and operate my small stuff like lights,heater, pumps etc. I dont have enough solar power to run the microwave or AC or TV. Heres a calculator to do what rog said (calculate your needs then decide what amount of solar power you need. (Include surges and watts neede to run your gas heater through the night when the sun isnt providing recharge to the batteries)

http://www.outsidesupply.com/how-to-calculate-wattage-for-power-inverters.aspx The outside supply guys (their website is outside supply dot com) have a whole list of inverters for you. I dont think I would have bought one till I figured out what I was gonna need as a draw cause all inverters have a different capability and you want one that you can use tied down to a "camp grounds" power
Do you have an AC/DC fridge?
Heating system with a blower?
electric sockets for 110? or (whatever you canajuns work on)
I dont remember that you had an AC on top(I think you were un conditioneed) You really dont need an AC but you DO need a heater.

I would also look to my appliances you want to take and figure out what the least number of them ALL that need to run at once.

Go start with the power need calculator I didnt do the solar hookup myself because the units we had came with a computerized selector that managed the input power and charged up the stuff including batteries (I use 4 12v's) two series each hooked up into a parallel circuit of 24 volts (All our stuff is 24v) except for microwave, AC, one water heater (the other is gas), 120 outlets, laundry and TV stereo. Lights , fridge, room heater and blowers, slide-out motors, Sat dish, and computers are all within the 24 volt need.

Remember that even the little power computer has a draw.

12gagae romex is about the wire Id use, but I wouldnt do it myself either (safety and someone to sue in case it flames up)
Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 05:33 pm
Thank you. I forgot to tag it for farmerman.
Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 05:41 pm
butterflynet sent me a PM.
Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 05:58 pm
Next time, I'll try to remember to use butterflynet as a tag.
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