Designing and building a solar power station

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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#41  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 02, 2017 8:50 pm

How about some feedback? How do these solar powered internet words look?


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#42  Postby theropod » Sep 02, 2017 9:48 pm

Like free electrons?

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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#43  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 02, 2017 11:19 pm

Oh, not free. These are the deluxe expensive craft electrons.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#44  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 03, 2017 2:15 am

The electrons that come out of the wires here are the green hydroelectric ones, too.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#45  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 03, 2017 4:23 pm

It turns out that my iPad Pro is a hungry bastard of a machine. I burned through half my battery yesterday. I find this thing has a 39.9 Ah battery. No wonder it took nearly half the charge in my power tank to charge the iPad overnight.

You never give this shit a second thought when all the electrons you want are waiting behind the wall on demand. All the current you can handle.

It takes a bit of thought to budget for usage and sun-time to recharge. Having that power tank adds loads of flexibility.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#46  Postby crank » Sep 03, 2017 4:24 pm

laklak wrote:We had an attic fan (bringing air through the house and out the attic) when we first moved in. It was really quite useful on a hot day, but too noisy to run at night. We took it out when we put in new air conditioning because we needed the space for additional ductwork for the new extension.

Until we figure out how to store enough energy to run A/Cs all day going completely off-grid in Florida is a non-starter. For me, anyway. I have no idea how anyone tolerated living here in pre-aircon days.

I couldn't handle it, not even close. It wasn't too long ago, didn't yellow fever and maybe malaria? keep most people out of Florida?
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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#47  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 03, 2017 4:27 pm

Battery banks.

Nickel-iron appears to be the best way forward. Twice as expensive as competing technologies, but far far longer life. They can be safely discharged by 95%. Service life is 25 years or more. The cost of ownership is half or less over their lifespan. So, looks like I'll only need to buy one bank of batteries. Ever.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#48  Postby crank » Sep 03, 2017 4:28 pm

The_Metatron wrote:It turns out that my iPad Pro is a hungry bastard of a machine. I burned through half my battery yesterday. I find this thing has a 39.9 Ah battery. No wonder it took nearly half the charge in my power tank to charge the iPad overnight.

You never give this shit a second thought when all the electrons you want are waiting behind the wall on demand. All the current you can handle.

It takes a bit of thought to budget for usage and sun-time to recharge. Having that power tank adds loads of flexibility.


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39.9Ah? jesus, that's huge. That's like golf cart battery size.

Edit: Is that your ipad battery you're talking about?
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Designing and building a solar power station

#49  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 03, 2017 5:15 pm

It's my iPad battery. The specs page at Apple say it's a 41 Ah LiPo battery.

That is more charge than the small golf cart batteries. Amazing.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#50  Postby felltoearth » Sep 04, 2017 1:12 am

The_Metatron wrote:Trying to map out my array plan. Fuck, that's no easy thing when you have obstacles to consider. I have to plan a layout, then play it through the year to see where the shadows aren't.


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You can use SketchUp Make to lay it out, geolocate you house and cast shadows fairly accurately for different times of year and day.

And it's free.

http://www.Sketchup.com

https://help.sketchup.com/en/article/3000148
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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#51  Postby theropod » Sep 04, 2017 1:15 am

The_Metatron wrote:Battery banks.

Nickel-iron appears to be the best way forward. Twice as expensive as competing technologies, but far far longer life. They can be safely discharged by 95%. Service life is 25 years or more. The cost of ownership is half or less over their lifespan. So, looks like I'll only need to buy one bank of batteries. Ever.


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You might want to think this over some more. Edison batteries are horrible energy hogs in that it takes far more amps in to recharge than most other battery types. Yes they last forever, and use less toxic plates and electrolyte, but they are a bitch to bring to full charge. They are also quite expensive, and from what I can tell are only made in China. With a huge array like you are proposing this might not be an issue. We have considered them every time we replaced our bank, but they just seem impractical for us. I would love to find some fork truck 2 volt cells as they can last nearly as long as Edisons.

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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#52  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 05, 2017 1:15 am

I report a couple other effects from powering my casual internet and my mobile by the sun:

My neighbor wants to buy a new tablet computer. She never once considered the new electrical load it will add. Admittedly, a tablet isn't going to use a lot of energy. Far less than a laptop or desktop computer. But my point is, she didn't even consider the electrical load.

You get well used to having all the energy you want come right out of the wall whenever you want it. Which brings me to another thing.

It's pretty damned satisfying to have every component powered by the system fully charged and ready to go. My own well trained electrons, waiting to do my bidding. It just isn't an event to plug your phone or tablet into a wall to charge it while you're using it.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#53  Postby OlivierK » Sep 05, 2017 9:53 am

The_Metatron wrote:My neighbor wants to buy a new tablet computer. She never once considered the new electrical load it will add. Admittedly, a tablet isn't going to use a lot of energy. Far less than a laptop or desktop computer. But my point is, she didn't even consider the electrical load.

Meh, the power that thing will suck from the wall will cost cents per week - quite right to not worry about it. :smoke: Compared to heating, refrigeration, and hot water, stuff like tablet computers are for all intents and purposes free.

Calculating electrical load is a two-edged sword. We're planning to take my wife's home office off-grid (using solar), so she can work during outages, which are a bit too frequent in our semi-remote location. We borrowed some load meters, and while we had them we calculated the cost of the portable aircon whatsit that we use to cool the kids' bedrooms down in summer, thinking that knowing the cost would make us less inclined to turn it on unless it was super-hot. In fact, it cost about half of what we thought, so we ended up using a bit more than we had been...
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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#54  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 06, 2017 2:55 am

You may have missed my point. It's those little things adding together that catch you. For example, I replaced every incandescent light bulb on my property with LED bulbs. I replaced some 3000 watts of load with a load less than a sixth of that, if I run every goddamned light I own at once.

One of my biggest savings so far was my new induction stove. It's twice as efficient as its predecessor. We do a bit of cooking for my family of four. That's a big savings there.

Next, will be my water heater. Probably this week, actually. I'm replacing a standard resistive water heater with a hybrid heat pump water heater. That'll use three quarters of the power of its predecessor.

My HVAC is centralized, a heat pump type. Not much I can do with that, it's a pretty good unit.

My next big users are the clothes washer, the dishwasher, our refrigerator, and another standing freezer. I still have a clothes dryer, and I'll have to learn what it eats for power, if I ever need to use it. We hang dry clothes, and that shouldn't be a big problem even in winter here (high humidity), because my HVAC dries the air (at least, I think it does).

I may have mentioned earlier that my new water heater will operate more efficiently because it will get the waste heat from the freezer in that equipment room. That's a bonus.

I have two additional solar projects in mind, to further reduce energy use: A recirculating water heater to pre-heat my domestic hot water before sending to the electric one. And, a solar cooker.

The solar water heater needs no engineering. Just to get the stuff and install it. At the least, it should permit me to go to full heat pump mode of operation on the electric water heater, shutting off the resistive elements entirely.

The cooker idea intrigues me immensely. I can concentrate and collect a huge percentage of sunlight, if I use its thermal energy directly. There are commercial models available, but they're not really much of a death ray. I want to be able to put 4000 watts into the bottom of a cast iron pan. Way more efficient than solar electric.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#55  Postby OlivierK » Sep 06, 2017 4:08 am

No, I get that, and we've done similar stuff ourselves - all LED lighting, 100% solar hot water, efficiency of big appliances always a purchase decision factor, no electric HVAC, just fans. According to our electricity bills, our family of 5 use less than the average two-person household, and not much more than the average for a 1-person household.

But even we couldn't give a fuck about the power consumption of a tablet computer. Buying one without considering power consumption is not weird - they use little, and they use what they use - there's not a lot of savings to be had at that point, beyond the savings of having chosen a tablet over a desktop in the first place, not least because their consumption is negligible to start with. :dunno:
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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#56  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 06, 2017 6:16 am

What about that solar water heater?


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#57  Postby OlivierK » Sep 06, 2017 10:09 am

Not sure what you mean... what about it?

I live in the subtropics, and it's massively common to just buy a solar hot water system (a couple of glycol filled panels and a heat exchanger) and never pay for hot water again. Biggest problem we've got with it (not actually a problem) is that while the bathroom hot water is regulated (by law) using a thermostatic mixing valve that adds cold water to achieve a max of 45C, the kitchen hot water doesn't need to be, and on hot days in summer it dispenses close to boiling water. Quick way to get tea!

The close-coupled systems (tank next to panels on the roof) on this page are the sort of thing we've got: http://solaredwardsadelaide.com.au/solar-hot-water/

Our system is 16 years old and going strong. We've got an off-peak electric boost element in it, and since it's the only thing on the off-peak circuit, we can tell how often we use it, which ranges from about 10% of days in winter to 0% of days in summer. Our total annual cost of hot water is around $20.

Of course, geography's a big factor: we're 30S latitude and get over 300 days of sunshine a year, so solar anything works pretty well here.
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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#58  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 06, 2017 4:57 pm

I never see those things here. I'll see about changing that.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#59  Postby OlivierK » Sep 06, 2017 9:39 pm

Latitude and winter temperatures could be the issues

You can get panels that circulate water, but they break in frost, hence the glycol models for frost affected areas (the lowest overnight temperature we've had is -6C/21F, so we have one). I assume there's still a limit to how cold the glycol can handle, and if your area gets colder than that, that could explain their rarity.

But yeah, they've been common here for 40 years, and about 70%+ of houses would have one these days.

[Edit: propylene glycol freezes at -59C/-74F, so while there may be other issues, the panels freezing over isn't one of them. Getting sufficient heat to get the required temps to heat water still could be though.]
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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#60  Postby crank » Sep 06, 2017 10:40 pm

I used to have to go to Yuma Az for work. One of the hotels I stayed at had its water pipes running along the roof somehow. We worked at night a lot and sometimes I'd need to shower in the afternoon. I could not get the water cool enough, not even with it full cold and running for half an hour. That was a stupid design and the last time I stayed at that hotel even though it was about the 'nicest' one there.

This is slightly off topic, but have y'all heard of this or similar--community solar? It lets you gain some of the bennies of going solar without the need to actually install a system on your home. It's can work for renters for example. Their examples are all in the New Englandish area, why not down south? I've not at all looked into costs savings etc, just curious if anyone knows anything. It could be a great idea, or a blatant scam.
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