Designing and building a solar power station

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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#61  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 13, 2017 11:05 pm

crank wrote: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.

I quite like that community solar idea. It's a good way to crowdsource expansion of solar electricity production.

Arizona pipes? I was in Phoenix in August in 1994. As you can imagine, it was fot. Not simply hot. Fot.

I used a toilet at a restaurant there, and I noticed the toilet was hot, as if they'd plumbed the damned thing with hot water. It wasn't. That's the temperature of city water, apparently. There is no cold water.
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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#62  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 14, 2017 2:23 am

Higher headquarters (The_Metatrix) has fully funded one of my solar projects. This will be the next step in fielding my full sized system.

I have a 100 watt HF transceiver that operates on 12-15 VDC. It draws a maximum of 22A at 13.8 VDC. That's my proof of concept project, and when completed, I'll have perpetual global communications as well as the knowledge to continue with my main solar plant.

I ordered three things today from Iron Edison: a Canadian Solar 260 watt Quartech series solar panel, a MidNite Solar Classic 150 charge controller, and a 12 V bank of ten TN300 1.2V NiFe cells.

I won't see those batteries for about ten weeks. Should be plenty of time to design, build, and install whatever I come up with to mount the solar panel aloft on a wooden pole. I also have to design and build the battery enclosure, which will be inside my house.

It's a small battery, so it should fit in my radio room just fine. The battery will weigh 140 pounds, so floor loading isn't an issue. The payback in cell efficiency at room temperature will be worth the effort. But, the helpful design engineers at Iron Edison told me I'll want to force ventilate the enclosure to remove any H2 that they may vent.

I'm very excited.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#63  Postby aliihsanasl » Sep 14, 2017 2:33 pm

2000 watt air conditioner consumes 2kW.

1 kWh = 0.42 TL.

1 hour electric consumption will be 2 kW X 0,42 TL = 0,84 TL

Even if we turn on that conditioner for 10 hours in a day its consumption will be 2.4 $

I copied this calculation from a web site just converted it to US currency in the end.

When you add this bill refri, TV, lights and other electric devices think about the bill at the end of the month. 60-80 $ bills are very common here.
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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#64  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 15, 2017 10:57 pm

That's twice what our commercial power here costs. Still, not as expensive as I've seen.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#65  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 15, 2017 11:28 pm

Tracking.

If I can build a mount for my new panel that will track the sun, I'll get 25% more energy from it. The panel I just ordered cost $175. What's it going to cost me to design and build something that'll do that job? Because, for another $175, I can double the size of my array, doubling my energy production, instead of getting just another 25%.

For my 20 kW station, instead of a hundred panels, I can get the same increase in power by buying another 25 panels (assuming 200 watt panels). The resultant mounted hardware would be simpler, cheaper, and more robust.

If I use more of the same panel I just bought, if I can't track the sun on both axes with an array of 77 of those panels for less than $3400 for the mounts (the cost of another 5 kW of those same panels), it makes no sense to bother tracking the sun with my array.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#66  Postby OlivierK » Sep 16, 2017 12:32 pm

I doubt you could get a tracker for 80 panels for $3400.

Trackers make sense if you've got a lot of room, do your own welding, or have midday overshadowing and need to get good returns before and after.

Trackers are also beautifully elegant in their design (for those that don't know, the servomotors that orient the panels are powered by smaller panels mounted perpendicular to the main array, which run the orienting motor until the small panels point their edges at the sun thus putting their faces in the shade which cuts power to the servo. As the sun moves, it hits the side of the small panel again, thus powering up the servomotors to make the required adjustment). Almost worth it for that alone, but as panels get cheaper, there's not as much economic incentive to reduce the number of panels required.
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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#67  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 16, 2017 6:11 pm

Actually, I hadn't thought of driving it the way you just described. Clever idea.

For my frame mounted polar aligned array, I've been thinking of a gimbal frame to hold each panel. Then, with clever linkages and mechanical stuff, traverse the panels through the arc of the ecliptic to follow the sun, and elevate the panels as needed to track the height of the ecliptic in the sky throughout the year.

I intended to drive the RA (right ascension, borrowing from my astronomy hobby) drive with a single speed servo that simply moves the panels 15 degrees per hour from my eastern horizon to my western horizon (trees in the way), then reverse direction and take the rest of the night to swing back around to the east. As long as my panel mounts are well balanced, it won't need a great deal of force to move them.

I further thought of a pawl device that engages on the return trip to east, and bumps the elevation gimbals to their proper position for the next day. I realize the elevation adjustment isn't so critical, probably not needing daily correction. But, if the machine is working anyway, it may as well correct elevation daily. I only need to adjust elevation over a range of 47 degrees from 20 to 67 degrees elevation at my latitude. And, the elevation adjustment rate isn't linear. The sun's elevation at culmination changes from day to day faster around the solstices than it does on the equinoxes. It would be clever if I designed the linkage such that it accounts for that difference in rate of change, so that the daily elevation adjustment is balls on accurate (it's an industry term).

I think the execution of such a tracking mount system would be interesting and fun to fabricate. If I had the materials. If I had a welder and knew better how to use it. If I had a rudimentary machine shop beyond hand tools. I don't think I'll be tracking the sun with my main array.

By the way, I'm shopping for that hybrid water heater today.
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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#68  Postby OlivierK » Sep 16, 2017 9:29 pm

If it doesn't take a lot of force to spin your panels, then your linkages would need to be pretty solid to deal with strong wind.
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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#69  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 19, 2017 2:00 am

You know, it's a right pain in the ass to have to manually place, align, and track the sun with that portable panel that can't stand the weather. I'm seeing hours of clear sky in between rainy periods.

I really need an all weather panel.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#70  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 19, 2017 5:23 pm

Related to a solar project is reducing load dramatically. We collected our new hybrid water heater yesterday.
Image.

Some numbers from the energy guides stuck to them: The old one is estimated to use 4755 kWh and cost $400 to operate annually. The new one is estimated to use 915 kWh and cost $110 annually.

The cost figures need adjusting. I pay 6¢ a kWh for electricity. The cost estimate for the old water heater (made in 1995), was based on 8¢ per kWh. The estimate for the new one is based on energy costing 12¢ per kWh.

In today's energy costs, the old one should cost roughly $300 to operate, and the new one should cost $55 to operate for a year. That's about 18% of the operating cost of the old one, based on their estimates.

That's pretty close to the energy usage comparison, which shows the new one using 19% as much as the old one.

I'd like to know on what they base their energy estimates, and if that has changed since 1995, to know if these comparisons are valid.

God dammit, you test a water heater by measuring the energy use while heating a known amount of water at a known temperature to some new, hotter temperature. There's no need to estimate family size or water usage, blah, blah. Assholes.

The problems to solve:

Image

Do you see the dumb fuckery I have to resolve?

The in and out supply pipes make sense for the time. Top connections are common. But, look at the safety overflow pipe. The stupid bastard actually soldered an elbow onto the riser pipe in such a way that it extends just over the top of the water heater, then they connected the flex pipe to the safety valve. I'll need a torch to re-solder that elbow and route the safety overflow behind the new heater, not over it.

That flexible steel conduit? Useless. The bastard was supposed to terminate the house wiring in a junction box on the wall, to which you'd then connect the water heater, securing the flexible conduit to that junction box as well as to the water heater. All he did was slide a piece of that flexible conduit up the wire coming out of the wall.

There should be a pan under the unit, which also drains to the outside, in case of a leak. There isn't one installed, now. I'll need to install that drain pipe through the outside wall.

The hybrid water heater needs a drain line for the heat pump. One more hole. Or, I might route a condensate drain line to the existing condensate drain for my HVAC system in the same room.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#71  Postby theropod » Sep 19, 2017 8:45 pm

I have never seen that relief pipe oriented like that on any water heater ever.

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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#72  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 20, 2017 2:24 am

theropod wrote:I have never seen that relief pipe oriented like that on any water heater ever.

RS

Nor should it be. It means I have to dig that thing out of the god damned wall and pick off at a point below the safety valve.

I don't know how people live as long as they do, being that stupid.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#73  Postby theropod » Sep 20, 2017 4:11 pm

Leave the pipe in the wall where it is and run a new one.

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Designing and building a solar power station

#74  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 22, 2017 8:59 pm

That fucking pipe goes into the wall above every thing I need to drain on my new water heater. It's useless.

One more trip to the hardware store, and I think I'll have what I need for a bare minimum installation of the new water heater. I bought the wrong damned copper elbows yesterday, and forgot to get an electrical box.

I'm a bit concerned about ducting the heat pump. My mechanical room is rather small, containing the HVAC fan/heat exchanger, an upright freezer, and the water heater. My initial thoughts were to simply let the thing scavenge waste heat from the freezer. But, that may not be enough.

The freezer only puts 575 watts of heat into that room, and then only when its compressor is running. Annually, it uses about half the energy my new water heater uses. That means, it won't put as much heat into that mechanical room as I'd hoped to scavenge.

I can vent both intake and exhaust air (which is chilled by the water heater) to the outside, vent the exhaust to the outside, or don't vent either of them, and live with the reduced energy savings, though there will still be some savings. Those choices have different benefits and costs, depending on if I'm heating or cooling my conditioned living space.

In the summer time, I may want to vent the water heater's exhaust into my conditioned living space, while taking intake air from the mech room. During that season, it would be even more efficient from a thermal perspective to intake hot outside air and use the water heater exhaust as supplemental cooling for conditioned living space. The main problem with that approach is the water heater isn't designed to filter outside air for interior use, nor is the exhaust intended to be any particular temperature. It's just going to be cooler than ambient. How much cooler, I don't know.

For summer, I think it best to vent both the water heater's intake and exhaust to conditioned living space. That will reduce usage of my HVAC system for at least some cooling, while the water heater puts some of that unwanted extra heat inside my house into my hot water.

The winter is a different problem. I don't want the water heater to use some of the heat that I paid to put into my house for me to be comfortable to heat my water. That's expensive heat. I sure as hell don't want to do that, while venting that chilled air to the outside alone. That creates a negative pressure in the house, which makes the house suck cold outside air into conditioned living space, making life much more difficult for my HVAC system.

Ideally, I'd like to have a geothermal source of heat for the water heater intake and vent the chilled exhaust outside. But without such a thing, it's best to vent both outside during the heating season.

What I need is a pair of three way diverters for eight inch round duct. I can manually switch between internal and external air for the water heater's heat pump, depending on the season.

Do we have any HVAC engineers here in North America who can point me to some sources of supply for this sort of ducting equipment?


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#75  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 22, 2017 9:16 pm

The water heater project is tangential to the solar power project. It's part of my overall effort to dramatically reduce energy consumption.

However, Iron Edison has confirmed receipt of payment for my order. I still need a few things to assemble everything when it arrives. I have to build or re-purpose something for a battery box. I'm going to equip it with a ducted fan to suck the hydrogen from the battery box while the batteries are charging. I'll still need some sort of pole mount for the solar panel. I still have to plant that pole. Finally, I need an electrical box to ingress the power cables from the panel into my house.

I still have 8-10 weeks to prepare.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#76  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 22, 2017 9:23 pm

My original intent for this small solar power station was to keep a 100 Ah 12 volt battery charged for use by my ham radio transceiver. I've been thinking about the energy consumption of that radio.

Maybe because it isn't operational, but I haven't spent much time actually using that radio. I am sure I'll use it more when I have power and an antenna for it. But, I doubt I'll be tasking that battery bank much.

I'll have to look closely at that situation. Because, I can easily add an inverter to it, and switch my house lighting circuits over to the small solar plant. I can run every damned light in my house for less than 400 watts of power. Between the low energy consumption of my lighting, and the intermittent use of my transceiver, that may be a good load match for the small plant I'm building.

Free lights and free comms. Might be a good start.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#77  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 22, 2017 9:35 pm

I've learned a few things in recent days about using solar power. It's been cloudy and raining for the last five days. Not cloudy all day long, but more cloudy than not. I made a discovery I didn't expect.

I put my portable solar panel in a window, and it actually makes power. I wish I could measure how much, but I have no visibility to the solar cell side of the three USB power circuits. However, it lets me keep my battery pack connected, and it collected sufficient charge from the solar panel in the window to keep my iPad and iPhone topped up and the battery pack fully charged every day.

My windows must transmit enough energy at the correct wavelengths to tickle the solar cells just right.


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Designing and building a solar power station

#78  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 25, 2017 5:34 am

That new water heater isn't going to install itself. So, I started the project. First, by removing the old water heater. No running hot water in my house for a bit. Then, I secured the electrical supply point by installing a disconnect box on the wall. That gave a proper anchor point for the flexible conduit for electrical mains connection.

I screwed two of four cross braces for the seismic straps to the wall. I'm securing each cross brace to the wall with two four inch long screws into each wall stud it crosses. I also hand-mitered the inside corners of those braces, just to get a little more strength from them. To pull one out would require enough force to defeat all those screws, while the shear strength of the screws holding its partner would keep the inside corner where it belongs. Seemed a lot better plan than a single lag screw into a single wall stud at the end of each of the two seismic straps.

Image

The most skill intensive part was rerouting the existing water lines to accommodate the new water heater. Soldering is very, very predictable if you closely follow a few rules. Clean the work, paste flux all around, plenty of heat, and flow the solder into the joint. Dry pipes is paramount. There can be no drips of water lying in a pipe. If there are, they're coming from somewhere. The water prevents the joint from getting hot enough to flow solder. It will leak.

Image

Those flexible appliance connection lines with integral shutoff valves are a new thing to me.

Image

They simply push onto the end of the pipe. Done. A little pricey at $30 apiece. But, super quick and easy. No one I spoke to at the hardware store had ever heard of one of those shark-bite type connectors leaking. At a professional plumber's hourly rate, the time savings using these connectors would make them a good choice.



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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#79  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 26, 2017 5:41 pm

As you can see from the stain on the floor, the old water heater was rusting away from the bottom. Who knows? Could have been a water spill 20 years ago that never got mopped up, though.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#80  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 26, 2017 5:51 pm

Yesterday, I got the project to the point where I have domestic hot water again.

Image

Image

Image

I failed to check the orientation of that drain pan before I filled the thing. I'll have to empty it again to fix that before I put a drain line through the floor.

It got ten degrees (F) cooler in that room when it heated that first tankful of cold water. I'll probably want to at least duct it to the living space for summertime operation. It can have all the heat from my living space it wants in the summer time.

I am pleased with the results. I wish those flexible supply lines were longer, but that's as long as they had. If they were longer, I'd be able to turn the heater to make the safety blow valve a bit more readily accessible.

Hot water. Not free yet, but cheaper than I used to make it. I can see a solar water heater to preheat the intake water for this new heater. If the preheated water is hot enough, nothing left for the electric one to do except keep it there.


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