As we all know, the amount of activity is activity out the ceiling. At the aforementioned time, carbon emissions are accidental to all-around warming. If we Americans abide to use electricity at the amount we are currently appliance it we will anon allegation to body added electric breeding plants. Some states like Texas adduce (warning — some links on folio are PDFs) architecture abounding added carbon-producing atramentous plants. And we all apperceive what that means.
Four years ago the axial air conditioning in my abode failed. The old arrangement was 20 years old and absolutely was mechanically at life’s end, so it was aloof not account advantageous a aerial amount to fix. The band-aid for me was to install several bargain window air conditioners. You may accept apparent these at several home advance and big box food — those $70 5000 BTU models. These baby A/C units absolutely assignment absolute able-bodied and as a hidden benefit, use a lot beneath electricity than the old axial air assemblage did. But one affair was certain, appliance these allowance A/C’s bargain my electric bill by about $40 a ages and that got me thinking….
Since these baby A/C units use so little power, could I absolutely run them appliance solar power? Could I use the absolute sun that heats my abode to air-conditioned it bottomward instead? Electricity way out actuality in the rural Texas countryside is not cheap, so I did a bit of research, algebraic and experimenting. If I could suppliment my ability useage with solar, again it would save me some banknote and as a ancillary effect, advice abate the carbon footprint.
I am a retired electronics engineer. I still advance a website for those who are complex in my aing of the woods, which is amusements and entertainment. The website additionally offers up abounding projects for the experimenter and academy student, and for those who are aloof alpha to get absorbed in electronics and appetite to accord a few projects a shot. I go into detail how anniversary activity works and how you can body it yourself and adore acquirements from your own work. You can appointment my website at Lupine Systems. (Some of you may accept met me at Netroots Nation breadth I displayed the LCD Calculator activity completed and accessible to use.)
In the accomplished year or so I accept been bombarded with E-mails on how to save money on electricity and if there are any projects that can be done by the believer appliance solar, wind or added alternate-renewable sources.
The acknowledgment to that catechism is YES THERE IS!!. In fact, a small, but able solar accession can be done with absolute little effort.
Being an electronics architect I am acquainted of aloof how abounding accessories in a domiciliary are absolutely 12 volts already you get rid of the ability accumulation which converts the 110v AC bottomward to low voltage DC, so I knew that abounding accessories could be run anon from 12v DC as they are in RVs and camper trailers. If I could use this 12v directly, it would be to abundant account because I would not allegation ability inverters to up-boost the ability to 110v.
TVs, laptops, corpuscle buzz chargers, computer monitors, abounding stereo systems and some lighting all can be run on 12v DC. Just anticipate of how abounding of those wall-wart transformers are in your house..??? If you get rid of the wall-wart, again in best cases you accept 12v (some 6v or 9v, but to get that from 12v is a simple regulator).
Four years ago, aback I replaced my A/C units, I did some analysis into what affectionate of solar panels were available. One of the stops I fabricated was Ebay. There I begin abounding altered panels for a cardinal of applications. Many of these panels are allotment of a accurate product, such as a solar powered charger for your corpuscle phone, others are the blazon of panels acclimated on top of houses. I was absorbed in a beyond panel, the blazon you would commonly use in a absolute installation. And I begin several at a absolute affordable price. So I anguish up affairs a console with a acceptable bid of alone $230 additional a $30 aircraft charge.
The console I purchased was a Siemens 12v, 200W panel. Using Ohm’s Law, you can account the accessible accepted from this console to be 16.67 amps. Ohm’s Law states Ability in Watts [P] = Accepted in Amperes [I] times the voltage in Volts [E] for the blueprint P=IE (okay, PIE but it’s not what you’d appetite to eat!). Therefore P=200, we don’t apperceive I, and E=12. So bisect 200 by 12 you get 16.67. I = 16.67 amps.
A console which can aftermath this abundant accepted is a attenuate acquisition at that amount but makes for an accomplished best for a baby solar installation.
Battery Truth or Consequences
Every solar accession needs to accept batteries as a accumulator average and to act as an electrical “ballast”, or cushion. The solar console itself cannot aftermath abundant accepted at all times to accomplish the amount at a affiliated rate, so accordingly you allegation some anatomy of accumulator to antithesis out the load.
It is a misnomer that you can alone use assertive types of batteries for solar electricity storage. However it is accurate that assertive arrangement types are bigger than others and it is adjustment in some states that assertive arrangement types allegation be acclimated in absolute installations. But for what I was up to, about any high-capacity accumulator corpuscle would do.
So off to the auto genitalia abundance to acquirement a car arrangement — a average assignment arrangement would do aloof fine. Although a marine-use deep-discharge arrangement would be bigger and would aftermost longer, the accomplished abstraction abaft the activity was to get an bargain arrangement up and running, and to prove that it could be done appliance calmly achievable parts.
So with a bit of assignment on top of the abode to arise the panel, the absolute arrangement was advancing together. I installed the console on the rooftop in an breadth absolutely accessible to sunshine both in the morning and in the black and throughout the day, and affiliated the console to the arrangement more-or-less anon appliance approved 16-gauge Romex. I additionally installed a 20-amp blocking diode amid the panel’s absolute terminal and the battery’s absolute terminal. The diode is all-important because solar panels absolutely draw ability rather than aftermath it aback they are in the dark, and if the arrangement were to be anon affiliated to the console afterwards the diode, the arrangement would run bottomward at night artlessly from the cesspool of the panel.
Purists Note: The blocking diode drops the voltage by about 1 volt. This is not an affair because the 12 volt solar console is absolutely 16 volts output. This appraisement aberration is accustomed because the panel’s appraisement is based on absolute voltage at point of application. It is kinda-like a car arrangement is absolutely 13.6 volts, not 12 volts. Once the console is active to the arrangement arrangement via a blocking diode and some breadth of nut wiring, the accessible voltage will be 13.6 volts or abuse aing to it. This is additionally why absolutely a few bartering solar panels are 17 volts — to accomodate for the accident in the base and to accord a bit of electrical “overhead” bare by the ability inverters for bland adjustment and for casual clouds, birds or added obstructions which may from time to time lower the voltage.
Now some of you readers out there are activity to admit that it is accessible to blackmail the accumulator arrangement this way, but with a affiliated amount on the arrangement the achievability of this accident is absolute little, and alike if it did there would be no measureable accident to the battery. Car batteries are absolute affectionate in cases like this so I was not too ever anxious with the achievability of overcharging. Besides, arrangement charging is a action of voltage, accepted and time and as continued as the voltage from the console never exceeds the voltage appraisement of the arrangement the two will act as if they were two batteries in parallel.
WARNING: If you try any of this, do NOT put a car arrangement central your house! This is because car batteries afford hydrogen gas aback charging and this gas can body up and become explosive. Keep the arrangement outside. In my installation, I put the car arrangement on a board angle up adjoin the abode and complete a wire cage about the arrangement to accumulate squrells and added critters out. You do not appetite to sit a arrangement on the arena or on accurate because this can account the arrangement to discharge.
The aing footfall was to wire the abode with low voltage wiring. This can calmly be done appliance accepted home wire Romex. You should about use 14-gauge wire (12-gauge is alike better) aback DC accepted does not biking as able-bodied as AC does.
Important Note: Why wire for low voltage?
Most solar systems booty the ability from the solar console and arrangement arrangement and augment it into a ability inverter. The inverter is alone all-important if you are activity to be appliance annihilation but 110v or 220v accessories and lighting. Modern inverters are absolute able compared to those of years past, but any decay is still waste, and so the catechism arrises….why alter and decay aback you can use direct?
Before base the arrangement to anywhere, there allegation be a agglutinate or breaker installed. This is artlessly to anticipate blaze in case of a abbreviate — the aforementioned acumen you accept breakers in your abode today. But approved breaker boxes are fabricated for accustomed AC filigree power. That’s OK as continued as you accept the appropriate breakers in abode for the actual voltage and current.
The breaker console I chose was a Homelite 8-breaker 100A (AC 110v) box, accessible absolute inexpensively at a accepted home advance store. The exact aforementioned console with a altered archetypal cardinal is additionally accessible at RV dealers but at a abundant college price. A quick buzz alarm to the branch and a chat with the engineers there led me to acquisition that there were breakers accurately fabricated for 12 volts that fit my breaker panel. This is because the breaker console I chose is generally acclimated in RVs and can be acclimated for 12 volts. So I ordered a set of breakers rated in 12 volts. The breakers attending altered but still fit the aforementioned amplitude and assignment the same, but you cannot bung the 110v versions in ancillary by ancillary with them because of a “tab” on the 12 volt breaker. This is to stop bond of the breakers which would be a disaster.
The solar console connects to the box with the POSITIVE terminal to the bus bar and the NEGATIVE to the return. A simple run of Romex to anniversary abode in the abode I capital 12v to be was the aing footfall and that took a few hours but was alike accessible for me –a guy with affection disease.
Now that I accept all of this 12v power, what do I do with it?
For one, I use it to ability my laptop. Free computing! I additionally use it to allegation my corpuscle phone. And with a quick stop to an RV dealership, I begin those nice twisty-fluorescent bulbs accepted nowadays in 12v models. So I use it to ablaze up the allowance at night as well.
During the day I can run best aggregate afterwards any restriction, but at night I absolute the useage to alone what I allegation to use.
Now aback to breadth this all began. Air conditioning. I begin out that I bare to add addition four batteries to the arrangement to accommodate abundant ability to run one of the baby A/C units via a ability inverter. But that is not a aloft problem. Adding added batteries is adequately accessible to do. And baby ability inverters able of active these tiny A/C units are bargain and assignment absolute well. And aback I alone allegation the air conditioner in the bedchamber at night, I run alone one of these A/C’s so the five-battery arrangement is abundant to accumulate the one A/C active all night continued with affluence of ability to spare. (During the day the filigree ability is acclimated for all of the added A/C’s because of the cardinal of A/C units actuality run. This arrangement cannot run but one A/C both night and day.)
I additionally installed a about-face amid the bedchamber A/C and the filigree ability and solar antecedent so I could about-face amid the two in case the arrangement ability was low or there was not abundant sunshine to absolutely recharge the arrangement arrangement during the day. The console produces abundant ability during the day to ability the A/C and recharge the batteries appliance a arrangement about-face angry to a timer. This way while one arrangement is active the A/C, the console is recharging the others and eventually the alarm switches the batteries back-and-fourth and gets about to charging every battery.
In the end, I run my laptop and my desktop, my LCD TV, the lighting in the dining room, hallway, den, bedrooms and bathroom, allegation my corpuscle buzz and laptop batteries and one A/C unit, all from this small, supplimental solar arrangement congenital from genitalia acquired from Ebay, an auto genitalia abundance and a bounded home-improvement center. The arrangement is able of accomplishing all of this because of the 5-battery array, the Texas sunshine and the use of the ability in its raw 12-volt anatomy afterwards crumbling any of it with accidental inverters. Sounds like a lot, but 16A of charging accepted actuality switched amid 5 batteries all day in the Texas sunshine, which seems never to quit, produces a lot added ability than one may think.
No, it is not the best system. But it works. And it was bargain to build. And it helps accumulate the amount of electricity bottomward for addition who lives on a anchored income. The after-effects of all of this agreement was a accumulation of over $100 anniversary ages on the ability bill. Not bad for an advance of beneath than $750 and a few Saturdays. The arrangement paid for itself in beneath than a year and is now still alive fine, extenuative me banknote ages afterwards ages and abbreviation the carbon brand by abbreviation my assurance on filigree power, which I still accept to use for the stove, hot baptize heater, refrigerator, washer and dryer and a few added things about the house.
If abundant association were to do this it would appulse the allegation for approaching ability bulb construction.
And you can do this too. And that is breadth you appear in. Do you appetite to accept me address a abundant account analogue how I did what I did actuality at my home, with intricate step-by-step action and pictures? Or do you appetite to dive into added solar ability projects which may be simpler or added affordable? There are abounding possibilities and opportunities for YOU to advice abate carbon emissions while adequate a abundant accumulation on your electric bill.
So I allegation your input/suggestions. The activity I acknowledgment aloft is not for everybody and does accommodate a few “shortcuts”, but it was never to be article major– it aloof so happened to about-face into article major.
So accord me your thoughts and in the meantime, Stay Wolfy!
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