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My solar power design

Posted by derekbobo on March 16, 2009


As promised this is the rough design of my solar power backup system. I think it’s really going to be pretty simple to get my test system going. To implement a system that would power my whole house would be much more involved, but I’m not there yet.

Basically the solar panels generate energy from the sun. These pass the current through the charge controller to the battery bank. The charge controller essentially protects your batteries from over charging. The 12V battery bank will then pass the electricity through the inverter. The inverter does a couple of things but the most important is it converts DC power to AC household power. At this point you have usable electricity.

What gets tricky (and what I’m currently wrestling with) is exactly what, and “how much” to buy. With solar panels you need to basically compute your electric consumption and then buy enough panels to generate enough power to accommodate that. This isn’t too painful.

Since I’m not an electrician I’m a little more confused with how big of a charge controller to get. I’ll need to investigate this before I make my purchase… but I imagine something small should be fine for my initial testing.

When it comes to batteries I keep hearing that golf cart batteries are the best. These are built to be charged and run down over and over again. The only caveat is that they are only 6V and the system counts on 12V. If  you had 2 6V golf cart batteries you can wire them together in a series to take it to 12V… but without any additional storage capacity. If you wired them in parallel it would basically double the storage capacity (think battery life).

The inverter needs to be big enough to handle your usage. As I noted in my other post, I only got a 750W inverter. This is pretty small and would not handle any major appliances, but should be fine for my initial tests.

So that’s where I stand right now. Right now I’m trying to figure out somewhere local that I can get a couple batteries to test with. I’d really like to get the golf cart batteries. After that it’s the charge controller and a couple solar panels!


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