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Winginit

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Anyone out there have any experience with Solar Power that they can share ?
 

Pops

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Most everything in my hanger/shop is solar powered except for the welder and air compressor. My total grid electric bill for my 2200 sq ft house and 3000 sq ft hanger/shop runs about $28-$32 a month. All lighting is LED's. Also a 1942 NG refrigerator in the hanger along with a high efficiency 110 AC refrigerator. On NG from a well about 300' from the house for a total heating bill for house and hanger of $58 a month. My solar system has paid for itself and this summer I upgraded to a larger 110/220 inverter and a 19 ft , 24 volt DC freezer and 5 more solar panels. Now I need to up-grade my battery bank. Hope to disconnect the grid power next year. I live in a county of a little over 5K people without a stop light and with the dense forest our electric is off with any higher winds or wet snows. Having grid power off for several days is normal and have had outages of several weeks. Have to be prepared.
Also have a NG powered engine that runs a GM alternator to charge batteries if we have many days of cloudy weather. Haven't used it in a couple years.
 

TFF

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My cousin had a house that was only solar. No generator or city lines as backup. No special appliances, all electric, all along with high maintenance wife and two kids. If they had three solid days of heavy clouds, he would start some conservation of power. Overall never knew he was living solar except the maintenance.
 

BBerson

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He probably had a propane heater* or wood stove. Solar can't keep a house warm in the northern winter.

* other than pops, I don't know anyone that has a private natural gas well.
 

TFF

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I know no wood stove. Enough winter to get ice. Propane or gas maybe but 100% A/C in the summer. Like I say high maintenance family; except for sun days the only concession would be one heavy appliance at a time. Big string of sun and they would go into waste mode, running washer and dryer and dishwasher at the same time. The house was converted at the last minute too, so no special construction. He said some of his neighbors had power to run two houses at once.
 

Pops

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My daughter lives nearby and has been 100% on solar for over 5 years. She has a 16' x 50' apartment built in the end of her hanger. Her youngest son is an EE and is enlarging her system. She has a bank of 2 volt batteries that weight about 100 lbs each. Don't remember the amp hr rating.
The only maintenance I have is checking the level in the batteries the first of each month.
In my area a lot of land has free NG from NG/Oil wells on the property.
 

pictsidhe

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The trick to solar is to pick energy efficient devices to run off it. That works out a lot cheaper than 3x as many panels... I've currently got 1x 100W solar panel that spends too much time in the shade. That runs LED lights and charges the odd gadget. I've currently got a lash-up light system, 12V GU5.3 MR16 bulb in aliexpress adapters into the existing 110V system plus a few new bits. I'll be building a 50' pole to get the panel and a sibling up out of the shade soon and maybe upgrading the LEDs to more efficient ones on dimmers. As for fridges, freezers are more efficient! I just picked up a 5cuft freezer from Sam's for winter use as a freezer to stash large amounts of meat. It uses less electricity than every fridge they had. For summer, changing the thermostat will make it a very low power fridge, assuming I'm out of meat by then. Don't need a fridge in this weather... Instead of running it from batteries, I'm planning to run it automatically when the panels get direct sun, and have a quantity of salt water to freeze inside it to store the cold. Much cheaper than batteries. Fridge use will need a different heat storage medium.
I have a wood stove and no shortage of wood. I prefer not to spend too much time cutting up wood, so make an effort to reduce my need.

Tools can be high power, but not used for long. You can pretty much forget about welding from solar, but other things can be run in short bursts from an inverter. If you have sufficient panels, try and save heavy tool use for a sunny day.
I have a deep cycle marine battery at the moment, but I saw golf cart batteries in Sam's last time I was in. They'd be better. If you can avoid running a battery down less than 50% often, it'll last a long time. Car batteries are not very useful.
 

pictsidhe

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Speaking of efficient things, the older stuff is usually not great. Sometimes, however, it is much better than modern stuff. My 400W Kirby vacuum cleaner that I had in the UK had more suck than a modern 1000W vacuum...
I don't run a dryer off the grid if it's sunny, the US propensity for them has me a little puzzled!
 

BJC

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I have a wood stove and no shortage of wood. I prefer not to spend too much time cutting up wood, so make an effort to reduce my need.
Old Indian saying: “Indian build small fire, huddle close, stay warm. White man build big fire, stay warm chopping wood.” There is wisdom somewhere in there.


BJC
 

Pops

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Sam's 6 volt golf cart batteries has two different capacities, be sure to get the larger one's, they are about $10 more. At this time I am running two strings of 4 golf cart batteries ( not Sams) for 24 volts for the 8 batteries. Batteries are about 5 years old and still doing good, but they are never below 75%. With my increase charging capacity, I need to increase the amp hr rating of my battery pack.
I am running about 72 volts DC from my solar panels.
Charge controller that my daughter and I are using. She is running two in parallel. ( MidMite Classic) https://www.solar-electric.com/misocl250mpc.html
The inverter that I am using. https://www.solar-electric.com/schneider-electric-sw-conext-inverter-2524-120.html
This inverter will turn on the grid (If you are using the grid as a backup) when the batteries get to a set low voltage and use the grid for your usage and charge the battery pack and when batteries are 100% turn the grid off.
Also this inverter will turn on a backup engine driven generator when needed and back off when batteries are 100%.
 

BJC

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Sam's 6 volt golf cart batteries has two different capacities, be sure to get the larger one's, they are about $10 more. At this time I am running two strings of 4 golf cart batteries ( not Sams) for 24 volts for the 8 batteries.
Pops, what batteries do you prefer?

Trojans are the favorite cart batteries around here, where there are over 50,000 carts, counting gasoline powered ones.


BJC
 

skier

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We have solar panels on our house. (they were installed when we bought it and fully paid off). I have no idea of the installation costs, but so far this year we have paid onlt the $19 connection fee to the grid each month. The low (non-existant) electric bill has convinced me not to remove them even though they are ugly.

Something you may want to consider is that some newer panels are designed to look like typical roof shingles. When our current panels die off, we will definitely be looking into those.

I don't know if it's true, but I've heard that some companies out there that you can get solar panels through install the panels for free, but then you're paying them per killowatt hour (presumably less than the grid charges) rather than the electric grid. I think I'd prefer to stay with the electric grid over that kind of setup since it means the solar company is making money rather than you saving money.
 

FritzW

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Anyone out there have any experience with Solar Power that they can share ?
<<for grid tied systems>> So much depends on where you live and what kind of incentives your local power company offers.

I live in a sweet spot for solar (darkest brown area on map below) and I've got 21 panels (240 watt panels with 215 watt micro inverters). 21 panels is over kill for where I live but, the way my local power company set up the incentives, each panel is a zero maintenance cash cow.

It's grid tied so if the grid goes down so does my system. ...but it's easy enough to "un-grid tie" the system if I ever need to (basically unplug the panels from the inverters and plug them into a charge controller).


solar-kw-output-usa.png Where you live makes a big difference

5017DSP.jpg Some hard numbers on my system (I went from 14 to 21 panels in the spring of 2013) I get some shading from the neighbors chimney near the winter solstice so the winter dip isn't typical if you have a better mounting location.
 

Pops

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Solar panels are fine on the roof if you live where it doesn't snow. I built 2" angle iron frames to mount my panels and pored concrete piers about 2' above ground level. Easy to take a wide broom and clean the snow off in the winter. Wish I had made the piers at least 3' high. Have had snow up to the bottom of the panels several times. We can have snows up to 4'. Been a couple years since having 2' of snow. I would never have a grid tied system. Also smart meters are being installed in a lot of areas by the power companies.

Trojan golf cart batteries are OK for a small system but for a large system for a whole house not so good with keeping all the batteries needed balanced. For larger systems off grid go with the large 2 volt batteries made for the purpose. One of the things I love about my charge controller is the ability to program the controller for the specs that the battery manufacture specifies for charging. Plug it into the phone line and monitor or change the programing of the system from your laptop anywhere.

My EE grandson is a battery and solar system expert. If I need questions answered or advice, I go to him.
 

FritzW

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I would never have a grid tied system. Also smart meters are being installed in a lot of areas by the power companies.
I would never limit myself to an off-grid system. It only takes a few minutes to un-tie a grid tied system, but you can't tie an un-tied system into the cash cow (grid). Everyone has their own goals, mine was free money.

I don't get your point about smart meters. Smart meters just tell the power company how much to write my check for. (there are a lot of tinfoil hat conspiracy theories about smart meters on the internet but they fall apart pretty quick with a few facts)

My grid tied system paid itself off a long time ago and has been paying (free and clear profit) an average of $186 a month* since then. ...if I had a bigger roof I'd have more panels.

*if anyone wants to see how it works I'll post the math.
 

Pops

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Smart meters are a way to ration your use of electric power when the need arises . Almost all the coal fired electric power plants in this state were shut down or in the process of being shut down until this summer ( not allowed to say any more about that on this site). With more people creating more demand and less generation capacity higher prices for electric and rationing has to be in the future.

Fritz-- A grid tied system is useless in this state with the grid off as much as it is. In a grid tied system, if you don't have a battery bank you will be without electric when the grid is down. If you spend the money for a battery bank why not just go to a more reliable off grid electric source. Not everyone lives in a higher population areas with reliable grid service. In this area most of the 2 lane roads can't be seen from the air because of the tree canopy covering the roads from both sides. The electric poles and wires are under this tree canopy, so any large limbs or trees falling shuts the grid off. A few years ago we had a summer storm and over one million people was out of electric for 9 days in 107 degrees with very high humidity. No cell phones, no water in the cities, no gasoline, no credit cards, cash only if anything was open. At least a 2 hr drive in any direction to any grid power. My daughter and I were fine. Felt sorry for a lot of people that ran out of food, water and no AC.
Be prepared or suffer.

Added-- I'm saving about $100- $120 a month. Same for my daughter.

Next is a backup water supply. 5200 sq ft of roof area with 48-50 inches of rain a year.
 

FritzW

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Smart meters are a way to ration your use of electric power when the need arises .
No more than the brown outs (reduced power) and rolling black outs (temporary local shut downs) that we have now ...when the need arises. Power companies have, and have always had, the ability to "ration your use of electric power". Smart meters allow supplying full power to a hospital while they shut down service to the bowling ally across the street ...in an emergency. I'm okay with that. In an emergency, I'd rather have a fully operational hospital than a fully operational bowling ally. Without smart meters you either shut them both down or give them both power.

A grid tied system is useless in this state with the grid off as much as it is.
It's the same for every state. Grid tied systems have to be isolated during a power failure or you'd kill the repairmen every time a drunk hit a power pole. You just unplug your panels from the grid tied inverters and plug them into your charge controller (post #13).

if you don't have a battery bank you will be without electric when the grid is down.
Kind of obvious... there's no point in having a charge controller (post #13) if your not charging something. You keep the batteries charged with the grid tied system, ...and get paid for charging them. If the power goes down for longer than your batteries can handle, just plug your panels into the charge controller (post #13).


If you spend the money for a battery bank why not just go to a more reliable off grid electric source.
In what conceivably possible scenario is an off grid system even remotely more reliable??? It's the same system, it's a PV panel with a cable hanging out of it. Off grid system are limited to plugging into a charge controller, grid tied systems have the option of plugging into the same charge controller or plugging into the grid (getting paid to make free money).

Not everyone lives in a higher population areas with reliable grid service.
Even more reason to have a grid tied system. Make money when things are going smooth so you can buy more beans and bullets to have on hand when things aren't going so smooth. Switch to batteries when the SHTF.


Be prepared or suffer.
Prepare BEFORE things go bad. Get cash now, buy the stuff now that you'll need then.

I'm saving about $100- $120 a month.
On top of the money you save, you could be getting paid $100- $120 a month just to generate the power your using.

Next is a backup water supply. 5200 sq ft of roof area with 48-50 inches of rain a year.
We only get about 8" of rain a year here. ...if this wasn't the HBA I could tell you how to have the federal government pay you to install a rain water collection system. ;)

...it's our tax dollars they're throwing away, we might as well try to sweep up some of it

So we can build an efficient homebuilt airplane shop like the OP asked about.
 

Pops

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In my area the power company is paying you wholesale price for the power you are making and when you are using power from the grid you pay retail price for it. The power loves when someone is making power and they are making money from it.

As far as federal government money, the federal gov has no money, they are taking it away from someone else. I do not want someone else's money taken under force. Didn't on my solar system and will not on any water system. That is the problem, everyone is wanting someone else's money.

Of course we can build an efficient homebuilt airplane shop. Just have to want to do it.
 

mcrae0104

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Next is a backup water supply. 5200 sq ft of roof area with 48-50 inches of rain a year.
Must be nice living in a place where rainwater harvesting is legal. Somebody in another state downstream owns the rain that falls on my house.
 

choppergirl

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What annoys me about grid power, is even if I use zero watts in a month, my power company still charges me $14 just for the privilege of being connected to them and letting them mail me a bill. That's BS way too high. $2 I could understand, maybe $4. But $14?

If I didn't love my hot water heater, microwave, computers, and power tools so much, I'd nuke them and go solar. But then sometimes a person wants to weld, sometimes wash clothes. If I was in a log cabin though in the woods, I'd forego all those things and rough it and go low power solar. I've done it when we lost power for a week or when camping. You don't miss it when it's gone, you adapt and find other ways, but it can cost a lot of time doing things the more involved ways without electrical conveniences.

My cousin babysits a house on the side of a mountain. He has a water pump (I forget what it's called, he explained it to me once) that uses the energy from the stream coming down the mountain to pump about 7% of the water up to him.

The biggest problem with grid power is kids. A lot of them do not understand electricity is not free from the power company, and will leave lights on, and use showers, air conditioners, heaters, TV's, and gaming computer with irresponsible wild abandon. Many people struggle with insane $400/mo electric bills because of this, when I keep mine under $30. They have kids, I don't.

You can't have kids and grid power, they are incompatible, it's like giving them all wide open credit cards in your name - expect catastrophe. Gaming all month long on the computer, standing in the shower for an hour, blasting air conditioner with the doors open, insisting on sleeping with the TV on, leaving the lights on in the house when they leave, or leaving outdoor lights on through the day time, having fans left running doing nothing but stirring hot air around, leaving the fridge door open to cool down the house (there's a reason that does not work), etc.

A hanger... what more do you need then led electric lights, if even that? I think one decommisioned car battery and a small panel would do the trick. That's how I run my HF driveway alarm transmitter instead of a 9 bolt battery. Any work you need to do requiring power tools, take the part off and home.

If and only if my hanger was insulated... for something like a hanger that I just stored a plane in, I'd use the DIY alluminum can panels as supplemental heating during the day time in the winter, with an electrical panel to drive the fan for it to pump the heat in, and drive a few electric lights, and forego a big investment. Cover the can panel in the summer time and turn it off. If you're hanger isn't insulated, it's probably a hopeless endeavor to try to hear it at all.

If you're scratch building in your hanger, then it's not really a hanger then, is it, it's a workshop... and your going to need some heavy wattage to drive that welder and air compressor you're so attached to... that would be a huge solar investment(!) Panels have come way down in price... but not batteries. If you can get an *ssload of deep cycle marine or UPS or golf cart batteries for free... then it's more viable.

 
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