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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-21-2014, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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Adding solar power

We have a camp off the grid and I'm looking to add solar panels. The only thing we would run with it is the pump for the well, a few lights, a tv and a small refrigerator. Has anyone done this? Any advice is appreciated. About how much are we looking to spend? Are there people or companies that install them? I've heard it is pretty easy, but free time for the work is hard to find and I don't really trust myself working with electricity. Thanks for any advice. I
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-22-2014, 12:58 AM
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Re: Adding solar power

Im not sure if you have thought about this...I assume you have since you are looking for information. But, make sure you are going to be able to have enough sun light to make this worth your while. Also, just a suggestion but go a little bigger than what you think you need. Its always better to be too much than not enough
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-22-2014, 04:54 AM
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Re: Adding solar power

I don't know much about it really but I did put in a solar panel for my FIL. It was easy with the equipment he got. As I recal just put the panels on his deck roof and ran it into his basement with the conectors provided in the kit it plugged into the control box which has different adjustments you could make. It came with a battery box that was pluged into the unit. He really doesn't even use it. If I were him I would try to run the washer and dryer with it to see if it would do it or at least try to run the freezer off of it. They can be ran right into a fusebox. His "kit" could handle up to three other inputs like other solar panels, windmill, etc. The batteries were pretty expensive. I think he had over $2000 in the whole thing. If I had the extra money I would like something like it. He just wanted it in case he ever needed it. Really I think he should have used it as an input into his fusebox because I thought his original intent was to be able to run his oil furnace if the power when out when we had that long cold snap. I am thinking that if you do some research you will find that it not at all hard. The solar panels converted it directly into DC the DC was converted to AC with the converter or used to charge the batteries (DC) the converter unit would use whatever energy was available to run the AC and keep the batteries charged with what was not being used. The converter must be some pretty good technology to be able to do that as it will draw from the batteries and also convert them to AC when needed. I am no electrician but it is an impressive little system to me. I have no idea what would be needed to run a residence or camp. I am pretty sure that you would need more batteries then he has. I think the unit that the batteries are stored in holds 4 batteries and multiple units can be plugged into into it and more inputs can be put into it. The system does have some maximum rating and he could get a lot more out of it. I really didn't read up on it just the paperwork when we put it up. The converter unit also won't overcharge the batteries. I don't know the brands or anything but it was pretty simple to put in. Only thing I can say is make sure the connectors are long enough to get from the source to the box. I don't think he gave it a thought and luckily there was just enough to run it to where he wanted it. Not sure but I think that three or four panels could be linked together and ran into one input on the converter unit so you could probably get pretty much juice out of the system he has if you maxed it out and got more battery (units?) and batteries for it.

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-22-2014, 11:51 AM
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Re: Adding solar power

I have 4 panels, 12-6 volt batteries wired to a 24 volt system and generator backup. This time of year plenty of power to run well pump, lights, tv, dish, limited microwave and other small stuff. Can run now without the generator unless really cloudy for days running.

In low light (deer season, early spring) I may have to run the generator, which is wired into the charger/inverter, for a couple of hours. No big deal because the generator needs exercised. Do this over while cooking dinner/showers and then good the rest of the night and next day.

I would go with a gas refrig to save your elect. Refrig will chew power 24 hours/day. I shut down all elect at bed time to same the batteries for awake times. Treat your batteries well and they will last a long time. Trojan lead/acid will take the most abuse. Mine have been in use pushing 10 years now.

I am no electrician and don't like messing with elect but I installed the whole thing myself. It wasn't too bad with good instructions.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-22-2014, 03:20 PM
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Re: Adding solar power

If I had the extra money I would add one to the house and see what I could get out of it. Would also add windmills. I don't know what area you are putting it in but some areas would really benefit from windmills especially some areas in south central to south western PA. Windmills would even generate electricity in the absence of the sun. I am pretty sure if you properly maintained the batteries and got a long life out of them that you would come out ahead in the long run.

With some thought and enginuity I am sure you can come up with things to lessen the initial price.

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-22-2014, 04:18 PM
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Re: Adding solar power

Camp in bald eagle state forest, abover rt.192 has a setup, there is at least 12 batteries, several years ago they came back to no batteries! Whoever took them knew they were there and had to work to get them. Now they have a fancy rack that has the batteries pretty much locked down unless you got a torch etc...so factor that in, one cabin has them hidden in a pretty slick way, if you didn't know they were there you won't, easy to get to as well.

Anybody can shoot deer on the farm ground....You earn it in the mountains.......
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-22-2014, 04:19 PM
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Re: Adding solar power

The only thing I have heard is the cost of solar power is pretty expensive and it can take quite a while to recoup the savings of what you have spent.
Just seems to me that there is to much involved.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-24-2014, 02:37 PM
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Re: Adding solar power

It really depends on how much you can generate and how much you can sell back (if any).
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-24-2014, 03:39 PM
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Re: Adding solar power

Have you considered a generator running off of propane? It may be an easier option both time and money considering the few appliances you need to support. Personally, I'm not 100% sold on solar for a camp. It is not an efficient energy source, and costs a few dollars in installation and maintenance.

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-25-2014, 10:12 PM
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Re: Adding solar power

My neighboring camp uses the solar kit from Harbor Freight to charge his batteries that run his led lights. It works great. I plan on getting one myself... running appliances might be a different story.
My brother has them on his house and he does get a check from the electric company.
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