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Question About Solar Power!

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Old 01-31-2015, 03:02 PM   #1
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Default question about solar power!

Thinking of powering a yurt with solar…i know nothing about this! what kind of battery/panel would we need to power a couple things we can't live without (lights, refrigerator, a television, charging phone/laptop…that's about it i think?)? and does anyone have a cost estimate? i've been having a hard time figuring it all out. thanks!

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Old 01-31-2015, 08:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: question about solar power!

Well, the answer is: depends.

A fridge and TV are going to raise the price significantly depending on size. Solar is not a cheap investment and gets larger with the more power you need.

A top of the head guess? I would say you are looking to spend $2k-$4k.
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Old 01-31-2015, 10:31 PM   #3
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Default Re: question about solar power!

As Jafo said, it depends. How many hours do you want to run each device each day? Where are you and do you have a good southern exposure? Do you need reserve capacity for multiple rainy/cloudy days? Just summer use or winter too? Do you need 120 Vac at 1800 watts or would 12/24v dc work? Will you need electricity for cooking too? What about pumping/heating water? DIY or professional install? How/where would you be mounting the panels?

You need batteries (~20¢/wh), solar panels (crude estimates say $1-3/watt), battery manager/charger ($50-200?), and inverter ($50-500+) if using AC. Plus copper wire to connect everything (significant when dealing with high currents from solar panels).

Your best bet would be to use an online solar system size estimator/calculator (just search that phrase or some variation). I would guess Jafo's estimate to be for a fairly simple and small system.

Hope that's enough to get you started.
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Old 02-01-2015, 05:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: question about solar power!

Heaps of great info at the AltE site.
Here's a link to the Library page:
Library - AltE
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:51 AM   #5
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Default Re: question about solar power!

According to the AltE link, if you need more than 1000 watts, expect to spend 4-8K for your system.

Seems expensive, right? To put that number in perspective, I just had surgery done this week that would cover the high number. My wife will have surgery in two weeks that will also cover that number. So....It's all in how you see it. Good luck.
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Old 02-01-2015, 12:13 PM   #6
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Default Re: question about solar power!

You can also think of it as paying for electricity for the next decade or two or three upfront. A $5k system amortized over 15 years would be something like $28/month, less if your system lasts longer (quite likely, barring accidents).
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Old 02-01-2015, 02:30 PM   #7
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Default Re: question about solar power!

Actually it won't last that long. Batteries need to be replaced every 4-6 years, unless you are doing a grid tie system.
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Old 02-01-2015, 05:09 PM   #8
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Default Re: question about solar power!

thanks for the help. i checked out one of those estimators and 1200 watts is what i came up with. i read these can cost 4k-7k ish. i'm in sunny california but there are maybe like 20 cloudy/foggy/rainy days a year (stupid drought) so idk what that means in terms of needing some kind of backup when the sun isn't around..really the only crazy energy-consuming thing we would use is the refrigerator.

as far as cooking goes we were thinking wood or propane for that. and same for the shower. someone previously put a yurt on the site we are considering and used solar power which seemed to work just fine, so i believe it has good exposure and such. has anyone had experience powering these few items with solar? thanks again for the help
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Old 02-01-2015, 06:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: question about solar power!

Here's a link to an 8 cu ft 12/24 v fridge that that isn't crazy energy-consuming.
They have smaller models as well, get great reviews from off griders using them.
Might make solar more realistic.
DCR225 & DCF225 | SunDanzer
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Old 02-02-2015, 08:17 AM   #10
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Default Re: question about solar power!

Quote:
Originally Posted by eeerrriiinnn View Post
thanks for the help. i checked out one of those estimators and 1200 watts is what i came up with. i read these can cost 4k-7k ish. i'm in sunny california but there are maybe like 20 cloudy/foggy/rainy days a year (stupid drought) so idk what that means in terms of needing some kind of backup when the sun isn't around..really the only crazy energy-consuming thing we would use is the refrigerator.

as far as cooking goes we were thinking wood or propane for that. and same for the shower. someone previously put a yurt on the site we are considering and used solar power which seemed to work just fine, so i believe it has good exposure and such. has anyone had experience powering these few items with solar? thanks again for the help
The sun doesn't work at night, so you will need a battery bank. In my experience, that becomes the largest expense. Much will depend on whether you can get away with 12 volt system. If you have to bump it up to 24 volts, that's double the batteries.

My camp runs on 12 volts and I run a small LCD TV, lights, computer and some amateur radio equipment. In the summer when the sun is unobstructed, I pretty much cannot deplete my battery bank which consists of 3, 115AH deep cell marine batteries that cost about $120 a piece. I am guessing that with a really REALLY small fridge, I would probably have to double the battery bank.

In the winter up here, it wouldn't work out, just not enough sun to power my two 100watt solar panels.

Keep in mind that you can also get a propane powered fridge. I don't know much about them, but people do use them.
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