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Stea 11-01-2017 04:41 PM

Solar question-help needed
Im a solar newby and need some help.

Currently have a single 100 watt panel going to a charge controller and then to 2 12 volt deep cycle batteries. (Next summer the plan is a total of 8 100 watt panels and a lithium ion battery) From there i use a 3oo watt inverter to power a cell signal booster.

When Im there its fine because I bring a generator to power everything and I usually bring an extra battery with me.

I now have a cell enabled game camera that I am using to keep an eye on the yurt. It fantastic. It seeds pictures to my phone when there is movement or when i send a command to it.

But, in order for the camera to work the cell booster needs to be running. I dont want to run the booster 24/7 because I dont think I have enough solar capacity at the moment to keep the batteries charged. I plugged the booster to a timer to turn the booster on at certain times of the day to conserve battery but obviously the timer is 120 volt and the inverter is still running the timer. The inverter never does pull enough juice to get the cooling fan running but obviously it is still converting 12 volt to 120 volt for the timer..

I have found a 12 volt timer i could use BUT can i use the 12 volt timer between the batteries and the Inverter?????? That way there would be zero power used except when I set it to run.

Thanks for any help.

hierony 11-01-2017 08:10 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
Interesting idea/setup. If you could post a link to your 12v timer spec's I might be able to comment more.

Also, what inverter are you using? Do they give a standby current usage or just the peak efficiency? Or do you have some current monitoring on the DC side going to your inverter? Any of those can give you an idea of how much energy you're 'wasting' by leaving the inverter on 24/7...

Stea 11-01-2017 08:41 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
Link to 12 volt timer


No specs on the inverter its 300 watt peak pure sine wave

Stea 11-01-2017 08:47 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
OK now look at this . This is the cheap booster I'm using but it works fantastic.


Booster specs 3 watt consumption 5v 1amp dc


Found the inverter


Stea 11-01-2017 09:13 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
OK way out in left field now

How about this hook to 12 volt timer and splice into booster power cord , bypass inverter completely .

adapter 12v to 5v 3amp to booster 5v 1amp would the amp difference be an issue?


hierony 11-02-2017 12:04 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
Now you're thinking! Inverters have that standby current draw, so using that voltage regulator (buck converter) for your 5 V electronics is an excellent idea since you'd just be rectifying the AC back to DC anyhow. As long as the voltages match and the regulator can supply as much or more current then needed it's fine--the load (your booster) will set the current used.

One big thing to watch out for is nominal vs actual voltages--'12 V dc' solar means the actual voltage can vary between 10 V up to 18 V dc on the panel side! With the batteries hooked up, you probably won't get above 15 V though. The voltage regulator is spec'd for up to 23 V, so that's fine. The 12v timer just says '12 V dc' so I can't really say--someone else selling the same product might give better information, or there might be hints in the reviews.

hierony 11-02-2017 12:09 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
One thing to double check--look at the booster power supply and verify that it's outputting just 5 V 1 amp. In some images of your booster there's a '12 V' symbol on there along with the '5 V'--could be just an internal thing but it doesn't hurt to double check...

Stea 11-02-2017 01:38 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
I think I am going to try the panel to controller to Battery to 12 volt timer to inverter to booster set up.

Not sure if I want to hack up the booster cord on an experiment. lol

hierony 11-02-2017 03:12 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
Yeah, there's always that. Fortunately, there's other plugs available. One of them should fit :D Just make sure you get ground on the correct pin...

Stea 11-02-2017 03:29 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
There ya go. Maybe I will buy an extra cord and the multi ends and experiment

Jafo 11-04-2017 05:20 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
You will want to make sure your controller can handle 800 watts or consider configuring your array for 24 or 48 volts by wiring them in series.

Stea 11-04-2017 07:39 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
Jafo, right now it's just a cheap off brand 100 watt panel, a cheap controller and a couple 12 volt deep cycle batteries.

When I do the "real" system next summer . I will probably buy a package deal so it will all match up.

thebitmaster 11-05-2017 03:05 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
I second the idea of using DC->DC converters instead of 120V if you really don't need it. They make them for various laptops, along with the stuff already show here.

However, it's also worth just running it all the time and seeing if it keeps up. It might seem wasteful, but the solar power is free at this point. Naturally it will vary by time of year. If it keeps up in the darkest average times, you can avoid all the extra complexity.

thebitmaster 11-05-2017 03:05 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
Also, adding a second cheap panel that's mostly compatible is probably easier and cheaper than all the timers, etc. Or trading the one you have and a little cash for two that are compatible and can be wired in parallel.

Stea 11-05-2017 04:18 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
Just playing with the components right now. In the spring i will get a full system in and then just powering the cell system and camera won't be an issue.

Snow has started to fly up at the yurt so the best I can do is maybe trying the 12 volt timer to limit the time the inverter and booster run. However, it's been over 7 days now and I'm still up and running so maybe the one panel is enough or its just adding extra time until the 2 batteries drop in voltage.

We shall see, I don't think I will be able to get up there for a couple weeks.

I sold the snowmobiles and bought tracks for the side by side at the wife's direction . She didn't like the snowmobiles.


Jafo 11-15-2017 09:08 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
If you don't mind, please update us on how well that works in deep snow. I have been contemplating buying one, but only if I can ride it in like 3-4 feet of snow. :)

Stea 11-15-2017 09:24 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
We will see. We had 7' last winter.

Sold my snowmobiles so it better get us there.

I let you know.

Stea 12-10-2017 08:26 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
Just thought I would post an update..

System dropping the voltage to to 5 volt is working fantastic.

The 100 watt panel is keeping the battery charged and Im actually powering the booster 24/7.

Jafo no update on the side by side with tracks yet. Just a skiff of snow so far. Drove up yesterday in the truck.

Jafo 12-11-2017 09:28 AM

Re: Solar question-help needed
What stepdown are you using for the 5v? Do you have a photo of it? I am considering doing the same thing.

Stea 12-11-2017 10:37 AM

Re: Solar question-help needed
This is the one I used


Bob Rowlands 12-11-2017 09:03 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
Thanks for the tips Stea.

Jafo 12-12-2017 08:59 AM

Re: Solar question-help needed
Thanks, I just ordered one. Did you modify the plug I assume?

Stea 12-12-2017 11:58 AM

Re: Solar question-help needed
I needed to run the power cord about 15 feet so I purchased 15 feet of 18 ga 2 wire and spliced the step down in then i cut the original power cord and spliced the end in to my new power cord. Cant really use taps or connectors because the wire is so small so I used shrink tube to secure the connections. Ugly but it works.

Jafo 12-13-2017 04:06 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed

Originally Posted by Stea (Post 8483)

Have you noticed if your converter gets hot?

Stea 12-13-2017 04:15 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
doesnt get hot at all

hierony 12-13-2017 06:08 PM

Re: Solar question-help needed
The more current you draw, the hotter the converter will get--basically all the excess power gets converted to heat. Ie, (12 V-5 V)* amps = watts heating. Milliamp draws aren't going to heat things up much (7 V * .250 A = 1.75 watts heat).

As for wire, you can get some pretty good speaker wire for much cheaper than much of anything else. Like $22 for 250 ft of 16 ga (ebay), or even 12 ga. It's pretty flexible, has ground marked on one side, and will take most of the light and some of the moderate currents.

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