The Solar Power 'Salvos Project'.
This project will soon provide free solar electricity to a very poor & disadvantaged family.
Hopefully, this project will be repeated for many more 'Salvo Supported' families who cannot afford their ever increasing electricity bills.
Note: 'Solar Power' is not "free" - This family will have almost free power only because the approx $2200 equipment cost was donated by the church community.
Thanks to the hundreds of readers who have supported this 'Power to the Disadvantaged' project. And the many who have contributed financially! (Specially the four pensioners who each purchased a $240 battery!)
The 1 year TimeLine & News..
The project is now 12 months along and has been producing power for the last two months. - thanks to everyone for their patience.. There have been some technical difficulties as listed below..
Aug-2017: One of the 4 batteries is being returned to Century Batteries for warranty check. It is only 9 mths old but showing a loss of capacity typical of a 6 year old battery??
Jun-2017: The first month of solar power has gone well. The first 'rainy day' has shown that the battery bank is not lasting the full 36 hours expected in the design.
May 2017: Equipment testing has gone well. Initially, the solar power will only be used by:
Fridge; Freezer; Small TV and some Led Lights. The 400Ah batteries should be able to power this load for 48 hrs.
Apr 2017: The 4th Battery has been donated. All the Equipment is now assembled. The battery bank, as expected, is seriously low on capacity and will require several sessions of 'Equalizing' (6 to 12 hrs held at 14.4V)
Aug 2016: The list of required equipment includes:
4 x N70T batteries ($1000): 1kW of Solar Panels ($800)
An Inverter (2kW pure sine) ($200): An 80A Charge controller (3 stage, programable) ($300)
Jul 2016: We have collected enough funds to start purchasing equipment. Initially a 100Ah battery for $240. (4 of these will be needed.)
From a 2015 "Freezer Backup" project..
With just one solar panel (250w) and one caravan battery, the unit below can keep a Freezer (60 watts) running 24/7 in the event of a power failure. For Fridge, Freezer & lights (140w), the same unit needs four PV panels (1kW) and four 100ah batteries. (eg. N70T)
This project can 'solar power' the vital appliances in a small house! It is not cheap - but neither is the price of future electricity! Or the cost of replacing the contents of your fridge and freezer (which you WILL loose at the next power failure). As a former research tech with the Nat. Power Grid, I know the neglected state of the grid and that there absolutely will be an increase in blackout frequency.
Feedback welcome.. (via the 'Contact Us' page.)
* Totally 'Off-Grid'?: If you have frozen meat, it is NOT practicle to go Totally 'Off-Grid' with a small solar setup like this.. With two rainy day, you will need grid power to keep those items preserved. And, power from a petrol Generator is far too expensive.
Note 1: 'Solar' is NOT totally Free Energy..
The minimum electricity usage for a tiny house is about 3 kWh/day or $1/day..
To run 3 kWh/day on Solar will require a 300Ah battery. Eg. 4 x N70T batteries = $1000.
The 3 kWh of solar at 30c/kWh will save $1/day.
Saving $1/day; it will take about 7 years to payoff the battery pack and the 1kW Solar panels, Controller & Inverter. Sadly, after those 7 years, the battery pack will probably need to be replaced!
Thus, it might be 10 years before you will have any "free electricity" (and then for just 4 years until the batteries need replacing again!)
Can you add something to this article??
New points/corrections are most welcome.. (via the 'Contact Us' page.)
c1. Duplication is the key insurance.. While you are without grid power, if some component of your 'solar unit' fails, you won't have time to buy replacement parts before you loose the contents of your freezer. A dual (duplicated) solar system will allow you to function on half power. You may loose your TV and Microwave - but not your fridge and freezer.
c3. The 'Anderson Connectors' (to the batteries)..
We used 50 amp 'Anderson Plugs' wired in parallel to allow a 100 amp draw.
That is only 1.2 kw - but enough for a cottage or during a Grid failure.
The above 3 plugs connect to the 3 sockets shown in the main image as "to the Battery".
c5. For long life, the 'Lugs' on the 'battery to inverter' cables (and the Anderson plugs) need to be soldered.. Without an expensive 'Crimping tool', these large 'Lugs' will be hard to attach.. The options are.. Totally fill the lug-cups with solder: Modify an old pair of 'vice grips': I used a small block of very hard wood with a half circle groove - then I hammer/indented the lug with a hand shaped bolt.
Basic Circuit Diag.
Setup for soldering big Lugs on fat Cable..
(The Lug shown below is from a 50amp 'Anderson plug'.)
Use a Gas powered mini-torch and Soldering iron. (both at the same time on 7mm battery cable!)
Use cheap pliers as the jaws will get heat affected.
Don't use paper, cloth, wood to hold the hot lugs (the lug will be tarnished by toxic gases)
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