Your Questions About Solar Panel Kits

Laura asks…

Solar Panel Batteries?

My Grandfather just purchased a cheap solar panel kit for his ranch that could not muster enough power to run his mini fridge.

He has two 6 volt batteries running positive to negative and would like to add more batteries. Probably 12volt. How would he go about hooking up the other batteries and what kind of wire or coil should he use.

Also, I saw on youtube a guy recommending a lead-acid battery from walmart for under $20. I was just going to go to ecology and just pick up some used batteries but I may be wrong.

Any help for a first timer might help me and my gramps out will be appreciated.

Thank you

ssadmin answers:

If he is going to be running off batteries at night, he would be better off with “traction” batteries.
Traction batteries are true deep cycle and can better withstand deep discharge. Golf cart batteries at Sam's Club (the other half of Walmart) are “traction batteries.”

If your grandfather needs safe refrigeration, a mini fridge won't do it. A 110 fridge takes too much power to run off solar panels and most won't hold their cold very well if unplugged for long.

I run a fridge off grid with hybrid deep cycle marine starting batteries. It's an Engel 40. The price has gone up over $100 since I bought mine. It's a real fridge with a compressor and freon 134a. But it runs on 12v dc or 110vac and only uses 36 watts running because of a special compressor design. It will freeze food if you turn the dial down to 2 out of 5. It can also deep freeze.

I use mine to keep eggs, milk, cheese and fruit juice.

Your grandfather would need 400 amp-hours name plate rating of batteries at 12v to run the Engel, and probably 100 real watts of panels to recharge his battery bank. The Harbor Freight 45 watt panel set only puts out 30 watts on a clear cool day. That won't do it.

Daniel asks…

Portable Solar Panel?

I am a boy scout and I want to make a solar panel kit that I can pack up and bring anywhere. I want it to be portable and big enough to power a cell phone charger, double a battery charger(for flashlights), a portable fan, a clock, and enough for more stuff. Can you list what I would need? Needs to be low priced.
Ok well more accesories means unknown since I dont know what I will be plugging in. Could be a laptop for family campouts. Or a portable tv. Could be anything. And the powerfilms are too small for what I need. Not enough power. I've seen some before.

ssadmin answers:

Since you are a Boy Scout, you should be getting Boys' Life magazine. PowerFilm Solar regularly has an ad in Boys' Life to do the exact thing you are looking for.

Go sell more popcorn to get enough money to buy it.

George asks…

45 watt solar panel kit with a 300 watt power inverter? would this even run my toaster? thats 120v 60hrz 840w?

ssadmin answers:

The inverter is only designed to deliver 300 watts, so no.
There must be a battery in there, you didn't mention it. If you work out the current that a suitable inverter would need to draw to drive a suitable inverter, and the battery is able to safely supply that current, you can cook your toast.
However you must then look at the solar panel, at 45 watts it will take some time to charge a suitable battery for the job. And it can only do this when there is sufficient sunlight. So the time it can charge at 45 watts is limited in a 24- hour cycle.
Ultimately, the 840 W for your toaster needs to be supplied from the 45 W panel.

Chris asks…

Can you connect amorphous and monocrystalline solar panels together in a parallel?

I have a large monocrystalline solar panel I just got today and I want to hook it in parallel with a couple amorphous solar kits. There is a total of seven amorphous panels and one monocrystalline panel. Would the monocrystalline panel burn the other panels up? Just want to be on the safe side, thanks!

ssadmin answers:

If the panels are all roughly the same voltage, it should be ok. If in doubt, you can put a blocking diode in series with the crystalline panel to make sure no current flows the wrong way through it.

With panels of varying voltages, the worst that will probably happen is you will not get optimal power, not that a panel will get damaged, in this situation.

Betty asks…

How to set up solar power for your home?

I saw an ad to the following items

Chicago Electric Power systems
45 Watt Solar Panel Kit
400 Watt/800 Watt power inverter
Power Inverters 2000W Cont./4000W Surge

What else is needed to get electricity from the solar panels into a home?? How does this work?

I get a lot of sun and would be great to lower my HUGE summer electric bill. Lots of Sun = Lots of Heat = A/C all of the time = $$$$.

ssadmin answers:

Sounds like the system “Liz” described is kind of cobbled together; you want to install a “listed” solar photovoltaic system, and have it installed in a “Code compliant” manner.

Depending on who or where you purchase your system, they will probably offer to install it for you. This is also a good idea, which will include a warranty on the product and the installation. You want the installation to be done correctly; remember, there is no way to turn off a solar collector. Unless covered with a special black-out blanket, the only way to “turn off” a collector panel is to turn it over; a difficult task on a sloping roof.

You will want to know what additional dead load this will place on your roof structure and be sure that the roof system will support it. You will need to check with your local building department to see what Code requirements you will have to comply with. If your home has a truss roof, you will probably need to have a structural engineer verify that it will support the added weight, or design modifications to the roof framing that will allow the installation of the SP System. You may also have to contend with Zoning requirements. Although a variance is always possible, it can be a very expensive proposition.

Good luck.

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