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Thread: Solor Panels

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    Solor Panels

    Does any one know anything about Solor panels?
    Would these run a few lights ? http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...06&pricetype=S. I was thinking about useing it for lights in the GH when it starts getting dark .
    If not what would you be able to run off of them

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    RL7836's Avatar
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    Simple answer - no.

    At a minimum, you'd need batteries since the solar panels generate electricity when the sun is brightest (not when you want it - when it's dark). You'd also need an inverter for any 'regular' 110v lights since the only outputs are DC.

    Most successful solar systems today use inverters to convert DC to AC and match the sine wave of the power company and sell excess power back to the utilities. This eliminates all the complexity of battery storage & maintenance & replacement & ....
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    1000 watt metal halide bulb would cover about a 10'x10' area for nepenthes. If you're just running it for a few hours in the evening you wouldn't notice it on your electricity bill. It would probably be about 12 cents an hour. Solar panels sound too complicated if you're just talking about running lights for a few hours a day a few months out of the year.

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    I've seen ebay sellers who sell small windpower generators (around $400) but you'll need some way to store the excess power so that'll add to the setup cost. Would be neat to use wind to power all the lights! I'd give it a go if I had a house with land and a GH.

    Beware of Harbor Freight, nice stuff but once you order from them you'll never stop getting their catalogs and mailers and emails... I must get at least one paper catalog and at least one email ad from them a week and my last order was at least a year ago! lol

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    Add a good sized AGM battery and the cost goes way up but they're worth it. A 75 watt, 4Ah panel would be better too. But they are a lot more than those panels.
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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RL7836 View Post
    Most successful solar systems today use inverters to convert DC to AC and match the sine wave of the power company and sell excess power back to the utilities. This eliminates all the complexity of battery storage & maintenance & replacement & ....
    It's been my understanding that almost all grids are not set up to actually distribute power provided by customers. They'll pay you for the power you generate, but it doesn't actually get used. I think that's one of the motivations behind the new "smart grid" stuff. (That's not an endorsement! If you have the opportunity to make a decision about adopting a smart grid setup - voting, buying one for your business, etc. - do a lot of reading first. Most of the preliminary technology being pushed is totally unsecured and vulnerable to all sorts of malicious exploits.)
    Does anyone know if the solar manufacturing offset has finally been overcome? I know that there are some new solar technologies that actually have positive output, but I think most of the stuff on the market still takes more energy to manufacture than it can ever return collecting light.
    All in all, I don't think you have much to gain from this, Daren. At 45 watts you wouldn't be able to light much, even if you went down to a twelve- or eight-hour photoperiod. Solar power is a big investment, and I think it's usually most cost-effective at large scales. You're in a good place for solar (wind, too) but you should do some research before jumping in. There's a great magazine called Home Power, I believe, which is all about off-the-grid technology. It used to be hard to come by but I see them in big chain bookstores now - you could probably go to your local Border's or some place and browse through a copy without having to buy it. Your local library may also have some issues in stock.
    ~Joe

    PS - Er, I might've had my division reversed doing the conversion calculations... Maybe you could run a few lights with that panel.
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    I assume you want to extend your photo period by running lights a couple hours past local sunset.
    In that case, yes you could use these panels for that.
    You will also need a battery bank (not included) to store the electricity produced by the panels, a charge controller (not included) to manage the charging of the battery bank, and an inverter (not included) to convert the DC from the batteries to AC for the lamps. You are talking some serious $$$$ just to run a couple of lights for a couple of hours. If you want to light the whole greenhouse you need many more panels, bigger batteries, and more expensive support equipment.
    Unless you are out in the middle of nowhere with no access to the grid it's not really practical.

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