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  1. #21
    Ok...Yes, I understand why you would want the better solar panels but you have to consider that with the HF one you get everything you need to run those two lights that it comes with (right?), anyway, I will look up the charge controller that you mentioned. Now what about an inverter and how many batteries to start with?
    trkarl, I don't know a thing about how much power a tv and lights would require and I don't know what you mean by 12v dc loads. I did read my book but a lot of it is still beyond my understanding.
    Ok, here are the videos that had me wanting the harbor freight ones, not to mention there are a lot of great videos on how to put them together and use them. On the better solar panel that you have shown here, I don't have that, so that is why I have to ask so many questions. I would much rather start with better panels but I have to know what to do with them.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_P9X...eature=channel
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bkyj...eature=channel

  2. #22
    The guy seems to have learned a little bit more from video 1 to video 2.

    He went from a $39. 12 volt car battery to 2 six volt batteries.

    And in video 2 he got a real charge controller. I'm guessing probably the little box from HF went out on him being as he didn't expand his system- no additional panels on the roof when they showed the opening "Rick skates" scenes.

    I highly doubt 45 watts is going to make even two 12 volt lights run for "2 weeks" as he states. I notice in video 2 he didn't mention times. If you look, their is a year or so time difference between video 1 and video 2- besides "skating" Rick was learning a few things in that time period.

    In video two he's using a Xantrex charge controller, not sure the model but it looked like a smaller version of a C40. He says he bought it used on ebay for $50 or 60. which is one of the places I recommend checking for them used.

    Rick can power a couple of 12 VOLT lights- not your standard 110 house lights- off what he has.

    However once Rick realizes he wants to go further, very little of what he has invested in what he has now will integrate with his system in the future. The charge controller would be about it.

    He's showing a small little "inverter" like people use in their cars to power a laptop computer. These things offer virtually NONE of the features a real Alternate energy inverter does. He CANNOT hook up a generator to his system and use the inverter as a charger. Just like he replaced the little box (HF charge controller) that came with the "kit" he will find that he will likely want to replace the "inverter" with something real at some point in the future.

    Look at it this way, he's already wasted some bucks on the HF "charge controller" and making the wrong choice in batteries to begin with (video 1).

    One thing that will help people is to get out the "hurricane mentality" when it comes to stuff like this. Everyone wants to think "oh I just want to run a few lights." A "few lights" turns into all the lights and the inefficient fridge. That turns into "well the kids want to play Sega (or whatever is current video game). That turns into "well we can't miss Americant Idol worship."

    You want to eventually be able to run your house with most if not all of the conveniences you have now. Will some things have to be replaced- LP gas stove for electric, solar or LP water heater for electric- SURE but you can live the SAME WAY you do NOW later if you would just have the courage to look into the future and see the possibilities.

    After that, it's all about setting a plan and slowly making it happen- just like all your survival planning.

  3. #23
    Brass Site Supporter 2013 Thank you!
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    Quote Originally Posted by becky3086 View Post
    trkarl, I don't know a thing about how much power a tv and lights would require and I don't know what you mean by 12v dc loads. I did read my book but a lot of it is still beyond my understanding.
    To figure out the power usage you would need a meter like a kill-a-watt which you plug in the wall socket and then plug in the device like the tv or the light. when you turn on the device the meter will show you how much power the device consumes.

    Say the tv requires 30 watts and you want to run it for 3 hours then the tv would require 90 watt / hours of power. 30 x 3 = 90. Do the same for the lights. You have to be honest with yourself about how long you will run each load because your system has to produce the power.

    The 12v dc load would just run off the battery without the inverter. The inverter just takes 12v dc and makes 120v ac out of it to run regular household loads but is not 100% efficient which means it costs you power just to make the conversion.

    Here is a pretty decent manual on solar I found useful:
    http://www.amazon.com/Photovoltaics-...779170&sr=1-26

    The thing about this is is that once you start playing with it you will want to expand it. This is where the " begin with the end in mind" comes in. Buy quality components that will integrate into a system that you can expand on.

    Take a look at some of the customer galleries here to get some ideas.
    http://www.altestore.com/community/

  4. #24
    Thank you all for all your help. I have learned a lot. I am not sure we would ever be able to expand a lot, I am not real sure we can even afford the basics or ever will be able to afford them, but maybe I can get one thing at a time, you never know, I am pretty good once I put my mind to something, still, I think I would have to start small. A couple of lights aren't much but right now when the power goes out we rely on candles so a couple of lights might be more of a big deal for us, still, I think you are right, eventually once we learned more, we would want more.
    Just so you know that you haven't wasted your time, I have looked up every link and filed away every suggestion for what to buy. I would still like a suggestion (link would be good) for a couple of good inverters. I have am really not sure what makes a good one.
    I kind of plan on just running whatever the solar panels will run, if it won't run a tv, well then we won't use it for that. I am just trying to get the basics on how everything will work but there is a lot more to it than I ever knew. Thanks again all!

  5. #25
    OK Robert, I am trying my best to talk my wife into letting me play with solar energy. But first, what does seeing your exhaust fan in the video have to do with OPSEC? Unless you have, "this fan is actively being used at grid coordinate XY85507935" LOL just pulling your leg, just seemed odd to hear that...

    Have you seen this video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WDZISfOtfc

    I don't think I can talk the wife into having electrical cords running along the floors of the house to have my alt power like he has in the video I linked...
    Please watch the video and give me some feedback. OH, he also mentions using grid power to occasionally fully charge his battery bank. What are your thoughts on that?


    Thanks!!

  6. #26
    We have to shoot things at certain angles, times of day, etc. sometimes in the PAW videos you only saw arms of people passing stuff over to others. Sometimes we drop hints to locations that are bogus. Sometimes we tape at locations that aren't even ours.

    It took quite a bit for me to convince my buddies at the hunting camp to let me make "survival videos" (as they called it) there.

    We showed two systems, the smaller one at the hunting camp. The floor where that box never had a subfloor put in. It's just 2x6's over 2x12's- originally that part was a deck. We put a fan in it there as well there is numerous windows including two in plain view in the video. And we started that video with a title on the screen saying "yes the battery bank is vented." Yet I still get retards that tell me that the system is going to "blow up" from the "light" on the inverter- LOL. People that write stuff like that have never really lived with a system and don't pay attention to when you put on the screen a "yes the battery bank is vented" title but they like to put stupid comments on videos.

    Anytime you put a video up to help people, their is ALWAYS someone that comes in and puts up smart $$$ comments that 99.9% of time you can tell have no idea what they are talking about. Since I mentioned one time that we had to spray to SAVE FRUIT TREES, I had all the earth worshippers telling me things like "if you EVER use ANY commercial fertilizer on your soil, NOTHING will EVER live there." Honest to God got that comment from some tree hugging hippie. So when we were setting out potatoes last year and doing a video on them, here is about a bajillion earth worms in an area that (OMG!) we used commercial fertilizer in just a few months prior! So of course I had to hit back at the earth worshippers for that one

    I'll try to watch the video tomorrow, got youngin's in the bed right now

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  7. #27
    Ahhh, next time they say it is going to blow up ask them: What exactly is the hydrogen/oygen concentration level required to cause a combustion, and how much hydrogen is emitted from a well maintained battery, and how long would the said batteries have to release the hydrogen in my battery bank room which is 450 cubic feet of air space? Stupid hippies, drive me nuts sometimes.

    I have no problem with OPSEC, been there done that.

  8. #28
    LOL Klayton. Yep I know what you mean

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  9. #29
    Lowdown3, did you get a chance to check out that youtube video today? No biggy if you didn't, just want someone with first hand experience to tell me if that guy is crazy or not. Like I said, really really want to start some solar panels and a battery bank for emergency power for my freezers & lights...

  10. #30
    OK, watched that whole video.

    He's off to a good start.

    Like you mentioned having those extension cords run all over the place could be a major hassle, even out of the way.

    One of the reasons to go with a REAL AE inverter is that a real AE inverter also acts as a BATTERY CHARGER. If you notice he mentions using grid power to charge the batteries via a standard battery charger. The little $99. "inverter" he has won't act as a battery charger.

    It would seem the easiest way to see if it's a cheap inverter would be to check to see if it has PLUG IN'S. A real AE inverter is not going to have outlet receptables (plug in's) on it. Why? Because it's designed to be wired directly into the panel box of the house.

    Battery bank power (DC, whatever voltage your running, 12, 24, 48, etc.) goes to the inverter with changes it to 110 AC which goes to the panel box of your house.

    Now as he says in the video, he can't run his whole place off of that small of a system. Therefore even if he had a real inverter he would still have to wire a sub box and divide up his current panel box. If he did it that way, he would circumvent having all the extension cords run all over the house.

    His best moves after what he has already done- IMO would be to get a small Real AE inverter like a Xantrex DR1512 for around $700. Then he could either use the grid for an AC source- like he's already doing- or he could get a gas or diesel genset and use that as one of the AC inputs. A decent inverter is going to allow you to wire to the AC grid as one AC input as well as a generator backup as another AC input. The DC input being the battery bank.

    WHEN he goes to expand, he'll find the $99. or however much he paid "inverter" being worthless in his upgraded system. This is what I was talking about in the article about "beginning with the end in mind" as when he does upgrade he will have to replace some components.

    Realistically if they weren't too excessive with their power usage, had an LP water heater and stove, a little 5kw generator and a decent inverter would probably provide a nice little system they COULD live with.

    The small system we show in those later videos is about the same size and it's worked well for extended trips to the hunting camp.

    The only other thing I would have changed was he bought kind of a base level charge controller that he said was around $200. IIRC, then he said he needed the Tri meter- because the charge controller didn't have an led readout so he bought that at around another $200. A c40 charge controller with led display would have run him around $200. Although he says his controller is an MPPT. You can sometimes find Outback MPPT's for around $500- almost what he has invested in that and the meters. And the smallest Outback MPPT is 60 amps, so it would GROW with him as his system grew. In other words, it would prove useful for the long run.

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