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Notes on putting together a solar power system on a low budget
- Need really substantial battery backup for when the mains go out
- Need to be able to keep power going when mains are out for extended period by charging batteries
- Minimizing regular expenses, wherever possible
- continuous AC-to-battery-to-AC setup
- keeps power continuous
- allows charging from essentially any source, including:
- Existing gasoline-powered portable generator
- Solar panels
We have no solar panels yet, but they are worth adding to the system once there are batteries because they:
- are silent and have no emissions
- can be set up incrementally as budget permits
- do not cost anything to operate
- can be left "on" to help lower power bills when mains are on (because of the above points)
It looks like a good starting strategy would be:
- Get a medium-small charge controller (7A/150w, for 12v batteries - $30 + $6 s/h
- Get a single unit of whatever delivers the most wattage per dollar -- currently this panel (15w, on sale for $60, normally $100) (similar panel)
- Get a single deep cycle 12v battery
- Dismantle a partly-working UPS to use as an inverter (bank these to provide more wattage as batteries are added; eventually switch to purpose-designed units)
Compare this kit -- maybe the price works out better.
- Solar Solutions, Inc., Page Rd.
- Skyward Solar Power, Hillsborough Rd.
- Southern Energy: they seem to overlook the battery-backup options...