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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Solar info help
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Ejm
Member
# Posted: 11 Jul 2018 14:43
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I’m not sure if this could be done looking for some help/suggestions.

I have a Honda EU3000IS “3000 watts” that runs the cabin. I cant afford to switch to solar it was too expensive, but I would like to buy a system that I could keep adding to each year and maybe one day I will not have to use the generator.

I was thinking when I have my generator running it could help charge the battery bank instead of always counting on the solar panels to do the job. Maybe one day I will have enough panels to not need the generator. It is an off the grid cabin that we use about 30 days a year. The only thing we would have running when we are not there would be the refrigerator it is energy star “This refrigerator uses 358 kWh/yr.”

More concerns: I have a wire coming in from my generator to a circuit breaker box how would I switch over to solar power? Is there a switch I could install to have it run on the solar bank and then when it gets low I could switch back to generator?

Let me know what you think and if anyone could suggest something I could grow into.

Thanks,

Ej

darz5150
Member
# Posted: 11 Jul 2018 23:26
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Quoting: Ejm
s there a switch I could install to have it run on the solar bank and then when it gets low I could switch back to generator?

Transfer switch. You can get one off amazon or an rv supply store.

ILFE
Member
# Posted: 12 Jul 2018 06:53 - Edited by: ILFE
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In theory, sure you can start small and add on to a solar system at your place. The sixty-four thousand dollar question, though, is HOW long will it take you to expand the system?

The reason I ask is, you do not want to mix old batteries, with new ones. You want to keep them as close to the same age as possible, for your system.

EDIT: Oh, you do NOT want to run your refrigerator off solar, while you are not there. Anything could happen, which could end up costing you a hell of a lot more than any food you would possibly lose, if the refrigerator shut off during the time you were away.

Ejm
Member
# Posted: 12 Jul 2018 09:52
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I did a little bit of research and I would go with lithium batterys. It looks like you will pay more, but it is ok with being abused. I am thinking about spending around 3k to get started and each year add a few panels. I just don't know where to start.


Ok, I will forget the idea of leaving the fridge on solar. I just figured it would be easy if we are coming back to the cabin in a few weeks to leave it on, but thank you for the heads up.


Could anyone suggest what I need to get started?

NorthRick
Member
# Posted: 12 Jul 2018 15:09
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Quoting: Ejm
Could anyone suggest what I need to get started?


Start with figuring out what your loads really are.

Ejm
Member
# Posted: 12 Jul 2018 16:06
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How would I figure that out? As of now I power my cabin with EU3000IS (3000 watts)

It runs the cabin with no issues. I would just like to use it less

refrigerator uses 358 kWh/yr
I have a 10 led lights
well pump slow start up. I think it is around 1500 watts to run

We are there 30 days a year. I will only use the system when I am there and could use my generator to charge the battery bank when they get low

creeky
Member
# Posted: 12 Jul 2018 16:37
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I would build a small solar system and run the genny for the well pump.

Ejm
Member
# Posted: 12 Jul 2018 17:01
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I have a Grundfos well pump. it doesn't take up much power at all. I just found out the most it will draw is 1000 watts and a slow surge at the most 1500 watts they don't even think it will surge that high.

creeky
Member
# Posted: 12 Jul 2018 19:59
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a victron 1200 will do then. but you know that. you've seen my "grey owl" system specs

Wilbour
Member
# Posted: 12 Jul 2018 22:55
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Quoting: Ejm
Ok, I will forget the idea of leaving the fridge on solar. I just figured it would be easy if we are coming back to the cabin in a few weeks to leave it on, but thank you for the heads up.



As long as your cold items are still cold in the cooler when you get to the cabin then I would turn off the fridge between visits.

Throwing cold stuff in it while it cools down helps the process. Even putting the cold packs or your frozen water bottles in the fridge will speed up the cooling process.

If you are gone for more than a day or so I would not trust the fridge to keep items cold. Sometimes the fridge may shut down due to a power failure and then start back up. You may not even know this as by the time you return things are cold again.

If you are in an area that looses power frequently for example, an old trick is to put a penny on one of the ice-cubes in the tray. That way if the ice melts because of a warm period and then freezes, the penny will be now at the bottom of the ice-cube.

Good use for a Canadian Penny now

Ejm
Member
# Posted: 13 Jul 2018 09:08
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Wilbour… That is some great info! I like the penny trick.

stitch
Member
# Posted: 20 Jul 2018 02:08
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Wilbour........
That's some great advice!

Right now I'm in the same spot as the original poster. Currently I run my camp off a Generator. I love the idea of doing a battery bank with solar to charge the batteries. During the winter its cloudy in the western U.P. from November to April so the idea of having a battery bank that can charge by solar or generator. Even thought how I could bypass the battery bank and just run the camp from the generator.
I'm not going to go into detail what I'm doing now with the generator. It involves a double male end extension cord. This year I want a safer set up for when friends beat me to camp and I always worry about them hooking up the "death" cord to my camp.

ILFE
Member
# Posted: 20 Jul 2018 07:04 - Edited by: ILFE
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Quoting: stitch
I'm not going to go into detail what I'm doing now with the generator. It involves a double male end extension cord. This year I want a safer set up for when friends beat me to camp and I always worry about them hooking up the "death" cord to my camp.


stitch, I can relate, believe me. I used to do the same thing. That is, I used to run a suicide cord. After we had our service upgraded here (I'm in Cambodia), I installed a double pole, double throw knife switch. (There is no such thing as electrical code in this country, believe me.) Now, when we experience power cuts (which is fairly often), we just start the generator, then flip the switch from mains to generator.

All I did was remove the male plug from one end of the cord, and attach it to the terminals at the bottom of the knife switch. The male on the other end of the cord, remains plugged into the generator. The mains are wired to the opposite end of the knife switch. The middle terminals of the knife switch feed the loads from either source - mains or generator. There is no way possible for the generator and mains to be connected to the loads simultaneously. Nor is it possible, in any way, for the generator to backfeed into the mains line.

Double-Pole Double-Throw Knife Switch

Perhaps you could buy a similar knife switch, in order to sort your issue? If you cannot find one where you live, let me know and I will send you one. (My email address should be in my profile.) You don't need a very big one. Just let me know how many amperes you need it to handle. Mine is 60 amperes, to handle the rated mains line we have powering the farm. But, my generator only provides up to 9 amperes (@220vac), which is more than we need here, currently.

Taking a few minutes to browse the internet, I found THIS SWITCH on Amazon. Current price is $9.19 US.

Brian Ray
Member
# Posted: 20 Jul 2018 14:15 - Edited by: Brian Ray
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I’m running a mini fridge and a couple lights off a small solar system consisting of 400 watts of panels, six - 6 volt deep cycle batteries, a Morningstar 45 amp controller and a cheap 1500 watt inverter.

I have an RV type automatic transfer switch and an RV type AC to DC Converter/Charger wired to switch over when my generator starts.

Transfer switch https://www.progressivedyn.com/rv/automatic-transfer-switches/pd5110010-120-vac-30-am p-automatic-transfer-switch/

Converter/Charger http://powermaxconverters.com/product/pm3-12v-series/

This has been trouble free for a couple years now. The only thing I would do differently is to go for a higher amp charger, the 35 amp version I chose is slow to top off the batteries.

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