Discussions

Solar A/C as an option to an existing undersized system or none at all:  Since I live at altitude A/C is usually not needed here, except for those 5 or so days a year. So no need to install A/C. A solar A/C works like this. Dig a trench/s about a 100′ long or so 6-8′ deep, put 6″ PVC pipe in the trench, or several if you prefer. Turn the far end of the pipe up so it will end up about 1′ above ground level. Put a vent cover on it. Bring the other end of the PVC pipe into the house and either run to separate rooms or connect into your heat ducts if you have them.  There are two ways to move the air thru the PVC pipe into the home: you could use a 12V pump to draw the air into the pipe and run it thru the entire length of pipe (slow speed fan is important here as you want the air to remain in the pipe long enough for the ground to cool it), OR, you can put a solar chimney in the house. I’ll explain this soon. In either event you want the ground to cool the air as it flows through the pipe before it’s pumped into the house. The more runs you have the greater the cooling possibilities. As to the chimney, the idea is to put a chimney in the house with it open to a vent in the ceiling somewhere. The chimney should be exposed to the sun, wraped in black tar paper and then covered in your choice of material to match the outside of the house. As the sun heats up this chimney, convection will draw the air in the house out through that chimney. If you have the solar PVC pipe system the cool air in those pipes will be drawn up and out the chimney, thus cooling the house.  A friend of mine had to dig trenches for his water lines, electric lines and sewer. He simply put additional PVC pipe in each of these runs and then did as I stated above. Cheap, effective A/C for off grid living or wanting to reduce the costs associated with running A/C. There is a lot of information of this online. Good luck.

I have not had any problems with my Inverter or charge controllers. The inverter is a Schneider and the charge controllers are Outbacks. I’m the newbie on the ranch so I checked with others who are well past 10 years with their systems and no one mentioned any inverter problems. Sorry to hear you are questioning yours. The major complaints are batteries, guess that’s why I harp on good ones so much. Everyone is replacing their batteries with AGM or Iron Edison batteries when theirs fail. For those looking for beginner advice, here’s mine. Get the pros to do the calcs for system size and then find neighbors, friends or others who have a solar system. Ask questions like what do they like about their system, what don’t they like, how have the components performed, what is their life expectency, cost to buy/replace, service schedules, can you expand on those components as your need grows or budget allows, how easy to understand and use/monitor, decide if you’re likely to maintain the system as needed? I know it seems like a lot but you can DO IT! I don’t know the physics behind how the panels do what they do, how the inverter decides what to do with input from the panels or some of the other things going on. However, I’ve learned enough to know I will never be dependent upon some utility company again. I’d rather put together a smaller HIGHER quality system than a larger less dependent system. I’d rather regulate my electric needs to fit my smaller system, as opposed to having a system that meets my current electric needs but will certainly cause me heartburn (of course this is all budget dependent).  I’ve recently looked at a ranch that had A/C on their solar system, problematic was their response. So we discussed a solar A/C system to replace their power hungry heatpump. They dug long trenches 6′ deep, placed 6″ pvc pipe in the trenches with a small 12v fan and pumped that cold air into their home. That’s in my future for sure. Happy to provide a little more info on this if anyone is interested? A side note, I’ve seen no study that supports wind generation in connection with solar. If you’re gonna put the money into a wind generator it makes more sense to just increase your solar generation and storage. Just my opinion.

Leaving all the calculations to need and size of system to the professionals, I’m looking at it from the users side of the equation. I found out quite quickly that an undersized over utilized system is a fast way to a lot of expense. Once I had my system properly sized to run a 5000 sq ft house, 1000 sq ft barn and a 400 sq ft shed, with two wells I was able to acquire the appropriate systems to meet my needs.  I have 8800 watts of solar generation with (40) 1.2 volt batteries on an automatic watering system. (48) volt system, 4 charge controllers, a 240 converter for the wells, inverter, comm box and a 12,000 watt back up generator. Since I have no interest in being overly cautious about leaving lights on my system was oversized by 10%. Since the installation was complete 4 years ago I have had no, zero, nadda problems. I have never run out of power, even when long winter snowy days prevented the sun from hitting my panels for days. I of course have the associated accessories to fit the system. I have batteries that do NOT have the standard issues with under/over charging or discharging below 65-70%.  I have my gen set to turn on at a 35% depletion of my batteries and only had that happen twice this past winter. The batteries do NOT have a life span of so many cycles, thus I do not worry about typical issues with batteries. Every 10 years or so I’ll simply drain the electrolyte from the batteries and refill them, good for another 10. Point is: buy good batteries since they are the backbone of your system. I use a water purification system that makes deionized water for the batteries. I fill a powered watering cart on wheels with this system, roll it over to the battery box, attach the quick disconnect hose to a bank of 20 batteries and hit the ON button. About 30 seconds later that bank is filled and the watering cart shut off automatically not to overfill the batteries. Then I move onto the next 20 batteries. I have to fill the batteries about every 4 weeks in the summer and 6-8 in the winter. This is no big deal compared to other flooded batteries.  Now that I know my sizing and systems are right I have literally no concerns about the lifespan, performance or reliability of my solar system. It cost a lot of money to get here from early mistakes and that’s why I’m passing this on. Even if you have to build yours in segments, one at a time, buy the best you can afford. Wait as long as you have to in order to buy batteries, and most of all, do your research on the batteries. There are SO many options today it can be confusing.  Best of luck, happy to answer anything you are interestred in.

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Solar A/C as an option to an existing undersized system or none at all:  Since I live at altitude A/C is usually not needed here, except for those 5 or so days a year. So no need to install A/C. A solar A/C works like this. Dig a trench/s about a 100′ long or so 6-8′ deep, put 6″ PVC pipe in the trench, or several if you prefer. Turn the far end of the pipe up so it will end up about 1′ above ground level. Put a vent cover on it. Bring the other end of the PVC pipe into the house and either run to separate rooms or connect into your heat ducts if you have them.  There are two ways to move the air thru the PVC pipe into the home: you could use a 12V pump to draw the air into the pipe and run it thru the entire length of pipe (slow speed fan is important here as you want the air to remain in the pipe long enough for the ground to cool it), OR, you can put a solar chimney in the house. I’ll explain this soon. In either event you want the ground to cool the air as it flows through the pipe before it’s pumped into the house. The more runs you have the greater the cooling possibilities. As to the chimney, the idea is to put a chimney in the house with it open to a vent in the ceiling somewhere. The chimney should be exposed to the sun, wraped in black tar paper and then covered in your choice of material to match the outside of the house. As the sun heats up this chimney, convection will draw the air in the house out through that chimney. If you have the solar PVC pipe system the cool air in those pipes will be drawn up and out the chimney, thus cooling the house.  A friend of mine had to dig trenches for his water lines, electric lines and sewer. He simply put additional PVC pipe in each of these runs and then did as I stated above. Cheap, effective A/C for off grid living or wanting to reduce the costs associated with running A/C. There is a lot of information of this online. Good luck.

I have not had any problems with my Inverter or charge controllers. The inverter is a Schneider and the charge controllers are Outbacks. I’m the newbie on the ranch so I checked with others who are well past 10 years with their systems and no one mentioned any inverter problems. Sorry to hear you are questioning yours. The major complaints are batteries, guess that’s why I harp on good ones so much. Everyone is replacing their batteries with AGM or Iron Edison batteries when theirs fail. For those looking for beginner advice, here’s mine. Get the pros to do the calcs for system size and then find neighbors, friends or others who have a solar system. Ask questions like what do they like about their system, what don’t they like, how have the components performed, what is their life expectency, cost to buy/replace, service schedules, can you expand on those components as your need grows or budget allows, how easy to understand and use/monitor, decide if you’re likely to maintain the system as needed? I know it seems like a lot but you can DO IT! I don’t know the physics behind how the panels do what they do, how the inverter decides what to do with input from the panels or some of the other things going on. However, I’ve learned enough to know I will never be dependent upon some utility company again. I’d rather put together a smaller HIGHER quality system than a larger less dependent system. I’d rather regulate my electric needs to fit my smaller system, as opposed to having a system that meets my current electric needs but will certainly cause me heartburn (of course this is all budget dependent).  I’ve recently looked at a ranch that had A/C on their solar system, problematic was their response. So we discussed a solar A/C system to replace their power hungry heatpump. They dug long trenches 6′ deep, placed 6″ pvc pipe in the trenches with a small 12v fan and pumped that cold air into their home. That’s in my future for sure. Happy to provide a little more info on this if anyone is interested? A side note, I’ve seen no study that supports wind generation in connection with solar. If you’re gonna put the money into a wind generator it makes more sense to just increase your solar generation and storage. Just my opinion.

Leaving all the calculations to need and size of system to the professionals, I’m looking at it from the users side of the equation. I found out quite quickly that an undersized over utilized system is a fast way to a lot of expense. Once I had my system properly sized to run a 5000 sq ft house, 1000 sq ft barn and a 400 sq ft shed, with two wells I was able to acquire the appropriate systems to meet my needs.  I have 8800 watts of solar generation with (40) 1.2 volt batteries on an automatic watering system. (48) volt system, 4 charge controllers, a 240 converter for the wells, inverter, comm box and a 12,000 watt back up generator. Since I have no interest in being overly cautious about leaving lights on my system was oversized by 10%. Since the installation was complete 4 years ago I have had no, zero, nadda problems. I have never run out of power, even when long winter snowy days prevented the sun from hitting my panels for days. I of course have the associated accessories to fit the system. I have batteries that do NOT have the standard issues with under/over charging or discharging below 65-70%.  I have my gen set to turn on at a 35% depletion of my batteries and only had that happen twice this past winter. The batteries do NOT have a life span of so many cycles, thus I do not worry about typical issues with batteries. Every 10 years or so I’ll simply drain the electrolyte from the batteries and refill them, good for another 10. Point is: buy good batteries since they are the backbone of your system. I use a water purification system that makes deionized water for the batteries. I fill a powered watering cart on wheels with this system, roll it over to the battery box, attach the quick disconnect hose to a bank of 20 batteries and hit the ON button. About 30 seconds later that bank is filled and the watering cart shut off automatically not to overfill the batteries. Then I move onto the next 20 batteries. I have to fill the batteries about every 4 weeks in the summer and 6-8 in the winter. This is no big deal compared to other flooded batteries.  Now that I know my sizing and systems are right I have literally no concerns about the lifespan, performance or reliability of my solar system. It cost a lot of money to get here from early mistakes and that’s why I’m passing this on. Even if you have to build yours in segments, one at a time, buy the best you can afford. Wait as long as you have to in order to buy batteries, and most of all, do your research on the batteries. There are SO many options today it can be confusing.  Best of luck, happy to answer anything you are interestred in.