Author Topic: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here  (Read 31656 times)

Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #30 on: March 08, 2009, 02:03:41 PM »
Could someone explain how a micro inverter like this works?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=250384437686

According to the explanation;

"The systems are "Plug and Play" without the need for Battery Storage equipment. The homeowner only needs to attach the DC feed from the Solar Panels and then plug the AC output cord into a local AC outlet....And you are feeding Clean and Free AC Electricity into your home..."

But HOW?

For example, where is the energy generated stored?
In the event of an outage, would appliances still work?

All very confusing.

Offline LGM30

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #31 on: March 08, 2009, 07:17:22 PM »
Could someone explain how a micro inverter like this works?
All inverters work by turning DC power on and off very rapidly to simulate a sine wave.  The polarity is reversed every 1/2 cycle to change the DC to AC.  It works just like a commutator in a DC Generator, but made of solid state devices.  The cheapest inverters use only one step to simulate the sine wave, they are refered to a square wave inverters.  A full sine wave will gradually increase its voltage from 0 V to 120 V (I'm ignoring RMS and Peak Voltage to keep this simple, google those terms for a more accurate description) and then back to 0 V in 1/120th of a second.  It will then decrease from 0 to -120 in 1/120th of a second.  Every (sort of) value from 0 to 4.3 to 8.7 to 65.4 to etc... is represented at one time or another.  A square wave jumps from 0 to 120 instantly then holds that for 1/120th of a second without hitting any of the in between values, then jumps to -120 instantly and holds that for 1/120th of a second.  Keep repeating.
A modified sine wave inverter has multiple jumps inbetween.  Maybe 0 to 60V for 1/240th of a second, then 120V for 1/240th, then 60V then 0V then -60V, etc...
A full sine wave inverter does this to, but it has so many steps that it is difficult to measure the actual leaps.
A transformer is also used to step up the voltage from the battery voltage to 120 Volts once it has been converted to AC. (Transformers do not work on AC circuits.)
Quote
Where is the energy generated stored?
It isn't it is either used or if nothing in your home is drawing anything, then it is sent back out to the grid.  The same way that if you back fed your house with a generator, you are also back feeding the grid if your main disconnect isn't off.  Think of it like plumping.  If you had city water coming in the house and you had a faucett on, you might use 2 gallons per minute.  Now imagine hooking a 5 gpm well up to your house too.  If the pressure from your well pump exceeds the pressure from the city water, then you would send 2 gpm out your faucet and 3 gpm back to the city for someone else to use. (ignore back flow preventers etc...)
If you then started watering your garden at 4 gpm (your total house load is now 6 gpm) you would draw 1 gpm from the city system.

In general the storage of AC power isn't possible.  It can sort of be done with a very large flywheel, but even then only for a second or two before the PE unwinds.
Capacitors and Batteries are both DC devices.  I think anything storing AC power would need to be mechanical.  I might be forgetting something obvious sorry if I am.

Quote
In the event of an outage, would appliances still work?

Yes if the drew less than the 250 Watts the device is rated at and the solar panels were putting out 250 watts of power AND they wern't 240 VAC appliances.

Offline AZCeltic formerly occeltic

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #32 on: May 03, 2009, 03:11:27 PM »
As in all the other areas of this forum, I am impressed by the high caliber of people who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise with those who are seeking answers. Thank you to all involved!  :)
I am in the information gathering/shopping phase of trying to put together a portable system that can be broken down and taken with me when I leave my mountain ranch. Although the ranch is fenced, it is rural enough that there is the possibility of intruders. The cabin has already been broken into and a couple of deep cycle batteries stolen that were left by the previous owner, so I'm not really into leaving anything of value while I am away.
So far, I have purchased a 2000w peak power camping generator from Duropower Inc., and a 6000w peak surge modified sine wave inverter. The generator will be used for miscellaneous low wattage items, and for charging up the batteries when levels indicate its due. What I'm needing now is to know how much wattage I should be shopping for in a panel/panels, and the amp rating of a good charge controller. As far as batteries are concerned, I read somewhere else in this forum about purchasing 6v golf cart batteries from Costco, and linking them up in series. I know that the size of the system is determined by the amount of usage, and I am trying my best to keep my "demand" usage to a minimum.
Eventually we will be having a well put in, which will have its own power requirements depending on a number of factors. I will seek help with that when the time comes.
Put yourself in my shoes and please tell me your ideas. Thanks!! :)

 

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #33 on: May 04, 2009, 06:26:41 AM »
.... A square wave jumps from 0 to 120 instantly then holds that for 1/120th of a second without hitting any of the in between values, then jumps to -120 instantly and holds that for 1/120th of a second.  Keep repeating.

A modified sine wave inverter has multiple jumps inbetween.  Maybe 0 to 60V for 1/240th of a second, then 120V for 1/240th, then 60V then 0V then -60V, etc....

Just nit picking here, but most modified sine inverters that I have seen actually are just square wave inverters that hesitate when crossing  zero. That is it switches from - to zero, waits a while and then switches to +, then repeats in the opposite direction. This extra time at zero changes the spectral content so that the fundamental (60 Hz) becomes more predominant over the higher order harmonics. Not saying all modified sine inverters work that way, just every one that I have looked at.

MC

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #34 on: June 05, 2009, 12:41:19 AM »
Hey Synaptoman:

If you are a visual learner like I am, you will love this video explanation for your question:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hANi5NbcY5g&feature=related


Angie

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #35 on: June 05, 2009, 10:11:01 AM »
I would like to invest in solar power for my home in Florida.  I'm concerned about hurricanes and other storms damaging the solar panels.  How rugged are these panels and can they withstand a hurricane?

Thanks

Offline “Mark”

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #36 on: June 05, 2009, 10:21:53 AM »
I would like to invest in solar power for my home in Florida.  I'm concerned about hurricanes and other storms damaging the solar panels.  How rugged are these panels and can they withstand a hurricane?

Thanks

They'll stand all the rain and wind, but they're made of glass, so debris is the concern. I'd find a way to cover them with sheets of wood when the bad storms come -- you wouldn't be making much electricity under the cloud cover anyway.

Offline Stein

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #37 on: June 05, 2009, 10:28:01 AM »
As Mark mentioned, they are all made of some type of glass.  If the panels are UL Listed, they have complied with the Impact Test which drops a 2" steel sphere from a distance of 51".  They almost all break to some degree, but there is no shock hazard after the break due to exposed live parts.

I would think of them as windows, whatever would damage your window would likely damage the panels.

Offline orthodoxhermit

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #38 on: August 22, 2010, 01:15:16 PM »
I happily live aboard a boat. I have solar panels hooked up that came with the boat but I know very little about them-but I'm very happy to have them as they provide an extra source of energy. 

The problem I have with my solar panels is this:  I  have three of them lined up in a row and one of them, the glass on top is cracked all over the place. Can this one panel be replaced and if so, would I need to do all three or is there another way? and where can I go to get a new panel? Thanks!

Offline chrisdfw

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #39 on: August 23, 2010, 12:12:58 AM »
Yes if the drew less than the 250 Watts the device is rated at and the solar panels were putting out 250 watts of power AND they wern't 240 VAC appliances.

Not for a lot of grid tie inverters. They sync their frequency to the AC line frequency in order to feed power back into the house and the grid. Without the AC
signal many shut off (this is actually a good thing to prevent problems and dangerous conditions)

There are inverters that can operate without the AC signal, but most grid tie compatible ones do not.

So in most cases I would say no. A grid interactive inverter with a battery is really the solution if you are looking for backup, most grid tie systems just
reduce your electric use and sell power back into the grid, but have no ability to operate in a utility outage.

Offline Bobo

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #40 on: August 23, 2010, 02:03:49 PM »
I happily live aboard a boat. I have solar panels hooked up that came with the boat but I know very little about them-but I'm very happy to have them as they provide an extra source of energy. 

The problem I have with my solar panels is this:  I  have three of them lined up in a row and one of them, the glass on top is cracked all over the place. Can this one panel be replaced and if so, would I need to do all three or is there another way? and where can I go to get a new panel? Thanks!

You might consider replacing the glass with Acrylic glass.

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Search?keyword=acrylic+glass&langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053

I actually build my own solar panels and this is what I use for the transparent covering. It will flex in the heat so I would recommend using multiple screws and silicon to seal it to the frame... good luck!

Bobo

Offline wdrobins

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #41 on: August 26, 2010, 07:48:47 PM »
Hey everybody, this is a great forum!  I'm enjoying reading all the stuff just for the educational value.

Here is another question:

Could someone explain the pros and cons of true sine wave versus modified sine wave inverters.  When should you choose one over the other?  What kinds of things or appliances need the pure sine wave versus those that don't?  I'm sure the modified sine wave is cheaper, but if you want to be on the safe side, would it make sense just to stick with true sine wave?

I have seen advertisements for portable solar systems that talk about all the things you can run with the setup; but, when reading the specs, I find that the inverter is a modified sine wave.  So, I am curious to know how to make this decision when putting together a system.

Offline Bobo

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #42 on: August 27, 2010, 07:35:32 AM »
Hey everybody, this is a great forum!  I'm enjoying reading all the stuff just for the educational value.

Here is another question:

Could someone explain the pros and cons of true sine wave versus modified sine wave inverters.  When should you choose one over the other?  What kinds of things or appliances need the pure sine wave versus those that don't?  I'm sure the modified sine wave is cheaper, but if you want to be on the safe side, would it make sense just to stick with true sine wave?

I have seen advertisements for portable solar systems that talk about all the things you can run with the setup; but, when reading the specs, I find that the inverter is a modified sine wave.  So, I am curious to know how to make this decision when putting together a system.

I'm sure you already know that a MSW inverter generates something resembling a square wave instead of an actual sine wave. See below.



So, why does this matter...  here's the big reason and summary. Some devices will not run properly or at all off of a MSW inverter. Some devices will run off of a MSW inverter but they are more noisy when they run. Some devices will run just fine on a MSW inverter but the lifespan of that device will be shortened. Ultimately, it's a trial and error thing. You just have to be willing to hook up the device in question to the MSW inverter and seeing what happens. As long as the device in question does not specifically prohibit operation off of a MSW inverter, I would try it.

Detailed explanation:

Any device which uses an induction motor can run off of a MSW inverter but that motor will run hotter and more noisy during operation. The added vibration that the motor will generate and the added heat will reduce the lifespan of that device. Sometimes the starting current will actually be higher on a MSW inverter vs a TSW or PSW inverter. However, if you are using a MSW inverter for limited period of times only, then the disadvantages go away. For example, I have a 400W MSW inverter that I can use on my small freezer for emergency situations. I have tested the MSW inverter on the freezer and it works just fine. If I had to use that setup for a month, I wouldn't expect there to be a problem. However, I'm sure over a period of years, the compressor in the freezer would probably quit working.

Any device which uses a wall wart in between the plug end and the end load (such as a notebook power cord) will do just fine with a MSW inverter. I also just recently learned that my Belkin UPS system that I've been using with my home PC for years is just a MSW inverter too. Your desktop PC also uses a power supply internally to it that generates several various DC sources from the AC source so it makes sense why the Belkin UPS system works fine with my home PC.

I've read (and I'm sure you have to) that "sensitive electronics" are not good with a MSW inverter. Well, that's too vague to help anyone out. Ultimately, the cost of a MSW inverter vs a TSW/PSW inverter is worth the cost of purchasing first and hooking it up to the load in question. If it does not work or does not work the way you want, then purchase a TSW/PSW inverter afterwards. It's good to have 2 of them because they can fail.

Long story short, a MSW inverter can power just about anything in your house for a short duration of time. One word of advice, when you purchase your MSW inverter, get the largest one that you can afford. It will run more efficiently and have a longer lifespan if you don't run it at it's full power rating.

By the time you get your TSW/PSW inverter, you should have a good idea of what specific load your going to use it for because your MSW inverter does not work with it. Size the PSW/TSW inverter for that specific load in order to save on cost because they do get quite expensive as they get larger in power rating.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask me more if you still have questions.

Offline wdrobins

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #43 on: August 27, 2010, 12:48:15 PM »
Thanks, Bobo, for the feedback on the inverters.  That was a great explanation!

Offline jonnyc

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #44 on: July 29, 2013, 08:07:10 AM »
I just got my of grid solar array and battery bank working. I got a powerbright 2500w MSW inverter and it seemed to be working correctly. I have 2 chest freezers running totally off grid. I started messing around running different circuts in my house from the inverter and in no time at all i had lost a fan (its totally dead) and the remote control units from 2 other ceiling fans are fried. I know Steve harris says power is power, but im thinking i should have gotten a PSW inverter!

Some pics of my system...




Offline Paugus

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #45 on: December 16, 2013, 08:13:07 AM »
Hi,

I live just south of you in Minden. I recently bought two of the 45watt Harbor Freight solar kits to get power to my livestock/poultry areas. I also bought a 600watt inverter and 2 deep cycle batteries. The panels are anchored on a shed roof and get 8-12 hours of full sun everyday. I thought I'd have plenty of output to run a heat lamp in the chicken coop overnight plus occasionally hook up power tools. How much power/time can I reasonably expect to get from my setup if I run a 75watt bulb in the coop at night vs a 45watt bulb? Will it last overnight or will I need a bigger setup? Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Steve

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #46 on: December 16, 2013, 05:35:21 PM »
I recently bought two of the 45watt Harbor Freight solar kits to get power to my livestock/poultry areas. I also bought a 600watt inverter and 2 deep cycle batteries. The panels are anchored on a shed roof and get 8-12 hours of full sun everyday. I thought I'd have plenty of output to run a heat lamp in the chicken coop overnight plus occasionally hook up power tools. How much power/time can I reasonably expect to get from my setup if I run a 75watt bulb in the coop at night vs a 45watt bulb? Will it last overnight or will I need a bigger setup? Any help is greatly appreciated.

2 x 45 watts x 8 hours = 720 watt-hours.

720 watt-hours / 75 watts = 9.6 hours.

It's just that easy.  Almost.  I've got a HF 45 watt system too, and in reality it puts out only about 35 watts in full sunlight.  And, with winter and cloudy days and all that, the usual number is lower.  Here's a handy map: http://www.wholesalesolar.com/Information-SolarFolder/SunHoursUSMap.html
Minden NV?  That's Zone 3 for 5 hours a day.  Plugging in those numbers....

2 x 35 watts x 5 hours = 350 watt-hours

350 watt-hours / 75 watts = 4.7 hours.

Or, for the 45 watt bulb:
350 watt-hours / 45 watts = 7.8 hours.

Now some days will be a lot better than that, some a lot worse, but that's the overall average number of useable daylight hours you can count on getting.  Be sure you have enough battery capacity to never go below 50%, with maybe a low-voltage shutoff to keep this from happening.

Offline Bobo

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #47 on: October 20, 2015, 05:21:06 PM »
I just got my of grid solar array and battery bank working. I got a powerbright 2500w MSW inverter and it seemed to be working correctly. I have 2 chest freezers running totally off grid. I started messing around running different circuts in my house from the inverter and in no time at all i had lost a fan (its totally dead) and the remote control units from 2 other ceiling fans are fried. I know Steve harris says power is power, but im thinking i should have gotten a PSW inverter!

Some pics of my system...





Based on my research, if you are going to run a motor load on a continuous basis, you should use a PSW inverter. This comes down to a MSW inverter creating excessive heating and voltage transients in the motor. For a short term situation (like a power outage for a few days and you have to run your fans), it's not relevant to worry about. However, if you are setting up an offgrid system, I would use the PSW inverter for continuous operation of motor loads (something like your overhead fan which runs often) and an MSW inverter for non-continous motor loads (like your blender) and an MSW inverter for everything which as a rectifier "wall wart"attached to it.

Hope this helps. 

Offline Greekman

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #48 on: June 08, 2016, 04:42:29 AM »
Somethign I cannot understand about Solar panels is how their performance degrades when there is low light or they are shaded.

What suffers? The Voltage or the Current generated?

and when partly shaded, what is the effect on the monocrystaline and polycrystaline ones?
(for the former i think the whole group of series connected subpanels stops producing)

Offline Carl

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #49 on: June 08, 2016, 07:28:51 PM »
Question....with the high cost of batteries and solar panels...does solar ever really repay the cost when commercial power here is 12 cents per KWH?

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #50 on: June 08, 2016, 07:57:44 PM »
Somethign I cannot understand about Solar panels is how their performance degrades when there is low light or they are shaded.

What suffers? The Voltage or the Current generated?
Current, at least in any way that matters.

Quote
and when partly shaded, what is the effect on the monocrystaline and polycrystaline ones?
(for the former i think the whole group of series connected subpanels stops producing)
From my digging around on the web, it doesn't matter which way you go for modern cells in the same price range.

Question....with the high cost of batteries and solar panels...does solar ever really repay the cost when commercial power here is 12 cents per KWH?
"For $64,000, the question is 'What is math and common sense?'"
You nailed it Carl.  Apart from emergency backup power, or for small off-grid systems where running a power line is prohibitively expensive, I can't see any good reasons to go solar.  12 cents/kWH is awfully hard to argue with, and it comes in beautiful 60Hz sine waves too.

nkawtg

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #51 on: June 08, 2016, 08:27:58 PM »
2 x 45 watts x 8 hours = 720 watt-hours.

720 watt-hours / 75 watts = 9.6 hours.

It's just that easy.  Almost.  I've got a HF 45 watt system too, and in reality it puts out only about 35 watts in full sunlight.  And, with winter and cloudy days and all that, the usual number is lower.  Here's a handy map: http://www.wholesalesolar.com/Information-SolarFolder/SunHoursUSMap.html
Minden NV?  That's Zone 3 for 5 hours a day.  Plugging in those numbers....

2 x 35 watts x 5 hours = 350 watt-hours

350 watt-hours / 75 watts = 4.7 hours.

Or, for the 45 watt bulb:
350 watt-hours / 45 watts = 7.8 hours.

Now some days will be a lot better than that, some a lot worse, but that's the overall average number of useable daylight hours you can count on getting.  Be sure you have enough battery capacity to never go below 50%, with maybe a low-voltage shutoff to keep this from happening.
And make sure you have enough solar capacity to charge the batteries.
Assuming you have two 100 amp/hr batteries it'll take about 15 hours of continuous charging to charge the batteries from 50%.
Double your solar to bring it down to 7 hours continuous charging.

Offline Lasttexascowboy

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #52 on: April 27, 2017, 12:57:11 PM »
I have a 36V DC Golf Cart. I recently bought a 36VDC to 120VAC pure sine wave inverter to run power tools with around the acreage and to run back up power. I would like to set up a solar charging station that would charge the batteries in a timely manner and also to keep them topped up when the cart isn't in use. Id like to be able to pull it in the garage and instead of using the AC charger I could use the solar charger. Also when a SHTF situation like a hurricane happens I could use this for small load power when I am not running the generator or keep things some what normal if the gen set fails or the fuel runs out. What kind of solar array and MPPT controller is needed. I have a south facing wall that is with in 25ft of proposed charging station. Thanks for any help you can give.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #53 on: April 27, 2017, 05:57:14 PM »
LTC, not a lot of expertise in such things around here, because most people build their battery banks from scratch and design around 12v.  But not all is lost.  A quick search on "golf cart solar controller" pulled up this: https://www.altestore.com/store/charge-controllers/solar-charge-controllers/electric-vehicle-golf-cart-chargers/genasun-8a-36v-mppt-boost-charge-controller-for-golf-carts-p10634/

Looks like a good place to start.  How much are you expecting to produce with this system?  Do you have any basic electrical skills?

Offline Lasttexascowboy

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #54 on: April 28, 2017, 05:51:02 AM »
@Alan Georges
 I saw that exact item a few days ago and asked for a recommended panel panels since it says 8 amps max input. I want to get the most out of it possible. Id really like to get the Golf Cart battery bank thing going since it is duel purpose.

1. In the beginning Id like to start small so the item you mentioned would work well. It looks to be designed to put one panel on the top of the Golf cart. Could I use this with a solar array?
Yes I have basic electrical skills but always ask for advice when sizing things like wires. I don't want to start a fire and burn my house down.


Offline Carl

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #55 on: April 28, 2017, 06:11:53 AM »
You will not get much wattage from what panels you can top a golf cart with. Probably 3 of the 60 to 75 watt class panels for about 3 amps charging current so about 200 watts when not including losses involved by device and battery charging inefficiencies. This will net you about ONE KILOWATT HOUR of power each day in the sun .

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #56 on: April 28, 2017, 06:40:47 AM »
1. In the beginning Id like to start small so the item you mentioned would work well. It looks to be designed to put one panel on the top of the Golf cart. Could I use this with a solar array?
If by "array" you mean "not mounted atop the golf cart," yeah it'd work fine.  The main thing is to keep the panel(s) total output amps at or below 8A.  Realistically, 8A is about the maximum output from a 140w panel, so keep your total panel(s) wattage at or below that.  Although.. it looks like this controller can handle higher voltage panels too, so you may get more watts that way.  Check the manual.

Side note: make sure the controller can really handle 8A.  Sure it says "8A" but make sure that it really has that capacity.  The manual and/or retailer can help you here.  Otherwise, a 100w panel (~6A) would be my choice.  Currently (hah!) on my all-12v system I use a 10A Morningstar PWM controller and it can get fairly warm being driven by a 140w/8A panel.  I wouldn't want to run any more current than that through it, even though the manufacturer claims that it's good for all 10 amps.

Offline keebler

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #57 on: April 28, 2017, 07:46:09 AM »
http://www.heliatos.com/
check out this HW solar system I bought one---like it .

Offline Lasttexascowboy

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #58 on: April 28, 2017, 10:21:22 AM »


Lets say if I install 2 100 watt panels in series for 24 volts. Would this still bring me in at around 6 amps like a battery does?

Offline Carl

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Re: Solar Energy System Questions Answered Here
« Reply #59 on: April 28, 2017, 10:30:02 AM »

Lets say if I install 2 100 watt panels in series for 24 volts. Would this still bring me in at around 6 amps like a battery does?

You would need THREE panels for charging a 36 volt golf cart....