Solar on a Budget... or am I chasing a unicorn?

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TexasFreedom

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A geek commentary on wire gauge/strand-count. The lower the wire gauge, the thicker it is and the more current it can carry. There are tables online for guidelines on how many amps a gauge wire can carry, and they are different for AC and DC circuits (because AC is 120 volts / 240 volts and DC is usually 12 volt... dropping 2 volts on a 240v circuit isn't as important as dropping 2 volts on a 12v circuit).

The second thing is strand count. The more strands in the same gauge wire, the better the current conductivity, but more importantly the more flexible it is. Homes don't move & bounce around, requiring flexibility to avoid breaking. Cars & RVs typically have high-strand counts for maximum flexibility to go around/through things as well as to bounce for 100k miles.
 

Arcticdude

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I’m getting prices from two different solar companies for the next inverter and possibly lithium batteries. Amazon and eBay are fine for smaller inverters but I’m looking for better units for this part. Anyone know a good supplier?
I bought all my gear through Wholesale Solar. I told them what I needed and they put together the complete package for me. I've been very happy with their service and support.
With my current setup my generator runs an average of 3.5 hours per day over a 12 month period. I don't think that's too bad, but I am planning on adding another 4-5 panels, with a tracker, and a wind generator.
Last week I ordered a 300 gallon diesel tank for the generator. It should arrive next week. Today I ordered propane ($1.42 gal) and I checked on diesel prices $1.74 delivered.
 

Brent S

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I bought all my gear through Wholesale Solar. I told them what I needed and they put together the complete package for me. I've been very happy with their service and support.
With my current setup my generator runs an average of 3.5 hours per day over a 12 month period. I don't think that's too bad, but I am planning on adding another 4-5 panels, with a tracker, and a wind generator.
Last week I ordered a 300 gallon diesel tank for the generator. It should arrive next week. Today I ordered propane ($1.42 gal) and I checked on diesel prices $1.74 delivered.
Wow, great price on diesel!
I called wholesale solar. Their website is the best out there with loads of information. Apparently they are too small though. It took three phone calls before anyone got back to me. Once the guy did return my call He said it would be two weeks before he could email me a design. Hell, all I wanted was a price on an inverter and some battery info on their lithium packs. Hey, I’m glad they are busy but seriously, three weeks on getting info on their products....
 

Arcticdude

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Wow, great price on diesel!
I called wholesale solar. Their website is the best out there with loads of information. Apparently they are too small though. It took three phone calls before anyone got back to me. Once the guy did return my call He said it would be two weeks before he could email me a design. Hell, all I wanted was a price on an inverter and some battery info on their lithium packs. Hey, I’m glad they are busy but seriously, three weeks on getting info on their products....
That's not good. I haven't talked to anyone there for a few months now. Maybe they are overwhelmed right now.
I do plan on calling them soon to get a quote, and advice on adding a few more panels and a wind generator.
That price on diesel was for off-road diesel. I thought it was good price too.
 

Brent S

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That's not good. I haven't talked to anyone there for a few months now. Maybe they are overwhelmed right now.
I do plan on calling them soon to get a quote, and advice on adding a few more panels and a wind generator.
That price on diesel was for off-road diesel. I thought it was good price too.
I knew it had to be off road diesel but still better than here. We have a ford 550 diesel and a diesel Jeep. My tractor is diesel too. I really should consider putting in a tank here.
 

Arcticdude

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I knew it had to be off road diesel but still better than here. We have a ford 550 diesel and a diesel Jeep. My tractor is diesel too. I really should consider putting in a tank here.
Of course you do know that you can't legally use off-road diesel in your on-road vehicles. And I'm sure that you wouldn't want to break any rules.
In a couple weeks I'm going to order another 300 gallon tank for gasoline. It'll be nice to not use 5 gallon cans to fuel up all the atv's/utv, generators and small equipment around here. I forgot to check on the delivered price for non-ethanol gasoline.

Check out Backwoods Solar. My son has done business with them before.
 

Brent S

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Of course you do know that you can't legally use off-road diesel in your on-road vehicles. And I'm sure that you wouldn't want to break any rules.
In a couple weeks I'm going to order another 300 gallon tank for gasoline. It'll be nice to not use 5 gallon cans to fuel up all the atv's/utv, generators and small equipment around here. I forgot to check on the delivered price for non-ethanol gasoline.

Check out Backwoods Solar. My son has done business with them before.
Here we have the public safety nazis that pull over commercial trucks to extort money from people, so no I wouldn’t consider using it in the big truck. The Jeep maybe....
thanks, I’ll check backwoods. I seem to remember reading that name before. It amazes me that two companies I’ve contacted don’t seem to want to sell any products. I’m thinking they make their money on selling installs/whole packages. All I know is with our business we do what we say and give really good customer service. That’s not the normal for businesses I deal with around here...
 

Brent S

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Ive been looking at inverters the last few days for the second phase of my solar project. I found several good suppliers. IMarine and the inverter store are both reasonably priced. (Sort of anyways)... wholesale solar quoted me 4995. For a magnum inverter. I googled the same model and IMarine has it for 1595. Daft same unit. It really pays to shop around on this stuff. What part of wholesale do they not understand? Lol. The inverter is a split phase unit (120/240v) 4000w unit that is rated for heavy use. I guess I will order it tomorrow. I hate to spend more money right now with the economic uncertainty going on but at the same time that makes me feel it wise to invest in tangible things like this.
 

Brent S

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I placed the order for the magnum inverter just now. 1598 with free shipping. Ouch, but it was a great price on it. It’s a 4000w pure sine wave inverter with built in charger and is split phase for 120v and 240v. It has great reviews on line but we will see when I actually get it and hook it up. One thing that still helps is the tax credit for all the solar stuff. I believe it’s still 26% through the end of the year. So basically the government is paying for a little better than a quarter of my system. Yay! (A special shout of thanks to the american taxpayers).....
 

Brent S

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The tax credit is at 26% for this year. It will expire in 2022 unless it’s renewed which is iffy. It definitely helps offset the cost some and if you are in a state that has a credit too it’s even better. Solar is still a big expense initially any way you look at it though. I’m more concerned about the security it can provide. Many never thought that anything could disrupt our food supply chain. I hope covid 19 has opened more people’s eyes on how fragile our systems are.
 

Arcticdude

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I placed the order for the magnum inverter just now. 1598 with free shipping. Ouch, but it was a great price on it. It’s a 4000w pure sine wave inverter with built in charger and is split phase for 120v and 240v. It has great reviews on line but we will see when I actually get it and hook it up. One thing that still helps is the tax credit for all the solar stuff. I believe it’s still 26% through the end of the year. So basically the government is paying for a little better than a quarter of my system. Yay! (A special shout of thanks to the american taxpayers).....
I've got the Magnum inverter. I'm not sure of the size or what I paid for it. I'll have to look it up. The only issue that I've had so far was with a bad breaker. It pays to keep some spare parts around.
I plan to add a wind generator and possibly some more panels. But right now my system provides 98% of all the power that we need. Another down side is my system won't start the heat pump unless the generator is already running, and the heat pump won't cause the generator to automatically start. I need to buy a "hot start" for my heat pump. The heat pump is just for the AC and so far the house stays in the 70's. I haven't needed the AC yet, maybe I'll just sell it.
 

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I've got the Magnum inverter. I'm not sure of the size or what I paid for it. I'll have to look it up. The only issue that I've had so far was with a bad breaker. It pays to keep some spare parts around.
I plan to add a wind generator and possibly some more panels. But right now my system provides 98% of all the power that we need. Another down side is my system won't start the heat pump unless the generator is already running, and the heat pump won't cause the generator to automatically start. I need to buy a "hot start" for my heat pump. The heat pump is just for the AC and so far the house stays in the 70's. I haven't needed the AC yet, maybe I'll just sell it.
I don’t ever plan to connect the central AC to the solar setups here. I will buy a small window unit for the master bedroom here this fall when they go on clearance though. I can run it at least. AC isn’t a luxury here in Georgia. Going to sleep without it just sucks about 2/3’s of the year.
the main reason I’m doing three separate systems is for reliability. If a part goes bad on one at least I can still have power. Having fairly standardized parts, and some spares is part of my plan here. Luckily most of the things are interchangeable. I was going to do a 48v system on this second setup, but to keep things interchangeable I stayed with the 24v inverter.
 

Brent S

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I got the new inverter today. The first one is about 15/20lbs. This sucker is easily 70lbs. It must be Made of lead.... so far I’m impressed by the quality of it. The only thing I don’t like is it dosent have the monitor built in. Of course there is a port to connect one to So I’ll have to see how much extra it is. Want it anyways. I’m going to get this up and running soon but want to order another one to have as a backup After I see how it works. I’m going to keep an extra of everything on hand so I I can keep the systems running No matter what. Another plus I see on this unit is you can hook a generator or connect to the grid too. The cheaper unit didn’t have that capability. Now I need to find the brackets to mount to the roof and decide where in the house I will install the battery bank and inverter. Still need more batteries too, which is another 2 grand. Why did I want solar again? Lol. Other than the expense, learning how to build the system was pretty easy.
 

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