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Solar Energy Backup Power?

Discussion in 'Home Power and Microgeneration' started by DX99, Jun 3, 2005.

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  1. DX99

    DX99 Guest

    I live in Florida, endured 4 hurricanes last year, and went without power
    for 15 days after Hurricane Jeanne. I am a ham radio operator, have a desk
    set up with scanners, shortwaves, computers, etc. I currently have them
    backed up with simple UPS systems designed for computer, but looking into
    alternative energy. I was only able to run my radios barely 3 days on the
    UPS batteries. Here is my question - I have a huge solar panel tube heating
    system on my roof to heat my pool which I don't even use. Can I convert this
    somehow to provide power to my radio room and support my electronics? I'm
    leaning more toward generators, but everytime I think about this huge solar
    panel setup on my roof I get curious. Suggestions?
  2. Reason

    Reason Guest

    Solar power doesn't lend itself to occassional use, like when a hurricane
    knocks out the power once every few decades. The costs are far less to run
    a 2000W generator for ten days than to build and maintain an equivalent
    solar power system for backup. Somewhere in the middle, cost-wise would be
    a battery backup system. Draw from the grid, charge your batteries, and
    draw from them when the power goes out.
  3. DX99 wrote:
    The solar panel on your roof doesn't make electricity. It doesn't
    even make hot water but rather warm water. You would need a heat
    engine to turn this warm water into electricity. You can do a
    Google search on 'organic rankine cycle solar' for this kind of

    Your two easiest options would be to buy PV panels which make
    electricity directly or buy a small generator. Another method
    would be to upgrade the alternator on your car or truck and
    get the jumper plug/jack installed. This would let you run your
    car as a generator.

  4. Your solar panels premounted would most likely be damaged anyway.
  5. DX99

    DX99 Guest

    Oh it sure would have flew off - I dismatled and rebuilt the dang thing 4
    times last year:)
  6. DX99

    DX99 Guest

    good info all - I figgered as much. Probably put the panels on ebay and go
    for a gas generator - thanks
  7. Solar Guppy

    Solar Guppy Guest

    Just trading one problem for another , didn't you see the lines of people
    (8-12 hours lines) waiting to get enough gas to run there generator ? and
    that's when they could find gas

    Generators are cheap , but the won't run without Gas. When you start looking
    into the necessary storage to run a generator for days or weeks , the cost
    of solar doesn't look so bad

    My panels , all 7.5 kW off them , went thru three direct hits last year and
    I never lost power thanks to my backup battery bank and FX3048 ... usually
    all the solar goes into the grid :) , worth every penny
  8. True enough. You pack up the town for the cominf storm. Why not pack up your
    PV panels for the strom too. I hear you may as well get used to it for the
    next 30 years they say.

    Maybe a panel array that can be folded to the ground and covered up with
    materials to protect them. Get them up later and talk ham and have some
    lights! Not so bad if you have to board your windows from time to time
  9. Vaughn Simon

    Vaughn Simon Guest

    Ya gotta think ahead! Think dual fuel. Hell, I am set up for triple
    fuel, but that's just me.

    Don't forget, clouds and high winds sometimes accompany bad weather,
    neither of those things are good for solar systems.

    PV is good, PV may be very helpful after a disaster, (I have some
    myself), but PV is not necessarily good backup power. For occasional backup
    power, gennys are the only thing that make economic sense.

  10. Solar Guppy

    Solar Guppy Guest

    My system went thru three direct hits (I'm in Lakeland Florida) , the eye of
    3 hurricanes went with 10 miles of my home , no damage to any of the PV
    system , we design things down here for 125mph ( since 1994 ) , gusts were
    about 85 mph , not even a shingle was lost on the home.

    I have lived thru it and unless your doing double and triple fuel , the Home
    Depot Genny is a boat anchor when you can't get fuel. To do the fuel you
    suggest , what was that cost for a permitted approved installation ?

    Maybe Outside of Florida , people didn't see the craziness , but literally ,
    full days wait for 10 gallons of gas (was being rationed , that IF you could
    find a store that had electricity to have the pumps work)

    I'm not saying its the end-all answer , but it does work , it doesn't need
    anything but sunshine and after the storm passes I wasn't waiting for a line
    crew like 70% if the residence in my county.
  11. Vaughn Simon

    Vaughn Simon Guest

    They had 140 mph at the coast.
    Many Home Depot gennys are boat anchors even if you have fuel.
    Permit? That is a "straw man argument", there are both permitted and
    non-permitted PV installations as well as standby generators. You can have a
    couple of 100# LP gas tanks and a portable generator that will also use
    gasoline with no permit. You may also have a portable genny that snaps on
    to your NG BBQ connection with no permit.
    I say again...think ahead. You can store fuel, and NG service is
    likely to still be available after a moderate event.
    Two questions:
    1) What will a PV system cost that is at least big enough to run required
    loads plus at least one window shaker following a disaster.

    2) What will a mid-quality standby generator cost to do the same thing?

    Again; I love PV, but if you limit the discussion to standby power, PV
    is unlikely to make financial sense.

  12. DX99

    DX99 Guest

    Yeah we are approx 1.5 miles east of the Gulf - flood area for sure - took
    winds at 90-105 mph at times. The more I think about it, storing fuel for a
    good gen is probably the best way to go here. Maybe I'll play around with a
    few of the panels and rig up direct source to individual radios just to
    experiment. But to run a fridge, TV, computer, etc I see how a gen would be
    the wiser choice. Fuel storage is the key word there.

    Thanks to all - and good luck this hurricane season fellow Floridians!
  13. Vaughn

    Vaughn Guest

    My point exactly.
    Actually, there is usually a test port on the fuel rail. If you had a tube
    with the proper fitting and enough patience, you could hook up to that test
    port, turn on the key, and let the fuel pump in your car fill up a gas can.

    There is really no reason to run your 'frig at night. 8 to 12 hours a day
    should be enough to keep your food cold. I quickly figured out that my cheap
    inverter and my 'frig really don't like each other, and I see little reason to
    own a big sine wave inverter just for that. In fact, we have found little use
    for our inverter! We have several 12V. items for just hurricane use. 12 Volt
    CF lamps, 12 Volt TV, laptop, and even a 12 Volt fan. Stop at a big truck stop
    sometime and you will be amazed at all of the 12 V. gizmos you can buy. The
    nice thing about these items is that they may come in very handy in the car if
    we decide to run. The biggest use we have found for our inverter is to plug
    into the transfer panel when the generator is off, and just use it for
    incidental lighting loads.

    BTW, everybody (especially those in hurricane areas) should have a BBQ with
    a side burner. With that, you will always be able to cook.

  14. This is sad. Been reading this thread for awhile now. How pathetic?
    Whats wrong with just stocking up on some home made Canadian (salted) back Bacon
    a few candles a battery operated radio a few porn mags a flash light some home
    made wine/beer and wait untill the grid comes back on. Does Mcdonalds have a
    back genny in the hurricane belt of the USA also?
  15. You forgot the supersize vaseline jar.

    This is sad. Been reading this thread for awhile now. How pathetic?
    Whats wrong with just stocking up on some home made Canadian (salted) back
    a few candles a battery operated radio a few porn mags a flash light some
    made wine/beer and wait untill the grid comes back on. Does Mcdonalds have a
    back genny in the hurricane belt of the USA also?
  16. Vaughn

    Vaughn Guest

    It gets hot and humid here in south Florida, especially after a good
    hurricane. "Waiting until the grid comes back on" can mean weeks. That said,
    all of the above things can be great. You forgot to mention a good woman! I
    find that helps a lot.

  17. After weeks with no shower and it's hot?
  18. Reason

    Reason Guest

    Good idea if it works. I'm not saying it can't, but can you imagine the
    lawsuits resulting from the thing flying apart as a result of not being
    balanced correctly?
  19. Ryhme

    Ryhme Guest

    Relatively quiet, you say. Gas mowers are far from quiet... try in the range of 85 to 95 db's.
    Only slightly quieter than your average AC/DC rock concert.
  20. Kiwi John

    Kiwi John Guest

    think outside the square and bolt an altinator to it
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