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Solar energy for eco village

Discussion in 'Home Power and Microgeneration' started by Daniel Kuzma, May 10, 2007.

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  1. Daniel Kuzma

    Daniel Kuzma Guest

    Dear Solar specialists

    First I would like to say that I feel so lucky and happy that I found
    this Usenet groups (together with renowable,photovoltaic,thermal..)

    Let me introduce a little my self as new member (during
    writing this letter I wrote more than I though...)

    Long... long... time ago I was attending to electrical school, without
    any idea to work as electrician (sometimes live goes that way, in Poland
    was about to don't go to army:). But live drifted me to the beautiful
    ecological village, setup me in the center of mountain in Baja
    California, with all sorts of wilderness and beauty of the land. The
    group of people is preparing to be self sufficient and eco in all
    meanings, organic gardens, compost toilets, water heating (another story
    and another future question) and this land needs to have electrical
    power. So that was obvious that they voted me as person responsible for
    this project. Whow... this is great, I never though that I will be
    working as electrician but solar system, whow.. that the biggest award I
    could get. Because budget is limited and most of management people
    doesn't really understand what is going on with those cables,circuits
    etc.., they just seeing 000 in USD and trying to have trust (in me this

    So first my point of view was that system must be easily upgrade,
    because of money limit as well as improvement with construction.
    Starting point was to feed 4 one room houses (in Mexico call "casita")
    in light and Internet (which I hope, I succeeded). I had distance 100m
    (300feet) I used 4 awg to connect those "casitas" on each house
    "electrical breaker box", on input I put OUTBACK 3524, two banks of old
    trojan t105 and few solar panels in parallel connection on 24V because
    controller which we have is SOLAR BOOST 50 and works only on 12 or 24V.
    (I know that I have to change for outback controller which I would like
    to do asap). Of course my judgment and what to buy and how to install
    was based on my knowledge, little on Internet and local solar Eng. help
    me (open my eyes) in few aspects.

    The system is working, everybody has 15W light and Internet 24/7

    But then next step was O.K. but we need freezer in kitchen.

    Distance to the kitchen is another 100m, and on the way btw those 4
    "casitas" and the kitchen we have area when in the future is going to be
    "Meeting area" with courses, classes, and we have to have thare:
    a)light;b)soundystem;c)computer system (future video webcasts throug
    Internet etc...)

    Question was shall we go with separate system for casitas ? and separate
    system for teaching area ? and maybe separate system for kitchen ?
    one solar Eng calculated for us system for kitchen and we got like 6000
    USD with sundanzer freezer and 2solar panels plus batteries. O.K. .. but
    where to put those solar panels ?? hmm is dificult to install because it
    is outside kitchen with palm leafs roof, we can clear some green but it
    won't look nice takes space hmmm... (personally I didn't like this idea).

    I've got advice of one Eng. and he said that if the distance is to big
    we still should go with central system but run 240V and then use
    transformer and change again for 110 and split for kitchen and "teaching

    I found Whirpul 9cu freezer for 300 USD with sticker 296KW/year max that
    gave me 1KW per day so it give 40W per hour (more/less or I don't
    understand something?... of course that freezer is turning off and on
    and during on can take more power even 200W and then turn of for 2 hrs
    for example, but I was testing and my Outback mate doesn't show that
    this freezer takes more than 60W).

    So what I did I runned temporary cable (10 AWG) from closest "casita"
    connected this freezer and waiting and seeing what is going on. Light
    started on, freezer started on and everything works pretty well. But
    this is not end of story but beggining.

    Now we are in the process to finish another 4 "casitas" and construction
    is going to have 21 "casitas" to lodge from 2,4 or like dormitory 8
    persons, every casita will have light, Internet, (water also)

    Then is going to be in one of this houses library with multimedia and
    Internet cafe

    And then is going to be "Teaching area" with multimedia soundsystem and
    lighting. and Kitchen and "fig tree garden" (which I didn't mention
    because of few power usage)

    Another thing is that I should thing that when teaching room is working,
    is mostly day time and people aren't in their "casitas" but attending
    seminar so the same power (which is use for "casitas") can be directed
    to "teaching area"

    Kitchen should be prepared to have enough power to feed 2 freezers and 2
    refreegerators (minimum).

    whow.... This took me a little to think about and trying to find
    somebody who give me wise advices, that we really do our best and use
    the best components not always those most expensive and we will be easly
    able to upgrade with every casita standing up, every additional freezer

    Ufff... After advices my own brainstorming and meting with engineers
    Finally I've got to the point of two "little" different systems

    SYSTEM A - concentrated on main central power
    SYSTEM B - few separate blocks of power

    SYSTEM A - system is going to be in "electrical house" two power
    inventers OUTBACK 3524 separate lines to different blocks and (if is
    needed ) 240 line coming to "Teaching area" where is splitting for
    "Teaching area" and "kitchen"
    two banks of L16(in future uexchanging for more banks), generator to
    balance system and keep batteries recharged, solar pannels, as many as
    we can afford, and probably wind generators.


    Separate system for "small houses" which can be smallest "system a"
    Separate power for "teaching area"
    Separate power for the "kitchen"

    Personally I am in favor of SYSTEM A, is concentrated in one place. I
    like this idea more.
    But for me is not important my idea, for me is important which one is
    betteror what is the best solution.

    SYSTEM B ing explanations

    1. Freezer - is explaining that normal 120V freezer takes a lot of power
    so is expensive to put solar panels (it needs many solar panels). He is
    recommended to go with separate system and 12v freezer and 12 volt
    lighting. That way we save usage of power inverter.

    My opinion: in central system power inverter will work 24/7 because of
    light in each "casita", that people if they need they can use light all
    night, so why not bring line from central power station but build
    separate kitchen solar installation?

    Separate power for "teaching area" this is expensive investment, we have
    to know that this system can be in use few weeks in year, depend from
    schedule and how many people attends. We don't need sound system for for
    20 people, we need only when seminar will have 100 people or more. Each
    system needs to have build special electrical house /box to keep
    batteries and all expensive controler/inventer system and be save for

    Of course when we finish our development and our Teaching area will have
    nice "meeting house" we can build additional system for it when will be
    more interest and more seminars running.

    I am sorry for this long letter, first I was thinking that I will go
    small steps and giving question after question but I started writing and
    I wrote that all in one.

    I will be very happy to clear my mind from doubts
    I will very appreciate if you help me to build this, what I need
    regarding to recent needs and during each future step of upgrade our land.

    Additionally I am adding

    Simple draw of electrical system, I am apologize for this chaotic draw :)

    Those casitas which aren't included in red block, means that they are in
    development stage

    Solar panels we are using:

    We have 3 solar panels Matrix PW 1650 12V -24V, they work parallel
    Those are old modules and they were bought for half price because they
    were some damage and they didn't give full power, but at this point 3
    years ago that was good enough for this place
    Additional modul SHARP 200W
    all together give 15A on 24V


    Our heart:

    OUTBACK 3524
    2 x T105 - old not working almost at all, need change (what to go and
    how much, I am thinking to go 2 banks of L16 but I heard that there is
    better brand on the market)

    Outside look on kitchen ( I don't have good pictures, but I can always
    make if is need)

    look on "casita"

    And last think I didn't mention yet is generator

    What king of generator I should use ? I know we would like to don't make
    any pollution, but looks like for a while until we balance system enough
    by solar panels and wind generators we will have to play with diesel
    generator. What kind, brand and how many KW generator do you recommend ?

    And at the same end. There is for sure very good book about alternative
    electrical power (mainly solar and wind) which is kind of "white crow"

    Could you recommend one ?

    Who get to the end, congratulations !
    I really don't like to send long emails on news groups, I hope that you
    understand my intention and need of some clarification before we put
    another 10.000 or 20.000 USD in our system

    Kind regards

    Daniel Kuzma
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