Solar Energy is in! Learn how to have your own bare bones system -

Tim K. who has significant experience with building a solar system for his home will share how one can have a small system of 6 components that will provide minimum use but effective to run some appliances.  Gas generators have proven to be good in a very short term setting but with hurricanes, tornadoes and other disasters creating chaos for longer terms, gas becomes unreliable to get and use.

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  • Jason S.

    Jo, I think your brother is talking about an inverter/charger, not a charge controller. A hybrid inverter will both invert and rectify - that is, convert from AC to DC and from DC to AC. It will take incoming utility or generator power and charge batteries. The integral battery charger is "controlled" in that there is a charging algorithm that does not allow overcharging of the batteries. However, a hybrid inverter will not provide charge control function for solar panels. A separate charge controller is necessary. Outback, SMA, Magnum, Xantrex, and many others make inverter/chargers. Some of the higher output MPPT solar charge controllers I like are Midnite, BlueSky, and Outback. While we do not sell off-grid components, feel free to email me at jason(at)fafcosolar.com if you have any specific questions. We just can't compete with online prices, although I can probably get deals on pallet-quantity purchases of solar panels if a group of people wants 20+ panels.

    1 · September 25, 2013

    • Tim K

      I think what they are talking about is a Sunny Island inverter which acts as a charge controller when paired with a Sunny Boy grid tie inverter. The grid goes down and the Sunny Island "tricks" the Sunny Boy to keep on producing power from the panels.

      1 · September 25, 2013

    • Tim K

      Matter of fact I just had this same exact discussion with someone on another forum Ha Ha.

      September 25, 2013

  • Tim K

    Jo, please have your brother send a link to this inverter/charge controller. This piece of equipment sure sounds interesting.

    1 · September 24, 2013

  • Jo

    My brother is an electrical engineer and an expert on solar and fuel cell technology in Califorina.
    After seeing your notes on the water pump, I remember him saying the same thing about the surge. Dang it!
    I ran Meredith's notes on the costs past him to see if he had any advice. Here is what he said:
    "My only suggestion, when looking at the costs:
    There are companies making a “hybrid inverter” that does the job of the charge controller and inverter in on box.
    If you are buying in bulk, you can go on line and find companies selling pallet lots of left over panels, that may cut your panel cost by 40%."

    Hope this is helpful.

    1 · September 24, 2013

  • Meredyth

    Jo, thats what I'd like to do too...mainly water pump but Tim sat this basic unit wont be able to handle the surge when it firsts kicks on. There are other options for that which is what i need to explore too.
    And as for your AC, nope. Not for that price. I guess you could just open your mini frisge door and put a fan in front of it! Lol.

    You can modify and expnad this basic system as you need it, this is basically a starting point to get us all trying and working with the solar power.

    September 24, 2013

  • Jo

    I may also be interesting in the project.
    Regarding loads, battery needs, etc. I would like to generate enough power to run my water pump in the event of a grid failure or loss. Also, a mini fridge. I assume my AC is too much to ask.

    September 24, 2013

  • Tim

    It was a very good meeting, I really enjoyed it. Nice to know we have a resource like Tim!

    September 23, 2013

  • Meredyth

    We talked about having a get together for those who are really interested in putting together a solar back-up system soon. The basic system would cost around $1500 and be similar but more power than this-http://www.mysolarbackup.com/

    A basic system right now with the prices Tim found are as follows:
    2-250watt panels -$500
    1-MPPT Charge Controller-$[masked]watt Inverter-$450
    2-golf cart batteries-$230
    Total-$1500approx (that is buying the panels by the pallet in groups of 10)and s/h added

    If you know of better prices for these items or if we can get them in bulk, please share.

    We would like to put together an order to get the ball rolling. You can certainly add more to this if you want, but Tim wanted to put together a bare-bones basic system like one already advertised. If you are interested reply in the discussion page under solar system order.

    Tim, is there anything I missed or messed up?

    September 22, 2013

  • Pat H.

    If we do another meeting on this subject I will bring my husband. He and Tim speak the same language and I am beginning to get him on board with this.

    1 · September 22, 2013

  • Rick H.

    So sorry I missed, excuse posted elsewhere,I knew it was more than slappin' a half dozen parts together,no one is more sorry to have missed than myself.My wife came in kicked the bed after 5pm and asked how much I was saving her on her electric bill,so mabe we can do a follow up on this one I wish we could do an instant replay!

    September 22, 2013

  • Tim K

    Besides myself I know 2 other people who want to build a small off grid system and will order panels. So for those of you who are serious about purchasing some we need to all get together and figure out what each person wants to do.

    As I showed in the meeting you can't just throw it together and have it work properly for very long. Calculations need to be made on loads, voltages, string sizes, and battery bank capacity.

    September 22, 2013

  • Meredyth

    Of course most of it was way over my head!

    September 21, 2013

  • Bobbi P.

    Tim K is a walking resource in solar systems. His detailed and informative talk gave
    Attendees enough for them to make a determination on whether a system is suitable for them. Volume purchasing power was discussed and several resources were discussed.

    September 21, 2013

  • Kathy S.

    I am so sorry and annoyed with myself for missing this meetup... I really wanted to be there. But, I found myself in a battle with my lawn mower... and unfortunately, I lost. In more ways than one. I'm sure it was a great presentation, and if anyone has any notes, I'd appreciate a copy.

    September 21, 2013

  • Jason S.

    Unfortunately, I too had something come up and can't attend.

    September 20, 2013

  • Jo

    I will be unable to attend Saturday's Solar class. I am very bummed but will catch up with you all next month.

    September 20, 2013

  • Jo

    Howdy all, Here is a link to an article on DIY solar article. I thought it might make some good reading for our next meeting.
    http://www.builditsolarblog.com/2011/05/mother-earth-news-article-on-our-pv.html

    August 25, 2013

  • Meredyth

    Looking forward to this!

    August 17, 2013

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Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

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