Solar Power

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Hammerheads
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Solar Power

Post by Hammerheads » June 2, 2015, 7:44 am

I see a large thread on the Solar Power incentive. However, rather than reading 100's of very informative posts relating to the possibility of running solar power, I would like to hear from those who are actually running a system, your experiences and the costs associated....

Thanks

Bob



glalt
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Post by glalt » June 2, 2015, 10:07 am

I have two small systems. One is on the farm where the grid is not available. It has two 280 watt panels from Amorn, and two deep cycle 125 AH flooded batteries. It runs a TV, satellite dish, DVD player and lights. I have a 20 amp MPPT charge controller and an 800 watt pure sine wave inverter. It has been totally trouble free for nearly two years.

At home I have about the same set up. I use 4 AGM 65 AH sealed batteries because they are in the house, so no gas is released. One of the panels fully charges the batteries on a sunny day. The other panel is on a double pole double throw switch. If it is an overcast day, I set it to charge the batteries. On a sunny day, I use a small grid tie inverter and put the power back through the mains meter. The main power supply here at the house is not very reliable so I run my computer room off this system. That consists of my desk top computer a fan and lights. This system has also been running for nearly two years with no problems.

The farm system cost about 30,000 baht and the home system more because of the extra things. All 4 panels were bought from Amorn, the batteries from Thailand suppliers and the controllers and inverters from China. I have no regrets. I do have a spare charge controller and a spare inverter if needed.

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rick
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Solar Power

Post by rick » June 3, 2015, 4:08 am

Barely a system, but i bought one from Amorn 2 months ago for 750 baht! Consists of a 3 watt solar panel, a 3.5 AH lithium battery and a 2 watt led light and cabling. Used it to charge my mobile phones and light to drink a beer by in the evenings. Get about 3 days use off of a one day charge (use light for about 2-3 hours a day). I'm just starting out......

mickojak
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Solar Power

Post by mickojak » June 3, 2015, 4:11 am

Hi Glatt,
I am building a house soon and I am very interested in a setup like yours.
I have not researched anything yet, so would be great to visit and talk about your system sometime, if possible.
When you say that your power goes back to the grid, do you get a rebate?, and/or does it reduce your general electricity bill?
My main thing against solar is that it won't run my air conditioners, but if it got fed back and reduced my bill that would be about the same thing.
Mick

bluejets
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Solar Power

Post by bluejets » June 3, 2015, 6:31 am

mickojak wrote: My main thing against solar is that it won't run my air conditioners, but if it got fed back and reduced my bill that would be about the same thing.
Mick
Why not...???

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maaka
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Solar Power

Post by maaka » June 3, 2015, 6:54 am

lived on solar power since 1996..
both my two NZ homes have 12v systems, and my new Udon house will have a small 12v system, for water pump, music, and emergency lighting..for when the power grid goes down..indeed before coming online I was making a big letterbox of a thing to house my solar powered fencing system, to run of fence 3km of wire on my 10 acre lifestyle block..the house and farm run on solar..just small 12v systems..solar panels range from 120amp (1 house) - 70 amp..(1fence unit) I have two 70amp ones ready to take on as hand luggage next trip tp Udon to run that system..I also have a 300a inverter that just clips to the one 100ah battery I have, and that runs my laptop, tv, stereo when I play records..I really should have 2x120a panels and 2 x 100ah batteries just to give me more tv time..but I havent watch tv for 6 months now and are enjoying the work out in the field I am achieving....
I am always for solar..you can go the whole hog, or like my Udon house have a dual power system, just to save afew dollars here and there, and fo when the grid goes down..

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Solar Power

Post by mickojak » June 3, 2015, 7:51 am

Post by bluejets » June 3, 2015, 9:31 am

mickojak wrote:
My main thing against solar is that it won't run my air conditioners, but if it got fed back and reduced my bill that would be about the same thing.
Mick



Why not...???

Well, I will have at least 4 air conditioners in my house in Thailand.
Probably only 1 going during the day in my office, but after dark 2 or 3 will be running especially during the night in the bedrooms.
I don't know of any batteries that will last all night to power aircons that draw so much power.
if you know of a system that will suit, please let me know.
I'm all ears!
Mick

glalt
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Post by glalt » June 3, 2015, 10:17 am

The beauty of grid tie inverters is that feeding power back through the meter cause the meter to slow down or even run backwards. Modern grid tie inverters have what we call island protection. That means that when the main power goes off, the inverter shuts itself down. That is important because you don't want to knock a power company electrician off a pole.

It would take a huge very expensive battery bank and inverter to start an air conditioner. The starting surge is the problem. The newer inverter units eliminate that surge so we are getting closer to be able to use just batteries especially if/when they make DC air conditioner units available. How much longer we will be able to feed power back through the meter is another question. As it stands I see no danger to reducing your usage with a grid tie inverter. You don't want to put too much power in because the electric company may notice that your meter is running backwards and may want to cause you problems. I really like the stand alone systems and isolated circuit breakers to feed that circuit totally through the solar system. After your battery bank is charged, that's the time to feed to your meter.

Batteries are expensive and running them down below fifty percent charge considerably shortens their life. Tesla is now into home solar big time. Their big advantage is that you can discharge them down to where they are about dead without damaging them. The disadvantage is they cost more than double regular batteries.

mickojak
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Solar Power

Post by mickojak » June 3, 2015, 10:32 am

Glalt,
Seems like you're the man to talk to when I want to go solar.
I might have to chase you down for a chat in the future.
Ha
Mick

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Geoffrey
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Solar Power

Post by Geoffrey » June 4, 2015, 7:30 am

Maaka

For your 12 volt system, how stable is your electricity / how sensitive are your lights and equipment to voltage changes. What's the longest run of wire you have and what voltage drops do you get? I'd like to do my house's lighting all in 12 volt.
Holy Harp

Hammerheads
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Solar Power

Post by Hammerheads » June 4, 2015, 8:35 am

Hey guys, thanks for your responses. I have two primary issues
a) I need to pull electricity across our 11 rai to the house which I think will be relatively expensive and
b) I feel all this intense heat every day and its such a bloody waste

There is one other very serious point which I alone cannot influence - the Chinese are still building 1 coal power plant per week which scares the crap out of me when I really think about my kids and their kids future (an ex-colleague suggested in jest that I make use of the solar power now as one day soon there may be a large black Chinese cloud hanging over Northern Thailand!).

Ideally, I would like a stand alone solar system which provides all my electricity. My house design is to be as "cool" as possible to minimize my demand for A/C. So many things in life come down to money but I believe some people are missing the point here with solar. Its not just about the possibility of saving money - every KW consumed has a comparatively minimal effect on climate change. If someone arrived on my doorstep tomorrow with an uncomplicated solution-in-a-box to meet my needs at an affordable price I'd probably bite his hand off.

I also believe the technology surrounding these systems is a bit scary for a lot of people. I know what a resistor is, ohms, watts etc but I don't have a bloody clue about half the things people talk about with solar - and to be blunt, I don't give a damn as long as it works and I know what to do if it fails. My business is online and I know how easy it is to bamboozle the uninformed with internet jargon, same goes for me with this stuff I'm afraid - but I'm willing to learn if I have to.

Thanks to you all

Bob

bluejets
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Solar Power

Post by bluejets » June 4, 2015, 9:28 am

mickojak wrote:Post by bluejets » June 3, 2015, 9:31 am

mickojak wrote:
My main thing against solar is that it won't run my air conditioners, but if it got fed back and reduced my bill that would be about the same thing.
Mick



Why not...???

Well, I will have at least 4 air conditioners in my house in Thailand.
Probably only 1 going during the day in my office, but after dark 2 or 3 will be running especially during the night in the bedrooms.
I don't know of any batteries that will last all night to power aircons that draw so much power.
if you know of a system that will suit, please let me know.
I'm all ears!
Mick
There are many.
I have seen quite a few.
Like many installs, it begins with what your demand will be and how to accomodate the max.
It just depends on how deep your pocket is really.

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Barney
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Post by Barney » June 4, 2015, 9:36 am

Bob,

Try this website for some light reading, it gives some examples of installations and lots of information on what may be best for a stand alone system.

www.leonics.com

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rjj04
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Post by rjj04 » June 4, 2015, 1:36 pm

Grid-tie is far cheaper and easier for the average home owner wanting to install solar financial or environmental reasons. Unfortunately, unlike pretty much ALL of the developed countries and many other Asian countries, you can not "sell" electricity to PEA/MEA without having a signed contract to "sell" power. You can try and participate in the roof-top solar incentive programs, but there are many hoops to jump through to comply with the bureaucracy... intentional roadblocks in my opinion (see write-up in "solar incentive program" thread). The last program, last year, allocated a whole 4KW to most of our area (Udon Thani/Loei/Sakon Nakhon/etc). That is, not even one person could get into the program in our area... although thousands of people from other areas of Thailand were more fortunate it seems.

If you do go grid-tie without a "sell" contract with PEA (which they will not give to you unless you are in the roof-top program) you may get away with it if your meter never turns backwards at subsequent monthly readings. Glalt and I were running small grid-tie systems. I ran grid-tie in two locations for at least a couple of years, but one month when I pushed my luck and the meter went backwards all hell broke loose. The next day after the meter reading PEA called, then came out complaining the inverter is unsafe. I proved to them it was safe (it is on the MEA "approved" inverter list). Next problem, their software couldn't deal with the problem, so I presented a small script that showed them how to rewrite their software to deal with the issue. Then the real problem came out... they simply WILL NOT BUY power from users without a "buy" contract (from PEA point of view "buy"... from your point of view "sell" contract). I tried to make the point that they are not "buying" my power with an analogy. If I take an expensive bottle of wine to a restaurant, the restaurant will take the bottle and serve it back to my with my meal. They might charge me a small "corking" fee to do so. What PEA wants to do (has done), is accept my bottle of wine, then serve that quality wine (carbon free power/solar power) to other customers, and then they have the nerve to sell their cheap (lignite based) wine back to me and make me pay for it. So basically they are stealing my power so to speak.

One month later after the backwards meter reading, they installed a new meter that locked so that the disc can not spin backwards. That put me in a bind... either allow PEA to steal my power and sell it to others, or move to off-grid. So, I forked out the money for a 4KW inverter/charger and batteries. I bought a low end model, but so far quite good. If it lasts five or six years I'll be happy. Now I am off grid 100% during the dry season, but in the hot season we have to supplement our power with PEA power for A/C (as I only have 2.6KW of panels). Also, as mentioned before, it takes a lot of Ahs of storage to be able to use A/C in the evenings. So, during the hot season I will run on the inverter/solar power during the daytime, then switch to utility power for two or three hours in the evening (to get to sleep easier), then back to inverter for the rest of the night through to the next evening.

So, if anybody is looking to buy a quality 1.5KW grid-tie inverter (JFY JSI-1500), or any of three lower quality but cheaper grid-tie inverters give me a buzz :) All hooked up (redundancy) and you can see it working before you buy as well :)

Off-grid system now...
PIP4048 inverter/charger ~ $750
solar panels 2.6KW ~ $1,860
8 150Ah deep cycle batteries ~ $1,600
self made racking/wiring/switching ~ $300??

Buying quality products is another BIG problem in Thailand. Two of my nine panels failed on me (one I got a replaced from Amorn, the other I just fixed myself). One battery failed after only two months (hopefully I will get a replacement from Amorn... we will see). PM me for purchasing info. There are a few places to get cheap (but hopefully better quality) parts inside Thailand.

The inverter/charger I have has no problems whatsoever of driving a base load of about 350W (computers, security system, fridge, etc), and two inverter type A/C units (approx 800W each). It can also drive one inverter AC and one non-inverter A/C but may switch over to line mode (utility mode) if something else gets turned on (uWave, hand-drill, etc) . That is one feature to look for in an off-grid (with utility connection) is an overload protection that will switch to the grid/utility when the inverter goes over the 4KW (or whatever the max continuous power is for your inverter). It is a great feature as it protects the inverter and allows you to stop worrying too much about what is being turned off/on in the house...lest your inverter shuts down to protect itself and you are without power at night searching for a flashlight to go turn the inverter back on .. not fun let me tell you :)

My house has 15cm Q-con in some exterior walls, and 7cm Q-con on interior walls, so the load on the AC units is much reduced compared to other places I have lived in Thailand (red/gray brick). I really should have put 15cm Q-con throughout the exterior of the home, it is worth it. For off-grid especially!

Oh yeah, there is supposedly another NEW solar incentive program for this year coming soon...!!! :roll:

I'm happy to help (if I can) anybody else interested in solar in the area. Welcome to come check out my setup. Good luck!

Hammerheads
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Solar Power

Post by Hammerheads » June 4, 2015, 8:14 pm

Will take you up on that offer RJJ04 if you don't mind. Let me know when would be good and I'll come visit.

Cheers

Bob

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Post by glalt » June 5, 2015, 1:08 pm

I got interested in solar power mainly because the main power goes on and off quite often in this area. I solved the problem to a certain extent with a rather large UPS. It had two batteries, and could keep the computer going for an hour or so until the batteries were too low or the main power came back on. I replaced both batteries once but the next time, the UPS just died. After pricing new larger UPS units, I decided to go solar with batteries. I knew absolutely nothing about solar systems. I got some quotes from a few Thai companies and was shocked at their ridiculous high prices.

OK, Internet time. I spent many hours studying many different sites and got a pretty good idea of what I needed. I found Amorn and was disappointed at the second rate inverters and charge controllers they sell. I finally bought one 310 watt panel from Amorn and ordered the MPPT charge controller and pure sine wave inverter from China. I bought one AGM sealed 65 AH battery from Bangkok. I put everything together and it all worked. I soon found out that the 65 AH battery was not nearly big enough. Eventually I ended up with four batteries and another panel.

One major thing I discovered is that there is a LOT of bad information on the Internet. You have to learn to sort out the good from the bad. It appears that some of these guys buy a small basic complete system and instantly become solar experts. I'm a hands on type of guy and learned the hard way how to size and install different components myself. In the event of any problems, I have no need to call anyone to fix it. I'll know exactly what and where the problem is. I'm certainly not a techie expert as far as repairing components but I know if a particular component has a problem. As I mentioned before, I keep a spare charge controller and inverter. They have not been needed so far.

The first panel I bought from Amorn was a poly crystalline 310 watt. That is the only component I had any trouble with. Amorn wanted me to bring the panel in and they would send it to Bangkok to see what the problem was. I was afraid to take the panel apart myself in case that would void the warranty. Eventually Amorn gave me the go ahead to try to troubleshoot it myself. As it turned out, whoever put in the output cables failed to push one of them in far enough. It would sometimes work and then fail. After putting the output cables in properly, a simple fix, it has been working fine. Our friend, rjj04, is a far more knowledgeable technical guy than I am. He was kind enough to guide me along.

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mak
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Post by mak » June 5, 2015, 2:39 pm

Could give us more info on the MPPT unit and inverter, also where to order it from? Thanks.

glalt
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Post by glalt » June 5, 2015, 6:11 pm

I bought my chargers and inverters off AliExpress but you have to be careful with that outfit. The name of the MPPT charge controller is EP Solar Tracer. You can also buy them on Amazon, eBay and from other solar supply stores. I have three of them, a 20, 30 and 40 amp. I have three different brand inverters. All are pure sine wave. I use a 600 and 800 watt daily and have a 2,500 watt for a spare. I think the best quality pure sine wave inverters come from a company called GAIA.

glalt
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Post by glalt » June 7, 2015, 9:17 am

mak wrote:Could give us more info on the MPPT unit and inverter, also where to order it from? Thanks.
I made a mistake about my first panel from Amorn. It is a MONO crystalline panel not poly. It was the most expensive and largest capacity panel the Amorn sold.

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Post by JohnG » June 7, 2015, 10:53 pm

rjj04 wrote:... I tried to make the point that they are not "buying" my power with an analogy. If I take an expensive bottle of wine to a restaurant, the restaurant will take the bottle and serve it back to my with my meal. They might charge me a small "corking" fee to do so. What PEA wants to do (has done), is accept my bottle of wine, then serve that quality wine (carbon free power/solar power) to other customers, and then they have the nerve to sell their cheap (lignite based) wine back to me and make me pay for it. .....
Your analogy doesn't really hold up.

What they are doing is allowing you to drink as much of your own wine (with no corkage fee) as you want and to drink their wine when yours runs out, but they're not allowing you to sell your wine in their restaurant to their customers or to give your wine away uninvited to their customers and then demand to be paid by the restaurant.

Maybe they'lI do so later, for a commission, but I can see their point.

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