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Old 12-03-21, 10:51 AM   #1
DocWatt
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Question Solar setup for gate opener in the cold

I am installing a Ghost Controls operator arm on a new gate I just installed. The system is designed to be AC powered, but they do sell a solar option, however, even they say to upgrade the included 10w panel to a 30w and if you do so...they say to get a deep cycle battery, negating their battery box with two 7ah batteries completely. Nice, right? So basically they sell a "solar looking" set-up that is backed up by AC.
In my project, I do have access to AC, but it's to much of a hassle and I want to try to get this 100% solar, even if it's a bit over-engineered to do it. I've seen a few things Woody has posted on micro solar systems and I feel like that's close to what i'm looking for, but the cold usage complicates a bit (will be used year round, but obviously it's easier in the warmer months).
My plan: I have the Ghost Controls TSS1 (operator arm and control panel only) and I have a Renogy 30W panel. I know I may need a charge controller (suggestions welcome), but the circuit board that comes with the unit will rectify up to 30w so it can serve as the controller for my panel (in theory). The main issue i'm trying to resolve in my non-fully-solar-educated mind is what to do for the battery. I'd prefer to mount it near the panel and operator, so lithium is attractive (mostly because of the weight), but this will always be outside (in some sort of enclosure i'll build...perhaps with some help/suggestions), but while I live in N.C., USA (zone 7B) and it won't be below 10 deg F often, that's below the normally enjoyed "above 32 deg F" charging zone for lithium. I know I can discharge it below that, but i'm guessing that is not a great plan for a winter of use...discharge as needed, recharge only when above freezing.
From what I understand the draw would be around 3-5 amps for the gate operator per cycle, with an additional 4 amps used for five seconds with the lock = 9 amps per activation; 18 amps per full cycle (open and closed). The draw on the operator will of course change a bit as that is estimated, not measured under load with my particular gate (nothing super heavy thankfully). There is also a 25 milliamp continuous draw for the circuit board.
So, do I go overboard and super size the battery AH to cover the inefficient nature of running the system in the cold? (As in have a 500-1000AH battery that can just recharge when it's warm enough and try not to discharge to far between charges.) Should I go just above what I need battery wise and then run a thermostat controlled warmer? Anyone have experience with the Kilovault HLX, LiFePO4 Blue batteries (BMS with built in heaters), or the Winston LiFeYPO4? Should I skip lithium all together and go AGM or gel, which still have some cold issues of their own?

Any guidance and direction to help me avoid spending way to much if there is a better option is appreciated. If there's a simple answer like "use gel because it doesn't mind the cold," please let me know as I'm wanting to get this project going, but I just don't have a confident direction to move in.

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Old 12-04-21, 10:29 AM   #2
Daox
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I would keep it simple (and cheaper) and go with lead batteries. I would not go fancy with AGM or gel, just a regular flooded lead acid deep cycle from the local store. No BMS required, the charge controllers are cheap. Everything is readily available should you need to replace things. I'd oversize it generously for the cold.

Also, I think your calculation of the amps is incorrect. Allow me to try to clarify. A 7Ah battery should be able to supply 7 amps for one hour. That means that it should theoretically supply 9 amps for (9/7 = .78) .78 hours. Or, if you pull 5 amps it should last (5/7 = 1.4) 1.4 hours. In reality its less than that, but that is the extremely basic calculation.

If they have two 7Ah batteries in parallel then you have 14Ah of capacity. They even claim this isn't enough. I'd get a recommendation from them on how many Ah you need. Conversely, you can just figure out what you can get cheaply locally. Something that does 30+Ah sounds good to me though.
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Last edited by Daox; 12-06-21 at 01:46 PM..
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Old 12-15-21, 08:49 AM   #3
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Thanks for the time and information.

I agree and i've wondered if they/I misunderstood the numbers some how as compared to other folks who use openers, that's way more draw then I expect to really happen each cycle of the gate.
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Old 12-17-21, 02:59 AM   #4
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Gate openers' duty is very important as they not only operate the gate but also provide security. Many times it is observed that gate openers do not have basic facilities available at their working place.

By installing a solar power system for gate openers you can facilitate them with the basic energy requirements like light, fan, charging points, etc.

Overall we can say that it is really a great idea to install solar for gate openers.

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