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Old 04-11-16, 09:58 PM   #1
Lurking Renovator
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Default First thread and... My solar system

OK here we go, bin bin bin, ban ban ban.

Not really, I am not that Joe, but it is my first thread of many to come. (Please, be nice to papitohead).

So here is the hypothesis: I live part time in Puerto Rico and part time in Colombia, South America. I own properties in both places. Besides, I do visit Upstate NY where I started getting the passive solar idea, etc before I was transferred to Puerto Rico.

Since my wife is Colombian and wants to live near her family, then what my idea is a passive solar home. In Colombia? Why? Well, here is the thing. I know about passive solar. Lived in upstate NY for 32 years. But where we are heading to in Colombia is near the hometown of former president Uribe and also the very famous Pablo Escobar. The area of the Departamento (State) is Eastern Antioquia. Why, Daytime temps are 72-76F, Night time 55-60F. Big deal, huh. Yes it is, because is the 12 months of the year.You will get about 10 days a year that you will really have to snuggle or get some heating. Many houses there are built with fire places or wood stoves. Building a passive solar you will know when the cold nights will hit you so you use your passive solar abilities. If you want to learn about Eastern Antioquia, just google it. Don't move to the big city Medellin because they sit in a canyon and so many cars, motorcycles and trucks/buses makes it very smoggy and bad for you. Head to the country side where I am going to build.

Now to the meat stuff with my questions:

1. What should I learn first from this site or on my own. Electricity? (wired my last built house in NY by reading books. Where I lived then, you did not need a permit because I bought an old trailer lot in the NY country side and built the house. In Puerto Rico I have added rooms all over and added the electricity myself.

2. Should I learn about wiring most of the stuff DC power to get the most out of it and try to find all the appliances wired DC (not much choice on Fridges), or should I go AC and ...

3. I want to build a system for at least 4 persons but is just my wife and I (but if she keeps thinking she knows more than Google. it may be just me, lol)

4. I will need hot water, but I am already an expert because I build a pretty decent solar water heater here in PR. So if with an electric hot water heater that I can power with my battery bank, then will be better.

5. Solar cells I will have to keep an eye, because new technology and prices keep dropping down. I have some educational DVDs of how to make them, but if they will be that cheap, then will be another story.

6. The electrical hardware will be something to also watch. I know I need to learn about this so I don't get taken. In Colombia you can find stuff, but they can really try to screw you up.

7. Battery banks. This subject is very difficult. I always thought that someone with the right knowledge can recycle batteries. Is this possible or am I in a dream land. Or are the new upcoming batteries are so great that is not worth trying to invent it all over again.

I have a lot more questions, so don't just read me and pass on.

Thank you every one.

The best thing about life is that you can enjoy it to the fullest if you want.
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Old 04-14-16, 12:23 PM   #2
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Since I have not gotten any feedback on my thread, I figure I asked too much and scared all away, lol. I will then brake it down in smaller threads and do one project at the time. I guess I got too anxious when I found this fine forum.
The best thing about life is that you can enjoy it to the fullest if you want.
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Old 04-21-16, 11:53 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forum! Hot water, easy to make with solar, probably hardest in New York but your further south locations should be easy.
If there is a reliable power grid its much cheaper and simpler to build a grid tie electrical system. You can also expand it as needed.
If you want to go completely off the grid and be independent thats the most expensive and will require the most knowledgeand planning. Batteries will be expensive and require maintenance and eventual replacement. What I've seen on a few other sites about solar requirements for just a fridge was its still expensive.
1.47 kw solar, R-40+ attic insulation, 4 layers radiant barrier, solar attic fan, solar mini pool pump
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Old 04-21-16, 10:19 PM   #4
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I had written a big long reply up last week, and when I went to post, the thing deleted itself. Don't know why. I then fell asleep and completely forgot about it. Sorry about that.

One big thing I had to say was about the difference between solar thermal and solar electric: electric is much less efficient than thermal. This means for heating any given amount of water, you will need more surface area to heat with electricity. Then again, electric panels are not in danger of freezing or generating steam.

Like gtojohn said, it is much less hassle to grid-tie electric panels and let the local power utility be your battery. A battery bank is not a highly efficient method of storing power. Besides wiring losses, the batteries themselves generate heat while charging and discharging. With a grid-tie setup, the losses are much smaller.
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Old 04-22-16, 07:51 PM   #5
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I have done diy battery recycling and trust me you don't want to do it.
Don't try to make your own solar panels. Home made ones like to catch on fire.
Yes just powering a fridge is expensive. With my solar hybrid generator $1000 bought enough solar panels, battery, charge controller and inverter to power my refrigerator while the sun is up and for a little while after sun set.
For about another $1000 I could double solar and battery capacity and power the fridge 24 hours a day.

Not everyone visits this forum every single day.

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