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Old 02-11-15, 09:57 AM   #1
gtojohn
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Default Looking for suggestions for stand alone lighting

I'm getting close to make progress on an off grid weekend cabin. I'm trying to decide on some quick and easy solar lighting. I'd like to install a few solar charged led fixtures to light the interior. Right now function is more important than form. I could buy an outdoor light with a detached panel and rechargeable battery from a store, or I could build something and hopefully get better performance. I already have a 20 watt panel which looks a bit bigger than most I see included with lights. Sealed Lead Acid batteries are pretty cheap and 12v outdoor lights are cheap too. In the not too distant future I plan at least a few bigger panels to run pumps. Even if I buy something prebuilt I will still need to modify it to a switch instead of motion detector.

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Old 02-11-15, 10:18 AM   #2
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Correction, I already have a 10 watt panel, not 20. Still bigger than what I see included with most solar charged lights.
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Old 02-11-15, 10:40 AM   #3
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Led lighting is the answer , you can buy them on eBay for cheap. $5 for the 1 to 3w watt in ceiling fixtures or $15 for a 10w outdoor fixture / $20 for one with a added IR sensor.


I bought 3 sets of the $5 in ceiling fixtures with the swivel insert so you can direct the light exactly where you need it.

All of them run on 12v
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Old 02-11-15, 06:09 PM   #4
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Click image for larger version

Name:	100w x 2 panels.jpg
Views:	389
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ID:	4983These panels are well priced at $250 with free shipping.

Solar Panel PV Off Grid RV Boat 2pcs 100W Watts 200W 12 Volt Mono Cells Charger | eBay

• 25-year transferable power output warranty
5-year material and workmanship warranty
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Old 02-11-15, 07:19 PM   #5
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Alternatively, you could go order a 12V panel from Sunelec for ~$1/W.

I've got one of their 20W panels attached to a Morningstar charge controller and a 17Ah SLA battery. I also have a Sunelec 50W panel in the garage that I use for tinkering.

For lighting, there are some 48 element 5050 SMD LED units on a rectangular circuit board intended to run off 12V that seem to put out decent light. You can pick them up on ebay for under $4 each with $2 shipping from HK. I put one in the trunk of my wife's car, and you can now see everything in the trunk like it's daylight. I have half of one (yes, you can split it in half) in the dome light of my own car. I'm still looking for a project for the other 24 LED unit.

My advice: don't go with the least expensive (no-name) charge controller you can find. What you save in expense on the charge controller, you may lose replacing batteries prematurely. I use Morningstar controllers because they've been doing charge controllers for quite awhile and have a reasonable reputation. I actually have 2 Morningstar charge controllers, because I plan to build a solar lighting setup for my dock, someday. For that project, I bought the Sunlight 10. The SunLight controller allows you to choose how long the light runs automatically after sunset.
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Old 02-11-15, 07:53 PM   #6
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If you don't mind building a fixture, these things are great! I use them everywhere. I built a weatherproof outdoor light with a set and it's been working for over 7 yrs..

12in Dual White Cold Cathode Kit at Xoxide!

To Add..

They operate on 12v.d.c. and draw ~1/2 amp/set. One set will light up a room nicely if mounted on the ceiling..

I replaced a single 4' fluorescent fixture in my kitchen that pulled 3.75 amps. With 2 sets of these, I get about the same amount of light but only use ~1 amp of current. Never had a set fail..

Perfect for indoor area lighting. Just don't let them get wet. (The ballast)

They are designed for computer case lighting and they have some extra wiring on them that needs to be removed. A pair of side cuts fixes that. Just follow the red/black connected to the ballast and cut them off at the plug. (red +/black -) Better than any LED fixture I ever messed with, and I messed with a bunch of them..
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Old 02-12-15, 08:14 AM   #7
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Excellent, sounds like making them is the way to go. Those Morning stars are pricey! Looking at charge controllers and panels, are higher voltages more or less desirable? I know a local I can get a few 175 watt 35.8 Volt @ 4.9 Amps for $125. My goal in a few years might be a grid tie with buy back as we use the cabin more or if I move there after my next retirement. We have a power pole adjacent to our property.
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Old 02-12-15, 10:55 PM   #8
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If you look around, you can sometimes find a deal on a decent charge controller. I think I paid ~$35 for my little Sunsaver 6. For manual switch controlled interior lighting, you can do quite a bit with a charge controller that will handle 6A.

The SunSaver doesn't have the automatic switching function that the SunLight10 has, and won't handle 10A, but there's a ~$60 price difference.
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Old 02-13-15, 05:06 AM   #9
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I use a Xantrex C12 for my outdoor lighting. Nice, reliable unit once you get it set up properly. Lost one in the last 26 yrs. because of a lightning strike..

This unit was the first controller that I ever purchased. Used it on my house system until I out grew it..

Xantrex by Schneider Electric C12 - 12 Amp 12 Volt PWM Charge Controller
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Old 02-13-15, 08:29 AM   #10
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Looks like for a little more I could go with
Xantrex by Schneider Electric C35 - 35 Amp 12/24 Volt PWM Charge Controller
and handle up to 55volt no load input. If I end up with bigger higher wattage panels would this be better?

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