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Forum topic by FrankLad posted 03-28-2011 11:52 PM 1441 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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FrankLad

270 posts in 2000 days


03-28-2011 11:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: solar power generator powersource 1800 sun energy eco-friendly

Hey guys!

I’m planning to build a relatively small workshop and am very interested in running it on solar power. At the moment I operate out of a spare upstairs room in our home.

I mainly handcraft wooden rings and build ring boxes, etc., so I’m not a heavy power-tool user. I run a small benchtop dust collector (Grizzly G9955) and may on occasion run a drill. The only other item of consideration would be a fan or maybe a small window unit during the warmer days. For light, I currently work next to a large window (planning on having lots of natural light in the shop) but I’d also want to have something for illumination during the darker times, or when I’m up really early.

A family member pointed me in the direction of the PowerSource 1800 Watt generator over at MySolarBackup.com. ((They seem to put their own branding on it but from what I gather, it’s a Duracell or Xantrex 1800.))

It sounds alright, and I’ve watched some reviews of it (some of which didn’t appear to be paid reviews) but the whole thing seems a bit “iffy” to me.

I was hoping to get some feedback on that one, or anything comparable.

Thanks for any help you can provide!

Frank

-- Frank, Mississippi, Handcrafted wooden rings - http://www.bentwoodrings.com


18 replies so far

View DylanC's profile

DylanC

122 posts in 1365 days


#1 posted 03-29-2011 02:46 AM

I’d pass if I were you. Just looking at the marketing tactics of their site makes me nervous. Generally speaking, anyone who tries to scare you into buying their gizmo (or who feeds on a fear that already exists) is a bit shady. I would also say that their power rating is skewed. Most likely its the maximum power rating of the inverter and not of the panel.

I am a mechanical engineer and one of the projects I am currently involved in is monitoring the energy output of three “small” solar panels to evaluate their performance. When I say small, each one is probably 6 times the size of the one shown at mysolarbackup. Even the best one, which I’m sure cost thousands of dollars, only generated 8.2 kWh of power today. That’s the highest daily total this month and the total output of all 3 panels since they were installed in October is 293 kWh. Here in Minnesota that’s about $30 worth of power.

Lets say conservatively that the unit you are looking at could consistently output half of its rated power (900 W) for 6 hours a day. At that rate it would produce the same total mount of power as the system I mentioned above in ~ 2 months. I seriously doubt that a little rig like that could outperform a full scale solar installation costing tens of thousands of dollars.

And one last note. I think that around here (southern MN) that peak solar intensity is right around 1200 watts per square meter. Typical solar panel efficiency is less than 25%. So, in order to generate 1.8 kW (1800 W) of power you would need 6 square meters of panel. That’s roughly 8 feet by 8 feet, if my math is right.

Solar has potential, but for now it’s still not ready for mainstream use.

-- Dylan C ...Seems like all ever I make is sawdust...

View JasonWagner's profile

JasonWagner

523 posts in 1870 days


#2 posted 03-29-2011 02:56 AM

Great reply Dylan – thank you for taking the time to really spell that out.

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14875 posts in 2366 days


#3 posted 03-29-2011 06:40 AM

6 square meters would be more like 6.5 feet by 19 feet, wouldn’t it?

I have done a little research for RV power on our tree farm. The economy panels on eBay are the same as Harbor Freight. They lose about 1/2 their output in a year or two.

Other than lighting and powering a computer, ect, solar requires considerable capital expense to be a practical alternative to the grid or a generator.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View marker's profile

marker

22 posts in 1471 days


#4 posted 03-29-2011 06:59 PM

I echo the posts above. Unless you are off the grid, solar is not ready for prime time.

You indicated that you wanted “illumination during the darker times, or when I’m up really early.”

This would require batteries. RVs often use a bank of 4 golf cart batteries. Some of the larger models even use more. I still doubt this would have enough power to run the dust collector. It definitely would not last long.

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5386 posts in 1922 days


#5 posted 03-29-2011 07:30 PM

Solar tech isn’t ready for prime time yet. You’d spend FAR more time and money setting it up than it would be worth. Depending on what is available to you, maybe you could consider wind or water wheel generation?

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1384 days


#6 posted 03-29-2011 07:45 PM

I have a friend that responded to this fear speech by spending $75,000 outfitting his house with solar. He now has a $50 electric bill, down from $150. That’s a tough way to save $100.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View FrankLad's profile

FrankLad

270 posts in 2000 days


#7 posted 03-29-2011 09:07 PM

Thanks a bunch for all of the replies!

We looked into solar a few years ago for our home but quickly abandoned that idea after seeing the prices. Considering it would take 15 or more years to pay for itself, and the technology being much cheaper by then, etc.

I was just hoping this little deal, or something similar, could work in my specific situation.

DylanC: “I’d pass if I were you. Just looking at the marketing tactics of their site makes me nervous. Generally speaking, anyone who tries to scare you into buying their gizmo (or who feeds on a fear that already exists) is a bit shady.”

Completely agree. That’s why it felt a little “iffy”. I’ve seen similar sites with those “act now” marketing strategies and it’s a bit off-putting.

Thanks again for all the info, guys! Really appreciate it!

-- Frank, Mississippi, Handcrafted wooden rings - http://www.bentwoodrings.com

View FrankLad's profile

FrankLad

270 posts in 2000 days


#8 posted 03-29-2011 09:12 PM

dbhost: “Depending on what is available to you, maybe you could consider wind or water wheel generation?”

Water wheel would be great… but no creeks or anything nearby. Haven’t considered wind generator.
Will check into this a bit more. Thank you!

-- Frank, Mississippi, Handcrafted wooden rings - http://www.bentwoodrings.com

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1384 days


#9 posted 03-29-2011 09:27 PM

If you can put up a turbine, that’d be a solid option. I imagine there’s some zoning involved but people here in WV have them sticking out everywhere! I know that they can generate an impressive amount of energy but I’m not sure how you’d harness it. Someone here will, though. I have a natural gas standby generator that could be an option. A wind turbine is much cooler though & the hippy factor is pretty high. Good luck!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View NBeener's profile

NBeener

4806 posts in 1864 days


#10 posted 03-29-2011 09:37 PM

DylanC wrote:

”I’d pass if I were you. Just looking at the marketing tactics of their site makes me nervous. Generally speaking, anyone who tries to scare you into buying their gizmo (or who feeds on a fear that already exists) is a bit shady.”

That was a GREAT post, but … I just can’t get past the notion of a solar panel company being “shady.”

;-)

-- -- Neil

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Bertha

12951 posts in 1384 days


#11 posted 03-29-2011 09:47 PM

^it’s quite high in irony isn’t it? The owner of a Prius dealership in my hometown drives a lifted Denali as his personal vehicle. Bad hippy. Quite shady.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View FrankLad's profile

FrankLad

270 posts in 2000 days


#12 posted 03-30-2011 12:38 AM

Seems there are quite a few wind turbines available these days. Amazon has quite a few listed from various sellers. Now to figure out how many and – as you pointed out – how to harness that.

:)

-- Frank, Mississippi, Handcrafted wooden rings - http://www.bentwoodrings.com

View DylanC's profile

DylanC

122 posts in 1365 days


#13 posted 03-30-2011 02:13 AM

Wind is typically much more effective than solar, but neither really pays for itself if you have grid power available. In order to make the best use of either, you need to make use of the power that gets generated while you’re not using it. That means you either have to store it in a bank of batteries or sell it back to the utility. Neither is cheap. For the VAST majority of us, utility power is the answer.

On the other hand, if you are interested in the technology, and want to play around with it (realizing that you will invest more time and money than you ever get back), I would consider building a wind turbine using an old automotive alternator as the generator. Hook the alternator to an old battery and a cheap 12V inverter and you should be able to charge the batteries for your cordless drill or a radio or something. The tricky part would be getting the speed and torque necessary to get the alternator running well.

Just a half-baked idea. I haven’t really looked into it that deeply.

-- Dylan C ...Seems like all ever I make is sawdust...

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14875 posts in 2366 days


#14 posted 03-30-2011 08:26 AM

The biggest problem with wind is a constant supply that is strong enough to do the job. Maybe the easiest way to do it would be a wind water pump and let the weight of the water turn a hydro turbine ;-) Lots of ways to attack the storage issue, but all are spendy ;-((

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View FrankLad's profile

FrankLad

270 posts in 2000 days


#15 posted 03-31-2011 12:47 AM

Good ideas and suggestions, guys!

I’m really appreciating the feedback on this topic!

I’m intrigued by it and still have more research to do. However… the way it’s looking now (cost-wise, efficiency, etc.), when it comes down to it I anticipate just running power from our home to the workshop.

I’ll post back if I do come up with something.

-- Frank, Mississippi, Handcrafted wooden rings - http://www.bentwoodrings.com

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