New off grid home

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Re: New off grid home

Postby offgridQLD » Mon Jul 23, 2012 10:27 am

Out of interest, how do you monitor the state of charge in your batteries?


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If you look at the pic above were you can see the Large Fuse holder/isolator that has the thick heavy gauge battery cables coming into it. You can see a thin black wire coming off the Negative battery wire(top right hand side) this heads up to the inverter cabinet that has its own shunt that measures state of charge. The inverter automatically resets the charge % each day and also resets back to 100% if at any time it exceeds I think around 110% Cant remember the exact number though. It always seems to self correct nicely.

You can see the small black shunt wire entering the inverter cabinet to the left of the two main battery wires.
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There is also two other analog kwh meters that show AC KWh totals from the date of installation for generator and inverter.
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Re: New off grid home

Postby offgridQLD » Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:47 pm

I am 1/2 way through having a 10m wide x 12m deep shed/ workshop built. I have done my best to settle on a design that takes advantage of natural light during the day with 3x 1800x900 windows and 3 x 1800x600 sky light windows all facing north. Also both ends of the shed have roller doors i can open up to catch morning or evening sun if need be.I hope that's enough to avoid the need for any daytime artificial lighting other than say a 20w task lamp for something intricate.

The issue is I often find myself tinkering late at night so I need to come up with some ideas of how best to illuminate the 120m2 shed when the sun is down.

Here is the shed design below. Although there are no internal walls I will kind of split the shed up into two sections. The main 7m x 12m area with the two roller doors and 5m high ceiling will be used for working on cars - hoist and spreading out large projects. The 2nd section is the 3m wide by 12m long section with a 3m high roof and personal access door. This section has the 3 large windows and will have benches, lathe, mill and all of my tools along that wall so more or less my workshop area.

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Initially my plan was to just sparingly use 36w tubes over the main 7m x 12m area just for a general light perhaps 3 or 4 of them. Then use several 36w tubes above benches that could all be individually turned on as task lighting. My lathe, mill, drill press, cold saw all have adjustable lamps with 20w CFT on them for focus light.

Its always hard to light up a big area and I just wanted to avoid flicking the switch and having 500w of tubes sucking away at my battery's while i ponder over a project :lol:

Then I started to look at some of the new LED flood lights in the 10 - 50w range with a wide spread. I had the idea I could use the 30w model rated at 2500lm and mount 3 of them up in the 5m high roof section shining down this would give me 7500lm of light for that 84m2 section of floor. All for only 90 - 100w . Another option is to use the 10w model that's rated at 1000lm but use say 8 of them evenly spaced for a better light spread.the 50w beast puts out 5000lm :shock:

video of 50w floodlight http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZf8fLiCp6c&feature=player_detailpage

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I am thinking of just ordering a 20w model to test as we need to replace a 20w Fluorescent flood light in the back yard. I don't like it as by the time it warms up to full light output I have already walked past it and done what i need to do. i like the instant on of LED

Anyhow any Ideas that might help me make a good choice regarding lights for the new shed would be great.
Last edited by offgridQLD on Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New off grid home

Postby offgridQLD » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:21 am

This is what I was thinking i would do if i was to use simple 36w 1200mm tubes. There is a total of 360w
(40w - tube ) if they are all on but I would have them switched in groups of two for front middle and rear in the 7 x 12 section then the workshop section I would have each of the three tubes on a separate switch for front middle rear again.

Hmm this is when I need a 500w wind turbine or pumped hydro to take the load off the battery's then I can run what ever lighting I like :D

If I had all the lights on from say 7:30pm - 10:30pm. 3hrs total I would use around 1kwh doesn't sound like much I guess.I think lots of switches is the answer so I can pick and choose depending what I'm doing and where I'm doing it.

Kurt

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Re: New off grid home

Postby bpratt » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:47 am

Personally, I'd be going for lots of switches, so that you can turn on and off the ones appropriate for what you are doing at the time.

I've had nil experience with the led flood lights, but will be looking at them if I need additional lighting outside at a later date.
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Re: New off grid home

Postby offgridQLD » Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:40 am

Its always hard to try and compare all the LM rating of different styles of lighting. I do a lot of my judgment by comparison. A 50w halogen light is around 900 - 1000lm and by comparison lights about the same area as a 36w tube.

A big factor that I want to try and take advantage of is reflective light. We all know just how dim a room can be with dark walls, ceiling and floor. My city house is high set and has a double garage underneath. The concrete is dark like a light charcoal and the ceiling is bottom side of the floorboards for the house above so it's a dark brown natural timber. The bricks are a medium brown and the back of the garage doors is a dull grey. In all there is bugger all reflected light. Even though its only a 6m x 6m area I run six double 36w fixtures + another bench double 36w tube and its just enough....just.So at 40w a tube I have a total of 520w!

By comparison our other house has larger 6 x 8m garage with shiny-glossy light gray concrete. White plaster walls, white plaster ceiling and light cream back of garage door. Even though its a bigger space it only has two single 36w tubes + two 9w led down lights over the work bench and its feels just as bright as the city house garage with a total of 100w.

Ceiling height plays a part to so I think mounting the lights on chains to get a even and correct height will. help.In my picture above i have one 36w tube for every 3.5m x 4m of floor area as general lighting in the main area.I know one 36w tube would be enough in a 3.5 x 4m room but you get the advantage of all the reflected light.

I'm thinking If I go with 36w tubes it might be best to purchase 10 or so single fixtures first and temporally wire them all with 10amp plugs to I can play around with positions/ heights , layout and mock up different ideas until I am happy before i get things hard wired.

Kurt
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Re: New off grid home

Postby Privatteer » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:17 am

Work has been throwing in a lot of LED lights recently. A lot fromhttp://www.dialight.com.au/products/dialight-led/ expensive but a long warranty. The Hibay ones have a quite impressive light output.

They have also been using others that look similar to the style you linked to but I am not sure what brand they are using. A lot have had to be moved from original locations. The light is so focused from a small area that it blinds you as you are walking towards it. Not good for pole mount light shining down a staircase.
Work a lot better when overhead but then some need to be quite high to get a decent spread.

So its a bit of trial and error at first to find a decent one that suits the mounting location.
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Re: New off grid home

Postby offgridQLD » Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:17 pm

Today I pulled my Inverter/regulator mounting cabinet completely apart so I could get behind all the mounting boards and trace where all the wires are going.

Even though I am swapping the two PL40 charge controllers out in a few weeks I still want to get my head around the odd wiring of the PL40's.

As I mentioned before the PL40s only have a PV negative input terminal and no PV positive.

Pv positive is basically wired directly to the battery (After appropriate isolators ) without going through the regulator at all

There is a bridging strip on the dc + isolators . So effectively terminated in the one location you have PV+ in from the panels. PL40 bat+ and a larger red wiretapping off the bridging stop and going out through a 125A fuse then straight to main bat+ cable .

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So the Pl40 by design just regulates (or has control over )the pv negative side to achieve appropriate charge amps and voltage.

The new charge controllers I am looking at (also others I have experience with) controller(regulate) the The PV possessive feed. Battery negative out and Pv negative in are often on a common terminal. Kind of the opposite setup of the PL40.



I hope I haven't confused anyone :D Just wanted to ask why they have done this on the PL40?

I guess why I am asking about this it is when I go to wire in the new charge controller i wouldn't want that bridging strip at the bottom of the isolators. A small bridging strip could remain for just two 50A PV isolators and feed a wire to the +Pv in terminal on the new controller. Then the two small 6A isolators that just feed (low amp) power to the PL40 now I guess they are only 6A as they just to power up the pl40. Anyhow the 6A units would need to be removed. In there place would go a single (larger most likely over 100A ) isolator wired to battery + at controller and battery.

Basically just doing away with the bridging strip and upgrading the Bat + positive isolator to a single larger one.

kurt
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Re: New off grid home

Postby offgridQLD » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:45 am

A few months ago I replaced a total of 6, 11w gu10 cool white compact Fluorescent globes with 9W GU10 LED globes. the 6 globes were fitted above my kitchen counter tops. 3 globes for each adjustable spotlight fitting.

I made a small video that shows the difference in light output and start time.I think I mentioned 6w in the video but they are actually rated at 9w yet it turns out they only consume 7w :? Total real consumption for all 6 globes is 42w led vs 72w for the Fluro.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=oTaLEM4-49Q


.I made up a little testing cable and plugged that into my power meter.

11W compact Gu10 Fluorescent = 13w & PF 76%

9W GU10 LED = 7w & PF 97%

I was shocked that it was consuming less than it was rated at so I plunged in another meter and got the same outcome.

Considering the 9W GU10 LED only cost me $6.90 each I will replace the 8 remaining gu10 Fluorescent globes with the same leds. The remaining globes are just outdoor entrance fitting for front door and garage.

Kurt
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Re: New off grid home

Postby Cherokee Solar » Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:31 pm

Hi Kurt,

I never knew about the PF of those CFL globes.

Just for your info, I installed a 24v 24w super bright bank of LEDs in a flood light casing a couple of months ago in my battery room.

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/330675106894?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649

Really top notch stuff and it handles a wide range of voltages. I used to have a 24v CFL in there and it blew after less than 100 hours work which really annoyed me because it was quite expensive in the first place. I think the reason it blew was that the voltage was too high as I needed to use it one day over summer...

Regards

Chris
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Re: New off grid home

Postby offgridQLD » Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:10 pm

Chris,
I have been tempted to purchase a 12v-24v flood light just like the one you linked to. I was thinking it would make a good replacement for the rear work light on my little tractor. The 30 year old lamp that's on there now isn't much good at all . I think I would be better off with a tea candle :lol:

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It's always a risk with ebay some times you get lucky and end up with a good product at a great pirce.its hard to do your research as all you have to go on is the photo and there listed specs. I guess some one has to be the Ginni pig for the benefit of others :)

Thanks for the link .

Kurt
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