Home Data Center Build - Solar Guru Guidance Needed

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Home Data Center Build - Solar Guru Guidance Needed

Postby GregoInc » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:41 am

Hi From Melbourne...

Thought I would start this thread, primarily to obtain help and guidance in building an off-grid solar power system... or something in between. I am very new to solar generation and battery storage, so will probably need a lot of help.

The home data center is a personal project I've wanted to create for some time. In the future I will add some photos showing the building stages. The building is finally at lock up stage, so now is a great time to undertake the wiring for the solar panels and battery storage as that will be external to the data center.

Right now I am looking for some gurus to help me design the system so it complies with Australian standards. I have enough Radiant Tripod mounting brackets to put the panels on the roof, but really need help with the wiring design etc.

Roof space is limited, so six 992mm wide panels will probably be the most I can fit on the roof, so large capacity and high efficiency will be key. Also will need loads of help with capacity questions, such as the size of the inverter/charge controller versus the panel capacity, versus battery capacity.

I think that will be a good start for now, any help would be very much appreciated.
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Re: Home Data Center Build - Solar Guru Guidance Needed

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:05 am

Welcome to the Energy Matters Forums GregoInc :)

You'll need to figure out what your loads are day and night, peak loads, max extent of cloudy weather periods, solar exposure for your proposed array siting, generator use? etc to have an idea of what equipment will be needed.
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Re: Home Data Center Build - Solar Guru Guidance Needed

Postby GregoInc » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:31 am

Hi Gordon,

Thanks for replying, much appreciated. I used my trusty Energy Matters power monitor and the best I can say is the equipment is pulling approximately a constant 2amps. Not sure if that is helpful in designing the system? Given my roof limitations for solar panels I am mindfull that my expectations must be frugal to say the least.

Let me know what you think and perhaps we can come up with a starting point towards a design.

Thanks, Mark
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Re: Home Data Center Build - Solar Guru Guidance Needed

Postby Benny » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:40 am

If you have a power monitor then read the kWh being used over a period of time - not the amps. 2A at 250V would be 500W. Or 0.5kW. So if that runs 24/7 it will use 12kWh (units) per day. If the power draw varies with usage, (like for a fridge) then it might well use fewer kWh per day. The meter should also show you the max power use during the day.

To get 12kWh per day you'll need at least 3kW of PV, a lot more to cover winter and cloudy periods + a lot of battery storage. To cover say 3 days you'd need 3 powerwall 2's at $10k each !! I don't think such a "data center" is compatible with small scale, offgrid solar.
Whats it going to do anyway ?
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Re: Home Data Center Build - Solar Guru Guidance Needed

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:56 am

As Benny suggests, 2A is meaningless if we don't know what voltage it is.

More info required! ;)
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Re: Home Data Center Build - Solar Guru Guidance Needed

Postby GregoInc » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:55 pm

Benny wrote:If you have a power monitor then read the kWh being used over a period of time - not the amps. 2A at 250V would be 500W. Or 0.5kW. So if that runs 24/7 it will use 12kWh (units) per day. If the power draw varies with usage, (like for a fridge) then it might well use fewer kWh per day. The meter should also show you the max power use during the day.

To get 12kWh per day you'll need at least 3kW of PV, a lot more to cover winter and cloudy periods + a lot of battery storage. To cover say 3 days you'd need 3 powerwall 2's at $10k each !! I don't think such a "data center" is compatible with small scale, offgrid solar.
Whats it going to do anyway ?


Gordon-Loomberah wrote:As Benny suggests, 2A is meaningless if we don't know what voltage it is.

More info required! ;)


Thanks for the feedback, fair call. I will reconnect the monitor tonight and see what additional information I can make available. Anicdotally the 2 amps is at 250 volts and is constant i.e. does not rise or fall significantly.

I am also cognisant that my expectations need to be tempered with what can be technically achieved, so can lower the load as needed. It's really a goal of mine to acheive the setup, but also realistic enough to accept it may not be feasible.
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Re: Home Data Center Build - Solar Guru Guidance Needed

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:15 pm

If you do have a continuous 500W load, say 600W or more on a battery with inverter losses and power factor taken into account, then 6 panels are not going to be anywhere near enough in Melbourne. Is there anywhere else you can mount additional panels?

Taking North Melbourne as an example, average global solar radiation for June and July is under 2kWh/m^2/day, so you'd need 8+kW of PV to cover your load, plus at least 20kWh of battery, and a back-up generator.
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Re: Home Data Center Build - Solar Guru Guidance Needed

Postby davidg » Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:57 am

Small datacenter .............. mine pulls 30kWh's per day, however loads vary due to automated cooling systems. Batteries to maximize life should be kept in the "datacentre" in fact all power control equipment will love you keeping it cooler as well.

I've run more serious datacentres using solar, it takes a lot of battery and PV to do it well, supplemental power from other places (generator, grid) is critical for shortfalls when they occur and they will.
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Re: Home Data Center Build - Solar Guru Guidance Needed

Postby GregoInc » Wed Jan 31, 2018 6:54 am

Gordon-Loomberah wrote:If you do have a continuous 500W load, say 600W or more on a battery with inverter losses and power factor taken into account, then 6 panels are not going to be anywhere near enough in Melbourne. Is there anywhere else you can mount additional panels?

Taking North Melbourne as an example, average global solar radiation for June and July is under 2kWh/m^2/day, so you'd need 8+kW of PV to cover your load, plus at least 20kWh of battery, and a back-up generator.


davidg wrote:Small datacenter .............. mine pulls 30kWh's per day, however loads vary due to automated cooling systems. Batteries to maximize life should be kept in the "datacentre" in fact all power control equipment will love you keeping it cooler as well.

I've run more serious datacentres using solar, it takes a lot of battery and PV to do it well, supplemental power from other places (generator, grid) is critical for shortfalls when they occur and they will.


Hi Guys,

Thanks for the feedback/comments.

The load is 'flexible' mostly due to this venture being under the hobby category. You know, middle aged guy (grey hair), bored, decides to build a shed and put solar on the roof.

The feedback is really good, in that it is making me think before taking action. I guess I am at the point of 'how serious am I about this' and how much money do i throw at it.

On the one hand I could install a few panels on the man cave roof, and some batteries to have a play, or go big and install a large solar panel array on my house roof then feed that power back to the man cave/shed/data center.

It's really only happening because I wanted to run a few loads on it, and was a what the hell kind of thing. However throwing serious cash at it kind of kills the 'hobby' approach in my opinion, but the logic provided here also makes for some serious consideration.

Like alot of middle aged grey haired guys I want to have a tinker, so the question I need to answer is... do I start small, which could be more complicated if I need to increase in the future i.e. shift the panels from man cave roof to house roof.

Lots of thinking to do... thanks for your help and taking time out of your day to comment.

Thanks, Mark
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Re: Home Data Center Build - Solar Guru Guidance Needed

Postby GregoInc » Wed Jan 31, 2018 8:49 am

davidg wrote:Batteries to maximize life should be kept in the "datacentre" in fact all power control equipment will love you keeping it cooler as well.


Hi David... thought I would respond seperately to above. I've been looking at using LiFePO4 batteries and have received various feedback on housing them inside the building.

I had originally planned on having the inverter/charge controller and batteries inside, but the various comments I received on the DIY Powerwall forum steered me away from it i.e. due to safety/health concerns etc.

Would be interested in your views?

Thanks, Mark
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