Solar Energy System Planning & Diagrams

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Andy F
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Solar Energy System Planning & Diagrams

#1 Post by Andy F » Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:11 pm

@dirtmurphy
Easy to Understand - Basic Solar Energy System Wiring Diagram https://cokluindir.com/rv-solar-wiring- ... ery-image/

1 - Solar panel,
1 - Deep Cycle Battery,
1 - Charge Controller,
1 - DC to AC Voltage Inverter.

Posting this diagram link for @dirtmurphy who seems to be hooked in already. After you figure your Wattage, your system design may change.

This is a basic system of "one" for HOW the 4 components are wired together.
There are a number of other components required, like DC fuse block, inline fuses, proper sized AWG wire/cables which use lugs or ring terminals.

There are too many variables for one post. Those variables are all determined by planning for your specific Powering needs,
amount of sun in your area, and as always...available money.

The more you need to power, based on Wattage used by AC appliance(s), the larger the system you will have to design.
The larger the system the bigger the cost.
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Re: Solar Energy System Planning & Diagrams

#2 Post by Andy F » Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:13 pm

4 "Parallel" Wired Solar Panels totaling 400 Watt Solar System Component Wiring Diagram http://animez.me/wiring-diagram-for-sol ... -a-caravan

Right mouse click on diagram and in drop down box click save.
This is a more detailed, a little bit more complicated wiring, diagram for a 400 Watt Solar Power Energy System & diagram shows all of the components, the wiring circuit and the fuses & switches.

Red is + positive voltage.
Black is -- negative zero voltage aka ground.

Parallel wired solar panels means all 4 + RED power wires are connected (or wired) together into one group.
All 4 -- BLACK wires are connected (or wired) together into one group.
Off of the RED group of 4 wires will be 1 RED wire. Off of the BLACK group of 4 wires will be 1 BLACK wire.

Where 1 module would be 1 solar panel.
After wiring 4 modules in parallel per diagram, you can now consider it to be 1 component consisting of 4 modules.

Where 1 finished component will have 1 BLACK wire and 1 RED wire.
Last edited by Andy F on Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Solar Energy System Planning & Diagrams

#3 Post by Andy F » Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:25 pm

Windy Nation Solar Systems - Main page - https://www.windynation.com/
On their main page, there are 3 blue boxes with links to the right. Learn is a good place to begin reading to get a good understanding of Solar Systems.
Here, we're focusing on Off-Grid smaller 100 to 400 Watt systems.

What do I like about Windy Nation? They offer quality solar components. They have very well written learning articles that answers questions. All their products have online manuals you can download. Prices are reasonable and comparable.

Energy Usage by Appliances chart, use it as general guideline to help plan the size system you want or need - 2 page free PDF download https://www.efficiencysmart.org/media/d ... -chart.pdf
"Hours in use is based on a typical four-person household. Your hours of use may vary. Annual kilowatt-hour (kWh) may vary depending upon model, age, and use. Annual cost is based on the statewide average of 12.25 cents per kWh..."

I helped a couple friends wire up their components, so they could get started with a reasonably priced 200 Watt system, with 2 Polycrystalline panels, PWM Charge Controller and a 1500 Watt DC to AC Inverter. There are other choices which will cost more. As I explained to dirtmurphy, there's so many variables in systems which affect costs. Money, is first for most people.

There other parts you have to buy separately: battery(s), inline fuses, Rotary Battery switch if you choose to use, Fuse Box, wire & cables & lugs. I have tech preferences in some of those too, some save money, some don't. Fuses: my choice is Breaker Type Bussman Fuses which cost maybe 50% more but very worthwhile & convenient in long run by not buying fuses or not having the right Amperage fuse when you really need it. It blew? Reset it.

Complete 200 Watt Solar Panel Kit with 1500W VertaMax Power Inverter for 12 Volt Battery Systems + 10AWG Upgrade
$449.99 + Tax with Free Shipping https://tinyurl.com/yc5avd9r

I would estimate total cost to be around $1100.00 for the 200 Watt kit to include the other parts to complete a 200 Watt system. That is, if you install & do the wiring yourself & not counting tools you might not have on hand. Many items, these days, are mfg'd overseas and is no way of getting around that. There is a Trade War brewing, solar panel prices have increased recently. Fair warning, panels likely will soon rise in cost again.

Notes & Component Technical Opinions:
I will try to explain easy to understand not too technical way on your choices of fuses, fuse box, batteries & wire/cables in another post(s).
My preferences are Monocrystalline solar panels and MPPT Charge Controllers despite their reasonable but higher cost.
WHY? PWM Charge Controller is ~80% efficient, whereas MPPT is >96% efficient. Polycrystalline are about 25% less efficient than Monocrystalline panels and the whole object is to provide maximum energy to your Charge Controller to keep your batteries charged. Mono panels do better in AZ's very hot climate.

There are two Solar product distributors, Windy Nation and Renogy, who I consider to be highly reputable and both companies stand by their products & quality.
I know of their good reputations in the solar tech industry.
They both have very helpful product reps who know their products and are respectful over the phone.
They can and will help you troubleshoot and solve any technical issues, over the phone, which you may run into if you choose to install your system yourself.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of these sellers in any way, I do not & will never earn any money for referrals through any link I provide.

Time for a cup of iced coffee, it's hot :D
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Re: Solar Energy System Planning & Diagrams

#4 Post by Andy F » Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:52 pm

For an appliance(s), its rated Wattage(s) in total are what determines the size Solar System needed. There is also 'SURGE" wattage for appliances with motors, see below.

First, use this page to find out your daily average sun hours & the Sun Calculator also considers average seasonal amount of sun. Here - https://www.wholesalesolar.com/solar-in ... urs-us-map
Find your town or nearby town from dropdown box, click it.

Then, use this Solar System Component Calculator to determine what size Watts/Amp of panels/battery you'd need based on Watts used regularly - https://www.wholesalesolar.com/solar-in ... calculator

Plug in the wattage found on the label of your appliance into the blank fields in Calculator, just fill in the blanks, use the hours of Sun from Calculator to fill in too, and then click the lower right BLUE bar to calculate size system needed to power fridge and or other appliances you entered. The RED bar upper left below the blanks is to reset the input fields to start over with new values. There is a white bar above the red bar to add one or more fields. You can use the values in Appliance Energy Use Chart online, or download here - https://www.efficiencysmart.org/media/d ... -chart.pdf

For the inverter size needed, is determined by the total Wattage of Appliances or other items turned on and used at one time, and SURGE must be taken into account. There is a electrical SURGE when a motor or compressor style appliance first powers on, requiring more power. A general rule of thumb is if you power up a 900 Watt motorized appliance then you'd need a minimum 1000/2000 Watt Inverter. The 1000 is maximum wattage an Inverter can supply ongoing and, 2000 is SURGE wattage.
The same is true for vehicle starting batteries, you might understand SURGE as "Cold Cranking Amps" to start engine. Very similar concept.
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Re: Solar Energy System Planning & Diagrams

#5 Post by Andy F » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:24 pm

Battery, or Battery Bank for Solar System - NOTE!!! This post is a work in progress, when complete, it will be edited to let you know it is completed. About 2 to 3 days from now. I'm getting my photos from a Hosting site.

Please note, this is a series, where each post logically builds on all of the previous posts. Try to understand each post in order given before reading the next post. To skip ahead may cause confusion to even the smartest minds.

When planning a home AC electrical, as in Solar Energy Systems using Solar Panels and Batteries, there are many variables and this post will be a Basic 12 VDC Battery layout using 1 to 4 batteries of Deep Cycle type.
There are a few other types of Batteries, this post only discusses Deep Cycle golf cart type batteries available in 6 VDC or 12 VDC.
:?: If you have Questions :?: head over to the Q & A topic under Energy, and post your Questions.

Battery SAFETY! Like in a vehicle's Battery area, Don't let metal tools touch any wires. Never let ANY RED wire touch the BLACK Ground wire, or allow the RED wire/cable to touch metals, like metal shed's siding or a vehicle's steel frame. To be honest, for real safety, I have a habit of using both Red and Black electrical tape to tape off & insulate the exposed ends of my wires/cables as I work on any wiring jobs with LIVE Power. ALWAYS assume there is LIVE Power.
I really do enjoy laughing and playing at living & ~$7.00 of R & B tape could save my life. I implore you to do the same, as I cannot be responsible for anyone who does not follow suggestions for electrical safety if I am not there to catch you before you fail. It is not that hard to do something as simple as buy some tape & make a habit of using it.
$7.00 versus a life?

Most Solar Systems for a home Shed type or small to medium Workshop will likely be 12 Volts DC system.
Those, along with an Inverter and Charge Controller are convenient for most small home AC appliances & AC electronics.
In this post, explanations are only for 12 Volt Battery Banks for a 12 Volt Solar Panel Parallel arrangement as shown in previous Diagrams.

A few easy Battery & Electrical Terms to get to know:

VDC = Volts Direct Current in Batteries.
Amp = Current supplied by battery is measured in Amperes.
Ah = Ampere hours - Ex: if a battery is rated 200 Ah, without draining battery(s) below 50%, it can supply 1 Amp of current for 100 hours straight, or 5 Amps of current for 20 hours, or 10 Amps of current for 10 hours.
Current = Amps (1000 milli-amps = 1 Amp). Example a regular factory type car stereo will be ~ a 10 Amp current maximum.
Battery Bank = How many Amps can you spend powering equipment for how many Ah in your Bank
(think in terms of money, 1 Penny is 1 Watt, 1 Amp is $1, 100 Amps is $100)
Polarity of Battery Terminals = RED is + Positive; BLACK is - Negative aka GROUND = ZERO VOLTAGE.
AC = Alternating Current like in a home hooked up to 110 VAC city electric company.
Environmental Temperature of batteries is a factor -------------TBContinued here
Watts = How many Watts an appliance uses. Home Electric total bill is measured in Kilo-Watt-Hours used.
KWh is 1,000 Watts for an hour.
Appliances all have a label which states Voltage AC or DC, and also the amount of Current it will draw when running. Example, a hair blow dryer rated @1500 Watts if run for an hour would use 1.5 KWh. A 900 Watt Toaster, if powered on for an hour would use 0.9 KWh.

Battery Quirky Alert! For Deep Cycle batteries, they must be monitored and never drained more than 50%, to prevent damaging batteries &/or shortening their life or killing them. Batteries are expensive, there are some small inexpensive meters available. We'll cross that T when we need to.

Simplest Solar Energy System is a single 12 Volt Solar Panel and one 12 VDC Battery (plus other system components in previous post) is just that, a single 12 VDC Solar Panel charging a single 12VDC battery.

There are both 6 Volt and 12 Volt Deep Cycle batteries available, such as those used in Golf Carts. In all cases below, the Voltage finished setup of the Battery Banks will end up as 12 Volts DC.
Battery Quirk Alert about 2 or more batteries, if you plan on having more than one battery in a bank, you would try to buy them at the same time, or very close to same time. The explanation for that 50% drain Quirk gets a bit complicated.

Series or Parallel connections, a little bit of easy math:

Series: Batteries wired in Series adds VDC but Current remains the same. TWO 6 VDC @ 100 Ah batteries in Series will be 12 VDC @ 100 Ah total.
Think of a regular flashlight, drop 2 to 4 C or D Cell batteries into tube, the battery's flat end is - Negative, the bump on top is + Positive end.
End to end in the tube they go, those would be batteries connected in Series, end to end connections are + to -, and so forth.

Parallel: Two 12 VDC @ 100 Ah Batteries wired in Parallel the Voltage remains the same 12 VDC, but Current adds. Result in Parallel is 12 VDC @ 200 Ah.

NOTE: Whatever batteries you choose, for function, they should all be the same in VDC & Ah.
The following examples are all for finished 12 VDC total voltage Battery Bank, Ah depends on battery(s) you chose to buy for System/Needs
For following Battery Wiring examples, we're using 6 VDC & 12 VDC and @ 100 Ah for ease of understanding:


TWO 12 VDC @ 100 Ah Deep Cycle Batteries wired in Parallel equals 12 Volts DC @ 200 Ah. See cable wiring diagram here... GET - XXXXXX

TWO 6 VDC @100 Ah Deep Cycle Batteries wired in Series equals 12 Volts DC @ 100 Ah total. See cable wiring diagram here...GET - XXXXXX


FOUR 6 VDC @ 100 Ah
Deep Cycle Batteries would be 2 pairs of 2 Batteries in Series, then those 2 pairs are wired Parallel to equal 12 VDC @ 200 Ah. See cable diagram here...GET - XXXXXX

Next post will be choosing the right SIZE Cables for wiring Batteries, the HOW TO's. Soon we'll cover Watts UP with LED lights, a Toaster or a 60 Watt Light Bulb!
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Re: Solar Energy System Planning & Diagrams

#6 Post by Andy F » Sat Sep 22, 2018 8:14 am

Choosing Correct AWG Size Cables & Wiring for use in 12 VDC Solar System This is a work in progress. When finished, I will remove this, and post FINISHED. This is only a basic guide for a 12 VDC System, as always there are variables in different systems. I am getting ready to post the Cabling Diagrams for Battery Bank Cables, for above post.

A Few Wiring Terms to Know
Types of wire insulation for Electrical? My preference will always be TEFLON (FEP) wire insulation. Yes, it costs a bit more, but it does not melt.
AWG = American Wire Gauge, the smaller the number the larger the wires are.
Current Capacity of Wire = The larger the conductors in cable/wire, the more Electrical current it can carry without overheating. There are fairly easy AWG/Current guidelines and are somewhat easier codes to follow, similar to those in home electrical wiring codes.
Watt Meter? Many electrical appliances have a wattage amount listed on them and shows the maximum wattage that a particular appliance will use in an hour. The Kill-A-Watt meter for around $20 is a good one, I use it for appliances or ?? that doesn't have Watts listed on its Label. You can read about it on Amazon here - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00009MDBU/re ... 17b534f1da

WHY is Wire AWG important? Using too small AWG wire, might cause a fire. You might remember hearing about overloaded extension cords that heated up and caused fires in homes. Too many small appliances powered all at once plugged into the cords caused those home fires. Same concept when planning your DC Solar System & calculating needed Cable/Wire sizes in standard AWG.

Online Wire size calculator http://www.solar-wind.co.uk/cable-sizing-DC-cables.html
You need to know the watts of each appliance plugged into ONE circuit, assuming all may be powered on at one time equals Watts-total.
Wire length matters a LOT. Better to overestimate a little bit than underestimate.
To figure out the Watts-total in Amps a leg of a circuit will draw, it is Watts divided by Volts = Amps for the circuit.
Example: 200 Watts divided by 12 VDC would draw 16.66666667 Amps in a 5 meter long wire.
You would need a calculated wire size of 7 AWG, so choose a standard wire size 6 AWG.

Scientific Calculator online https://www.desmos.com/scientific
I give a Scientific calculator, for those who need it for AC which uses "cosine" in formula calculations for wiring in a home where 110 VAC is used.
It has the same functions as a simple math calculator. There is no "enter" or "equal" button to push. This calculator shows the result as you advance through formulas.

I am :lol: at myself, while trying to keep this post simple. It is not as hard as it looks :|
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Re: Solar Energy System Planning & Diagrams

#7 Post by Andy F » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:51 pm

Ratio of 2:1 Shrink Tubing Insulation of bare wire or connections - What Size to use?
Shrink Tubing size chart.jpg
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Re: Solar Energy System Planning & Diagrams

#8 Post by Andy F » Sun Dec 02, 2018 12:16 pm

2 Batteries, 4 Batteries, Series and Parallel
NOTE: I chose this PDF to show the 2 types of Battery Connections. Using a charger aka Battery Minder is also covered.
PDF only - https://www.nyc-arecs.org/batt1.pdf
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Re: Solar Energy System Planning & Diagrams

#9 Post by Andy F » Mon Dec 24, 2018 12:18 am

What good wiring really looks like -
Wire Harness PROPER.jpg
Wire Harness PROPER.jpg (40.02 KiB) Viewed 75 times
[/b][/color]

Infinity Tie Wrap at Junction wiring -
Infinity TIE Wrap breakout junction.jpg
Infinity TIE Wrap breakout junction.jpg (51.64 KiB) Viewed 75 times
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Re: Solar Energy System Planning & Diagrams

#10 Post by Andy F » Mon Dec 24, 2018 12:18 am

BB glitch???
What good wiring really looks like -
Wire Harness PROPER.jpg
[/b][/color]

Infinity Tie Wrap at Junction wiring -
Infinity TIE Wrap breakout junction.jpg
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