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Oldenburg Mom
Oct. 31, 2009, 11:09 AM
Hey, I'll even take the advice of a semi-expert! :lol: Do you play one on TV?

The key to solar lighting seems to be twofold, ... I think:

1. Solar panels.
2. Battery(ies)

The solar panel prices are all OVER the map ... on ebay I can buy them dirt cheap. Online, well, they're more expensive.

Oh, I'm going to put solar lighting in my barn ... it would be just too expensive to hard-wire it.

Can I use a car battery ... ? Yes, I know I'd have to have a "converter" or whatever it's called, that taps into the battery. But holy smokes, everything so confusing ... I just don't know who or what to believe!!!


Thanks, in advance, for any info you think would help.

jazzrider
Nov. 3, 2009, 03:31 PM
I really don't want to be a spoil sport :no:. But we want to light our barn and arena with solar lights, and have been doing research for the last two years. It's SO overwhelming, nothing "easy" is good enough or powerful enough to provide the power/light we need, and you really do need to become an expert to do it yourself. We came to the realization this summer that unless we want to invest in a expert install (and it's expensive), we just aren't going to be able to do it. We're not handy enough, and don't have any friends, family, or aquaintances that are handy enough :winkgrin:, and right now the state of VA has no financial incentives for installing solar. So we've put in on the shelf for now, waiting until we're ready to spend the money. But then, we have regular electric running to our barn right now (though no ring lights). We might have been more motivated if we had nothing.

Good luck!

Dance_To_Oblivion
Nov. 3, 2009, 03:42 PM
I am getting a solar system installed in my barn in the next few weeks, my father had it designed by a professional. So that may be something you want to look into, at least having a professional draw up a plan for you.

Oldenburg Mom
Nov. 4, 2009, 09:32 AM
Thanks both of you for replying.

I don't need a lot of light in my lower barn ... mostly just for mucking and feeding in the winter when it gets dark early. So, I know I don't need an extensive system ... just something simple. DTO, a pro design, I believe, would be prohibitively expensive.

Jazzrider, any recommendations for reading/educational material?

jazzrider
Nov. 4, 2009, 11:27 AM
I think I have a bunch of good sites bookmarked on my laptop at home. I'll try to remember to post them for you -- won't be able to before the weekend though. I have events here at work both tonight and tomorrow.

Equibrit
Nov. 4, 2009, 11:30 AM
Is there some reason these lights don't work ?
http://www.ycasolarlightstore.com/5_LED_Multi_Purpose_Solar_Light_p/3160wrm1.htm

jazzrider
Nov. 4, 2009, 12:08 PM
In the last thread about solar lighting for outdoor arena's, I tried these which are also 5 LED:

http://www.ycasolarlightstore.com/Solar_Spot_Light_p/flp-002.htm

We bought just one to try -- charged it as per good, direct guidance from the store's rep (and follow up) -- and it barely lit the ground just beneath the pole. And we only mounted it about 12 feet up. The light was too blue, too dim. It really just did not cast well, and certaintly didn't spotlight. We were bummed. :no: I will say, though, that that site's customer service was fantastic. They were also bummed it didn't work out.

Equibrit
Nov. 4, 2009, 12:52 PM
I don't imagine that the fixture you chose would be much good as it is not meant for your purpose.

Guilherme
Nov. 4, 2009, 01:30 PM
Hey, I'll even take the advice of a semi-expert! :lol: Do you play one on TV?

The key to solar lighting seems to be twofold, ... I think:

1. Solar panels.
2. Battery(ies)

The solar panel prices are all OVER the map ... on ebay I can buy them dirt cheap. Online, well, they're more expensive.

Oh, I'm going to put solar lighting in my barn ... it would be just too expensive to hard-wire it.

Can I use a car battery ... ? Yes, I know I'd have to have a "converter" or whatever it's called, that taps into the battery. But holy smokes, everything so confusing ... I just don't know who or what to believe!!!


Thanks, in advance, for any info you think would help.

The first thing you need to do is go to the NOAA website and find the chart that gives average sunlight hours for your area. You may well find that solar won't be economical because you don't get enough hours to keep the batteries charged. Remember that it's not just how many hours of daylight you get (that's easy to figure) but how much sunlight do you get (and that's a function of both date and weather).

I did a major research project for myself a few years back as part of a refencing program and wanted to use solar powered pumps to move water into stock tanks. The long and short of the matter was that in our part of the TN Valley I'd have many days where the pumps would not work. It's not uncommon here to have 7 or more consecutive days in our "wet season" where we get no direct sunlight at all. I've even had solar fence chargers "go dead." One look at the NOAA map told me why. :(

If you've got enough sunlight to keep the units functioning, then decide what might work best for you.

Good luck in your project.

G.

Oldenburg Mom
Nov. 4, 2009, 01:39 PM
Jazz and Equibrit,

See, those are both what I call "contained packages" ... they are using LED's only...which is going to limit their life. I tried one of those packages, and the entire system has died within a year, because of the BATTERIES!!!

As near as I can gather, there are four parts to a solar system: the collector thingie, a battery, a converter of some sort, and a light.

The converter allows a charge to be taken from the battery to it's "user", in this case, lights. ANd I understand why they're using LEDs...because they don't require much electricity.

I'm thinking of starting with the collectors ... like these on ebay (http://home.shop.ebay.com/Solar-Panels-/41981/i.html?_nkw=solar+panels&_frs=1&_trksid=p3286.c0.m359). Well, it kinda goes downhill from there ... as it gets REALLY complicated, and hey, my father's an engineer! I grew up with this kinda junk! :lol:

Oldenburg Mom
Nov. 4, 2009, 01:40 PM
The first thing you need to do is go to the NOAA website and find the chart that gives average sunlight hours for your area.

On my way ... THANKS, G.

Update:

I couldn't find anything on NOAA ... if you can, God bless you, will you share it? But I did a search on "what are the average number of hours sunlight in VA" and the answer is it never drops below 50%.

I DID, however, find this (http://www.solar4power.com/solar-power-sizing.html)! Which is going to take me a LOT of time to work through.
AHA! one more clue! This is a good site (http://www.nrel.gov/gis/solar.html)! And they've got a ton of info ... bottom line, the average is about 4 hours.

mellsmom
Nov. 4, 2009, 01:51 PM
For about $400 you can buy a Xantrex 1500 watt portable power pack. Get your electrician to wire your barn and then have him create a plug for the power supply. Charge ppowerpack in house...wheel to barn. Plug cord into power pack, flip on lights and viola....
I have 4 cfl's (in the marine fixtures) and I can run them about 4 hours before I have to recharge the power pack. You can come back later and install solar panels and use them to recharge it and you can also easily add batteries to the system. I however, am opting for real electricity.. as soon as I can get the electrician to COME out and hook it up. I've been operating this way for over a year.

Equibrit
Nov. 4, 2009, 01:56 PM
Some reading; http://www.mysolarbackup.com/?gclid=CM-h04H18Z0CFVhJ2godwEC-1A
(you need to ignore the patriot crap)

mellsmom
Nov. 4, 2009, 01:57 PM
http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/63/p/1/pt/24/product.asp

I bet if you called the company, they can tell you what solar panel to buy. First though I'd try the power pack and see how that works.

Javasmom
Nov. 4, 2009, 01:57 PM
OK, I'll help. I was avoiding this since my husband is the one that knows how this works, but the first thing he'll want to know if how big is your barn... and if you know how many lights you will want. Our barn it 100% solar and BRIGHT, but it's not a huge barn. We designed the system ourselves, but had an electrician wire it (yes, to code) and had help installing the solar panels. The batteries and inverters and charge regulator are kind of easy...

Oldenburg Mom
Nov. 4, 2009, 02:14 PM
OK, I'll help. I was avoiding this since my husband is the one that knows how this works, but the first thing he'll want to know if how big is your barn... and if you know how many lights you will want.

TINY! It's about a million years old and has 7 stalls, which sounds like a lot but isn't. I lilterally want only ... 3-4 lights that would burn a grand total of in case of emergency... 2 hours, at MOST. Heck if it was a real emergency, we would go to the upper barn, which is completely wired. I'm thinking in most cases, 1/2 hour ... an hour.

I don't want to bug your hubby ... he probably has enough to do. But maybe he could shove me in the right direction!

Mellsmom! You're brilliant ... that's a great idea! Look what I found (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002LGCQFS), Mellsmom!!!! What's really fascinating about this find, MM, is that it gives all the SPECs!!!

More updates ... Mellsmom, you've solved the problem. This is one of the best information pages (http://www.donrowe.com/inverters/inverter_faq_printer.html)I've ever found! Granted, it for a company that sells inverters, but the info is still great.

Javasmom
Nov. 4, 2009, 02:24 PM
OK. Technical questions can be answered by my husband. We have two panels. A charge regulator, two batteries and an inverter. We have 5 lights, flourescent, bright. I can chooe to turn on two at a time or all at once with switches placed throughout the barn just like regular power.
We bought almost everthing out or Northern Tool or AltE, and we have the Xantrex inverter and a portable back up power/battery by Xantrex too just in case.

I think our panels are these:
http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200306869_200306869

Our electrician wired the barn like any other barn, but the power comes in from the panel, into the regulator, through the batteries to the inverter. Just like plugs instead of a breaker panel with switches. We started out with one panel, but added another and two batteries to be sure. The panels face south, with a lot of exposure. The batteries recharge extremely quickly. And do not need a totally sunny day to charge, they charge with overcast days too. Pouring rain does equal no charge though. But I have more than enough charge to last the whole day of lights on and off and I run my water pump off solar too. Good luck, it's not hard. And the people at Xanterx can help you engineer your set up. It is what they do. Snow comes off the panels very easy also, that has not been an issue either.

Oldenburg Mom
Nov. 4, 2009, 02:37 PM
Javasmom,

Thank you so very very much for your help. It's very kind of you ... this is going to be my winter project. Ok. maybe not winter, but fall and winter! I've got lots and lots to read... more later. Thanks!!

equusvilla
Nov. 4, 2009, 02:48 PM
I don't want to hi-jack the thread..but I have to ask. Is this possible for a larger barn..one that has a lot of lights, fans, a refrigerator, washer and dryer etc.?

Also - with 1 panel costing over $500.00 for only 80 watts is it economical in the long run??

Javasmom
Nov. 4, 2009, 03:30 PM
yes, we had someone out to evaluare more solar power (free). If we covered the entire south face or our roof (which is NOT large) we would have enough for our entire house, hot water, dryer, etc. There are compaines that will come out and evaluate your solar potential. It totally can be done. For our set up, obvisouly two panels was economical in the long run. To do the house using our barn roof for the panels, it is like a 15 year investment... porbably longer. The same company that came out and evaluated our house solar calculated the payments. It was not appealing/compelling/economical enough for us. Instead we are doing solar here and there to off set our reliance on the power company. hope that helps.

equusvilla
Nov. 4, 2009, 03:40 PM
yes, we had someone out to evaluare more solar power (free). If we covered the entire south face or our roof (which is NOT large) we would have enough for our entire house, hot water, dryer, etc. There are compaines that will come out and evaluate your solar potential. It totally can be done. For our set up, obvisouly two panels was economical in the long run. To do the house using our barn roof for the panels, it is like a 15 year investment... porbably longer. The same company that came out and evaluated our house solar calculated the payments. It was not appealing/compelling/economical enough for us. Instead we are doing solar here and there to off set our reliance on the power company. hope that helps.


yes - it does answer my basic question. We looked at a lot of things when we built our farm 8 years ago... the over $100,000.00 price tag to make the farm 'green' took my breath away. Per your statement, not much has changed. What a shame too. So many people would likely do it if it did not take so much 'green' up front!

If it takes 15 years for a system to pay itself off...obviously barring any breakdowns, malfunctions etc. it is never going to be appealing. We researched both solar and wind energy. Neither was appealing $$.

Javasmom
Nov. 4, 2009, 03:45 PM
actually, there was no green upfront. It's a subsidised program and they pay for the installaion, the materials, etc. and lease it back you to over 15 years. At the end of the 15 years, you can buy out what is left of the loan at a super reduced rate, and be done. The monthly cost was about the same as our monthly electic bill. You might want to look into some of these programs... not sure how my husband found them, but it must not be that hard, there are a lot of houses around me with a ton of solar going on. the barn soalr was not expensive, but we did not build a large barn.

equusvilla
Nov. 4, 2009, 03:58 PM
actually, there was no green upfront. It's a subsidised program and they pay for the installaion, the materials, etc. and lease it back you to over 15 years. At the end of the 15 years, you can buy out what is left of the loan at a super reduced rate, and be done. The monthly cost was about the same as our monthly electic bill. You might want to look into some of these programs... not sure how my husband found them, but it must not be that hard, there are a lot of houses around me with a ton of solar going on. the barn soalr was not expensive, but we did not build a large barn.

Do you know if it is a state run program?

Javasmom
Nov. 4, 2009, 04:13 PM
I think it is a CT state run program.

This is a site that may be able to help you in TX (if that is what state you are in?):
http://www.solarpowerrocks.com/texas/

jazzrider
Nov. 4, 2009, 04:59 PM
I don't imagine that the fixture you chose would be much good as it is not meant for your purpose.

I chose it on the advice and guidance of the company rep, because at the time they believed it would provide the greatest light source for my purpose. :rolleyes:

equusvilla
Nov. 4, 2009, 05:20 PM
I think it is a CT state run program.

This is a site that may be able to help you in TX (if that is what state you are in?):
http://www.solarpowerrocks.com/texas/

Thank you! I am learning a lot!

BTW - your farm is stunning!

Javasmom
Nov. 4, 2009, 05:38 PM
e-villa, thank you. Your place isnt' too shabby either! :)

sisu27
Nov. 4, 2009, 06:00 PM
I just want to say that if I ever come back as a horse I would like to retire at Javasmom's place. That might be the cutest barn ever! Really nice :)