Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Do you need blocking diodes when adding a wind turbine to your DIY solar system?

One of forum members, Ladyhawk, brought up a great discussion this week. And as always one members jumped right in and gave a priceless response. Where are you finding this anywhere else on the internet?

Ladyhawk ask....

If I add a wind turbine to my system, do I need to put blocking diodes on each one of my Harbor Freight solar panels? I had planned to hook my turbine up direct to a 12 volt element but have been told that it a bad idea due to stalling turbine, overheating wires, etc.

Member Hillbilly Gene responds....

Yes, you need at least two diodes if you add a Wind Turbine to your system.

A diode will “block” voltage if the voltage is more positive on the diode’s cathode side (bar side) than on its anode side (arrowhead side).

If the sun is out, and no wind blowing, you want the wind turbine diode to stop solar panel voltage from pushing current into the wind turbine.

If the wind is blowing at night you want the solar panel diodes to stop wind turbine voltage from pushing current into the solar panels.

The internal diode in the Harbor Freight charge controller stops battery voltage pushing current back into the solar panels if those panels have no diodes added, which is the way the Harbor Freight kit comes out of the box.

The solar panels can be shorted together at their outputs and two panel diodes removed to get to a two diode system, but doing so will then not stop the solar panels from pushing current into each other if one or more of the panels are shaded.  This Harbor Freight solar panel backfeeding was discussed here.

I would recommend using the four diodes, but for the best results I recommend a separate charge controller for the wind turbine.

Come and join us on the DIY Solar Energy Forum and ask that tough DIY solar system question. We have qualified members who are willing to help!

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Off Grid 100% Solar Powered Retail Store " The Laurel Mountain Shop"

George took an old country store,and upgraded inside and out. And he runs off 100% solar power.

Everything You Need to Produce Your Own Solar Energy.....Check Out New World Solar Power!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Carl's Solar Powered Automatic Gate Opener

Probably the two most common reasons for people getting started in making their own solar energy is getting that quote from an electrician to run power to the new shed or out building on the back of the property or getting power out to the new electric automatic driveway gate opener.

Today's video comes from our forum member Carl Masters as he walks us through his set up using the Mighty Mule MM600ETPRO automatic gate opener and the Harbor Freight 45 watt solar kit.

Carl's original post......

I bought a 45 Watt Harbor Freight kit a little over two years ago to see if it would power a gate opener. It is very overkill for the application and I am extremely happy with it so I thought I would post.

My gate is a 2" square steel framed solid 6' cedar privacy fence panel that is 14 feet long on Bulldog hinges (like chain link gate hinges - no bearings). It hangs on a 6" steel tube post in concrete. The opener is a Mighty Mule MM600ETPRO setup that is cycled 6 to 8 times a day. The opener is way under powered for the weight of the gate and sometimes needs human help on windy days.

The Harbor Freight solar kit keeps the single RV battery charged to upper 12's to upper 13 volts at all times. The opener doesn't even seem to affect it. I occasionally hook my RV's batteries to the system to keep them topped up too. I am very happy with the kit. It has been trouble free even during light hail using the supplied controller. I literally haven't had to do a thing to it.

I have another one of the old aluminum framed kits (still in the box) in the garage. I am thinking about setting it up on to of a carport my tractor and mowers live in to keep batteries charged and power LED cameras and IR spotlights for our security system.

Everything You Need to Produce Your Own Solar Energy.....Check Out New World Solar Power!


Saturday, January 5, 2013

What's going on at the DIY Solar Energy Community Forum

It's cold and miserable outside in much of the country, but that's not keeping the members at the DIY Solar Energy Forum from getting ready for spring time. So what are our 1,100 active members talking about?

Harbor Freight Charge Controller as a PDU? 

Ladyhawk is having trouble with her Harbor Freight charge controller. Can you help?

12 Volt Deep Cycle Batteries, Best Price/ Place to Buy? 

Finding a battery is no problem when you have a Walmart, Costco or Sams Club near by. Where do you find a good deep cycle battery?

Solar hot air window heater

No, we don't just talk about solar systems. Featured member Bill K. is always coming up with something new and this week it's solar window heaters. This looks easy and affordable.

Xantrex C35 Diversion Question 

We are surprised this isn't more popular, the Xantrex C series controllers have a feature that diverts the incoming charge to a 12 volt element in a water heater, or anywhere else you want to send it, when your batteries reach full charge. Do you know how to wire this?

Visit the forum and put our search bar to work, chances are you'll find the answer you are looking for at The DIY Solar Energy forum

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Proper Battery Wiring Technique

There is nothing more important when it comes to building your DIY solar system then cable and wire sizing. One of our featured members on the DIY Solar Energy Forum, Dale Marshall, has written an article/discussion that highlights the most important aspect of successfully connecting multiple batteries. Please feel free to join the conversation with your input or questions...... 

I have noticed lately that many people are having problems with low power issues, Improper battery charging or certain batteries in your bank of batteries failing. I have dealt with these issues and have done some experiments and also lots of Searching down best methods of charging and power draw issue.
I have Found only 1 solution that works correctly since. It also makes for even battery charging and equal power draw across the battery bank.
I have 2 Diagrams I want to share with you here .
The only rule you have to follow is this....Use proper gauge wire and all wires going to the Positive and Negative Combiners Must be of " EQUAL LENGTHS" Including any wires tying 2 batteries in series You know those 6-8 inch jumper cables must be 6 or 8 inch.
It is of my opinion and researching. This is the only true way to make you batteries have a long and reared life span. And you can enjoy for years to come.

Everything You Need to Produce Your Own Solar Energy.....Check Out New World Solar Power! -->

Friday, November 9, 2012

Adjusting Your Voltage Reading on the Harbor Freight Charge Controller

We hear a lot of complaints from DIY Solar Enthusiast about incorrect readings on their Harbor Freight charge controllers.....better known on our forum as the PDU. The "Power Distribution Unit".

But complain no more, forum Bill K. shows us [see photo] how you can take the cover off that unit and where you can adjust the cal pot.

Joins us on the forum and put our search bar in the upper right corner to work for answers to most of your problems with your DIY solar system.

See you on the forum!

Everything You Need to Produce Your Own Solar Energy.....Check Out New World Solar Power!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

They're Back....145 Watt Solar Panels for Only $160 each includes FREE Shipping

Now is the time, no more excuses. If you have been thinking about getting started making your own solar energy now is the time. We will be blowing out our wildly popular 145 watt solar panels for only $160 dollars each. And that includes free shipping.

It's a little bit different deal this time, they are only available in pairs and will include MC4 "Y" cables. Total for two panels with Y cables is $328.00 to your door.

Features include industry leading power tolerances of +3/-0%. 3 year warranty on workmanship, 90% after 15 years power warranty. ISO 9001:2000 certified.

Panel dimensions are  58.27"  x  26.58"  x  1.38" and weighs 26.4 pounds.

DM Solar modules offer industry leading performance and proprietary design. They boast of a high conversion efficiency, heavy duty anodized frames, high impact tempered glass and weather resistant junction boxes for easy, safe field interconnection and promising years of reliable service.

Use this link for your purchase right now!

So don't miss out, you will be making your own solar energy next week!

Everything You Need to Produce Your Own Solar Energy.....Check Out New World Solar Power!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Must see....Big Moe's Lectric Leopard

Is this the future of the average solar family 10, 20 maybe 30 years from now? Most of you are familiar with Big Moe, one of our forum members over at The DIY Solar Energy Forum. He is best known as the man with the worlds largest collection of Harbor Freight solar panels which now also features the wildly popular DM Solar 145 watt solar panels. You can usually catch a glimpse of his set up as it is more often then not the banner photo across the top of the page at the forum.

Well now Big Moe [the Michael Jordan of the DIY solar community] has taken it to the next level. Buy purchasing a "Lectric Leopord" electric car. These cars were manufactured by the U.S. Electricar Company in Massachusetts on the rolling chassis of a Renault LeCar.

Not only will Big Moe be charging the battery bank in the Lectric Leopard with his massive solar set up but the cars battery bank becomes a alternate battery bank for the whole house in a pinch.

Please feel free to come over to the forum and join the discussion and follow the changes that are coming as Big Moe has already planned a voltage change....

From Moe's post....They orignally were 48v with 16 - 6v batteries. This one has been converted over to a modern controller board and is now 72v with 12 - 6v batteries. I will be switching them to 9 - 8v batteries soon and will used these 16 Trojan T-105's for a second battery bank on my solar array.

Just click here to join the discussion!

 Everything You Need to Produce Your Own Solar Energy.....Check Out New World Solar Power!

Keeping Food & Beverages Cold with Solar Power

Is a small DIY solar system enough to keep a refrigerator going? Well, it looks like it depends on what frig you pick.

New video from John J......Keeping food fresh & beverages cold in camp with solar power.

Everything You Need to Produce Your Own Solar Energy.....Check Out New World Solar Power!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The new electric bill is in.....and it don't look good for "Mr. Big Grid"

Sick of hearing "it takes $20,000 to do any solar on your home?" And what does a $20,000 grid tie system get you if the power goes out? Darkness. When the likes of Solar City or your local solar installer is selling you on a system that should be your first question....what happens when storms knock out our grid power. And while a small do it yourself system is no replacement for your commercial power it will keep your family from being plunged into darkness.

So if you did take up creating your own solar energy as a hobby or a project, could you afford it? Can you save money in the process? Well, check out our forum member Bill K.s recent electric bill [posted below], he is kind enough to post it monthly. Bill has a simple DIY solar system and recently added a small solar water heating unit. Here is the conversation.

Check out his bill and you be the judge. Then come over and become part of the friendliest most helpful Do it yourself solar energy community. But be forewarned don't click here if you don't need another hobby or addiction.

Everything You Need to Produce Your Own Solar Energy.....Check Out New World Solar Power!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Will Harbor Freight Solar Panels Back Feed Each Other?

From guest blogger Hillbilly Gene......

The Inquiry: Will HF Solar Panels Back Feed Each Other?

No one, to my knowledge, has ever conducted a test to see if three solar arrays, such as included in the Harbor Freight 45 Watt kit, will interact and back feed current from one panel to another. I know that the HF charge controller has “blocking” diodes to prevent a nominal 12 volts from the battery from potentially feeding current back to the solar panels at night.

Logic would suggest that if back feeding were not possible, then HF would not have included those diodes. If back fed current were possible with a nominal 12 volts, then why wouldn’t the 23.5 Voc of one panel back feed another panel being shaded, and not producing 23.5 Voc?

Are those blocking diodes in the HF CC there for another reason? Such as if someone inadvertently shorts the solar panel input wiring? Instant smoke and fire inside the HF CC would result without those diodes; not counting melted wire back to the location of the “short”. I know this scenario would only happen if the negative of the battery was also connected to the negative of the panels, but anything is possible. Anyone concerned with grounding issues might do this; such as grounding the negative of the solar panels and also grounding the negative of the battery at the same point. That wiring would set up that Murphy’s law scenario.
I decided to conduct a test to see for myself.

Test Instrumentation:

My instrumentation was fairly simple:

Two HF 98025 Multimeters:

One was used with the 10ADC function; the other was used as a regular voltmeter.

One Harbor Freight 45-Watt Solar Panel Kit. This kit has been installed and working beyond the six-month “seasoning” period; the time when the electrical output of the 3 panels are expected to be permanently reduced by 20% from their like-new output. This HF kit is assembled per the HF manual, pointed at the sun with no particular fussing as to exact angle.

Brown corrugated cardboard: large enough to cover just one HF panel.

Miscellaneous. This is a category for anything used, but not specifically mentioned, such as jumper wires with alligator clips. Muttering and cussing belongs here.

Testing Parameters:
First, all three panels were cleaned with “Windex”

Testing consisted of reading the combined voltage of all the parallel panels and reading the amps of one panel being shaded or not shaded.

Shading was a piece of corrugated cardboard that just fit over one panel. It was placed on top of that panel, with no provision to secure it. Light may have filtered into the panel around the cardboard edge, but I made sure that no sunlight was directly on the panel. The one-panel shading is labeled “drastic” shading because I doubt any panel would receive that much individual shade in any normal installation.

Volts and amps were recorded with the cardboard on or off the panel, and with the rocker switch of the HF CC on or off. Rocker switch “on” was the battery-charging voltage; Rocker switch “off” simulated Voc, or no charging.

This test was conducted on the 17 of December. That’s close enough to the winter solstice (21 December) to be at a time when incoming solar power is weakest, because the earth’s axis is tilted as far north as it will get annually. A Photon spit out by the sun takes 8.3 minutes to reach earth and slows down when it reaches the earth’s atmosphere. Since the earth is tilted away from the sun during the winter it has effectively more atmosphere to travel through, and loses energy.

The sun’s Photons just don’t have enough energy to knock too many electrons silly in the panel this time of year, but the dazed electrons that do get whacked make up the current flow from the panels to the charge controller.

Time was about 9:30 – 10:30 am. Latitude in northern hemisphere: draw a line between Kansas City and Indianapolis, and you’re close enough. I believe anywhere mid-country between Louisiana and the Canadian border would give approximately the same results. It was a clear, sunny, day. Ambient temperature was 32°F.
The circuit wiring used is shown in Fig. 1

Test Number 1:
With a HF 98025 Multimeter on the 10A scale (reading panel #1 amps), and a second HF 98025 Multimeter set to 200 VDC (reading the parallel 3-panel-array voltage at the charge controller).

Here is the Test #1 data I collected:

The yellow-highlighted results of Test 1-D indicated that the shaded panel #1 wasbeing back fed current from the other panels. Minus amps means the current is going in the opposite direction from Test 1-B. The Volts of all the panels also apparently dropped about 0.2 volts.

Reasons for Test Number 2:
I wanted to see exactly what that –0.02 amp reading (-20ma) in Test 1-D really was. The HF 98025 meter will read up to 9.99 amps on the normal 10-Amp scale with a precision of ± two rightmost digits, meaning that –0.02 reading could be –0.12 or it could be –0.00.
So I devised another test to determine that amps value given in Test 1-D more precisely.

Test Number Two:

Start of theory:
First, the theory guiding this test: I know that E = I x R. So if I make R = 1 ohm, then E = I x one. Any voltage that is read across a one-ohm resistor can be interpreted as current, because the formula now reduces to E = I. It’ll be a cheap Hillbilly Ammeter Substitute.

A 1-watt resistor was chosen because W = I (squared) x R. Since Panel #1 has a rating of 1-amp, my equation now becomes W = (1-amp) x (1-amp) x (1-ohm) = 1 Watt, which will easily handle solar panel #1 current.

And then I assembled the circuit as shown in Fig. 2.

Using the HF #1 Voltmeter setting as an Ammeter setting:

The HF #1 Multimeter was set to either the 200m DCV or the 2000m DCV range as needed. Normally the 200m range displays up to 0.20 volts, and the 2000m range displays up to 2.00 volts. Because of my setup, I can now read and instantly interpret the meter either as a 200-milliamp (0.200 amp) range or as a 2000-milliamp range (2.000 amp, actually 1.999 amp) respectively (m = 1/1000), rather than voltage. The HF meter on these ranges has an accuracy of ± one rightmost digit, which is much better than the 10A DC range accuracy of ± tworightmost digits.

The polarity of the HF #1 meter was selected to read positive current from the panel to the charge controller. Any resistance in a working circuit will have a voltage drop, and that voltage drop will have a polarity to oppose the source voltage. The source voltage in this case is the voltage from solar panel #1. If the voltage across that resistor switches polarity it means current is going intothe solar panel.

End of sermon theory.

The testing parameters duplicated Test Number 1 parameters.
Test Number 1 is repeated here for easy reading and comparing with Test Number 2

Results of Test 2:
Comparisons of both tests:

Focusing on the yellow highlighted numbers:
Test 1-D indicated panel back feeding of -20ma intopanel #1 by panels 2 and 3, but the exact amount was either inconclusive or suspect. CC not charging, panel #1 drastically shaded, Voc = 23.1
“OL” in Test 2-B stands for overload, or more than that meter setting of 200mv could read
Test 2-C indicated back feeding of –2.2ma intopanel #1. CC charging, panel #1 drastically shaded. Note that Test 1-C under the same conditions did not indicate any back feeding, because the 10-A ammeter setting in 1-C can’t read 0.002 amps, although the polarity was –000.
Test 2-D confirms Test 1-D that back feeding isoccurring and the amount is –21.4ma.
That cheap Hillbilly Ammeter Substitute mentioned in the Test Number Two Theorysection worked as planned by verifying panel #1 back feeding of over –20ma. See test 1-D vs. test 2-D.

My conclusion is: The HF Solar Panels WILL back feed, given the right conditions. Murphy’s law rules here, and diodes are cheap. I will therefore wire my permanent kit in the following manner:

If I have to use a combiner box I will install the diodes and fuses in that box. If I don’t need a combiner box I will place the diodes and fuses somewhere convenient near the charge controller.

I want to redo this testing about June 21, when the solar energy is at it’s maximum. My thoughts are that there will be more amps back feeding because there will be more current available from the uncovered panels at that time of year. The sun’s Photons has more muscle.

As usual, I will be grateful for anyone pointing out any trashing of theory or for any sins of omission. I try to include everything, even if it means being long winded.

Hillbilly Gene

P.S. For those that don’t know, Murphy’s lawstates: “If anything can go wrong, it will”.
Some will say Murphy was an optimist.

Please join us over on the Do it yourself solar energy forum and check out all of Hillbilly Genes articles.

Everything You Need to Produce Your Own Solar Energy.....Check Out New World Solar Power!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Forum Member Big Moe on the Harbor Freight Company Blog

Everybody here at Do it yourself solar energy [a division of New World Solar] are so happy for one of our forum members Big Moe. He is being featured on the Harbor Freight company blog. Why you ask? Because Big Moe has the largest array of Harbor Freight solar panels in the world. Big Moe [aka Michael Jordan] is also one of the leading educators in the DIY solar energy field. No matter how big his system gets he also takes pride in taking time to answer the most basic question and helping someone get started making their own solar energy.

Here's the article on the Harbor Freight blog.......

Great Caesar's ghost-- what IS that?!

It all started when Michael Jordan a.k.a. "Big Moe" decided to power his barn. He'd been using it as a workshop for his cars and other projects, and he wanted to get juice over there without having it tied to the grid. The barn did, in fact, have its own meter, but Big Moe opted to keep it turned off. Instead, he started clipping Harbor Freight coupons and bought 45 Watt Solar Panel Kits. After a year, he had purchased 45 kits-- that's 135 solar panels!
"I could have purchased larger panels from other sources, but I felt that the affordability and flexibility of buying from HF was better for my budget."
Big Moe then created an on-roof rack system and installed all of the solar panels to it. Once the system was built and all the bugs were worked out of the inverters and battery banks, he found he had a lot more power than he needed in the barn. But, he made sure none of it went to waste.
"At that point I decided to also power my house. I now power my home and my barn from the HF panels. To be fair, I do not power the home 100%. I still run all of the 220v appliances from the grid, but all other aspects are run from my solar arrays."

How Big Moe Did It
  • The solar system consists of two arrays with a total of 135 HF 15w panels (75 panels on array #1, 60 panels on array #2).
  • 2 @ 80 amp solar charge controllers
  • 12 @ 2v batteries in a single battery bank that holds 2220 AH of power.
  • 1 @ 5000w pure sine inverter for the barn.
  • 2 @ 3000w pure sine inverters for the house.
  • 1 @ Chicago Electric 400W Continuous Power Inverter for an outside security light
  • The panels are wired in series/parallel in sets of 3. This allows for a 43v input at load and 62v open circuit voltage. The controllers drop the voltage and up the amperage for the 12v battery bank.
  • 2/0 welding cable for wiring and the battery bank is connected to each other using copper bus bars.
  • 2 @ wind generators to help diversify for wind and solar. They are a 600w and a 800w wind & solar unit.
  • The wind generators are connected to one wind and solar charge controller.
  • The power to the home is fed through service wire to a breaker box that is located in the home, but is separate from the standard breaker box.
He can feed any circuit in the home with either grid power or his own alternative power. So if the battery bank is running lower he is able to selectively change circuits from alternative to grid power.
Been thinking about adding a power source to your property, campsite or other location? Consider Harbor Freight's solar panel kits, individual 15 Watt Solar Panels and other Chicago Electric solar power equipment for your project!

You can visit Big Moe's page on the DIY Solar Energy Forum for more information, or if you have questions.

Everything You Need to Produce Your Own Solar Energy.....Check Out New World Solar Power!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Do you understand the difference? Pure sine wave vs. modified sine wave power inverters

Most inverters convert 12 volt DC power into 120 volt AC power, similar to the power supplied from your home electrical outlets. Pure sine power inverters deliver AC power that is identical to your home (grid/commercial) electrical power in true sine wave form.
Sample Appliances

Compared to the traditional inverters, which output in modified sine wave, AC power in pure sine wave is more similar to commercial power. The electronic appliances run cleaner, cooler, and quieter when running on pure sine power. As a result, pure sine inverters save energy costs and extend the life of appliances.
Pure Sine Wave & Modified Sine Wave

The pure sine inverter also reduces electronic interference, making it a better alternative for operating sensitive audio/video equipment and medical devices. Appliances with dimmers, speed controls, and certain battery chargers may require pure sine power to operate.
Cleaner, cooler, and quieter appliances.

Pure sine inverters are especially designed to increase the efficiency and running time of electronic appliances and motors. Most pure sine wave inverters operate at less than 3–5% of Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) on average and 90% efficiency across the line.

Everything You Need to Produce Your Own Solar Energy.....Check Out New World Solar Power!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Converting a Table Lamp to 12 Volt using Harbor Freight Kit CFL Lights

From guest blogger Jeremiah Simpkins......

After the power outage on the east coast due to the severe storms that swept through over the weekend before the 4th of July, it was nice to have the Harbor Freight 45 watt kit and a deep cycle battery to charge my phone, use my laptop and television (conservatively), run a fan and one of the Harbor Freight 12 volt CFLs.

Of course, the included wiring for the bulbs isn't exactly aesthetic nor usable for general lighting in a home. So, I decided to pick up a used lamp from our local Goodwill.

As you can see, I cut the AC plug off and attached battery clamps to each wire (correctly after figuring out where the positive and negative connections were in the bulb socket with a multimeter). My first choice was to get a 12 volt plug from Radio Shack, yet my local store didn't carry them for some reason. So instead I picked up a set of battery clamps and used them instead.

Needless to say, it works, I have the lamp directly connected to my battery and make use of it every evening. Plus it works better than the sockets included with the kit.

Check out all of Jeremiahs solar projects on the DIY Solar Energy Forum

Everything You Need to Produce Your Own Solar Energy.....Check Out New World Solar Power!