Solar powered shacks

ATUs, PSUs, Rotators, Test Equipment, components, etc
User avatar
VK5PJ
Forum Diehard
Posts: 762
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:38 pm
Location: Barossa Valley S.A
Contact:

Solar powered shacks

Post by VK5PJ » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:44 am

Hello,
I am embarking on a long term project to reduce the electricity usage of my radio shack. A recent power bill highlighted that my usage may have gone over the top with 3 radio left on all day, along with a PC and GPS for 10MHz stabilisation for WSPR..

A recent advert on VKHAM has allowed my to buy some building blocks from a fellow ham here in S.A. This consists of three 12v solar panels (2x 80W and 1x 140W), 4x 100AH GEL deep cycle batteries and 2x 150AH vented lead acids batteries (from a bank closure I believe) and a charge regulator. Also included was a small wind generator, the sort you find on pleasure boats along with its own charge regulator.

Well I am not the first and probably not the last to try this so would be interested to hear from others who may have ventured down the solar path as to how it went for you and any pitfalls you found that I might be able to avoid :mrgreen:
Peter Sumner, vk5pj
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.
- Winston Churchill

VK7HH
Forum Diehard
Posts: 381
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Southern Tasmania
Contact:

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK7HH » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:53 am

Hi Peter,
I highly recommend find ex-grid tie solar panels from Gumtree or from a solar installer (give them a call). Usually they pull them out for one reason or another and are happy to sell them for $50 a pop for sometimes up to 250W panels. I bought several down here years ago, so for $200 you can get a 1kW system.

I also use Fangpusun charge controllers (equivalent to Victron but chinese). They seem to be RF quiet, well at least the one I got was (blue).

Regards
Hayden VK7HH

User avatar
VK5PJ
Forum Diehard
Posts: 762
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:38 pm
Location: Barossa Valley S.A
Contact:

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK5PJ » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:34 pm

Hi Hayden,
how did you go managing the higher DC voltage from the grid tied panels as I belive they are in the 30V range?

I will have about 1.5KW of them soon as we are removing a small solar system to put in a new 5KW system :crazy:
Peter Sumner, vk5pj
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.
- Winston Churchill

VK7HH
Forum Diehard
Posts: 381
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Southern Tasmania
Contact:

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK7HH » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:43 pm

Hi Peter,
The charge controller I have allows up to 100V on the solar input. There are some model of controllers that allow up to 150V or more so you can put a decently sized series string on them.

Hayden

User avatar
VK5PJ
Forum Diehard
Posts: 762
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:38 pm
Location: Barossa Valley S.A
Contact:

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK5PJ » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:32 pm

Hello
for those interested, this site seems to give a good break down of those chinese solar regulators that Hayden mentioned.. will have to check on the models of the regulators I have...

http://www.quan-diy.com/misc/scc/fangpusun.htm
Peter Sumner, vk5pj
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.
- Winston Churchill

VK7HH
Forum Diehard
Posts: 381
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Southern Tasmania
Contact:

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK7HH » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:41 pm

That is the model I have -

http://www.quan-diy.com/misc/scc/fangpusun.htm#blue

The 100/50 blue... I got it from Aliexpress.

User avatar
VK5PJ
Forum Diehard
Posts: 762
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:38 pm
Location: Barossa Valley S.A
Contact:

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK5PJ » Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:20 pm

the charge regulator I have is a Power Tech MMPT 30A MP3735, which looks to be the same as Jaycar sell... looks like I am limited to 12V solar panels for the time being while I get things going.. now all I need is some panel mounting hardware from some where in VK5 than can adapt to two different panel thicknesses.
Peter Sumner, vk5pj
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.
- Winston Churchill

VK2CSW
Forum Diehard
Posts: 386
Joined: Sat Jan 23, 2010 5:10 pm
Location: QF56NI - Mt Colah NSW

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK2CSW » Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:10 am

Keep an eye on these guys.

https://www.4wdsupacentre.com.au/products/solar.html

They import Chinese stuff but the 110w fixed (as opposed to folding or mat type) panels are around $110 to $120.

They seems to do price cycles with a discount and free shipping appearing from time to time.

I have bought a bunch of non-solar stuff from them and it all arrives within a few days.

Cheers
______________________________________________________________
Colin
VK2CSW
Where are we going? And exactly why am I in a hand-basket?

User avatar
VK6ZFG
Frequent Poster
Posts: 188
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:18 am

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK6ZFG » Mon Oct 01, 2018 12:25 pm

Hi

I have been using solar systems for some time.

The current solar system consists of a bank of solar panels which is connected to two battery banks separated by some distance but interconnected by heavy cables. The main bank being in the shed and a smaller sized one in the shack. I use two identical voltage regulators, one at each location. These are set to operate at identical voltages so to charge the load end that needs it. These are modified kit regulators I purchased from Oatley Electronics (K009?). The voltage response has been made much for sensitive and switch very fast. Basic temperature compensation has been added along with some additional bypass capacitor filtering. They produce no electrical interference. There is also a SMPS set to a low voltage charge the batteries should the voltage drop too low. This SMPS required extra filtering even though it is sold for use on commercial radios sites. It was found to produce electrical noise under some part load conditions.

I also periodically use solar power when at Bremer Bay for lighting , fridge radios etc. Initially I used to take the shack regulator down there but as this was inconvenient so a purchased a commercially made 30A regulator. This provides easy adjustment of voltage points but provides nowhere near as close battery voltage regulation as the modified ones. It does however provide for a load cutoff which is handy to avoid running the batteries too low.

The commercial 30A solar regulator generated very high electrical noise levels all the way up from the AM broadcast band at its slow switching rate. Pass capacitors have been added for each trip to resulting in progressive noise reductions. The noise left last time was is in the low MF frequencies but hopefully next trip will show that this has been fixed too.

The commercial 30A solar regulator operates in the negative line unlike the other ones in the positive line making the two types incompatible with each other. It is not possible to have a mixed system using the same solar panels.
73s
Igor
VK6ZFG

User avatar
VK5PJ
Forum Diehard
Posts: 762
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:38 pm
Location: Barossa Valley S.A
Contact:

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK5PJ » Mon Nov 19, 2018 8:10 am

Time for an update - 18-Nov 2018

have built a rack for my batteries that sits outside my shack that provides shelter and ventialtion for may batteries and ancillary equipment, it includes a vehicle style (Narva brand) battery isolation Key switch so I can if needed cut the battery suppy to the shack. Inside the shack I have built a power distribution system onto a cheap nylon cutting board that consists of two brass screw terminal strips (electrical neutral link strips used in big industrial power boards) and a 50 amp automotive circuit breaker (photo to follow). The cutting board then screws to the shack wall to give me a well insulated and hopefully safe system.

In a moment of sheer stupidity I fried the better of the two solar chargers that I purchased from Doc, vk5bug through a slip of the fingers that saw the +ve feed from the solar panel touch the temp sensor input terminals... good night one regulator.. :roll:

Have a single 130w solar panel sitting on the slope of the shed roof and it is now charging my batteries via the not so flash solar charger. The IC-7100 has now been on the batteries doing WSPR for 24 hours and will move the IC-910 to the battery bank soon.

Looks like it is time to buy a better charger and get the old PV solar panels of the house roof and keep this project going.
Peter Sumner, vk5pj
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.
- Winston Churchill

VK7HH
Forum Diehard
Posts: 381
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Southern Tasmania
Contact:

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK7HH » Mon Nov 19, 2018 8:29 am

Nice work Peter.
You've nearly convinced me to move my radios over to my battery bank system, and install my second panel on the roof. Currently one panel on the ground. I've had too many other things to do!

Regards
Hayden

ZL3OZ
Forum Novice
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:55 am

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by ZL3OZ » Mon Nov 19, 2018 8:44 am

Hi you Blokes.

My take on it is a hybrid system. Two big 100AH celltower 12V batteries (swap outs) split between two groups of radio gear, one the main 7300 radio and main dual bander and the other is all the ancilliary stuff like extra dual banders and spare old Yaesu 757, scanner and transverters. My distribution panel is on switchboard formica. A single 5A solar panel on roof feeds by a smaller Jaycar regulator via two diodes split to both batteries to keep them sweet when not being used.
When I switch on mains in the shack the two banks are linked together with a big contactor and the shack (smallish 20A) linear PSU set around 14V is connected in parallel with both banks. That charges any depletion in the batteries while I am operating normally on mains but the load is shared between the batteries (for peaks) and the PSU. Old Heathkit linear amp works on mains only.
If we get a power cut I can still operate radios at barefoot level for a while and the split means if its a disaster one battery can be unloaded and held as emergency reserve, just by switching off the secondary radio gear it supplies.

Intention is more panels in future, solid state amps and a solar remote 7100 on 5Ghz link in the countryside mainly for quiet RX but with barefoot and wire TX capability hf, and especially for 6 and 2.

Ken ZL3OZ

User avatar
VK5PJ
Forum Diehard
Posts: 762
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:38 pm
Location: Barossa Valley S.A
Contact:

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK5PJ » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:03 pm

well the things you find when doing odd searches.. I was looking for a network connected volt meter so I can monitor my batteries... turns out if you ask some one can provide and some versions have ammeter and a relay for not too big of an expense.. ( 55 euros )

http://www.digital-measure.com/index.html

any one interested in a bulk purchase :D
Peter Sumner, vk5pj
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.
- Winston Churchill

User avatar
VK5PJ
Forum Diehard
Posts: 762
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:38 pm
Location: Barossa Valley S.A
Contact:

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK5PJ » Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:23 pm

Solar chargers NOT to buy...

I purchased a genuine Victron Blue 150/50 (150V max in and 50 A man charge current).. for the first few weeks it had been okay while using a single 130W 12V panel as the solar source. Over the last few days I have ramped up the solar system with two large 175W 38V panels (from our old grid tied solar system)

Now when the charge cycle starts I get a gradual build up of noise across 50MHz to be a constant S5 during the day and it then goes back to normal background level in the evening... Grrr Victon you have made a nasty RFI source..

Have not tried any form of chokes / capacitors as yet.
Peter Sumner, vk5pj
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.
- Winston Churchill

VK7HH
Forum Diehard
Posts: 381
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Southern Tasmania
Contact:

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK7HH » Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:43 pm

Hi Peter,
That's a bit annoying.

The Victron Blue "copy" that I have, i.e. the Fangpusun
Image

Doesn't seem to have any noise at all on it. I have had 2 x 235W panels connect to it and had no noise on 6M (or any band for that matter). My previous two MPPT controllers made a whole heap of noise on the output. The controller just sits under the radio bench, nothing special, with about 10-15m of solar cable to the panels.

VK4CRO
Frequent Poster
Posts: 105
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:26 am
Location: 282 Boston Rd.Belmont ,

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK4CRO » Sun Jan 20, 2019 7:12 am

My local scrap dealer has thousands of used panels , I checked volages on a few that were in sunlight 140vdc
so still very usable and CHEAP
Ron Cro
Cheers
Ron cro

VK4TI
Forum Diehard
Posts: 717
Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:25 am

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK4TI » Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:15 am

I bought some 310 watt paneles @ 145v fo only $60.00 added some used battery's off are cycler and a new regulator from ebay , instant cheap power . Just had to ring around some of thelarger panel suppliers to find used fresh off a building .

User avatar
VK5PJ
Forum Diehard
Posts: 762
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:38 pm
Location: Barossa Valley S.A
Contact:

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK5PJ » Sun Feb 03, 2019 7:38 am

Feb 2019 update,
I am all but of the air on 50MHz the noise from this Victron BLUE solar charger is not good, have tried toroid's in the input CCT and they had little or no impact.

Dealer has no suggestions and shows no interest in helping out, Victron on line support / forum tell me they are perfect RFI wise but I am unsure if they mean when the is a strong RF field of whether it is RF emission..

DO NOT buy a Victron Solar charger if you are on HF / 50 MHz.. I can just detect a lift in noise on 144 MHz.
Peter Sumner, vk5pj
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.
- Winston Churchill

User avatar
VK3ZAZ
Forum Diehard
Posts: 799
Joined: Sat Dec 18, 2010 1:46 pm
Location: Hamilton Victoria Australia

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK3ZAZ » Sun Feb 03, 2019 4:42 pm

Sobering thoughts for future independance.
We are on grid with 24 panels radio is on daylight to dark positive balance with provider but only summer.
Tread your own path :om:

VK7HH
Forum Diehard
Posts: 381
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Southern Tasmania
Contact:

Re: Solar powered shacks

Post by VK7HH » Sun Feb 03, 2019 7:21 pm

VK5PJ wrote:
DO NOT buy a Victron Solar charger if you are on HF / 50 MHz..
I’m intrigued now with the difference between my “blue copy” 100/50 Fangpusun with no noise detectable on 6m or 2m and the more expensive Victron.

An amateur had an issue here with a Midnite solar controller at a repeater site. He had to remount it in a shielded box with proper decoupling and toroids if I recall on both the DC cable to the panels and batteries. Once this was done no noise was detectable.

Post Reply