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I completed the solar portion of my system yesterday and as of this posting the system was under the suns power.

We are waiting to see if this will carry the charge overnight. Keeping our fingers crossed.

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It should all come down to amp hours on the batteries and the cost in amps of the pump/ pumps. Are you forgetting to add some draw into the mix? Aeration pumps maybe? Do you have enough amp hours? Are the batteries fully charged as the sun goes down? Is your pump drawing way too much power?

I am a bit intrigued as I have always wanted to run my system off of solar. I plan add solar when I move.

I would start by sketching out the system and noting everything. Then double checking each part to make sure its working correctly.

Terry,

Here is a list of the items I used;

1 - Harbor Freight 45 Watt Solar Panel Kit                PAID $ 151.99 
http://www.harborfreight.com/45-watt-solar-panel-kit-90599.html

1 - 12Volt 45 Amp Hour Battery                                 PAID $ 88.00 
http://www.amazon.com/PowerStar-Power-Sonic-PG-12V42FR-PS-12400-Uni...

1 - Coleman 200 Watt Inverter (which I have had for years in my trunk) List $ 20.00
http://www.amazon.com/Coleman-PMP200C-Continuous-Power-Inverter/dp/...

1 - 20ft. Outdoor extension Cord                                PAID $ 6.00 at Big Lots

1 - 12 gallon Plastic with latching top container          PAID $ 7.00 also at Big Lots

TOTAL INVESTMENT ..................................................  $ 272.99

PICTURE link here > https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2905296195502.2115978.135...



Chris McMahon said:

It should all come down to amp hours on the batteries and the cost in amps of the pump/ pumps. Are you forgetting to add some draw into the mix? Aeration pumps maybe? Do you have enough amp hours? Are the batteries fully charged as the sun goes down? Is your pump drawing way too much power?

I am a bit intrigued as I have always wanted to run my system off of solar. I plan add solar when I move.

I would start by sketching out the system and noting everything. Then double checking each part to make sure its working correctly.

After running the system all day are the batteries topped off?

No it was not! ... and there in lies my problem.

Here is what happened:

Battery arrived on Friday
I connected it to the panels and regulator on Saturday morning and ran the system all day, then
about 1 1/2 hours after dark the system stopped running due to low voltage.

Conclusion? ... I never let the battery fully charge, because it was powering the system all day. (MAX voltage was 12.2 on Saturday)

YESTERDAY (Sunday) ... I let the battery charge all day as well as today so when I get home tonight I am going to try it again and see if I have better luck over night. (The voltage should read in the 14.5 volt range, so I am told, when fully charged)

If not I may need more panels or an additional battery.

That's all I have for now.

Bob

Chris McMahon said:

After running the system all day are the batteries topped off?

It sounds like you need more solar panels. Keeping them clean is the big problem. The power diminishes when they are dirty.

You should also check into proper cycling of new batteries. Some manufactures will want you to charge them all the way up and then use all the power several times before putting them into normal use.

a 45 Amp Hour battery should probably only get used for about 22.5 amp hours before it is going to be getting a bit low.  So if you run a 15 amp pump you are only going to get an hour and a half out of that battery.

I would say more solar panels and more batteries are probably needed to run more than an goldfish bowl.

If you are going to insulate around the fish tank then probably no need to paint it black to block the light, the insulation will probably take care of that.  Same could be true for grow beds.

However, in South FL, I would probably simply wrap everything in something light colored to protect the plastic from the sun instead of painting black since the summers are brutal.  Yea, during summer, a bit of overhead shade cloth will probably be worth while.

I have two 79 AH batteries and need more for my present demand.  I'm running a 45-watt pump 24/7.  Three 195-watt panels are charging with about 5 hours of direct sunlight per day.  Honestly, I don't know whether or not another battery would solve my deficiency.  Mine is a good backup system (with reduced pumping) but won't stand alone pumping 24/7 without supplemental charging.

Bob Vento said:

 Maybe adding a second battery would help

Thanks for the info on cycling the battery. I'll do that.

Chris McMahon said:

It sounds like you need more solar panels. Keeping them clean is the big problem. The power diminishes when they are dirty.

You should also check into proper cycling of new batteries. Some manufactures will want you to charge them all the way up and then use all the power several times before putting them into normal use.

I guess I will be using my solar system for a backup power in case of loss of commercial power.

With a flood and drain system, how much damage could be caused if the process stops temporarily, due to a power outage? Example ... I am at work and discover when I get home the power is out. I connect my backup and run off of battery until the power is restored. Can I expect casualties of fish and plants because of that brief loss of power?

George said:

I have two 79 AH batteries and need more for my present demand.  I'm running a 45-watt pump 24/7.  Three 195-watt panels are charging with about 5 hours of direct sunlight per day.  Honestly, I don't know whether or not another battery would solve my deficiency.  Mine is a good backup system (with reduced pumping) but won't stand alone pumping 24/7 without supplemental charging.

Bob Vento said:

 Maybe adding a second battery would help

We have a trellis, that you can not see in the pictures, above the system and shade cloth is part of my design as a cover, I just have not done that part yet.

Why am I protecting the plastic from the sun?
Is this to stop algae growth or for some other reason?

TCLynx said:

If you are going to insulate around the fish tank then probably no need to paint it black to block the light, the insulation will probably take care of that.  Same could be true for grow beds.

However, in South FL, I would probably simply wrap everything in something light colored to protect the plastic from the sun instead of painting black since the summers are brutal.  Yea, during summer, a bit of overhead shade cloth will probably be worth while.

We have a trellis, that you can not see in the pictures, above the system and shade cloth is part of my design as a cover, I just have not done that part yet. Thanks for your input Randall, it does help make the conversations more informative.

Randall Wimbish said:

Bob. I looked at your photo's and I would like to add, What I would do to improve it. And is just my opinion and I hope it sparks more comments which I will gladly apprecieate.

I think I would paint the fish tank and grow bed black to block out the sunlight.

I think I would insulate the fish tank to minimize temperature swings and help keep warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Then, if your summers are brutal, a structure or frame to hang shade cloth over the system.

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