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I saw there really wasn't a topic for this, with society becoming increasingly aware of their carbon footprint or lessoning their impact on the environment.  Maybe this would be a good place to share info, knowledge, experience, equipment, suppliers, setup etc on solar applications......

In the next few weeks I'll try posting some basic solar info and general rules of thumbs, As and if this progresses, get into the sizing of equipment, types of equipment, pumps, panels, inverters, chargers, lighting and storage systems.


Hope to hear from others as well as input or questions.


the mad german


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I plan on adding some solar to my system later this year when it cools off.  Its just to darn hot to mess with it right now.  I plan on constructing a couple of panels with a battery bank for storage.  I probably will be changing my pumps over to DC so I don't have to pay for or mess with any inverters.

Looking forward to others input too.

Great looking forward to seeing your setup Sam.

I've been seeing a lot of people talk about their utility bills and what its costing them monthly. If one does it right they can set up a system on their own without having to pay an outside source. I just hate to see anybody spend a lot of money and buy the wrong items or setup. So getting to know their power consumption, loss of power if they use an inverter and sizing is important if sticking with the existing AC equipment. If they go with DC on a new application sizing is equally important.After buying the intitial equipment their savings is for the next 20-40 years.

I paid about $3.00 a watt for my system 6 months ago which you can get now for $2.50 a watt, I just recently read in a report that by 2013 it'll be down to $1-1.50 a watt being that China has committed 50 Billion for solar production plants and are basically going to corner the world market.

The only other cost is batteries if staying with DC, fortunately for me I can pick them up all day long for $5 a piece, they are slightly used but test out perfectly or I wouldn't get them and work perfect for solar apps and me. Trying to keep the cost down is what holds up a lot of people from going solar. So I'm willing to help others like they have with me and others on here.

Any data I do post, I want to keep simple and in laymens terms for those considering it. Feel free to jump in anytime, post info or even correct me.

I feel if a person can lower their carbon footprint even more by going solar the better, Afterall we're not only just eating healthy with AP but trying to minimize our impact on the environment.

 The mad german



keep in mind that you may be able to get more efficient AC pumps that will save more in efficiency than you loose through the use of inverters and you also get more flexibility in timers if you use those.


I know many people who have been very unimpressed by the longevity of 12 volt bilge pumps.

As of right now, they are all pretty much the same, as far as the energy conversion to HP work ratio unless your looking at something with a vfd, then your going to pay out the wazoo. Pretty much anything rated or labeled high efficiency is going to cost you more whether it really is or not
Some manufacturors just make them more reliable then others or efficient by impeller or diaphram types. I've always been the kind of guy that believes in "do what works best" or best for you.

I'm by no means saying or trying to get anybody or everybody to convert to solar,I just don't want to see people waste their money or time based on a wrong size application. I just happened to get a good deal on my setup and can get batteries all day long, well that and nothing is more efficient then 0 electrical cost. So with a little education hopefully I can help people from making mistakes if they are thinking about using DC,

But I also built mine in mind to not only use no power and be portable/movable, but if anyone is nowhere near power, or what would happen if someone was to lose power because of a brown out for 4-5 days or even a week or 2?

How many peoples system would crash?....probably alot.

To date my bilge pump has been fine, heck I think the manufacturor even has a 1 or 2 year warranty on mine. At $13 I'll buy another....actually I already did, the only problem I had was clogging, the good thing was, unlike most AC pumps that would burn out, I just cleaned mine, put it back on and it started working immediately (1 of the advantages of DC, unlike AC they rarily short the windings, so now I got a spare) The easy fix was put the pump in a 4" pvc tube with holes drilled in, then drop the pvc pipe into a cricket basket from the bait shop...fits perfect. That and with my setup I don't need a timer I use a float to determine the pump cycle.

Glad to hear your input, this likewise is also 1 of the things people need to consider when building their AP, AC or DC...pros and cons of both.


TCLynx said:

keep in mind that you may be able to get more efficient AC pumps that will save more in efficiency than you loose through the use of inverters and you also get more flexibility in timers if you use those.


I know many people who have been very unimpressed by the longevity of 12 volt bilge pumps.

I'm looking forward to passive solar ideas that others have been using to maintain water temps.  TCLynx and I unfortunately have several more months before we need to be thinking of cool weather but with all of my tanks exposed to the elements it is something that needs to be in place.

I was thinking for my outside tank of using the tubing from the back of a refrigerator.  I read where someone had made one out of that tubing and the water temp was 140+ at discharge!  Draining to a sump would probably be best but even into my 250 gallon ICB probably would be ok when considering heat dissipation.  Don't want any "cooked tilapia".

I recently used a discarded truck bed liner to expand my worm bed.  It is in the shade and doesn't get hot but when I was making it and had it in the sun passive solar ideas started bouncing around in my head.


There are so many ways to do passive solar.  I'm really looking forward to hearing what others have done that worked AND didn't.

Passive solar is another great aspect of the solar application.

The only drawback is storage for night time use and the size of storage needed. Storing of heated water in an insulated tank thats recirculated in the evening is a great application for the cold weather or even just the places with moderately cool evenings like down south where it gets cool but doesn't freeze months on end like up here in the midwest.

I won't argue with what works.  Just do the research to make sure things work better instead of assuming DC will be better for the situation.  I know of a few people who were having the bilge pumps going down in like 4-6 months so obviously not as good as the pumps you have there German.

Pretty much all the pumps are fairly reliable I believe, I think ensuring they are debris free is a huge issue, that and proper sizing of their charging and battery system and capabilities. When people try hooking up a solar panel to a 12v pump that was designed for 12v and not a varying voltage like from a solar panel is most times where the problems occur through over or undervoltage.

But even then unless they have plenty of capability they still can run into the same problem of under voltage once the batteries deplete their charge. When sizing 1 should really consider oversizing on solar and their batteries if they wish to make it as reliable as AC power and trouble free.

TCLynx said:

I won't argue with what works.  Just do the research to make sure things work better instead of assuming DC will be better for the situation.  I know of a few people who were having the bilge pumps going down in like 4-6 months so obviously not as good as the pumps you have there German.

Hi Mad German,

Great topic. The world we are living in and moving toward demands adaptation. The powers that be are finally granting me some lands(Hurrah), so in the near future I'm thinking AP farm! Of course I'll have to repay a loan they will give, so lettuce in raft will have to do it, but eventually its going to be run off grid, totally disconnect from all Utilities, and go solar, wind, rain etc. I don't mean to divert from your topic and I'll be following it with enthusiasm but for some time now I've been looking at these options especially wind and I really want to build one of these     but that's a whole other topic!


Congrats on your land aquisition,hopefully everything works out for you. I thought about wind myself but where I'm at the average windspeed per day wouldn't make it viable. The sun unless your in the extreme northern or southern latitudes shines quite a few hours a day pretty much everywhere.

Where I'm at, the average hours of full sun is 4.2 hours a day, this is based on NASAs 30 year known average.

In the summer it jumps to almost 6.5 hours per day. This takes in to account rainy, cloudy, and snow days. So solar was the way for me to go. From there it was just a matter of the panels and batteries minus the load to determine my needs.

I wish you well no matter what you use.

First off if 1 is considering solar you must find out the peak hours of sunlight per day. Peak hours are differant then total hours of sunlight, Peak hours are likened to volume, high noon is when 1 gets the most concentration of direct sunlight so as the sun rises or sets the concentration is less and the time duration to match the concentration takes longer. We won't get into the formula because its not needed, you just need to know the peak hours per day of your region. An example would be say you had a bucket of sunshine, and it took you 1 hour at peak concentration to fill the bucket, Well as the sun concentration is less and less after high noon it takes longer or more hours to fill the bucket.....this is somewhat how it is how they come up with total peak hours of concentration.

Below are some common figures you'll use for calculating your system.

Power (P) = Current (I) Multiply by Voltage (V) or P=I*V

Powers unit of measure is watts

Currents unit of measure is amps

Voltages unit of measure is volts

Next you need to look at wattage consumption of your equipment, some equipmant has a wattage rating on it. But most has voltage and RLA (run load amps). Just multiply your volts X amps =watts of consumption.

Lets use my bige pump as an example

It is 12v and uses 1.5amps,  so 12 x1.5 is 18watts. Now this consumption is per minute x 60 is the wattage per hour which would be 1080.

So say I've got a battery thats 12v and a rating of 6amp. So you would divide 6 by the volts and it gives the battery a 2amp hour rating at 6amps. But I'm pulling only 1.5 amps or 1/4th so techinally I should be able to run 8 hours.

For the wattage 12v * 6A * 120 minutes (2hours) or 8640WATT. I wouldeplete the battery within8hours of constant running. Why less then 8hours?, because once you pull or deplete 80% of the wattage (this is on deep cycle batteries less for gel) its capacity drops off fast.

So when figuring in on batteries as well as panels figure 80% true capacity. So say 6 hours.

Now being my pump pulls 18watts a minute and only cycles on 1 minute every 10 minutes I'm using 180 watts an hour, the other 50 minutes I'm charging a 60watt panel (less efficiency so say 45watts) a minute for 50 minutes, so unless I've got extra batteries I'm producing more then I'm using. So basically I've got another 3000 watts an hour that unless I'm charging another battery I am wasting it being the charge controllers for the batteries shut off once they are fully charged.Take that *the Peak hours per day (4.2 in indiana) and it will give me the extra wattage I'll have for storage.

So this is where the extra batteries come into play for night time use, no sense in sizing the system unless you plan on using its full potential and on a solar setup the whole purpose is to not only run your equipment during the day but at night when there is no sun.

Next I'll touch on panels.

The mad german 

Good info to have when figuring for Solar power.

Thanks Mad German

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