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Underwood Systems Costs

Item

Nomad 300 system (21 W PV panel, battery, inverter)

Solarex Millennia MST-43LV PV panel, 43 W

Statpower Port-A-Wattz 600 W inverter

Vector 400 W inverter with 18 AH power pack

Guardian 55 AH battery

2 Supersolar chargers, 4 AA & 2 C batteries

ICP charge controller

Misc. wiring & hardware

Vector 50 W inverter power pack

Morningstar charge controller

Vector 350 W inverter of sun a double-axis tracked panel can receive in my region of Colorado. But I take a more conservative approach and round this down to 350 watt-hours.

Adding up my batteries, I have about 111 amp-hours of storage. Multiplying that by 12 volts, I come up with 1,332 watt-hours of stored energy. I round this down to a kilowatt-hour. So on average, I can use a little more than 0.3 KWH per day, and still be able to replace that energy the next day. Or I can use all my storage up, and take three days to replace it.

I use my power packs daily. I have come up with some theories on how to best use my system, hoping to get the most out of it. I divided up the areas of use, and judge the amount of energy I use by the average run time each power pack will give me.

I use my 18 amp-hour power packs for lighting and entertainment. I can either keep the living room light on from after dinner until bedtime or watch a video on my TV/VCR, without discharging the batteries to the point where low battery voltage shuts the inverter down. My workshop loads are powered by using my 350 watt inverter with two, 7 amp-hour batteries. I can recharge the 7.2 volt battery-powered hand tools and use them for several hours of honey-do jobs around the house and yard.

While I could run a lot more with my power pack, these loads are the ones I operate the most. I try to use as much as I can every day. If I really work at it, I can use a kilowatt-hour a week. Before I started generating my own electricity, we averaged about 10 kilowatt-hours a day of grid usage. With the use of the power packs, CFLs, energy-wise products, and sun-dried laundry, we have reduced our usage to 8 kilowatt-hours. I figure that

I am replacing about 3.75 percent of my demand with solar electricity.

A New Solar World

It has been very exciting, building my own little power station. I gained much practical experience that I will use as I continue to develop my system. I've been pleased that I have found many of my system components locally—batteries, wiring, and inverters. I hope that PV panels will soon become a common product in hardware outlets.

$300

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DIY Battery Repair

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