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Underwood Systems Costs


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.


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DIY Battery Repair

DIY Battery Repair

You can now recondition your old batteries at home and bring them back to 100 percent of their working condition. This guide will enable you to revive All NiCd batteries regardless of brand and battery volt. It will give you the required information on how to re-energize and revive your NiCd batteries through the RVD process, charging method and charging guidelines.

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