Hello all. I’m Keebler from central Southern Virginia, 30 years now in the boonies and I’m on the end of the power line. I’m in a small prepper start up group in Concord, Virginia, near me where I showed some of my portable solar projects [these are the permanent installations].
I bought this place when returning from Beirut, Lebanon in June 1984, I also bought a used 17 ft. travel trailer in bad shape too. It took almost 4 years, living in my camper, to get power. I had a small 5 watt PV panel that kept the camper battery charged. The camper van has two batteries.
In ’89 I finally could afford a bigger trailer. Wanted more solar and I found a used two panel hot water solar panel unit – finally it’s on the roof too. Retired in ’92, barely surviving, had a stroke in ’95 that set me back a few more years.
Solar does wonders to heat water – the well water is around 56 degrees. With just two pumps, one for antifreeze and one for fresh water circulating, the well water gets hotter through a heat exchanger. Heats a 30 gallon water heater, prior to the electric tank – saves me big bucks on the power bill.
In November of 2008 I invested in my alternative energy setup and bought a 45 watt solar kit from Harbor Freight – I think it was $189.99.
I had a better battery by now. Once I got it up on the roof. WOW!!! 3.2 amps – really great, kit had (3) 13 watt CFL’s in it & a controller, I still have one hooked up on it in the basement where the Battery Group is,(See picture)Battery’s are (Group 4D) very heavy about 160 filled, I bought them from Tractor Supply @ $149.99 each.
I have three all controlled separately via rotary selector switches. I have since added 2 more solar panels @ 90 watts each to the battery group, the H.F. unit still charges just fine. But on Group 27 battery, or my lawnmower start batteries and basement lights.
My next project was 12-24 DC volt well pump when the power is off. Bought a pump for $680, like the one Northern Tool sells – 100 ft. 1/2″ black pipe, pump max in the water says 50 ft. – so that’s what I did. 70 ft. pipe to a spigot & another 12 volt 4D battery & switch, I have 95 PSI water. Still needs a pressure switch – coming soon – but it’s an emergency system. Soon a solar panel will maintain that battery. got the panels and the bladder tank – just too much to do right now.
Next project after this one will be 24 volt solar panels to a 28 gallon water heater, I tested it and it will work.
My farm truck has solar panel to maintain the battery, so does the camper van.
I have 14 LED lights in the house all off the battery bank. All batteries are either in a safety box or on a safety tray in case of any possible leak – baking soda near too. All output circuits are fused, I only use DC LED volt meters so I know what the load is.
I recently found a DC 12 volt ceiling fan. I took one of the original CFL lamps I modified in a House Bridge lamp, alligator clamps, and I can hook it up to my (Jump Start) battery unit if necessary.
Nice setup! Makes me a bit envious on my setup! I started out planning on going full bore like you did, but instead went auxiliary power uses in case of an extended outage.
Great article! MrWE2 and Wifey are very serious about installing some solar power both on our travel trailer and at The Roost. Taking a look at everything we can get our hands on.
I have a 20 Watt on top of the camper, a little over (1) amp keeps the battery up. since the CO2 alarm & radio do drain off the Battery, another 20 watt on the Van camper to keep the Hotel battery charged too.
all in all, I really haven’t spent a lot of money & I did get Tax credits for all I have installed. but the county claimed them as improvements so raised property Taxes,,(Can’t win),But I definitely have peace of mine,
MrWE2 read the post, liked it but said “there’s no plans to follow” except what will be on the packages? :-) We love LED’s in our travel trailer! We also use them at home for emergency lighting.
confused ? what do you mean?
MrWE2 read the post, liked it but said “there’s no plans to follow” except what will be on the packages? :-)
what plan are you asking about? I plan to add more solar, to storage sheds,& wood shed.mostly 12 volt to battery except the well pump will be a 24 volt system.(now 12 volt)
did you want actual part #’ where I bought items,& directions how to hook things up?
I love how you’re broken up each power need, and supplied each with separate panels. That’s right, right?
It’s cool to think of your power consumption as individual devices, individual needs, and then building solar power to supply/handle each need.
And good luck on the latest two projects! A solar powered water pump is a neat idea. But the solar powered water heater is even better, imho! :)
I’d also like to see some “plans” in the way of “how to – DIY” pictures, or diagrams, or videos.
This is NOWHERE near the league of where you’re at, but might be useful to preppers who love their portable devices, like smart phones, tablets, etc.
Its a solar powered USB emergency charging unit.
It’s easy to make, and I’ve included videos and detailed how-to instructions.
The whole thing cost less than $10.
And I just think it’s neat. :)