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Take the guess work out of selecting a solar electric system for your specific need. All of Solar Kits . Com's systems have been pre-engineered to work right out of the box, whether you need power for a remote home or cabin, RV or boat, telecommunications or remote telemetry we're the nations leading supplier of solar panel kits for all types of applications.

 
 


When selecting a solar electric system for your cabin or offgrid home, it is important to know how much power you will be consuming in a single day's worth of available sunshine. This information is critical because it is important to replace the power that you've taken out of your battery pack each day or you will run into a deficit which will eventually damage your battery pack. 

We once had a customer that called, wanting to order a single 120 watt solar panel, a charge controller and a 1000 watt inverter. He wouldn't accept any technical support from us, saying that he was an engineer and "Knew what he was doing" About a week after we shipped him his order, he called saying that his system had stopped working ! After questioning him we learned that he properly connected his solar system and inverter to a large 180 pound 12 volt truck battery. The problem started when he plugged his big screen TV into the inverter. The inverter powered the big screen TV just fine, the problem was he that was taken more energy out of his truck battery than what he was putting back in with his solar panel.

His TV was drawing about five hundred watts and we was watching it for about 4 hours per day. That's 2000 watt hours of consumption per day. His solar panel was rated at 120 watts, and in 6 hours of full sunshine per day was producing 720 watt hours per day.

Well, needless to say, like a bucket of water that's being drained faster than it's being filled, the battery's energy content was emptied and you can't run a 500 watt TV off of a 120 watt solar panel, so his inverter simply shut down.

This is why it's important to match your daily consumption with your solar system's daily production. To correctly sized a system for you cabin or remote home, you must first determine the wattage of each item that you wish to power and you also need to determine how long each item will run per day. For example a 60 watt light bulb that is used for 5 hours will consume 300 watt hours. Watts multiplied by time is equal to watt hours. A microwave oven that consumes 800 watts that runs for 15 minutes, consumes 200 watt hours, 800 watts times .25 hours equals 200 watt hours.

So to correctly size a system for your cabin or offgrid home, simply make a list of each item that you intend to run. Next to each item write down it's power consumption in watts and next to that write down the amount of time that the item will run per day, then multiply the watts of the item by the amount of time that it will run and write that number down in the last column. After you have calculated the watt hour consumption for each item, simply add each item's watt hour rating together and you'll have your total consumption for the day. For example:

Appliance

Rated Watts

Time Used

Watt Hours

Lighting

75 Watts

 4 Hours

300 Watt Hours

Stereo

120 Watts

2 Hours

240 Watt Hours

Coffee Maker

240 Watts

30 Minutes

120 Watt Hours

Microwave Oven

800 Watts

30 Minutes

400 Watt Hours

TV And Satellite Dish

350 Watts

3 Hours

1050 Watt Hours

   

TOTAL WATT HOURS

2110 Watt Hours

Once we have this information, it's a simple matter to match the number of solar panels, inverter and batteries that you will need in order to produce and store enough power for what you consume.

The above description assumes that you do not have a generator. If your cabin or remote home is equipped with a generator then the amount of solar panels needed could be reduced. But remember the less number of solar panels that you install will mean the longer you will need to run your generator per day to meet your electrical needs.  

Sizing the wattage rating of an inverter for your cabin or remote home is a simple matter of determining the total number of appliances that you would typically be operating on a concurrent basis, and adding a buffer of at least 500 watts. In other words if there was a possibility that you would have your 600 watt microwave, a 200 watts coffee maker and a 200 watt stereo running at the same time, you would be drawing 1000 watts, then you should choose a 1500 watt inverter. An inverter should never be run at it's maximum rating for prolonged periods of time, doing so will shorten the life of the inverter.

Another issue to consider is the amount of surge current that your appliances draws. Any appliance that uses a transformer, motor or other magnetic device draws what is known as surge current at startup. These devices are otherwise known as inductors. Inductors appose the flow of electrical current.

When an inductor is first energized there is a great degree of inertia that must be overcome for the magnetic field which surrounds the inductor to reach it's maximum field. Just as it's difficult to initially push a car by hand that is at rest and gets easier to push as it gets going.  Initially starting an inductor takes a great deal of current to get it started but backs off on the current after it gets going.

Devices such as microwave ovens, refrigerator compressors, fan motors and large transformer based appliances can draw from 3 to 6 times it's normal wattage in an initial surge of current. This initial surge of current typically only lasts milliseconds but it's enough to shut down an inverter if it's not sized properly. Thus it's important to choose an inverter that has enough surge capacity to start such appliances. For example a meager 600 watt microwave oven will typically require a 2000 watt inverter just to get it started.

If all of this information seems a little overwhelming, don't worry our friendly knowledgeable staff are here to help you every step of the way.

And finally, be cautious when purchasing a solar system for your cabin or offgrid home over the Internet. Get to know who you're dealing with. Many of the cabin solar kits that are available on the Internet are actually home made configurations. Many websites on the Internet that would appear to be large reputable companies are actually home based affairs that operate from an impossible to trace POB (PO Box). Remember, you're about to give this individual your personal information and more importantly your credit card number.

Is his company solvent ? Does he have liability insurance ?  Does he really have the items that you're about to purchase in stock ?  Does he have any stock ? With the advent of the energy crisis, dozens of home based dealers with little or no formal training or experience have cropped up on the Internet.

Even if you don't live nearby, ask the dealer if you can get directions to his place of business so you can stop by and take a look at some products. If you can't get directions or a straight answer from him, then in our opinion, steer clear !  It's important to remember that it takes only minutes to upload a website to the Internet and only seconds to take it down.

If you would like to learn more about protecting yourself when shopping on the Internet
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