I have been thinking about solar energy and wanted to see exactly how difficult it was to set up a DIY solar powered shed that was off the grid. I started small, I bought a 100 Watt solar panel system, a deep cycle 12 v 35Ah (amp-hour) battery, and a BESTEK 1000w 110v Inverter all from amazon.com.
The 1000 watt power inverter was overkill, but it wasn’t that much more expensive then the 500 watt and I wanted to leave myself open to be able to add another solar panel and/or batter to the system therefore generating and storing more power.
Installation was fairly simple, I just mounted the solar panel to the shed roof and ran the wires into the shed.
The charging controller that comes with the solar panel kit is ok, if I was going to get more serious with solar, I would invest in a better one that displayed more information. Anyway, the directions clearly state to connect the battery to the charging controller first. I went to Home Depot and bought 2 pieces of 8 gauge wire (one red and one black) each 4 feet long. I also bought some ends to crimp onto the wire so I would have a nice connection to the battery. The controller states you can connect up to 8 gauge wire, but I had a tough time connecting the 8 gauge wire to the controller, and had to remove a few of the strands at the end of the wire to make it fit inside the controller’s terminals.
I then hooked up the solar panel to the controller and it immediately started charging the batter. The sun was behind a cloud, but it still charged the battery.
I have an outside light hooked up to the shed with a 60W equivalent LED bulb that rated 9.5watts. So far the light comes on at night and shuts off in the morning. approximately 12 – 13 hours. In the morning, the battery voltage is down to 11.4 under the load of the light, and the battery light on the charging controller is orange indicating low battery. So I will have to look into how much I am depleting the battery each night. It looks like the power inverter consumes 10 watts of power when idle, so I assume it consumes a little more when running the light, but since the light is only 9.5 watts, I don’t think it’s much more.
I also have a 60 Watt light florescent light inside the shed that I was able to turn on in the morning even with the low battery indicator on.
Since the inverter consumes 10 Watts of power while turned on, I decided to keep the inverter turned off unless I need 120v power for some reason, Like the main lights, or something else. For the outside light, I decided to try a Screw Base 12 Volt DC 5.6 Watt RV Camper Low Voltage LED Light Bulb that fits a standard fixture, and just wire the outside light into the 12v light connection of the charging controller. The charging controller can be set to turn this light on for 1 – 15 hours after the panel no longer are generating electricity which means its dark outside. I will add pictures of that once the bulb arrives and the fixture is wired to the 12volts.
Rewired the outside light so that it was wired into the Charging Controller. Set the controller to turn the light off 6 hours after the sun goes down.. The light is nice and bright and works great. Only consumes 5-6 Watts for 6 hours so only using 30-36 watts of stored power.
So far so good.. Everything seems to be working well. I am now considering putting the shed on the grid by trenching power to the shed, and then using a Grid Tie Inverter, This way I would not have to maintain batteries, and I can use more of the electricity I generate instead of most of it going to waste when the battery is already fully charged.