Solar Install for the Pole Barn

LarryBud

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L3130
Dec 5, 2020
229
124
43
Cleveland, MO
Thought I'd share my solar build in the hope it would help someone down the line.

I have a pole barn off the grid. Someday I may run a line up from the road but I can't justify the expense at this time. Instead, I installed this simple solar build.

This system will run basic power tools, vacuums, charge batteries, operate lights and fans, etc. I overbuilt the charge controller and inverter so I could double up the solar panels and batteries for additional power if needed ( panels and batteries are the big expense ). The greatest expense was the time I spent to figure it all out. I have no electrical background so I was starting from the ground floor.

The total cost was $1010. I'll get a 30% Tax Credit so it's a net $700 system with the ability to scale it up.

I did buy this book which was very helpful. I purchased everything from Ebay and Home Depot.


Happy to share what I learned if anyone is interested. The two taped off wires are for a 12V fuse box I had yet to be installed. I did pretty up the panel pole with white paint. I can add two more panels below these two on the same pole.

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johnjk

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Looks good. Easy service off the roof too! Any idea how many hours you are getting off the system under different loads? What are your plans to keep the batteries warm in the winter?
 

LarryBud

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L3130
Dec 5, 2020
229
124
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Cleveland, MO
Looks good. Easy service off the roof too! Any idea how many hours you are getting off the system under different loads? What are your plans to keep the batteries warm in the winter?
Thank you.

Too early to tell on run time. I won't have much going on over night so I hope to reload as I use it.

I was thinking of building an insulated battery box. Or, just pull them for the coldest months.
 

Runs With Scissors

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L2501 TLB , Grappel, Brush Hog, Box Blade, Ballast box, Forks, Tiller, PH digger
Jan 25, 2023
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I was thinking of building an insulated battery box. Or, just pull them for the coldest months.


I leave all my batteries in the cold. I've never had one freeze or go bad.

Maybe I'm just lucky.

My boat in upper Michigan, has 4 batteries and the only time they will come out is when they need to be replaced, I do keep them on a battery tender though, but I'm presuming your solar set up would take the "tenders" place.
 

D2Cat

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Larry, a few years back I was re-roofing a house in town so at that time was having a new meter and weatherhead installed. I contacted the local power company (pretty sure the same one you would use) and they wanted $750 to CONNECT the wire to the transformer.

The pole with the transformer was about 20 feet from the meter, I had to do the digging, purchase and bury the conduit for them to use. $750 for the connection fee. Point is, you are way ahead with the setup you have for what you need.
 

RCW

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Apr 28, 2013
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I leave all my batteries in the cold. I've never had one freeze or go bad.

Maybe I'm just lucky.

My boat in upper Michigan, has 4 batteries and the only time they will come out is when they need to be replaced, I do keep them on a battery tender though, but I'm presuming your solar set up would take the "tenders" place.
Paul - keeping tenders on your batteries likely help.

Don’t know if keeping batteries warm is an issue with Larry’s solar system. If it does, would be an issue here as well.

Other day there was a battery fire in northern New York associated with a commercial solar system.

Don’t know anything about it beyond that. Is closer to @Tughill Tom ‘s neighborhood.
 

lynnmor

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B2601-1
May 3, 2021
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Red Lion
A lead acid battery will last longer if it is kept out of the heat, the only reasons to protect them from cold is that they will deliver less amps while cold and they will freeze if allowed to completely discharge.
 
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Jchonline

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Oct 28, 2018
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Isnt a tender just going to drain the battery faster. Sure you are pumping the power back into the battery but there are conversion losses from DC to AC to DC.

I had my shop on Solar (8kw array, 24kw SLAbattery bank for 5 years) and I converted it to utility power as soon as I could. In the Winter batteries always running down with just a 100w draw. Not enough Insolation during the day to keep them going…snow had to be removed from array or you get no power.

A small solar setup is great for powering a gate or a small station in a remote spot (I have 200w panel and 100ah setup on one of these, works great but it only powers an antenna, camera, and wifi router). Unless you are doing almost nothing in that shop you are going to want utility power eventually. You will get up in the morning, go out to the shop and want to build something with power…and your batteries will be drained from overnight.

That said it looks like a fun project, and you can always re-use the materials for another area as well. Thanks for sharing!
 

fried1765

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Kubota L48 TLB, Ford 1920 FEL, Ford 8N, SCAG Liberty Z, Gravely Pro.
Nov 14, 2019
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Thought I'd share my solar build in the hope it would help someone down the line.

I have a pole barn off the grid. Someday I may run a line up from the road but I can't justify the expense at this time. Instead, I installed this simple solar build.

This system will run basic power tools, vacuums, charge batteries, operate lights and fans, etc. I overbuilt the charge controller and inverter so I could double up the solar panels and batteries for additional power if needed ( panels and batteries are the big expense ). The greatest expense was the time I spent to figure it all out. I have no electrical background so I was starting from the ground floor.

The total cost was $1010. I'll get a 30% Tax Credit so it's a net $700 system with the ability to scale it up.

I did buy this book which was very helpful. I purchased everything from Ebay and Home Depot.


Happy to share what I learned if anyone is interested. The two taped off wires are for a 12V fuse box I had yet to be installed. I did pretty up the panel pole with white paint. I can add two more panels below these two on the same pole.

View attachment 109675 View attachment 109676
I like it!
39 years ago there were no solar options.
I rented a trencher and buried 600 ft. of 4/0 cable from the house to barn.
I can use a welder, and have no separate bill for a second grid hookup.
As I recall, 600' of cable was less than $1,000 ....THEN!
 

LarryBud

Active member

Equipment
L3130
Dec 5, 2020
229
124
43
Cleveland, MO
Isnt a tender just going to drain the battery faster. Sure you are pumping the power back into the battery but there are conversion losses from DC to AC to DC.

I had my shop on Solar (8kw array, 24kw SLAbattery bank for 5 years) and I converted it to utility power as soon as I could. In the Winter batteries always running down with just a 100w draw. Not enough Insolation during the day to keep them going…snow had to be removed from array or you get no power.

A small solar setup is great for powering a gate or a small station in a remote spot (I have 200w panel and 100ah setup on one of these, works great but it only powers an antenna, camera, and wifi router). Unless you are doing almost nothing in that shop you are going to want utility power eventually. You will get up in the morning, go out to the shop and want to build something with power…and your batteries will be drained from overnight.

That said it looks like a fun project, and you can always re-use the materials for another area as well. Thanks for sharing!
JCHonline,

You make some valid points. This is an auxiliary location for me and not a full time shop. I know it will have limitations.

On the DC to AC to DC comment. Very true and I was wondering if I could just hook the two boat batteries directly to the two solar system batteries. I still may give it a try and just take the Inverter and boat charger out of the equation. Anyone have a comment good or bad about that idea? I wonder what gauge wire I'd need?
 

GreensvilleJay

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BX23-S,57 A-C D-14,58 A-C D-14, 57 A-C D-14,tiller,cults,Millcreek 25G spreader,
Apr 2, 2019
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Greensville,Ontario,Canada
LB, you should redirect the gutter runoff AWAY from your solar 4by4 post.....
also put batteries on a plastic tray of some kind and for sure plastic or wood cover over the battery terminals. soone ror later Mr. Murphy will drop by and some 'metallic object ' WILL fall and short out the batteries...
 

LarryBud

Active member

Equipment
L3130
Dec 5, 2020
229
124
43
Cleveland, MO
LB, you should redirect the gutter runoff AWAY from your solar 4by4 post.....
also put batteries on a plastic tray of some kind and for sure plastic or wood cover over the battery terminals. soone ror later Mr. Murphy will drop by and some 'metallic object ' WILL fall and short out the batteries...
Thanks. Good tips. I will do each of the above.
 

Russell King

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L185F, Modern Ag Competitor 4’ shredder, Rhino tiller, rear dirt scoop
Jun 17, 2012
4,204
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Austin, Texas
Just get a solar powered battery tender for your vehicle batteries?
 

Thunder chicken

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Equipment
M7060
Dec 29, 2019
271
101
43
Northern ontario
Nice set up! The author of that book does nice u tube videos as well.
We did a similar sized setup a few years ago, but on a limited budget. We keep adding old batteries from heavy equipment, must be up to 5 or 6 now. They've been hooked up and working for at least 5 years now, and are fine during our -30, -40 winters. We don't pull heavy loads from them.
I just did a set up for a new to us camper and used a 150ah Lithium battery. Luckily there was no budget for this job as it has to keep the beer fridge cold. The cost for the lugs and wire (marine grade, overkill) blew me away. But it'll last.
I'd say your system may be a bit small but will be easy to add to! Just keep adding batteries and panels! And you drive there with a generator if it comes to that!! Read up on smart alternators if you have a newer truck though....