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Author Topic: Solar and Wind power  (Read 7678 times)

Offline uncledan

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Solar and Wind power
« on: July 01, 2019, 11:16:46 PM »
                       I know these are not new subjects but I can't find anything newer than 2014. Does anyone have either of these systems in use? I'm looking to run the biggest part of my place on one or both of these. Where to source them and someone to install. Has cost gone down and quality gone up? Thanks in advance.


                       Dan

Offline lost_in_samoa

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Re: Solar and Wind power
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2019, 05:23:37 AM »
Does anyone have either of these systems in use? I'm looking to run the biggest part of my place on one or both of these. Where to source them and someone to install. Has cost gone down and quality gone up?

We are, and have been, off-grid with PV for 9 years now.

The only reason to be off grid is because you do not trust the grid or its providers. 

Neither PV or wind systems will ever be cheaper than grid.  Equipment, regulatory, installation, maintenance, and operational costs make it so.

That being said.

I designed and built our system from scratch.  To date I have not met an electrician here that I would trust in a room alone with an outlet and a butter knife.

That is not to say they do not exist.  I am still looking.   Factor that into your costs.

I have found that locally procured R.E. equipment, especially batteries, to be of criminal quality.

A lot of the smaller bits and pieces that you will need are not available outside of Manila.  Are really hard to find in Manila.  And expensive as hell.

A good example is cabling.  The cost of cabling was so high, and the quality of cable was so low, that I was forced to fabricate my own cables.

Warranty repair is non-existent.  Shipping stuff out for repair is so expensive and time consuming that it is not worth it.

For most folks this is a show stopper.  But now that you are informed, if you are adamant,  by all means drive on.

A really small system just to power devices that would be useful in the annual disaster scenarios would be a handy option to have.

I'll help if I can.


Offline David690

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Re: Solar and Wind power
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2019, 06:29:41 PM »
                       I know these are not new subjects but I can't find anything newer than 2014. Does anyone have either of these systems in use? I'm looking to run the biggest part of my place on one or both of these. Where to source them and someone to install. Has cost gone down and quality gone up? Thanks in advance.


                       Dan

Are you looking for these systems as a primary source of power, or as a back up to grid supply?
Londoner at heart

Offline uncledan

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Re: Solar and Wind power
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2019, 08:23:28 AM »
                   The last time I checked the electric there was pretty spendy. I would like the system to be if not my primary then at least be able to run my place when the grid is down. As for sourcing cables and batteries why couldn't it be shipped in a balikbayan box? Most of the panels come from China anyway so why not cables and whatever else is needed? Some of the systems I have looked at have been in the $8K-$12K U.S. range. I'm used to high electric bills in Alaska so it won't be a shock but I don't see why a good split system wouldn't work over there. It should be paid off in 5-7 years depending on usage. I'm not a fan of brownouts and would like to not deal with them if it's possible.

 Thanks for the replies

     Dan

Offline lost_in_samoa

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Re: Solar and Wind power
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2019, 11:30:59 AM »
I would like the system to be if not my primary then at least be able to run my place when the grid is down.

Hi Dan and welcome,

I've been up in Alaska.  Spent some time up in Barrow.  The lower part of the state sure is beautiful.

Don't mis-read me.  I'm not trying to rain on your parade.  I had the exact same idea you did back in 2010. Just want to give you a heads up.  It is a lot easier doing business in Alaska than it is here.  And the devil is in the details.


For your reference I run 4.4 Kw of panels mounted on an active tracking array.  I have two battery banks. 920ah of NiCd and 1000ah of NiFe cells @ 48vdc nominal.  I do active load shedding and balancing.  I run a full fabrication shop, and private research facility off our system.

1.)  The first gotcha is customs.  I've had them hold shipments hostage.  I've paid instant, on the spot, taxes and fees.  In cash.  Dealing with customs is like playing Russian roulette with an automatic.

Now you do have a time limited window where you can ship stuff in tax free in accordance with whatever type visa you have.  The number than comes to mind is 70,000 piso's or about $1400.  But that number may have changed or I may be wrong.  Check it.

And FW is correct shipping in containers is more cost effective than B-Boxes.

2.)  The second and largest AWW-SH_T! is batteries.  A useful sized bank will be about 40 -> 60% of the total system cost.

The tropical heat here kills Lead Acid and Lithium batteries. 

MotoLite is the best known local manufacturer.  I started out with a huge set of them.  That bank died within 18 months.  The first of them started failing just a few days after warranty expiration.  I knew I was in trouble when I called up the factory and got the run around in English and Tagalog.

I bought a book and tried to rebuild my Tae-Lite lead acid cells.  That was a toxic exercise in futility.  But in the course of it I discovered that the plates in Motolite deep cycle cells are identical to the plates in their automotive batteries.  So much for truth in manufacturing.

I did find a source for Trojan cells in Manila.  But they had a policy where they prorated the warranty of the cell from activation date.  The cells they wanted to sell me had 2 months of warranty left.  They had been sitting uncharged and sulfated on the shelf for 10 months.  So I passed.

Nickel cells are the only cells that I have found to date that can stand up to the heat.  Go look at the prices for Nickel batteries.  Otherwise you are looking at replacing the battery bank every two years or so.  Amortize that out.

Shipping batteries in is possible.  I shipped my NiCd set in from the US, and my NiFe set from China.  Both of those were expensive events.  They are HAZMAT so brush up on your hazardous shipping requirements before you try.

3.)  Last but certainly not least is the environment.  Heat kills the performance of your PV cells.  Look at the temperature to wattage charts for the panels you wish to buy.  Expect to purchase 25 -> 40% more panel wattage than you calculate you need to compensate for environmental losses.

Monsoon season is generally from August to November.  This year it started a little early because if El Nino I guess.  During the wet season expect very little or no production from your system.  You are going to have to have another method of powering stuff for that period.

Your options are Grid-Tie or Generation. 

If you choose Grid-Tie be careful.  Some systems will NOT function unless the grid is available.  Some will.  I don't know if any of the Co-ops in your area will do grid-tie.  Mine won't.

Generation.  Your right electric is expensive here.  So is fuel. 

Personally I am working on biomass gasification supplemented by methane from Anaerobic digestion to power my genny.  But people say I'm crazy.

Hope this helps


Offline David690

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Re: Solar and Wind power
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2019, 12:40:49 PM »
Hi Dan and welcome,

I've been up in Alaska.  Spent some time up in Barrow.  The lower part of the state sure is beautiful.

Don't mis-read me.  I'm not trying to rain on your parade.  I had the exact same idea you did back in 2010. Just want to give you a heads up.  It is a lot easier doing business in Alaska than it is here.  And the devil is in the details.


For your reference I run 4.4 Kw of panels mounted on an active tracking array.  I have two battery banks. 920ah of NiCd and 1000ah of NiFe cells @ 48vdc nominal.  I do active load shedding and balancing.  I run a full fabrication shop, and private research facility off our system.

1.)  The first gotcha is customs.  I've had them hold shipments hostage.  I've paid instant, on the spot, taxes and fees.  In cash.  Dealing with customs is like playing Russian roulette with an automatic.

Now you do have a time limited window where you can ship stuff in tax free in accordance with whatever type visa you have.  The number than comes to mind is 70,000 piso's or about $1400.  But that number may have changed or I may be wrong.  Check it.

And FW is correct shipping in containers is more cost effective than B-Boxes.

2.)  The second and largest AWW-SH_T! is batteries.  A useful sized bank will be about 40 -> 60% of the total system cost.

The tropical heat here kills Lead Acid and Lithium batteries. 

MotoLite is the best known local manufacturer.  I started out with a huge set of them.  That bank died within 18 months.  The first of them started failing just a few days after warranty expiration.  I knew I was in trouble when I called up the factory and got the run around in English and Tagalog.

I bought a book and tried to rebuild my Tae-Lite lead acid cells.  That was a toxic exercise in futility.  But in the course of it I discovered that the plates in Motolite deep cycle cells are identical to the plates in their automotive batteries.  So much for truth in manufacturing.

I did find a source for Trojan cells in Manila.  But they had a policy where they prorated the warranty of the cell from activation date.  The cells they wanted to sell me had 2 months of warranty left.  They had been sitting uncharged and sulfated on the shelf for 10 months.  So I passed.

Nickel cells are the only cells that I have found to date that can stand up to the heat.  Go look at the prices for Nickel batteries.  Otherwise you are looking at replacing the battery bank every two years or so.  Amortize that out.

Shipping batteries in is possible.  I shipped my NiCd set in from the US, and my NiFe set from China.  Both of those were expensive events.  They are HAZMAT so brush up on your hazardous shipping requirements before you try.

3.)  Last but certainly not least is the environment.  Heat kills the performance of your PV cells.  Look at the temperature to wattage charts for the panels you wish to buy.  Expect to purchase 25 -> 40% more panel wattage than you calculate you need to compensate for environmental losses.

Monsoon season is generally from August to November.  This year it started a little early because if El Nino I guess.  During the wet season expect very little or no production from your system.  You are going to have to have another method of powering stuff for that period.

Your options are Grid-Tie or Generation. 

If you choose Grid-Tie be careful.  Some systems will NOT function unless the grid is available.  Some will.  I don't know if any of the Co-ops in your area will do grid-tie.  Mine won't.

Generation.  Your right electric is expensive here.  So is fuel. 

Personally I am working on biomass gasification supplemented by methane from Anaerobic digestion to power my genny.  But people say I'm crazy.

Hope this helps

Good post LIS, all your points are spot on.  My only hands on experience is running a TV relay station on top of a mountain in UAE.  The battery bank was ginormous and the solar array was equally large.  After several months of having to fly in by helicopter to sort out power issues I gave up and installed a 10kVA diesel genset.  The batteries were dying all too frequently and the output from the arrays dropped off dramatically after they are covered in a fine layer of sand.  That was several years ago and I appreciate that the technology has improved a lot in recent time, but I am sceptical of solar power.  Your system sounds pretty high tech and I suspect above the technical competence of the average user to install and maintain.
One other point to consider.......if you decide to move house for whatever reason, it's a major hassle and expense to dismantle the system and re-install at a new place.
Londoner at heart

Offline lost_in_samoa

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Re: Solar and Wind power
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2019, 12:54:20 PM »
Good post LIS, all your points are spot on.

Thank you.

This kinda stuff is my hobby.  Sorry never could get my head around golf.  So for us it makes sense.  And I do feel a sense of pride every time something blows through and my barangay brings me insulin to chill and emergency devices to charge. 

Now a days when folks ask me about solar I usually tell them to pick up a few panels, a cheap charge controller and inverter, and a few car batteries.  When a disaster happens, (and that is every week seems like), you'll be better off.

I've still got my "The End is Nigh" sandwich sign around here somewhere.  Let me go dust it off.


Offline uncledan

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Re: Solar and Wind power
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2019, 01:00:32 AM »
                   Ok, sounds like solar is not feasible and quite the headache. I want to enjoy my retirement not work on things out of my expertise. Any thoughts on wind for a backup? I plan on being on the beach and remember to wind being rather constant. Would it be a backup worth exploring? I would like to have a genset as well but not sure what size would cover my needs. I'll have a typical small house with a shop to play in but basically fridge maybe a freezer and lights. As far as electrical goes if they run 220 to the house can you break it down in a 200amp box to 110? Or is it totally different than in the U.S? Are plans for a house to be approved or can you build as you want? I had thoughts of using conex boxes on concrete piers. I was a building contractor for 20 years so doing it the right way is normal for me. I don't like some of the things I saw over there as far as building goes and would rather do it myself or at least watch it being done to my specs. I can't do concrete floors as it kills my feet and back. Thanks again and hope to be over in a couple months or so.


             Dan

Offline lost_in_samoa

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Re: Solar and Wind power
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2019, 06:56:39 AM »
Ok, sounds like solar is not feasible and quite the headache.


It is feasible.  Just not economical at the scale you want to do it.  A very scaled down system can be EXTREMELY handy given the right circumstances.

Any thoughts on wind for a backup?   Would it be a backup worth exploring?


I don't have much experience with wind systems, but they follow the same layout as PV systems.  In general you need a generating head. A means to smooth out the power generated, (charge controller).  A way to convert the current from the head to current for end user devices, (inverter). 

Because nature is variable,  Cloud occlusion and wind lulls,  you have to buffer output power.  A storage medium.  Batteries, chemical reactions, flywheels, gravity, heat, or whatever.

Wind power suffers from the same limitations because of the storage technology available to us plebes.  With the added issues of having a power dissipating device on the head end to prevent "free wheeling".  And a lot of electro-mechanical issues with spinning an elevated rotor using bearings and swivel joints in the hot, humid, salty breeze.

Like I just mentioned to David,  Like I tell everyone who asks me .....  Get a couple of panels, a cheap charge controller and inverter.  Pack them up in a box in the corner of the back room.

When a typhoon rolls through and wipes out the grid, and this happens multiple times every year. Drag it out, use the battery out of your Cotse and set your self up with some emergency water, lighting, cooling , communications, whatever.  It really makes life easier.

if they run 220 to the house can you break it down in a 200amp box to 110?


It depends on the type of power delivered by your local co-op.  But generally no.  You have to step the power down through a transformer.  See the electrial thread in the building section.

I had thoughts of using conex boxes on concrete piers.


An enclosed metal box sitting on concrete in equatorial heat?  Didn't various penal systems use that as a disciplinary measure? Does not sound very comfortable to me.  But I guess it would work. 

How you gonna cool it?  Is it habitable if the power is interrupted?

I don't like some of the things I saw over there as far as building goes and would rather do it myself or at least watch it being done to my specs.


I hear you.  I built domes out of Portland cement stabilized adobe.  With really high, vented peaks to encourage and control convective air flow. 

Coated those structures with a Lime-wash recipe bastardized from Scottish / Irish Lighthouse masonry works.  So far its fairly durable.  Sure is cheap to make and easy to use.  The crystalline finish hurts the eyes in the full sun.  But I figure that every photon reflected into my eyeball is one that is not converted to heat in the walls.

I do not now and never have had air-con.  We don't need it.  Our place stays in the high 70's to low 80's year round. 

And building my sweetie a "white castle" didn't hurt either.


Hope this helps.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2019, 07:21:19 AM by lost_in_samoa »

Offline uncledan

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Re: Solar and Wind power
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2019, 10:21:27 PM »
                   LIS, have you ever heard of swamp coolers? I saw them in Arizona. A simple version of them is a box on your roof with a solid top and fiber mats on 4 sides that you pump ground water through and a fan in the bottom pulls outside air through cooling the outside air and blowing it into the house. So you're using a mag pump and a fan which uses small amounts of electric to cool your house and the water goes back to a cistern in the ground to be cooled and reused. As to the conex boxes, my plan was to insulate the inside and outside so that the metal is not drawing heat. I can get LED lights to further save energy. I like the idea of the small backup solar for outages. I was reading about saltwater batteries that are ecofriendly and not hazmat, have you heard of them? I plan on living in the Visayas and was wondering if you would be interested in visiting to give input when I'm ready to install my electric system. I would pay for your inconvenience.


               Dan

Offline lost_in_samoa

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Re: Solar and Wind power
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2019, 07:24:24 AM »
have you ever heard of swamp coolers?"


My VW used to have a "swamp cooler".  I've goofed with evaporative cooling both in Samoa (lat 14S), and here in the RP, (lat 16N).

I have not done any conclusive measurements, the probes were spendy.  But my anecdotal observation is that evaporative cooling is marginally useful.  The high ambient humidity inhibits the reaction.

That being said you do get some relief.  Sweating on a sultry day still works.

My exterior walls are porous to a small degree.  The nightly dew is absorbed.  In the morning, the air temp rises and that "damp skin" starts out-gassing moisture / heat.  You can detect it by touch.

Because of that, for a few hours in the morning,  I have a layer of chilled, cooler material that is between my living space and the sun.  And the energy absorbed by this layer has to overcome the cooling before it can heat the building mass.  A "prophylactic" cooling benefit.

Ester experimented with "Zeer pots" for a while.  She remembered having one as a young girl.


 
cooling the outside air and blowing it into the house


I've trickled water with drip irrigation through an air-con filter. Aerated that with a fan.  Actually a Bedini SSG air mover.   It kinda-sorta worked. 

1.)  It forced "damp-er" air into our place.  Every thing started condensing and growing mold.  Think terrarium.

2.)  It was a wonderful biosphere for Mosquito larvae.  Took us months to wipe them out.



Before you go there .... I also looked at "Geothermal" heat pumps.  Sinking a radiator in the ground to harvest the temperature differential.  That did not work because the ambient temperature here is constantly high and holds the real estate so.

I went down three meters with no measurable effect.  About a year later I read a paper done by some Post-docs in India.  They had more funding and went down 30 meters before they measured any real benefit.  And that project was plagued with moisture, flooding, and mosquito's.  Back to scale and economy.


 
my plan was to insulate the inside and outside so that the metal is not drawing heat


I'd put a sharp pencil to that.  Does the added cost of insulation exceed the projected value of using a shipping container?   Remember stuff is hard to find here sometimes.  You may do your engineering based on products that are available in your area and not in the RP.

I can get LED lights to further save energy


The have just become available in our area.  I've got a few of them running.  So far I am encouraged.  I have had one D.O.A..   Opened it and was not impressed with the quality of the build.  Jury is still out.

I was reading about saltwater batteries that are ecofriendly and not hazmat, have you heard of them?


Aquion.  I heard they had energy density problems, went bankrupt, and just recently was bought out back to life.  I don't think they are going to be fielding products to the market anytime soon.



I plan on living in the Visayas and was wondering if you would be interested in visiting to give input when I'm ready to install my electric system. I would pay for your inconvenience


I appreciate your vote of confidence.  But I am retired.  Ester would kick my a_s from here to Manila if I took on another consultancy. 

Besides I don't know the real estate or market in Visayas.  Most of the benefit I can offer can be done remotely and via messaging.  Which I am happy to do for free.

Hope this helps.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2019, 07:31:52 AM by lost_in_samoa »

Offline uncledan

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Re: Solar and Wind power
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2019, 09:47:25 PM »
             Well, when in Rome do as the Romans do. I built houses for 20 years so I have a good idea how things work. I'll grab a bunch of LEDs before I leave, they aren't too expensive here and of good quality so grabbing 50-60 would probably work for me and extras aren't a bad thing. Is closed cell foam available there? I've had good experiences here with it. I don't have a problem with a poured concrete house but walking on concrete makes my feet and back hurt thinking about it. The concrete makes a good barrier and high ceilings with good air flow may do the job for me. It will take me awhile to acclimate but that's part of life. Are transformers expensive there? Should I bring some with me or just buy them there? Will I need more than 1 if I have a shop to power? You are shooting down a lot of my ideas but I'd rather learn from someone else's experience than to learn form spending money and learning the hard way. Are septic systems hard to put in? How deep do you go before hitting stone? Thanks again for your input.

       Dan

Offline Bob Johnson

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Re: Solar and Wind power
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2019, 10:02:18 PM »
LIS: Gasification/methane generation is interesting. The utility where I work has two generators that run off landfill gas, Cat V20's. The gas is nasty, even after cleaning, and the units require constant maintenance and repairs. We do keep them going at full rated capacity, though. They crank 3 Megawatts, and it's a good environmental thing.

Offline lost_in_samoa

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Re: Solar and Wind power
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2019, 05:11:11 AM »
Is closed cell foam available there? I've had good experiences here with it.

I don't know.  If memory serves that's a blown in type, correct?  I have never seen it around our place.  It may be available closer to Manila.  In Visaya ?  No clue.

I had some batt insulation put in my bodega.  That stuff lasted about a year then started to mold and sag.  It was stinking pretty bad.  So we pulled it out.

Here is something you might not be aware of.  Out in the provinces, waste disposal,  especially construction waste is a problem.  There are informal "recycle-ers" who will buy waste by the kilo. 

But they sort it and leave you with the worst parts like broken glass.   In our area there is no defined garbage system.  It's a P.I.T.A.


Are transformers expensive there? Should I bring some with me or just buy them there? Will I need more than 1 if I have a shop to power?

Yes they are.  I have had quality issues.  And a lot of transformers are mis-labled as step down when they are really Auto-transformers.  That makes a difference when you power equipment that requires a gnd relative to the hot leg.

I sized for %25 over the inrush on my largest tool.  But if I start up two or three things at the same time,  or the water pump kicks in the same time I power something up I can trip my breakers.  You may want to go larger.

My final solution was to purchase two quality units, one as a running spare, and ship them here.

You are shooting down a lot of my ideas

Sorry.


Are septic systems hard to put in?


Not really.  Finding masons who do good work is.  Double up on the sealing.  We get little earthquakes all the time.

In the boonies, most septic service is open bottom.    If your gonna put in your own water well, refresh your memory on water table contamination radii.  Don't want to be sipping your neighbor's pee pee.

In retrospect I wish I had put in an A.D. instead of a septic/leech system.  I may convert in the future.  But that is a job that I am not looking forward to.

How deep do you go before hitting stone?

Your local geology is probably different than mine.


Glad to help.


Offline lost_in_samoa

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Re: Solar and Wind power
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2019, 05:33:16 AM »
LIS: Gasification/methane generation is interesting. The utility where I work has two generators that run off landfill gas, Cat V20's. The gas is nasty, even after cleaning, and the units require constant maintenance and repairs. We do keep them going at full rated capacity, though. They crank 3 Megawatts, and it's a good environmental thing.

That's a huge system!

I am trying to eliminate all of my expenses.  Fuel is one of them.   

We create lots of cellulose/lignin heavy agri waste.  Livestock muck, mown deka, crop cull, etc.   I paid calories to produce this waste so I want to put it to work.  Recoup some of that investment.

Anaerobic Digestion currently provides our 'ponic nutrients and cooking gas.  Pryolsysis  might take the cell structures left over after A.D. and provide fuel.

I am working on an Imbert style gasifer sized for 5 -> 10hp engines.  I hope to power in field irrigation, small electrical generation,    maybe pump water for folks in the barangay should the utilities go out.

Right now I am still on paper, and scrounging materials.  We will start fabricating once the monsoon swings into full blast.