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Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #510894 08/29/19 06:26 AM
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Thanks for the warning highflyer! Ill keep my current battery (12v 275A) for now and just plan to run it daytime. Is it ok to leave it on 24/7 with that set up or will that be too much drop in voltage at night to cause damage?

Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #510897 08/29/19 10:12 AM
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E26,
Do you know the wattage of your pump? Or amperage?

I would doubt that one battery would be able to hold enough charge to last the night. Further, you would need to have enough panels to run the pump and recharge the battery every day. That would be a tall order for those panels. Once we know the runtime you can reasonably expect, I believe other experts would have you consider starting your pump some amount of time before sunrise so to get the cooling benefit and allow the batteries to start getting refilled with the sunrise.


Brian

The one thing is the one thing
A dry fly catches no fish
Try not to be THAT 10%
Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: highflyer] #510901 08/29/19 11:21 AM
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The pump is 80 watts. Amperage capacity is 1.6. I dont know how important it is to run the pump continuously, but I would think even if it shuts off for a few hours it would still be helpful for the pond quality. If the battery dies overnight, would it just recharge in the morning and then after it is charged the pump will run? Or are you saying it will try to charge the battery and run the pump at the same time and that wont work?

Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #510930 08/29/19 09:22 PM
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E26,
Going back and checking your battery, I now see it is a lawnmower battery. It does not have a lot of amp-hour capacity. I would guesstimate 10AH. This means it is only going to give you one hour of runtime before damage starts to happen. I would set it up to run around 9AM and have it turn off around 3PM max after you are sure it can produce enough power for this timeframe. This may be too much for the battery if it is cloudy.

I would expect you could get as little as 10 watts per "100 watt" panel if it is cloudy during the day. This means you really need to pay attention to your voltage to see how the battery is doing periodically.

So here is my recommendation:

Get your second 100W "panel"
Run for three hours a day and see how the battery does
Up the run time as your setup allows
Get a better charge controller
Get better batteries
Run your system as long as possible for the power you are producing less 15%
Reassess


Brian

The one thing is the one thing
A dry fly catches no fish
Try not to be THAT 10%
Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: highflyer] #510939 08/29/19 10:53 PM
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Ok thanks. Another thing I was wondering is if I should connect my inverter directly to the battery or to the load output on the charge controller? My understanding is that connecting it to the controller probably wont produce enough power, but connecting it right to the battery is what can cause the battery voltage to drop too low. Is that right? If so, whats best for my set up?

Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #510981 08/30/19 10:00 PM
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Two things to add first, that lawnmower battery can only handle about 3 amps max charge rate without damage. It's just too small to do much. It is a starting battery and that is just about it. That said, if you want to run during the day it will work. I would connect the inverter directly to a fuse or CB that ties into the battery. If you are not protected, you are asking for trouble. Second thing, get yourself a cheep DC timer from any online retailer ($10-20). Us it and a higher power relay and use that to power the inverter for the hours of runtime you believe you can support.

That inverter will smoke that cheep PWM controller if it pulls too much power. DO NOT connect an inverter to the load side of that tiny controller. You will release the mythical blue smoke, and it never goes back in.


Brian

The one thing is the one thing
A dry fly catches no fish
Try not to be THAT 10%
Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #510994 08/31/19 03:40 PM
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There is excellent, experienced, very wise, valuable and free advice provided in this thread for those with solar aeration inklings and thoughts of building one. Believe it and appreciate the advice. A big thank you to those gracious members who are contributing.


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Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Bill Cody] #511000 08/31/19 09:46 PM
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Absolutely! I am very grateful for those taking the time to give me some great advice! Thank you all!

Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: highflyer] #511004 08/31/19 10:15 PM
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Thanks Highflyer! Heres an update of where Im at and what I hope to do in the future based on your advice. You are right that the battery is way too small to do much. Right now, I dont want the unit running 24/7 because I heard that could lead to fish kill if you aerate too much too soon, so Im ok with it for now. I do want to upgrade in the future (hopefully before winter to prevent freeze), and Ill probably get two 6v deep cycle batteries. Currently the pump runs fine from about 9:00-7:00 which is great for now, but it will run the battery too low. I believe the inverter shuts down and alarm goes off at 10.4v. I also believe the inverter has a built in fuse. Do you still think I should put another one in? I really like your idea of a timer that would be a good cheap solution for now. I was also actually looking into a low voltage shutdown that I think would be ideal for me especially if I end up spending more on batteries. From what I understand draining the battery to 10.4 will damage it eventually, plus with this device I wouldnt have to worry about draining the batteries on cloudy days (which could still happen with the timer). Here is a link to it. https://mwands.com/shop/product/battery-protection-switch#

Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #511019 09/01/19 03:41 PM
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E26,
The battery is too small and the wrong type. It is a starting battery not a deep cycle battery.

The internal inverter fuse is a last chance fuse. I would still use an inline fuse.

In your area, the batteries will need to be protected from the cold in winter, especially as hard as you are going to run them.

See if your charge controller has a low battery disconnect. If it does, you can use the load outputs with the low voltage cutout to power the relay which runs the inverter. This way, when the charge controller sees the battery voltage sagging, the controller can kill the relay and thus the inverter until the battery recovers.

If your charge controller has a low voltage cutout for the load, that will be all you need to use. I have no dealings with MWandS. I would look for a cheeper solution from a reputable retailer if the charge controller does not have this protection. I do know the Brat charge controller does have a selectable low voltage cutout.

Bill,
I am humbled to receive such an endorsement from one I hold in such high esteem. Thank you for the complement. I will continue to help where I can.

What I am thinking about is to "build" virtual solar systems for 12, 24, and 48 volts. These systems would use off the shelf parts I know about and I would be able to give estimates of the daily power available. Some of the issues would be battery sizing, panel selection, controllers, and inverters (if AC power is wanted/needed).

One of the biggest issues is that most people that start using solar always want more power. So upgradability is key to best value solutions.

Thoughts?


Brian

The one thing is the one thing
A dry fly catches no fish
Try not to be THAT 10%
Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: highflyer] #511020 09/01/19 09:47 PM
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Ok thanks. I just order an in-line fuse and a $40 Victron low voltage disconnect because my charge controller doesnt have that capability. I will definitely upgrade the battery as soon as I can. Thanks for pointing out my batteries will need protection in the winter... I hadnt even thought of that! Can I just put them in a well insulated box? Does it need any ventilation? Im not sure how else I could keep them warmer out there?

Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #511026 09/01/19 11:02 PM
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I hope this thread is archived for future reference.
Highflyer has also helped me a considerable amount on getting my DC system optimized. This is priceless here, especially when the folks selling an "aeration system" can't give advice at the level we are receiving right here.
EDIT: Highflyer, I would think a Virtual system would be of incredible value here. I can add weight to that by saying by our phone conversations, you are very obviously not new to this. Your experience level here is more than one could ever ask for. I for one would like to see your ideas to straighten a lot of the misunderstandings of solar usage out.
Thank you.

Last edited by Snipe; 09/01/19 11:09 PM.

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Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #511027 09/02/19 12:33 AM
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E26,
An old cooler would be a good start. Yes you do need "any" ventilation. The smallest of outlets for escaping gasses is all I use for small systems. Tip of the day for ventilation holes, point then down so the rain does not fill your battery box.

More about winter ops, do not under any circumstance let your batteries go flat in winter, if they freeze, they are for all purposes dead. Yes they can be revived, but that is a higher level of understanding and takes a long time to accomplish if the battery does not rupture. Ask me how I know....

I'll see if Bob would like a new thread about solar systems, or if he would like it here. Either way I think I can have something easy to understand in short order.

I understand that cost is a big factor for most, but if you can't fulfill the requirement, the system is of little use. So in my mind, it is "know the requirement first," them see if solar is right for you. Then add 10% just because "it" happens.

A few things to know right up front:

12 volt systems are very limited. 10 amps is only 120 watts nominal
even at 30 amps, you are only at 360 watts nominal. Multiply that by the hours of sunlight you receive and subtract for clouds and you will have a rough idea of the power you can use daily.

24 volt systems are twice as powerful for the same amps. So now you can "make" something close to 700 watts at 30 amps. But with this power, you can't run high loads for very long.

So if you want to use a lot of power, 48 volt systems are where you are going to end up.

My current big system uses Eight 6V 428AH batteries and the same six 230 watt panels wired two strings of three in series for a total of 1380 watts potentially. I have seen 1250 watts during noon time sun and a spike wattage of 1365. I use a Midnite solar Kid controller and all of my wire is high grade. The cables from battery to battery is 1/0 high strand count welding cable. I "build" my cables custom. My current inverter is adequate. I am waiting for a new offering from Midnite before I upgrade my AC inverter. I have made 8KWH of power in one day testing this setup. I also have my panels on a solar tracker I built. It allows for southeast to northwest tracking. If I did not have the tracker, I would expect to loose 2KWHs minimum on this system daily. I can also set up another identical set of panels and use the same battery bank for twice the power available daily. It has the capability to accept that much charge without damage. Again, I sized the parts correctly for the potential upgrade.

In short, there is a lot to learn/know about when setting up a solar system. If you don't know, you can spend a lot of money on things that are not going to give you your best value.

The biggest thing I can say is that I had a lot of help from those who are way smarter on this than me. All I can do is share what I have learned. And I am glad to do so.


Brian

The one thing is the one thing
A dry fly catches no fish
Try not to be THAT 10%
Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #511062 09/02/19 09:45 PM
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I have been collecting a few pieces of information about solar aeration. I will put this thread with some other info in the Archives of Common Pond Q&A.
http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=511063#Post511063

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/22/20 07:51 PM.

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Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #518340 03/22/20 07:35 PM
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Hi everyone, bumping my old thread because I finally got the chance to invest in two 6v golf cart batteries for my solar aerator. The only other part of my system I still need to upgrade is the charge controller. I am thinking of getting an affordable MPPT controller. Not sure how many amps I would need it to be, or what brand is best. Anyone have any recommendations that would suit my needs? Thanks in advance!

Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #518352 03/23/20 09:17 AM
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Midnite Kid hands down. It is a great little charge controller!! It's not "cheap", but you get what you pay for. It would also give you some room to grow.

Last edited by wbuffetjr; 03/23/20 09:18 AM.

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Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #518363 03/23/20 11:23 AM
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Eagle,

How much energy do you need? What size solar panels are you using? How many panels are you using. Do you want to be able to upgrade your production in the future?

With this information, I will tell you to buy the Kid. It is the best and it is manufactured in the USA.


Brian

The one thing is the one thing
A dry fly catches no fish
Try not to be THAT 10%
Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #518382 03/23/20 05:01 PM
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Eagle26, Highflyer is the "Man" when it comes to solar.. Give him what you are expecting and he'll tell ya how to make it work.


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Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: highflyer] #518383 03/23/20 05:11 PM
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I have 200 watts of amorphous solar panels. I am running an 80 watt AC pump. I don’t think I would ever need more power than that for my pond. I should mention that I don’t want to “over buy” for my small operation, but I want something decent. Thanks!

Last edited by Eagle26; 03/23/20 05:17 PM.
Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #518401 03/24/20 12:15 AM
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Eagle26,

You will not purchase the Kid, got it. So I would tell you to do your research online from any of the big box stores and purchase a best seller, or big box recommendation.

(Side note) Do you know the Imp and Vmp of your panels? Also, those panels are won't last year after year, so be ready to replace them or end your project. Another thing to consider is the fact that those panes may not be able to fully charge your batteries. Best of luck.


Brian

The one thing is the one thing
A dry fly catches no fish
Try not to be THAT 10%
Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: highflyer] #518406 03/24/20 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by highflyer
Eagle26,

You will not purchase the Kid, got it. So I would tell you to do your research online from any of the big box stores and purchase a best seller, or big box recommendation.

(Side note) Do you know the Imp and Vmp of your panels? Also, those panels are won't last year after year, so be ready to replace them or end your project. Another thing to consider is the fact that those panes may not be able to fully charge your batteries. Best of luck.


I do not know the Imp and Vmp of my panels. I can add or replace panels down the road if I need to. I’ll look into some charge controllers. Do you know how many Amps I would need it to be? Also, just checking that I only need one even though I have two batteries? I can charge both batteries together because they are wired in series, right? Thanks for all your help, highflyer. I’ve learned so much from you and others on here... still have much to learn though lol

Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #518464 03/26/20 11:58 AM
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Eagle26,

I am going to break my rule and try one more time. Imp and Vmp are the amps and voltage where the maximum energy (in watts) can be produced. If you lower the voltage or amperage, you lower the total available energy. I would guess your Film panels run around 22 volts. I would guess Vmp is around 18 volts, now tie that to a PWM controller, and they can produce 12.5ish. At the nominal 18 volts, your panels will see around 5ish amps. Multiply the 5 maximum amps with the 12.5 volts being generated by the panels and you get 70 watts ish. Now look at the losses through your system. Subtract 10 to 25 percent more. Now realize your amorphous panels loos 10-30 % after 6 to 8 months and you can see that you are running on borrowed time. It you buy a cheep overseas MPPT controller, the losses will also be high, and it won't last very long.

About your batteries. If you have two 6 volt golf cart batteries, you must use them both together to have the 12 volts needed to run your inverter. If they are 12 volt batteries and you only use one at a time, be careful. The next thing you need to learn is how much power your batteries need to be suppled to be fully charged. Your battery manufacture will give you recommended and maximum charge rates and voltages for bulk, absorb, and float.

In short, Solar power is a complex undertaking. If done poorly, there are going to be problems. To do solar power correctly cost money. There are places where you can save, but if you skimp on the important bits, it will cost you forever.

I get wanting to do solar on the cheep, but it rarely works out. You must know what you are doing. I would recommend taking a solar power class at your local Community college. Those programs are setup to guide you through the initial steps to ensure you have the foundation to succeed. Again, best of luck doing it your way.


Brian

The one thing is the one thing
A dry fly catches no fish
Try not to be THAT 10%
Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #518480 03/27/20 07:12 AM
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Thanks for all your help Highflyer! I obviously have a lot to learn! I’m sorry if it came off like I wasn’t willing to take your advice. I had already jumped in by buying the cheap solar kit and was hoping to find a way to make it work. Per your advice, I upgraded parts when I could most recently adding the two 6 v golf cart batteries and new controller. Looks like I’ll have to upgrade the panels in the not too distant future as well.

Re: DIY solar aerator - help needed [Re: Eagle26] #518487 03/27/20 10:55 AM
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Eagle - you will figure it out. IMHO It is much easier to figure it out by actually doing - even if you are not doing it right (just don't kill any components). I still don't totally understand everything and I made a heap of power the last two days lol. BUT I understand all the little details a little more each year. Maybe you run what you have, learn, and upgrade to better parts as you go and can afford to.

Last edited by wbuffetjr; 03/27/20 11:13 AM.

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