Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Float Cabin Living: How do you get power? Solar

Our solar power generation has separate systems for specific functions.

Solar panels on our roof facing south.

That way our power needs don't have to rely on one source. When we first got our cabin we started small and have grown our systems over time. We've also learned a lot about how electricity works.

Cabin battery bank in its storage box.
Our main cabin system has two solar panels. Our oldest one is 125 watts and the newer one is 200 watts. They feed into our electrical panel at the back of the cabin to charge 6-volt batteries wired in serial pairs to produce 12 volts to run our cabin systems.


The Gemini with her solar panel on top.
Later we added a separate solar system on Wayne's writer's retreat (boat). The 300-watt panel charges eight 6-volt batteries. This system provides power in the boat and to the cabin via a battery switch in the main electrical panel.

Through our electrical panel at the back of the cabin we can choose to use either our boat or cabin power source. During the day we use Gemini's power and leave the cabin's system charging. Our daytime electric needs are minimal, so the Gemini can charge and supply our simple daily needs at the same time. After dark, we change to the cabin source. That way we never deplete the batteries at either source.


We have other solar solutions for specific purposes. The first is on my garden float. A 15-watt panel charges a 12 volt battery that's runs a switch controlled boat bilge pump powering a hose to keep my garden moist in summer.


Another solution uses a 60-watt set of panels. It came as a package complete with three 20 watt panels, frame, connectors, charge controller, and inverter. It provides continuous power for the fan in our compost toilet.

Installing a new panel on the woodshed roof.
Our newest solution is a 40-watt panel to keep the battery charged in Wayne's sailboat. During winter the battery runs low. No battery, no bilge pump. No bilge pump, you get the picture. Even with low angles and direct sun the panel keeps the battery going when we are away.

Our separate systems work well for us, especially in the winter when power generation is limited.

The float cabin with it's solar panels on the south side.

Here are some additional posts about solar power:

Starting to Use Solar Power
Volts, Amps and Watts
Solar Charged Battery Packs
Sunrise, Sunset
Watering with Sunshine
Solar Powered Xmas Lights

What are some of your solar uses and solutions? -- Margy

30 comments:

  1. You have planned everything so well. I forgot to say on the post below that I enjoyed reading the bit about your history -- how you decided to buy and move to your cabin. Bill is reading the book you gave us back there a few posts ago, but I haven't started it yet. I assume it tells even more and I'm looking forward to that as well as your future posts.

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    1. I'm glad you are enjoying our stories. In case you didn't know, "Up the Lake" is always free in Kindle or e-book formats. It was the first book Wayne wrote about our life in Powell River and how we discovered our float cabin. - Margy

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  2. Is there nothing you two cannot do? Wow.
    What a fascinating journey...
    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

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    1. We do try a bit of everything, but so do you guys. I love following you trips, adventures and garden visitors. - Margy

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  3. I would love to do this! At least have it set up for an emergency! Your set up is very good and I enjoyed seeing it.

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    1. It would be a good place to hang out in an emergency. We have plenty of food, water and shelter. But it is also great for everyday living. - Margy

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  4. Going to come back to this one a few times- so much useful info, thank you. We don't have solar yet as we get no sunlight for so much of the year. This will be our first time here in the summer and not away working, so it might be time to invest in something small, especially for the bilge pump!

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    1. A smaller panel and 12-volt battery that you set up temporarily by your water source would do the trick. I can see where you are that a whole system wouldn't be practical. - Margy

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  5. Okay, I remember reading this but I don't see a comment from me. Either the dog interrupted me, or I forgot.
    I always enjoy reading about the interesting ways you and Wayne handle life up the lake!
    Kay
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

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    1. Maybe you saw it on Facebook. My blog posts also show up there. - Margy

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  6. Wow, that's an impressive solar system. I like your different way of living and thinking.
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

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    1. Thanks. The good thing about it was we grew it over time as our needs changed. Replacing the batteries all at once was a more expensive proposition. - Margy

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  7. Very interesting!

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  8. What a great solar panel system! We are in line for Tesla's solar roof tiles, but they probably won't be installed until next year due to the queue. A lot of people here have garden lights powered by solar cells.

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    1. We looked at the Tesla wall mounted unit when it came time to replace our bank of 6-volt deep cycle batteries. We chose not to go that route because they were just released and we wanted them to work out the bugs. Sounds like the roof tile system is the way to go rather than roof mounted panels. - Margy

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  9. Solar energy is so good for the environment. I wish my community would allow it as we get over 300 days of sun--maybe someday they will come around.

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    1. Time may change things. Lady Fi mentioned the new Tesla roof tile solar collectors. If it isn't a panel mounted on a roof it may become allowed. - Margy

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  10. You have that well sorted Margy. I've often wondered about installing solar panels but at the moment the outlay is too expensive for the reward, especially since a south facing roof is probably needed here..

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    1. The panels are not the largest cost. It is the battery storage that is. Maybe solar systems that link directly into your home's regular electrical system are different though. And selling some power back may offset costs over time. - Margy

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  11. My son hopes to have solar power and battery storage for the house he is hoping to start building.

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    1. If you live where there is lots of sunshine it's the way to go. Even where we are it is a good source most of the year. - Margy

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  12. Looks like you’ve figured out the best of worlds. It all looks so cozy and solar is the best. My tiny calculator runs strictly on solar. Given to me about two decades ago, it needs absolutely no care whatsoever and never fails to work even on the grayest of days.

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    1. The technology is there, it just has to become profitable for companies to put products into production. - Margy

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  13. It's an impressive setup, a great example of how you can live off the grid yet still have modern essentials. I think I'd need more panels to run my stereo :)

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    1. We really do have all the things that we would want even with a small system. Anything involving heat is an energy hog, but lights and charging devices works well. - Margy

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  14. I admire those of you who have taken the time to learn and the trouble and expense to set up a solar powered household.

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    1. Thank you Joyful. Where we live off the grid it is the best choice for us, especially since the system (batteries and wiring) can also be used with our wind generator and a backup gas generator in the winter. - Margy

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  15. That's interesting....thank you!

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