We are using a chingfa generator. Eventually we are going to change it out with a lister. But the chingfa was ready to go when when we started putting things together.
The 5000 watt inverter was $469 when I got it but they are $20 cheaper now. Its not a pure sine wave inverter but we haven't had any problems running table saws, power tools, Tv, microwave, computers and anything else at the farm. Pure sine wave inverters are at least twice the cost. Use three times the power at standby and are 10 to 15 per cent less efficient under a load.
I am running a 24v battery and inverter. I would run 48v but the equ is a big jump in price. 12v and 24v are about the same price. But it lets you save money by running smaller cables. Also charge controllers charge multiple battery voltages but are limited to their out put amps. So you can use the same CC for 12v or 24v but you get twice the power output by going 24v for the same costs. http://www.theinverterstore.com/the-inv ... inv500024w
The charge controller is a combination solar/wind unit that came with a 750 ARI wind generator. Its not real efficient with solar. When I get a CC for the new panels I am planing on getting a Outback MPPT 80 amp 150v CC and those are about $750. I feel I would be wasting my time with anything but a MPPT charge controller. They are about 30% more efficient allow you to run higher voltage into it letting you run smaller wire. And running higher voltage will allow the panels to charge on cloudy days where with other CC you won't get enough voltage to charge. With other CC than MPPT it just cuts off any voltage past what is needed to charge the battery where as a MPPT uses all the power from the panels.
When matching any solar panel or series of panels to a charge controller. You need to take the Max Open Circuit Voltage and times it by 1.56 and make sure the result is less than the max input voltage of the CC.
Its hard to tell on the panels we got but I think they are going to cost around $170 a panel. Not including labor to assemble them. We bought a pallet of blemished panels. Then had to buy aluminum and bend it up to make frames. Get and install junction boxes and assemble them.
Most people use banks of golf cart type battery's. But I prefer a forklift battery. With banks of batterys you have a lot of battery post connections to keep clean, they take up more room, they don't last as long, if you charge them too hard it shortens their life. There is a formula to figure out how hard you can charge a battery for max life but on a golf cart battery its about 10 amps. Where as with the forklift battery I can charge it at 180 amps without hurting it.
You cannot tell the state of charge of a battery by voltage. That will only get you close. The only real way to tell is to check each cell with a hydrometer adjusted for temperature of the battery. And there are a lot less cell to check on a forklift battery.
The battery really is the heart of the system. It needs to be large enough to easily supply the inverter with power at max loads for as long as it needs it. For my 24v inverter putting out 5000 watts it needs to put out 208 amps. If I was running a 12v inverter it would need 416 amps. Which shows why it is better running a higher voltage system and dropping wire sizes.
Battery life also depends on how often it is cycled x depth of discharge. Also not keeping it fully charged will shorten its life. A lead acid battery looses 1% of its charge a day so in ten days you have lost 10% of the charge. And that apply's to our cub batterys too keeping them fully charged will make them last longer. You also want a battery that is big enough to supply your power needs for a min of 2-3 days to be able to handle your power needs on cloudy low light days. The battery I have now will run my place for 5 to 7 days without getting any charge.
The first battery we had we got for $750 was used and used hard. The plates were sulfated which meant it had much more internal power losses than a new battery would. But even though it in the three years we used it. It paid its self off 10 times over in fuel and maintenance costs of running a generator. And having electricity 24 hrs a day priceless. Plus trying to keep the old battery going taught us what we needed to do to keep our new battery up and last the longest. And well kept up this new battery should last us 25 to 40 years. The new battery from GB battery cost us $3188. So if it only lasts us 25 years it cost us $127 a year to use and it lasts 40 years which it has for some it would only cost $79 per year.http://gbindustrialbattery.com/Forklift ... one15.html
We still have to get material to build the racks for the panels and build them. And clear the trees from where we are going to put them up. And being on the 48th parallel it needs a lot of space to catch the winter sun. But its coming along.
Its been a big learning experience. And is taking a lot of time to figure out even what questions we need to ask to do what we need to do. But I have always enjoyed the challenge of leaning