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Thread: getting more power out of a solar panel, on the cheap

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Central Texas
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    Default getting more power out of a solar panel, on the cheap

    So I'm my garage is a small solar setup. Actually, 2 small setups. The small setup is a 50 watt panel hooked up to a simple PWM charge controller that keeps a single 50 amp/hr battery. I use this small setup primarily to charge cell phones and other devices that utilize a USB jack. This one does fine so I'm not messing with it.

    The other small setup is a 245 watt panel going through an MPPT controller which keeps 200 amp/hr batteries charged. This setup needs some help. Since both panels are mounted inside my garage, they only provide power when the garage door is open. Even then, in the summer time neither panel gets any direct sunlight. So my 245 watt panel typically puts out less than 40 watts of true power.

    My mind for to thinking the other day. How can I aim the panel better to put out more power but at the same time be able to put the panel back in place and be able to close the garage door.

    The solution I came up with is to mount the panel on a full motion tv wall mount! Perfect! This will allow me to aim the panel, get more power output, but still be easy to secure the panel behind a closed garage door thus protecting the panel from hail, high winds, and vandals.

    So today I went into town to a store that sells surplus at a huge discount hoping to find a full motion tv mount. Low and behold I found a Sanus full motion TV wall mount! The price tag said $89 but everything in the store is discounted so I took a chance and headed to checkout. $27 later and I am walking to my car!


    So hopefully in the next day or two I'll be able to mount the panel on this bracket and see how much more power this panel will put out. Last winter, with the panel mounted vertically, I saw a peak of around 8 amps of current being produced so we will see how close to that it comes.
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Sounds good. Hopefully it will stand up to your local weather, including wind.
    In a crazy world, it's the crazy man who can get by - and it's about to get cray-cray up in here.

  3. #3
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    Central Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruss01 View Post
    Sounds good. Hopefully it will stand up to your local weather, including wind.
    Since the panel is mounted inside my garage, it is shielded from the wind and rain.
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by 91CavGT View Post
    Since the panel is mounted inside my garage, it is shielded from the wind and rain.
    But... why? Solar panels are made to withstand rain, hail, snow, and wind <- if mounted properly.

    Rancher

  5. #5
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    Central Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by azrancher View Post
    But... why? Solar panels are made to withstand rain, hail, snow, and wind <- if mounted properly.

    Rancher

    HOA rules. If you want to install solar panels where they can be seen, you have to submit an engineer's report, you need to purchase a permit from the city to get it done, and it has to pass all electrical codes for the city.


    Since this is just a small setup, it is not worth it to go through all the hassle and expense to do all of that. Not to mention, the only time anyone would know I have solar is if they see the panels when my garage door is open. Since I live on a dead end street, only the people on my street can see that I have it. Not to mention, I have a 2 story house which is surrounded by single story homes so any solar on my roof can be seen several streets away.
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    NW Ohio
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    Wow, I love HOAs.

    Could you mount them on a roll around stand that could be rolled into the driveway, and angled to meet the sun's full rays. This could be rolled back into the garage when not home, or at night.....kind of like the old foldup ping pong tables that had wheels.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Helena Montana
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    999

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    Portability, grab and go set up sounds just fine. Don't you wish the solar roof tiles were cheaper.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckelly78z View Post
    Wow, I love HOAs.

    Could you mount them on a roll around stand that could be rolled into the driveway, and angled to meet the sun's full rays. This could be rolled back into the garage when not home, or at night.....kind of like the old foldup ping pong tables that had wheels.
    I could do this, and it would produce more power in the summer since the sun is nearly directly overhead. With the panel mounted on a tv wall mount it won't produce as much power, but it takes up less floor space and it only takes a couple of seconds to put it away vs. a couple of minutes.
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
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    Lake LBJ, Texas
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    6,644

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    I drive around taking pictures of offenses to our POA rules that the prez and board allow to happen. They like to utilize rules to those that they choose. I don't do anything with the pics, just hang on to them. Got a real nice one of the prez walking past a house with a boat on trailer in drive. He walks every day. Rule on trailer of any kind in drive is 72 hours. If they don't like you, like me, they start sending notices at 48 hours. Date stamp on all pics taken. Just for fun. I like to buck the system.

    On panels, we considered a tracking mount for our first water well pump, but found that even 75% duty on the pump is too hard, so save on tracking, because 50% duty is enough.
    Once on safari in deepest darkest Afganistan we ran out of Gin, and were compelled to survive on food and water for several days.


    I typically carry a flask of vodka for snakebites. I also carry a small snake.- W. C. Fields

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Central Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by KINGCHIP View Post
    I drive around taking pictures of offenses to our POA rules that the prez and board allow to happen. They like to utilize rules to those that they choose. I don't do anything with the pics, just hang on to them. Got a real nice one of the prez walking past a house with a boat on trailer in drive. He walks every day. Rule on trailer of any kind in drive is 72 hours. If they don't like you, like me, they start sending notices at 48 hours. Date stamp on all pics taken. Just for fun. I like to buck the system.

    On panels, we considered a tracking mount for our first water well pump, but found that even 75% duty on the pump is too hard, so save on tracking, because 50% duty is enough.
    We have something similar beginning to take shape. The community HOA won't take over till all the construction on new houses are done. The way things are going now, that won't be for another year. However, the builder is acting as the HOA until all the houses are built. There are places that people might mow once every 3 months and nothing happens to them, yet my mother-in-law goes on vacation and she gets a nasty letter in the mail telling her to either cut her grass or it will be done for her and she will get the bill for it in the mail. No trailers or RVs are allowed to be in your driveway or on the street for more than 24 hours. Yet I can list off 3 houses that have violated this rule for at least 4 months straight.

    So until we have enough equity built up to get a bigger place farther out of town, I'll continue to find ways around the rules.
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

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