solar panels

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boobesque | 19:58 Sat 22nd Oct 2005 | Science
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Considering that i live in england, in a modest sized house, is it at all viable? considering the costs of the panels and lack of sun for a large portion of the year?

Also, would there be any way to connect the solar panels to the mains instead of plugging my peripherals directly into the solar batteries?

The thing is that i dont want to keep having to switch the power source when the sun goes in, instead i would like the mains to automatically be used when the solar panel doesnt create enough energy?


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No its never viable BB

by which I mean that the cost of installation and maintainance is always greater than the year on year saving - for whatever age you live to.

[living to two hundred doesnt count]

so you only do it if you wanna feel good - and there is nothing wrong with that

I think that currently the most feasible system is the mini wind turbine. you may be able to get a grant.

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Not sure you'll ever find these installtions commercially viable but I have been thinking about solar panel and wind turbine installations in holiday homes in remote locations away from mains services and think the following would work. This is intended to help with the second part of your question.

I can image a system which is based around banks of lead acid batteries located in a garage or outbuilding which is suitably insulated. The batteries can be either connected in parallel or series or a combination of both to achieve the favoured working voltage (series) and meet the power needs of the house (parallel).

I picture this battery bank as the base of the whole system with all other aspects building out from it.

Now, you could charge these batteries via solar panels (using a correctly spec'd regulator so you don't cook the batteries!).

You could also charge them from a wind turbine, another charging module.

You could also charge them from the mains electricity supply (240Vac) by using a suitably spec'd charger taking into account V, I and P. Really all this need be is a AC to DC transformer with a regulated and smoothed output.

So, you now have a load of batteries which are charged from various sources. A smart set of electronics could prioritise and select the source of charge.

Then if you take the output from the batteries and run it through a DC to AC converter (an inverter) such that you get 240Vac out, then you can run most domestic appliances. But bear in mind the problems with running inductive loads (anything with an electric motor) and the increased power required due to the phase lag between voltage and current.

That's the system that I have in my head but have never built a prototype so don't know how valid it is.

Hope this has helped, triggered more thoughts and not confused.

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