The Basic Set Up is that the solar panel takes photons from the sun to excite the electrons in the silicon panels to create a potential needed to create electricity. The wired up solar panel allows electricity to flow through the charge controller to regulate the amount of current going to a battery so as not to over charge and potentially ruin the single battery or a battery bank. The battery can be hooked up to directly to power Direct Current (DC) loads only. If a power inverter is connected to the terminals of the battery, the outlet(s) could be used to power Alternating Current (AC) loads.
Most power inverters are called Modified Sine Wave Power Inverters, however there are more expensive Pure Sine Wave Inverters. Pure sine wave inverters will be more accomodating for electronic use such as televisions, laptops and gaming systems. These will make the picture more crisp like we are accustomed to and will not be "choppy." If a Grid Tie Inverter is connected, then the opposite end could be plugged into any outlet of your house and the electricity generated by the solar panel will directly supplement your electricity bill. Some solar arrays in the Kilowatt ranges could even drive your electricity meter backwards and feed excess energy back into the grid. (!!! Check with local and state regulations as well as your electric company regarding grid tie inverters for legality purposes!!!)
Wires: Red = Positive (+), Black = Negative (-)
When it comes to wiring electrical components, there is a series and parallel wiring. Wiring in Parallel means the positive wire is connected to another positive wire and the associate negative wire is connected to the other negative wire. Wiring is Series means the positive wire is connected to the negative wire and the associated negative wire is connected to the other positive wire.
Wiring a Battery in series with a second battery will double the output Voltage. Therefore, if you had two 12V, 10 Amp hour Deep Cycle Batteries wired in series, your outcome would be a 24V, 10 amp hour battery bank effectively.
Wiring a Battery in parallel with a seconc battery will double the amp hour usage, Therefore, if you had two 12V, 10 amp hour deep cycle batteries wired in parallel, your outcome would be a 12V, 20 amp hour battery bank effectively.
Now you may be wondering what is the best wiring sceme for a battery bank. First let's do some math...I know! I know! Math!?! but bear with me, it won't be That bad :)
The battery that I use in this instructable is a 12Volt 10 AH (amp hour) battery. That means that, using the power equations for batteries: V*A=Watts, 12V * 10AH = 120 Watt hours. That means that if I had a 60 Watt bulb being powered from the battery directly, 120 WH / 60 Watts = 2 hours worth of use. By dividing Watt Hours by the wattage of the load being utilized, the watt unit of the equation cancels out and leave the amount of time the load can theoretically be used. I am sure there is some sort of tolerance like +/- 10% where you might be able to pulle a few more minutes after the two hour mark or on the flip side, less than two hours
If I wanted to use that 60 Watt load for more time, I could wire another battery in parallel to double the amount of amp hours to 20 AH and therefore have a total of 240 Watt hours. I could then use the 60 watt load for 4 hours now, as opposed to the two hours with just one battery! If you had a DC load that didn't utilize 12 volts but 24 volts instead, you would need to wire the batteries in series so that the output voltage would be 24V.
One final note, If you have a panel wired to some amperage, say 5 Amps, and you have a 10 Amp Hour battery that was dead, it would take about 2 hours to fully charge the battery (provided you have a higher voltage panel compared to the battery, i.e. an 18V panel for a 12V battery like I do in this instructable). I have seen deep cycle batteries in the range of 60AH and, again for example, with the same 5A panel, it would take 12 hours to fully charge the battery.
One final final note on the use of Deep Cycle batteries, these are specifically made to be fully discharged and subsequently fully charged over and over, hence the name. So if you plan on fully discharging the battery over and over or simply don't have the drive to check the battery's life every second you are using it, go with deep cycle batteries.
And that's that! Not too bad, yeah?!
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