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Solar power to run reptile enclosures...

Discussion in 'Alternative Energy' started by Night0wl, Jul 19, 2006.

  1. Night0wl

    Night0wl New Member

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    Hi all,

    I am starting out in electronics, mainly building effects pedals for guitars, and I recently thought about using solar energy to heat and light 4 reptile enclosures.

    Each enclosure has a 10watt evergy saving bulb for general light and a 75watt ceramic heat emitter for heating.

    I thought about using this inverter....
    http://www.electusdistribution.com....ords=inverter&SPECIAL=&form=KEYWORD&SUBCATID=

    and this battery....
    http://www.electusdistribution.com....ywords=sb1694&SPECIAL=&form=KEYWORD&SUBCATID=

    I am wondering how many solar panels and what size panels I would need to power the 4 enclosures 24/7? The heating would be thermostat controlled and would not run 75watts all the time but would be on 24/7. The 10watt lights would only be on during the day, maybe 12 hours.

    Sorry if my info is vague but I am a beginner and not sure what info is required. Also, does anyone have some helpful documents on setting up solar power for this sort of thing?

    Thanks
    Shane

    BTW, I am in Central NSW, Australia
     
  2. dknguyen

    dknguyen Well-Known Member

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    http://www.siliconsolar.com/flexible-solar-panels.php

    Click on the type you want to get specific info about prices for specific versions. For 100W, you are looking at an upwards of $1500 worth of very large solar panels...and that's assuming there is sufficient light.

    It's about 60" x 375" or 1m x 9.5m.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2006
  3. Night0wl

    Night0wl New Member

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    thanks dknguyen,

    Do I need to have the same wattage in solar panels as what I am consuming? eg; I will be using about 440watts daily and 400watts of that is 24/7. Does this mean I will needd 400watts worth of panels?

    Shane
     
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. dknguyen

    dknguyen Well-Known Member

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    UNder ideal conditions, yeah. You need to provide at least the same wattage as what you are consuming. You will probably need more. The power rating is under good nominal conditions which is not always true. And if you use it 24/7 you are going to need to charge up something so it can run during the night- and the process of charging and using power from the power storage is not 100% efficient. So basically, it means that if you use solar panels for day and night, you need their wattage to be at least twice as large as your consumption, assuming your day is equal to your night, since you need to power the heaters during the day while storing an equal amount of energy for the equally long night.

    I would think it would be more efficient to directly use the sunlight as heat during the day (maybe redirect it or something and provide something for shade- it is after all what they do in nature. Why use an more complex, less effective artificial method?. Much more efficient than the 7% or 20% solar panels have.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2006
  6. Night0wl

    Night0wl New Member

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    Thanks again for your help dknguyen.

    The reptiles I have are naturally located much further north of Australia, in a warmer climate all year round where winter temps remain around 15 deg/C over night and 25+ deg/C during the day. Where I live we are lucky to get 15 deg/C during the warmest part of the day and night temps regularly fall below 0 deg/C in winter so using the sun for enclosure heat is out of the question.

    I might just have to keep paying huge power bills :(

    Thanks again,
    Shane
     
  7. dknguyen

    dknguyen Well-Known Member

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    I was under the impression Austrailia is hot everywhere since it is so far down south (but then again so is Anartica). And I guess you are in the desert where it gets real cold at night.

    Do some calculations about the lifespan of the reptiles (or however long you are keeping them and the power bills involved). See how long it takes to pay off...and make sure to take into account the amount of sunlight you get...the less you get the more solar panels you need...
     
  8. HarveyH42

    HarveyH42 Banned

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    You should plan on atleast double your consumption, since your load is 24/7, but full sunlight isn't. Might consider building something that will provide as much power as you can afford, and switch back to mains as needed. Atleast the critters would still get something if the mains goes out or you forget to pay the bill... You are still looking a several thousands of dollars for this project, sorry.
     
  9. Sig239

    Sig239 Member

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    Why not just convert the solar energy directly into heat instead ruining the efficiency by converting into electricty. You could store and transfer the heat using water and some simple plumbing(copper pipe comes to mind here), and a water pump. A black box with a glass or plexiglass top and maybe a solar reflector to concentrate the solar energy onto your waterpipes. Anyways just my 2 cents.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2006
  10. bryan1

    bryan1 Well-Known Member

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    Hiya NightOwl,
    Take a look at the oatleys website and they have some heating wire for a $1 a metre. I bought some and made up a heating box for my wifes plants and made up a simple circuit to switch the circuit off at 20 degrees. Using a pot I can adjust the temp easily and I have 2-6 volt 105 amphour batteries hooked up in series to power the unit. I find I only need to charge the batteries every 4 days if the unit is used constantly and I use an arlec battery charger hooked up to my house solar array. Take a look around the scrap yards and you might find some deep cycle batteries, I just recently scored 30 of those 6 volt batteries for $250. Anyway with that heating wire and a few deep cycle batteries coupled up to some solar panels you could make up a decent system.

    Cheers Bryan:D
     
  11. Night0wl

    Night0wl New Member

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    Thanks for all your input everyone.

    I will look into your ideas Sig239 and bryan1, thanks! I never thought about other alternatives like that.

    Thanks again,
    Shane
     
  12. Paul Obrien

    Paul Obrien Guest

    Maybe just attach some 12v halogen lights, no need for inverters. The reflectors will help direct the thermal radiation and it should be possible to switch off/on lights to control the temp.
     
  13. bryan1

    bryan1 Well-Known Member

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    That might work when it's the sunniest and hottest part of the day :cool:
     

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