40' shipping container solar system to store my classic car and motorcycles in Las Vegas

bellegi

New Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2021
Messages
2
Hello,
My name is Bill and I'm new here. I have a 40' shipping container located in the Las Vegas desert that I would like to setup a solar system on top of to be able to power a small mini split a/c system and a few solar lights so I can store my classic car and motorcycles inside it during the hot summer months. I'm just looking to keep the temp inside the container about 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
I'm looking for some recommendations on a reasonable solar system that I can install myself that can run a small mini split a/c and some solar lights.
1) What size would I need?
2) How many solar panels on the top?
3) What kind and how many batteries inside the container?
4) Is a 1500 watt pure sine inverter enough?
5) How much would I be looking to spend for the system?

I've been watching some of Will Prowse's solar videos and the used 250 watt solar panels look like a good idea to start but I'm looking for advice.
Thank you.
 

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snoobler

Solar Honey Badger
Joined
Jul 10, 2020
Messages
8,430
Location
HBR, AZ
Hello,
My name is Bill and I'm new here. I have a 40' shipping container located in the Las Vegas desert that I would like to setup a solar system on top of to be able to power a small mini split a/c system and a few solar lights so I can store my classic car and motorcycles inside it during the hot summer months. I'm just looking to keep the temp inside the container about 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
I'm looking for some recommendations on a reasonable solar system that I can install myself that can run a small mini split a/c and some solar lights.
1) What size would I need?
2) How many solar panels on the top?
3) What kind and how many batteries inside the container?
4) Is a 1500 watt pure sine inverter enough?
5) How much would I be looking to spend for the system?

I've been watching some of Will Prowse's solar videos and the used 250 watt solar panels look like a good idea to start but I'm looking for advice.
Thank you.

Welcome to the forum.

First, you need to insulate the container. No way around that. I have a 40' container @ 6700 ft here in the AZ high dessert, and the wall on the sun-facing side routinely exceeds 140°F.

If you insulate with something around R9+, you should be able to get by with a 1 ton minisplit.

There is a lot of spitballing here...

Assuming 12000BTU/h SEER 22.5 minisplit, you likely need to run it for 12 hours per day @ 500W, that 6kWh of daily energy. Vegas gets great sun, so you could probably get by with 1500W of solar, a 24V battery and an 80A charge controller (in case you need to expand).

Insulation: $1000
Mini-split: $1000
Panels: $1000 (less if you get used from SanTan)
Batteries: $1200
Charge controller: $500
Inverter: $500
Misc: $500

About $5700

I have no idea if the above is right, but I suspect it's really close, and the only question in min mnid is if you might need more solar.
 

bellegi

New Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2021
Messages
2
Thank you Snoobler for the reply and information. The container faces east to west so I'm wondering if I could just insulate the top of it and the back side of it. The 8' width is tough to move around in with a car sitting inside it. If I added insulation to the sides, there wouldn't be much room left. I just saw another post where someone in Las Vegas picked up a bunch of Santan used solar panels and he is willing to sell some of them. Any recommendations on what brand batteries, inverter and charge controller?
 

snoobler

Solar Honey Badger
Joined
Jul 10, 2020
Messages
8,430
Location
HBR, AZ
Thank you Snoobler for the reply and information. The container faces east to west so I'm wondering if I could just insulate the top of it and the back side of it. The 8' width is tough to move around in with a car sitting inside it. If I added insulation to the sides, there wouldn't be much room left. I just saw another post where someone in Las Vegas picked up a bunch of Santan used solar panels and he is willing to sell some of them. Any recommendations on what brand batteries, inverter and charge controller?

Not sure what you mean by facing East/West. My door opens to the west. Since we're North of 23.5° Latitude, sun will shine on the south face, and it will get hot as crap. It's not just about the solar heating, it's about the horrific insulating properties of the steel walls. An A/C unit can't move enough heat to keep up with the heat transfer through the steel wall.

This guy outsulated his container:


The batteries would be DIY cells from China obtained from one of the trusted suppliers on this forum.

I'd select the inverter based on the peak draw of the mini-split you select. This is probably the most cost effective option as you get the charge controller and inverter in one:


That presume 2000W will suffice for the mini-split. I suspect it will. The downside of this unit is it burns a lot of juice just being on - probably at least 50W continuous.
 

McRod

New Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2021
Messages
29
I live in the desert near Tucson. I put my 8'x20' container under a 10'x20' pole barn facing east-west. Basically just a roof over it. No side walls.

I am able to keep it cool (mid 80s) with just a swamp cooler near the door (which I vented) and I have another gable roof vent fan that sucks air out on the other opposite end. I only have two panels on the roof for about 650 W.

Bottom line, if you can't insulate the container you may need to cover it. Helps tremendously.
 

oregonsun

New Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2021
Messages
15
I'm setting up a similar sized system after doing my research. when previously I didn't.
1500w inverter is not enough, I wasted that money then bought a growatt 3000 24v.
I started with 4x 100ah agm, I wasted that money then bought two amperetime 12v 200ah lipo.
I started with a 6000btu window a/c which kept me cool but was money wasted now that I'm looking at mini splits to reduce power draw and add heating capability.
I started with 100w panels, I wasted that money then went with 10x 440w from signature solar.

Moral of the story, buy the right stuff upfront and don't cut corners if you don't have to, my way wasted a lot of money.
If you were stuck unable to afford more, the 4agm and 1500w inverter and 6000btu window a/c works and is cheap, maybe you have enough sun that it would work even better for you, I'm limited on sun in oregon and wanted to do more than just run the a/c. Those cheap 1500w inverters won't do 1500w it will barely do 500 which is what the window a/c needed.
 

Frick

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 20, 2021
Messages
108
If you went heavy on the insulation and added a sun Blocking roof, you could just add a vent and flow air through it all night, and turn off fan in the day. The thermal mass inside of the cars and good insulation would likely keep it within several degrees of nighttime temps. Total power would Be 100-200 watts for the fan, maybe 12 hours a night. The more stable you keep the temp, the better the cars will fare. Things in storage do not like big temp swings day to night.
 

retrodog

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 15, 2021
Messages
32
Shipping containers are a good deal right now, apparently. They are piling up at the ports because the loaders are so backed up on unloading a huge backlog of ships parked offshore that they aren't taking the time to load the empties back on the ships. It's a real mess, so I plan to get one delivered to my farm in OK and set up for storage while I'm getting my workshop built.

Not sure this one I'm going to put the solar system on/in. That's why I'm checking out these threads.
 

oregonsun

New Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2021
Messages
15
Shipping containers are a good deal right now, apparently. They are piling up at the ports because the loaders are so backed up on unloading a huge backlog of ships parked offshore that they aren't taking the time to load the empties back on the ships. It's a real mess, so I plan to get one delivered to my farm in OK and set up for storage while I'm getting my workshop built.

Not sure this one I'm going to put the solar system on/in. That's why I'm checking out these threads.
Can you post prices you are getting on shipping containers now? I've been waiting for the right time to buy one or two.
 

retrodog

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 15, 2021
Messages
32
Can you post prices you are getting on shipping containers now? I've been waiting for the right time to buy one or two.
I need to check with a friend of mine who recently had one delivered and set up. I was visiting him in Oklahoma back over Labor Day and checking it out. Like everything else, you get into the "cost of options" when it comes to the setup. My intended location for one is in a bar lot that is adjacent to a farm house, so I will probably have to put in a few loads of gravel for a foundation and the like. I haven't gotten any firm estimates recently, but I'll let you know here when I do.
 

Mike 604

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
May 9, 2021
Messages
44
Insulate the ceiling with closed cell spray foam insulation.
This way when the seacan cools down at night you don't have the condensation drip down on the cars.
 

AntronX

New Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2021
Messages
7
Are you allowed to have panels extend beyond the perimeter of container? You could make an awning out of panels to shade sun exposed side of container. I would get 28 of cheap second hand panels to serve as a shade and ~6kW power source for aircon. Paint sun facing side with whitest paint you can get.
 
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