Advice needed for a small garage/shed workshop

MAAD

New Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2021
Messages
2
Hi everyone. Completely new to solar panel systems so please bear with me. I may be asking dumb questions so please don’t be too harsh, lol.

I’m looking to put together an off-grid system to run a small workshop in a small garage or a shed out back. It would run a table saw, miter saw, router, bandsaw, planer, small jointer, drill press, small lathe, spindle sander, dust collector, and various other smaller power tools and tool battery chargers. At any given time, only ONE tool and the dust collector will be running at the same time. Aside from the tools, I’d be running a couple led workshop lights and maybe a fan at times, but only when the shop is in use. The shop would be used a couple hrs/day during the week, and probably 4-8 hrs/day on weekends. And one machine might be in use at any given time, even when I’m not in the shop, but it’s only a 3d printer.

How would I go about figuring out what kind of system I need? What should I be calculating? In my case, would a 12v, 24v, or 48v be the best option? I’m not made of money but I do want something that will work well for my needs and hopefully not be too expensive or too complicated that I can’t set it up myself. So I’d prefer affordable but not dirt cheap, sacrificing safety and/or quality. In an ideal situation, I’d also want to be able to run 240v but I’m sure that would greatly add to the cost so maybe not.

I keep seeing these kits or all-in-one systems (which sound great as I wouldn’t have to figure out what components are compatible with each other, etc.) but most of the things I read about them pertain to being mounted on vehicles and running normal appliances (inside RVs, for example) so I’m completely lost on what specs I should be looking for.

Any advice for this newb? Thanks in advance.
 

FilterGuy

What, me worry?
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Nov 26, 2019
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Los Gatos CA
It would run a table saw, miter saw, router, bandsaw, planer, small jointer, drill press, small lathe, spindle sander, dust collector, and various other smaller power tools and tool battery chargers.
Even considering that most of those things would not be run at the same time, that is not going to be a small system. My guess is the kits won't cut it. Anything with a good size motor is going to require a high wattage inverter and if it is going to run for very long, it is going to require a lot of energy. (The dust collector fits both of those bills)

Some of the newer versions of those tools have a soft-start on the motor, but my guess is most of your tools don't. That means they are going to have a very large start surge. Since the dust collector will probably be running when the tool starts, that surge will be on top of the power running the dust collector. You might be able to get away with a high-frequency inverter, but for what you are planning I highly recommend a low-frequency inverter because of the surge capability they have.

A few recommendations:

1) Start with an energy audit to get an estimate of the needs for your system. This tool can help you do that:
Note: The tool assumes everything is on at the same time, so the calculated inverter size will be way too big. You will need to figure that out manually.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the above tool is helping you understand what energy is needed for various things. people are often surprised at what takes a lot of power and what does not.

2) I am pretty sure you are going to find the dust collector is an energy hog if it is left on while to putz around the shop. You are probably going to want to look at one of those systems that detect when the tool comes on and automatically start the collector. If that turns out to be impractical, consider getting one of those remotes that let you easily turn the collector on and off when you need it.

3) Don't purchase anything till you have it all figured out. Far too often people get excited and start buying before they know what they will need.
 

MAAD

New Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2021
Messages
2
Even considering that most of those things would not be run at the same time, that is not going to be a small system. My guess is the kits won't cut it. Anything with a good size motor is going to require a high wattage inverter and if it is going to run for very long, it is going to require a lot of energy. (The dust collector fits both of those bills)

Some of the newer versions of those tools have a soft-start on the motor, but my guess is most of your tools don't. That means they are going to have a very large start surge. Since the dust collector will probably be running when the tool starts, that surge will be on top of the power running the dust collector. You might be able to get away with a high-frequency inverter, but for what you are planning I highly recommend a low-frequency inverter because of the surge capability they have.

A few recommendations:

1) Start with an energy audit to get an estimate of the needs for your system. This tool can help you do that:
Note: The tool assumes everything is on at the same time, so the calculated inverter size will be way too big. You will need to figure that out manually.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the above tool is helping you understand what energy is needed for various things. people are often surprised at what takes a lot of power and what does not.

2) I am pretty sure you are going to find the dust collector is an energy hog if it is left on while to putz around the shop. You are probably going to want to look at one of those systems that detect when the tool comes on and automatically start the collector. If that turns out to be impractical, consider getting one of those remotes that let you easily turn the collector on and off when you need it.

3) Don't purchase anything till you have it all figured out. Far too often people get excited and start buying before they know what they will need.
Thanks for the information.

1) I’ll definitely use that tool and your advice and figure out my needs. Been a busy week but I’ll put in the time this weekend.
2) Yes, my plan is to have the collector activated by remote, only when it’s needed. It’s just me so I won’t be jumping from machine to machine, operation to operation in an actual production-like environment. After an operation, it’ll be shut off while I check measurements, squareness, etc., and move parts to the next operation. It won’t be so fast paced that I’ll need to have the dust collector running for long periods of time.
3) Good advice. Part of me wanted to jump the gun and start ordering components ASAP to get this going but I’m glad I didn’t. And now that I’ve thought about it, I may just run the dust collector and the lights on the solar and just run a heavy duty extension cord from the house. It’s not very far away from the closest outlet. And now I’m even thinking that if I realize the solar power system I need is too costly or just not worth the money and the hassle involved, I may just get an electrician out here and set me up with a line underground and a subpanel in the shed.

Again, thanks for the info. Much appreciated!
 

12VoltInstalls

…myself everything do I…
Joined
Jan 18, 2021
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if I realize the solar power system I need is too costly or just not worth the money and the hassle involved, I may just get an electrician out here and set me up with a line underground and a subpanel in the shed.
There is a reality that big equipment is usually better paired with grid power once you have to start paying the bills!
 

MichaelK

Photon Sorcerer
Joined
Mar 21, 2020
Messages
2,298
I can give you the quick answer for what I implemented for my own off-grid workshop, that has already run drills, table saws, and compressor motors. I installed the following....

3 Rolls-Surrette 8V 568Ah batteries
Schneider SW4024 sine-wave inverter (split-phase 120/240VAC)
8 250W grid-tie panels wired in 4S2P
Midnight200 charge controller
Midnight AC and DC power centers
Midnight combiner box

As 12VI states though, if you already have grid-power available, you won't save a penny installing off-grid solar. It is simply the single most expensive way to make electricity.
 
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