Cheapest solar setup to heat desperate pensioners for 6 hours a day at 37w?

Booce

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Apr 2, 2022
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6
Hello People wise in the ways of Solar! First post here, watched a lot of videos. We have a cost of living crisis here in the UK with fuel bills rising 54% this year. We quite literally have old people freezing to death in their homes and I need your help. With the desperate choice of heating or eating mounting, I need to find the cheapest possible way to build a set up that can run a 37 watt draw 12v electric blanket for 6 hours per day here in the UK. We log an average of 3.3 hours peak solar here.

Given that we are talking about the poorest in our society here, cost is the primary factor over higher performing technology. They can't afford LiFEPO4 and a Victron MPPT. What can we do? What is literally the cheapest controller, battery and panel we can put together to provide someone with 6 hours of heat a day?

Desperate times over here, as I know are in much of the world at the moment. I think a definitive build and cost could end up saving some lives here if we can get it cheap enough.

Will anyone help?

Thank you sincerely for any answers or ideas.

Booce.
 

Bvillebob

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Oct 21, 2021
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By far, the cheapest way is to plug it into the wall. Anything you do with solar will be much, much, more expensive, no matter the cost of electricity. Call it 40 watt power draw, that's 1 kilowatt hour per day (x24 hours). Even at 50 pence per kwh, that's 15 pounds a month. If you used it 4 months, that's 60 pounds per year. Any basic solar setup will cost you 10-20 years worth of wall power.

Edit, just noted your title says 6 hours per day, so cut that 15 pounds to 4 pounds per month, so up front cost would be 40 to 80 years of commercial power cost.

Part of the problem of course is that when you need it, in the middle of the winter, you have almost no solar available at 50+ north and cloudy weather, that 3.3 you mention is a yearly average, far less than that in the winter.

The most cost efficient way, is as you say, heat the person not not house, wrap up in an electric blanket, put another blanket over that. It's not that cold here, but I'm sitting in my chair with a blanket over my legs and a throw around my neck. I keep my house around 60 degrees F, but I'm very comfortable sitting for extended periods with just a little covering, and when I'm up and moving the 60 feels fine.
 

Booce

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Apr 2, 2022
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Thanks Bvillebob, I was hoping there was something we could do for them, guess not :cry:
 

Intheswamp

Latitude N 31° 43' 59" Alabama
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137
Sure, there's things you can do but maybe not something simple like solar power appears to be to the general public. Your latitude also doesn't help with winter solar energy...a low-angled sun. 😐 Are you talking individual houses or possibly apartments, or dormitory-type pensioners' housing, or...??? Each would need handling differently.

Solar *is* used in the UK to a good extent, though, but I believe these are large ($$$) setups and probably grid-tied.

I would think that an AC-powered electric-blanket sandwiched between a regular warm blanket and a sheet would be the most cost-effective and most personal-warmth effective way to go in regards to electric blankets. The outer blanket would help to both reduce energy requirements of the electric-blanket and keep the pensioner warmer. I wish I could tell you differently, but there's no such thing as a solar "free ride"...it can be expensive. I sincerely wish you the best with this project.

I just looked at this website, though I'm not sure how accurate it all is. It seems to be legitimate, they've put a lot of data in it. That's some significant energy increases. 🙁 https://www.nimblefins.co.uk/average-cost-electricity-kwh-uk
 

Wjm1964

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Feb 4, 2022
Messages
51
It's a disgrace in the UK. It's like a 3rd world country these days. Food banks and over the top energy costs. We will soon be commuting by horse and cart. Not allowed to burn coal or wood in some areas thanks to the environmental fanatics. This is the world they want us all to live in even cavemen could light a fire for heat.
 

Booce

New Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2022
Messages
6
Sure, there's things you can do but maybe not something simple like solar power appears to be to the general public. Your latitude also doesn't help with winter solar energy...a low-angled sun. 😐 Are you talking individual houses or possibly apartments, or dormitory-type pensioners' housing, or...??? Each would need handling differently.

Solar *is* used in the UK to a good extent, though, but I believe these are large ($$$) setups and probably grid-tied.

I would think that an AC-powered electric-blanket sandwiched between a regular warm blanket and a sheet would be the most cost-effective and most personal-warmth effective way to go in regards to electric blankets. The outer blanket would help to both reduce energy requirements of the electric-blanket and keep the pensioner warmer. I wish I could tell you differently, but there's no such thing as a solar "free ride"...it can be expensive. I sincerely wish you the best with this project.

I just looked at this website, though I'm not sure how accurate it all is. It seems to be legitimate, they've put a lot of data in it. That's some significant energy increases. 🙁 https://www.nimblefins.co.uk/average-cost-electricity-kwh-uk
Thanks Intheswamp. Our current government is a total disgrace here in the UK and is willing to let the poor die shivering and hungry. I'm fortunate to be working in a decent job and I've just started the process of a build for my mother in law and son who live rurally. The process of learning about the wide variety in setups was leading me to think that maybe I could put together a basic setup out of last gen equipment for not too much money. I was then thinking that I could try and raise funds to buy and distribute to those without the means. Pipe dreams I know, but I love solar, I hate poverty and I want to try and help people.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read, think and comment, it's much appreciated.
 

Don B. Cilly

Energetic energy padawan
Joined
Aug 24, 2021
Messages
1,118
Location
Mallorca ES
This would have to be researched and tested, but maybe...
They sell 12V electric blankets. They also seem to use ~40W - but not all the time, they have a thermostat. So maybe 25Wh?
Which would be 2Ah at 12V? When I say it has to be tested... :·)

If you go to a wrecker's yard, and explain the situation, you could maybe get some oldish car batteries for next-to-nothing.
They could go on the balcony under the panel.
A lot of wrecker's yards here have huge stacks of oldish solar panels collecting dirt and rain. The same could maybe done with those.
Which would leave a ~£20 PWM controller, and a small charger one could plug into the socket at off-peak hours, or when the panel can't cope.

I'm not saying it would work. But maybe an experiment could be tried.
-
 

Tim Tim

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 7, 2021
Messages
164
Hello People wise in the ways of Solar! First post here, watched a lot of videos. We have a cost of living crisis here in the UK with fuel bills rising 54% this year. We quite literally have old people freezing to death in their homes and I need your help. With the desperate choice of heating or eating mounting, I need to find the cheapest possible way to build a set up that can run a 37 watt draw 12v electric blanket for 6 hours per day here in the UK. We log an average of 3.3 hours peak solar here.

Given that we are talking about the poorest in our society here, cost is the primary factor over higher performing technology. They can't afford LiFEPO4 and a Victron MPPT. What can we do? What is literally the cheapest controller, battery and panel we can put together to provide someone with 6 hours of heat a day?

Desperate times over here, as I know are in much of the world at the moment. I think a definitive build and cost could end up saving some lives here if we can get it cheap enough.

Will anyone help?

Thank you sincerely for any answers or ideas.

Booce.
Booce stand proud and thank you for caring. It is sad that the so called leaders of a country together with the so called entitled do not care and have no empathy.

Quality clothing and bedding will go a long way to helping people. As long as they have food the body will generate heat and the clothing or bedding providing insulation. Far much cheaper than solar and batteries.

They hardest part will be getting older people to change but it is sad that in a so called 1st world country pensioners have to live like Eskimos.
 

sunshine

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Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
749
It's a disgrace in the UK. It's like a 3rd world country these days. Food banks and over the top energy costs. We will soon be commuting by horse and cart. Not allowed to burn coal or wood in some areas thanks to the environmental fanatics. This is the world they want us all to live in even cavemen could light a fire for heat.
Now that the realisation that solar heating isn't viable in the UK you must look for alternatives. How much heat would one of those boats crossing The Channel release if burnt in a fireplace?
 

Booce

New Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2022
Messages
6
This would have to be researched and tested, but maybe...
They sell 12V electric blankets. They also seem to use ~40W - but not all the time, they have a thermostat. So maybe 25Wh?
Which would be 2Ah at 12V? When I say it has to be tested... :·)

If you go to a wrecker's yard, and explain the situation, you could maybe get some oldish car batteries for next-to-nothing.
They could go on the balcony under the panel.
A lot of wrecker's yards here have huge stacks of oldish solar panels collecting dirt and rain. The same could maybe done with those.
Which would leave a ~£20 PWM controller, and a small charger one could plug into the socket at off-peak hours, or when the panel can't cope.

I'm not saying it would work. But maybe an experiment could be tried.
-
Wonderful, thanks Don, this is the kind of thinking I was following. I actually have a 12v blanket here for my Mum in law and have tested it. It consistently draws 37w. I put it on a 288wh solar generator I have and ran it for 4.5 hours from full to dead. Sadly that generator can only handle 60w in from the PV so is not up to the job with the limited sun we have here. I suppose even a couple of hours a day of heat would make a difference to a lot of people.
 

Intheswamp

Latitude N 31° 43' 59" Alabama
Joined
Dec 17, 2021
Messages
137
Another option, though it relies 100% on solar with no battery and nighttime performance may be lacking is a solar air heater. There would need to be some heat sinks within the dwelling to accumulate heat energy during the day...masonry walls/floors, barrels of water,...something with dense mass to store the heat in so that it can release it during the night. The expense is much less than solar electricity. But, as with solar electricity, a day or two of cloudy sky and your stored energy (heat) is gone. Here is a link to a YouTube video with lots of links to other solar air heater videos:
 

Wjm1964

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 4, 2022
Messages
51
I can recall people using a lightbulb covered with a garden clay pot as a heater. The heat from the light bulb heated the clay pot, but yes call around some scrap yards and see if they will donate a couple of batteries and try find an inverter for free too. Sad situation
 

Supervstech

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A 6Ah LFP readymade dropin, a 12V pwm controller shouldn’t cost over 100$, add in a 100W panel for another bill, and you have a basic setup that shouldn’t have issues with a 2Ah 6h nights use…

Low sun angle will take all day to recover the load, but it could be done. Plus the USB ports on the charger can trickle a phone charge as well…
 

Supervstech

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I can recall people using a lightbulb covered with a garden clay pot as a heater. The heat from the light bulb heated the clay pot, but yes call around some scrap yards and see if they will donate a couple of batteries and try find an inverter for free too. Sad situation
If only incandescent bulbs were still easy to buy…
 

Don B. Cilly

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Messages
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Location
Mallorca ES
I don't understand "consistently". Those have thermostats, they switch on and off all the time. Did you mean "on average"?

Also, you wouldn't need any "generator" - except the panel. A 200W panel - cheap enough new, a lot cheaper old - would be good enough to provide the "40W" needed for the blanket and recharge the battery.
So, say you'd want 40Wh for... 12 hours. Some 5-6 hours would be covered by the panel. To simplify, at 12V, 40 Ah.
So, two 60Ah batteries - your average car size - should deal with that. Low angle can be offset by tilt. Rainy/cloudy days... well, that's what the charger would be for.

I would put on my Royal Society cap, grab a panel and a couple of batteries, and experiment away - theory is one thing...
Also, who would pass the chance of using mother-in-laws as guinea pigs ;·)
-
 

Intheswamp

Latitude N 31° 43' 59" Alabama
Joined
Dec 17, 2021
Messages
137
There for a while after they quit manufacturing regular incandescent bulbs you would see a pallet of them in the BBS. I think the manufacturers made extra bulbs to last for a while but the retailers just flushed them out of their systems like they were a stomach virus. Now about you find are the 'specialty' bulbs. I will say I've got a couple of cartons of them stuck back...great for small-space heat like around exposed pipes in the winter, keeping exposed plants from freezing (with a cover over the plant and bulb), etc.,. There's lots of good uses for the old bulbs. I most recently used one connected as a redundant heater for my tomato and pepper seedlings.
 

Biasjo

Renewable energy user - North Carolina
Joined
Dec 19, 2021
Messages
607
It's a disgrace in the UK. It's like a 3rd world country these days. Food banks and over the top energy costs. We will soon be commuting by horse and cart. Not allowed to burn coal or wood in some areas thanks to the environmental fanatics. This is the world they want us all to live in even cavemen could light a fire for heat.
Sounds to me like a Revolution is needed.
Just my 2 cents.
 

circus

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Joined
Jul 8, 2021
Messages
363
We have a cost of living crisis here in the UK with fuel bills rising 54% this year. We quite literally have old people freezing to death in their homes
I always thought the UK was temperate. Here in Frostbite Wis. it's much colder, we freeze because taxes and insurance premiums takes all our money. Last year my garbage pickup bill from the township was more than my heating bill. :( I might fill one garbage bin every two months.
 

Booce

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Apr 2, 2022
Messages
6
I don't understand "consistently". Those have thermostats, they switch on and off all the time. Did you mean "on average"?

Also, you wouldn't need any "generator" - except the panel. A 200W panel - cheap enough new, a lot cheaper old - would be good enough to provide the "40W" needed for the blanket and recharge the battery.
So, say you'd want 40Wh for... 12 hours. Some 5-6 hours would be covered by the panel. To simplify, at 12V, 40 Ah.
So, two 60Ah batteries - your average car size - should deal with that. Low angle can be offset by tilt. Rainy/cloudy days... well, that's what the charger would be for.

I would put on my Royal Society cap, grab a panel and a couple of batteries, and experiment away - theory is one thing...
Also, who would pass the chance of using mother-in-laws as guinea pigs ;·)
-
I connected the blanket I have and watched it for several hours (sad I know, but empirical evidence is best) and it constantly drew 37w. Its a cheap 12v car blanket from Amazon and doesn't even have an on or off switch let alone high or low heat. It doesn't seem to be smart enough to get to operating temp and then back off the power until needed again but just goes for a steady draw. I went for a 12v blanket as I didn't want the inverter loss of an AC blanket. No doubt better versions are available.

There's some great ideas coming out here everyone, I'm very grateful to you all for contributing to this folly of an idea:)
 
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