Share Your "Real World" Solar Generator Stories

dhenge

New Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2020
Messages
1
My real life use is camping. My girlfriend likes a lot of the sites that don't have electrical hookup, but I need a CPAP (ASV, technically) to sleep at night. It's also nice if it's raining not to run an extension cord from the site electrical hookup. I have the Jackery 500, and I can run my machine for about 3 nights with a small margin for error without any charging if I used the DC to DC adapter (steps up from 12 to 24v, I believe). I bought a 100 watt solar panel (Rich Poly 12v) to stretch it, and I have the newer model that has the MPPT so I can get maybe half a battery of charging on a sunny day. We don't go that often or for that long usually so I can typically charge it up before we go camping and finish with maybe 25% of the battery left. It's also nice to know that if we have a power outage for a night, I'll be able to get a good night's sleep.

I know I could have rolled my own setup, but this was simpler and had a broader set of applications than anything I felt comfortable putting together.
 

jleblan1

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Jan 18, 2021
Messages
42
Hello,
I live in southern Louisiana and went through the 2020 hurricane season from hell. We were smacked by Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta. I was able to put all of my off grid gadgets to full use. I had 3 505wh Awanfi units, 2 1000wh Maxoak Ac100, and a slew of smaller units I collected the last few years. As far as panels I have a mixture of different folding and a few rigid panels for about 700 watts total. For Hurricane Laura we lost power for several weeks, we were able to continue living fairly normal with all the power stations. We used various power stations for TV, fiber modem router, Lamps, small appliances, 2 small 12v refrigerators. We have a 2kw inverter gas generator we used for one chest freezer and 1 window AC.

During the down time of the generator for oil changes the Maxoak AC100 units could run the window AC for about 3-4 hours and the chest freezer even longer. We had several 100 degree high humidity days the week after Laura so the window AC had to keep running nearly 24/7 to keep our master bedroom comfortable.


The lessons learned.....
Its much easier to conserve watts than generate them. (Use lower wattage LED bulbs, turn down backlight setting on TV, ect)
I prefer having smaller units placed in each room than larger units and extension cords. (It also gives redundancy if something fails)
Expect lots of curious neighbors and questions when your driveway is full of solar panels.
 

jleblan1

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Jan 18, 2021
Messages
42
Well, a test but, real world too......

Today, I ran a test to see if my Bluetti EB150 would handle the 5,000 BTU A/C in my little camper. The outside temp was too cool (70 degrees) to get the compressor really kicking on/off like I needed it to but, decided to let it run for a while anyway.

When the A/C ran on low fan only it pulled 58w. When it ran on high fan only it pulled 67w. When I manually turned the dial to kick on the compressor, it surged up to 1200w + then ran about 325w while the compressor was on. Unfortunately, two out of the four attempts I made to kick on the compressor surged too high and the unit popped an E013 code (Inverter overload protection). Given the specs of the unit I suspected that might happen. Thankfully, I could reset the code without issue and decided after two E013's to leave well enough alone and not press my luck.

Possible solution is to buy a "soft starter" and install it in my A/C. We normally camp in the cooler months and where shore power is available so this is not a big deal for me.

If I install a soft start in the A/C I'll run another test and post the results. Thought I'd pass this along for those who may interested.
The Frigidaire window ACs with low power startup feature seem to only surge to about 700w for a second or two on startup. I was able to run a unit fine on my Bluetti AC100 which only allows a few seconds of surge power above 700w. The frigidaire 5k unit seemed to settle to around 250 watts after about 10 minutes running with compressor.
 

BoloMKXXVIII

Fully Charged
Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
266
Location
Somewhere on or near Earth
Add thermal mass to your refrigerator/ freezer before a storm. Lots of cold water jugs in the refrigerator and frozen jugs of water in the freezer will keep things colder longer. Also, you will have more backup potable water.
 

fred333

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 21, 2021
Messages
68
I purchased an Inergy Apex [primarily] for unexpected/extended (i.e., week-long) power outages. Since I've had it, it's only been enlisted for occasional auto maintenance tasks. So, mostly, it sits idle, fully-charged, ready to light my world the next time my world's lights go off. Presently, I live in a ground-floor rented flat that's bathed in more shade than sun; and I'm generally unable to pitch PV panels due to the insecure nature of the community property. However, kitted-out with a wad o' Energy Star (and other low-consumption) gadgets, I'm hoping the Apex'll allow me to fare the next week-long return to the dark ages in much lighter spirits.

Unfortunately, one of the reasons I went with the Apex over brand X was its advertised (and frequently promised!) outboard lithium battery option. Two of which, more than two years later, I'm still waiting for (hopefully, shipping in May....and hopefully, they don't mean May 2022)..
 

cwoods400

New Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
10
My real life use is camping. My girlfriend likes a lot of the sites that don't have electrical hookup, but I need a CPAP (ASV, technically) to sleep at night. It's also nice if it's raining not to run an extension cord from the site electrical hookup. I have the Jackery 500, and I can run my machine for about 3 nights with a small margin for error without any charging if I used the DC to DC adapter (steps up from 12 to 24v, I believe). I bought a 100 watt solar panel (Rich Poly 12v) to stretch it, and I have the newer model that has the MPPT so I can get maybe half a battery of charging on a sunny day. We don't go that often or for that long usually so I can typically charge it up before we go camping and finish with maybe 25% of the battery left. It's also nice to know that if we have a power outage for a night, I'll be able to get a good night's sleep.

I know I could have rolled my own setup, but this was simpler and had a broader set of applications than anything I felt comfortable putting together.
Like many, I too have a Jackery 500. I've used it a couple of times on a camping trip. I love the MPPT charge controller. I used it with about 160 watts of STC solar. Real world conditions meant that I was getting a max of 60-80 watts of input at any given time (sunny conditions). Cloudy conditions were disappointing at roughly 20-30 watts input typically. Still, it was enough to charge the Jackery 500 to at least sustain my and my wife's cell phones. I also powered an electric blanket for several hours.

The biggest disappointment, however, was the Jackery 500's very slow recharge time in general. Even from a wall outlet, the Jackery was very slow in comparison to, say, an Eco Flow product. Just my two cents. Overall, I still like the Jackery 500. It has its place. I will continue to use it. But, I've already moved on to more robust technologies (LifePO4 home built portable system, Eco Flow River 600, etc).

I hope someone finds this post useful.

Kind Regards,

Colin
 

curiouscarbon

Science Penguin
Joined
Jun 29, 2020
Messages
2,149
I hope someone finds this post useful.
I found your post useful, thanks for insight

Your point about charge time is really good i think

After using goal zero vanilla and then their mppt and then victron mppt now DIY LiFePO4 pack is my direction too.
 
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