Solar setup for chicken coop

ColtsVolts

New Member
I'm new here, not an idiot (Navy advanced electronics background), but man I am struggling here. Wanting small system to run chicken door, maybe some LED lights and a waterer heater. Thinking about 500 watts or so. Just trying not to burn the coop down. Any advice where to start?

Site seems to be awesome.
 

Supervstech

Administrator
Staff member
Moderator
500 watts for what duration of time? I was with you right up until you said waterer heater... they can CONSUME some batteries...
 

ColtsVolts

New Member
The heater is 150 watts. Wanted some extra capacity for some RV type 12v LED lights (6.8 watts each). Is this doable?
 

Craig

Watts are Watts!
Staff member
Moderator
Yes it's absolutely dooable. Let's figure worst case scenario. You have a 150 watt heating element plus some lights so let's say you need 160 watts per hour for 24 hours. That's 3800 watts per day. You get 5 hours per day of sun on average. So you need 3800/5 hours or about 800 watts of panels to create enough energy to support your needs for 1 day. You will also need to store about 19 hours worth of energy. So you need enough batteries to store 3000 watts or 3000/12 = 250 Ah of storage.

Panels will be relatively cheap say about 300 bucks batteries will be a bit more depending on what you choose.

It is always cheaper to find ways to save energy perhaps you could run the heating element less to save energy and cost. Would it be possible for 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off to cut your need in half. Idk just an idea.
 

ColtsVolts

New Member
Yes it's absolutely dooable. Let's figure worst case scenario. You have a 150 watt heating element plus some lights so let's say you need 160 watts per hour for 24 hours. That's 3800 watts per day. You get 5 hours per day of sun on average. So you need 3800/5 hours or about 800 watts of panels to create enough energy to support your needs for 1 day. You will also need to store about 19 hours worth of energy. So you need enough batteries to store 3000 watts or 3000/12 = 250 Ah of storage.

Panels will be relatively cheap say about 300 bucks batteries will be a bit more depending on what you choose.

It is always cheaper to find ways to save energy perhaps you could run the heating element less to save energy and cost. Would it be possible for 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off to cut your need in half. Idk just an idea.
Any harm of getting like a deep cycle marine battery for storage? And there's the thing with I know I need some type of interface between panel and battery so I don't fry anything. My wife would kill me if I killed her chickens
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
For simplicity and ease + frugality, I would suggest maybe looking at a smaller "All in One" system, with Solar Controller & Inverter combined like an MPP type of unit; General listing here: https://usa-mpp-solar.com/store-buy-now

Solar Panels can be had cheap if your open to used panels. Check out https://store.santansolar.com/product-category/solar-panels/ but there are other vendors in various places in the US and even some on EBay... Many here have bought from SantanSolar and are tickled pink with their purchase.

Batteries: Simply put, any Lead Variant is only 50% useable, so for example if a Battery says it's 100AH, you can only use 50% of that before damage to the battery happens. Vehicle batteries are useless in Solar Applications, you need to use Deep Cycle Lead batteries which includes deep cycle marine, golf cart and "some" RV batteries. Craig's math is bang on the button, so you'd be looking for 12 Volts an 500Ah to have enough useable. Lead is fairly temperature tolerant so they work in below freezing temps as long as they are properly charged & maintained (see ref doc link below). If you decide on Lead, then stick to Real Deep Cycle batteries made by Trojan, Rolls Surette, Deca and so on, stay away from knock offs and off brand labels. Unfortunately even brands like Exide have gone really crappy in the last couple of years and "store brands" are the worst out there.

Excellent article on Care & Feeding of Lead Acid Batteries: https://www.solacity.com/lead-acid-battery-care/

Many people looking to heat water for Chicken Coops often look at a Solar Water Heating system which can be done cheaply with a little DIY creativity and a pinch of ingenuity. Check this site out, many plans and practical applications, a terrific resource: https://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/WaterHeating/water_heating.htm

Hope that helps, Good Luck
Steve
 

ColtsVolts

New Member
For simplicity and ease + frugality, I would suggest maybe looking at a smaller "All in One" system, with Solar Controller & Inverter combined like an MPP type of unit; General listing here: https://usa-mpp-solar.com/store-buy-now

Solar Panels can be had cheap if your open to used panels. Check out https://store.santansolar.com/product-category/solar-panels/ but there are other vendors in various places in the US and even some on EBay... Many here have bought from SantanSolar and are tickled pink with their purchase.

Batteries: Simply put, any Lead Variant is only 50% useable, so for example if a Battery says it's 100AH, you can only use 50% of that before damage to the battery happens. Vehicle batteries are useless in Solar Applications, you need to use Deep Cycle Lead batteries which includes deep cycle marine, golf cart and "some" RV batteries. Craig's math is bang on the button, so you'd be looking for 12 Volts an 500Ah to have enough useable. Lead is fairly temperature tolerant so they work in below freezing temps as long as they are properly charged & maintained (see ref doc link below). If you decide on Lead, then stick to Real Deep Cycle batteries made by Trojan, Rolls Surette, Deca and so on, stay away from knock offs and off brand labels. Unfortunately even brands like Exide have gone really crappy in the last couple of years and "store brands" are the worst out there.

Excellent article on Care & Feeding of Lead Acid Batteries: https://www.solacity.com/lead-acid-battery-care/

Many people looking to heat water for Chicken Coops often look at a Solar Water Heating system which can be done cheaply with a little DIY creativity and a pinch of ingenuity. Check this site out, many plans and practical applications, a terrific resource: https://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/WaterHeating/water_heating.htm

Hope that helps, Good Luck
Steve
Thank you for taking the time to write this. Very helpful. A lot to dig into. I will hopefully have some pics to share soon!
 

Supervstech

Administrator
Staff member
Moderator
Keep in mind winter is when the heater is needed, and winter is often overcast, and very short sun hours... I would triple if not quadruple the panels needed for winter use...

also at least have double the battery storage... because they will likely need to operate without sun for multiple days.
 

bigjerv55

New Member
Great info. I'm looking to do something with solar for a calf barn and chicken coop that I have on a new property. Calf barn has a 1500W water deicer and 2 60W light bulbs at this point. Not sure how big of a system I need here. And the chicken coop is just lights at this point. My main concern besides my math skills is the cold winters. While there's a roof and walls on my building it's not insulated so assuming how cold it is outside will the inside temp as well. Recommendations for batteries? Great info above btw, I'll be reading through again.
 

Hedges

Photon Sorcerer
H2O is cheaper per kWh than Pb or Li
If you used PV to heat water in a tank-type water heater while the sun was shining, a convection loop would keep a water container from freezing at night. (Just be aware of the issues using DC with AC-rated thermostats and avoid that problem.)
Insulation around the water container and maybe some sort of baffle (the chickens would have to stick their head past to reach the water) could reduce heat loss.

You could stick a thermometer in a container of water inside your freezer to determine rate of heat loss for a given delta temperature. Away from the fan, that would give results for still air.
 
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