Stay Powered On! Tech devices keep running through power outages - DIY solar backup system.


Given our dependence on technology, and all the uncertainty in today's world, it doesn't hurt to have an alternate way to stay "powered on" when the electrical supply is out.
 If you  are a tech person like me and depend on technology for your business, being without electrical power for several hours can be a real problem.
 Let's face it, we are pretty dependent on technology. We must stay connected to the internet to communicate and do important business transactions. You may have a battery in your laptop but it will not last long and what good will it do you if your internet connection, router, switches are down?

I created a solution for myself that has worked out well. I made my own solar power backup system for my home office. The cost of doing something like this is less than $1000 if you do it yourself. However you need to be resourceful on where you buy you supplies. Most of my supplies came from Ebay,Amazon, Lowes, and Harbor Freight Tools.

One important fact to keep in mind is that conserving energy is half the battle to having a effective solar backup system.

Reduce your power consumption first:

  • Use a laptop instead of a desktop, they use far less energy.
  • Use LCD monitors instead of CRT monitors - CRT monitors are energy hungry.
  • Use inkjet printer instead of laser printer. - Laser printers use lots of energy to print.
  • Use CFL light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs.

I have these items backed up on Solar Power:

  • 1 laptop
  • 1 Verizon FIOS Router/switch and Verizon ONT at the service entry
  • 1 Linksys ATA (for VOIP Phone)
  • 1 Cordless Phone with Speaker Phone
  • 1 24" LCD TV
  • 1 Roku XDS Streaming Video Player
  • 1 Cell phone charger
  • 1 inkjet printer
  • 1 Lamp with 10W CFL bulb (equal light to 40W incandescent bulb)
  • 1UPS



If I lose power I can run these items for about 10 hrs. before needing the sun to charge the batteries again. So if the power goes out at night and I got a good charge that day I will be good until morning. When the the sun comes out again it charges the battery bank again. 

To make a small solar backup you will need these items:

  • Solar Panel(s)
  • Solar charge controller ( regulates charging of battery bank from solar panels)
  • Deep cycle batteries (12VDC marine batteries)
  • Inverter (converts 12VDVC to 120VAC)
  • Breaker panel or fuse panel
  • Wire and connectors.

My system consists of  160 Watts in solar panels from Ebay , a 30Amp charge controller from Amazon, Three 12v MAXX Marine Deep Cycle batteries from Walmart.

I have a small breaker box with a 20 amp breaker between the solar panels and charge controller I got from Lowe's to protect the charge controller. The three batteries are connected in parallel and then to a 2000 watt power inverter from Harbor Freight Tools. The power inverter changes the 12VDC from the batteries to 120VAC

My power inverter is a modified sine wave inverter and has worked great for me. However, pure sine wave inverters are better but cost more. My inverter has three AC outlets and I have one of  the outlets connected to long 12 gauge extension cord that is connected to the UPS in my office and all of my tech devices are connected to the UPS. I can also connect the power from my FIOS ONT box at the service entry on my house to one of the outlets on the inverter also.

This setup works well for me. If I do not need to run on the solar backup, I can just plug the extension cord onto a normal wall socket in the office. When I switch power sources to run on solar backup power, my UPS keeps everything powered on long enought to make the switch without a glitch.

Well, there you have it... My DIY solar home office solar backup system. The best part of solar power is independence it gives you. The sun comes up every day and is free to use for everyone...



Please comment and let me know what you think or if you have a question.





 

13 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:43:00 PM

    This is amazing that this could be built for so little?

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  2. Yes, it's really not to bad if you get the solar panels on Ebay.

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  3. Homes in all areas of the world are able to benefit from solar power, it is just a matter of setting up the system and using the energy that is produced. The main requirement for a successful solar power system is that you have access to the sun, which is an easy requirement to meet!

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  4. Yes hann, the sun comes up everyday for free.

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  5. Seems like a fantastic implementation. Only one problem: Why would you buy your marine batteries (or anything) from Walmart?! They've been slowly getting better, but they still have tons of work to do on many environmental and social issues: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/01/walmarts-eco-efforts-enough-balancing-sustainability-social-responsibility.php

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  6. Well, to be honest, I already had the Walmart batteries for another purpose. When time comes to refresh these batteries I will likely use 6v golf cart batteries connected in series to make 12VDC. I have been told golf cart batteries will give more run time as they are higher amp hour batteries.

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  7. Mike, you are correct, it is more efficient to run items directly from 12VDC. In fact, I do have some 12VDC CFL bulbs I run in my garage off of this system. Also I have a 12VDC automobile accessory plug attached to my battery bank to run other 12VDC devices. Thanks for pointing this important fact out.

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  8. Great thing ! I have never seen a simpler install explanation than yours. Everybody tries to complicate things ( commercial purposes maybe ).

    I love the idea of being energy independent ... I'll see when I'll get there :)

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  9. Anonymous10:03:00 PM

    It can be even more simple. Small systems can be 100% self contained and plug and play easy. Small enough to charge small devises daily, or TVs fans laptops and more during a power outage..

    Koossee Art and Design

    Koosseeartanddesign.weebly.com

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  10. Anonymous11:58:00 PM

    I live in the philippines...can you give me the breakdown in terms of costing of the things u used to set up the solar back up system? Will buy them piece by piece until I complete the parts... (Exchange rate now is P44:$1) thanks

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  11. Great project for techies.

    And if you live South enough for lots of sunshine, you can expand it into solar-powered A/C and refrigeration. It may have only 10-15% efficiency in terms of energy conversion, but 0 * .15 is still zero energy cost. Plus capital input.

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  12. Anonymous6:51:00 PM

    Many residential wiring rules require a separate circuit for light and and power.
    By isolating the light circuit to have it powered by 12V DC (LED's) PV panels and battery storage should eliminate the still costly inverter as well as overall costs.
    By not having to pay for expensive LED's with their own transformers and rectifiers should
    make this a very economical concept especially for a DIY project.

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  13. Great idea, using natural resources can help us with lessen our power consumption. Thanks.

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