Forum Thread

Ideas for solar power in storage shed for minor needs

ropiv 1,168 80 April 9, 2012 at 07:29 AM
Recently, we had a new storage shed installed in the backyard, about 50 feet from the house.

We don't plan on running electricity to it, but it would be nice to have a little juice. I don't know if this is something that makes reasonable sense or not, but here's my "pie in the sky" wish. Hopefully someone can make some suggestions on how to do this, or just tell me it won't work.

I would love to put a small solar panel kit in place that would do two simple things:

1. Be able to charge (over time) the battery packs I use for my electric drills, weed whackers, etc. They currently plug into a standard outlet.

2. Be able to run a light bulb for a few minutes, if needed.

Is this something that is typically able to be done with some of the basic solar kits? Can someone point me to maybe some products to read about, or an online article, or any other suggestions.

Thanks!

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#2
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#3
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#4
Sounds like a cool idea, not sure of your exact cost the cost but diynetwork has a parts list of what you would need with cost of $1000-$2500.
http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/...index.html

If you could do it yourself and find the parts for a reasonable price, might be worth it and fun to put together. Otherwise, just for light, you can pick up a solar light for $20-$50 and a 50ft+ extension cord for another $20
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#5
Quote from Jabbit View Post :
What about this?

http://www.harborfreight.com/45-w...68751.html
That seems like a reasonable price. just add the inverter to charge your batteries?

http://www.harborfreight.com/400-...66814.html
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#6
Adding the solar panel to do light will work, (Although pretty expensive). I don't think you will want it to charge your batteries though. It will take a long time, and could be bad on the batteries themselves depending on what type they are. Probably not enough power to run any quick chargers etc. This would also be pretty inefficient. Solar cells are DC, Store in storage batteries as DC, run through Converter to make it AC to plug your charger into, the charger then converts it back to DC. So in all of that conversion you are loosing efficiency of the little power you would have.

The extension cord is a good idea, you could probably bury it in conduit and it would be pretty safe and cheap. Now I would not go to all this trouble to just have light in the shed. They make LED lighting that is push button, that runs on normal batteries and runs for hours. They cost under $20. You could go with LED strip lighting and direct 12v power to a larger deep cycle battery if you wanted too.
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#7
Quote from Count_Chocula View Post :
This is better:

http://www.lowes.com/pd_242130-16...fo=Outdoor
Yeah, I'd second that choice. Just lay 50 ft of conduit/pvc with a cord running through it and you'll save yourself plenty of headaches and money. On top of the panels and inverter you'll also likely need a few batteries so that when you do pull electricity it won't fluctuate if you get a cloud overhead and also you'll be be able to charge things at night.
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#8
Thanks all for some good responses and ideas. The extension cord option is definitely going to be the cheapest, and obviously allow me to do pretty much anything I want power-wise in the shed. I guess I was hoping for a relatively simple/in-expensive "green" solution -- since the power needs will be very low.

Still, some good alternatives to consider / research further. Thanks again for the replies.
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#9
Yes 50' of UF is about 60.00

http://www.doitbest.com/Undergrou...paign=BROI

if you have an outside receptacle that you can feed off of rent a small trencher get your backyard marked for power/gas lines, add the outlet and light you will increase the value of the shed by more than the 200.00 it will cost if you know a LICENSED electrician you can have them come over to help or just make sure the work is all done up to code and you will be all set.
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#10
DO NOT bury an extension cord or put it in conduit!

Bury some #12 or #10 UF cable. First call 811 and have them mark utilities in your yard so you don't cut anything.
A 20A Max GFCI protected circuit requires that the cable be buried 12 inches. Other configurations (eg if you want more power) may require a burial depth up to 24 inches. A dedicated circuit that runs to the shed would probably be preferable.

Trying to charge your batteries out there would be rather inefficient and expensive using solar power. To you may want a system with a true sine wave inverter. UF cable is by far the cheaper option.

Also consider that the temperatures in your shed may get quite hot in the summer which could be bad for the life of the batteries you want to charge. So the only alternative to UF cable that I would actually recommend is some thing like this [lowes.com] installed inside the shed for light and charging the batteries inside the house.
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Last edited by jkee April 13, 2012 at 09:20 PM
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#11
As far as I know, ALL electrical work requires a permit with inspection and a licensed electrician to perform the work. That said, lots of people do it themselves. Where I live (mont co md) the above is the case. There is a slight chance when you move that you will have to have all of the wiring ripped out and reinstalled properly if no permits are pulled.
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#12
Quote from jkee View Post :
DO NOT bury an extension cord or put it in conduit!

Bury some #12 or #10 UF cable. First call 811 and have them mark utilities in your yard so you don't cut anything.
A 20A Max GFCI protected circuit requires that the cable be buried 12 inches. Other configurations (eg if you want more power) may require a burial depth up to 24 inches. A dedicated circuit that runs to the shed would probably be preferable.
.
Iagree
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#13
Quote from dealgate View Post :
As far as I know, ALL electrical work requires a permit with inspection and a licensed electrician to perform the work. That said, lots of people do it themselves. Where I live (mont co md) the above is the case. There is a slight chance when you move that you will have to have all of the wiring ripped out and reinstalled properly if no permits are pulled.
This is the sort of project that I would definitely get a permit for. Many states do have home owner permits, which allow the homeowner to acquire the permit and do the work themselves with a few constraints (including some of the states you've lived in). However if you elect that route, in many cases it would be cheaper to have an electrician advise you and check your work before the inspection than to pay for a re-inspection if your work isn't up to par.

There are things like changing out a light switch or receptacle that would quite silly to pull a permit for.
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#14
cheaper to just run electric,buy plastic pipe bury it at least 24 inches i would do it 36 inches
make sure its gfi protected

http://www.doityourself.com/forum...-shed.html
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#15
the main issue with solar is that for anything that's going to be economically feasible, the amount of power you'd get out of it would be minimal. that HF unit can do 45W for $200 plus you'd have to get DC/AC inverter. I'd bet that most 18v batteries are around 1.5A which means ~ 27 W or so.
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