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Author Topic: Solar Power for Studios  (Read 5251 times)

Keyplayer

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Solar Power for Studios
« on: April 26, 2004, 09:24:44 am »

I'm thinking about getting solar panels at my house. Anybody know of any issues I should be aware of regarding their effect on a recording studio?
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David Schober

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Re: Solar Power for Studios
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2004, 10:32:45 am »

I don't know the anwer, but if you're putting in a system for merely heating water, I'd imagine that shouldn't be a problem.

If it's a set of solar cells....that might be different.  If there's an issue, I'd guss location could make a difference.
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David Schober

George Massenburg

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Re: Solar Power for Studios
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2004, 10:44:01 am »

Wow, great.  But you've got to know a couple of things.

Out where I am, power is not reliable.  Not only that, we get huge thunderstorms that not only take the lines down, but put big spikes down telephone & power lines that are guaranteed to wipe out electronics.

So I've looked into this.  My neighbor, Larry Pacheco, has an off-the-grid (except for telephone) house up the hill from where we are.  He's pretty much done the drill and does quite a few panels plus diesel back-up.  And his draw is just the house with energy-efficient appliances, lamps & etc.  In other words, no power-hogging studio electronics.

So, count on getting a diesel generator for back up and recharge - and it's got to be diesel or propane.  Then, check your average yearly sunshine, season to season; buy panels and batteries sufficient to carry the maximum load (in watts) across a reasonable period of cloudy skies.  Finally, make sure you get a linearized DC inverter so you don't have noise problems.

As much as I wanted to do this, at the end of the day I just couldn't justify it.  Maybe if the government changes to where it motivates investment in alternative energy sources like we did under Carter things could change.  But I can't see any changes happening under the Republicans; they seem to be interested only in feeding their "own" crew, which are to a man big business interests.

George
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ted nightshade

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Re: Solar Power for Studios
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2004, 10:45:27 am »

My house/studio is all solar and seasonal hydro.


What kind of system are you thinking of installing? I take it you're on the grid? Inverter?
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Ted Nightshade aka Cowan

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MedicineDog

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Re: Solar Power for Studios
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2004, 12:19:51 pm »

We spoke with a company about this not too long ago.  My main concern was the stability of the power source from solar/wind generated electricity.  They explained that most "off-the-grid" systems have MUCH better stability and much CLEANER power than you get "on-the-grid".

Another advantage (at least here in Nevada - not sure abou the rest of the world) is that the power company, by law, must buy any excess power that you generate, but don't use.
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-Aaron Anderson

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Keyplayer

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Re: Solar Power for Studios
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2004, 01:21:32 pm »

ted nightshade wrote on Mon, 26 April 2004 10:45

My house/studio is all solar and seasonal hydro.


What kind of system are you thinking of installing? I take it you're on the grid? Inverter?


Keyplayer: I don't have a clue. I'm just starting the research into this idea. I'm downloading info from various websites on the subject and trying to get an idea of costs, inStallation timelines, and conflict issues. That's why I checked in with you guys FIRST.
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pipelineaudio

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Re: Solar Power for Studios
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2004, 02:02:00 pm »

here in Phoenix it would probably be a great idea! Smile

Lee Flier

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Re: Solar Power for Studios
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2004, 06:12:32 pm »

Yes, a well designed solar system with quality sine wave inveters will provide much more stable/clean power than the grid.  And yes you should have a backup generator for times when there are too many cloudy days in a row to store much juice.  If you get a diesel generator you can run it on biodiesel, which can be made from waste cooking oil at your local fast food joint.

As far as whether it can provide enough power for your studio... if you have something like a large frame console, the cost of a solar system that would power that would be pretty prohibitive. You have to calculate the total power used by each piece of gear you own and how many hours per day you intend to use each one, in order to get some idea of how big a solar system you'd need.  A lot of audio gear uses surprisingly little power compared to a lot of standard home appliances, but there are some real hogs too.

The bigger concerns can be lighting, heating and air conditioning.    If you can design your building so as not to need AC and make various other efficiency considerations in your design, it will greatly reduce your power usage to the point where solar can be do-able.  Remember that the question isn't so much whether solar can provide enough power for you, but whether you can afford to buy a system that will run everything you use. Most people who are determined can find a ratio between buying more power and reducing their power usage, to the point where they can make it work.  And you can start ramping down your power usage for maximum conservation BEFORE you ever invest in any solar panels - makes the transition easier and it's a good idea anyhow.

By far the best source for real world info about solar and other alternative power is Home Power Magazine.  They actually offer their current issues online each month for free, or you can subscribe to the paper edition and/or buy their archives of back issues on CDR.  These folks are fabulous and their advertisers deserve your support... they're doing wonderful stuff.

barefoot

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Re: Solar Power for Studios
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2004, 07:13:44 pm »

John Sayers is running solar.  You should definitely ask him! Very Happy

Thomas
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Thomas Barefoot
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John Sayers

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Re: Solar Power for Studios
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2004, 07:52:07 pm »

YUP - I run on solar and George is correct - it's actually better power than off the grid.

The new panels now output 185 watts @24 volts. I run a 24 volt system with an inverter. I have a Honda generator as a backup but I rarely use it.

here are some basic tips:

1) Sun times vary with latitude - the higher your latitude the less suntime. I'm at lat 28 (same as Tampa Florida) so I get 6 sun hours per day.

2) Watts = Volts x amps.

3) So if you have 1000 watts on the roof at 24 volts and 6 sun hours you are generating 6000watts per day or 250 amp hours.

4) 250 amp hours means you can run 240 amps for one hour or 1 amp for 250 hours. A 300 watt power amp will draw 300/24 = 12.5amps.

5) Batteries are important as they have to be large enough to allow for efficient recharging. They are more efficient when topping up rather than charging from heavily drained so you want to be using the top 20% of their capacity - so if you intend to use say 200amp hours per day you need a 1000amp/hr battery system. NOTE - this does not allow for cloudy days so you have to build in a safety factor to cover you over.

here's the best site I've found so far for info and costs.

http://www.absak.com/basic/solar-power.html

cheers
john

Keyplayer

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Re: Solar Power for Studios
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2004, 08:31:59 am »

John Sayers wrote on Mon, 26 April 2004 19:52

YUP - I run on solar and George is correct - it's actually better power than off the grid.

The new panels now output 185 watts @24 volts. I run a 24 volt system with an inverter. I have a Honda generator as a backup but I rarely use it.

here are some basic tips:

1) Sun times vary with latitude - the higher your latitude the less suntime. I'm at lat 28 (same as Tampa Florida) so I get 6 sun hours per day.

2) Watts = Volts x amps.

3) So if you have 1000 watts on the roof at 24 volts and 6 sun hours you are generating 6000watts per day or 250 amp hours.

4) 250 amp hours means you can run 240 amps for one hour or 1 amp for 250 hours. A 300 watt power amp will draw 300/24 = 12.5amps.

5) Batteries are important as they have to be large enough to allow for efficient recharging. They are more efficient when topping up rather than charging from heavily drained so you want to be using the top 20% of their capacity - so if you intend to use say 200amp hours per day you need a 1000amp/hr battery system. NOTE - this does not allow for cloudy days so you have to build in a safety factor to cover you over.

here's the best site I've found so far for info and costs.

http://www.absak.com/basic/solar-power.html

cheers
john


Keyplayer: Can you give me a ROUGH IDEA of how much something like this would run? How much to set up and how much in monthly maintenance?
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ted nightshade

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Re: Solar Power for Studios
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2004, 01:08:06 pm »

What we need to know Keyplayer, is about your place- is it on the grid now? That's a biggie. Do you need solar to supplement or provide backup for grid power, or is it going to be all grid? Do you need refrigerator, washing machine and that, or are you willing to look at other possibilities? (I have an old fashioned icebox, yeah you put ice in it, and I take all the laundry to town every few weeks and run several kilowatts of driers all at once... ah, consumption!) And what all gear do you want to run?

*answer those, and we can get somewhere...*

Do you have a specific site already, or are you looking for one?

My system installed cost around $20,000. That's a round figure. To get grid power in her would have cost twice that at LEAST. Plus the power company was really autocratic and high-handed about it. Their way or forget. I forgot it. I only have 4 panels up- would like to install some more.

Monthly maintenance is like nothing. Some gas for the generator. The rule is usually that your single biggest load means turn on the generator (and charge up the batteries that way while you're at it), everything else can be run off the batteries. (Mine is the 440 watt tube amps, when I get them both going- do a lot monitoring of just one.) Other rule of thumb is usually  two Trojan golf cart batteries per solar panel. I'm 24 volt too.

I use a Honda generator for my backup- I tend to work in binges, so it gets used a fair amount during the binges and in the winter, although hydro is picking up the slack now that I have it going. Studio electronics comprise almost all my power usage, that and lighting, which is just a few compact flourescents. Here's where my taste for outsized tube amps for monitoring starts to cost me... other than those and the tube amps for instruments, the studio electronics do not run much juice. 30 watts apiece more or less for each piece of rack, and I don't use many.

For computer I have a Powerbook G4- the laptop is incredibly energy efficient compared to anything else. LCD screen is far better than CRT for power.

The main thing is this- it ALWAYS costs less to run more efficient gear than to buy more panels. ALWAYS. Conservation is the key.
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Ted Nightshade aka Cowan

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ted nightshade

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Re: Solar Power for Studios
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2004, 01:11:39 pm »

One issue I had to deal with was getting the high-speed switching noise of the output of a Trace Sine Wave Inverter (top o' the line)- this drove me nuts until I put a 50uf cap across the two legs of the AC, on Trace advice. Works like a charm. Did you run into this, John? Or what kind of inverter are you running?

FWIW, my power quality is such that an Equi=Tech 15 amp power conditioner makes no difference at all.
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Ted Nightshade aka Cowan

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John Sayers

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Re: Solar Power for Studios
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2004, 08:51:45 pm »

I haven't experienced that problem Ted.

I have a Latronics 800watt sine wave inverter.

http://www.au.store.yahoo.com/solaronlineaust/bkz800.html

and I have 10 x 60watt panels with 400 amphours of batteries.
I have a gas fridge and stove - solar hot water and a wetback fireplace.

I use my laptop for all my work as it uses hardly any power, I also have a desktop and I use an LCD screen.

Lighting is the new 240 volt fluros that draw 20 watts but give 100watts worth of lighting.

I also have a 300watt washing machine.

Look it's not for everyone - I'd hate to have 3 kids and a day job.Smile

The government here gives a 50% rebate on panels. A 165watt/24V panel costs $1300 aussie dollars so ten with the government subsidy would cost $6,500 and give you 1650 watts at 24V.
You need a regulator and a 60amp one will cost around $700.
An inverter like mine is $1290.00 and 4 x 875 amphour/6V batteries  would cost around $4,000.

So you are looking at around $12,700 for a pretty cool system capable of producing around 280 amphours/day.

this is all in Aussiedollars but they are all aussiemade products so I would imagine US prices would be similar.

The quote to bring in grid power was $20,000 10 years ago. Wink

cheers
John

ted nightshade

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Re: Solar Power for Studios
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2004, 11:33:46 pm »

Great to get the details on your place, John! Thank you.
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Ted Nightshade aka Cowan

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Or maybe you prefer home cookin'?
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