Alternative Energy (Solar/Wind)/solar generators

Advertisement


Question
I want to get solar generator so I can grow my herbs and plants inside with flourescent lights. What are the minimum specifications I'd need for a generator? I was looking at the yeti 150 or yeti 400.

Answer
Hello Adam,
The solar world is always coming out with new products so I wanted to familiarize my self with the Yeti products before I replied.

The basic components of a solar electric system are the solar panels (turns sun energy to DC electricity), the battery (optional if no storage is desired), inverter (component that converts DC to usable in home AC power) and the interface connection.  The Yeti product is a package deal for the inverter, battery and connetion point.  It seems like a good setup but I think your expectations of the results maybe a bit high.  Let me explain.

When figuring out how much solar electric system you need you first have to look at your load (where you are going to use it).  What is the total wattage you are planning use, and for how long?  Grow lights are not a low wattage affair based on my past experience although I am not up to date (by more than a dozen years) on what LED or CFL technology has to offer currently.   You would need to multiply wattage times hours to give you a total daily kilowatt hour need and you would design around that.  Depending on your area you will have a peak solar available rating.  Here in San Francisco it is 5 hour annual average.  That means I can plan on collecting and average of 5 hours of peak useable sun rays each day.  Then you would need to store it for later use (i.e the batteries).

That would most likely take a lot more battery than the Yeti 100 or 400 have to offer, unless you had a sizable pv (solar electric panel) array that you are using to supply the Yeti.  This is where your costs will be high as you would need a considerable amount and the panels are not cheap.  If storage is not a need, you may want to look into the SMA sunnyboy line of products as I know one of their inverters will convert the sun directly to AC without the need for a grid hookup (i think) or batteries.   Watch the YouTube videos on the different Yeti models and jot down the what they are powering, how long the recharge rate is and how many panels they are using.  One of the video stated a 18 to 22 hour charge time.  That is not very practical for daily use even if there was 24 hours of sun light to use.

Also note the solar electric system is about 18% efficient in using the sun's rays.  You are much better off saving your money and going directly to the source.. Otherwise using the utility grid or a generator would be more economical and feasible means of supply grow lights for your herbs.

Good Luck,
Marsh

Alternative Energy (Solar/Wind)

All Answers


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Marshall Scott

Expertise

I am knowledgeable about residential solar pool heating, moderately knowledgeable about residential solar electric systems, and can resource answers in solar hot water and battery back up PV systems, but personally have little experience. I review questions when I get a chance During the PEAK SOLAR SEASON (May - September) , my replies will be delayed as I am usually working 60+ hours a week.

Experience

Solar pool heating and solar electric systems

Education/Credentials
BA in Psychology which has nothing to do with solar. Various trainings and presentations on solar and 8 years experience.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.