Small PV system for shed

gunkieApril 25, 2005

Hi there. I'm building a playhouse for one of my daughters and would like to install a small PV system to provide some LED lighting for when her and her friends sleep out in it. I've always been interested in PV systems and their progression and this might be the perfect time to experiment on my own.

Does anyone have experience with using a small PV system for this kind of application? If so, did you use a turnkey package or buy the components a la carte' and assemble it on your own? Any recommended suppliers?

I'm thinking about a 10W system with storage batteries as a starting point.


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I built a screenhouse ~ 9 years ago; on a lot where I ended up building a house. Wanted a place to get away from the bugs, and have a cold beer and some tunes. So, I bought a 40w panel, a controller, and two golf cart batteries. Then, a car stereo for tunes, a 12 vdc tv . . . it continues to grow with LED lights etc . .

10w sounds small; even though you can store a lot of energy in batteries; you can only "refill" them at a 10 w rate; and that's in full sun.

HIGHLY suggest a purchased controller; WITH temperature compensation. I seem to remember paying about $40 for one that can handle more than my 40 watts. You can easily damage batteries by over or under charging . . . . they will freeze in winter if not fully charged . . . you don't want to overcharge them in summer . . . you lose a lot of water. Know that they can hold TREMENDOUS amounts of energy and contain dangerous acid. Fuse everything; and have a main fuse / disconnect AT the battery(ies) for saftey's sake. Then, have some fun with it.

Golf cart batteries will deal with bigger charge / discharge cycles than "deep cycle" or regular auto batteries will. I'm still on my original set of batteries; I'm in central New York state and they're protected ONLY against direct precipitation and sun. Out there in the cold all winter and the heat all summer.

I continue to work on various LED lighting schemes as a pretty serious tinkerer . . . . in fact wrote an article for HomePower magazine years ago about LED lighting. I bought my panel from Sunelco; it was an oddball cast-off so I got it for a decent price. There are lots of places out there to get the stuff. Check out HomePower's web site; lots of good info / reading / links there too . . .

I liked the solar thing so much, that I ended up going PV powered in my house . . . 2800 watt system / grid tied with battery back-up too. The stuff works; even here in pretty cloudy central New York . . . .

Go for it; I'll answer any questions you may have if I can . . . meanwhile; go do some reading @ HomePower magazine . . . .


Here is a link that might be useful: Home Power magazine . . .

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 7:38PM
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Thanks a ton! I like the idea of getting one or two workhorse golfcart batteries. I'll think about going bigger than 10W. All I wanted to provide was enough light to keep my kids and their friends from charging into the house at 2AM becasue they were scared of the dark :) The Idea of hooking up a car stereo or even our old 12VDC car TV [w/tuner] sounds like a winner. I'm not running the TV cable up there for them...

Thanks again! Great advice.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 8:55PM
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