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Need Help w/Solar-Powered Water Heater for NE NY Poultry

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I have a great idea just not the know how to get it done: Objective: Keep the bird water from freezing.

This summer we built a 10x10 Chicken Shack. I oriented the roof so that one flat side it was facing south to south-west to catch the sun. I had planned to place a solar panel on the roof and made a place for a battery at the edge of the roof inside but I just cannot wrap my head around what I need to get this done.

I thought I could by an over the counter solar Battery Trickle Charger ($69.66) and get a power inverter ($29.99) and plug in a standard heated bucket ($29.99) or a heated base for a poultry waterer ($49.99). BUT, I cannot figure out if all the Waters and volts and ins and outs will be compatible.

Solar 5W 12 Volt Battery Trickle Charger ($69.66) - Max output 5W Power inverter ($29.99) 115 V AC - 12 V DC power source - 400 W

Standard heated bucket ($29.99) ?? Ya just plug it in? Right! Heated base for a poultry waterer ($49.99). 125 W - Ya just plug it in!

Sorry folks but I've got the idea, I've got the plan, I've got the money, time, and most of the know how to put it all together but just can't get over the Volts Watts and other stuff hump.

Please help! Jacie Blue Spoon Farm Groton, NY

Louis's picture

So you're doing:
Panel -(1)-> 12V Battery -(2)-> 115V AC -(3)-> Appliances

Seems like you have (2) and (3) pretty well figured out. The inverter is definitely right I take it the bucket and base both have standard outlets for 115-120V AC.

I would wonder about (1) on the input side (the output to the battery makes sense). Specifically, what are the min and max voltage panel inputs it expects? Have you selected a panel that matches that?

Now that all the voltages line up, I would think about watts/current (remember, Watts = Current * Voltage). How often does the heater and pad need to be on? How many watts do they consume when they are on?

Given your charger, you can only draw 5W from the solar panels, regardless of voltage. If you always had 5W from solar panels and always had your appliances on, you would need to make sure you only drew 5W, not the 400W maximum that it is rated for.

But your panels aren't always on and I doubt your appliances draw THAT much current, so do the calculation of how much sun you can expect and how much current you will be drawing. You will probably want a timer so that you can switch the appliances on and off.

Also, just a thought, have you looked at solar water heaters? You might get away with more that way. The reason is, all this conversion of electricity gives you an efficiency drops. It's too bad that most appliances need 120V AC because they end up rectifying it and using DC locally. It would be nice to regulate the 12V DC another DC level rather than going DC-AC-DC.