Friday, July 4, 2014

Solar Power

I bought a cheap modified sine wave inverter at Harbor Freight, 400W continuous, 800W peak, primarily for experimental purposes.  If I end up putting in a garage door opener, I'll use a pure sine wave inverter for that circuit, and this one for lighting.  And it works.  I plugged in a CFL lamp, and it worked.  Next I plugged in the charger that recharges a telescope battery pack/flashlight combo, and it recharged it pretty quickly.

Next step: installing a couple of light bulb fixtures in the ceiling of the telescope garage (using LED bulbs to reduce power consumption), a wall switch, and starting to run electrical conformant to the building code so that I can plug in one or two circuits to the inverter.


  1. If you have an inverter that will do 1500+ watts peak, I'd almost bet that it would run a garage door operator. You'd not want to use a square wave outfit, but modified sine wave will probably work fine. About the only thing I'd expect is motor heating IF you ran it for lengthy periods, but you don't do that with a door operator.

    If your HF inverter has good fuse/breaker protection and/or you don't care if you let the factory smoke out, give it a try with the operator. I doubt you'd hurt the operator.

  2. I am extremely interested in this. I live in Texas, where (the Panhandle excepted) summer lasts five months instead of three, so air conditioning costs are a big concern. The Plan B idea is attaching an inverter to the AC unit. Plan A is less radical, a small solar-powered AC unit placed upstairs, which gets hotter than the downstairs, esp. during the afternoon. It would have to run while I'm away from home (second-shift hours). I absolutely don't want a dehumidifier function, because the central air makes the humidity too low as it is.

  3. The nice thing about what you need is that there is very substantial overlap between when the Sun is out, and when you need air conditioning. In addition, some utilities charge more for peak demand times, such as late afternoon and early evening.

    You could simplify what you need a good bit from what I have. All you need is the solar panel and an inverter. When you stop getting useful solar power, the A/C turns off. I'm not sure how many watts your A/C will draw, but is a 100W 12V solar panel for $149.99. Another $23 for a 200W inverter and you might have enough power to run a small A/C.