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Thread: Solar power for the shop?

  1. #1
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    Default Solar power for the shop?

    I'm in the early planning stages for a bow shed shop.

    A major challenge is my electrical service. My 100 amp panel is tapped out, and upgrading to 200 amps with a subpanel to the shop would be $$$ -- back-of-the-envelope estimates from contractor friends are running $3k - $4k and possibly higher. The expense is painful enough, but worse is that when I sell the house, the increased capacity won't do much for the selling price.

    I'm in New Mexico, so sunlight is abundant and solar power is at least more feasible here than in some other parts of the country. Seems to me that while a solar system tied to the grid would also be expensive, it could come with me should I decide to sell the house. On the days when the shop isn't getting much use, it is defraying its cost (New Mexico has mandatory net metering for solar installations).

    Pros and cons? Where to look for enough info to start roughing out the system and putting some numbers together? For discussion purposes, the shop will have the usual assortment of stationary and portable power tools, some kind of dust collection system, basic lighting, a pellet stove, swamp cooler, etc. It will be my personal space, so it will be rare that multiple tools will be running at the same time. The shop will be roughly 18' x 40', give or take a bit.

    Thoughts?

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    There's plenty of web sites that'll help you size your components. A 5KW system will be about minimum to run two major tools, like a table saw and a dust collector. The basic components will be the solar panels, charge controller, battery bank, and inverter. It won't be cheap.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryLL View Post
    A 5KW system will be about minimum to run two major tools, like a table saw and a dust collector. The basic components will be the solar panels, charge controller, battery bank, and inverter. It won't be cheap.
    Definitely not cheap. We installed a 4 kw grid-tie system last year and it cost $27,000 (we got a grant and tax credits for $18,500, so it worked out nicely). If you do all the installation you might save $8-10k.

    If you're popping breakers on a 100-amp panel, you need more capacity and the solar option is not the best way to accomplish that. Batteries/inverters are not good at providing the sort of surging current demanded by large power tools.

    If you're hoping to generate the power needed for the tools, a grid-tie system will bank power when you're not running the tools, and you can draw from the grid when you need the power. To get better service from the panel, you might do some rewiring and put the most power-hungry tools on separate breakers, so you don't have several things running at once on the same breaker. It helps to do a wiring diagram with the loads mapped out for each breaker. (We have a 100-amp panel for the garage/shop and attached greenhouse, so I've dealt with this sort of circuit overload problem).

    For a solar workup, you need to have the electrical consumption for each tool and estimate the hours you run it per month. Then you calculate the lighting, heat, pumps, and other loads. That should give you a benchmark.
    Last edited by Chip-skiff; 05-06-2012 at 01:02 AM.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    If by "tapped out" you mean that there is no room for any more breakers this may help.

    My carport and guest room are served by a 60A branch circuit. The little 60A panel is full, there is no space for any more breakers. If and when I want more capacity I can replace the standard size breakers with what are known as miniature or space saving breakers, thereby allowing twice the number of breakers in the panel. I know, that sounds like a potentially overloading situation, but it's not, since the branch circuit will still be protected by it's 60A breaker in the main panel.

    In your case you may be drawing a lot of amps from the main panel for the shop, and that combined with the household draw may cause your main breaker to open when, for instance, the water heater and the oven and the drier are all on at the same time. It may work for you to open the drier and water heater breakers, or whatever, when you will be working in the shop. If you forget the main will still protect the system.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    How's the breeze in your area. I think that wind power is going to be much more cost efficient that PV power very soon, if not already.
    Never trust a man with a clean workshop.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gib Etheridge View Post
    If by "tapped out" you mean that there is no room for any more breakers this may help.

    My carport and guest room are served by a 60A branch circuit. The little 60A panel is full, there is no space for any more breakers. If and when I want more capacity I can replace the standard size breakers with what are known as miniature or space saving breakers, thereby allowing twice the number of breakers in the panel. I know, that sounds like a potentially overloading situation, but it's not, since the branch circuit will still be protected by it's 60A breaker in the main panel.

    In your case you may be drawing a lot of amps from the main panel for the shop, and that combined with the household draw may cause your main breaker to open when, for instance, the water heater and the oven and the drier are all on at the same time. It may work for you to open the drier and water heater breakers, or whatever, when you will be working in the shop. If you forget the main will still protect the system.
    That is what I was thinking. How is one man using a hundred amps? are you popping or just outta room?

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    The good thing about 220 is that you can run on half of the amperage. Upgrade where you can, most motors over 1hp will go either way.
    Steve Martinsen

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    "Tapped out" means there is no more room in the main panel. It already has the "mini-breakers" (cheap tract home construction), so no help there. I pop the occasional breaker in the shop, but never the main. But there's no room for expansion for a subpanel to a shop building.

    The other option might be to check with the power company and see if the shop can get its own meter. Perhaps this would simplify things by not requiring upgrading of the main panel in the house?

    Assuming a proper design, I could install the solar system myself, leaving the grid tie-in to the pros.

    Grants for solar installations? Never heard of 'em. Will try Google, but if anyone has a lead, I'd love to hear about it.

    In the meantime, I'll visit the local library for a basic book on electrical system design. It probably makes more sense to have some sense of the total electrical requirements before running out to look at solar gear.
    Last edited by Desert Sailor; 05-06-2012 at 10:23 AM. Reason: grammar nazi

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Perhaps this would work for you.

    Pull and disconnect one of the 220V breakers, say for the drier circuit.

    Install a subpanel between the main panel and the drier and protect it with a breaker where the drier breaker was.

    Reconnect the drier to the subpanel.

    Install a branch circuit to the shop on the subpanel.

    As long as your wires are sized properly and your breakers don't exceed the wire capacities this will work.

    Looks to me like you want to learn more about and play with solar. No harm in that of coarse, but it may be too expensive to be worth it. I'll butt out now.
    Last edited by Gib Etheridge; 05-06-2012 at 10:37 AM.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gib Etheridge View Post
    Perhaps this would work for you.
    Pull and disconnect one of the 220A breakers, say for the drier circuit.
    Install a subpanel between the main panel and the drier and protect it with a breaker where the drier breaker was.
    Reconnect the drier to the subpanel.
    Install a branch circuit to the shop on the subpanel.
    As long as your wires are sized properly and your breakers don't exceed the wire capacities this will work.

    Looks to me like you want to learn more about and play with solar. No harm in that of coarse, but it may be too expensive to be worth it. I'll butt out now.
    Great minds think alike, sorta. I have two 220V circuits in the main panel; one for a dryer, and one for an electric range. We use a gas dryer and range/oven, both of which only require 120V, so I rededicated those circuits to the garage/shop for the bigger stationary equipment.

    But a shop outbuilding would likely require more than the 50 amps that these two circuits can handle -- I think.

    Yeah, playing with solar would be an interesting and possibly useful learning experience. But I'm more interested in getting enough power to my shop without an investment that is basically sunk, and which I'll never recover.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    I don't see why you can't install a 100A breaker in one of those unused 220V positions and run the shop off of it. Run it by your electrician. Buy him a sixpack or two for having come in twice.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    My shop space runs off of a 40 amp sub panel. So far I've restored one vintage truck, built 1.5 boats and done a lot of mainteneance on my motorcycles without any issues. This is a hobby shop, so with the exception of my 220v air compressor everything else is 110. Small MIG welder, 10" bandsaw etc. A one man operation just doesn't have to use all that much power, especially if as in the OP case of using a pellet stove for heat.

    Speaking of stoves, when I went in to get permits (Washington State) the authorities didn't like seeing a wood stove in a "shop" space, so I erased it.

    Steve

  13. #13

    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    I took care of an off-grid home in AZ that had a wood shop in the garage, they used a propane backup generator, kicked on when the power dropped to a certain level. If you can build a sound-baffling room for one, a generator might be a solution. Diesel would be better, IMO, more bang for the buck, literally.

    If you want to try banking power and running off the bank, forklift batteries are a good value, but all this is getting up there in price. You'll still need an inverter and charge controller.

    BTW, I love NM, lived in the East Mountains for a while. Still miss motorcycling there.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    I have a 3hp table saw,some outlets and some lights running on a 50A sub.
    What else does one guy need?
    R
    "Now Ron,don't you do anything stupid!" - Grandma B.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Just a word about the economics of a diesel generator:

    I ran a 6 kw Northern Lights genset to power my shop in Alaska, back when diesel sold for 75 cents a gallon. Fuel economy for that unit is typically 2 hours per gallon when run at medium load, say 3 kw, resulting in a cost of 12.5 cents per kwh. Not bad.

    At $4.00 a gallon for diesel, the cost of power becomes 66 cents per kwh, about 6 times the cost of power off the grid. Add the amortized cost of the genset, plus regular maintenance and repair, and you'll be well over $1.00 per kwh for power you can buy off the grid for 1/10 that cost.

    And a 50 amp subpanel will provide up to 11 kw at about 10 cents per kwh, at an installation cost about equal to the cost of that genset.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    The US Dept. of Energy has several programs that provide block grants to states for renewable energy incentives. In Wyoming the grants are administered by the Business Council. But if you search DOE - renewable energy grants - (your state), you should find some leads. Other sources are USDA rural renewable energy programs. If you use your shop for business, you might qualify for other grants (usually larger than those for residential programs).

    I've gotten two grants, one about seven years ago for a 1.3 kw system on our former house, and one last year for the 4 kw system for a larger house. I think the federal tax credit is 30% (but who knows what the House will do next).

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gib Etheridge View Post
    I don't see why you can't install a 100A breaker in one of those unused 220V positions and run the shop off of it. Run it by your electrician. Buy him a sixpack or two for having come in twice.
    I can only assume that there is something in the Electrical Code that would frown on 100 amp service feeding all the house circuits and a 100 amp subpanel. But I don't really know.

    My electrician friend won't need a six-pack, but some of my wife's cookies wouldn't hurt...

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by stromborg View Post
    My shop space runs off of a 40 amp sub panel. A one man operation just doesn't have to use all that much power, especially if as in the OP case of using a pellet stove for heat.
    I want to leave some capacity for upgrading my equipment later. Right now I run a contractor's saw and a wimpy 6" joiner; I'd like to upgrade to a full cabinet saw, the widest jointer I can find, and a planer with some real muscle -- and dust collection to match. I really want a good dust collection system. A pellet stove won't require much power, but the swamp cooler will likely run a 3/4 hp motor.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by seedy View Post
    I took care of an off-grid home in AZ that had a wood shop in the garage, they used a propane backup generator, kicked on when the power dropped to a certain level. If you can build a sound-baffling room for one, a generator might be a solution. Diesel would be better, IMO, more bang for the buck, literally.

    If you want to try banking power and running off the bank, forklift batteries are a good value, but all this is getting up there in price. You'll still need an inverter and charge controller.

    BTW, I love NM, lived in the East Mountains for a while. Still miss motorcycling there.
    A fully off-the-grid system is beyond the capabilities of the budget. A diesel generator running in my suburban back yard would result in visits from Building & Safety and the Zoning Board.

    New Mexico is dual sport motorcycling heaven. KLR 650 getting prepped for the Continental Divide Trail this summer.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Williamson View Post
    I have a 3hp table saw,some outlets and some lights running on a 50A sub.
    What else does one guy need?
    Serious dust collection.

    I'll admit up front that I'm a neat shop freak. Not white glove neat, but I truly loathe wading through knee-deep chips and dust while I'm working (to say nothing of breathing all that crap). I think and work better when there's a place for everything and everything in its place, and that includes sawdust.

    Maybe there's a 12-step program for guys like me...

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip-skiff View Post
    The US Dept. of Energy has several programs that provide block grants to states for renewable energy incentives. In Wyoming the grants are administered by the Business Council. But if you search DOE - renewable energy grants - (your state), you should find some leads. Other sources are USDA rural renewable energy programs. If you use your shop for business, you might qualify for other grants (usually larger than those for residential programs).

    I've gotten two grants, one about seven years ago for a 1.3 kw system on our former house, and one last year for the 4 kw system for a larger house. I think the federal tax credit is 30% (but who knows what the House will do next).
    I'm all over this. But I think the Federal tax credits expired last year. The shop will house a part-time business (hopefully enough to pay for itself, at least), so maybe that can be worked to my advantage.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Desert Sailor View Post
    ...I'll admit up front that I'm a neat shop freak. Not white glove neat, but I truly loathe wading through knee-deep chips and dust while I'm working (to say nothing of breathing all that crap). I think and work better when there's a place for everything and everything in its place, and that includes sawdust...
    You better hope Lefty doesn't see this post.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    2 hp dust collection will deal with a 24" planer(10-15hp).
    Would you get something that big?
    R
    "Now Ron,don't you do anything stupid!" - Grandma B.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Like a few other posters, I run a really well equipped one-man shop on 60A. You could do nicely on 30 or 40 (the dryer feed) by: wiring everything you can 220, managing dust collection/saw turn-on to be non-simultaneous, maybe make a separate 12V lighting and battery charging setup, and use non-electric heat. If you run a computer, put it on a healthy UPS so tool start-up doesn't cause you problems. Also, if you're building something that will have 12 V ship power and 120 volt inverter power, get that stuff and use it now during construction, then transfer it to the boat when done. (Don't know your project, so this may not apply.) Your solar concept may fit nicely in this system. For several years, I ran an office trailer with many computers, pro videotape machines, monitors, and airconditioning off a 3kw Honda inverter generator. A UPS on the electronic stuff kept it running during the A/C startup draw. All worked fine. In the RV world, there's a device that prevents simultaneous startup of two air conditioners. This concept could be applied to the dust collector and air compressor, for example. Chip

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Desert Sailor View Post
    I can only assume that there is something in the Electrical Code that would frown on 100 amp service feeding all the house circuits and a 100 amp subpanel. But I don't really know.

    My electrician friend won't need a six-pack, but some of my wife's cookies wouldn't hurt...
    This is what we have to power the shop/garage. No worries. With the right size wire and the proper size breakers, of course.

    Steven

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Williamson View Post
    2 hp dust collection will deal with a 24" planer(10-15hp).
    Would you get something that big?
    No. But I could see something a little bigger than a 12" planer, and a 12" jointer if I can find one...

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryLL View Post
    You better hope Lefty doesn't see this post.
    Eh-HEM...... Lefty sees everything....... Everything.......





    Never trust a man with a clean workshop.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip Chester View Post
    Like a few other posters, I run a really well equipped one-man shop on 60A. You could do nicely on 30 or 40 (the dryer feed) by: wiring everything you can 220, managing dust collection/saw turn-on to be non-simultaneous, maybe make a separate 12V lighting and battery charging setup, and use non-electric heat.
    What I get from your ideas is that I need to put together at least a preliminary design so I can have a reasonable idea of power and startup loads. From there I'll know if 60 amps is enough, and whether it make more sense to try and rig a subpanel from the current main panel, or do something with solar.

    Without getting too far off topic -- the shop will be mostly for woodworking, hopefully have a boatbuilding project of some kind going on (SCAMP underway in the garage right now, but it's pretty crowded), the odd welding task, and a place to work on my KLR.

    Not to belabor the point, but I really do want sufficient, even excessive, dust collection. I'm tired of moving hoses between pieces of equipment, breathing in all the crap, and having a fine powder all over my hand tools, bench, lights, and everything else.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    I've had a 3HP 4 bagger Grizzley dust collector. It's not the HP I like so much as the extra bags. I don't have to dump it as often.
    Last edited by Gib Etheridge; 05-06-2012 at 08:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Desert Sailor View Post
    A major challenge is my electrical service. My 100 amp panel is tapped out, and upgrading to 200 amps with a subpanel to the shop would be $$$ -- back-of-the-envelope estimates from contractor friends are running $3k - $4k and possibly higher.
    At 3-4 grand, that sounds more like an acquaintance than a friend.

    Couldn't you run a bigger service wire (if needed), put in a 200 amp entrance panel and hook your present 100 amp panel into it on a 100 amp circuit breaker, and in effect turn the old entrance panel into a sub panel? Then run whatever you need out to the shop, using the leftover 100 amps on the new entrance panel.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by SamSam View Post
    Couldn't you run a bigger service wire (if needed), put in a 200 amp entrance panel and hook your present 100 amp panel into it on a 100 amp circuit breaker, and in effect turn the old entrance panel into a sub panel? Then run whatever you need out to the shop, using the leftover 100 amps on the new entrance panel.
    I honestly don't know -- could I?

    Not being facetious. I can pull wire and run circuits, install a breaker, bend conduit if necessary (but it has been a while) -- but I don't have the skills to upgrade the main service wire.

    Is this a fairly simple procedure, or is this getting beyond the skills of the self-trained amateur electrician?

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    At a minimum you can run a fully equipped shop on 25 amps. But the machinery needs to be wired for 220, and no more than two 1.5 HP motors can be running at one time. You can have a ton of stationary machinery, and a ton of portable tools, but you can't run them at the same time, but who does? A 50 amp subpanel is completely adequate for a one-person shop.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Desert Sailor View Post
    I honestly don't know -- could I?

    Not being facetious. I can pull wire and run circuits, install a breaker, bend conduit if necessary (but it has been a while) -- but I don't have the skills to upgrade the main service wire.

    Is this a fairly simple procedure, or is this getting beyond the skills of the self-trained amateur electrician?
    Well, we went through this awhile ago when someone had electrical problems. It depends on where you live on what you have to do and what the power company will do. On most houses the meter is attatched to a pipe that goes up the wall and at the top is the masthead (I believe it's called) where the wires come out. That's the service wires you are responsible for, from the meter to the masthead. Once they come out of the masthead, that's where the wires from the pole/transformer are spliced to your service wires. You might have to pay for those wires that go to the pole/transformer, but usually the power company will do the hookup and splicing them together. You can call and ask. Anyway, if those wires from the masthead to the meter are too small, you have to replace them. If the old pipe is too small for newer, bigger wires you have to replace the pipe with bigger pipe. A new pipe, masthead, wire and meter socket aren't very expensive. Home Depot has that stuff (the power company might supply the meter socket)

    Looking at Home Depot, a SquareD 200 Amp outdoor entrance panel is $150 (indoor $100) and
    Includes 12 THQP-120 20 Amp single-pole circuit breakers, 1 THQP-230 30-Amp double-pole circuit breaker and 1 THQP-250 50 Amp double-pole circuit breaker
    A 100 amp breaker is $35. If you put it by your meter, all you would have to do is unwire your old panel from the meter and rehook it to the 100 amp breaker in the new box ( or skip the new 100 amp breaker and directly wire it to a sub feed in the new box, you still have your original 100 amp main breaker in the old box). Then run off a breaker in the 200 amp panel to your shop and a subpanel there. That way you don't have to tear up walls or even touch the old box or mess with the old wiring at all.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    We have a main panel for the house and a separate 100-amp panel for the garage/shop/greenhouse, on a single meter, with a shut-off for each. In this state, a homeowner can do the electrical wiring and installation downstream from the shut-off. But it helps to know what you're doing.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    It might just be me, but isn't this a whole lot of power? I know I run 240V, so only half the amps, but our main cirquit breaker is generous at 3x32 A mains (which you can't reach legally) splicing to 9x16 A, but it used to be a farm. A normal house will have just 1x32A main splicing to 3x16A accessible cirquit breakers. This talk of a seperate 100A group for the garage makes me think people are making their own aluminum there.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    For what it's worth..... I have a 100A service sub panel off of a 200A service from the house. It does everything that I need.... I don't run the 20" planer, the 30" bandsaw, the 20" bandsaw, the 2hp dust collector, the 10" tablesaw, and the 8" jointer all at the same time though..... But the dust collector is usually on if one or two of the others are on.....
    Never trust a man with a clean workshop.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bram V View Post
    It might just be me, but isn't this a whole lot of power? I know I run 240V, so only half the amps, but our main cirquit breaker is generous at 3x32 A mains (which you can't reach legally) splicing to 9x16 A, but it used to be a farm. A normal house will have just 1x32A main splicing to 3x16A accessible cirquit breakers. This talk of a seperate 100A group for the garage makes me think people are making their own aluminum there.
    Even though you might not use all that power, knowing you have it and that it is available can broaden the projects a person might attempt.


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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    My projects aren't that dead that I need maniacal laughter to get them going again, but then, my single 16A circuit breaker for my shop will turn any attemt at reviving people from the grave into a fizzle. Good thing I never planned that.

    I guess that the 240 vs 120 will do a bit more than I might have expected, more like 2.5 then 2 times the amps (to account for loss), but I do tend to use powertools as little as possible, I expect that my fluorescent light and electric blanket (for the epoxy) ate more joules then all the powertools I used combined.

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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    I've got 60 amps to my shop but hardly ever use more than one 20 amp 120v for lights and tools and a 220v for the table saw. Occasionally though I use the welder and that requires a 220v 60amp circuit, even though I don't think more than half that capacity is ever used.
    Last edited by SamSam; 05-08-2012 at 08:39 AM.

  40. #40
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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by SamSam View Post
    I've got 60 amps to my shop but hardly ever use more than one 20 amp 120v for lights and tools and a 220v for the table saw. Occasionally though I use the welder and that requires a 220v 60amp circuit, even though I don't think more than half that capacity is ever used.
    I have a stick welder that I'd like to have the ability to use, if necessary. Beyond that, dust collection will be running whenever any power equipment is running, so the total power will be driven by the combined draw of the dust collection system and the largest power tool in the shop, plus lights/heating/cooling.

    Messing around with the numbers, but I think 60 amps should do it. All the major stationary tools can be converted to 220V, which helps. Need to get some numbers from Oneida on current draw for possible dust collection systems.

  41. #41
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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Welders are different.
    The full load is intermittent.
    My welder,a Stickmate Lx 160/235, is supposed to be on a 50A breaker,by the plug and the input rating plate.
    I have never run it on anything more than a 30A and the breaker has never popped.
    I also don't burn anything bigger than 1/8" 7018 at 125A.
    R
    "Now Ron,don't you do anything stupid!" - Grandma B.

  42. #42
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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    The stick welder is a Miller Thunderbird. Not sure what the specified draw is. The only project I'm contemplating that would be remotely suitable would be a weightlifting power rack made with C4x5.4. But it it comes to it, the gas rig will do just as well. So I'm undecided as to whether to account for the stick welder in the electrical design for the shop.

  43. #43
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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    The champion breaker-popper in my shop is a 1500w electric milkhouse heater w/fan. If it comes on when I'm running a drillpress, etc. the breaker (20 amp?) flips. Mostly I used ceiling-mount quartz radiant heaters, that don't pull as many amps and don't have thermostats. But when I added a greenhouse, I cut a port and installed a 3-speed fan, to push hot air from the peak of the greenhouse into the shop. That works beautifully in winter, getting the shop up to 50-60, plenty warm for gluing or painting.

    There are quite a few designs for homebuilt solar hot-air collectors. Here's a small one that fits into a sash-type window. A 10w PV panel drives a couple computer cooling fans to move more air.



    (The thing below the collector is a window-well cover built of greenhouse scrap.)

    It makes sense to collect heat and move it with air, rather than converting it to electricity and then back to heat. The greenhouse thread as a whole might be helpful for designing a shop to use various forms of solar energy.

    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...e-Update/page2

    The aim was to design a small (12' x 12') structure that would collect and store enough solar energy to maintain tomatoes and other frost-sensitive plants year-round, at 8000 ft. in the Rockies. I use a bit of electricity, for small radiant ceiling heaters, grow lights, and one pump to move warm water. On the coldest nights (-35F) I light up a tiny propane heater in case the power blinks out. But about 90% of the energy used is direct solar and all of it collected onsite (we have a 4kw PV system).
    Last edited by Chip-skiff; 05-08-2012 at 04:01 PM.

  44. #44
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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    I'm at a loss as to how one might consider a new 200a panel a lost investment if you move, and yet plan this big upgrade in equipment and space to build a boat - a guy toy.
    Seriously?
    Get some realistic estimates and don't buy the low ball.
    You're gonna mickey-mouse yourself into a fire or electrocution from the tenor of the above.

  45. #45
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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    This welder?
    http://www.millerwelds.com/products/...p?model=M16100
    If so,it's identical to my Hobart,aside from the paint colour.
    R
    "Now Ron,don't you do anything stupid!" - Grandma B.

  46. #46
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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    I ran wire for a 100 amp panel for my barn to the utility box. I had to pay the utility to hook it up at the big utility box and an electrician to set the meter and wire the main line to the panel. Your local electrical supply can sell you exactly what you need if you tell them the amps, how the wire will be run and the distance. I think I paid less than $1000 for all that. Ran my own wire in the barn and set my own breakers. You can save a ton that way. I would not in a million years try to hook up that main wire and it is scary to me to set breakers because that main bar in the panel can hurt or kill you but I did carefully set my own breakers-its pretty easy. You likely will need inspection. My utility won't hook me up unless there is a permit.
    Chuck Thompson

    1955 18' Chris Craft Continental
    1950 30' Chris Craft Express
    1955 Concordia Yawl #26 (under restoration)

  47. #47
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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Williamson View Post
    This welder?
    http://www.millerwelds.com/products/...p?model=M16100
    If so,it's identical to my Hobart,aside from the paint colour.
    R
    That's the one, only mine is about 20-odd years old. I realize that the current draw is intermittent, so how do you size the circuit?

  48. #48
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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckt View Post
    I ran wire for a 100 amp panel for my barn to the utility box. I had to pay the utility to hook it up at the big utility box and an electrician to set the meter and wire the main line to the panel. Your local electrical supply can sell you exactly what you need if you tell them the amps, how the wire will be run and the distance. I think I paid less than $1000 for all that. Ran my own wire in the barn and set my own breakers.
    Right now, this is plan B (if running from the main to a subpanel doesn't work). Talked to the utility company, and they'll do it, but until I have details they won't say how much. The benefit to this plan is the second meter, which makes my electricity cost a deductible expense. It also leaves solar a possibility at a later date -- which might make more sense, as by then I'd have real numbers and some experience, instead of guesses.

  49. #49
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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Robb View Post
    I'm at a loss as to how one might consider a new 200a panel a lost investment if you move, and yet plan this big upgrade in equipment and space to build a boat - a guy toy.
    Seriously?
    Get some realistic estimates and don't buy the low ball.
    You're gonna mickey-mouse yourself into a fire or electrocution from the tenor of the above.
    Putting myself in your shoes, I can understand your comments.

    The shop is for more than just building a boat. I get paid to build custom stuff out of wood -- best description I can come up with, because the projects are all over the place. It's not a full-time job, but the work is overwhelming my 18 x 20 garage shop -- with all the stationary equipment in there, I don't have room to turn around.

    And yeah, I'd like space to build small boats in there, too.

    I'm confident that the bow shed can be made safe. Any electrical setup will be done right. But it's all too easy to get into serious 5-figure totals when building a shop, and with the second (and last) kid in college, I simply can't do that right now. Further, I want the option to be able to dismantle all, or most, of it and take it with me should we decide to move.

  50. #50
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    Default Re: Solar power for the shop?

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckt View Post
    I ran wire for a 100 amp panel for my barn to the utility box. I had to pay the utility to hook it up at the big utility box and an electrician to set the meter and wire the main line to the panel. Your local electrical supply can sell you exactly what you need if you tell them the amps, how the wire will be run and the distance. I think I paid less than $1000 for all that. Ran my own wire in the barn and set my own breakers. You can save a ton that way. I would not in a million years try to hook up that main wire and it is scary to me to set breakers because that main bar in the panel can hurt or kill you but I did carefully set my own breakers-its pretty easy. You likely will need inspection. My utility won't hook me up unless there is a permit.
    States, counties and cities all have differing rules and regulations on what you can or can't do yourself. Permits are often required.

    The thing is none of this has to be done with hot wires. If you have a panel with a main breaker, if the main breaker is off, you could run your tongue (not recommended) all over the bars that the regular breakers hook to, as no power comes past the main breaker. The only hot part in the panel is the incoming wires that hook to the main breaker.

    A meter socket is a little scary if it is hooked up to mainline power and the incoming wires are energized, as the exposed lugs on the energized side are very hot with who knows how many amps of basically unfused power. I wouldn't mess around in there if it was hot, but I've seen the powerline people do it (even tightening up the lugs on the hot wires) and some morons who steal power get it from there.

    If Desert Sailor was able to put up another masthead and meter socket next to the one he's using, that could be all wired up and the new 200 amp panel allready hooked up. The power company would come and disconnect from the old masthead and reconnect to the new, plug in the meter and then go on their way. Then DS would flip the 200 amp main breaker off and disconnect the wires from the original 100 amp panel from the now de-energized old meter socket and rewire them into the new 200 amp panel, turn on the 200 amp main breaker and be back in business. He could also have his shop pre-wired to the new panel, or if he wanted to do it later, he could wire it up, turn off the 200 amp breaker and then connect to the power safely.

    Problems with that scenario are putting up the new masthead and taking down the old have you possibly working in the proximity of energized powerlines, not recommended, or you have to make a new hole through the roof or other alterations that are not wanted.

    The powerline people will usually work with you. They will unhook the power and come back in a few hours or the next day to re-connect, or if one has a plan in order, they will dis-connect and wait 15-30 minutes while you do your stuff, and then re-connect.

    Reading all the comments posted while I wrote this one... electricity can bite, and while simple, it can do very unexpected things. If you're uncomfortable with doing it yourself, have someone else do it. $3-4K sounds very high to me, but then I don't know the particulars of your specific situation, plus I've never gotten an estimate for something like that.

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