The solar project

When the retaining wall gets replaced in a couple of months I’m looking at getting rid of my mishmash of storage shed/garden shed/wood shed constructs at the side of the house and rebuilding a new bigger better all in one purpose built shed/shop for doing metal work and forging as well as storage for my garden stuff.

Future home of my new shop/storage

The plan is to make the new shed 24′ x 7′. It’s not going to give me a LOT of space but I think it will work out well for the extra space I’m needing. I was thinking I’d like to have some power in it to run tools and have some lighting but it wouldn’t be easy to wire it from the house. That’s when I started thinking about solar powering it. Not only would it give me power for the shop space but I thought it could also give me some emergency power capability.  Sometimes when I’m mulling about projects the universe provides it’s own input and it was about the time I started thinking about solar power that Canadian Tire had a deal on 100 watt panels. So I bought one.

100 watt Coleman solar panel

It’s a Coleman 100 watt panel and I thought it would be a good start. I also needed a charge controller and battery of some sort so I started looking around. Batteries are not cheap and for a project that at  this point is pretty much just an experiment I didn’t want to spend a huge amount of cash so I went and talked to Jeff at Isle Golf Carts and got 3 deep cycle 12 volt golf cart batteries from his recycle bin for the core charge. They weren’t dead and held a charge so I figured they’d do for the time being. Why 3? I was going to connect 2 in parallel and figured at the price a spare wouldn’t be a bad idea. They’re way more than what I need and weigh 85 pounds each but if they last for a while I’m good with that. And I can get good Trojan batteries from Jeff at a decent price when I’m looking to upgrade.

Overkill in the battery department. Now to get them cleaned up and ready.

The next piece of the puzzle was a charge controller. I decided to buy the ViewStar 20 amp PWM charge controller because it will let me add a couple more panels and I can run DC lights in the shed/shop from the load connection. Also it’s easily configurable. It was a little more money than I had planned but the documentation for it was good and had good reviews. The Renogy website  also has some good calculators on solar capacity sizing and cabling.

ViewStar PWM charge controller connected up for testing.

When the charge controller arrived I did a quick connect to one of my batteries and everything looks good. My next steps are to get some wire to connect up the system and get it all programmed. Norm is going to drop off an inverter for me to try out and I’ll see what I can run from the battery bank.  There a lot of Youtube videos out there about wiring up a solar workshed. Some are pretty scary and some are way over the top. I think I’l strive for somewhere in the middle.

I’m optimistic that this is going to work out well. By the time I’ve got it all wired up and running I’ll be into it for less than $500. It would have probably cost me that much to get an electrician to pull a circuit out from the house.

I’m kind of excited to get this thing off the ground. I’m not really an electricity guy but I’m pretty sure that if I have any questions or run into problems, Mike will help out his daddy. Right?




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