Solar Power To power 550 Watt PSU

Posted on 2007-08-12
Last Modified: 2013-12-11

How possible/practical is the following:

A simple solar panel/battery system which can power a full computer day and night?

Obviously the battery will buildup charge during the day so its power can be used during the night when the solar panel will be useless.

Any advice will be appreciated.
Question by:narmi2
    LVL 39

    Accepted Solution

    Technically, yes it can power up your computer system up day and night as well as the utilities in your house.

    LVL 25

    Assisted Solution

    It is certainly possible,  but you would be looking at a few thousand dollars even to do it on the cheap.  So depending on your budget it may not be practical.

    Here's a kit to give you some idea,

    There's a lot of decent sized solar systems out there but to keep running reliably 24/7 is a big demand.  Even more so with seaonal changes and weather especially in more northern places.

    You may also need to power other equipment - monitor or networking gear etc. and take into account less than ideal days.  So you can't cut it too close.

    Probably worth noting that even with a 550 watt power supply it may be drawing less.  Just depends on the system configuration.

    If you can get away with using lower powered computer equipment it can save a lot on the cost of the solar rig.

    You can get 12 volt based mini ITX systems that are decently powerful.   Logic supply carry a lot of these types of systems.  VIA based systems or systems based on mobile processors.

    Laptops are also pretty good for lower power consumption and have the monitor 'built in'.
    LVL 14

    Assisted Solution

    This page shows various sizes of panels and their output;

    In round numbers, it looks like a 120 watt panel would be about 3 feet by 5 feet and cost about $1000.  This does not include the batteries and inverters...

    In order to generate 550 watts you will need 5 of these panels, and the space to put them...

    Good Luck
    LVL 25

    Assisted Solution

    Just matching the power requirments of the computer is not enough.  You also much be able to charge your batteries while the computer is running and have allowance for bad weather.  

    A panel rated for say 120 watts will output 120 watts under good conditions.  So if the sunshine is less than ideal you will not get the full 120 watts,  a cloudy day can be down to only 25% or so of the rating.  You need to plan for X days of less reduced performance from the panels while still drawing power. A reasonable estimate for just how many days would depend on local weather patterns.

    As an alternative to paying for your electricty from the utility it will likely take some time to break even.  Everything in a solar system is very long lived except the batteries which will need periodic replacment every few years.

    If there is anybody locally selling/installing theses systems they would be a good place to get information from.  They will be familiar with the local weather and be able to give you a far better idea of the actual cost.

    In some regions wind power is a better alternative.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Thanks for the advice.  Right know we use around 2,000.00 GBP of electricity a year (4,024.08 USD).  Thanks for the help, excellent starting points.

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