How to Construct your Own Power Plant: A Step by Step Guide

How to Construct your Own Power Plant: A Step by Step Guide

I’m of the conviction that each and every one of us are always looking out for a way to solve our personal problems as regard power generation and in place of frustration ask a lot of critical questions as follows;

Why do I have to pay so much for unreliable source of energy?

Non renewable and renewable

It is a common believe that we all are architect of our own future  Follow your dreams and let them come true. No one else can build your future for you. Know this of certain that your actions are the compass for the right direction to your dreams and if you don`t let anything or anyone mislead you from going into the right direction, you will definitely make things happen for your self.

Asking questions is not just enough but doing something about it makes the difference

The truth remains that you can generate your own alternative & renewable energy for less than what you think the question is how?

A clear understanding of what renewable energy really is all about would help guide us in this regard, so WHAT IS RENEWABLE ENERGY: Renewable energy are based on energy flows that are replenished by natural processes and so do not become depleted with use as do fossil fuels or nuclear fuels.

Take for instance the sun continues to shine as long as the day breaks on any part of the world hence any energy being derived from such a source would continue to be available as long as the sun continues to shine but if I have a reservoir of 300 trillion tonnes of petroleum total, that is assuming I can collate all available storage of fossil fuel both the ones that are in reserve and the one currently being drilled across the globe if by this assumption the world at large consumes 30 trillion tonnes yearly then it means in the next 10 years I might likely run out of supply of this available energy source hence the non-reliability.

So if the current supply of FOSSIL fuel is getting depleted then I believe we all need something to fall back on or that will serve as backup in case of eventual collapse of the former system of energy derivative.

So how do I tap into this renewable energy source?

Every home in the world has a roof above their head and this roof can serve as a medium to creating enough energy that will serve all your energy needs

Calculating Your Solar Power Requirements
There are three major factor to consider in order to choose a Solar system.

  • How much energy will your appliance(s) use over a period of time? to determine the actual amount of energy consume by each of your home appliances
  • How much energy can your battery store? In physics, the law of Conservation of Energy states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant, it is said to be conserved over time. This law means that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed from one form to another and therefore it can be hibernated or stored till when needed
  • How much energy can a Solar panel generate over a period of time? so how do i generate this energy and what source can i use to bail this energy in all at a go.

Firstly we need to take an in depth look on how much energy our appliance(s) use over a period of time? and how to conveniently derive those consumptions where necessary.

The power consumption of appliances is generally given in Watts (e.g. A small portable radio is around 10W this information can be found on the data sticker that most electrical items have). To calculate the energy you will use over time, just multiply the power consumption by the hours of intended use.

and in most case your device wattage might not be written in watts but in amp hence the need to convert same to wattage but it is practically impossible to convert amp to wattage since amp is in coulomb

How to convert electric current in amps (A) to electric power in watts (W).

Note: You can calculate watts from amps and volts( i.e the product of device rated voltage by the amps produces the wattage of that selfsame device). You can’t convert amps to watts since watts and amps units do not measure the same quantity.

DC amps to watts calculation formula
The power P in watts (W) is equal to the current I in amps (A), times the voltage V in volts (V):

P(W) = I(A) × V(V)

So watts is equal to amps multiplied by the device rated voltage volts:

watt = amp × volt  (W = A × V)

Example
What is power consumption in watts when the current is 160mA and the voltage supply is 110V?

Answer: the power P is equal to current of 0.16 amps multiplied by the rated voltage of 100 or 240 volts depending on the supplied voltage in your country

P =0.16A × 100V = 16W

AC single phase amps to watts calculation formula

The real power P in watts (W) is equal to the power factor PF times the phase current I in amps (A), times the RMS voltage V in volts (V):

P(W) = PF × I(A) × V(V)

So watts are equal to power factor times amps times volts:

watt = PF × amp × volt (W = PF × A × V)

Example
What is power consumption in watts when the power factor is 80% and the phase current is 2A and the RMS voltage supply is 110V?

Answer: the power P is equal to power factor of 80% multiplied by the current of 2 amps by voltage of 110 volts.

P = 0.8 × 2A × 110V = 176W

AC three phase amps to watts calculation formula

Watts calculation with line to line voltage
The real power P in watts (W) is equal to square root of 3 times the power factor(PF) times the phase current I in amps (A), times the line to line RMS voltage VL-L in volts (V):

P(W) = √3 × PF × I(A) × VL-L(V)

So watts are equal to square root of 3 times power factor PF times amps times volts:

watt = √3 × PF × amp × volt (W = √3 × PF × A × V)

Example
What is power consumption in watts when the power factor is 80% and the phase current is 2A and the RMS voltage supply is 110V?

Answer: the power P is equal to power factor of 0.8 multiplied by the current of 2 amps by the voltage of 110 volts.

P = √3 × 0.8 × 2A × 110V = 304W

Watts calculation with line to neutral voltage
The calculation assumes the loads are balanced.

The real power P in watts (W) is equal to 3 times the power factor (PF) by the phase current I in amps (A), multiplied by the line to neutral RMS voltage VL-0 in volts (V):

P(W) = 3 × PF × I(A) × VL-0(V)

So watts are equal to 3 times power factor PF times amps times volts:

watt = 3 × PF × amp × volt (W = 3 × PF × A × V)

The 10W radio earlier mentioned, used for 4 hours, will take 10 x 4 = 40WH (watts hour) from any battery bank.

Repeat this for all the appliances you wish to use, then add the results to establish total consumption like below.

  1. Radio 10w on for 4 hours per day = 40w per day
  2. Dc bulb 10w on for 5 hours per day = 50w per day
  3. Water pump (20w) on for 1h per day = 20w per day
  4. Garden Light 30w on for 3h per day = 90w per day
  5. Spot lights 10w on for 1h per day = 10w per day

Total = 210w per day

An easy way to lower your power usage is to swap out halogen lights for LED lights. LED lights generally use 80% less energy for a similar light level. We have a range of 12V LED lights and rechargeable emergency lights in stock from as low as 1w and above call us on 0703 286 2249

Secondly you need to know how much energy your battery can store and then select a Solar panel that can replenish your ‘stock’ of energy in the battery in line with your pattern of use.

2. How much energy can my battery bank store?

Battery capacity is measured in Amp Hours (e.g. 100AH). You need to convert this to Watt Hours bymultiplying the AH figure by the battery voltage (e.g. 12V). this is just the simple calculation below

X (Battery size in AH) x Y (Battery Voltage) = Z (Power available in watt hours)

For a 100AH, 12V battery the Watt Hours figure is 100(X) x 12(Y) = 1200 WH (Z)

This means the battery could supply 1200W for 1 hour, 600W for 2 hours or even 17w for 72 hours i.e. the more energy you take, the faster the battery discharges.

However you are never really able to take all the power from a battery as once the voltage drops below your equipment’s requirements it will no longer be able to power it. There is a simple rule of thumb for this but please check your battery’s specifications to make sure.

Lead acid battery’s will give you around 50% of their rated power. (i.e. a 100Ah battery has 50Ah of usable power)

Li-ion battery’s will give you around 80% of their rated power. (i.e. a 100Ah battery has 80Ah of usable power)

A common question that people ask regarding the battery’s is,

Q. Are car battery’s just as good for solar as leisure battery’s?

A. The answer to is NO they are not. The reason is because a leisure battery has been designed to be discharged and recharge, a Car battery is designed to provide a lot of power quickly but it’s not able to cope with a low internal charge and recover fully.

We provide a wide range of sealed led acid batteries and gel batteries  that are ideal for solar applications CALL US ON 0703 286 2249

How much energy can a Solar panel generate over a period of time?

The final part to constructing your solar power plant is the solar panels. The power generation rating of a Solar panel is also given in Watts. In Theory, to calculate the energy a panel can supply to the battery, you multiply Watts (of the solar panel) by the hours exposed to sunshine.

In practice it’s not a good model to calculate the actual output from a solar panel so we work with a few simple rules.

· We would generally advise that an average African cold weather day will only give you 3 hours sunshine

· An average African summers days will give you 7 hours of sunshine.

So in winter a 100w panel will provide 100w worth of energy back into your battery by 3 hours. (100w x 3 = 300w)

In Summer a 100w panel will provide 700w worth of energy back into your battery. (100w x 7 = 700w)

Using the above calculation take into consideration any losses in the system from the regulator, cables and battery you might be using.

We can supply you a range of solar panels form as small as 2.5w unit all the way to 300w units, for more information on this call our hotline on 0703 286 2249

Plugging it all together to size your system.

Knowing your power requirements and the time of the year you want to use the system is vital to this step. We will use the example above with a power requirement of 210w per day.

Watts required divided by the time of year sunshine hours = panel size → 210 / 7 = 30W panel

Looking at a 30w or 40w solar panel for this application will be recommended.

However if this was an all year requirement i.e. also needed in the winter the numbers would change

Watts required / time of year sunshine hours = panel size → 210 / 3 = 70W panel

We would recommend looking at Three (3) 70w solar panels for this application.

The Last thing to know 

Lastly to complete your solar system is the Charge Controller or Voltage Regulator. Its basically the same thing just a different name. This essential piece of your solar system controls the Charge put into your battery, stops overcharging and prevents the solar panel pulling power from the battery at night. to order for as many quantity as possible ranging from 10a/12v and above controller call us on 0703 286 2249

We believe this Guide has helped you understand the sizing of a simple solar panel setup. If you have any other questions regarding sizing a system for your requirements or NEED HELP TO SETUP A LARGER SOLAR SYSTEM from 1kva and above kindly give us a call on 0703 286 2249  or 0816 511 6685 from any part of the world.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. The tutorial is helpulp and worthwhile. Well done!

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