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Solar energy: How to get more wattage from several solar panels?

Here's the thing. I have this little farm in a far far place where there's no electrical power. I only have a generator that I can't afford to have on all day... I have this chickens I need to keep warm at night among other things, like turning on light bulbs (both old and energy saving ones), tv, radio, etc for a few hours. Here's the thing, I was looking online and I found a descent price on a 130 watts solar panel, 12 volts output so I was thinking of buying it. I'll explain what I know so far so you can maybe help me out with my doubts: I am supposed to sum up the amount of watts consumed by the devices connected to my panels right ? for instance, if I have three 40 watts bulbs that would mean 120 watts per hour, which means the panel would do the job right ? Let's assume for a second we have ideal weather conditions. So that would mean that if I need the bulbs on for 4 hours that's "120*4= 480 watts hour" .. the panels would need to be working under ideal conditions 4 hours as well right ? That would mean "130*4=520 watts hours" so I should be fine, right ? No energy storage involve so far. Just direct energy consumption right? Now, here's one of my main question. I couldn't fine panels that could provide more than 130 watts, so what do I do when I need more energy than that ? am I supposed to connect several panels in parallel to keep the same voltage or am I supposed to connect them in series and deal later with the voltage increase ? My "common sense" tells me that I should connect them in parallel (assuming I'm buying the same panel several times), so I get the same voltage output, to them connect them to a power inverter. But, will I get a wattage increase, will it just keep adding up ? For instance if I have four 130 watts panels in parallel will I get total of 520 watts ? *Crucial question* Also, among all the doubts I have, I would also like to ask how to select my system. Like I said before, my main issue is to keep the chicken warm. I would like to light up say, 6 old light bulbs just so I can heat up the room for the chickens. Let's say 60 watts (maybe?). According to my logic that would mean 360 watts so one panel wouldn't be enough, so how to I get more wattage ? How to I get enough wattage to light up these light bulbs plus a couple other energy saving ones for the surroundings of the farm, and old small tv and maybe a small fan ? The "warming bulbs" would be on all night, that's the goal.. the other things I intend to power would be on for 4 hours average. Last but not least, actually this is quite important... how to I store enough energy to keep this things going on once the sun is gone. As you may have figured out already I need energy at night, once the sun is gone, to keep the chicken warm at night an to light up the patio I guess. I'm gonna need an arrangement of batteries for this.. but which ones ? How many ? in parallel (of course?) ? How much time will they need to charge before I need to use them again ? Remember I plan to use them on a daily basis. So as you can see I'm pretty much an ignorant when it comes to this, but I'm really trying to figure it out. I know this sounds a bit nuts but I'm basically asking you to teach me to set up a whole systems for my needs. Is it even possible ? Given the case that I can't keep the "warming bulbs" on, I would still like to set up a system to light up the patio with energy saving bulbs, to turn on a small tv and perhaps a fan, that would still help a lot. Even if what I'm asking is too crazy, do you know of any other affordable way to produce or store enough energy for any of this things ? Like maybe wind energy? or (I don't know) is there a way to charge an arrangement of batteries with my generator and then use these batteries with an inverter to keep the rest of the things on at night ? Because I don't keep the generator on all night, it would probably break after a while. Sounds like waste to have such a huge thing on for hours every night just to keep a few bulbs and a small tv on. Well anyway, thanks for your time. I hope this doesn't sound too crazy and I hope you can help me out or maybe guide me in the right direction. ROWLFE: Please, I hope you read this. You seem to be well informed, more than just well. Thanks by the way.. but I need to flood you with a bunch of other questions if that's alright. So I assuming I have a established storage battery system (which I don't, I don't even know where to start, but let's just assume I have it) would it matter if I have a 130 watts panel or a bazillion watts panel ? What I mean is, since I'm using the power almost strictly when the sun is gone, then I can't consider the panel a "battery" as you said. I absolutely need the so said storage unit... so if I had this unit, any panel would do the trick to charge it ? I don't know if I'm explaining myself well, what I'm trying to say is that my energy consumption will be strictly supplied by my batteries, the solar panel in this case is just one of the many ways to charge those batteries. If I could charge the batteries with anything else then I would.. but I need pow but I need power at night to light up incandescent light bulbs. So would I need an specific solar panel to charge an ARRANGEMENT OF BATTERIES THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN DESIGNED TO POWER MY NEEDS ? or any panel/wattage would do the job since I would not be feeding directly from it ? By the way, since I have no clue where to start, do you think you could maybe recommend some panels/wattage for what I need ? and batteries, specially batteries. I know I can't use just regular car batteries since they are not designed to be charged and discharged so often. I heard something about golf car batteries, I don't know. Man if you could maybe show some quick schematics/designs of a system that might work for my needs, that would help me out a lot. Even if its just a block diagram... I'm sorry to sound so stupid but this is the first time I try to do something like this so I'm still on the trial and error stage. I promise I'm a bit smarter than this. Thanks for your help!

Asked By: Nevermind7694 - 1/1/2013
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker
To keep a 12v system, mount multiple panels in parallel. That increases available watts leaving volts constant.
Answered By: ioerr - 1/1/2013
Additional Answers (2)
The nice thing is that you can look at a solar panel just as you would a battery. You assume it is in full sunlight and then treat it like a plain ordinary DC battery. In your case, you would parallel panels to increase current capacity to charge your storage batteries. Then you use your storage batteries when the sun... More
Answered By: rowlfe - 1/1/2013
 
To get more wattage from solar panels, you must install the panels at the place where sun light directly falls. Also the arrangement of the panels should be correct. You can also check http://mysolarzone.com/ for more info.
Source(s):
Answered By: Jason - 1/4/2013
 
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