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\"off grid\" dc solar electric garage lighting... hard wired and fully integrated
I am using Fenix International ReadySet solar energy kit to power my lights.
In sunny weather, 15-watt solar panels generate electricity and store it in a battery pack.
A day of charging, I can run DC lights in the garage for a few hours without having to use the power grid.
I also use the battery pack to charge the iPod via the built-in USB port.
I say \"off the net\" in quotes because the garage itself is on the grid.
The only thing that can run independently of the grid is a few lights on the ceiling of the garage.
Still, the battery pack comes with a wall adapter charger that I use from time to keep charged.
A great advantage of this device is that it is hard wired and fully integrated with the garage.
These lights look like traditional lights that are installed in your home.
In addition to the battery pack and a little PVC pipe, all the lines are hidden behind the inner sheath.
If this installation is done as a new building and not as a remodel without a pipe, I can do it easily.
Instructures was kind enough to send me this neat little solar kit as the runner-up award for last year\'s off-grid competition.
The kit comes with solar panels, smart battery packs, Universal USB phone battery chargers, wall adapter chargers, and 12 volt LED bulbs with power cables.
The battery pack can be charged from a solar panel or a wall charger from a set of terminals on the back.
It has a built-in charging controller and an alarm that will notify you of an error.
The device has two 12 V \"cigarette lighter\" sockets and two 5 v usb ports on the front that you can use to get power.
There is also a battery power indicator and a charging status indicator in front.
In these photos, you can see the solar panels on the small wooden rack I built for it.
When I first got it I was planning to use it for camping and emergencies so I made this portable stand.
Now, I\'m going to make an aluminum stand to install it on the roof of the garage with a power cord that goes through the roof deck, attic and battery pack.
Now, whenever the sun is shining, I put the panels on the ground next to the cottage.
The bulbs that come with the kit are particularly interesting.
Although it is a 12VDC bulb, it has an E26 screw base similar to the traditional 120VAC bulb for home use.
The included wire has a bulb screw socket at one end and a \"lighter\" plug at the other end that can be plugged into the battery pack.
As strange as the bulb is, it means that as long as it is wired for 12VDC instead of 120VAC, I can install it in a traditional home fixture.
I found more of the same bulbs on eBay and then collected some electric boxes, 18/2 Romex wires, tools and started working.
I built my garage myself and made all the lines myself, so I did it the way I liked it.
Don\'t worry, I checked all my electrical work.
Having said that, I will show you how my traditional 120VAC lighting works. . .
There are eight lights around the ceiling of my garage.
All eight switches are operated with one switch.
Each of these eight lamps is a cool white CFL bulb equivalent to 100 watts.
When they run, the interior of the garage is bright. . .
I mean burn. your-retinas bright.
It\'s great when I work there and need to see what I\'m doing.
I call it \"mission lighting \". See photo 1.
The center of the ceiling is a single lamp operated by another switch.
It has a warm white CFL bulb equivalent to 60 watts.
When this light is the only burning light, there is a softer, darker light in the room.
It was great when I was relaxing after a week of work, drinking beer, surfing the Internet, etc.
I call this my \"mood lighting \". See Photo 2.
My solar DC lighting works the same as my regular lighting.
I have a switch to control four cool white LED \"mission lights\" around the ceiling, and another switch to control a single LED warm white \"mood light\" in the center of the ceiling \".
I built a small shelf on the garage wall, close to the circuit breaker panel for easy access to the attic.
I put the ready-made battery pack on that shelf.
Above the breaker panel is an entrance hole where all branch circuit wires enter the attic through the ceiling.
I left this hole so that in the future I could easily pass through the ceiling from the solar panel installed on the roof and enter the power inverter located near the breaker panel.
The power cord of the ready-made battery pack enters the attic through this hole.
Another reason I installed the battery pack in this position is because it is very close to the door.
If the battery pack has not been used for more than half an hour, you must wake it up by pressing the button in front of the device.
If the unit is close to the door then you don\'t have to fumble in the dark garage to turn on the lights.
When you first walk in, just press the button in front of the battery pack and flip the solar light switch.
The ReadySet batter pack is connected to the rest of the system through the 12 V \"lighter\" plug on the front of the device.
I bought a 12 volt socket extension cord and cut off the female end in order to get the \"pigtails.
In the first picture, you can see the \"lighter\" plug in front of the unit, and the winding wire leads to the gray strain relief connector at the bottom of the pipe box.
Inside the box, the input disc winding is connected to the 3A car fuse and then to the red 18/3 Romex cable through the top exit of the pipe box.
The Romex cable extends directly up to the attic, where it will enter the junction box above.
What I should mention is that this step and later involves wires.
Please know what you are doing if you would like to try to do so.
The project involves only low-voltage lines and there is no major danger of electric shock.
However, a short circuit or overload anywhere in the system will still cause the wire to heat up to the point where it may cause a fire.
It is important to properly adjust the wiring size and install a fuse or circuit breaker to protect the wiring.
If the last few words are a new concept for you, then please ask for my advice and review your circuit assignment.
As soon as the power cable enters the attic, it goes straight to the junction box seen in the first picture.
In the junction box, there is a simple joint connection that divides the power cable into two circuits.
One of the circuits is for mood lights and the other is for task lights.
The emotional light cable enters the emotional light fixture.
The first fixture of the task optical cable entering the task string (
There are four fixtures in this string).
In the second photo, you see the fixture of the mood light.
The power cord from the attic junction box is a cable without green masking tape.
The cable with green masking tape goes off to the switch.
This wiring method allows the positive line on the power cord to be fed back to the switch before the power cable repowers the bulb.
This type of line is called a \"live Loop\" and is common in the home 120VAC lighting circuit.
For task lighting, the first fixture in the string is similar to the mood light.
There is a live circuit that leads the positive wire out of the switch before returning the light.
The only difference is that unlike what you see on the mood light, the two empty screw terminals on the light fixture have cable connections that power the rest of the lights on that string.
The fourth picture is a lamp in the middle of the task lighting string.
You can see how easy it is to \"daisy chain\" lights by connecting screw terminals in parallel.
Each of these two light circuits has a cable that extends into the pipe box you see in the picture.
Because each cable is part of the \"live loop\", the switch only needs to connect the two wires on each cable to turn off the circuit and turn on the lights.
I bought a double light switch to save space on the wall next to my door.
It\'s just two separate switches that fit into one space.
The double switch usually has a brass-colored label between the two screw terminals on one side.
This tab must be disconnected in order for the switch to work.
It is OK to break the label with a pair of pliers and the label is for it.
Turn on the battery pack and both switches are off and each lamp socket should read about 12 v dc.
The positive terminal should be the brass band in the center of the socket, and the negative terminal should be the threaded part.
It doesn\'t matter if it doesn\'t read 12 volts.
12 volts is only the nominal voltage of the battery, but may be between 10 and 14 volts.
I have almost never used 120VAC since I installed these emergency lights.
Even if the battery pack is not fully charged, I just plug it into the wall socket with the provided adapter.
I haven\'t had time yet, but when I have time to assemble the brackets in aluminum, I will install the solar panels onto the roof of the garage.
Please feel free to ask if you have any questions.
I love this note, please vote for me in the \"battery powered\" contest.
As always, thank you very much for reading.