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Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 9:04am On May 30, 2020
Solar power is considered out of reach of the average middle class income earner.

But is it?

Let's go into it, step by step.

I hope, by the information I'll be detailing below to encourage most low-income earners to adopt solar power for their needs. It is not as expensive as the resellers would have it be.

NB: I am not a professional. Most of the views I'll express will likely be as a result of my own experience.

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 9:16am On May 30, 2020
Let us assume a household with 6 light bulbs, 2 ceiling fans, a standing fan, a couple of phone and laptop chargers.

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 9:20am On May 30, 2020
To power these appliances and devices, most households use a 1kva generator, popularly known as i pass my neighbor.

We'll look at the cost of procuring the generator and maintaining it over the course of a year.
Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by cardoso514: 10:35am On May 30, 2020
Budget close to 140k to get it
Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 12:12pm On May 30, 2020
A 1.5kva generator costs around N50,000 to N60,000.

Using it for 5 hours daily requires petrol, about 3ltrs (in the first year of use). The consumption gets worse as the generator ages.

Engine oil of N1000 can serve for two weeks, assuming a 5-hr daily usage. Thus to maintain engine health, engine oil will be changed approximately every 70 hours. This translates to an approximate N24,000 expenditure on oil in a year.

The cost of labour paid to generator mechanics varies according to location. For a new generator, we can ignore it for the first year. In reality, it might cost as much as N20000 in a year, if not more, after the first year, when the generator ages.

Assuming the generator works for two years, and we spread its purchase cost over the two years, this gives us an estimated yearly bill of N180,000.

NB: We assume that the generator works every day, and there is no alternative source of power.
Those of us that are lucky enough to have power from the grid should count themselves lucky. Most Nigerians don't. They only dream of it.
Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 12:23pm On May 30, 2020
You can see that power is not cheap. Reason many of us opt to live without it.

But if we are determined, we can generate our own power and enjoy the convenience it brings without breaking our bank.
Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 12:25pm On May 30, 2020
To do this, five pieces of equipment are required. Just five. And they are:

Solar panel
Inverter
Solar controller
Wire cables.
Batteries

The long stories solar power professionals tell, the whole chimichaga (dogon turançi, akukó) comes down to these five. No more, no less.

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by mahkanjuh: 12:44pm On May 30, 2020
Well done OP, bring it on. Gracias

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 12:56pm On May 30, 2020
The solar panel is the device that converts energy from the sun to electrical energy.

It has different capacities, measured in voltage/power.

For instance, a solar panel with rating 18v/150w means that when the sun is up, the voltage from the panel will be 18v and the power will be 150w.

For now, forget all the other jargon about efficiency, quality, performance. As you grow to understand your homegrown power system, you'll make better decisions.
Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 1:11pm On May 30, 2020
Power from solar panel is called DC current. It is different from the one that comes from generators, PHCN. Those ones are called AC current.

So power from the solar panel cannot be directly connected to your junction box. To do that, it has to be converted from DC to AC.

Converting the power from DC to AC is the job of the inverter.

It comes in different capacities measured in voltage/power like the solar panel.

12v/1.2kva inverter means the inverter requires a 12v battery to work, and has a maximum power output of about 1kw at every given point in time.

NB: For now, ignore the mathematics. We'll get to it later. It's not complex.

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 1:22pm On May 30, 2020
When using a solar panel, sometimes the sunlight is very bright, sometimes it is dull. Sometimes it rains, and sometimes it is just okay.

Sometimes, you're not even there to use the power generated immediately. A lot of times, you need the power at night when the sun is no longer up. So you need to store the power from the solar panel while the sun is up and use it when you need it.

That is why we need batteries.

Batteries can store the electrical energy from the solar panel and give it out when it's needed.

They have capacities measured in voltage/amp-hours.
For instance a 12v/80aH battery means the battery supplies 12v and can allow a current of 80A to flow for one hour.

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 1:24pm On May 30, 2020
All our electrical connections are done using cables.

I think this is self explanatory.

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 1:31pm On May 30, 2020
When we hang our solar panels in the sun to collect solar energy, the energy might be higher than our battery capacity, or it can be smaller.

If it is higher, we don't want it overcharging our batteries. If it is lower, we don't want it discharging our batteries.

That is why we use a solar controller between them to regulate the power going to the battery.

Now, we have the five things we need and their uses.

If we understand these, we can set up our simple power generators ourselves without paying through our nose.
Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 1:45pm On May 30, 2020
Let us go back to our household with 6 light bulbs, 2 ceiling fans, a standing fan, a couple of phone and laptop chargers.

For our household, we will throw away all our yellow bulbs, energy bulbs, and fluorescent lights. We will adopt the new LED bulbs.

These LED bulbs are not easily breakable, they are really bright, and have low power consumption.

A 5W led bulb will be as bright as a 35w energy bulb. I'll post pictures later. But for now, understand that those LED bulbs are better in all ramifications than the ordinary bulb or energy bulb. The sellers will try to tell you it costs at least N800, even more.
Don't mind them, it's N250 or N300 at the most.

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 2:00pm On May 30, 2020
As for the fans, there are new low-power DC fans that use little power, but they're expensive, over N25,000. So for now, it's not within our budget range.

A normal ceiling fan uses 75w at full power.

A laptop charger uses about 60w. A phone charger about 6w.

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 4:30pm On May 30, 2020
For a simple solar power generator that'll take your bulbs, phone chargers and ceiling fan, up to a total of 500w, let's buy the following:

A 500w inverter. I have seen it advertised on Konga.com for N9000. I believe its the real price because there's a number of reviews on it showing people have bought it and taken delivery. The picture is shown below (also culled from Konga.com).

The cost of the inverter in your neighborhood electrical store might be the same or slightly higher (inflation things). Just don't let them know you're a newbie grin

Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 4:57pm On May 30, 2020
We'll also need a solar panel. I would recommend the 12v/150w mono solar panel. It costs about N25000. There are smaller cheaper ones.

Important thing is, the voltage rating should not be less than 12v. And the power rating should not be less than 100w.
A picture of the 12v/150w panel (culled from Konga.com) is shown below:

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by dexpendable(m): 4:59pm On May 30, 2020
Mordecai:
We'll also need a solar panel. I would recommend the 12v/150w mono solar panel. It costs about N25000. There are smaller cheaper ones.

Important thing is, the voltage rating should not be less than 12v. And the power rating should not be less than 100w.
A picture of the 12v/150w panel (culled from Konga.com) is shown below:


How many of these would be needed?
Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 5:25pm On May 30, 2020
The next thing we'll need is the battery (ies).

This is the consumable aspect of the generator, because they don't have long lives. They can serve you for about 18-24 months before you'll have to replace them.

I'm assuming that we're staying low-budget and do not want to burst our bank account.

So I'll recommend the 12v/40ah deep charge inverter battery. It is also available on Konga.com for N28,000. I strongly believe it should be cheaper than that. The picture below (culled again from Konga.com) is a Gacia 40ah deep cycle inverter battery.

Now, a word about batteries.

Batteries are to be treated with care. They are the gold of the solar power industry. Treat them right, and you have a wonderful generator. If you don't show them care, you would not get the best out of your solar generator.

How do you care for your battery?

Ensure they are always charged.
Ensure you do not overload them.
Try and leave it alone if low on charge. Do not try to drain it further if it's very low. Exercise patience and allow it to get charged again before continuing.
Do not keep it on the bare floor. Keep it on a raised platform instead.
Keep it away from direct sunlight or heat. Also keep it away from cold corners.
Use it regularly.

A 12v battery is low when it goes down to 11v. When being charged, they can go as high as 13.8v. Under normal operation, they read at about 12.6v.

So if your battery is at 10.9v, shut it down. Running batteries down completely reduces their lifespan.

1 Like

Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 5:28pm On May 30, 2020
dexpendable:


How many of these would be needed?

For the purpose of the small generator I am writing about, one would do, especially if you get the 150w panel.
Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 5:51pm On May 30, 2020
Next, we will need to get a solar controller. This small device protects your batteries from overcharging by the panel, or from discharging when sunlight is low, or at night.

It acts as an intelligent device, increasing current and decreasing voltage when necessary, or decreasing current and increasing voltage.
Note that it will not increase both current and voltage simultaneously, nor reduce them both simultaneously.

A simple PWM solar controller costs N10,000. On Konga.com, I saw one (pictured below, image culled from Konga.com) for N9,788.

Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 6:12pm On May 30, 2020
To ensure we are on the same page, let us double-check the devices we bought:

1 nos 500w inverter - N9,000
1 nos 12v/150w solar panel - N25,000
1 nos 12v/40ah deep cycle battery - N28,000
1 nos PWM solar controller - N10,000

So far, the costs sum up to N72,000.

Quite high, one would say. But still less than half of the costs of the 1kva generator.

Next we'll get cables. While there are cables designed for solar power, with very low resistance, those are expensive and not within our budget.

We'll rather go for the 16mm cable for now. The length of the cable will depend on the distance from your roof (or wherever you intend to hang your solar panel) to where you intend to place the solar controller, inverter and battery.

I will suggest, when buying the cables to remember that two cables run from the solar panel to the solar controller, one for the positive line, the other for the negative.

You can thus buy them such that the positive line is a different color from the negative line.

3 Likes

Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by siempere(m): 6:41pm On May 30, 2020
Great work bro...following ardently.

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by RS411: 7:34pm On May 30, 2020
Nice one, thanks

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Ournolly: 8:16pm On May 30, 2020
As much as I applaud your idea and the clear explanation, I will however let anyone interested to understand clearly that 40ah deep cycle led acid battery won't go far at all.

With 50% dod one can only get only 20ah which makes extremely poor for even 1 room apartment.

I know you were trying to drastically reduce the cost but the above listed is far below the minimum not even mentioning that solar set up cost far more.


I am currently in conclusive part of powering my 2 modern bedroom flat with 2 heavy 200ah monbat battery and the necessary addons. This alone is costing me over 600k.

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 8:41pm On May 30, 2020
Ournolly:
As much as I applaud your idea and the clear explain, I will however let anyone interested to understand clearly that 40ah deep cycle led acid battery won't go far at all.

With 50% dod one can only get only 20ah which makes extremely poor for even 1 room apartment.

I know you were trying to drastically reduce the cost but the above listed is far below the minimum not even mentioning that solar set up cost far more.


I am currently in conclusive part of powering my 2 modern bedroom flat with 2 heavy 200ah monbat battery and the necessary addons. This alone is costing me over 600k.

Thanks Ournolly, for your feedback.

While a 40ah battery will not be expected to take on every appliance in the house, it can certainly ensure that the owner will not have to put on a generator every night for lighting, or to run his fans, or charge his phones. Note that the recommended battery is not a lead acid battery. It is a sealed deep cycle inverter battery.

Secondly, it's easier to upscale the installation at the user's pace than to wait till one hammers to set up a high-power solar generator.

The point of this thread is to make solar power affordable to the average Nigerian low-income earner. I'm left wondering if you belong to that class grin

Now, I have also powered a 2-bedroom flat with 2 heavy 210ah batteries. The requirements are still the same, with just some upscaling, but still not that expensive.

Solar panels, 24v/2.4kva inverter, the two 210ah batteries, a PWM solar controller and the cabling.

If you do not mind, can you break down the expenditure so we can see what made your installation that expensive?

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Ournolly: 8:54pm On May 30, 2020
Mordecai:


Thanks Ournolly, for your feedback.

While a 40ah battery will not be expected to take on every appliance in the house, it can certainly ensure that the owner will not have to put on a generator every night for lighting, or to run his fans, or charge his phones.

Secondly, it's easier to upscale the installation at the user's pace than to wait till one hammers to set up a high-power solar generator.

The point of this thread is to make solar power affordable to the average Nigerian low-income earner. I'm left wondering if you belong to that class grin

Now, I have also powered a 2-bedroom flat with 2 heavy 210ah batteries. The requirements are still the same, with just some upscaling, but still not that expensive.

Solar panels, 24v/2.4kva inverter, the two 210ah batteries, a PWM solar controller and the cabling.

If you do not mind, can you break down the expenditure so we can see what made your installation that expensive?
I don't clearly have the list. Made payment last week and expecting it to arrive on Monday.

The people in charge gave me two options because I requested for the strongest battery - Monbat and Quanta. I picked Monbat which costs 145k each.

300 x 3 mono solar panel 42k each.
1 Diamond mppt solar charge controller @50k
Wire and workman @50k or thereabout.

Everything is not clear yet but they requested for 650k which according to them will take care of everything.

Expecting them on Monday.

The point of this thread is to make solar power affordable to the average Nigerian low-income earner. I'm left wondering if you belong to that class grin

I am no multi millionaire but I won't refer myself as low income earner.
Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by zenith4biz(m): 9:51pm On May 30, 2020
Good evening, the current market price of some of the equipment.

500w inverter #5000 1000w is #7,500

Charge controller #4,500

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Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 10:27pm On May 30, 2020
Ournolly:

I don't clearly have the list. Made payment last week and expecting it to arrive on Monday.

The people in charge gave me two options because I requested for the strongest battery - Monbat and Quanta. I picked Monbat which costs 145k each.

300 x 3 mono solar panel 42k each.
1 Diamond mppt solar charge controller @50k
Wire and workman @50k or thereabout.

Everything is not clear yet but they requested for 650k which according to them will take care of everything.

Expecting them on Monday.



I am no multi millionaire but I won't refer myself as low income earner.

Congratulations on crossing over to the league of independent power generators/consumers. At some point, you would not understand it when people ask you, "you get light for your estate?"

When I decided to begin using solar power, a friend of mine recommended that MTN solar device that costs 4500 monthly for 5 years. After looking at it, and seeing they were clearly ripping Nigerians off, I decided to explore solar energy on my own.

The biggest impediment to having solar power was the tendency of the solar power resellers to place a high price on otherwise cheap items.

They offered me a 1.2kva/100ah installation for 300k. I ignored them, struck out on my own and eventually set up a 2.4kva/200ah system, for about 250k inclusive of cabling and installation. These included two monocrystalline solar panels of 250w each. The only extraneous cost was that of hiring a scaffold to take the panels to the roof.

When I decided, after two years to upgrade my batteries, I got two Viforce batteries 210ah each for 190k less shipping costs. That is 95k apiece. I have ordered for another 250w panel at 36k. Little by little, I can simply get another inverter, and add my refrigerator to the circuit. cheesy

I have also observed these resellers servicing people's inverters monthly and I know they are just exploiting their customer's ignorance. In case you don't understand, servicing an inverter is like servicing a television. They don't need any servicing.

This is partly why I am posting this thread. If people know they can generate their own power cheaply, we would be able to set off our own micro industrial revolution in Nigeria.

Our offices, hospitals and schools will benefit. Our dependence on government for power will dwindle. Our homes will have cleaner air. Our night sleep will have less noise disturbances caused by petrol generators. All at a meager charge to our wallets.

I wish you the best of luck on your solar power journey. Encourage others to hop on the train too. Hopefully, one day our country will be better than Korea...

18 Likes

Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 10:30pm On May 30, 2020
zenith4biz:
Good evening, the current market price of some of the equipment.

500w inverter #5000 1000w is #7,500

Charge controller #4,500

Thanks for the info, zenith4biz. It appears they are even quite cheaper than I thought.
Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Mordecai(m): 10:49pm On May 30, 2020
After buying the equipments needed for the solar power generator, our next task is to prepare our home for the solar power system.

We'll now carry out an activity known as LOAD SELECTION.

This is quite technical, so you would want to hire an experienced electrician to do it for you.

The objective is to select the lighting points, and the devices expected to be powered by the solar power generator.

The electrician will open the junction box, identify your lighting points, fans, as well as designated sockets for the solar system.

Those points will then be disconnected from the general power grid and rerouted towards your inverter. They are all to be connected to an extension head that will fit into the socket behind the inverter. You can check out the inverter picture in my earlier post for reference.

Very important: The sockets selected should be clearly marked. Every member of the household should be made aware that on no account is any high power appliance to be plugged into those sockets.

For the purposes of our low-budget generator, only phone chargers, laptop chargers, or clippers can be plugged in. In fact any other device with a power rating above 10w should not be plugged into the socket.

If there is any doubt about the power rating of the device, don't plug it in.

Plugging a high power device on the system can lead to burning of the inverter and reduction of battery life.

4 Likes

Re: Solar Power For An Average Middle Class Household by Sirlancelort(m): 11:48pm On May 30, 2020
zenith4biz:
Good evening, the current market price of some of the equipment.

500w inverter #5000 1000w is #7,500

Charge controller #4,500

I don't think this is a sine wave inverter

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