Small Solar Power Setup (For electric bike charging)


Electric vehicles, such as electric bikes,
are becoming more more popular but is it viable to charge electric vehicles from solar power? everyone knows what solar panels are, but what I want to do is build a small scale solar panel setup that’ll be useful for charging my
electric bike as well as possibly powering other appliances inside of my
work shed this video is sponsored by NordVPN so I have no prior
experience with solar panel setups other than this solar panel on my calculator, but I have a rough understanding of basic electronics and I’ve done a bit of
research and found that there are many different solar options being sold on
Amazon. The most common options being these 12v 100w panels for
around ~£80 (~$100) now I’ll also require a solar charge controller to allow the
solar panel to charge a large battery for storing the energy for when I’m not
using it to charge my electric bike and I think what I’m going to do is order a
slightly overkill charge controller in case I want to expand to use more panels in the future so let’s get these parts ordered and wait for them to arrive so most of the parts for this setup have arrived I’ve got the 100 watt solar
panel, I’ve also got the MPPT charge controller and I’ve got the large
battery, this is a caravan battery or often called a leisure battery I’ve got
it because it’s cheap and I just need to save a bit of cost whilst I’m giving
this system a test, in the future I’ll probably move to a lithium based battery,
now because this isn’t an unboxing channel I’m not going to go through
everything unboxing in detail but let’s just get this panel out and see what it
looks like I’ll tell you what it’s getting a bit
late now it’s about five o’clock in the evening but maybe I can just wire
everything up temporarily to see if we can get this thing producing some power
the wiring of the system is really simple it’s just two wires between the
solar charge controller and the battery then another two wires between the
charge controller and the solar panel make sure if you build your own system
that you always connect the battery to the controller first and for this first
test I haven’t added a fuse which I’ll show later within a few minutes of
wiring it up the Sun decided to show itself and the panel was outputting
power as the voltage of the battery is around twelve point five volts the panel
is outputting roughly 65 watts with direct sunlight which isn’t bad
considering it’s the evening however I decided to do a quick test by covering
just one cell of the panel with the shadow of my hand and well it Hobbs the
power output so I need to be careful where I mount the panel so it isn’t
covered by even the tiniest bit of shade the following day I began installing the
system into my shed by first connecting the power wise through to the inside
then positioning the battery and charge controller in a clear space below my
workbench before wiring it all back up again though this time I added a circuit
breaker fuse now in terms of mounting the panel the obvious choice would be to
mount it on the roof of the shed but there is a slight issue from this
time-lapse footage you can see that for most of the day is covered by shade but
just a few metres from the shed there is direct sunlight so I’m thinking about
mounting the solar panel on a movable trolley I had some bits of wood laying
around and some caster wheels which when assembled made for a handy solar panel
mount then I can leave the panel in a set position for the morning Sun and
move it throughout the day when I’m passing by the shed it’s still in the
shade for a few hours of the day but it’s still far better than being on the
roof of the shed plus I can monitor it using a wireless security camera I
recently installed and move it accordingly speaking of security this video is
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the link in the description below if you want to see more about Nord VPN so the
solar system is all up and running I have the solar panel mounted out there
in the Sun when the Sun comes out and the solar charge controller is
successfully charging the large lead acid battery now this battery runs at 12
volts unfortunately my electric bike charger can take a 12 volt input so I
simply connect the two together and it’s all ready to charge the large electric
bike batteries now for a conventional store-bought electric bike you’ll most
likely need a mains AC socket so you need to have some kind of inverter to
change your 12 volts into the mains high-voltage AC outlet now there are a
few issues I don’t like with this charge controller
it doesn’t really give you that much information it gives you the amp hours
charged into the battery the voltage of the solar panel the amps produced by the
solar panel and a few other different things like temperature and stuff but it
doesn’t give you the what’s produced by the solar panel and also the what hours
charged into the battery so what I want to do is I want to build my own Arduino
based solar logger where I can log the current the voltage and also calculate
the watts and the water hours from that have a small display mounted on the wall
and also have it log all of that data to an SD card an SD memory card so that I
can log it over a period of months or years and see how much solar energy this
single solar panel produces these are the components that will be used in the
solar logger starting with the sensor module there is a 50 amp current sensor
a voltage divider for measuring the voltage up to 25 volts and a 5 volt
regulator to power the current sensor and other electronics in the other
module there is a 20 by 4 character LCD screen which I can program to display
all the necessary data below the LCD is a 10 C 3.6 board which will run my
custom Arduino code and also has an SD memory card slot to log the data to and
finally a switch on the side which can be programmed to do anything I wish once
everything was soldered up and mounted in their cases it was time to wire it
into the solar system I decided to wire it between the charge controller and the
storage battery as this will give me the most useful information I’m not really
interested in how much energy the solar panel itself produces but more the
energy actually charged into the storage battery this way if I monitor the energy
going into the battery as well as what I use the system should stay stable and I
won’t need to worry about over discharging the battery
I then needed to figure out what information I’d like on the LCD screen
to do this I find it best to open an Excel spreadsheet and Mark out a 20 by 4
grid then I can experiment with different character positions until I
find a layout that I like then comes a long task of programming everything
which I won’t go into detail about but I’ll post a link to the code in the
description if you want to replicate this lager I’d
recommend you have experience with electronics encoding before attempting
to build one as it’s not exactly plug-and-play once the code was working
I used the voltage and AM preachings from the solar charge controller to
calibrate the lager and now we have all the measurements we need so let’s run
through the basics of the lager there are the votes amps and what’s been
displayed at the top then the second row displays the energy charged in watt
hours and this value can be reset using the push button on the side the idea
behind this is by measuring the water hours required to charge my bike say 300
watt hours I can then press the button and reset this value then when the value
is back up to 300 watt hours I can charge my bike again the third row
displays the total energy charged since I programmed it and this is also log to
the memory card every hour as well as the following row which is just the
current time and date so I’ve had the data logger running for five days now
and it’s been a good few 5 days in terms of weather conditions there’s been at
least one day where the Sun was out all day it was blue sky all day and it’s
been at least one day where there was overcast thick cloud for the whole day
the other days were mixed patchy clouds when the Sun would come out for a couple
hours but this should give us a few good results in terms of harmony what hours
the solar panel is producing so to view the data all I need to do is take the
memory card out of the logger and plug this into my computer the data logger
saves all the data into a text file which can be imported into an Excel
spreadsheet and I can produce any graph I’d like so here is a graph of the last
five days as you can see the first day had some Sun in the morning but patchy
clouds in the afternoon the second day was thick cloud all day the third day
had some cloud in the morning but some Sun in the afternoon the fourth day it
was blue skies all day but the dip in the middle was due to a few hours of
shade from the nearby trees and finally the fifth day where there was some Sun
in the morning and some cloud in the afternoon so we’ve got a diverse set of
data logs here over the five days the total water I was charged was 1572 watt
hours or 1.57 kilowatt-hours so to interpret
this data we need to look at the results from a few different angles
first is it viable to charge an electric bike via a small scale solar setup like
this second what is a payback period and am I going to save money and third if
any of the two previous points aren’t feasible then where could the system be
of use my electric bike is a homemade setup and can output 3.5 kilowatts of
power which isn’t really relevant if you own a store-bought 250 watt pedal-assist
electric bike which is the legal limit here in the UK but fortunately bosch
have an e-bike range calculator I’m not sure how accurate this calculator is in
terms of real-world numbers but it should give a rough estimate if I pick
the power tube six to five battery which is the closest to my homemade battery I
know that I can discharge 400 watt hours out of the total 625 watt hours then by
choosing a mountain bike with off-road tires and a bumpy road surface with the
motor set to turbo mode as a worst case scenario we can get an estimated range
of 25 miles which actually isn’t far of my electric bike range when riding at
the same speed now the day of full blue Sky’s managed to charge 511 watt hours
while still experiencing a few hours of shade due to the trees so that would
fully charge the largest single electric bike battery that Bosch sells or
equivalent to 25 miles of cycling as a minimum and even on a cloudy day the
panel charged a total of 145 watt hours which would be equivalent to cycling
nine miles so to answer the question is this solar setup with this single 100
watt panel feasible for charging electric bikes and I would have to say
yes the fact that this can charge on a cloudy day roughly nine miles of range
is quite good and on a sunny day to charge 25 miles of range Plus is really
impressive but is this system cost-effective and will it ever be
repaid off and in shorts no the problem is with these systems these small-scale
systems is that any small extra cost really increases the
repayment I’m at the beginning in the video I mentioned I went for a bit of an
overkill charge controller this charge controller can take up to five of these
panels so having just one panel is where it’s basically never gonna repay this
thing off in fact I’ve done some math see and if
you were to add up the cost of everything in his system not including
the data logger because it’s not really necessary you can get by with just the
data on this screen this system cost me three hundred and twenty six sorry 327
British pounds I’ll put the u.s. dollar value right here with the current
exchange rate and the current average cost per kilowatt hour here in the UK is
0.125 British pounds this means I’ll need to generate two thousand six
hundred and sixteen kilowatt hours to pay it off which in terms of how long
that will take it’s the equivalent to fourteen years of
pure sunlight so basically there’s no more clouds in the sky for the next
fourteen years or its equivalent to forty nine years of overcast clouds so
if you would say some way in the middle like probably thirty five years I reckon
here with the British weather it would take to pay this off now this is not
really comparable to a household system because the ratio of the cost of the
charge controller to the whole system probably wouldn’t be as great and if I
were to expand the system to have five panels I would pay it off a lot quicker
in fact if I were to have five panels it would pay itself off in just under six
years of 100% in sunlight so no cloud for six years or just under twenty years
of cloud so if you were to say somewhere in the middle ten to twelve years it
would probably take to pay this system off which is not far off a household
system I think they’re averaging about eight to ten years depending on the
location so if we ignore the cost and the repayment time of this solar system
where is a system like this beneficial well many people online use them for
caravans motorhomes and for your Americans are
these basically anything that’s not always linked to the
grid it’s also useful for if you want to install lighting in a shed similar to
this if this shed wasn’t linked to the mains it’s actually quite far from the
nearest house so it probably would have been cheaper for me to install this
solar setup if I just wanted lighting then to have an electrician pop round
and dig a trench and put the Y’s in like they have actually done now in terms of
powering a workshop like my CNC machine and my 3d printer in my struggle
maybe with five panels I might be able to do a few short 3d prints but it’s not
going to power everything for a long period of time if you’re interested in
building your own solar setup similar to this I actually recommend that you go
check out another youtube channel run by a guy called will browse up is channel
link in the description down below but essentially he goes through these kind
of setups in far more detail because he’s experimenting with all sorts of
different panels charge controllers and storage batteries so if you want to find
out how you can wire up your own system and what equipment to buy go check out
his channel down in the description below so that does it for this project I
hope this was of interest to you it was a good learning experience for me
because well everyone knows what a solar panel is but not everyone has
experimented with applying solar power to some kind of application like
charging electric bikes so if you enjoyed this video or found it
interesting you’ll be great if you can leave a thumbs up down below and also
click Subscribe down below if you choose thanks to all of my patreon supporters
over on patreon comm for making these projects possible your support really
helps my videos out so thanks once again for your support thanks once again for
watching and I’ll see in the next video goodbye