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Q:I am thinking of building a new two car garage in Northern illinois, is it possible to make the garage doors solar powered and reliable?


How you provide solar power to your garage door opener depends on where the garage is located and whether you are on the grid. If there is already power from your house that is available, then a solar panel grid tie system for your house would of course include your garage. You can just connect your garage onto that system (it might even already be connected!). If you have a detached garage and want to start out with the garage, you may want to look into an off grid solar system with a solar battery backup, but this would be very expensive and not recommended--although it is possible. A third option for some folks who live in very sunny areas may want to consider a solar carport, which uses roof solar panels to charge the battery in an electric car, as well as powering garage lights and the garage door opener. Whichever option you choose, as long as the garage's roof isn't in the shade most of the time (you'll want to make sure there aren't trees or other obstructions south of it), you'll have enough power for not only the door opener but also garage lights.

02-11-2014 by Nitza Category: Solar Panels

Q:As a project in school, I need to ask how solar panels work and why doesn't all the solar energy turn into electrical energy?


Congratularions on your solar project in school. SolarTown has set up a sister site called SolarTownKids for students and parents to explore solar energy. SolarTownKids has a lot of good resources that you will want to check out, including solar videos, solar activities and projects.  We have some basic information on that site such as how solar energy works. And if you have other projects to offer, we would be pleased to share your information with our SolarTown kids and parents.

01-28-2014 by Tony Pau Category: Solar Panels

Q:Wish to install a solar motion sensor security light between two urban houses, out of reach of intruders. For what I want to do, I believe that I need separate components: sensor, light and solar panel placed high, perhaps several feet apart. Are these available to public, and would you know of a place to inquire? Thanks-


Please refer to the SolarTown product catalog under solar security lights.  Most of the solar security lights come with a motion sensor so that you would be able to mount the solar lights high on a wall or a fence. Some of the solar security lights come with an on off feature and there is even one of the new and bright solar security lights that come with a remote on and off feature. All of the lights that we have in this section are all-inclusive with all of the parts that you need, including the light and the solar panel that powers the light.  If you have any further questions, please contact us.

12-18-2013 by Gary Category: Solar Lights and Garden

Q:I am new to solar lighting and am looking for some weatherproof flood lights to light up my hockey rink on the lake that I live on. What lights would work to light up a space 50' x 100'. I would also like to have them on a timer. Thanks.


You have many good choices for solar flood lights for your outdoor hockey rink. You can take a look at the many flood lights and the various options at the SolarTown store under solar security and flood. The latest flood lights are very bright, as much as the equivalen of 150 watts. The Lumen measurement is 540lm (6~7lm/pc)--real bright which should suit your purposes. Most solar lights work from dusk to dawn or the security solar lights many times will have a motion sensor. None of the lights that we carry have a timer, but many do have an on off switch, which it sounds like will suit your purposes. The weather has gotten cold throughout the country so you have the perfect weather to grab your hockey stick and play hockey.

12-07-2013 by Ryley C Category: Solar Lights and Garden

Q:I have a 48VDC system that draws 20W every day, all day. What battery and solar charger combination would be best for me?


Off-grid solar panel systems are relatively easy to design if you gather all of the information that you need beforehand. Your location is going to tell you how much sun you can expect your solar panel system to receive.

The first thing to calculate is the AC and DC watt hours for your average total watt hours per day. For this calculation you will add up all the electrical loads that the power system will need to provide power for. You need to take into account the watts and how many hours per day you will be using the electrical equipment. Multiply that answer by how many days per week to come up with the watt hours per week. Make sure that if you have appliances like an air conditioner that you use only in one season, that you make sure that you figure that into your calculation. If you have any DC loads, then you have to take those into account as well.

You need a few other pieces of information to obtain the size of the solar panel system. Remember that if the system is far away from the inverter, you are going to lose some electricity along the way.

For your racking system, you will need to make sure you have the maximum wind speed for your location and snow loads. And for the batteries, how much backup power are you looking for. From this information, we will have a better idea of the size of the system and the other components for your system.

10-26-2013 by Jim Category: Solar Electronics

Q:I have the 45 Watt Thunderbolt Magnum solar panel kit which includes a charge controller that shuts off at 14.5 volts. I have a 24 volt motor that I need to run and have my 2 - 12 volt deep cycle batteries hooked up to output to the motor but I think I need a 24 volt charge this right or can I somehow use my existing controller to charge both of my 12 volt batteries?


It will depend on what your home solar panels are rated at, and how they can be wired if this will work or not. You will definitely need a 24v charge controller, but it is not possible to recommend a charge controller until we know the specifications of the solar modules you purchases. Also, your solar inverter will no longer work. If you run 12v loads or the 12v inverter from ½ the 24v battery bank it will imbalance the charge on the solar batteries and they will fail after a short time. Once you provide the specifications for the solar panels, which you can usually find on the reverse side of the modules, then we can give you a better recommendation.

10-24-2013 by Lisa Category: Solar Panels

Q:I have a 1.1KW single phase 220V water pump, which I want to run on solar only during day time for 4 hours. Kindly let me know how many 250 W panels and Ahr of the battery bank required. I have a good 2KVA charge controller. Thanks.


You will likely need to get a solar pump that runs off of DC power to operate the system off of batteries. You can find solar submersible pumps such as Grundfos under our solar water pump section and you can find solar surface pumps such as Shurflo in the same section.  When you are looking for a solar water pump, you will also need to take in account your location, and what your required TDH (total dynamic head) and required flow rate for the pump to pick out the best pump to fit your needs.

10-20-2013 by Ram Category: Solar Water Pumps

Q:I want a solar powered light with a timer for my chicken coop to come on about 4am and off about 8am. Is there any thing out there I can use?


We love your application for solar energy lights and your chickens should enjoy solar energy like everyone else. Keep in mind that solar lights that you would want to use are dusk/dawn and they do not have a timer. You can browse some of the possibilities in our section on solar security lighting (you probably are not looking for a solar path light). Take a look at the Maxsa Model 40330. If you have the solar light set at half power, it will stay on for as long as 10 hours (depending on where you are located) and should do the job. There is no timer setting, but your chickens shouldn't know the difference.


09-24-2013 by Kim Category: Solar Lights and Garden

Q:can solar panels be charged with with artificial light


The short answer is yes, but why would you ever want to power a solar panel with artificial light. If you are talking about a calculator that you use at your desk, the office light will provide the light to make the tiny solar panel in the calculator work, even though most of the artificial light will be wasted. If you are talking about a 140 watt solar module, then you may have to rethink your approach, or buy a ton of incandescent lights. 


09-18-2013 by John Category: Solar Panels


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