John Robb at the Resilient Communities web site is looking for examples of Solar Sheds. OK, he’s talking about sheds that power a house. Still,I’ll take that as a sign that I should write up about my own simple solar shed.
The garden area at the camp is off grid, but there isn’t a need for a lot of power. Lighting and a little pumping are the primary needs. A radio is nice to have. I might have some low power automation for the garden some day. Wifi would be cool. Whoa! Getting carried away there.
The primary lighting is through integrating plexiglass panels in the roof for daylighting. I alternated metal roof panels with plexiglass ones. The shed was located under trees to keep it from overheating in the sun in the summer, otherwise this would allow too much heat in with the light. You don’t really want regular windows in the shed if they can be avoided, because they take up valuable wall space that is needed for storage. Putting windows in the roof works well for this situation. The plexiglass and the metal roof panels both have two inch ridges that overlap nicely. In the winter it even gets some solar heat after the leaves fall.
The rest of the power comes from three 15 watt cheap amorphous silicon solar panels. This type of panel can work in partial light which, given the location of the shed, is critical. I have them mounted low on one side of the shed that gets some sun in the morning. It might look weird to have them located there, but that is the best location given the primary goal of keeping the shed cool.
The solar panels feed a low end charge controller that is usually connected to a 12v deep cycle battery. I have a separate smaller 12v gel battery that I used for pumping that gets swapped in for a recharge when needed. In prior years, I was only at the camp on weekends so it was easy to get the watering battery recharged over the week. This year I may have to look into another way of working.
The deep cycle battery powers 12v LED landscape lighting in and around the front and back of the shed and a 12v radio designed for car or boat use. The lighting was bought on the cheap from one of those job lot stores and is supposed to be run off a 12v power supply, but they do fine with a 12v battery operating in normal voltage ranges.
So that’s my simple solar shed. It gets the job done and it was pretty cheap. Nothing really fancy, at least not until I get wifi working over the old Dish TV receivers.