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Is anyone running a studio with solar power?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Deleted e142378
Guest
Is anyone running a studio with solar power?

Hi,

I want to run my home studio solely with solar modules. Is this possible? LG sells nice panels with 375 W each. This is a lot when one considers buying 10 of them together with a battery. My calculations resulted with very great results, at least in summer with sun.

Who is doing it and does it work reliably? I mean with 10 of such modules I would produce tons of electricity.

I run an iMac 5K and two 850 W amps for my monitors. These 850 W don’t apply in reality. Someone has told me the true output of each amp is about 150 W. This means these amps don’t consump the maximum power all the time. Sounds like an easy plan.

See this: Solar-Power

I need more information on whether it is appliable to a mastering studio.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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tourtelot's Avatar
I can not speak to running a studio on solar but the key to any kind of "off-grid" power solution is having a large enough battery storage bank. You will need to be prepared so your maximum consumption is met on the days/weeks/months (I live in Seattle) where you energy input will be at its lowest.

People up here run their houses on solar so it is totally doable. You will just need a plan that won't ever cut you short. If you live in somewhere that allows it, most electric providers will/must buy back your extra power at a going rate so going larger could, in fact, be profitable.

Here, maybe more than most threads, YMMV.

D.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
Progger's Avatar
I'm primarily following this thread since I'm really curious about this topic too. I have a pipe-dream of one day stumbling onto incomprehensible sums of money, buying a big plot of land somewhere beautiful, and building a totally self-sustaining solar-powered recording and production studio. Combined with wildlife/eco preserve. (I may not dress like it or smell like it, but I sure do have a big internal hippie streak.)

In the future, as solar technology becomes better and better, I'm sure this will become more common since there are many music people who are into environmentalism and sustainability. At the moment, the one studio I know of that's approaching this is Guilford Sound in southern Vermont:

http://guilfordsound.com/

Seems like a bit of a paradise, to me. If I were inconceivably wealthy, I would very much like to make my own version of this!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by martinriedel666 View Post
Hi,

I want to run my home studio solely with solar modules. Is this possible? LG sells nice panels with 375 kW each. This is a lot when one considers buying 10 of them together with a battery. My calculations resulted with very great results, at least in summer with sun.

Who is doing it and does it work reliably? I mean with 10 of such modules I would produce tons of electricity.

I run an iMac 5K and two 850 W amps for my monitors. These 850 W don’t apply in reality. Someone has told me the true output of each amp is about 150 W. This means these amps don’t consump the maximum power all the time. Sounds like an easy plan.

See this: Solar-Power

I need more information on whether it is appliable to a mastering studio.
Hold on there... I just about fell out of my chair at the prospect of a 375kW panel. That's some alien-level stuff, and enough power to pull an 18-wheel tractor-trailer.

I think you added a 'k' or missed a zero or something. A good day in the sun offers 1000-watts (1kW) per square meter impinging on us at sea level. Conversion efficiency these days is finally creeping past the 20-percent mark, so anything in excess of 200-watts per square meter is a very happy day in the solar game; so it would take about 1/2-acre of panels to get 375kW at 20% conversion efficiency.

What's the link to the product that you're describing?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
I've recorded (as a remote location project) in a solar powered place that added a unique transformer or inverter whine to my recordings that I've never experienced in a mains powered house. Don't forget that there are multiple stages of conversion from AC-DC in the typical solar setup, and it's likely that you're always drawing from the batteries anyway, even if the panels are feeding in during a sunny day.

I'm not saying my experience is typical of any solar powered studio, but you might want to factor in some sort of power-line conditioner, UPS or similar filter as the final stage feeding your audio gear. I was surprised to operate within a system that was ecologically green and clean...but electrically 'dirty' !

It's also very likely this was a home-built solar array using unconventional components, and that the typical current systems no longer suffer from this sort of thing ?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
Deleted e142378
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by MediaGary View Post
Hold on there... I just about fell out of my chair at the prospect of a 375kW panel. That's some alien-level stuff, and enough power to pull an 18-wheel tractor-trailer.

I think you added a 'k' or missed a zero or something. A good day in the sun offers 1000-watts (1kW) per square meter impinging on us at sea level. Conversion efficiency these days is finally creeping past the 20-percent mark, so anything in excess of 200-watts per square meter is a very happy day in the solar game; so it would take about 1/2-acre of panels to get 375kW at 20% conversion efficiency.

What's the link to the product that you're describing?
Haha, I added a k accidentally. I corrected it now. The link shows that people are actually doing it.

I have also found this interesting video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6fl168yZGDs

This is totally doable, but it also shows, that in winter the conventional electricity needs to be used, because bad weather leads to a serious lack of electricity. This is my only concern. But technology develops day by day and the modern panels like from LG are much more efficient, even in moonlight and rain. That’s how LG describes it. One can also buy a little windmill from several companies to use wind.

I have calculated that three to four modern panels with the power of 375 W each are already enough to power a small mastering rig. I mean the guy in the video uses some older panels with I guess about 230 W and can even power his neighbours in summer.

I want to realise this myself in the next 5 years.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by martinriedel666 View Post

This is totally doable, but it also shows, that in winter the conventional electricity needs to be used, because bad weather leads to a serious lack of electricity. This is my only concern.
Being connected to the grid is not such a bad thing. I have friends in the Pacific Northwest who do this, and with net metering they get to watch their electricity meter run backward when they generate more power than they're using.

The big advantage of grid-connected solar is that you have reliable power most/all the time and don't have to worry about storage, inverters, etc.

It's worth exploring why you want to install solar power: for some people it's all about self-sufficiency (which would explain why they don't even want to connect to the grid), whereas for others it's more about reducing their environmental impact. Even when you factor in the environmental costs of manufacturing and shipping solar panels, it can be a net win but the net environmental benefits depend crucially on the power mix used by your electricity provider, which varies widely by region. For example, where I live solar power would be a net environmental harm because my electricity is 100% hydro; offsetting it with solar has no direct environmental benefit in terms of avoided emissions. But if I lived somewhere like Ohio where most of my electricity came from coal-fired power plants it would be a very different story.

If you live in the US, you can use the EPA's useful Power Profiler tool, which calculates your emissions profile based on your zip code: https://www.epa.gov/energy/power-profiler#/
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
Deleted e142378
Guest
Very interesting article, will definitely read it later.

Well, my goal is independency. I want to feel free with my own energy and not being connected. In my country you’d need to get in contact with the tax authority, which sucks. A good battery can prevent you from the lack of power in some days in December, but it’s not 100 % unproblematic yet. But some cloudy days provide almost 0 kW and the next day maybe 10. By a need of 5 kW a day it can save your next day.

This is a real example of a 3 kWp system in December 2018 (approx. 10 300 Wp modules):

https://www.photovoltaikforum.com/co...clipboard-png/

I was referring to December 20 and 21 for instance.

This one is for summer (June 2019, same system, more than enough power for 5 W daily need):

https://www.photovoltaikforum.com/co...clipboard-png/
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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Some of the popular home solar systems are a known source of noise & interference. It's something that the Ham radio operators are often complaining about.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
Deleted e142378
Guest
I think I’ve seen threads about this with solutions. You can isolate stuff and there are components for noise reduction and voltage stabilisation — and it’s not cheap unfortunately. I hope the newest technology is inherently quieter.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post
Some of the popular home solar systems are a known source of noise & interference. It's something that the Ham radio operators are often complaining about.
It's not the panels, they are silent with an all DC output. It's the inverters, the circuits that generate a 60 hz AC waveform from that DC current. It's like a huge switching power supply running the entire building.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Gear Addict
 

There are two ways to get really clean sine wave power from solar systems. 1, Run an analog-type oscillator with a powerful output stage. 2, Run a mechanical generator. Either way is very inefficient but you do get really clean power, much cleaner than the grid. Switching type inverters are impossibly dirty.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Tiki Taane is running his studio on solar in New Zealand. Not sure of the details...
Old 1 week ago
  #15
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
if you need to figure out your Wattage / Usage .. Home Depot has a Watt Meter .. just plug in your device to this box, plug box into wall .. add up your wattages .. 375 watt panel is awesome ..

macpro (2012) - 145 idle / 285 max watts
monitor - (27" ACER) about 4 watts

just add it up and then calculate 80%

good info on the Inverter Noise

cheers
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
Simmosonic's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted e142378 View Post
I think I’ve seen threads about this with solutions.
I haven’t dealt directly with solar power for a long time (2008?) and, even then, it was just low power stuff to power and/or recharge a Nagra V, camera, laptop, TC Electronic interface and a smart phone while trekking in the Himalaya.

However, the following may be of interest...

I started with a relatively cheap inverter (12VDC to 240VAC) which was referred to as a ‘modified sine wave’, in other words, a square wave through a simple low pass filter. Anyway, it sent noise through any audio gear that was powered by it, and the TC Electronic interface would repeatedly get to its opening screen then shut down again.

I ended up spending more for the ‘pure sine wave’ inverter. Its output had less THD than the mains in Australia. I’m assuming it was essentially just a high powered sine wave oscillator, as dseetoo mentioned...
Old 1 week ago
  #17
Deleted e142378
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simmosonic View Post
I haven’t dealt directly with solar power for a long time (2008?) and, even then, it was just low power stuff to power and/or recharge a Nagra V, camera, laptop, TC Electronic interface and a smart phone while trekking in the Himalaya.
I have always underestimated the power of solar. I am flabbergasted by this.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted e142378 View Post
Well, my goal is independency. I want to feel free with my own energy and not being connected.
You need something like a Tesla Powerwall. There are a number of makers of similar products besides Tesla. And of course you could build your own.

But the basic idea is that you use your solar photovoltaics to charge the batteries, and then you run whatever you need to run from the batterypack's inverter. Power the whole building, or just your studio gear, depending on how you design it.

The case for buying something like a powerwall is that you don't have to design it, build it, test it, debug it, write the smartphone app for it, etc. It's got all the stuff in it to intelligently charge the batteries, intelligently discharge your batteries into a inverter meant for the job, so no broadcasting RFI junk, pure sine waves, etc., and all well integrated and well managed.

The case for do-it-yourself is what you learn, having control, and lower hardware costs (except for the parts you buy that aren't sufficient for the job, like questionable inverters). And of course some people do it because it's fun for them. Why not?

Given sufficient solar cells and battery storage you can certainly go fully off-grid. People do this all the time. Some because they have to, some because they want to.

But to go fully off grid you'll probably want to at least talk to the pros in your location. Sizing the system is very important. And just because the sun is up doesn't mean your LG panels are going to be generating 375W -- that's the maximum they'll generate, under perfect conditions. And conditions are rarely perfect. And you'll need enough batterypack to get you through whatever bad weather comes your way, for however long that lasts.

One of the more overlooked things about solar installations IMHO is shadows. Solar cells can be very picky about shadows -- even the shadow from a suspended phone line across a panel can make the output plunge.

Another problem is cell mounting. A two axis tracker will about double the output of your cells compared to mounting them rigidly on your roof (provided your roof has the right slope). But... solar cells are so cheap these days that the trackers are being used less and less -- it's easier and cheaper to just use twice the solar cells instead. Which is fine if you have the required area to mount them.

Anyway, you can begin to see that the system design is complex. Which is why I suggested at least talking to the pros in your area.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
Simmosonic's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted e142378 View Post
I have always underestimated the power of solar. I am flabbergasted by this.
Many people underestimate the power of solar. I think Bruce Watson filled in all the blanks here, and at the level appropriate to what you’re talking about.

It’s not just about solar panels, a proper solar power system has four components: 1) the solar panels collect the sunlight and turn it into electrical power; 2) a ‘charge controller’ moves that power into 3) a battery storage system; 4) if you’re planning on running AC stuff from that you’re going to need an inverter to convert the 12VDC (or 24VDC in some cases) from the batteries into AC.

That battery/storage system is the part that the fossil fuel pundits either don’t know about or conveniently forget when they say “What happens when the sun goes down?” or, likewise for wind power, “what happens when the wind stops blowing?” The goal of these methods is to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ - grab as much energy as you can while its abundantly available, and store it for when you need it. If you get the calculations right and get the right amount of capture (panels) and storage (batteries), you’ll be fine.

Bruce also made a great point about the angle of the solar panels. My first portable rig was only 32W of solar panel, but that was only under peak conditions. I remember sitting on the rooftop of a guesthouse in Pokhara, Nepal, in broad sunlight, angling the panels around relative to the sunlight and watching how much the output changed (as shown on the charge controller). The angle was really important for peak capacity. BUT I also remember on that day feeling rather amazed that I was literally pulling free electricity out of the air!

And just for perspective, my rig was relatively dated even for that time (2008) and was ridiculously small by today’s standards: 32W of panels (4 x 8W panels) into a 16A/h SLA (sealed lead acid) deep-cycle battery pack. It was enough to give me electrical autonomy as I travelled through remote areas of the Himalaya recording music. The four panels were mounted in a folding manner that allowed them to be slung over the back of a yak or horse with the rest of the rig in a saddlepack. That animal would trek with me, about 8 hours per day, and, despite the panels being at all sorts of angles relative to the sun, I would always have enough power in the batteries to recharge my Nagra V and camera overnight, transfer recordings and pics to my laptop, and so on, while being ready for the next day.

[Also, for further inspiration, google ‘Earthship’. Those house designs have been using solar for years...]
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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bgood's Avatar
I see a niche market of eco studios in and around places like Sedona and Joshua tree... little compound with bungalows for the talent to rest and sleep, separate facility for recording and a main house for food, entertainment, freaky sex parties... all run exclusively on solar.

Man why didn’t I think about this 20 years ago when I had a house right under that church under the red rocks! Stupid
Old 1 week ago
  #21
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted e142378 View Post
I have always underestimated the power of solar. I am flabbergasted by this.
I am running solar power on the roof of my house in Germany. It's only 4.25 kWp, but it's the best thing we could have done: So easy, so solid, so reliable, so cost-effective. However, it is quite challenging to design a solar installation for the purpose of being totally independent from grid, especially if your job equipment is run by electricity...

Obviously you have already found photovoltaikforum.com, which probably is the most comprehensive source of knowledge on this topic on German-language internet. There you will find rather a solution than here on gearslutz.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
Deleted e142378
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulrich View Post
It's only 4.25 kWp, but it's the best thing we could have done: So easy, so solid, so reliable, so cost-effective.
That’s nice to hear.

Well, I have already found a simple solution for myself. I will just put as many panels as I can onto my roof. The south side allows 6 panels and the north side 7. It’s a small roof. The width of the house is 2,55 m from outside with a roof of 45 degrees.
Old 1 week ago
  #23
There was a guy with a solar studio in Three Sisters in the Cascade mountains of central Oregon. He was an off grid hippy guy but I can't recall his name.
Old 6 days ago
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
There was a guy with a solar studio in Three Sisters in the Cascade mountains of central Oregon. He was an off grid hippy guy but I can't recall his name.
Yeah, who was that guy? Did alot of reviews for Mix magazine? When we were out West we tried to visit his studio, misfortunately it never happened.

Speaking of solar powered audio production... I built my place in 1995, it's a completely off-grid situation: panels on the roof deck, batteries in the basement, basically a 12-volt DC system with AC inverters (square wave for power tools, sine wave for the audio equipment.) All the science, I don't understand, but it works great (as long as you've got a generator for those long, dim, cloudy, dark winter days.)

Truth is, I never breathed word one about it-- didn't want to be known as the "science experiment on the hill," I mean after all it's the quality of the product that matters-- and there's no hint that you're in anything other than a "normal" house. Once people were into the project, I might let slip with, "By the way... you don't see any power lines on this road, do you?"
Old 6 days ago
  #25
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Progger's Avatar
Maaaan @ joelpatterson that is so extremely cool! And in a beautiful area, too, I love it up there where upstate New York starts turning into Vermont. It's great to hear that it can work!

...And yeah, those winters are no joke. It's crazy how much colder it gets than NYC even just that far inland.
Old 6 days ago
  #26
Lives for gear
Joel, since you're a long term off-gridder....how many hours/days per year would you estimate that generator of yours needs to be fired up, to keep the batteries juiced sufficiently ?
Old 5 days ago
  #27
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Joel, since you're a long term off-gridder....how many hours/days per year would you estimate that generator of yours needs to be fired up, to keep the batteries juiced sufficiently ?
Or said another way, how many more solar panels / battery capacity would you need to completely eliminate the generator? Even on the Winter Solstice?
Old 5 days ago
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Or said another way, how many more solar panels / battery capacity would you need to completely eliminate the generator? Even on the Winter Solstice?
The world awaits your unveil of the first Lunar panel
Old 5 days ago
  #29
Gear Head
 

Solar powered studios

Check out the studio at eTown Hall. https://www.etown.org/etown-hall/recording-studio/

We have 236 panels on the roof and generate in excess of 90% of our power from these. For a studio. small concert hall, 3 production suites and full 2 story office.

Cruise the website and you can find out more about the facility.

James Tuttle
eTown Chief Recording Engineer
Old 5 days ago
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
The world awaits your unveil of the first Lunar panel
These days with our current technology, ya gets nuthin'! from moonlight, I've checked.

Seems like the spring/summer/fall season is self-sustaining, once November/December rolls around, I might have to run the generator for an hour (to compensate for an utterly absent day's sunshine.)

Oddly enough, when we get to February or so, the day after a blanketing snowfall will be brilliantly sunny-- thus the time-honored ritual of sweeping the snow off the panels. Doing it in a bathrobe, and the wind channels a bit of it down your chest... refreshing!
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