Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Postby Westley Price » Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:46 am

Hi guys

My parentals have asked whether I can start this topic as they need some advice from those in the know.

My parents keep a single snake, a Yellow Annie, the most placid one I've ever seen.

Now, they would like to give him an outside enclosure due to him becoming too big and they cannot supply him with enough moving and swimming space without dedicating an entire room to him.

the would like to build an outside enclosure for him, which I think will turn out pretty cool.

The problem is that they don't want to lay a cable from the house (for numerous reasons) so they're toying with the idea of powering the electrical heating system with solar panels.

Can anyone help out by giving them some advice on what equipment would be needed eg. certain sized solar panel, specific battery etc.

Thanx. And also, if you're keen, please share pictures of your own outdoor enclosures just to give the parentals some motivation.
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Re: Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Postby nvlooi » Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:04 am

HI westley


Ask your parents to contact me early next week, Ill be able to give them advice and help them with solar panel power.



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Re: Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Postby Westley Price » Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:27 am

Thanx Henco! I appreciate it.
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Re: Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Postby Seaborne » Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:36 am

Hello Westley

I am by no means an expert in solar panels, but I have worked with them in the past on one or two of our projects.

What you would need is the following:
Solar Panels that provide enough power to power the batteries for your usage.
Power Inverters turns the 12V to usable 120V or 220V
Charge Controllers stop you from overcharging the batteries.
Storage Batteries is needed as this would be where you draw the power from.
Wires and meters - Obviously you need to connect everything and you also need to monitor power usage.

Now this is all good and well, but the next question would be costs involved as it might be cheaper to run cable to the enclosure. Another thing would be to work out how much power would actually be used. Its no good to buy batteries and solar panels and find out you actually deplete the batteries before they have a chance to recharge.

There is a company in South Africa called Stafix that can supply you with guidance and pricing. Stafix has a few branches and might have one close to you or your folks.
http://www.stafix.co.za
There is also an online retail price list that would give you some idea of budget.

I hope this helps and good luck with the enclosure.
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Re: Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Postby Westley Price » Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:01 am

I had the exact same argument; that laying a cable would be very easy and cheap, but they have their hearts set on this method.

Thanx for the advice and link Seaborne.
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Re: Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Postby it_bit_me » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:39 pm

They should opt for a greenhouse.
If I'm gonna be an old, lonely man, I'm gonna need a thing, you know, a hook, like that guy on the subway who eats his own face. So I figure I'll be Crazy Man with a Snake, y'know. Crazy Snake Man. And I'll get more snakes, call them my babies, kids won't walk past my place, they will run. "Run away from Crazy Snake Man, " they'll shout!”
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Re: Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Postby kinghero » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:41 pm

Yip and they are not hard to build, If you google PVC Greenhouse Plan, You will find Detailed plans on how to build them, No Welding or stuff like that cause its all made of PVC.
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Re: Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Postby Qball » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:57 pm

The other problem with solar is that on cold days, when the snake really needs to be warm, there more than likely won't be enough sun to supply the panel and batteries anyway. You will need a mains power backup, so it defeats the point if you ask me. How far is the enclosure going to be from the house? 2.5mm twin and earth and 20mm conduit really aren't expensive. It all depends on the distance though as volt drop can become a problem.
Just the price of the solar panel will be more than the cabling etc.
Also, what all would you want to run off the power supply?
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Re: Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Postby Cronje Rademan » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:09 pm

Another option that might work cheaper is to solar heat water and run the heated water through your setup. When you have a cloudy patch you can use your home's electricity as a backup.

One doesn't have to go the whole nine yards with an expensive solar heater, a couple of meters of black PVC irrigation pipe on the roof can get the water heated enough to be sufficient for what you need. I have used this method before to heat water for a bush shower and 20 meter of 50mm pipe can create quite a sufficient amount of warm water. The only thing with this is that you waste the water that you shower with. In your case you can recirculate the water with a small pump.
You might have a small temp loss during the evening but it wouldn't too much. Our bush shower kept the heat quite well until the next morning.
If you insulate your enclosure properly you can have very little heat loss.

Hope this will give you an alternative and maybe more cost effective idea.
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Re: Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Postby froot » Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:51 pm

The problem with black pvc tubing for heating water is that they remain connected to the receiver tank during the night and bleed some of the captured energy from the system via thermal radiation, not to say it won't work but evacuated tubes solve this problem and would provide superior performance.

With laying cables over a long distance, convert the supply to 220VAC at the battery storage and then send it via cable to a remote location. Your losses will then be negligeable.

I would place the solar panels on the roof of the snake enclosure and power 12V heating cables with 12VDC. This eliminates inverters that have terrible efficiencies especially when the feed voltage is below 96VDC.
You need to calculate the power comsumption that will be used over a 24hour period and then work out the amount of batteries you'll need in terms of ampere-hours, and the amount of photovoltaics you'll need to charge the batteries within 8 hours, and then, multiply that by 2 for batteries and 2.5 for photovoltaics in terms of capacity to take the odd cloudy day into consideration. The 2.5 for photovoltaics is because you'll need to be able to run the heaters while charging the batteries.

If you cannot locate 12VDC heating cables you can take a length of 220VAC heating cable and cut it into shorter lengths using this equation:

12V length = 220v length X 12/220

Cut it about 15mm longer and strip 15mm insulation off the cut end, fold the filament back, wind it around the insulation and crimp a lug onto it. You can get lugs and crimp pliers at Builders or Midas.

As mentioned, good thermal insulation is a must, along with a thermostat.
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Re: Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Postby Westley Price » Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:16 pm

Thanx for all the responses guys.

My parents stalk the forum so they'll read it all first hand ;)
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Re: Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Postby AnthonyWaters » Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:34 am

Westley Price wrote:Hi guys

My parentals have asked whether I can start this topic as they need some advice from those in the know.

My parents keep a single snake, a Yellow Annie, the most placid one I've ever seen.

Now, they would like to give him an outside enclosure due to him becoming too big and they cannot supply him with enough moving and swimming space without dedicating an entire room to him.

the would like to build an outside enclosure for him, which I think will turn out pretty cool.

The problem is that they don't want to lay a cable from the house (for numerous reasons) so they're toying with the idea of powering the electrical heating system with solar panels.

Can anyone help out by giving them some advice on what equipment would be needed eg. certain sized solar panel, specific battery etc.

Thanx. And also, if you're keen, please share pictures of your own outdoor enclosures just to give the parentals some motivation.

Were you able to do that? Getting solar panels seems to be very effective idea and I would love to do it if effective.. Please help me with your true experience
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Re: Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Postby Westley Price » Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:58 am

Hi Anthony

No, the solar heating never came into being, so that is a real pity.

I am sure it's possible, but the expense is probably not worthwhile, when you can simply bury a cable under cement if you are trying to be neat.
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Re: Solar Powered Heating for Enclosure

Postby AnthonyWaters » Thu Nov 07, 2013 6:37 pm

Thanks for sharing experience.
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