Is a 12 watt solar panel enough to power a garage ventilation fan?

In summary: I'm a little unclear on voltage ratings: one 12V panel has a rated voltage of 18.7 - I guess that won't burn out a DC fan motor? I would think I can overspeed it by quite a bit without hurting it.In summary, a solar-powered garage ventilation system could cost around $100 and would only require a solar panel and a fan. The system could be mounted vertically to avoid interfering with the door opening, and a suitable fan can be purchased for around $13.
  • #1

russ_watters

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I'm considering building a little solar-powered garage ventilation system. My garage faces SSW and gets very hot on a summer afternoon. There is no energy savings involved in this, and I'm probably willing to pay about $100 just to screw around with a solar cell and fan. If I do this, I'll do some before and after data logging of temperatures in the garage.

Solar cells are pretty expensive for low wattage models - high cost per watt due to loss of economy of scale. Here's a decent looking site a quick google found: http://www.mrsolar.com/page/MSOS/CTGY/wattsort

They have a few that look to be reasonable options:

3 watt: SC-3-12 - $45 ($15/watt)(9.5"x5.5")
8 watt: Photon8 - $60 ($7.5/watt)(9.5"x13.5")
12 watt: GSE-12 - $95 ($8/watt)(18"x16.5")

I'm a little unclear on voltage ratings: one 12V panel has a rated voltage of 18.7 - I guess that won't burn out a DC fan motor? I would think I can overspeed it by quite a bit without hurting it.

Here's a popular PC cooling fan fan company: http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Products.aspx?C=1164 [Broken]
A possibility:

A2368 - 78CFM, 4.6W, 120mm - $13
Grainger has some DC fans: one is 12V, 6W, 108 CFM. That's a good possibility, though it is expensive.


I'm not sure it is well matched to my panel possibilities, but if I assume I'll never get more than 75% of rated power out of a panel, I could pair two of those fans with a 12W panel. Still looking for other fans, though.


My garage is about 18'x12'x8', or 1728 ft^3. 1 air change an hour would be 30 CFM, 2 air changes, 60 CFM, etc.

The panel would probably be mounted vertically to not interfere with the door opening, but that's probably ok since the problem is at its worst late in the afternoon, when the sun gets low and blasts against the door.

Thoughts...?
 
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  • #4
Russ, I don't have much experience with solar power but will suggest that first you find a suitable fan, run it on a cheap 12V supply, and test it to make sure it provides sufficient cooling. Then find a photovoltaic to supply what is needed for that fan.

I'm a little unclear on voltage ratings: one 12V panel has a rated voltage of 18.7 - I guess that won't burn out a DC fan motor? I would think I can overspeed it by quite a bit without hurting it.

I am guessing here, but perhaps it's 18.7 V open circuit, and 12V when run at it's rated max power or current.
 
  • #5
Redbelly98 said:
I am guessing here, but perhaps it's 18.7 V open circuit, and 12V when run at it's rated max power or current.

I take it back, after looking at the spec sheet. 18.7V appears to be the voltage at maximum power output, while the open circuit voltage is 22.4V.

http://www.sunwize.com/info_center/pdfs/SW_SolChrgr_Spec2_06.pdf [Broken]
 
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  • #6
Russ, your project sounds fun, but what if you could do this a LOT cheaper with an entirely passive system? Mount a black metal stove-pipe with a rain cap venting the peak of your garage and provide a suitably-sized screened vent at the lowest, coolest shadiest wall. The sun will heat the stove-pipe, and the air in the pipe will rise, drawing in cooler air from the outside. Cheap and automatic.
 
  • #7
russ_watters said:
I'm a little unclear on voltage ratings: one 12V panel has a rated voltage of 18.7 - I guess that won't burn out a DC fan motor? I would think I can overspeed it by quite a bit without hurting it.

Upping it only 6.7v (55%) shouldn't cause any problems. With 120 and 80mm diameter computer fans, you can typically up the voltage around 100%. If the fan can take it really just depends on the winding. The only way you can really tell is to test it out while smelling for heated insulation.
 
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  • #8
Russ, something just hit me that I didn't think of before. The primary exhaust fan that I have in my performance computer IMO would be excellent for your application. It's 200mm in diameter and variable speed. Albeit larger than what you originally had in mind, the airflow vs. power draw and noise is exceptional so you could get away with a smaller panel. Here's the specs...

Antec FN Big Boy 200 TriCool Fan 200x30mm
Fan Speed
400,600,800 RPM

Air Flow
83,108,134 CFM

12 V

0.08, 0.17, 0.30 Amps

Noise Level
24, 27, 30 dbA

Fan Dimensions
20.0 cm x 20.0 cm x 3.0 cm

http://www.oyyy.co.uk/product.php/39817/antec_big_boy_200_tricool_fan___200mm
http://techawave.jitbid.com/techawave/antec-fn-big-boy-200-tricool-fan-200x30mm-p-561433.html [Broken]
 
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What is the "Little Solar Fan Project"?

The "Little Solar Fan Project" is a small-scale project that aims to create a solar-powered fan using basic materials and simple circuitry.

What materials are needed for the "Little Solar Fan Project"?

The materials needed for the "Little Solar Fan Project" include a small solar panel, a DC motor, a switch, wires, a small fan, and a battery. These materials can be easily found at a local hardware store or purchased online.

How does the "Little Solar Fan Project" work?

The solar panel collects sunlight and converts it into electricity, which is then stored in the battery. The battery powers the DC motor, which in turn powers the fan. When the switch is turned on, the fan will start spinning, utilizing the energy from the battery.

Is the "Little Solar Fan Project" suitable for all ages?

Yes, the "Little Solar Fan Project" is suitable for all ages. It is a fun and educational project that can be enjoyed by children, teenagers, and adults alike. It also promotes environmental awareness and sustainable energy practices.

Can the "Little Solar Fan Project" be modified or improved?

Yes, the "Little Solar Fan Project" can be modified and improved in many ways. For example, you can try using different types of solar panels or motors to see how it affects the fan's performance. You can also add additional features such as a speed control or a light sensor to make it more versatile. The possibilities are endless!

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