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A Cambodian farm house solar array installation.

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I am continuing with a project I have been researching and wanting to complete for some time.

After calculating everything I would need to power, including lighting, I have determined a 300 watts solar array is what I would need to start with.

To begin with, the array will be made up of 3 - 100 watts solar panels. I will add additional panels to expand the total array output.

I was going to order a single 285 watts Yingli, but recently decided against it due to a couple of reasons.

One reason was time constraints. I want to finish this system this up coming week. It would take me about two months to get the panel here.

Another reason was no guarantee of the panel being received in good condition. After all that waiting, I could end up with an issue with the panel. Knowing my luck, I figured I would go with the safer option - let the company I buy from replace a non-working panel at his cost, not mine. Not to mention, the local supplier has all the panels I need in stock, and then some. If I want to expand the system, it will be as simple as dropping by his office, picking one up and taking it to the site and installing it in the current array.

I will start with four (4) deep cycle batteries, 120 amperes each, on a 12vdc system. I am leaving room for expansion panels as well. I will probably add three to five more panels, over the next several months, as power requirements increase.

The batteries are connected as below, to help guarantee equal charging among each battery in the bank:

I am going with a MorningStar Solar Controller for the array. The model controller is a Morningstar ProStar-30 (meter version). They have a great reputation among solar power enthusiasts, and from reviews I have read online.

Take a look at their 2012-2013 catalog: Morningstar-catalog-2013.pdf
UPDATE: Here is their 2013-2014 catalog: 2013-2014-MS-Catalog-Oct-EN-small.pdf

I haven't decided on a voltage inverter yet, primarily because I have one already that I can use, until I have decided what to do there. All lighting will be 12vdc. The bulbs will screw into standard lighting sockets.

Total cost, a modest $835 USD. I will have a complete 300 watts solar array installed and running, for this cost.

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Total cost thus far, a modest $835 USD. I will have a complete 300 watts solar array installed and running, for this cost.



How long to recoup your initial investment at current electrical rates ?

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How long to recoup your initial investment at current electrical rates ?


I am not entirely sure, because there is no power currently available in that area. I met an American yesterday who has lived here for some time. He said the farther you go into the province, the more the power can cost. He said he would not be surprised if it were going to be over 2,000 Riel / Kwh out where the farm is, after service is provided. If that is the case, I should recoup my cost for this system in less than six years, perhaps even sooner. (Keep in mind that we would not have heavy draw appliances as we do here - rice cooker, water heater, refrigerator, etc. So, it will take a bit longer to recoup the cost, because we will not be using nearly the Kwh we do currently.)


I will install a second solar array for the "Side Business" idea. At $60 USD per month, or more, that one will will pay for itself much faster. I only have to buy the panels and controller. The neighbors will provide the batteries for the system. After the mains are eventually connected there, all of that business will be gone. We will be able to purchase batteries at that time, for additional power needs on the property. I'm already planning.

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I neglected to add to this, the other day that I would go by (when we return to Battambang) people nearest to us who have electricity. I will ask them what rate they have, currently. This should give us an idea as to the cost we would pay, if connected to the mains. I will let you know as soon as I do. I can then calculate, roughly, how long it will take for the array to pay for itself.


An educated guess would be, after my upgrades later this, or early next year, we are probably looking at a return between five and seven years.

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Finally back in Battambang. We should finish this project by the end of this week. 

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Okay, first. One thing I did forget to do, was to ask local folks what their electric rates were. Since the property is five kilometers off the highway, it would involve asking some of the businesses / residents near the highway, to learn what rates are being charged.


The circuits are as follows:


1. Solar array - 30 ampere fuse  (PV Panels > fuse > Controller)

2. Batteries - 30 ampere fuse (Controller > fuse > Batteries)

3. Array Load - 30 ampere fuse (Controller > fuse > Load)


Now, about the install. It's all done. The final cost for ALL panels, mounts, charge controller, wiring, fuses, fittings, bulbs, sockets, nails, screws, wiring, switches, etc., etc., etc., came to a grand total of:


$1,113.50 USD, tax, tag, titled, delivered, installed, running, lighting a provincial farm, charging cell phone batteries, making family happy, blah, blah, blah.


By the way, this is only one of three arrays I have noticed on this provincial road.


Battery cost was not included in the above total, as I had purchased them during the time I lived in Sihanoukville. I also did not include anything for my personal labor.


So, for $1,113.50, we have a complete 300 watts solar array, providing electricity for two separate buildings, for the moment. When we return to Battambang, I will wire two 12vdc lighting circuits in her sister's adjacent home that is located on the same property.


We've only just completed the install, and I am already looking forward to the next expansion phase of the system.

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Heading back up to Battambang this week, probably Wednesday. Which means, with a stop over in Phnom Penh for the night, we should be there Thursday afternoon. Next phase will start Friday morning.




When we return to Battambang, I will wire two 12vdc lighting circuits in her sister's adjacent home that is located on the same property.

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