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Solar powered shed

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Amy flygirl19/11/2019 23:29:17
12 forum posts

Hello, nearly finished building a 12x10 shed but would like to have power so I can build in it with lights and some tools.

Only problem there is no way of getting electric to it so I'm thinking of running it on solar energy.

Has anybody else done this?

Any advice would be great

Thanks Amy x

OZ e flyer20/11/2019 00:18:35
152 forum posts
28 photos

Great idea Amy. Not sure where you live but here in Australia, solar power is becoming very popular. There are many variations depending on your requirements.

Simple 12volt supply from a couple of panels running some 12volt lights, maybe trickle charging a deep cycle battery so you have night time power. This would possibly be the cheapest and if you have a little bit of electrical knowledge you could probably install it yourself.

More complex systems might include a couple of panels connected to an inverter that could potentially supply nearly all of your AC power needs for a shed but, you would most likely have to invest in a more substantial storage battery that could keep the power on at night and even the load out. You would also have to get someone who knows what they’re doing to install it.

Have a look at the Tesla power wall as an example. It is a VERY good system but a little expensive. They even make roof tiles that are photovoltaic cells so no big square panels on your roof. Once again a little pricey but if you are building a shed from scratch it could be a viable option depending on your needs.

so many choices and things to consider but I think it’s a brilliant idea. Good luck.


Toni Reynaud20/11/2019 08:26:26
439 forum posts
83 photos

Talk to anyone who has a motorhome, caravan or boat. They tend to run on solar-powered 12V systems with no problems. The second paragraph from OZ e flyer is a good description and starting point.

Cuban820/11/2019 10:20:18
3098 forum posts
1 photos
Posted by Amy flygirl on 19/11/2019 23:29:17:

Hello, nearly finished building a 12x10 shed but would like to have power so I can build in it with lights and some tools.

Only problem there is no way of getting electric to it so I'm thinking of running it on solar energy.

Has anybody else done this?

Any advice would be great

Thanks Amy x

Why is there "no way of getting electric" to your shed? Where there's a will, there's usually a way, even if you have to pay a professional to install a cable etc over or underground. Mains electric work need to be done by qualified 'sparks' these days anyway.

Solar is OK on a large scale like on top of your house, and very small scale to trickle charge a leisure battery or are happy to spend thousands of £ to prove a point. However, for a shed in the cold and damp UK when you'll need most of your power in winter for lighting and heating IMHO you're wasting your money. Flat batteries are just a pain. My club's storage 'shed' for the windsock, chairs and odds and ends,has a solar panel and battery for running a few strip lights and LEDs to cut through the gloom, you couldn't work comfortably under the 'Toc H' level of illumination though.

If it's really not possible to lay a supply to your out building, what about a decent petrol generator? Hondas are very good and quiet but will cost seven hundred quid or more for a 1KW model that'll be the minimum size to have any sort of use. I have a Clarke 1KW generator for camping and when I need power at the end of my long garden for power tools etc. Cost me £150 used but nearly new from Ebay, so no need to pay a fortune. Heating a largish shed and getting effective lighting for working under is going to be a problem without a mains hook up. Gas or a wood burner that I know some of my mates use, do have their own issues with safety if not done correctly and there are paraffin space heaters. You'll need to take proper advice on safe alternatives to leccy if it really is impossible to get a supply installed.

BTW, I'm not anti renewables, but just practical. wink





Edited By Cuban8 on 20/11/2019 10:53:10

Eagle 89920/11/2019 12:01:56
190 forum posts
19 photos

I use a 100 watt panel for my caravan 12v dc and a small inverter for charging my laptop,

Download this pdf for details:- Link

Piers Bowlan20/11/2019 12:06:21
2217 forum posts
53 photos

12x10ft is a good sized shed, I had one that size at my last house. I had a mains spur to supply it with power from the house but if that is not available a solar panel may be an option for lighting. I fitted one like this to my caravan recently and it works amazingly well to supply power to LED lighting via a 110Ah lead acid battery.

For heating a log burner or diesel heater is probably the best option if mains electric is not available. As others have stated, care is needed with the installation because of the obvious fire risk and danger from carbon monoxide. I fitted a diesel heater in my garage as it is much cheaper and more effective than an electric heater.

The really important thing is adequate insulation. I lined my shed with Cellotex and sealed any gaps with duct tape to eliminate any drafts where most of the heat is lost. Don't forget to insulate the floor too as a concrete base acts as a cold sink. If you can't put the foam insulation under the shed just put a layer on top of the floor and then cover it with ply. A well insulated draft-free shed needs very little heat to keep it cosy.


Edited By Piers Bowlan on 20/11/2019 12:10:30

OZ e flyer21/11/2019 00:25:01
152 forum posts
28 photos

I’m glad I don’t have to consider heating issues down here in Oz. My biggest issue is keeping the work area cool. Lol.

Piers makes a good point with regards to insulating though and is spot on regarding lighting. I use LED strip lighting around my workspace and it is brilliant as well as dirt cheap to run. I have even started fitting my house out with LED lighting because of the running cost and zero maintenance (no more blown globes or tubes). If you want to help out your lights though (you definitely don’t have to with LED) consider reflective or white ceiling surfaces and walls.

sunshine is not an issue down here so solar works brilliantly. My parents have been running solar power for several years and have not had an electric power bill since installing their system. All the surplus power they generate feeds back on to the main supply grid and this offsets their power usage bill. End result - no bill. Of course we are talking about a much bigger system than a garden shed though.

Dont be put off Amy. Do your research, weigh up the pros and cons, work out your budget and see where you’re at. I’m not a greenie power saver type of guy believe me but I do think solar power is worth the effort. I am looking at getting a solar system for my house this year (6.5kW which is really big) but I’m sure you could get a suitably sized unit for your requirements.

Let us know how you go.


Martin Harris21/11/2019 09:40:21
9596 forum posts
258 photos

I don't suppose you could send us some of your spare sunshine?

Ace21/11/2019 10:02:58
348 forum posts
23 photos

Currently sunshine/drought comes with horrendous bush fires crying (sorry off topic)

Cuban821/11/2019 10:27:55
3098 forum posts
1 photos

Shane is fortunate to have an abundance of sunshine in Oz (although I understand that skin cancer there is a big problem, so not all good news) not too sure if he really appreciates how bad our climate is - Aussie engineers I've worked with here all love a good whinge at the cold, damp and dark, along with the rotten beer wink (wrong on the beer)laugh. .............quick story....... an Aussie I worked with told me he'd been mugged by three blokes after coming out of a pub after work in East London. He wasn't going to elaborate, but when I asked him how much he'd been robbed of he said "Oh nothing" because he'd disarmed one of them of a knife and put the others on their backs before they recovered and all ran off at the double - real Crocodile Dundee stuff. Apparently a top expert in one of the martial arts, he'd once been a linesman in the outback and had to stay in some very rough places so needed to take care of himself, three London punks were nothing ......sorry, I digress.

Just look at the weather we've been having over the last month.....rain and flooding, day after day of overcast sky and of course, short days when the sun, when we see it, is low in the sky and less effective - worse the further north one goes, I suppose. And all at the time of year when one needs to spend building time etc in the shed. I'm not convinced that a solar panel of a few tens of watts is an effective solution for Amy's needs.

john davidson 121/11/2019 18:34:57
78 forum posts

cuban 8, it is not worse further north, when England has been having floods we missed it all and the last two weekends has been great flying weather with zero wind in the Perth area

kc21/11/2019 19:38:45
6776 forum posts
174 photos

It would be worth checking on the cost of installing a mains cable ( armoured etc ) compared to installing solar panels. Considering that shed is likely to be used a lot in the dismal winter months you might find solar works when you don't need it and not when you do!

Amy flygirl22/11/2019 19:48:49
12 forum posts

The only reason it's going to be hard getting power to the shed is I'm on second floor flat and my garden is the one further away.

As far as I can see the only way I can see is to run an extension lead from my window across the first garden to the shed.

That's why I'm thinking of solar energy.

Bruce Collinson22/11/2019 21:07:48
576 forum posts

I suppose a generator would get borrowed?


Martin_K22/11/2019 21:39:48
207 forum posts

Depending on what you mean by 'some tools' (low votage DC or something with a 13A plug), a luggable power pack that you recharge in the flat and carry to the shed may work.

I have no first hand experience of the products in the link.

FlyinFlynn23/11/2019 12:45:59
168 forum posts
95 photos
Posted by Bruce Collinson on 22/11/2019 21:07:48:

I suppose a generator would get borrowed?


Same problem with a half decent solar array......Is the roof flat Amy? If it is apexed in which direction does it face and where approximately are you in the world?

I have a solar installation in central France, on my outbuilding, on a 30 degree due south facing roof. It is rated at 1500 Watts and today, right now the sun is shining. I am getting 536 Watts from the solar array with a daily total in the region of 0.8 to 2Kwh a day depending on the weather.... and that is quite typical, as soon as you get deposits from birds and grime from the rainfall on the panels they quickly loose output. If the roof was flat then I would loose another 20% output. As their temperature increases I loose output, for every degree above 25 degrees you loose another 0.5%, and the panels are basically black.....they get hot!..... up to about 50 degrees in summer in my case...I can only guess how hot they would get in central Oz...... In the worst case scenario, in central UK, on a flat roof where it is difficult to clean the panels I would not expect to get more than 20% of their rated output. Of course that may be enough for your needs...but if your needs are that modest I would recommend going down the luggable power pack route that Martin linked....



Edited By FlyinFlynn on 23/11/2019 12:49:01

Dickw23/11/2019 16:12:27
782 forum posts
103 photos

FlyinFlynn's data is realistic and I can support that in this country with my experiences using solar power for battery charging and heating while out flying.

My setup is a 110 watt of 12v solar panels (2 x 55w) feeding into a 30 Ah Life battery, and the attached graph shows it producing around 8Ah over 6.5 hours at the flying field on a cloudy day. A more recent day out two weeks ago on a brighter day resulted in 13 Ah over a 6 hour period (but I turn my panels during the day to follow the sun)

Left to charge all day in a fixed location with a decent sized battery (say 110Ah) should give you enough power for lighting and a few small 12v tools during the evenings.

The panels are reasonably expensive so unless your shed is in a secure location the panels might be tempting to others.


20180818 f5b practice day notes.jpg


Don Fry23/11/2019 17:34:39
4557 forum posts
54 photos

Good secondhand generator sounds good.

A well insulated shed that size can be heated with a 750 watt heater. 60 watts for really good LED lights, (4 off, 5 foot LED tubes). Turn the heater off if you want to use a big power tool. Mark the watts on all tools. That's a 1000w generator. When you have it up to temperature, 500 watts keeps you warm, then the likes of a bandsaw, pillerdrill can be run with the heater on.

Edited By Don Fry on 23/11/2019 17:45:15

Ben B23/11/2019 18:23:12
1463 forum posts
4 photos

My solution for a similar quandry was to install a 100+Ah leisure battery. A cheap inverter for tools, 12v LED lighting and job's a good'un. Heating is tricky but in winter I tend not to use the shed as much. I insulated it in polystyrene and then lined it with ply and painted it so it's pretty bright in there and only really gets too cold when it's freezing outside. When I want to charge the battery I just run a temporary cable down to the garden. Unfortunately it appears the local mice population have discovered the joys of insulation- last time I went in there the whole place stank and had mice poo smeared all over my stuff.....

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