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Raspberry Pi Solar Heater Controller / Off Grid [message #3113] Thu, 25 June 2015 00:20
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This Raspberry Pi Solar Heater Controller project took quite some time to finish. The box design was built around a piece of solar glass that was meant for solar panels at one point. The glass is tempered and when breaks, will shatter into a million little pieces. (I broke only 2 so far, but enough to not want to break them again!)

Solar Can Box Heater Header to Hold Cans

Solar Can Heater Wooden Box

Yes, these are Coors Light beer cans.. and NO, I did not drink them. I did buy them for .05 a piece though from someone very nice enough to collect them for me! If this isn't REAL recycling.. Wink
Solar Beer Can Heater

Solar Can Box Heater

Solar Can Box Heater

4 Inch Holes were drilled into the house. One on the top for hot air out, and one for intake on the bottom. The cold air from the floor will be sucked in and heated through the tubes. Once the box reaches a certain temperature, the fan will turn on and force the hot air into the room. (Yes, the back of the house needs to be painted.. The ivy grows like mad, and when you pull it off, it takes the paint with it.)
Solar Can Heater on House

Solar Can Heater 12V Fan

The Raspberry Pi and the relay board and fan controller all were put on the right side of this box. Inside this box is a solar charge controller and breakers. The battery is a 12V marine.
Solar Battery Charger Off Grid Heater

The "1 Wire" DS18B20 temperature sensors Were hooked up to the GPIO pins in this fashion: DS18B20 Raspberry Pi Wiring

The brain of this whole system is powered by the Raspberry Pi. The system is using the PiFace for the relays and a Buck converter to convert the voltage from 12V to 5V. There is also a simple motor controller with a "manual" potentiometer for adjusting the fan speed. (The next enhancement to this will be an electronically controller fan speed module.. I was working on this but never finished.)
Solar Battery Charger Off Grid Heater

The Raspberry Pi is setup as a database/web server and it will take the temperature measurements of the inside and outside of the box and will insert them into a database. This way, at any given time (within 10 minute increments), we can see the status. The data can also be compared throughout the years. The Python scripts monitor the date/time and the temperatures to determine if the fan needs to be working or not. So far the system has been running for more than two years without any problems and OFF THE GRID! The average temperature stays at about 70 degrees in the room with no other heating needed. This can probably be tweaked a bit, but during negative degree weather outside, 70 degrees isn't bad!
If the fan isn't running, the box can reach temperatures of up to 160 degrees in the middle of winter!

Some future additions might be to add alarm indexes and a camera to take snapshots of specific events. These events can help to facilitate changes to efficiency.

So far this system has been running for over a year with no issues (10/26/2015)

[Updated on: Tue, 27 October 2015 00:36]

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