Party Lights for Shade Structure

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Party Lights for Shade Structure

Postby Leo » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:38 pm

Last year I was camped next to some folks that had their shade structure illuminated with 110v party lights. The power source was a deep cycle battery coupled with an inverter. Their shade structure looked great and I would like to have similar lighting for my shade structure this year.

I think that one would need a solar panel to charge the battery to allow this system to work for 6 nights. Based on information from the West Marine catalog, a 12v deep cycle flooded marine battery is rated for 75 amp-hours for a group 24, 90 amp-hours for a group 27, and 105 amp-hours for a group 31. The solar powered battery charger that I'm looking at will produce up to 1.0 amps of charge per hour of daylight. I'm assuming that 10 hours of daylight ( 10 amp-hours/day) is a reasonable estimate for recharging the battery. Has anyone tried such a system for their camp? Your thoughts are appreciated.
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Postby AntiM » Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:28 pm

We run a florescent light off a deep cell battery all week with no recharging. We do bring solar panels just in case, but rarely use them. Can you find a string of lights you like in LED? Those would suck up much less juice.
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Postby gyre » Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:14 pm

Batteries don't recharge linearly.
Don't forget to figure in efficiency losses in charger, inverter and battery charging itself.

Is the panel 1 amp in 12 volts?

Inverters vary a lot in losses.
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Postby phil » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:41 pm

You need to know how many watts the string of lights draw. Divide the total wattage of the party-light string by 110 to give you how many amps.
Here's an example:

11 10W bulbs is a total wattage of 110 Watts. (There's some resistance from the wire, but we'll take care of that when we upsize the battery as noted below.)

110W/110VAC = 1 amp.

If you want to run the lights for 6 hours a night for 6 nights, that's a one-amp draw for 36 hours, so you'll need a 72 amp hour battery, because batteries should not be discharged below 50% of their capacity. The wiring and the inverter suck up power, too, so round up just for safety and get a 100 amp hour battery. That way you won't need a solar panel.

You could also get 12VDC party lights and avoid the inverter completely.

If you buy a solar panel, you'll need a charge controller to keep the panel from over charging the battery and to keep the battery from trying to charge the panel at night. Depending on what your string of lights draws, it's much cheaper to buy a big enough battery, but you get to choose.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:12 pm

But Phil, math is hard.

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Postby tamarakay » Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:30 pm

{whine} oh crap, i'm really interested in this topic and really really really try hard to read it and pay attention etc etc. but it all starts to read like charlie brown's teacher after a while. and it's shameful to admit i work for a power coop. i don't work the lines or anything, but i should at least be able to read about watts and volts without going all waaawaaa {endwhine}
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Postby ibdave » Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:38 pm

tamarakay wrote:{whine} oh crap, i'm really interested in this topic and really really really try hard to read it and pay attention etc etc. but it all starts to read like charlie brown's teacher after a while. and it's shameful to admit i work for a power coop. i don't work the lines or anything, but i should at least be able to read about watts and volts without going all waaawaaa {endwhine}


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Postby Leo » Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:12 pm

Thanks AntiM, gyre, and Phil for your excellent information. This is exactly what I needed to get started. I have been using the West Marine master catalog for a reference source on my shade structure lighting, but I was unaware that the battery would attempt to charge the solar panel at night.

To quote Dr. Seuss:
"There are flashlights for when its dark, but are there flashdarks for when its light?"
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Postby Just_Joe » Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:44 pm

Leo wrote:To quote Dr. Seuss:
"There are flashlights for when its dark, but are there flashdarks for when its light?"


You might want to have a look at this thread:
viewtopic.php?t=34544&highlight=

The Harbor Freight kit charged a group24 Battery that ran a 150watt inverter that ran a several strings (300 C-6 LED lights) in my backyard last summer from dusk to daylight.
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Postby FIGJAM » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:24 pm

The easy way is to just get a butt load of solar string lights.

Once thier hung, you'r done. :)
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Postby junglesmacks » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:22 pm

...or even easier, GTFO your camp at night and go play. Who needs your own lights when there's an entire 7th wonder of the world light show out there..

I brought 2 strings of solar powered LED christmas lights and they charged just enough in the day to power up at night and give just enough light to do whatever it is you need to do at you camp before you take back off.
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Postby knowmad » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:49 am

junglesmacks wrote:...or even easier, GTFO your camp at night and go play. Who needs your own lights when there's an entire 7th wonder of the world light show out there..

I brought 2 strings of solar powered LED christmas lights and they charged just enough in the day to power up at night and give just enough light to do whatever it is you need to do at you camp before you take back off.


...To be Part of the 7th wonder


And one other thing to remember when doing these calculations that Phil pointed out is that the Battery should be in the shade, heat is a factor in Current Loss.
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Postby junglesmacks » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:00 am

True. Drunken posting again FTW.
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Postby AntiM » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:43 am

Solar bush nets, solar yard lights, and solar strings are our outdoor lights. I picked up a pink blossom LED solar "shrub" this year. Set 'em and forget 'em. The problem we had with the inverter was other campmates forgetting to turn out the lights. Much simpler to use LED lanterns and such for interior camp lights.
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Postby gyre » Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:48 am

12 volt timers are available to use for shutoff.

I don't know of a cheap one that isn't built in, unless you make your own though.
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Postby teardropper » Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:50 pm

If you really want a lot of battery power, try this. I got two 225 amp hour 6 volt golf cart batteries. Wire them together for 12 volts and you have 225 a/h of power. And if you can avoid the inverter by using 12 volt LED string lights, all the better. I also top these batteries up with a 64 watt solar panel. The batteries are about $80 each at Costco. With that kind of power, depending of course on your draw, you may not need the solar panel.
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Postby Leo » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:47 pm

I'm curious as to where I would find 12 volt party lights and/or solar-powered LED string lights. The only solar lights I'm aware of are the solar-powered path lights from the Home Despot. The solar powered path lights are on the dim side, but they would be good for illuminating guy lines for tents and shade structures. Once I determine the lighting, then I can figure out that battery and solar panel requirement. I appreciate everyone's help.
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Postby FIGJAM » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:14 pm

I have an idea to get a cheap plastic ball from the dollar store small enough that a drill bit will reach across, drill holes through in a pattern.

Cut the ball in half and push the LED's through the holes from the inside out.

Stuff the rest of the wire inside the ball and silicone the halfs together leaving enough of the wire going to the panel to hang it up.

Mini disco ball. :)

http://www.outdoorsolarstore.com/solar-powered-Christmas-lights.aspx?gclid=CLeD2IDOuKYCFUVqKgodNzTUHA
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Postby Elorrum » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:35 pm

I have a set of solar garden spotlights like these. 3 lights, and the cords between them are long. The panel charges three AA batteries, and I usually start the week with three fully charged NiMH over 2000ma. I put the panel outside, and rig the lights up on the top spreaders of my Northpole shade shelter. I don't leave them on all night (there's an on/off switch on the panel) and for general lighting they are fine. I also have a string of small white solar lights I put on a guy out line, but to be truthful, I didn't set them up last year, since I didn't want to have to clean them. (wah, I know) Both my neighbors and I last year were setting up and just decided to stop at enough, for some reason. We wanted to be on vacation already, and putting out more lights at that time just seemed like work. As the week went by I put more time into lights and such on my trike than I did on my camp.
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Postby gyre » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:56 pm

Up to a certain wattage level a D-cell pack of the appropriate voltage will run quite a few LEDs.
Good for a 13 watt fluorescent for a time, but not all week, unless intermittent.
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Postby AntiM » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:32 am

Leo wrote:I'm curious as to where I would find 12 volt party lights and/or solar-powered LED string lights. The only solar lights I'm aware of are the solar-powered path lights from the Home Despot. The solar powered path lights are on the dim side, but they would be good for illuminating guy lines for tents and shade structures. Once I determine the lighting, then I can figure out that battery and solar panel requirement. I appreciate everyone's help.


Ebay. Big Lots carries them in spring when they begin selling their summer lights. Lowe's has decorative solar lights, as does Harbor Freight. Truckstops sometimes have an amazing assortment of 12V goods, including lights. Hit and miss on those. We picked up the bulk of ours at Target right after Christmas. You may have missed them this year, but you'll be on the ball next year.

Halloween lights too...
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Postby Lord Of Ruin » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:27 pm

Leo wrote:I'm curious as to where I would find 12 volt party lights and/or solar-powered LED string lights. The only solar lights I'm aware of are the solar-powered path lights from the Home Despot. The solar powered path lights are on the dim side, but they would be good for illuminating guy lines for tents and shade structures. Once I determine the lighting, then I can figure out that battery and solar panel requirement. I appreciate everyone's help.


Oh, I dunno...why not type "12 volt party lights and/or solar-powered LED string lights" into Google?

I did the very same thing and the list went on for pages.

Or not. Your call.
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Postby Leo » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:07 pm

Thanks for the tips. I found tons of lights on Google, so now I will have a well-lit shade structure on the playa for 2011.
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Postby gyre » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:27 pm

Dealextreme has been mentioned.
They ship direct.

Poor battery cases in reviews.
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Postby teardropper » Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:15 pm

gyre wrote:Dealextreme has been mentioned.
They ship direct.

Poor battery cases in reviews.


It took me two months to get an order from them, so order way in advance.
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Postby Trishntek » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:45 pm

We ran 60' string of pink flamingo lights plus our sound system on solar. We had a genset backup, but only used it for power tools and the coffee machine.

It is 240 watt solar panels with four 6V 200Ah batteries in a 24V configuration. It has a 30A charge controller which prevents retrograde current to the panels at night and overcharging of batteries during the day. The AC source is a 24V, 1kW pure sinewave inverter. I use it here at home continuously to run my office which eats anywhere from 30 - 120 watts 24/7. The only time it has given out on me was during 8 days of rain around the holidays. There was little or no sunshine and it automatically shut down when the battery output was only 21.5 volts.
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Postby percussivepaul » Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:44 pm

For those of you who used solar LED strings -- is there a specific product you can recommend that worked well? I want to pick up a bunch of these for my camp but I would like something reasonably durable and it's hard to judge from all the product websites how well they will hold up.

Any issues with using solar LED strings? How bright are they at night - enough to read by, or just enough to avoid walking into things? Will they give off light throughout the night?
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Postby FIGJAM » Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:55 pm

This pic is my front door with a 50 white light string of new ray solar leds.

In total darkness you can see pretty well, but you could'nt read by them unless you clustered them together.

They run from dusk till dawn.


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Postby Ugly Dougly » Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:01 pm

Yeah, a lot of these aren't as bright as you'd expect.
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Postby teardropper » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:23 am

teardropper wrote:
gyre wrote:Dealextreme has been mentioned.
They ship direct.

Poor battery cases in reviews.


It took me two months to get an order from them, so order way in advance.


If at all. Their stuff is cheap, direct from China crap. I would use caution here.
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