I’ve got a big cable connecting my shed to the mains supply but for many people the distance or terrain make it difficult to install power. So I’ve asked Kevin from The Solar Shed to explain a bit about the off-grid options for a small workshop.
Kevin Holland: That’s great that so many people are using sheds for things other than storage and if you have a big cable then you’re lucky that you can run appliances and tools, but like you say, not everyone can, or afford to run a cable.
The golden rule of solar is that ANYONE can fit a small mains free solar kit. If you can wire a plug, you can fit a solar panel to a battery. It really is that easy. You do not need a solar specialist or pay for an electrician to install off grid or mains free solar.
Solar, really has come of age and doesn’t have to cost the earth to install.
To start with, think of a battery as the power source. The panel just keeps it charged.
A simple lighting kit, which starts from £69 on SolarWorkshop is the easiest to fit. It comprises of a 10w panel which needs to be connected to a battery (a 12v 12ah battery) will be more than enough to run a couple of light bulbs. The kits comes with lights, wiring, switch, panel and all the connectors you need.
I have been fitting these to stables where the owners need an hour’s light when popping down the field of a night time. There’s a short video on my youtube channel.
You could add an inverter which switches the DC power from the battery into AC power which most appliances use and charge a laptop or phone or even a fridge….. The more appliances you want to run, the bigger the battery and inverter you’ll need. We can advice of all these aspects when starting out.
To run drills etc, the GEO 5 kits with a 50w panel will charge a 12v 75ah battery with ease, even in winter, and provided the inverter is big enough you can run heavy use tools.
If you need to use a sewing machine for more than just a few minutes, you will need to go big. When i say big, it’s not like you see on a house, just a slightly larger panel, 50w max. The solar charge controller that comes with the kits controls how much energy goes into the battery so you will never over charge it.
The geo 5 is more than enough.
Just be mindful that in the middle of winter if you have used a lot of power overnight and it’s a dark cloudy day, you wont be getting much charge back into the battery.
With regards to welders etc the bigger batteries, costing upto £300 will hold 75ah although we can supply bigger on request, so yes, even the biggest of tools can be powered from a battery. The inverter is the most important thing here. You have to make sure that you have a big enough inverter. Don’t buy a 500w inverter if your tools require 3kw!
I personally like the smaller systems for garden sheds and allotments…. A simple 10w panel, wired into a 12v 12ah battery and then wired into simple light. Walk in, switch on and you’re in business. You could get yourself a 12v car adapter, like the ones you plug into the cigarette lighter and charge up any appliance you could in a car from that without the need for an inverter. The GEO1 kits, plus a battery will cost no more than £100 and can be fitted by a layman within 45 minutes once you have seen the instruction video on the SolarWorkshop
Bottom line, for less than £1,000 you could fit out a good size workshop with up to 10 lights (that’s like Blackpool!) an inverter and a big enough battery to run IT equipment, appliances such as a kettle, fridge, power tools (but not all at the same time)
The solarworkshop online shop has been set up in conjunction with Andrew Wilcox from Readersheds, home of shed of the year. Both Andrew and I have been getting lots of requests about powering up garden rooms and sheds so have sourced what we believe is the right selection and kits and lighting units without confusing the issue.
If anyone has any questions, I am available over the phone or email. All contact details are on the solarworkshop online shop…
Kevin Holland The Solar Shed Ltd