Solar Powered Stereo?

During the past six month period I have completely replaced all components of my two channel system. There were two primary reasons. 1st reason, age. My old system was circa 1981-85.
2nd reason, downsize. I used to use separates, I'm now using an integrated. I am also sick and tired of trying to design a room aesthetically, around racks filled with equipment, two massive speakers and a perfectly triangulated listening position.

To each his own.

I am now upgrading and evaluating power conditioning. The last step (I hope). What a pain in the ass. Active, passive, regeneration, filters, toroidals, no toroidals, magic "light sensitive" crystals, Geez.
It seems like a giant battle between myself and the garbage my utility company provides me.

Does anyone out there have experience with solar power usage for their stereos? And I mean a "standalone" system that is isolated from a public utility power grid. A fellow Audiogoner (Davehrab) and I were discussing this concept. I think it makes sense.

I don't know if I may be getting a little feeble in my "mid-years" but, is this feasible? If it were to be a true standalone system and was not tied into the pollution that the electric company is providing you? Most solar systems provide you with straight DC ouput and DC/AC inversion, battery bank, panels, charge controllers, etc.

Any opinions? Comments? Help me out here.

You need to talk to TWL!
Hi. Yes, I have been doing that for quite some time now. Totally stand-alone, solar powered, battery operated, individual isolated power supplies, for each item in my system. I have no connection at all to the city power pole, and have not had any for over 7 years. I run totally off solar power, with a backup generator for emergency power, in case of long weeks of overcast weather. It works quite well. I would recommend that if you are going to do this, you should obtain very low power consumption components, especially amplifiers(Like my 45, or a 2A3) and high efficiency speakers. This will allow a lower cost power generation package, and provide better run-time.

There are many benefits to providing power to your system like this, and it is feasible for lower power systems. You could do it with a big power system, but it would be very very costly and cumbersome. It could be done though, if you really wanted it, and could spend the large amount needed for high power consumption systems.

The details are quite complex, so I cannot list them here. I am getting probably the cleanest power of anyone on this website. I tried to put up a few threads on this awhile back, but got little interest. If you search the archives for "battery power", you will turn them up.
Thank you TWL. When I initially discussed it with Davehrab, I thought it made perfect sense. Are you using any additional power "purification" components, whether they be active or passive, and is there a specific type of inverter designed to work specifically with sensitive electronic components? Is there such a thing as an "audio grade" inverter?

I am presently auditioning several passive and active types of power conditioning. For many years I used on old antique API power wedge 116. Extremely effective given it's year of introduction and somewhat antiquated design criteria. Although, I'm finding that most types of passive power conditioning are pretty much doing the same thing.

I'm wondering if solar allows you to circumvent typical means of power conditioning. I'm finding that whether it be active or passive conditioning, they all seem to have their own sonic signature.
Yes, there is an "audio grade" type of inverter. It must be a pure sine-wave type, with no collateral noise generated onto the line. I use one that is made for powering remote-site mastering decks, made by Studer in Switzerland. As you know, they have been making fine recording systems for many years. It is called the Studer AJ401, and has 400watts continuous capacity, with 800 watts available on surge, like dynamic headroom. I use it only under the minimum rating. There are several units from them that go up higher in wattage ratings, up to 2Kw or 2.5Kw. Cost is a little over a dollar a watt.

I use hospital grade outlets wired directly to the inverter output, and my regular power cords from there. Of course any good audiophile power cord will help to keep any corruption from entering the signal through the power cord, so that is still a good idea. The power conditioners are not necessary, since the power is already conditioned when it leaves the inverter, to less than 0.5%THD and clocked perfectly at 60Hz, with no drift.

The only unit that I run from the inverter is my preamp. My power amp and turntable are run directly from their own individual batteries, on 12vdc. They are designed this way. So each of my components are totally isolated from each other in terms of power supply, so there is zero intermodulation of each other's power supplies, which is always present whenever you have multiple components plugged into the wall.

The direct DC power feed on TT and amp are the most perfect power feed possible. A totally flat DC feed. The preamp has a circuit that is difficult to feed with 12vdc, because it was not designed for that, and has high voltage in some of the tubes. So I use the inverter to power that.

I find this method to be very satisfactory.
Thanks again TWL. Now when can you do the install? Connecticut can be lovely this time of year....

I think the methods you've used are by far, the most logical.
I feel like I'm trying to compensate for something that shouldn't be there in the first place. But, that's my "perfect world" method of thinking. Not very logical.

My experience to date with power conditioning is not extremely extensive, but what I am finding is that I am using a "band aid" in one form or another. It also seems that depending on the type of conditioning I ultimately decide to use, I will have to also decide on the sound, presentation, etc. Another tone control.

It must be nice to not have to filter what isn't there.

Really excellent thread!

TWL, are the batteries you're using rechargeable? from the grid, that is, not from solar.

I checked out your system and it's obviously unique. can you describe the sound advantages you think you've achieved with this setup?

under the assumption that cleaner power means better sound my ultimate question would be where do you think the tipping point is? in other words, if you were to create a $10,000 system off the grid how much more would you think you'd have to pay to create a system on the grid that would sound as good?

do you have other solar aspirations besides your system?

congratulations on thinking for yourself and coming up with your own unique solutions.
Kublakhan, yes the batteries can be recharged automatically from a grid source, or generator, or solar, or other alternative sources such as wind, or hydro. I have spec'd out some grid-charged systems for some people already.

The sonic improvements are nice. They are what would be expected when removing the "nasties" from a power source, and removing the interactions where the power supply from one component is modulating the power supply to another component. It's clean, and solid.

The comparison question is hard for me to say. It depends greatly on the components chosen. My system is around $10k, and I think it sounds as good or better than many systems costing far more. Also, I'm sure there are some systems powered by the grid that would sound better in some aspects than my system. I don't claim the ultimate system. But it is quite nice, within its design parameters.

Regarding other solar projects besides my system, my whole house is solar powered. Also I have spec'd and installed hundreds of alternative energy systems, using solar, wind, hydro, and combinations of those. Also various generator systems. I worked for a time in an alternative energy company owned by a friend of mine. I've been off the grid for over 7 years now.

Thank you for your kind words.
TWL, I just took a look at your system. The combination of gear, those wonderful 16' ceilings and the acoustic room treatments must make for an overall sonic performance that must be incredible. I also have a ceiling height of close to 15' and I find it absolutely opens up a musical performance.

I have to admit to a slight bias as I also love the sound of vinyl. For some reason, there really is nothing quite like it.

An additional question; I imagine if you were using digital gear, to avoid digital back feed, you would be capable of providing it with it's own power supply, isolating it from the rest of the system power? Is that correct?
If only you were working at NASA, with your expertise and attention to detail, they might not have lost two space shuttles, Twl!
Buscis2, yes it eliminates any digital "backfeed" into the power lines that may interfere with other components. This is made possible by using totally separate battery power supplies for each component.

Fatparrot - Thanks. NASA still has a decent reliability record, though.
Thanks TWL, you've provided us with a tremendous amount of info. And your right, I have not seen too many people responding to this thread either. It's refreshing to see someone thinking outside of the box. Obviously, it is much easier to deal with a problem when it's not there at all. Ed.

hey twl you're my new hero. seven years off the grid - fantastic accomplishment!! truly outstanding. i wonder how many people can appreciate such a feat let alone achieve it. i love it...even just the thought of it i love.

Thanks for your interest in this, guys. This stuff will be more pervasive and available in the coming years. It is just a little ahead of its time right now. A few forward thinking manufacturers have already tried battery power in audio. There will be more. It works.
I would also like to thank you for all your help and guidance with DC power and other endeavors!