Solar Energy Update

As an update to my projects, I now have 5 3.2 watt solar panels purchased off ebay for a decent price…. ok, well I guess it came to $4/watt all told, shipping and such.

I now have fully charged our cellphone on it, am currently charging my razor, and will have a list of things to charge with it. The one thing about it is you have to scheduled your charging. It can’t really handle more than one item at a time, as the 4 panels I have on the solar electricity unit only make up 12 watts *IF* they are pulling in maximum energy which is almost never the case because of clouds, tree branches etc. The things I’m charging require from 2 watts to 8 watts so one at a time allows for decent use of the system. Really helps me understand what the real life implications and requirements are for a system. Its max power output needs to well overshoot your consumption requirements. Not sure if there is a rule of thumb but likely you would need a system with 1/3 more max power then you think you need to allow for shadows, rainy days etc. Also depends if you have some other kind of power like wind which may be able to pull the weight during lower sun output times. Great fun testing none the less. To get my whole office off the grid, i would need, min 150 watts, I would likely need a full 180 watt industrial panel for that operation, that costs about $1000 (600 – 700 for the panel, other money for a charge controller that will handle more than my 7 amp one)

On my solar heat project, it works great with a 3.2 watt panel attached to a 1 watt 2.5 cm vent fan. My box only holds 12 cans but for its size it really works great. Consistent 30 degrees C temp (which isn’t uber hot) allows the fan to constantly warm the air in the room by sucking it in from the bottom and pushing it out the top 10 degrees higher, so thats great for zero money spend currently other then the price of the panel and fan. I just need to scale this up and I do have panels in the garage for this but no place to really put them as i can’t do anything to the house in terms of holes and I would need to mount them on the house for this to work…

I’d like to make several little window units and place them around the house in the south facing windows and they would just gather heat as it was available. Not sure the impact is measurable currently with this unit but it seems to require less action from the furnace… so who knows. I need to calculate the BTUs of it and see how long it would take to raise the temp in a room one degree… hm, maybe I’ll review that today…

stay tuned!

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