Monday 9 July 2018

Playing With Solar

There I was, fuming mad at the injustice of it all. The truck’s fuel gauge was just off of full and yet I spent $53 on fuel. I spent $30 on generator fuel and $23 on fuel for the truck.

It just so happened that I had (on a whim) bought a solar panel with the intension of charging my laptop/iPad/phone with it (it was a 40 watt).

I got the idea to see if solar panels would do any good for Wanda’s batteries. It didn’t take long to get it setup and underway. 

I simply clipped the panel’s output to the battery posts.

This panel folds out, so it has easy storage and has a built in charge controller .

It worked in so far as it raised the voltage in the low voltage system of Wanda.

Here is the voltage level without the panel.

Here is the voltage level with the panel hooked up.

As the day got later I had to move the panel around.

I was even able to get it to charge my laptop (in the middle of the day).

All in all it was interesting and fun but not a practical solution (not that I thought that it would be. 

When I started Wanda’s batteries were flatlined. As in the radio display was off and the fridge wouldn’t work. 

This is usually the time when I would run my generator, but that day, Saturday, I decided to see if my panel would do any good.

In the end, while the panel was enough to turn the display of the radio on and run the fridge all day, it was not enough to put any charge into the batteries.

That next morning I had to repeat this trick to keep the fridge going until it was late enough for me to run my generator.

I also found that while my panel would charge my iPad no problem, it would not charge the laptop in the evening, yet while the sun was still out.

I have read somewhere the peak charging (and only useable solar hours are between 2 – 2pm. 

Who knows if that is true, but solar panels will not always kick out the wattage they are rated at all times. 

This is why you see large banks of solar panels in any successful installation. So, while this was fun and it will do what I had intended it to do (charge my main communication devices when needed) solar is not the answer for me.

This experiment reinforces for me the understanding that I would need to install a couple of high wattage panels 500 Watts minimum for them to make any difference to me.

I will find other ways to conserve electricity and fuel even further, but solar isn’t it, not until I get to the property and can install a large bank of them.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!

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