Friday, July 26, 2013

More Solar

I found some time to putter...yay! Along with my two Coleman 40 watt solar panels, I dug out two 15 watt Canadian Tire ones that had been lying dormant. One of them was never even removed from the box. I thought of buying more, but resisted the urge. Sometimes it's best to use what you have, especially since none of this is critical. Nevertheless, a total of 110 watts is better than nothing, so I decided to try and make a "system" of sorts. Basically, I constructed a crude "suitcase" affair from 1x3 strapping and old panel board. Into this, I fitted the two 15 watt panels. Then I added the two 40 watt panels on hinges so that the whole thing unfolds...
   Notice in the picture above, the 15 watt panels are physically larger than the 40 watt ones. They are several years older than the new 40 watt "polycrystalline" ones. This seems to be working out ok, but the whole thing is a bit heavy. However, it folds up and packs away nicely. This is all part of my plan for a semi-portable off-grid power setup. These panels, along with 2 Group-27 Deep Cycle Batteries, an inverter, a small gas generator, and a hefty battery charger should make for a good multipurpose Power Station. Fully charged, I'll have about 250 amp-hours of power. That will easily run my fridge for 3 or 4 days. Assuming those 3-4 days include some sunshine, the solar will extend that considerably. Then the gas generator will only be needed as a last resort, i.e. after 4 days of no sun. That's much better than having to rely on a gas generator the minute the power dies.
One possible problem though is that my little charge controller is rated for a maximum of 105 watts of power, but my setup is actually 110 watts. I'm going to take my chances with that one though. Each of the 40 watt panels came with a charge controller, so if one fries, I'll learn my lesson and buy a better controller, something I have planned anyway...or I might just use both controllers, hooking two panels to each for example...
More to come...

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