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Monday, July 19, 2004

Solar Power Update

I'm sick and tired of all this Kerry bashing, so I'm going to stop doing it for a few minutes. With help from my brother Rich and my friend Steve, I've got some semblance of a production solar system going. Rich gave me a funny little cart on rollers, and Steve built a frame for my one solar panel and attached it to the cart with hinges. This way, I can roll the cart around the back yard and tilt the panel for maximum solar exposure. I place two batteries connected in parallel inside the cart, and it takes the sun several hours to charge them. I haul the batteries inside, where I can either run my 12-volt car fan to keep me cool, or hook them to my Radio Shack inverter and watch TV for an hour or two. Unfortunately, one 55-watt solar panel isn't enough to do too much more, but I'm definitely getting a feel for the process. And it's pretty cool to see it actually work.

Later this week, I'll be adding a Bob-powered generator to the system. I'll probably connect it through a battery to the inverter and the TV, and it should extend my viewing time by approximately how long I peddle. The TV-home theater combo uses a little over 100 watts, which is supposedly a reasonable output to expect from a human on a bike. I guess I'll find out!

My long-range plan, for now, is to put 200-300 square feet of solar shingles on the south side of my roof, buy some more batteries and a fancy charge controller and inverter, and have it all connected to my house current. It won't be cheap, but probably substantially less costly than buying a new car. At current electricity prices it's not really a wise decision from an economic point of view, but that may change soon, and it's something I want to do.

If anyone in the Ann Arbor area could recommend a good roofer or electrician, I would greatly appreciate it!