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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Solar Mission

My dabbling in solar power is generating interest as well as electricity. At least three people from my neighborhood have asked me about my panels. I just got a second, larger panel that I ordered over the Internet and had delivered to work. Several people at work have asked me about it, including one guy who wants to get some solar or wind gear for family of his living in South America.

I'm making a somewhat more permanent setup with my new panel. With my first panel, I had it mounted with hinges on a roll-around cart so that I could move it around the yard and point it at the sun. The cart holds the charge controller and the battery, which I switch with another battery when it is fully charged. I then carry the charged battery inside and use it either to power my TV through an inverter, or a little 12-volt car fan. I have propped my new panel against the south side of my house, with the power wires running through a small hole in the window screen and into my spare bedroom. I've got a charge controller and four batteries hooked up there, and will connect the batteries to the inverter and on to the TV or other AC devices.

Here are some photos of my first panel and how I'm using it:

My brother gave me the cart, and my friend Steve did the carpentry to attach the panel, through hinges, to the top of the cart. Between the wheels on the cart and the hinges, I can keep the panel pointed at the sun (when I'm at home, anyway).

Shows the panel (top), charge controller (lower left), and battery (lower right).

Two batteries hooked up in parallel. The clips at the top connect to the

inverter (left), into which the power strip is plugged. I can run my TV and home theater for three to four hours off of two charged batteries this way.

I'll post some pictures of my new panel and setup after I take them!