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Posted: 1/5/2012 2:47:39 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/5/2012 3:00:24 PM EDT by falfrenzy]
After reading the posts from the Balkans war survivor Selco, I realized that a generator is only good if you have fuel for it. I have 35 Gallons on hand, which will only last me about 3-4 weeks if only used to keep the fridge and freezer cold. After that, I'm SOL.

I went ahead and purchased the following from Amazon:

50 Watt Solar Panel with 10 year warranty: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002OSAB28/ref=oh_o03_s01_i00_details

7 Amp Controller: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001HWQZNQ/ref=oh_o03_s02_i00_details

Battery clips: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000ND0WB6/ref=oh_o03_s00_i01_details

400 Watt Inverter (good for 3.3 Amps at 120 volts) : http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001RNOHBC/ref=oh_o03_s00_i00_details

I cut off the proprietary connectors on the solar panel and used Anderson Powerpoles, much easier

The dimensions of the panel are 30x21x1.5", so it is just about as big as you would want to use for portability.
Getting 21 volts before it gets ran through the controller.


I ran into a little issue with the controller, as it was wired backwards for battery and optional load plugs, but once I get my order of Powerpoles, it will be a non-issue.




Moving the panel into bright light made quite a difference as you can see with the before and after pics

The clamp on meter is showing .27 amps on the hot side.


The whole setup minus inverter


If my calculations are correct, I will end up with 4.16 Amps from this system


Link Posted: 1/5/2012 4:41:56 PM EDT
Having even a small amount of somewhat unlimited free power feels REALLY good doesn't it!

I just put this together last year. Its my 'mini' 12V solar power unit.....



It is a 5 watt powerfilm solar panel with a Morningstar Sunguard SG-4 4.5A Charge Controller and a UB2.9-12T sealed lead acid battery. All the connectors are waterproof weather-pak units like what comes stock on the Powerfilm panels currently.

I milled a small piece of HDPE to allow the charge controller to sit directly on top of the battery and soldered all the connections. The charge controller is mounted with screws to the HDPE block and the entire unit is then held together into a nice compact unit by a sticky fabric coated strip.....

The entire package is just about 3lbs total, 2.9 amp hours capacity in the battery.

I went with the 5 watt panel because it is the largest unit that will fit on the back of a large backpack. Nothing like walking and charging! I can use any powerfilm solar panel and will likely add a larger panel or a 2nd daisy chained panel in the future.

I will be adding a small push to test volt meter on the battery back to help prevent damaging the battery with too much discharge.....

The main purpose of this 'mini' system is to provide remote long term power for my Handy Talkie ( Yeasu vx-7rb ). It would be hard pressed to run the radio non stop 24/7, but for 3lb's its REALLY nice to be able to charge larger devices. It will also provide light with a plug in USB LED keyboard light, charge AA batteries using a 12V to USB adapter with 2-AA USB charger, charge my phone with a USB adapter and USB cable.




Link Posted: 1/5/2012 4:52:58 PM EDT
That's pretty cool.

I'll admit I don't understand the ins and outs of using 12v batteries to power things, how many do you expect you'll need to keep the fridge and freezer cold? Or is that not the point here?
Link Posted: 1/5/2012 5:27:59 PM EDT
Unless you want to spend over $10,000 you are not going to run your house with solar and it will probably cost twice that. It is useful for most electronic gear such as laptop computers cell phones etc. and small amounts of lighting using leds but the cells & batteries are still on the expensive side as of now. I always thought it was strange that during the 1st oil crises the government funded the oil companies to help them develop solar energy. Seemed to me the oil companies might not want a cheap renewable source of energy available to everyone.
Link Posted: 1/5/2012 8:47:31 PM EDT
Originally Posted By xdoctor:
That's pretty cool.

I'll admit I don't understand the ins and outs of using 12v batteries to power things, how many do you expect you'll need to keep the fridge and freezer cold? Or is that not the point here?


If there was a long term event, or even not, I would attempt to empty the fridge and freezer of food in the first month, and then dig into my dry goods.
Link Posted: 1/5/2012 8:48:20 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Bizarro:
Unless you want to spend over $10,000 you are not going to run your house with solar and it will probably cost twice that. It is useful for most electronic gear such as laptop computers cell phones etc. and small amounts of lighting using leds but the cells & batteries are still on the expensive side as of now. I always thought it was strange that during the 1st oil crises the government funded the oil companies to help them develop solar energy. Seemed to me the oil companies might not want a cheap renewable source of energy available to everyone.


Yep, the massive battery banks are the expensive part.
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