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 Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?

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PostSubject: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:39 pm

I'd like to start a little project for myself but I'm too lazy to do some research on the internet anyway I'd like to share it with ye if anyone knows anything.

Some solar panels and a modest project budget and energy wise might be interesting to bash out here if anyone else is so inclined. I have no idea where to start really so if anyone has any ideas please pipe up.

What I'm thinking of is some battery banks which could be charged by photovoltaic panels and the batteries used to charge your laptop, power some lights, your mobile phone - power some little things like that for a start. Not much but a start.

As a stingy Clareman I want to do it as cheaply as possible and build up information on it too as I go. The information might be more useful than the bit of savings that could be achieved from your investments.

The general idea too might be to find some combinations of technology which can be used for travelling, camping or living in sunny climates as a retiree in a motorhome or on a boat.

If any of you have anything solar which you use for travelling and generating energy please let us know here. For example, I have a small portable battery with 4 hours battery life for a laptop and I wonder if this could be recharged using a solar panel? I also have a tiny trickle charger with 1.5 W of output which can be used to keep a car battery topped up. Could you stick a bigger battery in the boot of your car and recharge that with a solar panel then use that battery to power lights, a dvd player, a radio, a microwave oven?


http://www.metaefficient.com/emergency-gear/portable-solar-chargers-a-review.html

Also - learn about energy generation
http://www.tasmanenergy.com.au/solar_electricity.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:40 pm

What else can people power with solar? As far as I was aware you could only use it really for heating your hot water and that, but definately not powering your house. I don't have a notion though,
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:43 pm

Can't help with adapting stuff, but I can confirm that a photovotaic panel about .35 sq m is powering a pump for a solar powered hot water tank for me, a tiny panel powers my radio and an even tinier photovoltaic panel is not very good at charging my mobile phone.
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:50 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Can't help with adapting stuff, but I can confirm that a photovotaic panel about .35 sq m is powering a pump for a solar powered hot water tank for me, a tiny panel powers my radio and an even tinier photovoltaic panel is not very good at charging my mobile phone.
Is that the little mobile phone panel for about 40 quid? I was going to give one to a friend as a present as he's a stingy sonofa so thanks for telling me if it turns out to be shite.

The little lithium ion battery I bought for €50 once charged can power your mobile phone for a month. I'm sure I could power up that battery itself within a month with a solar panel (but I don't know if I need an invertor, regulator - oh no not another regulator)

Also laptops will get more and more efficient as flash memory starts appearing instead of hard discs, and the computer itself gets smaller. And as batteries become more powerful (is there a limit to the battery power that can be achieved?)

Johnfás there are two types of solar panels - vacuum tubes which heat your water and photovoltaic cells which produce electricity. I'm talking about the second type here.
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:57 pm

What is the approximate cost of running a whole house on solar as against paying the ESB. Presumably there is large installation costs and servicing costs apart from the initial investment.
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:16 pm

johnfás wrote:
What is the approximate cost of running a whole house on solar as against paying the ESB. Presumably there is large installation costs and servicing costs apart from the initial investment.
That's a good question. A solar panel can collect 1366 watts on a meter squared as a maximum. Less in cloudy weather and none at night so batteries are needed to save up your electricity. Batteries and panels are expensive but there are a good few other bits and pieces too which are not too expensive - wires, invertors (for converting the stored electricity to plug-in type electricity and regulators for preventing overcharge). I'll have a stab that a metre squared of panel costs around €350.

Some devices would run forever on some batteries and some metres of panel - computers, tvs, radios, flourescent bulbs and cfl bulbs but other devices would be a lot heavier - an electric kettle, a fridge, washing machine, cooker, microwave oven. You'd need a good whack of batteries to keep topped up to be able to run those devices so very often such a system is couple with a small wind turbine which keeps your batteries charged.

This sort of technology derives a lot of the time from boating and motorhome people who live independently. Using smaller, more efficient household appliances helps greatly too.

I'll try to get a list of devices and their comparative consumption rates (a kettle for example needs 2000watts whereas a computer about 20-30 watts - much like a cfl bulb and getting more efficient too as hardware changes and software is developed to reduce and economise screen usage etc)
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:58 pm

This is a general article by Ashley Seager of the Guardian, v interesting if more general than what you're looking for here. However, he has converted his own home to be as energy efficient as it probably possible for the normal family home to be and writes often about these issues. Will sort out some more links tonight or tomorrow. There was one article in a Saturday edition where he detailed every single measure taken to increase efficiency and listed the savings.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jun/16/renewableenergy.energy
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Tue Jul 22, 2008 5:31 pm

Solar is good for heating water if your system is well lagged. however I would stay away from solar for anything else (on a similar scale, small scale devices are ok) in this country as both the power and sunlight densities are so low.
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Tue Jul 22, 2008 5:36 pm

riven wrote:
Solar is good for heating water if your system is well lagged. however I would stay away from solar for anything else (on a similar scale, small scale devices are ok) in this country as both the power and sunlight densities are so low.
Photovoltaics are ok for creating light but heat (or cold like in a fridge) is just not viable here do you think?

Some Swiss guy is getting a car to go around the States and the car is powered by PV cells...
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Tue Jul 22, 2008 5:39 pm

For heat it is not so bad depending on what you want.

Shower water is approx 30-40C and you should be able to do this with PV. But 30C will not do much else
Look into heat pipes. They seem to be popular for water heating in certain areas in England. i have not looked at them.
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:57 pm

riven wrote:
For heat it is not so bad depending on what you want.

Shower water is approx 30-40C and you should be able to do this with PV. But 30C will not do much else
Look into heat pipes. They seem to be popular for water heating in certain areas in England. i have not looked at them.

You don't need pv for hot water in Ireland - solar is fine. We've had toasting hot water every day bar three since the end of Feb. The trick is to have a factory insulated tank big enough to hold 2 days water.
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Wed Jul 23, 2008 1:52 pm

That is why I suggest heat pipes. We have a warm climate not a sunny one.
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Wed Jul 23, 2008 5:24 pm

By heat pipe, do you mean geothermal? The problem with that is that people are powering the electric pumps from the mains.
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:30 pm

EvotingMachine or anyone who knows

Yesterday I was passing Maplins and got a 13W solar panel for 80 quid Very Happy Is it any good ? I also have a digital multimeter which showed it generating 7 or 8 watts (or volts??) under half sunny conditions and around the same behind a window.

There was a fuse yoke with it too - a box thing where I can connect a battery, a cigarette lighter yoke and the panel. Do you know what this is for roughly? On that fuse box there is also a few screw connections for 3V, 6V, 12V adaptors which I don't know what to do with.

I also got a 330W inverter which you stick into your car and power laptops etc. This was a cheap device but I don't know what to do with it all but I should find out in case I ever need to go boating, caravaning or hoboing in the wilds of whereever. Do I need an extra battery which I can use to power a good few of my devices - tvs, computer, dvd player, lights, fan etc. and would a car battery do for the time being or do I need a special boating one?

I imagine I can use the solar panel to power the battery then draw power off the battery. I'm more interested in how effective all this stuff is and in learning the practical differences between watts, volts and amps rather than getting it to pay for itself or anything.
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:36 pm

Have you got the make and model number handy ?
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:43 pm

There is an article in today's Irish Times Auditor #9 about recreational shopping and why we buy things we don't need - men and gadgets were mentioned in passing although women and shoes took most of the flak.

You seem to be taking it to a whole new level in which you are aquiring things without knowing for sure what they do. But I agree the potential for experimental engagement resulting in unexpected new functions seems high. I await the results with interest.

I also have a vision of you living up a mountain or tree but with a fully functioning array of tvs computers dvds and so on.




Perhaps this prototype of a computerised tree trunk might interest you...
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Thu Jul 31, 2008 4:01 pm

Is it this one ?

Maplin Link
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Thu Jul 31, 2008 4:03 pm

EvotingMachine0197 wrote:
Is it this one ?

Maplin Link

I'll have a look now .. yep - that's it from below

cactus flower wrote:
There is an article in today's Irish Times Auditor #9 about recreational shopping and why we buy things we don't need - men and gadgets were mentioned in passing although women and shoes took most of the flak.

You seem to be taking it to a whole new level in which you are aquiring things without knowing for sure what they do. But I agree the potential for experimental engagement resulting in unexpected new functions seems high. I await the results with interest.

I'm kinda compulsive with my shopping from time to time but generally fairly good as I do try to save too and balance it up, you know. If we all saved the economy would be shagged. It cost me just over 100 euros for the lot and it's a project I've been meaning to try out for a while now and it's mostly for learning so it's quite reasonable. I think sometimes if I buy something I won't use it'll teach me more than reading twenty books.

This is it though the specs are shite. It's a Nikkai thing ...


Plus I found a good site here which explains some stuff straight away (this guy is going for powering his whole house for less than $2000)
http://puck.nether.net/~jared/solar.html
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Thu Jul 31, 2008 4:05 pm

This is as exciting as the multipass centrifuge reassertor at Cern. I look forward to regular updates.
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Thu Jul 31, 2008 4:12 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:

Yesterday I was passing Maplins and got a 13W solar panel for 80 quid Very Happy Is it any good ? I also have a digital multimeter which showed it generating 7 or 8 watts (or volts??) under half sunny conditions and around the same behind a window.

It looks alright to me. You were measuring volts I suspect.

Quote :
There was a fuse yoke with it too - a box thing where I can connect a battery, a cigarette lighter yoke and the panel. Do you know what this is for roughly? On that fuse box there is also a few screw connections for 3V, 6V, 12V adaptors which I don't know what to do with.

This is the regulator unit. The voltage from the panel is not constant. This unit regulates the panel voltage to provide constant voltages for battery charging or whatever. The fuse protects the regulator unit from overload.

Quote :
I also got a 330W inverter which you stick into your car and power laptops etc. This was a cheap device but I don't know what to do with it all but I should find out in case I ever need to go boating, caravaning or hoboing in the wilds of whereever. Do I need an extra battery which I can use to power a good few of my devices - tvs, computer, dvd player, lights, fan etc. and would a car battery do for the time being or do I need a special boating one?

This converts your 12V DC iin your car/boat back up to 220V ac for powering mains devices. Be sure to have the engine running when using it. Anything over 100W may blow the cigarette lighter fuse.

Quote :
I imagine I can use the solar panel to power the battery then draw power off the battery. I'm more interested in how effective all this stuff is and in learning the practical differences between watts, volts and amps rather than getting it to pay for itself or anything.

Yeh, The idea is that the solar panel charges the battery and powers your device (load) in sunny conditions. Otherwise the battery supports the load until it is discharged or the sun comes out again.
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Thu Jul 31, 2008 4:18 pm

The website of this Irish company which makes things called evacuated tubular panels is quite helpful - expalins what's involved on converting your house:

http://www.systemlink.ie/details.asp?l=2&lone=1&two=214&ref=bar&n=sp&gclid=CPyGrrua6pQCFQ9KQgods2b8Sg
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Thu Jul 31, 2008 4:32 pm

EvotingMachine0197 wrote:
Quote :
There was a fuse yoke with it too - a box thing where I can connect a battery, a cigarette lighter yoke and the panel. Do you know what this is for roughly? On that fuse box there is also a few screw connections for 3V, 6V, 12V adaptors which I don't know what to do with.

This is the regulator unit. The voltage from the panel is not constant. This unit regulates the panel voltage to provide constant voltages for battery charging or whatever. The fuse protects the regulator unit from overload.
Yes the regulator. There's a picture of it in the specs pdf on the Maplin page ..


Below that it shows how to connect them up and I don't really know what the "output to car charging device" means - does it mean that if I have a mobile phone charger which can be charged from my car that I can plug it in there? Have you any idea what the three adaptor screws are for at the top of the regulator? 3V, 6V and 12V? Can I attach any things to them?

Quote :
Quote :
I imagine I can use the solar panel to power the battery then draw power off the battery. I'm more interested in how effective all this stuff is and in learning the practical differences between watts, volts and amps rather than getting it to pay for itself or anything.

Yeh, The idea is that the solar panel charges the battery and powers your device (load) in sunny conditions. Otherwise the battery supports the load until it is discharged or the sun comes out again.
Now, this means I can charge something directly from the panel, does it? It says on the spec that all leads are supplied but I can't see the combination where the panel is attached directly to the "output device" where I can plug in my mobile phone car plug - if I had one. So I'm thinking can I combine the configurations on that specs page - the panel on the first one and the output device on the second ...



Would you know that if I plug a car plug into the output should it charge or what? is the voltage the right type and all that? what happens if it's not constant - would the battery in my dvd player charge up more slowly or at all or would something melt?
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Thu Jul 31, 2008 5:20 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
Now, this means I can charge something directly from the panel, does it? It says on the spec that all leads are supplied but I can't see the combination where the panel is attached directly to the "output device" where I can plug in my mobile phone car plug - if I had one. So I'm thinking can I combine the configurations on that specs page - the panel on the first one and the output device on the second ...

No no. The regulator unit is there to protect both the panel and the load. It would not be good practice to connect the panel directly to anything unless it has its own regulator. A 12V mobile phone charger has it's own regulator, so you could connect that directly if you wished.


Quote :
Would you know that if I plug a car plug into the output should it charge or what? is the voltage the right type and all that? what happens if it's not constant - would the battery in my dvd player charge up more slowly or at all or would something melt?

If you connect it as per the diagram you should be OK.
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Thu Jul 31, 2008 5:51 pm

It'll take me a while to figure it out but I think I need a battery don't I? Preferably a deep-cycle one like the object on the same Maplin page. They don't tell you that on the box though.

I'll check out the voltage adaptor output points on the top of the regulator but I don't think I know what's supposed to fit into them. I'll try not to electrocute myself.
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PostSubject: Re: Anybody know anything about powering your stuff with solar?   Thu Jul 31, 2008 8:57 pm

Is this me in the grounds of UCC doing a Masters in Philosophy ? No, it's a treehugger with the intention of solar powering himself



UK Tech writer takes his tech off-grid
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