In my previous article, How to Generate Your Own Electricity with Cheap Solar Panels – Part 1, the idea of building a small solar array out of common parts was discussed. The cheap equipment was the perfect way to prove the concept. Now the fun begins! With a budget of $1500 being placed into this solar panel array to create an output of 200 Watts, I will show you how much use you can get with a minimal investment. A comparable solar panel bank made by a contracted solar company would cost well over $5000 in my town. People in Lake Charles, Louisiana seem caught in a time warp of paying too much for local products and services.
Systematic Upgrades Designed To Show Points Of Failure.
At each point in this project, I will show that some portion of my idea failed. Illustrating what happens if you do not plan ahead, should help you realize similar flaws in your own project.
Weak Solar Panels Result In Long Periods Of No 120VAC
If you use 120VAC devices that pull more power than the output of your solar array then you will not be able to use them all the time. For example, a computer pulls 200 Watts of power. If your solar array only makes 5 Watts then you are not going to be able to use the computer more than 30 minutes a day.
My solar array was only putting out 5 watts of power and in less than two weeks all the power stored up from the winter non-mowing season was gone. If I was going to make this project succeed, at never paying a company for the right to mow my lawn, then I was going to have to buy a very large solar panel fast! Amazon.com responded in less than four days with the largest solar panel in Lake Charles, LA. Yeah, I swear, the money people pay for their solar systems here is scary!
The HQRP 50 Watt Solar Panel delivers 50 Watts of power and has generous doses of silicone sealant surrounding the metal frame. After searching the internet for two days straight, the HQRP was the cheapest, highest quality and only 2ND in wattage per square inch.
The goal is to recharge my Black & Decker CMM1200 by the end of Sunday afternoon so that I can mow my yard on Monday, May 31 2010. I am going to watch the war movie Patton during my Memorial Day afternoon and want to have my yard finished before hand!
Low Cost, Quick Disconnect, Solar Panel Cabling
To connect all the pieces of my solar array together I used computer power plugs in male and female socket combinations. They do a very good job of covering the prongs of the plug and can be easily sealed shut with silicone sealant. Right now similar solar power plugs can cost over $2 a foot. I can get my plugs for free from computer part vendors like Directron.com as part of large orders in lengths as long as 10 feet. However, you can buy industrial power cords to get high gauge cabling for as low as $.75 a foot.
I connected the leads of my HQRP solar panel to a male computer plug. Connected it to a Y style female plug on the end of converted 75 foot extension cord in my side yard and I was done. On Saturday morning, the Deka Dominator Group 24 Gel-Cel battery Model 8G24M was up from 11.67 VDC, the previous afternoon, to 11.85 VDC after just three hours of partial charging.
A higher output solar cell was the next logical choice for my project. I should be able to mow my lawn and lawn edge for free on Monday.
The next article will be about Solar Power Controllers. Leave a comment and tell everyone else why this is needed.