Friday, September 14, 2012
Money from the sky
It was a beautiful sunny day on Thursday as I did my farmers’ market shopping. Someone commented on how bright the sun was. It’s money from the sky I said. He knows I have solar electricity so he knew what I was talking about.
Another friend made a comment on the sunshine.
I said, “It’s raining soup and you have no bucket.”
“I’d like a bucket,” she said, referring to solar panels.
That’s what they are to me, buckets to catch free energy from above. It’s a nice feeling to see my household expenses drop for no other reason than it’s a sunny day.
Now I’m shopping around for solar panels for the camper van. It would be ideal for backwoods camping. Right now I’d have to start up the engine to charge the batteries. Seems like overkill to me. Even if I’m burning free waste veggie instead of expensive diesel, it’s wasteful.
All I’ve got to do is to decide how much money I want to spend. It is tempting to get 100 - 200 watts of power, or more. The van has a lot roof space for mounting panels. It would be an awful lot of power because my energy use is modest. With that extra power, I could add a lot of fancy electrical gizmos.
On the other hand, a 30 watt panel with charge controller is in my budget now. That’s the set up on my sailboat and it’s working well. The van has more ways to use power, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get by using less.
One really important thing is the ability to recharge a dead starting battery in the field. Imagine killing the starting battery by accident, many miles in the woods. Even a 30 watt panel would eventually be able to put enough charge in the battery to start the van. That’s a big safety feature.
Whatever I do, I’d better do it soon. The low low price of solar electric panels might not last. I’d hate to miss my chance to buy another photon bucket.