Follow by Email

StatCounter

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.

-Sixbears

11 comments:

  1. During my Coastal Patcom last January, I saw a VW Westfalia driving down the beach that had a wind turbine on a foldable mast. Maybe something else to consider?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe. However, in my experience,those small wind turbines tend to be noisy and have high failure rates. That doesn't mean they are all bad.

      Delete
  2. have used solar to keep my battery charged while camping in the woods or on the beach for many southern trips in the past.

    and if you are forced to set up shop elsewhere, conserving fuel be a must....

    Wildflower

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does work and is not all that hard to set up. Conserving fuel is a must.

      Delete
  3. hi. its very nice thought of you to use solar power. these panels are really unlimited buckets. hope many like this post and make their minds to go solar.

    Solar Panels Sale

    ReplyDelete
  4. I would love to have any kind of solar but just can't afford that right now. I'll start small and eventually get there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Solar can be done in a modular, bits and pieces approach. Starting small and growing later works.

      Delete
  5. You made the right decision on solar panels over wind turbines. If you have been following John Wells' blog at the Field Lab, he started out with both wind generators and solar panels but now he only has solar panels. Less maintenance and have a longer life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's how I feel about solar vs wind. A good wind generator under the right conditons helps the mix, but good ones cost real money.

      Delete
  6. Sixbear i have a suggestion for you to ponder.Buy a set of cheap harbor frieght pannels to permently mount on the camper for 150 on sale you have 45 watts a charge control and 2 5watt florecents.Yea they arent great but if you get a 100 watt and a good charge controler you could store it inside and lean it when camping.When home you could add the 100 watt pannel to the house.year round return

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll check it out. Comparing price per watt, charge controlers, and quality of panel right now.

      Delete