The sun charges us up in more ways than we can count. It is, of course, the mood enhancer when we wake up to a sunny day.
When most people think of solar energy, though, they think of panels on the roof, generating electricity for all their household needs. This is a great option, but it is the most expensive option, kind of like investing in a car for all your mobility needs.
If you only need to go to the corner store, there are more affordable options of getting there, like walking or biking. It’s the same with solar; not everyone may need a rooftop system big enough to power all the household’s needs. A more task-oriented stand-alone system could well fit the bill.
A local bike shop has installed 3 ceiling fans powered by 2 panels set up as awnings over their front door, needed exactly when they’re busiest – sunny days! Read about the fan & panel installation and afterward.
Finding the alleyway too dark to approach the garage doors at night, one local household installed solar floodlights. These can soak up the sun during the day, and automatically come on when sensing motion after dark. Easier wiring, one time cost without adding to the electric bill – what’s not to like?
Before you head out to the stores, here’s a review of solar flood lights.
Most of us need a desk lamp only in the evenings. This could be another perfect application – a solar desk lamp, good for several hours into the evening.
At this garden, you’ll find panels on their shed roof, providing electricity for a well pump that fills up water barrels for use by gardeners. Over time, they’ve added an inverter offering an AC power source to the garden. And invested in an electric lawnmower and weed whacker that could be recharged and available for use by all gardeners.
Search for “solar charger” and you’ll find an array of products designed to charge cell phones and other USB devices, AA and AAA batteries, even laptops and refrigerators. For those looking to light up a detached garage or shed, and maybe a power tool, one of Goalzero’s Yeti models with a lead acid battery, packaged as a kit with solar panels could be just the ticket. It can also be used instead of a generator for emergencies.
Another family in our neighborhood managed to run their “media room” on sunlight pouring through the windows. They kept all all the components inside, simplifying the wiring. With components from Harbor Freight, a 100W panel charging a 12v 35a battery suffices to run the TV, computer and sound system well into the night. All for under $500.
So think of your electricity needs. We’d love to hear what dedicated uses you’ve come up with for sun-charged electricity. Share your project story with us at nwphlsolar [at] gmail.com, and have a solar-powered day.