Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Solar Power Supply for Emergency Power

As we have seen in recent years, disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis can leave people stranded and without services for long periods of time. Having a renewable means of emergency electrical power can increase the chances of survival dramatically.
Modern technologies such as cell phones, laptop computers with Wi-Fi, and low watt light bulbs can greatly aid the struggle for survival. These devices will keep you in contact with the outside world providing you with communication, information, and light at night. But they all need a source of power that batteries alone cannot provide for more than a few hours to a few days at most.
A solar panel can provide you with this renewable source of power. The unique feature of a solar panel is that it can provide usable energy even in the rain. A fifty watt solar panel would give you enough power to conservatively use your devices while being light enough to be easily transported.
To build your solar power supply you will need a solar panel, regulator, inverter, and deep cycle sealed battery.
The Solar Panel
The solar panel should be a single panel with an output between 50 and 100 watts. It should be constructed with aluminum sides for ruggedness. It must also be rated for use with a twelve volt system.
Solar panels are usually designed for either 12 or 24 volts systems. We will be building a 12 volt system.
The regulator
A regulator is used to prevent overcharging of the battery by the solar panel. It is connected between the solar panel and the battery.
Solar panel regulators are rated in both volts and amps. A 12 volt regulator will be needed for our project.
The regulator also needs an amperage rating that is higher than the maximum amps output of the solar panel.
The Inverter
An inverter is a device that turns 12 or 24 volts DC (direct current) from a battery into 110 volts AC (alternating current).  If you are in the United States this is the same voltage as your home's electrical outlets.
The inverter needs to have a rated input of 12 volts. The output wattage of the inverter needs to be higher than what you expect to use powering your devices.
The Battery
Because this system needs to be portable, a small deep cycle sealed battery used in small electric scooters will work fine.
Putting it All Together
The solar panel will connect to the regulator. Follow the instructions that came with the regulator, being careful to watch polarity or you will damage the unit. Leave enough line between the regulator and the solar panel to be able to position the solar panel outside in the sun while having the regulator close to the battery where you will be using the system.
The regulator will then connect to the battery. Follow the instructions for connecting the regulator to the battery. You will be connecting the positive output of the regulator to the positive terminal of the battery, the negative output of the regulator to the negative terminal of the battery.
The inverter will connect directly to the battery. The instructions for connecting the inverter to the battery should read; the positive output of the battery connects to the positive input of the inverter. The negative output of the battery connects to the negative input of the inverter.
The polarity of all the connections between the solar panel, regulator, inverter and battery need to be correct or damage will occur.
Testing your solar power Supply
If you have connected everything correctly and the battery has a sufficient charge then you should have around 110 volts AC coming out of your inverter. Don’t forget to turn the inverter on.
You can test this by connecting something to the inverter’s outlet, making sure the device you are connecting doesn't require more watts than the inverter is rated for.  

Learn more about solar panels at: http://alternative-energy.6pie.com/how-to-wire-solar-panels.php
Written by Gerald Parsons  

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