Energy & Sustainability
Solar power backup

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Michael McGrath got tired of problems with his power grid-based photovoltaic system and decided to supplement with a couple of the portable PV carts.

Solar power cart – [via] Link

8 thoughts on “Solar power backup

  1. Wow. Neat project but the author is a little scary. Ramblings intermixed with technical discussion makes me worry this guy is the next unibomber…

  2. Two questions from somebody that knows nothing about solar power:

    1. Is there any reason to use a special solar inverter over, say, one of those ones you plug into your cigarette lighter? I mean maybe the efficiency and sine wave quality, but is that worth $500 more?

    2. Why do you need to disconnect the solar panel from the batteries while you’re using the inverter? Couldn’t you use the power from the panel directly into the inverter, and only use battery power when there wasn’t sufficient solar?

  3. @Turkey Leg

    1. Any inverter will work. It depends on what you want to run. He said he bought that one back in 1987 for $450, you could get something similar for much less today.

    2. The solar cell doesn’t supply enough power to run the inverter at all, the battery acts like a reservoir of energy. If you put a diode on the solar cell output you should be able to leave it connected (and have it contribute a small amount of power). The inverter is 600W, so to run it directly you’d need a 600W solar panel at least (watch out for clouds then).

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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