Friday, April 5, 2013

solar slop


SOLAR SLOP

First off I want to thank the very generous minion KL for his snail mailed collection of Kindle books ( they weren’t as disorganized as you claim- I had no problem finding everything and it looks great selection wise ).  Rather than thanking him properly by mailing him back, I’m using the blog for my personal correspondence.  I know I can’t claim poor, refusing to spend fifty cents for a stamp ( I actually have no idea what a stamp costs now.  44cents? ) but I’ll just claim laziness.  Plus, I’ll claim article idea.  Included was a question on solar and I’ll try to stretch that out into an article.  I could have just done another 3PC2 article, but I’ve completed the economic collapse section and the next one is the die-off phase.  I wanted to give it a little more mulling before I tackle that one.  So we’ll talk about charging your Kindle after grid-down ( or, permanent unemployment which amounts to the same thing but with less of hooligans shooting up your solar panels.  Either way, you have reference materials and entertainment books to read ).  I don’t know if Kindle is the best choice if you go with e-books, collapse wise, but it must come darn close.  My only question is the life of its battery.  I know that if your laptop battery dies you can bypass it and go straight from solar power.  I don’t know if you can do that with a Kindle device.  I do love the Kindle for its very low energy usage ( the only way I can consistently read e-books out at the Bison Compound ), I bow my head in gratitude to my benefactor once again ( I’m buying two to three times the books each week on the same budget but of course that is for fiction mostly, not needed reference material for after the collapse ), but I don’t know about its long term usefulness regarding the battery.  Just something to keep in mind.

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Okay, if you are worried about charging your Kindle post-grid AC power, the solution is pretty darn easy.  Because the device uses so little juice, you merely need a small solar panel and a cigarette lighter socket.  You could spend $30 on a 5watt car trickle charger from the auto parts store, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  A year ago when I bought the newish Chinese panel it was about $75 for a 15watt mono panel ( you definitely want mono-crystalline rather than thin film or poly-crystalline.  The poly is 12-15% conversion rate whereas the mono is 15-20%.  The poly is cheaper, using less pure silicon, but is a poorer performer.  The thin film is so heavy because of the thick glass the shipping costs translate into an expensive retail item.  Plus, the mono panels have the longest lifespan- they should be at least 25 years ).  Today I went back to Amazon to check and it is a mere $55!!  My goodness, the Chinese are now my bestest buddies.  The least cost efficient panels are still under $4 a watt which is quite the improvement ( especially factoring in recent inflation ).  You can get a much cheaper per watt price by buying a single panel of higher watt ( a 100watt is WAY under $300- almost half price per watt of the 15 watt panel ) but I recommend you spending more and having redundant panels in case of theft or damage.

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I would not recommend the charge controllers that the panels come with.  I’ve heard bad things.  Spend an extra $18 and buy a quality unit.  At any auto parts store or China-Mart you can buy a female cigarette lighter unit for around $5.  Next, look for a male cigarette lighter socket with the end of it a USB port.  Also around $5.  You might think that $90 needed to charge a $69 Kindle is ridiculous ( I nearly crapped when the cheapest cover was $15, but I’m darn happy I bought it as I’m paranoid about breaking it ) but really all you spent is an extra $5 for the USB port if you use the panel for other things.  And why not?  Get yourself a marine battery ( they are super heavy duty compared to the car battery which won’t stand up to discharges everyday ) and keep it charged ( a note on these- the rated amps are a rough measure of the number of watts you can use before the battery is half way discharged [ you don’t want to routinely go below that ].  If the battery is 500 cold start amps, you can use 500 watts before you need to be concerned it hasn’t recharged ).  If you want to keep using AC power devices ( like my hair trimmer I use to keep magnificently coiffured ) get an inverter.  The battery should be around $70, the inverter half that price.  I would also highly recommend a 12v auto LED white bulb.  It is $12 and only uses 4 watts and is bright enough to read by ( you’ll also need a bayonet bulb socket to plug it into-see the auto parts store ).  For $200 you have alternate energy which powers your e-reader, lets you use low power electric devices ( also, for instance, a power drill ) and provides light every night.  Trust someone that tried almost every way of lighting his off grid home.  Most everything blows for illumination other than a low watt LED white 12v bulb.

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Even if you live in a low sun output area such as a dismal rain forest location, this unit should, most of the time, be sufficient for your needs.  The trick is never to spend a bloody fortune duplicating an on grid house but to radically minimize the amount of power you need.  Lighting one room for the winter evening hours only takes 25 watts a day.  Which means you can go three weeks between sun if need be.  You can easily live with very little solar panel power.

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10 comments:

  1. And on the Nuke power front...

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/study-fukushima-fallout-may-causing-illness-american-babies-165531579.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yahoo, printing all of last years news that's fit to print.

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  2. James,
    Whats your take on the Harbor Freight Panels ?
    You can catch them on sale for $139 now and then around here. It includes three 15 watt panels and a charge controller.
    We already have quite a few and for the price are pleased.
    Just would like to know what you think of them.
    They are rated at 45 watts for the three but in reality we see about 35 average.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A 15 watt panel actually maxes at 12, according to manufacture instructions. My first three panels were Harbor Freight. One bite it after a year, the other two still working after almost five years. At the time, the cheapest prices around so I would say I'm happy with them.

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    2. Yup, we have 3 of em hooked up to the RO unit pulling water straight out of the swamp. Produces around 25 gallons a day of good drinking water. So far those panels keep up with just one deep cycle battery.
      Got 6 of them running the aerators and irrigation pumps on the Tilapia pond. (40,000 gallons of fresh water ! )
      Have 9 on the camper and pretty much they keep the beer cold and have left over for lights etc.
      So far no failures.
      Good value for the buck, especially if ya buy em on sale !

      Delete
  3. Jim,

    Glad you got the package. For all the info and enjoyment I've gotten from you blog, it's a small gesture in return. I'm off to the Harbor Freight website...be safe.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jim ...here is an article I ran across that is very telling. As these billionaires are all probably "insiders" and get the news ahead of time ( like all the rich folk and big Corps getting their money out of Cyprus before the thief of personal accounts i.e. the little folk) now maybe prepping isn't so crazy after all...

    http://www.alternet.org/economy/1-bug-out-plan-why-third-world-billionaires-are-buying-fortresses-london-new-york-and-miami?paging=off

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I'd say it isn't much new. We've been short changing the Third World its "share" of oil so we wouldn't need to cut back. The wealthy then flee the unrest ( such as Arab Spring ). I don't think they know anything extra, they just have boots on the ground observations that their part of the world is descending into chaos.

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  5. Looks like fracking is getting some pretty negative attention as of late:

    http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/05/17616990-disputes-over-environmental-impact-of-fracking-obscure-its-future?lite&ocid=msnhp&pos=1

    The collapse may have just been sped up a tad?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure. The drillers go faster if any environmental regs look likely. Got to recoup that investment. Then we run out quicker.

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