April 29, 2009 7:32 PM PDT
Yesterday Isara received its very first solar panel. :)
We connected the solar panel to a charger controller, a car battery, and to an inverter (DC to AC). After the solar panel charged the battery we connected a 23watt fluorescent light to the inverter and left it on to see how long the battery could power it. So far it's been on for about 8 hours, with a lot more power left.
As you know, solar power is a long way from becoming practical and efficient. A 1-2kw off-grid system is very expensive and you'll most likely spend more than you'll save on your electric bill. So if we want to save money, the best way is to simply consume less energy. By making some small changes to our habits we can lower our monthly bill from 600kw/mo to 450kw/mo. Which is what a $5,000 solar panel system would provide anyway. Just by turning off lights and fans, raising your air conditioner temperature a degree or two, lowering the brightness on our computer monitors, and turning off computers at night, is the easiest, cheapest, and best way to help the environment and help our bank account too.
For now this 20 watt panel will only be used for testing and to teach our students about solar technology. We're asking solar cell manufactures to donate some larger panels (100+ watt). If that happens then we'll be able to power some equipment at the ILC.
Our students were very interested in the solar panel so we hope to continue to develop this project into something the entire community can be proud of.