A solar generator is a rechargeable battery powered by the sun

It just occurred to me that this is the definition of a solar generator. Of course a solar generator does more, but this fundamentally is what it is about.

As a kid I used to love to recharge batteries. I felt I was doing my part to avoid wasting alkaline batteries. It was amazing to me to be able to use them over and over and I didn’t understand why everything didn’t use rechargeable batteries. Now it was so clear that making money was always more important than being sustainable for most people.

Strange that now solar power is making those arguments in its favor. After being ignored and downplayed, it is now cheaper than other sources of energy. If we had invested in solar energy like we could have, we would have potentially avoided climate change. However once again we don’t do things until people die, and now we are in this situation.

It is a race now to use every method we can to reduce climate change. For me the solar generator is just one small part of a big puzzle. I know that I will never buy a regular ICE (gas) engine again. If I buy a car which I probably won’t, it will be an RV. A car while convenient comes at too high a price to our environment. I am not here to lecture you, just share what my own beliefs are.

Why am I writing this? Just to say that all of the solar technologies, both PV which create electricity and systems that transfer the suns heat indoors are an amazing way to live now and in the future. I would love to do some heat transfer things, and that is the next step after the PV and electrical charging thing is accomplished. It is also amazing that the sun can power solar panels and distill water from air, so one day people can live off the grid and not consume the earths resources in the way we have always done.

With or without you, solar is the future.

Mismatch between battery capacity and solar panel generating capacity

One of the funniest things that I have experienced in my Solar power journey is that there is always a mismatch between battery capacity and solar panel generating capacity.

In other words, I either have not enough solar panels or not enough battery. I have steadily increased both solar panels and battery and it has been a fun process. I find better solar panels, and then I need a bigger battery. I buy a bigger battery and then I need a bigger solar panel. If I had a professional design my system they would size everything at the start, but this project of running solar power from my window is an experiment and not something that is commonly done.

In a normal solar panel installation you would have something on the roof or ground and the system would be a known power quantity. Since I am just using a window to gather it, I am doing something highly unlikely and unexpected and really unsupported. When I described my use case to the Merlin support rep he was surprised at the usage case. Normally folding panels like I am using would be used at camping, RV or some kind of outdoor use he said. He didn’t say it was tested in this way so thats ok with me. I don’t mind testing new usages of something.

I expect that using solar panels in this way might put wear and tear on the solar panels that the manufacture doesn’t expect. For that reason using semi-flexible panels doesn’t seem like a good choice to hang them out of the window. I can imagine that as the wind whips them around and against the hard surface of the building, it would cause cracks, nicks and wear and tear. The folding panels I think will hold up much better in these conditions. So far my folding panel has been great and has even taken some abuse and still works well. The reality is that I expect that I will probably upgrade the solar panels faster than I will wear them out. Already there is a 330/400W folding panel that I want to try. It would be amazing if it works.

It is fun to test things and see how they behave. I know that I am spending money that others might not choose to spend, but that is ok. If I can reduce my energy then it will be worthwhile. The old equipment goes to a friend and they are able to use it just fine. If I didn’t have that friend, I would give it away but I am happy to support the solar industry.