is a description of the pictures, a diagram, how my system works,
a short history.
Roof view of the two solar panels (4w + 12w)
All that you see was designed and built by me. When the sun shines
on the panels, a current is produced that flows into the charge controller.
The solar panels are unequal in current but equal in voltage so they are
in connected in parallel through diodes. The diodes are used so the current
from the big panel doesn't flow into the little panel. The charge
controller regulates the current from the panels going to
the battery. It does this with a circuit called a shunt regulator. As the
battery charges, the voltage rises and requires less current. The shunt
regulator senses this and starts to eat up or dissipate the excess current,
thereby keeping the battery from over charging. When the battery
is charged the regulator has the burden of dissipating most of the power
from the panels as heat.
heat can shorten the life of the regulator. I designed it with a thermal
cut out switch so as the regulator heats up the thermal cut out switch
will shut off the current to the regulator and the battery.
Charge controller and the distribution box
The distribution box
is connected to the battery to distribute the current for use. Inside the
distribution box is a fuse block, the master switch, volt meter, and amp meter.
The block is used to fuse the circuits that are connected to the system.
The master switch is used to shut off power from the battery so that I can make
changes to the system. The amp meter is used to monitor current use. The
voltmeter is used to monitor system voltage.
Distribution box with the front panel removed
Next to the
distribution box is the 12 volt DC outlet box. It has four DC jacks on it
so things that run at 12 volts DC can be plug into the system.
Sun powered clothes dryer
electric dryer uses a lot of power to produce heat that dries clothes. A clothes
line is good but it takes a long time to work, and it can rain and get your
clothes wet again. The sun powered clothes dryer solves the problems of the
clothes line and the high power use of the electric clothes dryer.
does this by:
1. Reducing the electricity and/or gas needed by an electric clothes dryer
2. Covering the clothes to keep rain and other stuff off of the them.
3. The inclosed box traps the heat from the sun making hot air. This speeds
up the drying process.
The box is 6 feet by 4 feet and 2 feet deep. In full sun it can reach a
temp of 200' F. It normally reaches 150 deg F. It has vents to allow
the hot most air out. It can take anywhere form 30 minutes to 4 hours to
I have always been interested in solar power and electronics. I use to
play with small solar cells and think how cool it is that something can
make an electric current from sun light. No chemicals; nothing being burned.
A true direct conversion of photonic energy to electric energy.
Back in high school I needed to take a science elective class. I was curious
about how the environment worked so I chose environmental science. In that
class I learned about industrial waste and pollution, and the effect that
it can have on the environment and people that live in that environment.
learned that most of this pollution was from the use of fossil fuels. I
leaned that these fossil fuels are being used up at a fast rate and once
gone they won't be coming back for a long time.
the course moved on to renewable energy sources, hydro power, wind energy,
and solar energy. The text book explained how banks of solar arrays could
be used to put power on the grid. I though that science and technology
has the answers to the problems of pollution from the use of fossil fuels,
and I though that industry was going to start using renewable energy sources.
was in 1995, it's now 2003 and except for Texas putting up wind turbines
I have yet to see massive banks of solar power plants.
I am going to school to get a degree in industrial electronics and
am nearing graduation. In basic electronics class the instructor told the
class was to write four essays about simple electrical circuits from
a book or magazine. Two of them were due at mid term two at the end of
the course. None of the books I have had simple circuits in them. I went
to the library to find a source for the first two essays. I found
some good sources there and wrote the essays on them. However, I was bored
with this, I wasn't leaning anything new. I went to the local book store
to find some new information. Could not find any good books on the subject.
Then I tried the magazine racks. None of the electronics magazine
had any simple electrical circuits in them, except one - "Home
Power" . What is this? Where did these people come from? When did
all of this start happening? This magazine was different from all
others. It had simple electrical circuits in it, and it had
new information in it too. It has articles about people that use solar
power for their own use. I had no idea that solar panels were available
on this scale for the average person. This was great! The idea that solar
power could be available to me was great! This magazine had inspired
me to get involved. I planned on getting involved first by reducing my
energy consumption, and being more efficient.
Then the ice storm of 2000 happened that caused a blackout for a week.
No lights, no heat, no water, nothing. That was it! I didn't want to be
dependent on the gird anymore. I thought, "I should find some solar panels
and began to build my own system". I chose to build a DC system for
simplicity. Most electronics run on low voltage DC power. Using an
inverter is an unnecessary step, except for testing. I started small,
my first project was to charge batteries with a solar cell. . I experimented
by adding more panels and batteries. Some things I tried worked and
some things didn't work. I developed my own system of wiring.
Then I begin to convert electronic devices that run on AC power to run
on my DC system. Its not that hard for me to do this. I just take the device
apart plug it into an inverter and analyze its power supply. If it
runs at 12 volts or less it will run on my system.
I plan on getting a 35 watt solar panel soon so that I can continue to
grow and develop my system.
diagram of how my system is wired