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Anthony Elzen's System
Keithville, La.

 Here is a description of the pictures, a diagram, how my system works,
and 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. 
This 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

 An 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. 
It does this by: 
        1. Reducing the electricity and/or gas needed by an electric clothes dryer to ZERO. 
        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 dry clothes. 
     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. 
I 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. 
Then 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.
That 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. 
        Anthony Elzen                 email: 


A diagram of how my system is wired