Friday, April 16, 2010

Portable Solar

After a lot of discussion with Airstream owners, we decided not to mount the solar panel on the unit but rather, set it up manually so as to better capture the sun's rays. So far, so good.

Installing the controller involved disconnecting and removing the refrigerator (to be able to snake wires alongside it) and cutting an opening in the wall. Everything went well until I went to close the cupboard over the refrigerator, and the arm hit the controller unit. Too late to move things so I moved the arm to the other side of the door.

I put on a quick disconnect near the hitch and ran enough wire to be able to move the unit around to either side of the trailer. When I first tried everything, I got nothing, even though the controller was reading battery voltage. After reading the instructions again (what a concept!), I realized that the leads to the solar panel were on the wrong contacts -- a quick switch and we were in business.

It's a great feeling to see that controller registering 4 amps of current or so in full sun. It's almost easy to feel smug -- sort of "take that, power company" feeling. The unit topped off the battery, shut down, and came on periodically as I used a little power for things.

The setting, with trees and intermittent clouds (as you can see in the photo), was not ideal but it was a great start to getting more independent energy-wise.

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