Friday, December 02, 2022

Solar: The Travails and Compromises Begin

My Howeasy 330 Watt / 300 Watt-Hour Power Station (not an affiliate link) arrived today. The Dokio 160-Watt Solar Panel (not an affiliate link) won't be here for a few days, but since the power station can also just plug in for AC input, I decided to get started.

My original plan was to run my router and modem entirely on solar (and stored solar) power. Then I started doing some calculations and thinking hey, if I get 800 watts of solar panel, I can run my router, modem, Raspberry Pi 4B computer, and two 19" LED monitors on solar (and stored solar).

I forgot one thing: The power station itself uses power. Not a lot of power, but somewhere between 10 and 15 watts with nothing plugged into it, which means as many as 360 watt-hours per day, which means at least I'd need an additional 100-watt panel to account for it.

At the moment, I'm running the Raspberry Pi (AC) and a second-generation Echo Dot (USB DC) on it, and drawing anywhere from 14 (idle) to 23 (talking/listening to Alexa while loading a bunch of browser tabs) watts.

In the meantime, I've plugged my router, modem, and both monitors into an Amazon Basics UPS (not an affiliate link) I got on sale some time back, which I expect will give me half an hour or so of non-interruption-due-to-power-outages.

If I'm really wanting to power my entire office on generated and stored solar, I'm starting to think I should:

  1. Plan on at least 1000 watts in panels; and
  2. Do a real "panel to controller to deep cycle batteries to inverter" setup instead of using something really more intended as an emergency or camping power supply.
None of which really makes a great deal of financial sense in terms of cutting my utility bill -- it would take a long time to pay for itself. But it would keep me rolling right along work-wise during extended grid outages. And it's just another one of those "sounds like fun" kind of things, because I'm weird that way.

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