Monday, December 05, 2022

The Latest Recombobulation of my Solar Wish List Items

Where I'm at: My "power station" arrived the other day, and I'm currently powering my Raspberry Pi 4B computer and an Echo Dot from it, using grid AC.* When my 160-watt solar panel arrives, I'll continue to power those two things off of it, and see if it's capable of handling more than that. One of my "get your man card punched" projects this weekend was building a basic frame for the panel out of some scrap 2x4 lumber.

Where I Was Headed: My previous ambition was to tempt a supportive fan into purchasing 800 watts worth of solar panel for me from my Amazon Wish List, in the hope that that might be enough to run my cable modem, router, computer, and monitors. But three things have happened to change that.

  1. No supportive fan showed up to make it happen (no surprise there -- when I post these things, I usually assume that it's me who'll eventually get around to doing them ... or not).
  2. The item I put on the Wish List seems to have disappeared from Amazon.
  3. On further reading, I see that using these "power stations" as, essentially, uninterruptable power supplies is ... not receommended.
So I'm both scaling back and escalating my ambition.

Where I'm Headed Now:

Fewer panels / lower wattage production, but a basic battery/inverter system instead of a "power station" setup (linked, not an affiliate link, from the graphic):

More expensive ($535.45) than 800 watts of cheap solar panel alone, but maybe -- maybe -- enough to keep the modem and router going 24/7. And a regular controller/battery/inverter system instead of the "power station" kludge. And I can presumably add more panels (including, possibly, the 160-watt job that's already on the way), and add more (or higher-capacity) batteries to the system as time goes on.

So now that's on the Wish List for the prospective supportive fan, or for me to get around to at some point.

* Between the power station itself, the computer, and the Echo Dot, the "base" consumption seems to run about 12 watts, with peaks in the low 20s. I think it's eminently reasonable (even a bit high) to call it 18 watts average, which would be 432 watt-hours per day. Based on a random pick from one of several sites I've consulted, I should get an average of 672 watt-hours per day (based on panel size and average direct sun in my particular location) out of that 160-watt panel when it arrives. Which in theory gives me the ability to even run an additional 10-watt device without drawing more power than I'm producing (on average) if I wanted to. And I'm also making a habit of turning off the computer at night, which probably only saves me about 15-16 watt-hours, but hey, that's better than nothing.

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