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Has Anyone Tried or Considered a Solar Generator?

Discussions of Alternative and Renewable Energy
helicopilot
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Has Anyone Tried or Considered a Solar Generator?

Postby helicopilot » Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:27 pm

I already own a large gas generator but thought about supplementing it with a solar generator. That way I can stretch my gas storage or still have a mean of having energy is I completely run out of gas.

I have considered the Goal Zero Yeti 1250 and also a lesser known model. (http://smile.amazon.com/dp/B006R58WU2/r ... LEDD&psc=1)

Buying a couple of USB or 12V lights would also provide a lighting solution.

I understand that the kits as purchased would provide a challenge in using the provided panels to keep the battery charged, let alone provide usage + storage. I could always expend in buying more panels and even an extra buttery. I could also run the gas generator sparingly to keep the fridge and freezer going while charging the solar generator's battery.

I'm sure that some of you would be inclined in building their own system at probably a lesser price point, but I must confess I'm not into engineering or electrical design, so I'm willing to pay a premium to have someone else design and build it.

Any thoughts from anyone?
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Perfesser
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Re: Has Anyone Tried or Considered a Solar Generator?

Postby Perfesser » Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:46 pm

Read the reviews on that amazon page.
Especially the "Let's See How Deceptively We Can Market Solar Gadgetry!" review.
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helicopilot
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Re: Has Anyone Tried or Considered a Solar Generator?

Postby helicopilot » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:02 am

I've read a lot of the reviews and many negative ones came from people with completely ridiculous expectations : can I keep my fridge running all day with it? Can I run my house AC with it? Could I plug my oven in to bake a cake after the next hurricane has devastated my neighbourhood? (Ok, last one was my sarcasm, previous ones weren't). Other rather critical reviews come from people that obviously have quite a bit of expertise on solar systems and probably have experience with distributors/stores to get good deals on individual components and are familiar with building them; I personally have next to no clue...

That review you talk about makes a lot of sense and I don't defend that specific generator per se but wanted to start a discussion on the concept, see if anyone got something similar going.

My personal ideal goal would be an off grid house, but this is expensive and for as long as I'm in my line of work, I will likely be moving somewhat regularly so I can't shell $35k (I'm guessing likely quite a bit more) in making a house off grid that I won't be able to resell or do so at a loss.

I also have a good gas powered generator but I can't expect to store sufficient fuel for it to last a long time so renewable energy seems like the only long term solution. Also, the completely silent system - as opposed to even a "quiet" Honda - is less likely to attract attention, which I'd key even during a relatively short term emergency like Katrina or the Quebec Ice Storm.

That example or the Goal Zero are probably indeed overpriced for relatively small power output, but offer a turn key solution to someone who want to get started even if that means shelling a few extra bucks. I would probably lean more toward a partial DYI kit myself.

Let's keep the discussion going...
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Goldie
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Re: Has Anyone Tried or Considered a Solar Generator?

Postby Goldie » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:09 am

Helicopilot

Here is another brand: JUICEBOX MK2 or R2
http://www.portableuniversalpower.com/o ... ble-power/

I am with you on the search for a ready to use solar generator to have on hand as an extra for when you
run out of propane or gas for your fuel generator. I have not yet purchased one , but keep looking around
and reading reviews, or watching youtube on these .

They might be useful for a variety of things. They would have no noise, could be used inside the house also.

I would like something to be able to perhaps run an auger for a pellet burning fireplace insert if the hydro
went out , and my generator had run out of propane. These might be hard to recharge in winter months
due to less good light available during winter storms which is often when you need such equipment
or have power outtages.

Or using the solar generator in a single room where you might have some LED lights or LED TV
to watch movies. Sort of like a TREAT . Then recharge it again even if it takes a few days.
Even just being able to use it for LED lighting would be handy. No Kerosene lamps or candles burning.

Or use it every now and then as it continues to keep recharging. Perhaps grinding some coffee beans
( if you still have some ) . Or recharging your camera or usb devices.
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underprepared
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Re: Has Anyone Tried or Considered a Solar Generator?

Postby underprepared » Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:57 pm

I too am very interested in building/obtaining a small scale solar generator for the sole purpose of charging AA batteries. The problem I have is this:
If you buy an AC powered AA battery charger, you can charge your batteries in about 2 hours or less.
I want a solar powered system to do that too. I understand that it won't work in the dark, but if the sun is bright in the sky, I want it to work. All of the systems I see out there come with small solar panels that would take 5-8 hours to charge in bright sun. I want a big solar panel, DC to DC converter (for clean DC voltage output), small capacitor (to keep the charger going if a cloud goes by for a few seconds), good 4 battery charger.
Every battery based appliance I have is powered by AA batteries. I want to be able to charge 8 of them a day when the sun is out. Seems simple enough, but I can't find it....
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Goldie
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Re: Has Anyone Tried or Considered a Solar Generator?

Postby Goldie » Thu Apr 23, 2015 7:03 pm

Yes another valid reason to have a small portable solar generator, recharging batteries.
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helicopilot
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Re: Has Anyone Tried or Considered a Solar Generator?

Postby helicopilot » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:40 pm

If you are solely looking at charging AA batteries, it may be much more economical to by 2-3 of those solar battery chargers http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B001 ... UTF8&psc=1. I own one and it works decently well, charging 2'batteries at a time. AA would charge in about 4 hrs of full sun.
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Perfesser
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Re: Has Anyone Tried or Considered a Solar Generator?

Postby Perfesser » Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:28 pm

That C.Crane solar charger is one of the few that works well.

But lets look at these solar generators compared to a simple auto booster pack

Juicebox ....................Simple auto booster pack.............Wagan Power Dome
40AH battery.................33 ah battery .........................18ah battery
450 watt inverter.............400w inverter....................... 400w inverter
$950................................. $ 275................................. $180

If you want to charge using the sun you need lots of surface area - not something that can easily be portable.
150w panels are about 4ft x 3ft in size and only 150w, you'll need more than one.

I figure if you buy 3 solar panels, a couple of deep cycle batteries, a charge controller and a 1000w inverter you spend about the same $1000 as this juice box thing and have about 5 times the capability.
They make it look "techie cool" and take advantage of the fact that people don't want to learn about solar power but they're just ripping you off.

Basic deep cycle batteries are about $200 and give you 70 or 80AH of capacity, twice what the boxes give you in each battery.
Inverters? 1500 watts? about $200 3 times what the boxes do
Panels? 150 watt panels are $150 to $200 each panel is twice what the first portable generator will do

All these generators are just batteries and inverters, some with a few panels attached for 4-5 times what they should cost.
Stop getting sucked in folks, learn what the numbers mean.
Last edited by Perfesser on Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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SJCBS1001
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Re: Has Anyone Tried or Considered a Solar Generator?

Postby SJCBS1001 » Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:48 pm

I use their products and am very satisfied http://www.goalzero.com/
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helicopilot
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Re: Has Anyone Tried or Considered a Solar Generator?

Postby helicopilot » Sat Apr 25, 2015 3:21 pm

Perfesser, you make a good point, but as you mention, people get sucked in... Because they do not understand. I got to say I'm not far behind when it comes to not understanding. For example, what is a "good" deep cycle battery? How does it all get set up by someone with little expertise?

I can get one of those generator and if I'm away for business and there is an extended outage, my wife could probably easily figure out how to roll out one of those generators, open the panels facing the sun and plug in her phone for charging or bring it in at night to run a couple of LED lights and the wifi router and modem. There is a price to pay for convenience, otherwise TimHorton wouldn't be in business since people could make coffee at home before leaving for work...

I like there is a discussion on this, let's keep it going!
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