begun learning about solar power

i have begun learning about solar power. Solar power is electricity converted from light by solar cells. I want to power a small computer using a solar panel. I need to figure out: Image

  1. how much power the computer needs
  2. how big my batteries need to be
  3. how to charge the batteries using the solar panels
  4. if my battery voltage is different than my computers  voltage, what might i need to add or change to give the right voltage to the computer
  5. how much power can i save compared to when i was not using solar power
  6. would a smaller computer be more energy efficient than a bigger one
  7. how do i measure work per energy unit for each computer

I need batteries because solar energy comes from the sun and if, say a cloud passed there would suddenly be less power , the when the cloud went away, there would be more power. Really only appliances made to withstand these rapid power swerves can withstand them for long, however, if you just charge the batteries with the solar power then you can discharge continuous power from the batteries for the computer.

A Few Power Supply Wattage Calculators

When building your computer from components, these can help you size the power supply for the machine. This is especially useful if you want to build a solar powered computer.

Mojave Solar One Site Selection

Having grown up in the Mojave desert, seeing the first Solar One demonstration project constructed, I had no idea a second project location was being selected. Who doesn’t like solar power? Well, it’s important to not destroy habitat, and while we need solar power, the environmental considerations for a project done 20 years ago have presumably changed. (Spitballing–I wonder if people are attempting to design floating solar arrays, similar to floating wind farms?)

Imagine Bank Subsidy for Community Solar

I stumbled up this news release about a bank in Uttar Pradesh, India, that is providing loans to help install solar panels. I’m going to alter a section and make it more American just for the sake of illustration–to help you image the number of people this press release is talking about:

For providing the solar panels, Mumble Bank has partnered with a leading manufacturer of solar equipment. The solar panels costs US $305 US, of which the bank finances up to US $249. To purchase this system, beneficiaries must make a down payment of US $57 and pay equated monthly instalments of US $5.55 for 60 months (interest payable at 12% per annum). Mumble Bank chairman, Bob Mumble said: “By providing easy loans for setting up solar photovoltaic systems, we have been responsible for lighting up the homes of over 28,000 rural families. By March 2011, we plan to install 50,000 solar panels across the community.”

First point to make is obviously, I’m guessing the energy needs in rural India are very likely 1/10th American usage. But multiply those numbers by 10. Why are you not seeing flyers in your mail for this? Wouldn’t all banks and insurance companies be interested investing in this kind of economic stability in America? Someone–please tell me why solar installations seem so rare in America?

Human Energy in Picowatts

Episode 2 of Ultra Low Power Bioelectronics gives a really interesting perspective on how much power the cell and the human body generates. We, as animals, generate about 100W just standing. A cow is more like 950W. Each of our cells operates on about a picowatt. The discussion moves from that to examples of low power system design, applicable to cars or electronics. Imagine if we could harness the sunlight that fell on our skin in order to power a 1 microwatt cell phone?

In Another Life: Solar Power

I am occasionally reminded of how much I admire the concepts of solar power and the future it could sustain.

If I were in a different line of work, it would likely be in the solar power industry. Renewable energy is a concept that’s satisfying to get behind, like it has become satisfying to become a bicycle commuter.

A casual googling for “Bellingham solar” brings up a hit to Western Washington Solar. The page summarizes a few very good points about making a domestic solar investment. If I didn’t have to worry about stockpiling savings and retirement (among other notable house projects), I would jump on a solar upgrade for my house. Unfortunately, it seems like a massive initial investment. I am very eager for prices in solar components to drop. (Who isn’t?)

I will blog more about solar power! I would love to hear from anyone who’s got a solar experience, even passive solar design. This is a topic I want to share.