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Practical, sensible current uses for solar electricity

Posted by John T. Reed on

I finished reading my solar electricity book. What a freaking complicated mess! All the libs ought to have to take a course where they end up building a small solar installation like solarizing a home office.
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By the time they got done with all the safety and battery acid and care taking on the roof and inverters, controllers, automatic transfer switches, circuit breakers, GFI breakers, etc. I predict their enthusiasm for fantasy solar descending effortlessly from the sky will get a reality check.
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When my brother-in-law died and we cleaned out his house, we noticed a whimsical, solar-powered footpath light shaped and colored like a butterfly on the path from the garage to the house. One of my wife’s relatives visited and asked to have it. I assume it had a solar photovoltaic cell, a battery so it would light after dark, and an LED light. It was nice and useful for seeing the path at night. And it was simple.
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Is that the only sensible use of solar electricity for a homeowner or small business? Not quite, but my thinking now is that I should stay away from lead gel and lithium batteries and all the complexity of electrical inverters and all that. I think I will also disdain solar panels around the three foot by five foot size.
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I have a Goal Zero 20-watt Nomad portable solar panel which is supposed to work with my Yeti 150 portable power station. That is a sort of sealed-battery looking thing that has a three-prong AC modified sine wave outlet. I think that means there is a better-than-average inverter inside the battery case. An inverter turns DC, which is what solar panels produce, into AC.
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It also has two USB outlets, a 12V 6mm port and a 12V Car Port.
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I do not mind inverters and controllers and all that razz ma tazz as long as I cannot see them and do not have to deal with them.
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The manual says the Yeti can power an LED lantern, charge a cell phone, a tablet like an iPad, digital camera, DVD player, radio/stereo, TV, or a laptop.
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The Goal Zero portable solar panel is 13" x 8.5"—about the size of a sheet of legal paper. You unroll it in a sunny outdoor spot and attach it to what you want to power or recharge.
It has a USB wire coming out as well as other wires that let you connect of other solar panels to gather more power.
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In other words, I think I will just use solar when it is this is sort of plug and play, not need for me to get involved with batteries or inverters and all that.
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What about my initial thought to run my fridge off three or solar solar panels in power outages? Too complex. I have a dual fuel (gasoline and propane) 7,000-watt Champion generator. That can handle the refrigerator and air-conditioner
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Our cars are also generators with both USB and 12V outlets, but they are probably too inefficient to run just for juice. However, whenever we are driving them during a power outage, we should be recharging our cell phones and ipods and laptops or iPads. My 2018 Lexus LC 500 (two seater) has two USB and one 12V outlet. My wife’s 2018 LS 500 Lexus has twice that many outlets (front and back set). We are already in the habit of charging our phones whenever we get into the cars. My iPod continuously does that inside the console.
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What about Tesla’s power walls that run your whole house during a power outage? Too expensive for that purpose. $7.600 per power wall and the typical house heeds two of them. I do not know how long they will last and perform long term.
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For now, it sounds like solar is currently a sort of portable gadget thing, not for running high power appliances like HVAC and refrigerators and hot water heaters.

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