This week, strange noises came from the shop – hammering, drilling and sawing – that I haven’t heard around here for quite some time. Even more mysterious, Darren was grinning like a cat digging through boxes we hadn’t unpacked since moving more than 3 years ago.
A few days ago, he came home from town with one of those heavy-duty lawn wagons that I had dreams of using to haul logs or rocks from the woods. I didn’t know what Darren was up to, but it sure was nice to see him taking a break from the hand pump machine.
Then, yesterday, there was an odd new appliance basking in the sunshine outside the shop. It had solar panels, a battery bank, regulator, other gadgets and a beautifully painted wooden frame and cabinet mounted to the cart I thought was for firewood.
“Well, here it is,” Darren smiled. “Our new mobile, compact, solar-powered, emergency, energy-supply system.”
Catchy name, I thought. What’s it do?
“What’s it do!?” Darren asked. “Why, it’s a solar generator. It follows the sun to store energy for lights, radios and other electronics. Best of all, we can bring it inside ahead of storms. We can easily pull it by hand anywhere to use power tools with an inverter. Just imagine the possibilities.”
Darren showed me how to adjust the panels for all four seasons and to point it toward the sun for optimum efficiency.
Yay! We don’t have to cut down any trees to have solar power.
Stay tuned for a full blog as we show how we’ve wired our house for DC lights and the inverter. We’re also preparing detailed plans for this this handy do-it-yourself solar cart. Darren built our 160-watt, 12-volt system of scrap materials and solar supplies we already had on hand. To use all new purchased materials, we estimate it would cost $750- $800 to build, about the same as a fixed solar rack system in the yard.
You can watch a video demonstration here.
The advantages, however, are the unit’s portability and efficiency. It can quickly be maneuvered inside a garage or shed during snow, ice or wind storms. Plus, the panels are easily moved into various positions to absorb the sun’s rays.
This little cart, combined with our non-electric water pump, just put us a huge step toward disconnecting from the grid. Ah, there is something new under the sun after all.
You can order your DIY plans today!
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Thanks for the excellent info. I need to digest what I’ve seen and take further action.
started my solar-charging with a 10W sunvolt by Gomadic which is enough for bike-lights, lanterns, etc. But you have the next stage in place so I am inspired to do likewise soon. My wife laughs but we’ll see what’s cool when grid goes down.
Your wife will be smiling with you at those cool lights during a power outage. We have a 12v 32-watt 4′ light fixture, that lights up the living room hall and kitchen. We were impressed how much light we have with such a simple system. RV supplies is a good source for lighting. Thank you for your comments.