Solar chargers use solar energy to power my electronics, neat! How do they work?
Short answer: Sunlight hits solar panels -> solar panels generate electricity -> electricity flows into battery -> battery outputs clean power on demand to your device
Long answer: We’ve created a five part tutorial to take you through every stage of the process. Solar is obviously much less predictable than plugging into the grid so we’ll be focusing both on specifications and what to expect in the real world. Bring along a multimeter and some parts from Radio Shack and you can get a pretty good idea of how exactly how solar charger work.
Solar Charger Tutorial - [Link]
Ransomhall writes - [via]
Thanks to this nice tutorial http://ladyada.net/make/solarlogger/ I’ve done a substantial upgrade! Now I can monitor and save the following data:
- Voltage: Panel, Battery, Load
- Current: Panel and soon battery (waiting on parts)
- Temperature: battery, in case it gets too hot.
Solar MintyBoost - [Link]
An unconventional, scalable high efficiency 12V solar power system, a battery charge controller with low voltage cutout to protect the battery. www.opend.co.za writes:
Low idling current
This circuit was designed for small to medium lead acid systems and feature a lowish idle current ( 5mA ) which increases battery life on small capacity systems.
Easily obtainable parts
All the parts in this design are through hole parts and can be found from a number of sources. None of the parts need programing and only a voltmeter and an adjustable supply is needed to calibrate the board. This makes it easy and cheap to build and maintain.
This is the 3rd iteration of the design, with improvements and bug fixes at every step.
A Novel high efficiency scalable solar regulator - [Link]
While roofs across the world sport photovoltaic solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity, a Duke University engineer believes a novel hybrid system can wring even more useful energy out of the sun’s rays.
Instead of systems based on standard solar panels, Duke University engineer Nico Hotz proposes a hybrid option in which sunlight heats a combination of water and methanol in a maze of glass tubes on a rooftop. After two catalytic reactions, the system produces hydrogen much more efficiently than current technology without significant impurities. The resulting hydrogen can be stored and used on demand in fuel cells. [via]
Hybrid solar system makes rooftop hydrogen - [Link]
Andyx writes – [via]
This is a work in progress project which uses a Solar charging MintyBoost to power an Arduino with a Proto Screw Shield on it. Attached is a 2X16 LCD using the I2C Backpack, a DHT22 Temperature and Humidity Sensor, a Waterproof DS18B20 Sensor and a 5V analog PH Probe/Adapter.
Solar Minty + DHT22 + Waterproof DS18B20 + PH Probe - [Link]
The sheet of paper looks like any other document that might have just come spitting out of an office printer, with an array of colored rectangles printed over much of its surface. But then a researcher picks it up, clips a couple of wires to one end, and shines a light on the paper. Instantly an LCD clock display at the other end of the wires starts to display the time.
Almost as cheaply and easily as printing a photo on your inkjet, an inexpensive, simple solar cell has been created on that flimsy sheet, formed from special “inks” deposited on the paper. You can even fold it up to slip into a pocket, then unfold it and watch it generating electricity again in the sunlight. [via]
Foldable array of solar cells printed on a sheet of paper - [Link]
Traditional solar cell production techniques are usually time consuming and require expensive vacuum systems or toxic chemicals. Depositing chemical compounds such as CIGS on a substrate using vapor phase deposition also wastes most of the expensive material in the process. For the first time, engineers at Oregon State University (OSU) have now developed a process to create “CIGS” solar cells with inkjet printing technology that allows for precise patterning to reduce raw material waste by 90 percent and significantly lower the cost of producing solar cells with promising, yet expensive compounds.
Researchers cut waste and lower cost of ‘CIGS’ solar cells using inkjet printing technology - [Link]
2 Watt Solar Panel Powers Bike Sharing @ Voltaic Systems – [via]
Social Bicycles released their revamped design for their bike sharing platform. It is a “GPS-enabled bike that you can find and unlock using your mobile phone.” What we like about it is that it enables companies, organizations and institutions of any size to easily create and manage their own bike share program. We think it also provides a great user experience.
The GPS locator and lock are powered by a battery system which is in turn powered by a dynamo and our 2 Watt solar panel. i.e. if the bike isn’t in motion for several days, the battery is going to stay powered up and transmitting its location.
2 Watt Solar Panel Powers Bike Sharing – [Link]
Boeing-Spectrolab has developed a solar cell that can convert almost 41 percent of the sunlight that strikes it into electricity, the latest step in trying to drop the cost of solar power.
Potentially, the solar cell could bring the cost of solar power down to around $3 a watt, after installation costs and other expenses are factored in, over the life of the panel. The new cost information comes from Boeing, whose Spectrolab unit supplies searchlights and solar simulators, and the Department of Energy, which sponsored the project. Current silicon solar cells provide electricity at about $8 a watt, before government rebates. The goal is to bring it to $1 a watt without rebates or incentives.
Solar cell breaks efficiency record – [Link]
National Semiconductor Corp. has launched the SolarMagic arc detection reference design, consisting of analogue front end ICs and multi-band dynamic filtering (MBDF) firmware, which the company claims is the first commercially available solution for detecting arcs in solar power systems.
Intermittent connections or insulation faults in solar power systems can cause arcing in high-power DC circuits. With temperatures of 3,000 °C or more, these arcs pose safety risks to surrounding infrastructure and personnel. The U.S. National Electrical Code (NEC) 690.11 requires all new solar power installations to include an arc-fault detection and protection system. National Semiconductor’s new SolarMagic arc detection reference design detects arc fault conditions and provides an alert to allow the system to be shut down in order to quench the arc. [via]
Chipset and firmware detect arcs in solar power systems - [Link]