Finally getting that roof rack and storage container has me hyped for the next step: Solarizing that sumbitch. And why not? Free energy falls from the sky every day, all we have to do is catch it. I’ve already got a battery to store it in, and as luck would have it, the same company also makes a 102 watt folding solar array specifically for that battery.
Here are some puny humans for scale. You may recognize the battery from a prior article I wrote. The panels, unfolded, measure about 3.5 feet long by 2 feet wide. By an enormously helpful coincidence, that’s about the surface area of the top of my rooftop storage container. See where I’m going with this?
Small problem: It’s currently out of stock. Even when they have one to sell me, it’ll be a whopping $600 unless I can stack some promotional coupon codes like I did to bring down the price of the battery by over $100. Here’s hoping. As you can see it’s not really intended for vehicular use.
The intended use case is that you camp someplace sunny with a tent, and leave it set up outside to soak up the sun’s rays. Small problem, if you’re at a popular campsite you will more than likely wake up to find some asshole has stolen the expensive solar panels and battery you left out.
Solution? Disregard concept photos, store the battery in your lockable rooftop storage container with the cord that connects it to the solar panels passing through a hole you’ve drilled. Then you securely mount the panels to the top using bolts, or possibly cabling of some kind (to be determined).
This realizes the potential of the product without exposing it to probable theft. I haven’t yet decided if permanently affixing it to the top of the storage container is the best solution though, or if I should just place it up where during the day, then lock it inside the container at night.
Why this? Why not build my own solar solution? The battery requires a very specific voltage if you mean to charge it directly. It isn’t 12 or 24 either, otherwise any old panel would do. Charging it through an inverter would be lossy, and with solar power you don’t want that since you’re not getting that much wattage from them in the first place.
I’d be miffed that they have me so firmly by the nutsack if their products weren’t such good quality. An Australian company, too! Not that I’m surprised it would be, I just see stuff like this coming from China or Japan more often.
I do have some minor concerns about ventilation. If I use this setup during the summer, being that the container is black plastic, it’s liable to get sweltering inside during the day. The battery has a built in fan to cool itself and a high temp cutoff to protect itself from damage, but I wonder if I can’t think of some better solution. Really, I don’t yet know if it will be a problem, I’ll need to take some temperature readings when warmer weather arrives.
Anyway that’s all for now. I sure wish they’d restock those panels so I can buy ’em. I suppose it speaks to their quality if they are in such high demand, many other people must’ve had the same idea I did.
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