Alex’s Solar Utility Panel (Senior Project: 2020)

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Alex came to me the other day and wanted some help with his Senior Project. We brainstormed a few ideas around, and we found something that sparked an interest. I have entirely made our Toy Hauler run on Solar and Propane for off-grid use, and he wanted to make a kit that was portable where he could show how solar can be used off-grid to power such things as lights, pumps, and even a fridge. So, we drew out a few rough drafts and got to work.

Our thought was to make a utility-wagon that would house our small solar power plant, but we then thought, why just a solar-wagon, what if we wanted to place it in a vehicle, tent, camper, or boat? So, after a quick redesign, back to work.

Our small, portable, but still yet weighted example shows how solar can charge a 12v battery. In turn, power such things as a water pump, operate a light, invert DC power to AC to run an everyday household item, and run a small fridge and fan to keep you and the drinks chill.

Alex has learned so much about solar while working on this project. You should have seen the look on his face when we fired up the fridge, and he stated, “Wait, we can make my drink COLD buy using the HEAT from the Sun?” Actually, Yes! Yes, we can. Lol.

We set up his project at the school, but the teacher wanted him to set it up in the gym, where there is no Sunlight. He explained to her that he has the only solar project, and would like to have it set up in the atrium area, but she said those areas are already assigned, and he would have needed to request one before they were appointed. There were some beautiful projects in the atrium, and a few spots easily exchangeable & none requiring the power of the Sun. But, this taught him, “Ask for what you want and need before someone who doesn’t understand the need decides for you.”

The project was a hit. Many Science and Electrician Teachers loved the concept and idea. Alex was very proud to explain to them how it worked and what plans he had for it other than its intended purpose; an off-grid security camera, and even a Cell Modem running an Access Point for off-grid internet. When the judging finished, he was award a 10 out of 10. And for no sun, after 2 days of demonstrations and running, he only lost 1 volt off the battery power.

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