Electricity

Most emergency plans address food, water, communications, and the basic necessities. Often overlooked is a means to generate electricity every day. Creating electricity typically needs fuel of some sort. In long term emergencies fuel will run out and become scarce. So, let’s look to the sun to create energy because easy access to fuel may be difficult should we have a lengthy power outage.

 

The grid and infrastructure is extremely reliable and yet fragile at the moment the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) event occurs.  Studies warn us that the electrical infrastructure and interconnections throughout the distribution systems will be compromised all over the county when a large earthquake hits. If we store food, water, have plans to handle waste, a temporary shelter and can generate electricity we are more resilient and can stay put.  Using our own power to aid recovery operations, we can mitigate risks and threats to our survivability.

 

The SPARK-E system (sparkesolar.com) was designed to provide renewable carbon-free portable solar power generation for anyone.  The system uses a solar panel, charge controller and any battery.  With the simple instructions provided, the mystery of creating an alternate power source is within reach. Our dependence on the grid keeps us secure, but also blinds us to how necessary having a backup power plan can be. Picture night without light, imagine no refrigeration, no communications outside our neighborhood and no grid power for days or months.  Life will be different.  

 

We have seen the damage and how the long-term effects of hurricane Maria can completely upset the electrical infrastructure and totally disrupt life on a significant sized island. Let’s not wait for our disaster to hit before establishing a better plan to have power without the grid so we are able to function and be part of the solution not the problem.

Sparke.PNG
DIY  Solar Emergency System

What it is --

 

DIY Solar Power source for emergency or daily use

 

Uses --

 

In the event of a power outage, a system this size can provide minimal lighting, and recharging of electronic devices. Adding the 110V Inverter can power low wattage chargers and small appliances.

For greater power needs, and larger appliances, capacity can be increased by adding more solar panals and more battery storage.

 

Skills needed --

 

Making simple electrical connections, stripping wire, and being careful.

 

Main Parts --

 

Solar Panel       Charge Controller       AGM Sealed Deep Cycle 12 Volt Battery       Inverter    

 

How it works --

 

The Solar Panel feeds electricity to a Charge Controller that charges the Battery, then the Charge Controller monitors the Load.

 

The Charge Controller is the real heart of this system. It controls the power from the solar panel into the battery so that the battery is not over-charged. Some controllers also control the power coming out of the battery to the Load, and can keep the battery safe from being depleted to the level of permanent damage.

It is important to have a display that lets you know how much is coming in and going out for your needs. Knowing the amount of amp hrs moving into and out of the battery helps you estimate how long the battery should last, with the load you have on it. Battery voltage is important, to know how much power remains in the battery. This Charge Controller also gives that information.


Illustration is not to scale, but shows the alignment of the system's parts --     

The Load can be --12V lights, car chargers for phones, any 12V device    

With an Inverter --110V AC battery chargers (think power tools), 110V low wattage appliances & LED lamps

 

How much power can you get out of a 100 watt solar panel? Not 100 watts!  --

 

Things that can affect the output of the panel – solar access, angle of panel, shading, time of year, weather, length of cable to controller, efficency of battery. 

If using an inverter, the inverter takes 15% extra power to make AC.

 

Safety --

 

12V DC electricity is not enough to electrocute people. Cars and boats use 12V DC for that reason.

 

A short in the system can cause sparks, heat, and possibly fire. A short happens when the red and the black wires touch. Be safe, and keep the red and the black wires apart.

 

The inverter makes 12V DC into 110V AC, and is more dangerous. Treat the AC output as you do in the house.

 

Service Life --

 

Most solar panels are guaranteed for 20 years. Batteries can last for 10 years, or much less time, depending on how they are treated. The Charge Controller is the key, in extending battery life. I have a 10 yr old AGM deep cycle battery.

Shopping List

Available from Amazon --

 

Renogy – 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Panel

$139.08

 

30 Amp PWM Smart Charge Controller with LCD Display

$28.89 

 

Renogy -- 10AWG Adaptor kit, MC4 Solar Cable with Female and Male connectors  (20 ft price)  

$26.99

                                                                                         

Renogy -- MC4 assembly tool

$6.99 

 

NOCO – GC018 12V Plug Socket with Eyelet Terminal (might want 3 of these)                    

$6.95

 

Note: or, get one NOCO to connect with the battery, and also get this...

 

BESTEK – 3-Socket 12V/24V DC Cigarette Lighter Adapter with 5.2A Max 4-Port USB Splitter         

$27.99

 

Available at Harbor Freight –

 

Inverter 500W (or more watts, depending on your needs)                 

$28.00

OR THIS 400W @ Amazon

 

12 Volt 35 Amp Hr Universal Battery                                                                                             

$72.99

OR This Deep Cycle From Amazon

 

Available at West Marine –

 

Battery Box                                                                                                                                

$15.49

OR This one from Amazon

Total of Parts Listed                                                                                                                

 $372.48

Explanation

Contact Ray Brown with questions on this build: backporchboat@gmail.com

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