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A Solar Energy System That Works At Night

April 4, 2017, by Ken Jorgustin

Solar energy is power from the sun. But what about power during the night?

Here’s how it’s done:


 
Batteries! Solar energy is radiant energy collected from the sun. Not only can it be harnessed and converted immediately to household electricity, but it can also be harnessed and stored in special batteries to be used later (when the sun goes down).

While the technicalities of a solar energy power system may be somewhat complicated and require a certain level of “know-how” in the field of electro-mechanical & electronics, these systems can be professionally installed or you might even consider a specially designed portable system.

The key to a 24-hour (around the clock) solar energy system is battery storage.

Even during the day you might encounter a period of sufficient cloudiness which will reduce the energy output from the solar panels. Energy output (the converted electrical power) will be reduced or greatly reduced, even to the extent that your connected devices might switch off. The batteries however will make up the difference when solar output is reduced.

The design of a battery storage system requires its own unique technical expertise while considering the specific battery type, size, charge/discharge parameters, load expectations, configuration and interconnection, and much more.

My own personal system at home currently consists of 24 AGM deep-cycle batteries which provide enough stored energy to run the house without issue overnight and beyond, until such time that the solar panels kick-in and start charging the batteries once again when the sun is shining.

 
Portable Solar Energy System
For those who may be interested in procuring a portable solar energy system with sufficient power to run your essential systems (or more), or to bring along camping, the cabin, or for emergency, etc.., there is a company who offers several portable solar energy systems which may be of interest.

Note: Humless.com is currently an advertiser on MSB

Their portable solar generator kits include foldable solar panels, a “Humless power system” and the connecting cables.

The system is simple. Direct the solar panels towards the sun, the system will start charging and will continue until the batteries are full. The solar panels will also power your electronics while charging the batteries.

Speaking with the owner, their batteries are uniquely designed lithium to withstand the rigors of reliable charge/discharge with built-in safety mechanisms for protection against over-charging or excessive discharge.

Because of the lithium design the overall system weight is far less than others and therefore opens the door for other uses – which make it truly portable.

Currently they offer three systems:
.64 kWh solar kit
1.3 kWh solar kit
2.0 kWh solar kit

 
kWh?
You might be asking, “What’s a kWh”? A kWh is a kilowatt hour. Think of it as as powering something that consumes 1,000 watts for one hour.

For example: If using 800 lumen LED bulbs (equivalent to the old 60-watt incandescent bulbs), the energy consumption of a kWh would be equivalent to powering about 125 of these LED bulbs for one hour! Or, about 12 for ten hours!

Note: A 800 lumen LED bulb consumes just 8 watts compared to it’s 60-watt incandescent counterpart of old…

LED Light Bulb Cost Savings Over Incandescent

Another example: My most recent chest freezer consumes 450 watts in a 24 hour period. That’s just 19 watts per hour on average. So, this chest freezer consumes 0.19 kW in one hour, or 0.19 kWh.

When determining the capacity requirements of a solar energy system, one thing that you might do is add up the power requirements of the things that you might be connecting.

Here’s one way to do it:
How To Measure Energy (kWh)
KILL A WATT™ meter

Here’s an interesting website with solar energy maps:
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Solar Energy Books

 
Alternative energy sources are a great way to further your self-sufficiency and decrease your dependency on other external systems. I plan to write more articles about this in the future 😉