Money Saving

Solar Energy Power Station Update 2

Posted on August 8th, 2011 in Money Saving, Solar Power by JP No Comments

It’s been a few days now since I built and installed the solar energy power station.  Everything is still working well but I do have some concerns.

It’s bothering me that I don’t know how much energy the solar panel is producing and I don’t like that the battery will not show how charged up it is.

The amount of power being passed from the 60w solar panel can be tested using a volt meter and I’ve managed to find a cheap one from EBay which will hopefully turn up in the next few days.

The battery I bought does have a ‘level’ indicator on it however its not very good at all.  They are a few batteries with indicators built in to them, if you come across one which is just a dot which will go green when fully charged I would avoid it.

To solve the ‘is my battery full or empty’ problem I have again, from EBay, I’ve bought a battery level indicator. It’s a simple device that I can attach to the battery which should give me a much clearer indication on how full (or empty) the battery is.  It will also allow me to see how much energy a larger device has used which will be useful information when conducting some tests.

On a very positive note however the solar charging station is giving power to the battery no matter what the weather.  Living in the North East of England we have has some really bad rain lately and it’s been over cast for a couple of days but when ever I look at the charge regulator it’s always charging the battery which is good news.

Charging Laptop via Solar Energy

Charging Laptop via Solar Energy


As you can see from this picture I’ve been testing the solar energy charging station with some common devices.  I’ve already tried charging the ‘atom’ laptop which (it was not a big surprise) worked very well.

I would guess the amount of electricity being drawn is now very big so this setup would have no problems in charging the laptop.

Regardless of the laptop you have this setup I have will charge it up, because I bought a rather large 2,000 w inverter anything that draws less than 2,000 w can be plugged in.  I don’t think there are many laptops which will want more than that!


Charging Samsung Galaxy Tab

Charging Samsung Galaxy Tab


The second device I tried to plug in was my Samsung Galaxy Tablet.

Again very little surprise that as soon as it was plugged in the device started to charge up.

I’ve charged the Tablet up once fully and there is no time difference between having it plugged in to the mains or to the solar charging station, the obvious difference is the solar charging station is, in a sense, costing me no money.

Although not great tests it is a sure way to see if the setup is working and providing me with electricity.






I’m now waiting for the few other smaller items to turn up and then i will try something a little bigger.  By trying something larger I will see if the solar charging station can cope with the load and how much it depletes the battery as knowing the limit on the battery will of course be very helpful for future use.

Saving Money at Home Part 5

Posted on August 5th, 2011 in Money Saving by JP No Comments

With the on going struggle to keep our electric bills down it seems that everything / everyone is against us with yet more energy companies putting up there prices.  With more and more companies doing this it’s becoming even more important to try and save money at home which leads us to Part 5 of Saving Money at Home.

Energy Saving Light Bulbs

Energy Saving Light Bulbs


I don’t think people release just how much energy normal light bulbs in the house use.  Watching the OWL electric monitor whilst walking around the house turning lights on and off you start to get an idea that they do consume quite a lot of electric.

I’ve seen the OWL monitor jump up around 0.6 kw by just turning on a set of lights which was a surprise.

If you were to look at the price difference then if you used a 50w light bulb for 1 hour a day and paid 0.10p for a unit of electric you will pay £1.83 a year but switching to a 50w energy saving light bulb you will only pay  £0.37 a year.

Now a yearly saving of £1.46 does not seem like a great saving but this is based on 1 light bulb 1 hour a day.  If you look at this as a home owner it will no doubt jump to 3-5 light bulbs perhaps a couple of hours per day so the savings will increase quite a bit.

The standard cost of these light bulbs is around £1 – £3 depending of course on brand, style and company but this should be offset quite quickly especially over the winter period when you will have quite a few lights on and on more often.

Over the next day or so I’ll be wondering around replacing all normal light bulbs with energy saving light bulbs to help keep that rising electric bill down.

Solar Energy Power Station video update

Posted on August 4th, 2011 in Money Saving, Solar Panel Reviews, Solar Power by JP No Comments

After the solar panels and solar equipment turned up this morning I began work on setting up the ‘solar energy power station’ and of course recorded the whole event.  The video is a bit over 13 minutes long however it only took around 5 minutes to actually setup the charging station which was a bit of a surprise.

After the video was complete I did go back and tidy up the work I did but that is because I do have a 2 year old son who would find all the wires very interesting.

From start to finish while making the video I was shocked at how easy the solar energy charging station was to make.  Once all connected up again (after the video) I did try and turn the inverter on and plug in a tablet I own, straight away it began charging it so a good test / proof it was all working.


solar panel home

Solar Panels temp home


As you can see from the above picture I managed to tidy up the mess I made in the kitchen and tried to have everything in a sensible position.

The solar Panel at the moment is next to the shed for the reason that area gets plenty of sunshine (when it’s out).

The cable at the moment is just running into the Kitchen through the window which is connected to the regulator which then connects to the battery.

The inverter is then connected to the battery which completes the circuit.



Battery and Inverter

The battery, Inverter and regulator setup in the kitchen

I’ll be leaving the battery to charge up and once full charged I will start running some tests to see just what you

can run off this setup or for how long you can run something.

I have no doubt it will charge up various devices like mobile phones, tablets, laptops without a problem but I will be looking at larger objects such as lawnmowers, toasters to name a few.

My next video which is related to this Solar Energy Charging Station will look at what will / wont work so be sure to keep on reading my posts.

Solar Energy Power Station

Posted on August 4th, 2011 in Money Saving, Solar Panel Reviews, Solar Power by JP No Comments

So what do you need to build a Solar Energy Power Station and to answer that question is now very easy.  Of course I’m not talking about a power station that will power 100 homes but a small solar power station that will charge various devices in your home.

A couple of days ago I started e-mailing the company SunShine Solar and I kept getting replies from a person called ‘Mike’.  Mike was very helpful and answered all my questions no matter how many I sent and how stupid they no doubt sounded.  But thanks to Mike I now have everything needed to build my own Solar Energy Power station… well nearly everything!

Solar kit

Solar Kit needed for Solar Energy Power Station



The whole kit includes:

Solar Panel


Charge Regulator

extension cable

Solar Panel Stand



Now the above list is missing 1 product which is a battery box but I didn’t order this from SunShine Solar it was ordered from EBay so no idea when it will turn up.  The battery box is going to be very important for this project as with the battery living outside I need it protected.

Today I’ll be making another video of how to put together this setup and I’m hoping it wont be too hard but Mike has assured me that I can contact him for help.

Important: To be honest without Mikes help I’m unsure if I would of bought the right products.  I nearly bought a 80 W solar panel but after e-mailing the person selling it it turned out that “Weather Proof” does not always mean “Water Proof” .. who would of thought it!!

Till later when hopefully the whole idea of a ‘cheap’ solar energy charging station will be up and running.

Saving Money at Home Part 4

Posted on August 3rd, 2011 in Money Saving by JP No Comments

If you look back at the late ‘Saving Money at Home’ you will see I was installing the plugs which via remote will turn off any device plugged in to it meaning it would not be on standby over night.  The idea of this was to see if it will save money and just how much it will save.

The plugs were used on 2 Baby Monitors, external hard drive and the TV/Wii.  All these devices were left on throughout the night so with the remote control plugs it made life easy to turn them off and saving energy.

I never expected a massive saving but I think it was obvious I would save something.  The 4 pack of plugs cost me £13 (approx) from that lovable site EBay.

So the results are as follows:

Morning energy usage


This is the image / reading was a normal morning reading when all the devices were plug

ged in and left on standby over night.

I was hoping to see a drop after I started to used the new plugs in the house and I did.





owl new morning reading

New Electric Reading from the OWL




So as you can see first thing in the morning before anything has been turned on there is a slight drop in the reading.

This drop was just down to the new plugs and not leaving anything on standby over night.

So far so good, I know I’ve saving electric, money and of course I’ll be helping to produce less co2 and starting to do my bit for the planet!




So the real question now is how much is this all saving me at the moment?

To get a full reading I again connected the OWL to the PC and started to write down the readings from 01:00 in the morning till 07:00.

Now generally we do get to bed around 12:00 and are normally up around the 08:00 mark but as things change I tool the readings from 1 till 7.  So what did I find?

On Thursday the 27th of July between the hours of 01:00 and 07:00 we used approx 1.001kw

On Monday the 1st of August between the hours of 01:00 and 07:00 we used approx 0.766kw

Both these figures are the total amount and of course there is a difference of 0.235kw.

The difference might not seem like much but you have to look at the bigger picture, in 1 night we are saving 0.235kw so over a year (365 days) this little figure jumps to 85.775kw.

I logged on to my account and checked the tariff I was was on (I’m on British Gas for my electric), worked out the price and did my sums.  My yearly saving by simply turning off a few plug sockets has been £18 / year approx

Although not a ‘large’ figure it is still a saving, even with spending money on the plugs I’m still going to be saving more than I spent on them over this next year which is what I’m trying to do.  This kind of saving will of course be different for most people as it depends on what is left on over night, regardless of what is left on it’s going to pay to turn them off from now on!


The Solar Panel experiment begins

Posted on August 2nd, 2011 in Money Saving, Solar Panel Reviews, Solar Power by JP No Comments

As part of the ‘how to save money at home’ videos and blog updates I’ve started for the bigger part of this.  I’vejumped in head first and bought some solar products which has came to close enough to £600.

The idea is I can’t afford to buy a solar panel kit for the house, at well over £10,000 for a full solar system this is just not possible at the moment so I’m looking at various other ways to reduce our electric bill for as little as possible.

With cost cutting in mind rather than spending 10k and over I thought £600 was a much better option for me.  I’ve bought:

1 x 60W Monocrystalline Solar Panel @ £225.00

1 x 5Mt Extension cable             @ £  8.99

1 x 7amp Charge Controller          @ £ 15.00

1 x 110ah Deep cycle leisure battery@ £ 94.98

1 x 2000W Pure Sign Wave Inverter   @ £189.00

To add to the above I’ve also bought a solar panel stand so I should be able to direct the solar panel at direct sunlight in order to get the best charge.

With the above I’ll be able to make my own ‘Solar Energy Charging Station’.  This charging station will, after setting up / experiments run in to the kitchen were you will find some standard plug sockets.  The sockets of course will be getting their energy / power from the solar panel which will live it’s long life in the garden.

I’m hoping that after trying various methods I will be able to run a few house hold products from the solar panels and hopefully cut the cost of my electric bill even further.

I of course don’t expect to save £600 a year but I’m hoping that with various other cost / energy saving products I’ll reduce my electric bill a significant amount which, after a year or two the money saved will have paid for all the devices bought on this journey.


Most people put off using Green Energy

Posted on August 2nd, 2011 in Green Cars, Money Saving by JP No Comments

It has not been a really big shock to read that people are put of using green energy because of the price but it’s been reported that a large percent of people are interested but knowing the price they don’t bother

At the moment it can cost well in excess of £10,000 to have a solar solution installed in (or rather on) your home.  It’s estimated that having a home solar solution installed would save a bit more than half of your yearly electric bills and of course  cut down the carbon emissions.  It is a great idea for all but the initial outlay of money is beyond the reach of many people.

So what can we do?

As with all technology as the months pass by there are always new advances and of course this is the same with solar panels.  It may take a bit longer but prices should start to drop once different ways, methods, materials are found to work with the solar panels.  Time is the main factor here, if you wait that bit longer you should see the prices fall and the chance to get some panels installed and for you to harness the solar energy will get closer.

What can we do now?

If you keep reading my blog and watch my videos I’m always trying to find the cheapest ways to cut down the eclectic bill.  Apart from changing various things in the house I’ll also be setting up a solar panel ‘charging station’.

The idea behind the charging station is a cheap (under £600) solution to charging various devices and to see just what we can run off this solution.  It’s all about saving money in the longer term not the short term.

Basically if you can’t afford to pay out £10,000 + and want to save money on your electric bill then keep reading and watching for my hints / tips / real examples of saving money at home by using solar energy.

Saving Money at Home part 3

Posted on August 1st, 2011 in Money Saving by JP No Comments

This is a small update about saving some extra money at home.  This morning while chatting to the wife she was talking about our BT account.  At the moment we have a BT phone line, BT TV and we have BT Internet.

She rang up and has paid for a year in advance and went on to paperless bills which is saving us £4 a month, although not a ‘massive’ saving it all counts.

There are now a few companies offering these kinds of savings and some will even pay you a small amount of money for doing this (I’ve seen a company offering £5 cash back) so it’s worth checking.  I would advise either checking online or ringing up places like your phone/TV/Internet providers, banks, electric / gas providers to see whether they offer any kind of deals.


Saving Money at home Part 2

Posted on July 31st, 2011 in Money Saving by JP No Comments

When I last talked about saving money at home I talked about installing the OWL electric monitoring system and did a small video about it.  In this next video I’m talking about how to start and save some money at home using the data I’m collecting from the monitor.

This video I talk about how I’m installing some new plugs that will turn off anything attached to it rather than being on standby all the time.

The plugs I used in the video above were bought from ebay and were basically the cheapest I could find after hunting around for 10 minutes.  They are not a big solution on how to reduce the amount of energy we use through the day but it should slow the amount used through the night as we will no longer have baby monitors on, TV /Wii and my Hard Drive backup device all running on standby.

Morning energy usage


This picture shows the amount of electric we are using first thing in the morning.  At the moment with the TV, Wii and various other devices left on / standby throughout the night I’m hoping there should be a slight drop when I first wake up.

I’m not expecting the reading to go much lower and I may have to connect the OWL monitor to the PC and look at the actual night usage of electric to really see if there is any difference.

I’ve installed the plugs so it will be a case of having a check in the morning to see whether anything is different but of course I will report back with any and all findings!


Later in the week I will be looking at further ways to try and help reduce the amount of electric we use in the house, without spending a lot of money this is a uphill battle to save money but hopefully the results should, in the long run save some money for me.. and you.

Saving Money at home – Update

Posted on July 28th, 2011 in Money Saving by JP No Comments

It’s been a few days since I first got / installed the OWL electric monitoring system and it’s been quite interesting although I have bored half my family talking about it!

The system was easy to install ( Saving Money at Home ) and I started collecting data right away.  Tonight I’ve finally got around to installing the software to read the data on the PC and I’ve managed to make some nice fancy pictures for you all to see!

The first picture just shows the usage since it’s been turned on (a few days) so it’s not really that interesting / offer a lot of information.

OWL electric system

Electric Usage


So as you can see the graph does not really show to much information at the moment other than we are using electric in the house.. so at least it’s working!

It does start to get more interesting once you go further ‘in to’ te graph and actually look at a full days use of electric.






OWL electric use for the 26 / 07

Graph showing the electric use for 1 day


As you can see from this graph the in information starts to make some sense when looking at it.  Of course from midnight till around 08:00 there is not a lot  happening which is to be expected.

From 08:00 onwards you can see that of course we started using up a lot more electric in the house.

The very large spike around 17:00 is of course tea time in the house.  I can’t remember what we had to eat but I do have a funny feeling we did use the oven, boiled the kettle for cups of tea and perhaps various other devices were switched on.

You can also see that once our son goes to bed (around 19:00) there is a bit of a drop before the energy usage starts to rise again.  I can only guess that this is the time we started watching TV, making cups of tea and turning on extra lights around the house.

Although it’s still early in the ‘How to save money at Home’ series the graph is also very similar on the following day so I can already start to see a trend happening in our house.

I’ll be starting in another video soon titled ‘How to Save Money at Home Part 2′ where I will start to look at what I can do around the house to keep the energy use down.