Solar Power

Can the Council cut down bills more

Posted on January 27th, 2012 in Solar Power by JP No Comments

Over Christmas it’s of course been getting dark very early an we have not had that much sunshine so my experiments have been put on hold for now.

Walking around I noticed they are quite a few ‘school crossing’ signs which are they to of course warn drivers to watch out for children crossing the road mainly and so they pay more attention in case any children run out in to the road.

I also noticed the lights flashing on Saturdays and Sundays means that they waste electric every weekend and of course bank holidays.  If the council upgraded these lights, added in a small circuit board that was programmed to only flash the lights on weekdays I sometimes wonder how much money they would save / c02 emissions.

If you think of how many schools they are in the UK and whether each of these signs are going on/off on the weekends where there is no need there will be a lot of wasted electric.

Perhaps a upgrade of signs like this could help the UK further reduce the c02 emissions and if they really tried they would also invest in some signals which were powered by solar power alone.

school patrol sign

school patrol sign


Perhaps these new school patrol signs will be the way forward.  As you can see they have a small 30watt solar panel on them while provides the power for the LED lights.  Of courses changing all these signals would be costly but you have to think about the future and the fact we ‘are’ trying to reduce the c02 emissions for the UK as a while.

It’s only a small saving but a saving none the less.  The technology is here now so why are more councils not investing in signs like this?

Caravans and Solar Panels update

Posted on August 30th, 2011 in Solar Power by JP No Comments

A few posts back I was talking about ‘should more caravans have solar panels‘ in the UK as many don’t seem to have solar panels when really it must be worth while spending a little to have them installed.

I’ve been in contact with various people from ‘Park Resorts’ with regards to having solar panels installed on the caravan I own.  It seems to have taken a while with some very slow replies and then being ‘fobbed’ off basically from head office but I’ve finally started finding out whether I can have / put solar panels on my caravan.

Head office were not much help basically telling me they don’t offer solar panels on new sales or even as a side line and I should speak to my actual park manager.  After sending the park manager a e-mail I finally had a reply which was positive so at least a step in the right direction.

Although no one at Park Resorts seem to have a clue about solar panels the park manager has shown some interest and offered some help on installing the solar panels if I were to do this myself.

When installing the panels I of course have a couple of options, on grid and off.  Having a solar setup that is off grid will be easy enough as I have already done this.  Installed the panels on the caravan, battery, inverter and jobs done (basically).

If I want to go on grid and take advantage of the FIT (Feed-in Tariff) then it will get a little more complicated.

First off the installation of the solar panels will need to be done correct including the correct equipment installed to feed the electric back in to the grid.  If / when this is complete then I would need to inform the electric supplier for the caravan park which is where it may get confusing.

I’m obviously not the only person on the caravan park that owns a caravan so I need have to ensure that everyone knows I would be using the FIT and because I don’t get the actual bill (Park Resorts is billed who then bill us) I would need a setup to know how much electric I’ve used and how much we have put back in.

With Help I’m sure it’s possible so it will be something I look in to a little more.  I’ve already contacted the electric company and my ‘friends’ at Sun Shine Solar as they do offer solar panel installation for caravans.

SunnyDale Caravan Park

SunnyDale Caravan Park

So if I installed solar panels on my caravan would I see a return?  Most people know that installing solar panels on a home roof will show some return but generally not cover the costs of what the house will use but with a caravan and a good setup on the roof I ‘think’ that a good return will be possible.

Looking at the maths you have to consider that electric use in the caravan will not be anywhere near as much as a home.  The electric is not always on and only friends / family use our caravan so it’s in use around 1 week a month on average.  You also have to consider that the park goes on shut down for a few months of the year as well which means no electric being used but the solar panels feeding in all the time during shut down.

The last thing to consider for myself is there are no obstructions or cover where my caravan is meaning that in theory no matter where the solar panels are placed on the roof we will get all the daylight / sunlight offered in any given day.

As always I’m still waiting for replies from various people to try and work out whether installing some solar panels on the caravan is going to be cost effective so another update will come in time.



Can I run my TV from Solar Power

Posted on August 26th, 2011 in Solar Power by JP No Comments


Since building the solar panel charging station I’ve tried a few devices to see whether or not I’ll be able to run them just by using the battery which is of course charged up via the 60w solar panel.

Today I looked around the living/sitting room and decided to try the TV, BT Vision box and a few other devices that you would normally find in the living room.

The video I’ve done does show that it is possible to run everything from the 1 battery but of course the more devices you run, the higher the watts used and the less battery life you get.

After completing the video I started editing it and decided to look up why I keep on getting random ‘buzzing’ sounds.  Today the TV when plugged in was generating a odd sound.  At first I did think it was the inverter but it was coming from the TV.  I did a quick search online and it ‘seems’ that the problem stems from the inverter.

The inverter I have is a 2000w “Modified” Sine Wave.  According to some websites (can’t always take sites as the whole truth) some electrical devices have a problem with the modified part of the inverter and they do say that if I was to use a “Pure” Sine Wave inverter I would in theory not have any strange buzzing sounds.

I may test this theory but the Pure Sine inverters are very expensive and this setup is all about saving money!

As a final thought for anyone who has watched this, if my Maths is wrong please feel free to tell me.  I’m by no means a expert when it comes to working out watts / volts / amps just going off what I’ve been told or read.

Solar Powered Laptop

Posted on August 25th, 2011 in Solar Power by JP No Comments
samsung solar panel netbook

samsung solar panel netbook

Samsung have released there solar panel netbook to various places around the world with the latest being in South Korea.  The netbook is also available in Europe, africa and the U.S

The Netbook basically has a PV (photovoltaic) solar Panel on it’s back cover (the side with the screen on) and when in sunlight charges the internal battery.

Depending on what you read, 2 hours in the sun will produce somewhere between 30 – 1 hour worth of power for the netbook but I would suspect the amount of time will vairy depending on what you are using the netbook for.

The Netbook will also charge up

The concept is a very good one which will allow for less charging time and thus less cost to the user.  I’ve not of course seen or tried one of these netbooks but one of my thoughts is whether this will actually charge up in day light of whether it actually needs direct sunlight.

If you read back on a post I made a while back regarding the ‘Powergorilla’ this portable charging device was hopeless unless the panels were in direct sunlight so I wonder if the solar panel on the samsung netbook would be the same.

Solar Energy – What can I run off it

Posted on August 22nd, 2011 in Solar Power by JP No Comments

I’ve had the solar energy solar panel charging station for a while now and it’s time to begin testing what I can or cannot run from this setup.  The battery is fully charging and everything is working just right however I did have some issues while charging the battery!

When I first got the battery there is a small spot which is meant to go green when the battery is fully charged but I’ve been having issues with this and it’s never (and still has not) gone fully green.  To make sure I’ve ended up buying3 different gadgets to test the battery level.

I’ve bought a multi-meter which works well and 2 LED displays which shows the level of the battery.  One of these though didn’t work and is now in the bin the other is working fine.

Apart from that small issue (which I also talk about in the video) I started some tests to see what I can run from the solar charging station.

So what next??

Looking back on the video it looks like there are going to be many devices within the house (more so the kitchen) that this setup will not run.  I have a couple of choices if I want to run a kettle / toaster which would be to either buy some which run on a much lower watts or increase the size of the inverter.

By far the cheaper of these would be to buy a new toaster and kettle but I’m trying to save as much money as possible not buy in more products.

I’m busy doing my maths to work out when else I can and can’t run so in the next video I’ll venture in to the sitting room and see how running a TV and a few other devices will work.

Council homes to get solar panels

Posted on August 15th, 2011 in Solar Power by JP No Comments

North Tyneside council have agreed to installing 3000 council homes with solar panels by March 2012.

The council have teamed up with E.ON for this deal which will see fuel bills cut by around £120 a year for the tenants.

This installation will help many tenants with bills but of course it’s also going to help North Tyneside with cutting down the carbon foot print by an estimated 75,000 tons which is a great step in the right direction.

If other local authorities followed this it would be a good start are really reducing the carbon footprint for the UK.

Should more caravans have solar panels

Posted on August 12th, 2011 in Solar Power by JP No Comments

At the end of last year we bought a static caravan to used for family holidays because having a son who is just about to turn two we thought that staying within the UK and only having to travel 3 hours for a holiday would be a good idea.

When we bought the caravan we had the standard sales pitch and of course bought the caravan (we were always going to buy the caravan anyway!)

One thing that stood out last week when we were getting ready for another holiday is the fact on our site of what much be over 100 caravans there is not one with solar panels on them.

When looking to install fixed solar panels the best position is a South facing roof.  This allows for the solar panels to be in the direct sunlight for the longest (when we have the sun of course).  This is mainly because of the angle of the roof is quite steep.

With a caravan though most caravan roofs have a very small slope meaning that really, no matter which way it’s facing you should always get the most out of the solar panels.

When we bought the caravan there was never any talk about solar panels so I decided to e-mail Park Resorts to ask where they stand on the subject.

The response I got was that the caravan manufactures didn’t offer solar panels and that it was food for thought by Park Resorts.

This answer is ‘fair enough’ but I wanted to know a little more so I have sent another e-mail asking what Park Resorts would think if I wanted to put up my own solar panels on the caravan.

The reason for the e-mail is whether I wanted an ‘on grid’ solar setup or a stand along how or what would Park Resorts would do to help me with this.

I’ve not had a response back as of yet but I will post my findings.

I do think that if solar panels were offered in a deal when buying a caravan then if most caravans took this offer up it would basically cut out the electricity bill for everyone.  As most of the parks are not open all year round it would mean that when the parks were shut the solar panels could still generate electric while the resort was shut.

Of course it is not just about saving money but also helping the environment and surely it would save Park Resorts plenty of money!

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.

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.