Solar Power Solutions

By Robert Cong

As we approach spring, the sun should be shining down upon our heads on a more consistent basis. While most people may think it's time to pack away those winter clothes and start thinking about hitting the beaches, you may also want to start thinking about how to take advantage of the sunlight in a different way with the new line of solar products from Himin and Power Mate.

Robert moved his desk outside to test new solar products!

Alternative energy is making big changes to the way we live our lives. It's affecting everything from the way our cars work to the way electricity is generated in our homes. Solar energy is one of the many technologies used to create electricity without releasing as many emissions as coal or oil. It is also one of the easiest methods that can be added to your own home to save you money on your electricity bill every month.

The Himin solar panels come in two different wattage ratings: 25W and 65W. These monocrystalline panels convert rays of sunlight into electricity at a better efficiency rate than polycrystalline panels. Determining which panels and how many you will need will depend on how many appliances are being powered and the amount of electricity they normally use. You can combine panels by wiring them in series to increase the voltage or wiring them in parallel to increase the current. You can even wire them in a series-parallel combination to increase both voltage and current, if your application deems it necessary. Appropriate MC4 connector cables will be needed to ensure a snug fit, just in case any moisture is in the air.

Solar Panel

25W Solar Panel with MC4 Connections

Solar charge controllers are used to regulate the amount of charge going into the battery from the solar panel. You never want to charge batteries without a charge controller because there is a high possibility of overcharging the battery, causing it to damage and possibly explode. They work in both 12V and 24V solar photovoltaic systems and even have the ability to be set in light-control mode so they automatically turn off when the sun goes down. Be sure to have a battery connected as well since the current from the solar panels goes straight into the battery. If an output load were connected at the same time, it would be powered directly from the battery.

Solar Charge Controller
Solar Charge Controller
Solar Charge Controller Diagram
Solar Charge Controller Black Diagram

If you're looking for a safe and easy way to recharge your batteries, you can start off by creating a small set-up with just a few parts as listed below:

Table 1: Parts List for Configuration

25-Watt Solar Panel
5-Amp Solar Charge Controller
Solar Panel Cable Adapter with MC4 connection
12-Volt, 5 Amp-Hour Rechargeable Lead-Acid Battery
16 AWG Black Wiring
16 AWG Red Wiring
Quick Disconnect Terminal Connector

Complete Set-up
Complete Set-up from Parts Listed in Table 1

Using these parts, enough charge was delivered to an empty battery in approximately 4 hours of charging to brightly run a LED Christmas tree for 8 straight hours of standalone operation. If you would like to run an appliance that uses AC voltage, you will need an inverter. Just make sure the output of your panels is enough to power the inverter itself.

So as you're enjoying the sunlight this spring, think about helping out Mother Nature as well. Doing your part to reduce the amount of emissions released into the atmosphere is important for both the environment and your health. In the process, you will save some serious cash down the line and even learn a few things about solar power. It's a win-win-win situation.

Robert is a graduate from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Electrical Engineering. His interests include sports, movies, music, and playing with cool, new gadgets.