Friday, July 29, 2016

Double the disappointment

Today I installed my second solar panel. Now there are two 10W solar panels on the back of the bus, generating a mythical 20W between them. Of course both you and I know that the claims put out by solar panel peddlers are complete poppycock!
So, I have put one panel to power one of my Wakmart 3V fans and one to power one of my 12V CPU fans. Aside from a mishap when I installed a fan backwards, that went reasonably well.
Thus far the results have been predictably disappointing. Neither of my fans use more than about 150ma or in terms of watts, no more than 1.8. When the sun shines brightly, the 3V fan hums quite nicely and seems to shift air. The CPU fan is quieter but doesn't actually seem to have much throughput.

I'm going to leave them wired directly to the panels to see what happens. Quite honestly I expect the results to be utter rubbish. Such is my experience of this solar stuff. All I'm asking is that the panels produce less than a fifth of their claimed output. That, surely, isn't too much? It looks like it is though!

In total, I've spent $60 on those two solar panels. That would have bought me 60 pairs of D cells from the dollar store which would have kept my fans going at a faster lick for around 8 months! I'm going to see how they get along tomorrow but I have a feeling I won't be buying more panels.

My door unlocker has been a godsend. I've been loving being able to leave and enter via the front door. It makes life so much more pleasant. It is so unbelievably pleasant to be able to enter and exit via the built in stairs. The solution was so simple yet the dimwits on the school bus forums were into ludicrous alternatives such as replacing a perfectly adequate door with a house door, replacing the mechanism with massively expensive linear actuators that cost hundreds. In short, my total cost was around $65 and installation was minimal. Just drilling one 1/2 hole, cutting two slots and that's it, really.

In other news, today I passed a test applied by the state board of education, preparatory to getting free school bus driving lessons and a free CDL with passenger and air brake endorsements. My bus does not, of course, have air brakes. The test was full of trick questions, one being: You're driving along a 55mph posted road, your bus is governed to 55mph. What speed do you drive at? The answer is simple - 45mph. It is possible to drive at 55mph but only on roads with limits posted as 60mph or greater. Different rules apply to activity busses.

I'm considering restricting the power output of my panels using a USB converter for a car to 5V and supplying my Walmart fans with that. Then I could feed the panel output into the solar charge controller that arrived the other day and feed the output of the controller into a small deep cycle battery. By small, I'm thinking of a gel cell of maybe 15AH. That should get me 7AH of usable power which should keep two fans going for 21 hours. This solution might work better than direct drive.

No comments:

Post a Comment