Thursday, June 15, 2017

More solar tomfoolary

Yes, folks, having already been bitterly disappointed by this solar garbage, I blew yet more money on solar garbage. Everybody keeps telling me how good it is but my experience is it's just bloody expensive with little tangible benefit. My existing solar kinda sorta works just not as well as it does on paper.

Having found a pair of 10W panels with the aid of a battery and a charge controller will power a pair of low powered CPU fans I decided a 20W panel might run an induction fan. Siting that panel was a problem, however. As I drive large vehicles for a living, I know how often the roof gets scraped by hanging branches and how often the front top gets struck by branches. Now the cleverdicks who have never driven a big vehicle will all claim to have such miraculous vision that they can instantly see and be able to avoid such hazards (equally miraculously). The truth is rather different and while I strive to avoid branches on my regular route I frequently only know to avoid them after finding where they are by hitting them. Seeing and avoiding a branch is dependent upon light conditions, tiredness, ones own speed in conjunction with the position and direction of other vehicles, background distraction (try looking for a branch on a curve with a road lined by trees), wind and rain.

Looking at my bus, the only available place was between the sites of the former student lights at the front. Using an amorphous solar panel it would be possible to mimic a destination board while having a solar panel hidden in plain sight. Thus, I ordered a 20W amorphous solar panel from a seller on eBay. It wasn't cheap at $55 all told.
It looks splendid. I was even there to greet the UPS driver when he arrived with it yesterday. In great anticipation, I connected it to a volt meter while standing it in strong, direct sunlight. The voltmeter read... zero. I wiggled connectors and measured again. Again, zero. I pulled out a small fan and connected it. My 5W panel usually makes that fan spin merrily. I looked and... nothing.

As I was tired, I put the panel away to return to it the next day. Thus, today after work, I again tried the panel. This time, I had zero results but noticed flaws in the face of the panel. Quite a lot of flaws in fact and a sticker that declared the panel to be made in China.
In the middle of that picture is one of the many flaws. I believe this or another flaw has probably cut the connection, causing the panel not to function.

I contacted the seller for advice and had a pleasant email back. I'm rather hoping he just offers to send me a new one. I know the score with stuff from China. The returns are never shipped back - they're trashed because it's just too costly to return them. Resellers buy products from China so cheaply that shipping alone costs more than the content of a 40 foot container which at the last count was $4,000 door to door. A container will hold a lot of panels! If the seller prevaricates then it's easy enough to file against the, with eBay. I want them on my side though as I rather like the way my panel is put together. Only time in the shape of the next few days will tell, however.

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