It's a dark and stormy night–too dark. Your home has lost power. Fortunately, you've got a fully charged power plant, built from an inexpensive solar panel and a rechargeable battery. Eight hours of sun will produce enough juice to watch An Inconvenient Truthtwice–on a portable DVD player. You can even find inverters that will turn the station into an AC outlet. Add additional panels and batteries, and you could power the margarita machine and the flat-panel too.
Build a Solar Power Station
Easy | | | | |
Add the panel
Attach the solar panel at an angle roughly equal to your latitude for optimum charging (go to census.gov/cgi-bin/gazetteer to find yours). Add a tilt bracket for additional adjustability. Leave space underneath both the panel and the controller for airflow.
Wire it up
Snip off the cigarette-lighter plug and solder the quarter-inch mono plug onto the "Y" adapter. Insert the mono plug into the 12-volt output outlet on the controller. Connect all four power leads from the battery and the solar panel to the controller's input terminals. Hook up the meter to the controller's input terminal for the solar panel. For more power, attach additional solar panels, and add extra batteries-but don't exceed the 12-volt rating of the controller.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.