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Off The Grid

I'm going to live off-grid. Read my blog and learn how to do it yourself!

A week off the grid on a campsite

Last week I returned home from a short summer holiday which I spent in my Vanagon Camper (RV) in Łeba, a town on the Baltic Sea coast. As I own two solar panels (40 Wp each) and two gel batteries, I decided not to pay for the electrical connection and use my own power.

The prices for using the grid on the campsites in Poland are extreme. From your point of view probably it’s as cheap as everything here (10-15 PLN per day = $3-5 / day = 2.5-3.7€/day), but if you compare that price to the price of energy (0.5 PLN/kWh) it’s not worth it.

On the other hand, since I paid for the solar panels only about 900 PLN, this investment pays for itself after 60-90 days on the campsite, which is in my case equivalent to roughly 4-6 years of camping holidays. Of course that doesn’t take into account the batteries, charge controller and wiring that is not free either. (more…)

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  • My story about renewable energy sources begins in 2006 when I bought my Volkswagen RV/camper. At the end of summer that year I bought my first renewable energy source — the first solar panel. I wanted it to be a off-grid energy source for my first camping holidays, but only found out that such panels have many disadvantages.

    The panel I bought was rated at 10 W and 12 V. I connected it to an unused old car battery to store the solar energy, using a charge controller. While we were driving, the battery was charged from a lighter socket, and on the campsites I used the lighter plug to connect the controller to the solar panel. That’s right — the panel has a lighter socket that allows it to be used directly, without any battery.

    Here’s a photo I took when working on my first photovoltaic system. (more…)

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  • 5 things you need to produce solar electricity

    If you want to produce renewable and free electrical power using solar energy, here’s a list of things you absolutely need.

    1. Solar radiation

    It’s obvious, right? No, it’s not! Not for many people!

    Solar radiation is everywhere, but not everywhere it’s enough to produce electricity using solar photovoltaic module. All the modules are described by one most important parameter — output power, for example 200 Wp — 200 watts (peak). The peak subscript is used to specify that the solar module won’t produce that power at all time, but only in specific conditions. Those conditions are:

    • solar radiation intensity — 1 kW/m²,
    • radiation spectrum similar to the one reaching ground at 35°N lattitude in summer,
    • temperature of solar panels equal to 25°C (77°F).

    Without using solartracks you won’t have that solar radiation intensity except for a very brief moment during the day. So you shouldn’t expect your solar module to produce the peak power during the whole day. (more…)

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