May

25

Dimple Solar

May 25, 2021 |

This may spark controversy among solar connoisseurs, however it is what works after living 25 years off-grid out here in Nowhere, Sonora.  

I’ve forgotten everything I knew working for the first solar company in Colorado, Rocky Mountain Solar & Wind, because the desert is a different beast where the sun shines every day. You don’t need to get fancy, simple is better, and you can’t spend much money.  

There are two basic solar setups I’ve used that work. The first is car camping where you have one battery in your vehicle and one under the front seat with a double-strand wire connecting in parallel (+ to + and – to -). Run your accessories to the one under the seat. Put an inline toggle between the batteries and switch it off when the car isn’t running. As you drive, the spare battery charges from the one under the hood. You’re a happy camper never worrying about being stranded from a battery running low.  

When you graduate from car camping to a trailer, and think you require a more sophisticated system, it’s nearly as simple.  Buy 3 marine batteries from Walmart for $100 each, and two 100-watt solar panels from Amazon.com. Glue the panels flat on your roof so they won’t be seen and stolen.  

For either option above, dress your setup like this:  Digital voltmeters cost $10 at Amazon.com and every battery should have one. Simple Inverters are $20 at Walmart. Always put a $3 inline fuse on the positive line close to the battery. 

That’s all. No charge controller, diodes or all those other big words. This is a barefoot solar system for the desert. 

Now I’m going for a walk with a $15 mini-panel on the brim of my straw hat to charge a cell phone, and an icecap under it of crushed ice in a double-baggie with a pinhole that melts in a trickle faster and faster as it gets hotter and hotter.  


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