Sunday, May 07, 2017

Running On Solar Power

In my last post I described activating our solar system.  Since then we've been testing it in the yard.  How has it been going?  Pretty good I'd say!  Sure, it's running the simple things.  The clock radio is on, the radio works and the LED interior lights are shining!  But that's not really putting a load on the batteries and inverter.  So what have we tried?

The first item we turned on was the small apartment freezer.  This is a four drawer unit, and with a family of five we appreciate having that extra freezer space in the trailer!

This freezer, a Danby model, pulls five to six amps of energy while running.  Obviously it will run more often when it's hot out.  On cool days we've seen it take about 5% of battery overnight (when the panels aren't providing charge) and as much as 10% when it's very warm (a 29C day).

One day we decided to cook supper using solar power!  Carla put together a slow cooker recipe with chicken breasts in a mushroom sauce and alongside she cooked some rice in an electric rice steamer.

We didn't run them at the same time.  When the slow cooker was done Carla shut it off and turned on the rice steamer.  It was a sunny day so we had plenty of energy coming in to run the cookers, using about 8-10 amps of power, but with all the sun, by the time we ate, the batteries were only down to about 96%.  And it was back to 100% a bit later!

We enjoyed a delicious supper under the awning outside!

Today we gave the ice maker a try.  It's an Igloo branded machine, medium sized, and holds about 2.3 quarts of water.  When we first plugged it in, it hit 30 amps on startup but settled down to about 9 amps when running.  We let it run for a couple of hours and it used 2% of the battery capacity.  This was evening and very cloudy and raining a bit so we weren't getting any more charge at the time, but the results were good.

And here's the solid results...

We made enough to fill two medium freezer ziploc bags to store in the freezer. Great for using in the margarita machine!

Further testing will be coming up this week, such as the fridge.  It will run on propane but the control panel runs on 12-volt power.  I might try it on the inverter, just to see what will happen.  

It's great fun to watch the energy put to use, then be replenished by the sun!  We roll out to Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park in 11 days, when the system is put to work for real!

No comments: