Going solar!

This summer proved to be hotter than ever. What struck me a couple of weeks back is – why not go solar?

The Idea

So here we go with a small 50W solar panel to start with. “Small” in the sense that you may not make your fridge and your air conditioner work with this panel, but 50W can do quite a lot of things for you. For example, it can light up LEDs of about 100W from evening to night. And that is similar to powering up 3-4 medium sized rooms with free energy.

Think about adding 50 to 100W every year to your solar grid – what would you have 10 years later? So I figured this was a project worth spending time and resources on. It would hurt your pocket to spend a couple thousand dollars in a single day. But spending a little every year is definitely worth the benefits.

Which panel? Charge controller? Misc stuff?

With projects like this, costs add up to more than you can estimate at first glance. A good experimental setup would be to get a 50W solar panel. It will cost around Rs. 4000 to reach my doorstep. But well, the problem is – that is not all you need.

You need a charge controller and a sealed lead acid (SLA) battery. After this, you need 12V electronics that can be powered directly. Makes no sense to switch the voltage up to 220V AC all over again. The best inverters out there cannot give you the type of efficiency that simple DC-DC converters can. So the setup can drive loads like power LEDs with minimal cost overheads.

As for the location to mount this – it is the roof. But that needs a frame and also a proper place on the roof. You don’t want your panel sitting under a mango tree. It won’t last long, believe me.

So the initial list turns out to be something like this:

  • A Su-Kam 50W poly solar panel
  • Su-Kam 12V, 10A charge controller
  • 10x 10W LEDs (warm white) with heat sink
  • Sealed lead acid battery (capacity? Will decide later!)
  • Frame to mount the panel
  • Thick copper multi-strand wires
  • Misc. electronics stuff (MOSFET, DC-DC converters, etc)

The Su-Kam 50W solar panel

I ordered this from Urjakart, which seems to be getting popular in India lately. I believe they ship stuff to outside India as well. But yes, avoid Ebay and other generic places when you buy solar panels. It is important to get one manufactured by one of the well known names in the industry.

I received the package today after quite a long wait. You can blame Urjakart for this. They told me, after I placed the order, that they do not have the panel in stock. So I had to wait for a week just to have it shipped. But anyway, it reached and it seems like it tasted some rough handling along the way.

You may skip the remaining article, there is nothing much. Just some information about the packaging and feel of the panel.

urjakart 50W su-kam solar panel packaging

Not in the very best condition. The edges were weighed down by something. And the scariest thing was the charge controller which was packaged and taped right on the middle of the solar panel’s cover (the one labelled Su-Kam). That would probably break the panel if there was pressure on the middle section of the package.

But I am no packaging expert and then this reached in one piece – so all good. 🙂

bubble wrap in main package

 

the solar panel original Su-Kam packaging

Inside, the solar panel was clean and neatly packed. There was no wire or connector included. You just need to screw the wires to the back of the solar panel. The connections seem to be protected with a “sealed compartment” to keep water out.

Back side of solar panel
There are some parameters mentioned on the back side of the panel which you may refer to.
The front seems slightly patterned, the texture. But the construction is good with compact frame attachment and rigid glass. Does feel like a branded product for sure!

Front side of panel
Excuse the dull lighting, by the way. This was done in a hurry. 🙂
I will soon have some more articles out with details and how I set up the panel, battery and my loads.

One Response

  1. Su-Kam s solar power systems are lighting up lacs of houses in remote villages of India and Africa.

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