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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

Solar Cameras and Lighting for Grid Free Security

Posted by SEPCO

2/7/12 9:30 AM

Solar Powered CameraStand-alone solar is a perfect solution for providing power to wireless security surveillance systems.  Current technology has allowed surveillance systems to be installed in remote or hard to reach locations.  Previously, the security cameras would need to be hardwired into a monitoring station in order to provide real time surveillance of the areas.  Now, the cameras can be outfitted with wireless technology in order to transmit the surveillance signals to the monitoring station.  This can be accomplished through direct radio transmission to the monitoring station or through a wireless mesh system.  Often times, the electrical grid is either unavailable or cost-prohibitive in such locations.  This provides the ideal opportunity to utilize stand-alone solar power.

The stand-alone solar electric power assemblies provide power to the cameras and wireless devices without the need of the electrical grid.  Solar panels charge batteries during the day and provide power to the cameras and wireless devices.   These functions are all regulated by a charge/load controller that ensures proper charging of the batteries as well as load management.  The solar power assemblies normally produce either 12VDC or 24VDC, which most of the cameras and wireless equipment require.  An array of inverters and converters are also available to produce a variety of both DC and AC voltages.  The solar power assemblies can be mounted high on poles to limit vandalism and other security issues.

Solar Camera WiFiStand-alone solar powered lighting is an ideal partner for wireless security surveillance systems.  If the security cameras are not outfitted with night vision technology, they will need an artificial light source during the night in order to provide a clear picture.  Stand-alone solar powered lighting uses the same technology described above to provide light from LED, compact fluorescent, sodium vapor, or a variety of other sources.  This light is provided without the need for the electrical grid, making for a truly integrated stand-alone security surveillance system.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Solar Power, Solar Gadgets

Solar Powered Battery Chargers

Posted by SEPCO

1/19/12 9:30 AM

The sun can be considered the best source of energy anywhere, if it is properly harnessed. It is an inexhaustible, renewable energy source like no other. That is why we have solar-powered devices in use now such as calculators, watches and lights. Solar technology is still far from being the primary source of energy for most of our gadgets today however; it can be used to recharge the batteries of these devices. They are called solar-powered battery chargers.

Solar Charger

What are Solar-Powered Battery Chargers? 

As the name suggests, these are battery chargers which are powered by solar energy. Practically any modern-day gadget you can think of (laptops, cell phones, PDAs, MP3 players, iPods, digital cameras, etc.) can be recharged using these chargers. Nowadays, these have been integrated with other products as well such as cars and backpacks. Moreover, there are different voltage capacities available making it easier to purchase the chargers that will best fit our needs.

How do they work?

These battery chargers consist of solar panels that are composed of photovoltaic (PV) cell blocks which are responsible for producing electricity from the light of the sun. When the photons from sunlight hit the solar panels, they are absorbed by the PV cells. The cells are made up of semiconducting materials such as silicon. Two kinds of silicon can be used namely crystalline and amorphous, the latter of which is more durable, flexible and cost-effective. The absorbed photons are then converted to electrons.

A chemical reaction occurs in batteries which transfers electrons to the electronic circuits of our devices. During this process, residual particles slow down and eventually halt the production of electrons. This discharge cycle is countered through the current produced by the solar panels wherein protons are drawn to the cells of the battery using the electrons’ attraction.

Most solar-powered battery chargers have 12 volts in terms of capacities but there are other voltage capacities such as 24V, 36V and so on. There are also battery chargers as low as 3 volts that can be used to charge a 6 volt NiCad battery from a cell phone. Before buying one, make sure you do considerable research on what you need and don’t be afraid to ask a specialist.

It may be a little complicated to understand but knowing how it works is the first step towards appreciating it.

Why should I use this type of battery charger?

Using solar-powered battery chargers is a great alternative to conventional battery chargers. Here are some reasons why:

  • It uses a clean, renewable source of energy, the sun.
  • Cost-efficient
    • Save money on non-rechargeable batteries, if you use any
    • Save electricity usage and its corresponding costs
    • Minimal, if any, maintenance costs
  • Readily available alternative source of energy in case electricity is unavailable
    • If the power supply has been cut off
    • If you are in a remote location (rugged mountains, isolated islands, etc.)
  • Portability
    • Whether you are traveling around a lot or camping in the wilderness, there is no better alternative to charge your gadgets than solar-powered battery chargers.
  • Durability
    • Solar-powered battery chargers are most effective under a bright, sunny day however; they can also be efficient in cold climates. Some are even waterproof.
  • Convenience
    • Some solar battery chargers have an internal battery that is capable of storing energy. Should you need to charge any electronic device and you have no time or opportunity to use the sunlight to gather energy, the stored energy in the battery will be used to charge that device.

Some common types of solar battery chargers

  • Automotive solar trickle chargers
    • Specially designed for vehicles, these chargers can be conveniently placed on the dashboard and attached directly to the cigarette lighter plug which in turn, will charge your car battery, albeit slowly.
    • These chargers usually don’t have a big enough solar panel to completely charge a car battery but it is enough to compensate for the energy consumed by always-on features of the car such as the clock.
  • Clamshell solar chargers
    • The solar panels are put inside a folding case for convenience and portability.
    • It can come with multiple plugs and adaptors which makes it easy to use with different kinds of devices.
    • Some are designed to directly plug to the device and others are designed to charge batteries separately and easily swap them out.
  • Folding solar chargers
    • By using flexible thin-film solar cells, this charger can be rolled up for portability and opened up when in use to allow for greater surface area exposure.
  • Solar bags
    • The integration of these breakthrough solar cells with bags of all kinds (backpacks, laptop bags, briefcases, etc.) is pure genius. These can charge the device they are specifically designed to carry making them very convenient for the on-the-go traveller.
    • Some even have built-in pouches that can charge double A and/or triple A batteries.

Can these solar battery chargers completely replace the chargers we’re using right now? If you ask me, I would have to say no. Our devices currently consume a lot more energy than these chargers can compensate for. Time is gold and most people just don’t have the time to wait for the charging cycle to complete. However, like any breakthrough technology, you have to give it a chance to develop and improve and the best way to do that is to have consumers use it and give their feedback. If there are hybrid cars, then there are also hybrid chargers. Hybrid technology is the answer to bridging the gap between what we’re used to and what we ought to get used to. Even if it has a premium price tag on it, the benefits speak for themselves.

About Jessica

Jessica is a blog editor at Meiji Electric, the premier electrical supplier in the Philippines. She is a hands-on, technology-oriented girl and loves to tinker with the latest gadgets and equipment. She is also uses the best traveling adapters for that on-the-go convenience.

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Topics: Guest Post, Solar Power, Solar Gadgets

Top Solar Gadgets from 2011

Posted by SEPCO

12/29/11 9:30 AM

I was going through CoolThings and noticed they had quite a few interesting solar gadgets that they wrote about in the last year. Here are the top solar gadgets that I found on that site and a few others.

Cookup200

solar cookup200The Cookup200 is a solar cooker that folds up and fits in a small case. It is a bit odd looking, but is made from 100% recyclable optical polyester laced with aluminum and the frame is made from Portuguese wood. The Cookup200 would be perfect for camping trips or even backyard barbeques, and because it harnesses the energy of the sun, no need for coal, gas, or wood.

Solarball

solarballAnother great gadget to take with you when camping or for use in underdeveloped areas, the Solarball purifies three liters of water using the sun. The ball-shaped rig has two chambers; one for dirty water and one for the clean water. Just fill one side with dirty water, set in the sun, and the Solarball does the rest by evaporating the clean water to the other chamber leaving the dirt and other sediments on the other side.

 

Logitech Wireless Solar Powered Keyboard

Logitech Wireless KeyboardFor the geeks out there looking for something more eco-friendly for their computers, this would be a great change from the standard keyboard that comes with computers. The wireless option also has great benefits; less cable clutter and the ability to not be stuck in one location. And unlike most wireless components, the keyboard is solar powered so no need for replacing batteries. The solar panels built in to the keyboard also charges up for up to three months, so no need to be stuck by a window or only working during the day.

Ray Solar Charger

ray solar chargerThis was one of my favorite gadgets to come across and is definitely on my wish list. The Ray solar charger is equipped with a suction cup that surrounds the solar panel allowing you to stick it on a window or windshield for maximum sun power. It even includes an onboard battery that holds the charge to transfer to your electronic device at the end of the day. Don’t need the suction cup at all times; it also comes with a kickstand to allow it to stand up. Definitely one of the neatest solar chargers I have seen yet.

LuminAID Solar Lamp

luminaidI came across this nifty little solar powered light a few weeks ago and had to make sure this ended up on the list. The LuminAID solar lamp folds up the size of a credit card, but when you blow it up and turn it on it becomes a small LED light. This is perfect for disasters, power outages, or camping. They are small enough to carry multiple solar lamps on you without taking up much space. They recharge to full in 4 to 6 hours and will stay lit for up to 6 hours at a time. Best part is the LuminAID is completely weatherproof as it houses everything inside the material, and they even float. LuminAID Lab is releasing the solar lamps in January 2012, but you can pre-order the light for $25 and one unit is sent to you, the other is donated to a community that needs it.

Diffus Solar Handbag

diffus solar handbagLadies, we didn’t forget about you. There are two interesting solar gadgets that came about this year for women. The first is the Diffus solar handbag, which has 100 tiny solar panels in a stylish pattern on the outer part of the bag. The handbag charges your devices while you are on the go and has a built in purse light that draws power from the onboard battery. All parts are either woven into the handbag or are contained in a hidden compartment and no one is the wiser.

Solar Bikini

solar bikiniAnother solar gadget for women is the solar bikini that will charge your electronics while you are sunning away. You will never run out of battery power for your mp3 player again while wearing this out to the beach.New Yorkdesigner Andrew Schneider uses 40 thin and flexible photovoltaic strips connected by conductive thread, all ending with a USB port.

 
What other solar gadgets did you see come about in 2011? Let us know and we will update to add your favorites.

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Topics: Fun Green Articles, Solar Gadgets

What Solar Power Tables Will Wirelessly Power?...Your Tools!

Posted by SEPCO

7/6/11 10:29 AM

solar contactless charging table panasonic 1 580x363
So there's this brand new direction flowing along side our obsession with the very best wi-fi products [1], and it's the best way to keep their electric batteries totally full. With a lot of the newer pads and tablet pcs, phones, and mobile computers the only common hassle is the most hassle-free method to keep them charged up. I started out questioning what I could do with many of these different units and now I ask myself what I would do with out them. I also worry every night whether I've got each one of them on their own proper wires and charging up for the day ahead.

When the techie items firstly hit the scene there were wires attached with the Flash plug-ins on the computer. This appeared like a quite innovative thought in my opinion originally. I was an admirer of the benefit with which one could simply connect the accessory in during the night while checking out email. Regrettably, like several things, this soon became a problem. How can I get my accessory with me throughout the house if it needs to stay plugged in at the portable computer?

Later followed the USB wall adapter. I went researching one of these soon once my 1st smart phone purchase. I wanted to plug it in to the wall in my bed room and so I would have it with me during the nighttime, but I did not have anything but the Usb charging cord to charge it. The next thing I realised, the wall adapter was coming with most of the units I acquired.

Over the last months, I have started to study and experience details associated with wire less recharging mats. From what I seen at first, they were needing special cases for the products to work with them. Just recently, this was removed. The world of wire-less recharging is getting ready to bust wide open.

We should instead put a pin in that theme. We will be back very soon. In the meantime, we need to talk about the significance of alternative concept [2]. Lots of naysayers to environment friendly tech will tell you it's tree-hugging talk to get individuals to acquire more expensive units and that it's all a silly effort mainly because none of the bad consequences are seriously taking effect. Whether or not that is true, the only issue with that argument is how many folks are in the earth. As a consequence of the amount of people existing on the planet and the number of them using coal and gas driven electrical energy, we have started to have a challenge. Now think of the number of them that will have kids and how that will grow the amount of men and women consuming electric energy and non-renewable fuels. The only possible reliable thing to try is for hi-tech to supply natural ways at the present that can become environmentally friendly preferences later [3].

With that said, ladies and gentleman, I introduce to you the 1st eco-friendly method to power wi-fi all of your portable products, Panasonic's innovative solar-powered wireless recharging table. Due to be revealed at the end of 2011 or early 2012, the brand new table will use solar powered energy accumulated by the solar panels on the face of the table to power the items placed on the table!
This is the potential future of a renewable photovoltaic technology that is Qi enabled.

What is Qi you may ask? Qi has been created by the wireless power trust as a standard specs to be implemented by the makers of recharging accessories, like our completely new table, and the products which they will charge, like your brand new smartphone that is touchscreen display enabled, reads information and has a foldout full-sized key board. This completely new Qi technological know-how has only been known since the beginning of this period, but everyone seems to be looking forward to swift integration and a score of gadget launches. Using Qi with older wifi gizmos is assured, and we will undoubtedly be listening more about Panasonic's innovative solar-powered wire-less recharging table and some other Qi facilitated chargers sooner.

If you want to learn more about solar energy and the way to integrate it in your life I would like to offer you these additional
articles:

- [1] Here you can review more in detail the information relating to the photovoltaic table. Geek.com is a blog site that is focused on tech news articles with discussion. It was the first to report the reports about the Panasonic's photovoltaic table (Photo Credit)

- [2] Here you could have a clear analysis concerning how to use solar powered energy to charge most unit's electric batteries (i.e. mobile phone, car batteries, etc...). If you are not in a position to spend the money for the expense to install a residential photovoltaic system, it might be a good beginning to introduce you to solar panels. 12voltsolarpanels.net is a 100 % free blog site managed by Hettie. She gives you her activities with www.12voltsolarpanels.net to help people create the transition from a full-time electrical energy dependence to a beneficial energy efficiency suggesting solar powered energy to people that need small battery chargers.

- [3] If you possibly can spend the money for the investment to setup solar panels for use on your property (or are eligible for solar tax credits or rebates), here some articles to help you see how solar energy panels work and the way to include them in your daily life. Poolsolarpanels.org is a non profits web site that is focused entirely on pool heating. Rosalind (the blog writer) uses to say that it is usually the initial step when choosing to employ solar powered energy. Most people begin with swimming pool solar panels and find out how solar panel products function, then want to go to photovoltaic for electric power.

About the Author:

Doctor Zara Dobson Twitter is a former post doctoral scientist at the College of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She received a qualification in computing research and high-tech, and proceeded her research study into a Ph.D. working in the Biomedical and Multi media Information Tech at the University of Sydney, Australia. She was a rater for several leading journals in the sustainable energy field i.e. "Renewable Energy World". From '05 to the present she is a guest writer for sustainable energy online sites, personal blogs and community forums.

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Topics: Guest Post, Solar Gadgets

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