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Whether your solar electric adventure is associated with ‘camping’, ‘cruising’, ‘vacationing’ or just plain ‘living’, and whether you experience it in a tent, pop-up , trailer, boat or remote cabin, solar energy/power can make your experience easier, more fun, more comfortable and safer. Electrical power is a wonderful gift. An investment in solar electricity can keep right on giving for many years.
The concepts and components behind using solar energy are the same whether you have one small panel or fifty panels so understanding those concepts prepares you for the specifics no matter what the circumstances.
Major components of a small system:
Solar panels turn light into electric current.
Array Combiners combine wires from two or more panels into one positive and one negative wire that connects to the charge controller.
Charge Controllers control the charge of that current to the battery.
Batteries store electricity in DC form.
Inverters have outlets and convert DC electricity into AC electricity just like at home.
It’s basically simple.
Whatever size of solar electric system you choose to assemble, your solar energy system will be unique to your needs, geography, and wallet size. If it gives you what you want, fabulous. Obviously, the bigger your system the more familiar you’ll become with additional components or component “helpers” like circuit breakers, battery monitors, distribution blocks and lots of stuff that small systems can do without.
An important thing about this is learning enough to ask good questions or put another way, learning enough to know what you should be asking questions about.
If your situation is a bit more complicated or you just don’t want to deal with it yourself consider hiring an electrician. More and more electricians are learning about solar electricity.
I’m not a solar energy enthusiast because I have a strong scientific, environmental or business interest in that direction. I don’t. I just wanted electricity and couldn’t get it any other way. The more I understood it however the neater it became. There’s something about that feeling of independence. When the electricity goes out for everyone else I hardly notice. I like it like that. And, rugged independence need not be quite so rugged!