[aprssig] Put those APRS Solar panels to work!

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Tue Aug 23 12:34:14 EDT 2016

I finally connected the extra solar panels on my  junk hauling Van not only
for the very rare (1%) use in providing power at Ham Field events, but more
importantly for capturing the extra 500W (99% of the time) into my house.


Once you have a Solar NET-METER account, then every solar panel you have lying
around can contribute to your daily energy needs.  This includes panels on
my van (shown), or on an RV if you have one.  In the photo above, you can
see my 6’ cube Ham radio Comm shelter (trailer) overgrown with vines, but
it is operational and ready to go.  The other panel you see is going on its
roof.  See shelter photo on:  http://aprs.org/FD-Prius-Power.html

This way,  you can justify buying large panels for these other vehicles
because now they are contributing 100% 0f the time, not just the 1% of the
time you might be using the actual vehicle.

Large 250W panels are now under $200 from sunelec.com (sales)

Connect them to a 500W or so Chinese grid-tie inverter (under $150 on Ebay).
But again, this only works if you have a net meter account OR if you
generate less power than the absolute minimum that your house draws at ANY
TIME during the day.  If your meter goes backwards (without a net meter) it
will still count UPWARDS and you will pay the utility for the excess you
gave them.

The economics of solar comes from net metering and 24/7/365 production.  If
you have to store your energy in a battery, the battery costs will be
2/3rds of your investment.

Just using solar panels to trickle charge backup batteries has no economic
value.  The solar panels are producing nothing when the batteries are
full.  And you are wasting your solar investment.  But hooked to grid tie,
you get full retail value for every watt you produce.

Thus, my recommendation (if you haven’t gone solar already) is to contract
for the SMALLEST Solar system you can get estimates for.  When they are
done, you are official, permitted, inspected and certified and have a net
meter.  From then on, ANY extra solar you feed to your grid-tie gets retail
value to you 24/7/365.

Solar is here to stay and amortized, costs less than half the utility. See


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