Inexpensive And Portable Solar Lighting For Your Tiny House

I see Instagram photos, blog posts, and status updates on a daily basis that show incredible solar systems in place on tiny houses, travel trailers, small homes. Heck, even the beautiful sailing vessels shown on this site as of late have solar power. I awe at the engineering, the understanding, the translation, and the implementation. Two years ago it was all I could do to purchase a small kit from Harbor Freight, hook it to my ATV battery, and get it to turn on a lamp. I was dumbfounded. Unfortunately, times have not changed and my family still is not on solar in a way that would pull us off grid for any amount of time. We make do though with the help of some very clever products that work without being part of a larger system. One of those is our current lighting discovery: MPOWERD Luci solar lamps.

MPOWERD 1Perhaps what I think is most admirable about Luci is that its mother company MPOWERD “aspires to empower people everywhere with innovative and affordable personal clean energy products. Inspired by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that left millions without power, MPOWERD was founded by a group of like-minded individuals in 2012 who wanted to ‘do good by doing well’.” Not only do they sell a very affordable, efficient, and clever product, but they do so with a conscious and a desire to provide clean energy products and solutions for people living and playing on and off the grid.

I invite you to spend the next 4 minutes watching this short video on the ease and effectiveness of Luci solar lamps. Just hover over the video image and click on the red, centrally located, standard YouTube play button to view.

After having watched the above video I hope you’ll consider subscribing to the Tiny r(E)volution via the button below for a weekly video uncovering more topics of tiny houses and life on the road.

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By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

 

Tiny House Solar, Part 1

solar panel

You have a Tiny House or one is in your future plans. You are fired up to start taking control of your energy needs by adding in a solar array. But the question is, how do you tackle this new endeavor?

Before we get into the dynamics of a solar array, it is best to understand a few options available to you right now. And in these options, we are going to specifically address off-grid solar arrays. Off-grid solar arrays function without the use of the electrical grid, which makes them ideal for tiny houser’s. A typical off-grid solar array has a lot of different mechanisms that need to work together in perfect harmony. Some of these mechanisms are the charge controller, ground fault protection, circuit breakers/fuses, bypass switches, DC monitoring (if available), the inverter, and more.

This is enough work to intimidate an experienced solar designer let alone someone new to solar. However, before you get discouraged, most off-grid solar manufacturers have already created a solution. The solution is typically termed as a distribution panel, epanel, or FLEXpower system depending on the manufacturer. Essentially, each of these systems is a form of a pre-wired distribution panel. This means that a good portion of the complexity in designing an off-grid solar array has been lifted off your shoulders.

Outback FLEXpower System

Outback FLEXpower System

A great example is Outback Power’s FLEXpower system. This FLEXpower system is as close to plug-and-play as you can get in an off-grid solar array. All of the mechanisms required to create an off-grid solar array have been package and pre-wired for you. The charge controller, circuit breakers, battery disconnects, dc monitoring, inverter, etc. are all wired together for you in one neat ready to ship package. What you are left with is adding your own solar modules, batteries, and AC electrical panel.

Please note that this is not a sales pitch for Outback Power. I am merely using this product as an example based on its seamless integration. This package eliminates a lot of installation error as the protective devices and wire sizing have all been done for you. There are other versions created by manufacturers such as Magnum Energy, Xantrex, and Midnite Solar. This just happens to be the most completely done version on the market today in my opinion.

Stay tuned as in the next articles we will talk about sizing the solar array, sizing the battery bank, discussing the AC Electrical Panel, and much more.

For more information on Tiny House Solar, please visit our website at:
http://www.solarunplugged.com/tiny-house-solar/

Midnite Solar E-Panel

Midnite Solar E-Panel

Magnum Energy MMP panel

Magnum Energy MMP panel

Portable Solar Camping

We spent most of last week camping at Big Bear Lake in Southern California. We were celebrating my mother’s 80th birthday and also my folks 60th wedding anniversary that actually happened back in June. Also it was the first time in a couple of years that all of us were able to get together. My two brothers and my sister and all our kids and their spouses. It was lots of fun. My uncle and his wife live down the road from where we camped so we did go to their home as well.

My wife and I also celebrated our 32nd anniversary on this trip so that was fun also.

80 watt solar panel

This was my first chance to use the Zamp Solar 80 Watt panel that I featured back a few months ago in a post in a test based at our home. I am happy to tell you that it kept up with our usage of electricity. Though we really just used the power for the water pump for the kitchen and toilet and lights at night I was happy to find out that the 80 watt solar panel could easily keep up with that type of use. Each day I would connect the panel and within two or three hours it would top off my battery. It is exciting to use the sun in this way. I did not have to turn the generator on once during our four day camping trip.

To learn more about this panel visit my previous post called the 80 Watt Zamp Solar Portable Charging System.

The Family

The Family

Janelle and I

Janelle and I