The concepts and basic components of using solar energy are the same whether you’re using it in a house, remote cabin, trailer or tent…

Being off the grid using a small and simple solar set up wasn’t my first choice but nature’s best locations don’t always come with electricity.

I have a small camper trailer. It’s mostly a weekend retreat and located on the shore of Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes. I have beautiful water, gorgeous sunrises, sandy beaches, trees, breezes, my kayak and solar electricity. The solar electrical set up I have runs my furnace fan, water pump, music, lights, portable computer and all kinds of other gadgets I would sorely miss if I didn’t have it. I’m quite comfortable and the set up works great. I’ve been using it for over seven years.
But it took me awhile to get my solar electricity to work great. When I started I initially thought setting up a small solar electrical system would be a relatively simple learning experience. However, being that my past exploits with the intricacies of electricity had basically consisted of plugging a lamp into a wall socket I should have known better. Certainly I’d heard of solar panels. I didn’t know anything about them specifically but I knew they existed. I supported the concept of renewable energy – as if my position on that would be helpful. I just wanted a set up that was simple, small, and inexpensive. And, it had to work well.

I went about the task of learning. Perusing the Internet. After all, how hard could setting up solar electricity be?  I found the Internet is filled with helpful, knowledgeable and kind people who assume you know what “AWG” means. And, therein was an issue; learning enough of the basics, getting the broad understanding and the language down  to the point of being able to ask good questions that related to the set up of my specific solar project. And, beyond that, to actually understand the answers!

I had questions. Lots of questions like: What kind of solar panels do I need? Why? What’s the difference? How big? How many? How big a battery should I get? What kind? And so many more.  

Like anything, solar electricity has a language. Whether your solar electrical set up involves a house, trailer or tent you’ll become familiar with words like array combiner, deep cycle battery, and charge controller, and power inverter, PV, and amps, and amp hours, watts, volts, electrical wire, cable, solar panels, and sine waves, 12v solar, ring terminals, AGM, gelled, AWG, standard flooded, monocrystalline, AC, DC, and so many more depending on how complicated your solar set up gets. All the pieces are inter-related. All of it must fit together.

These days, people are asking me all those “off the grid” solar energy questions. While I’m happy to answer, there’s way more to it than a casual conversation can cover. This web site identifies and ties together the solar electrical components of any simple solar set up. It puts the basics of solar electrical power all in one place which makes it easier to understand.

Good luck with your endeavor!


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