Solar panel
March 2, 2006 1:27 PM   Subscribe

I have an old portable solar panel setup rattling around, and I'd like to put it to use.

It's constructed like a zip up binder, with a panel on the inside of each cover. It has a car-cigarette lighter type connector. I bought it at a moving sale, so I don't have much in the way of information or documentation, but I've determined that the company that made it has disappeared.

I'd like to use it to power, or at least charge, a laptop. (I just got a new one, so I have laptop fever.)

How do I measure or otherwise determine the output? It hasn't been sunny here in a few months, so the obvious method of laying it in the sun and sticking a multimeter on it won't work, but spring is coming...

How do I determine which inverter I need?

Links to websites with instructions/howtos would be appreciated. I can only seem to find pages that want to sell me stuff.

I'd also love some suggestions for other uses...
posted by pullayup to Technology (4 answers total)
Response by poster: I guess it might be helpful to add:
the laptop's power brick puts out 16v 4.5a, so that's 72 watts that I need to feed it...right? This isn't a huge solar panel--around the size of 2 8.5x11 sheets of paper--so I'd guess it's less than that, maybe 20-30w.
posted by pullayup at 1:41 PM on March 2, 2006

Look around this Solar Batterty Tutorial, it should tell you the calculations you need to worry about. Also it mentions that a charge controller would be a good idea and should help you utilize your panel to the exact specifications of your laptop charger.
posted by ZackTM at 2:38 PM on March 2, 2006

If you have a model number it's info is probably available. As for charging your laptop, plugging the automotive charging adaptor into the solar panels"car-cigarette lighter type connector" is the way to go (you don't need an inverter). From the size it sounds in the 5-10 watt range but i will look at one of them at work and will see what it's rateing is.
That said, back up your data, warranty? read the manual etc.
posted by blink_left at 9:30 PM on March 2, 2006

So i just looked at one "It's constructed like a zip up binder, with a panel on the inside of each cover. It has a car-cigarette lighter type connector. " at work.
It has "no boundaries" on a tag sewn on the outside. Surprise it is a 20 watt panel, 8 cells 5"x5" under fiberglass with a cig lighter adaptor, $ new.
Nice find... So if your's is close to the same,you can charge any 12volt battery at 20 watts per hour in the sun.
posted by blink_left at 11:26 AM on March 4, 2006

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