[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he latest technologies in consumer solar power options was the focus of CMSARA’s February program. A widely known Brandon ham, Steve Powell KF5QXU, told Central Mississippi hams that the current efficiencies in solar panels is about $1 per watt of electric energy although the batteries, frames, solar charge controllers need to be added into that equation for a full cost per watt.
A large crowd attended this informative talk. Many grilled Steve on some of the popular vague notions about solar-based power, such as whether 12VDC is the most effective voltage (yes) and how did the new bendable amorphous panels work? (well!) and what’s needed to keep the batteries from going bad (don’t let them get “low” on current). KF5QXU handled each question quickly with depth, referring some persistent ones to the diagram on his tee shirt. You can’t make up energy. You can just transform it with some less than perfect efficiency!
A new Mississippi company, Be Ready Solar, located in Petal and owned by an amateur radio operator, Eric Williams NU5Y, was discussed. Eric offers discounts to licensed ham operators! They show products at Mid-South hamfests with additional discounts on featured products. Steve encouraged those in attendance to shop local companies like Eric’s since it fosters local innovation, development, and the quick access to solar components.
A lot of interest was expressed by the group, especially for ARES operations. Eric Anderson, Coordinator of the Rankin County ARES Team, said that his group was very interested in adding solar power to the portable generator capability currently used to power equipment and recharge battery operations.
Who knew that a technical talk on solar power could be humorous too? Steve’s knowledge of solar power and “maker faire” in general (such as drone copters and arcade games) allowed him to make several questions and answers into jokes that kept the audience in laughter!
Steve’s handouts downloaded here and here.