Sunday, November 16, 2008

Solar system specs; another shopping trip to Balanga

A number of you have been asking about our solar system. Here is what we can tell you, and some of it we don’t understand but we’re getting the numbers out of a pamphlet. First of all, the system cost roughly $12,000 complete. Some of the work was done by Corregidor Foundation, Inc staff, which may have helped with the cost. On the other hand, the system is on a remote island where additional transportation costs have to be taken into account. CFI has several lights around the island that are solar powered, and possibly other things as well, so they are familiar with the company that did the work.

The system consists of 12 panels that feed eight gigantic batteries. Each battery looks about the size of three car batteries end to end. Our understanding is that the solar panels are manufactured locally and that the batteries come from Malaysia. The system should power our house for five days on full charge without additional sunlight. Should we get to the point where the batteries are discharged, they can be charged by our diesel generator at a rate of about two hours every two days. We have no TV or microwave, so our big draw is the Panasonic refrigerator which is 8.3 cubic feet and has an efficiency rating of 281, which is high/very good. Our stove is gas and we will probably cook outside with wood quite often. When we need air-conditioning, we will probably need the genset.

Now here are the boring or exciting numbers depending on your perspective. The system was installed by TechnoWorks Industries. The panels are BP 275, made by BP Solar. The batteries are Su-Kam SMF (VRLA), whatever that means. System maximum power is 75W. Maximum voltage is 17V. Current is 4.45A. Open circuit voltage is 21.4V.

In other news, we spent our Saturday making another shopping trip to Balanga. Again we chartered a large banca. This time we rented a jeepney, a diesel-fume spewing jalopy with long bench seats that face each other in a closed back. Fortunately the weather was cloudy and not hot, so it was quite nice riding in the back except for when we had to stop, and then a couple of times it got kind of hot. Since our initial trip we realized that there were still a number of things that we needed, so we went through a rather extensive but less expensive list. We bought an outdoor table and chairs, a desk for the computer and files, lots of small hardware items, outdoor cooking supplies, and then we stopped at a grocery store for food.

Now that we have a fridge we can buy fresh chicken, pork, and fish, and store our leftovers. We can also have cold drinks and beer on hand. By the way, we had ice cubes four hours after turning on the fridge, which doesn’t seem to run very often in this cooler November climate.

Some of you have asked for pictures of the inside of the house, When we get things put away and straightened out we should be able to give you a better idea of our very nice living arrangements. So far, our linen closet is a suitcase, which works fine but is less convenient than shelves in the appropriate rooms.

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