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Thoughts on my idea for a portable solar charging station.

 
Posts: 13
Location: NW Michigan
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I want to build a small portable solar charging cart, however I have several questions or concerns about my idea. I have a general idea in my head but I would like to hear your thoughts and criticizms about it. I have not really put much thought into system specs like wattage or battery storage capacity yet, but it will probably be pretty small.

As for my general idea, I was thinking of a triangular shaped cart that will be built to match the ideal winter angle for our latitude here. The solar panel (or panels) could be hinged at the top of the cart in order to adjust to our ideal summer angle. Adjustments could be notched or more of a fluid screw adjustment; however I think notched adjustments would be easier and require less maintenance.

I thought it would work to use cedar tongue and groove boards as a way to protect the components and whatever tool batteries and usb devices are charging from water.

The cart could either have 2 or 4 wheels, with removable handles to move it by hand, although it could also be pulled by a truck or tractor.

We live in northwest Michigan where we can experience 6 months or more of freezing temperatures, which brings me to a couple of questions.

1. If I choose to use lithium ion batteries, when should I remove them for storage, if I can't protect them from the temperature extremes?
2. Are there specific types of equipment that are preferred for winter usage?
3. Could I still use the panels to charge DC when the battery bank is in storage for the winter?
4. What would you do differently?

Thanks to Dre for the giveaway of a great tool, which inspired me think more about this project and cobble together some of my ideas. This will probably be a project for early next year. I still want to talk to a local solar company, CBS Solar, out of Copemish Michigan to get their perspective and advice too.

Thanks for any input you have!
 
Posts: 838
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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So wattage is everything, battery storage is everything when it comes to solar.  So that is important, because what you want to run on it requires voltage/wattage.

Why do you want it to be portable?   What are you planning to run on it?  What's a "fluid screw adjustment?"
 
Todd Gerardot
Posts: 13
Location: NW Michigan
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The idea for portability is to increase versatility and ease to move if we decide to move on or off property. Another reason for the portability is that there is no permanent structure that would be suitable for solar. There is a small shed but it does not get much sun.

It would also be nice to have the capability to run corded power tools remotely.

The screw adjustment would just be more prone to rust and replacement than a simpler notched adjustment.
 
Todd Gerardot
Posts: 13
Location: NW Michigan
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I anticipate it will be used primarily to charge batteries for power tools and small usb devices.
 
pollinator
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Location: Victoria BC
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I would suggest hinging at bottom; better to have the panel/s low to the ground when flat, for wind safety.

My cart has no hinges, I just tilt the entire cart when needed. Last winter it was hauled up against a tree at a about a 55 degree angle; right now it is flat.

It is just panels, tho; the batteries and charge controller are inside the tinyhouse. Some batteries can be tilted, others not so much..
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