Holiday updates

Being the new year/decade with the Christmas season behind us, I am declaring my photovoltaic experiment a success. I was able to power our Christmas tree every day this season using only the solar energy I collected with my two PV arrays!!!

A couple caveats:

  • I switched to LED lights. The incandescent lights, even the tiny ones, would not have made it. The same number of bulbs would have used over 75 Watts compared to the less than 15 Watts we drew.
  • We had a much smaller tree with only 1/3 the lights (210 vs. 600).
  • I was more conservative in light times, especially after a few cloudy days in a row when the battery voltage ran low
  • I plugged the track lights into the wall. Running both those and the tree would have been too much!

All in all, I was quite satisfied.

We had a different location for the tree this year – on the corner as you enter our family room instead of in the back corner of that room near the windows. Here is a picture, followed by two others showing the LED bulbs lit up (with and without room lights).

New Xmas tree loation

LED lights on plus track lightLED lights only

Dan was quite (pleasantly) surprised to have been given a new Android (Motorola Droid) smart phone for a Christmas present by his loving family! Being based on an Open Source platform, there are all sorts of cool apps to download, many for free. One of the best ones is from Google itself, which is a spoken turn-by-turn navigation/map system application that rivals any other dedicated GPS unit out there. We tried it several times already and it works very well. We also downloaded a compass app which displays a working compass on the screen! Fun stuff.

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