Super-Small-Scale Solar with a Portable Generator and 100-Watt Panel

Solar panel with generator.

We started our urban homestead and Be the Change Project in 2011, dedicated to living a low-impact, high-quality life. Part of having a small footprint and withdrawing support from extractive industries like coal was living electricity-free. And, aside from headlamps, we did that for over seven years. Then, in early 2018, desiring some of the trappings of 21st-Century civilization, such as a laptop, cellphone, and cordless power tools (ahhh, power tools), we decided to get a small solar system to meet our electric wants and needs.

Trying Out the Aeiusny Portable Power Generator

Cost. Wanting a simple, all-in-one system, we bought a single 100-watt panel for about $85 and a 296-watt-hour/400-watt Aeiusny portable power station for about $275. Now, I don’t know much about watts or watt-hours, but after describing what we were looking to accomplish to a friend, he recommended this size of generator. They're common, I’ve learned, with car campers and the RV/VW bus crowd.  We can now easily charge all of our gizmos and bring the battery in at night for some warm, yellow-spectrum light from a string of LEDs.

Using the generator. The power station’s two AC plugs and four USB ports make it easy to plug in and charge away. It has a handy LED display showing its percentage charged, which lets us know when we need to get it back to the solar panel as well as how much each of our gadgets uses.

We’ve learned that our LED lights use next to nothing over several hours — maybe a percent. The cellphone uses almost as little, while the computer will drain a few points over a couple hours. My Ryobi tool battery charger drains the power station rapidly — maybe 40 percent for one battery. As a result, we only charge them during the day when the sun is out, which doesn’t drain the power station battery at all; there’s an equilibrium between the energy input from the sun and the output to the battery.

Charging. The solar generator charges quickly in direct sun, maybe 10 percent an hour, and decently even in partly cloudy conditions. We've never run out of juice, and after a string of several cloudy days, it will eventually dip to about 50 percent.

3/22/2021 2:00:33 PM

Great concept. I'm looking to do the same. Is there a danger of the unit blowing over in a strong wind?

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