Starting a DIY Solar project
- Dear Janet et al,I think the best way of dealing with your enquiry is to outline the various ways that DIY Solar may not be acceptable even when mains power is not available locally.Obviously it can also be useful where mains power is intermittent but I will ignore that situation for now.I suppose the most common problem is where people know something about
pv solar (maybe seen in town) and expect us to offer quite large panels as used to power TVs, etc.
We make every effort to disabuse them from the start, saying that not more than 10 watts is reasonable, but still many dream of powering a large TV set or computer at minimal cost!DIY Solar can be used for small TVs and LOW power laptops but few people have these low power items.
Perhaps the main reason for projects to fail is, as already mentioned, lack of good communication!
The DIY Solar technique is well outside the experience of most and represents a real challenge to many.
I have even had someone with a degree in Physics admitting that anything technical was beyond her. This was after a failed DIY Solar mission to the Gambia!If a project is kept simple - like copying the free sample unit sent - then it involves no technical know-how.Even easier is the making of the simple mobile battery solar charger with a pv module and bent wires.This is also the pv solar item most likely to "sell" and therefore minimise any financial problems.It seems to me that any project must be led by one person who is confident that he/she can manage the project and has the trust of the others in the NGO!
Whoever it is, they must start with something as simple as possible and then later choose to solar adapt radios/torches, etc sending details of batteries they normally require so that leaflets can be compiled showing any modifications needed.As you will know this pv technique has been adopted by Solar Aid and they work in several countries.I recommend that every effort is made to visit www.solar-aid.org/ not only for the technical info but because they are also trying to use this technique to help people start small enterprises!YoursGrahamP.S. Here are extracts from emails between Wendi and me last February:The Solar power that we need here first is a small complete solar power home system for villagers that can power 24/7 that is characterized by 220 ov/240 ov A.C ,1000WATTS[1KW] at a round sign wave form.I'm afraid that you are going to be disappointed - it seems DIY Solar is not for you!When this pv project started off years ago it was intended to offer a way for people to replace buying unaffordable dry cell batteries.It can now do more than that now but still produces just a few watts at best!What has most changed is our approach to new contacts - we urge them not to just consider what a few watts can do but also how this technique can be used to give empowerment to those with so little self-confidence by starting a small business!It requires little or no fundingWhat you are looking for requires lots of funding - many thousands of dollars - and if you succeed perhaps you will be in a situation like so many others in Africa.Everything is wonderful for a while and then something goes wrong. Who can mend the complex system? For how much? Do they have to come from Europe?Think of the extra cost!