This will be a continuing work in progress.
electricity from the sun by John Drake II | home
About Us | About this website. | Getting Started | Solar Panels / Photovoltaic Modules - Read Before You Buy | Make A Plan | PV System Layout and Parts | Start with the loads you are going to operate | Battery Types and Sizing | Battery Safety | Battery Charging Voltages and Temperature | Battery Trouble Shooting | Charging Batteries - You can't have everything. | Battery State of Charge and Measurement | Safety Devices Fuses and Circuit Breakers | Series & Parallel Wiring | Wiring and Power Distribution Connections | Photovolatic Module Specifications - Real or a Pipe Dream | Photovoltaic module solar panel location and positioning | Photovoltaic Module and Solar Panel Information | Charge Controller Types | Wire and Cable Types | Wiring - Doing it Right | Connections for Wiring | Voltage Drop - Wire Loss, What are they? | Outdoor Connections | Wire loss - Voltage drop charts | D.C. to A.C. Inverters | Low Voltage D.C. Lighting & Color Temperature of Light | Battery System Monitoring | Dont fool yourself - Spending your money wisely. | Solar Converters GS-1AC | Linear Current Boosters for Water Pumping | Utility Grid Intertie Systems | Solar Insolation Chart | More Information | Alternative Energy Expectations | Power Needs Worksheet | Reference Sources | Contact Us
I became interested in alternative energy, really solar energy, around 1963 when I
saw a science fiction movie titled "The Flame Barrier" one Saturday evening on the
local science fiction / horror television show.
In the movie "solar batteries" helped Arthur Franz save the world from an alien life form
that came to earth on satellite.
In 1964 I had saved up enough "sweeping up the shop" money to go to a hobby store near
where my dad worked in Long Beach.
On a display was an International Rectifier booklet titled "selenium cell and sun battery".
It had instructions on different solar electric experiments and in a bubble on the front
cover was an "SM2" selenium cell.
I walked out of the hobbie store broke.
That booklet is in our history of solar electricity display in my office - the selenium cell was
lost a couple of decades ago (I found one to replace it).
Not long after that I was at my Uncle Ben's house and he showed me a Hoffman Solar portable
radio - that really got my attention.
In the late sixties and early seventies I picked up up a few solar cells and small panels from
Edmond Scientific and a couple of other outfits.
The interest ebbed and flowed until around 1978 when I bought some "big" solar panels, nowadays
referred to as photovoltaic modules.
They were Solec 12 volt modules with a rating of about 33 watts each.
The upside was that I finally had some panels that put out some serious power, the downside
was that they cost about a months rent each.
We moved in here in 1984 and I did not waste any time, one of the first things we did was mount photovoltaic
modules on the roof and hook up some 12 volt d.c. lights and fans.
In 2001 I decided to put in a small utility grid-intertie system for giggles.
Once up on the roof I decided it was time for a re-roof before putting any large modules up in racks.
Off came the panels, and old roofing, and once the new roofing was installed I put together a 400 watt grid-intertie system.
Back then the State of California paid for half of the equipment.
Shortly thereafter we put up 12 volt panels for new battery based systems.
Currently we 12, 24 and 48 volt battery based systems at our location.
To be continued.