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In the first installment of this series of articles we dealt with the technologies that permit solar energy to be collected and converted into electricity, to drive a solar-powered PC. In this second installment, we examine the components we chose to include in that PC, particularly in terms of how they meet our stringent requirements for minimal energy consumption. To that end, our Munich test labs made many measurements, which ultimately let us assemble a world-record-making desktop PC. The third and final installment in this series will provide a step-by-step description of the solar energy collection and storage system that made all this possible, so that interested readers can use it as a guide to build their own solar-powered PCs.
Our 61 watt solar PC, including the monitor, is constructed entirely from desktop components. Of course, we could have used a notebook, which already includes a monitor and a battery, and which seldom consumes more than 16 to 20 Volts. But the Tom's Hardware editorial staff elected to push the limits of technical feasibility. Our goal was to see what's possible and to provide instructions to others on how to make a desktop PC that runs only on solar energy, without any connection to the power grid whatsoever. This makes our PC location independent, and enables it to travel anywhere in the world where there's enough sunshine to meet its needs.
Of course, nobody is likely to do this for mobility's sake alone, simply because of the total weight of our rig, and the fact that solar panels don't really qualify as carry-on or even checkable luggage. It's probably best to treat this project as a kind of feasibility study, and as a stepping stone to other similar test builds. As is our practice at Tom's Hardware, we provide a wealth of information in this series of articles, not just to expose some fascinating technologies, but also to enable our readers to follow in the footsteps we document so carefully. In fact, it's not unthinkable that a system like this one might wind up in a remote mountain cabin or a hunting lodge in many places around the world.