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Because our solar-powered PC setup was first and foremost a research project, we didn't manage costs as a paramount concern. This affects our choice of solar panels most directly, along with related cabling, devices, and other components. Nevertheless we did attempt to keep costs as much under control during our construction as we could. Thus, this overview can also serve as a shopping list for interested potential users.
By themselves, costs for the solar collection and storage components came to $2,685. Including a little over $1,000 for the solar-powered PC with monitor, total project costs come to $3,796 - $3,800 in round numbers. A direct copy of this project is only possible for those who can obtain the same components that we used ourselves; costs will certainly vary with the differences between our choices and those that others make. Our budget also includes measurement tools, so that builders can check voltage and current levels in their constructions.
|Solar Power Rig|
Substitute Kyocera KC130TM
Substitute Monster 300 4 gauge
PowerFlex cable (80 ft)
|16 mm2 cable||$220|
|4 mm2 cable
Substitute Monster 200
10 gauge power cable (25 ft)
|2.5 mm2 cable
Substitute 12 gauge speaker wire
2 conductor (50 ft)
Includes terminal clamps
Battery-powered Black&Decker model
screws, sheet metal, incidental parts
|Pivot & rollers||$30|
|Keyboard - Mouse||$35|
In the preceding list, incidental parts include solder, wire nuts, miscellaneous electrical components, conduit, and so forth. We also used various tools to complete this project, including drills and drill presses, battery-powered screwdrivers (to drive screws, not to handle the steering rope for the solar panels), saber saws, and all kinds of hand tools. A well-equipped workbench is a must for anybody who wants to tackle this kind of project for themselves.
We are completing this effort with our fourth installment - a live test - to conclude this series of articles. Using our test equipment we will set up a Web site with 24-hour coverage of the solar powered PC so that visitors can come check it out online any time they like.
During the live test we will also share our experiences in building the project, observe whether the solar powered PC can maintain constant operation, measure the output of our solar panels, and keep tabs on how much energy we have at our disposal over time.
Those readers who might like to start at the beginning of this series will find the first two installments and the live test here: