Do-It-Yourself Solar-Powered PC: Hardware

61-Watt Solar-Powered PC: Storage Batteries Allow Operation In The Dark, Continued

At a level of around 62 Watt-hours for a one-hour usage period, energy consumption for our solar-powered PC is sensationally low. Those who want to work all day long without plugging into the power grid, though, must purchase solar cells that can generate 1.5 kWh.

Total energy consumption of the solar-powered PC: 61.23 Watts

When the weather is bad, solar cells deliver little power; at night, they don't produce anything. Providing power during such periods requires a storage battery. During the day, when the sun is shining, the solar cells provide energy for the PC, and also charge the storage batteries as well. At night, the PC draws the power from the batteries.

Not looking too energetic: when the weather is lousy, solar cells don't deliver much energy

Solar cells can only deliver energy during roughly half of each day, so the batteries must be able to power the PC for around 12 hours (the other half of the day). We therefore determined that we would need storage capacity of around 1.5 kWh from our battery. It operates at 12 V, which requires a capacity of 130 Ah at 1.5 kWh. We also took into account the fact that transporting energy over a distance as short as 50 feet (15 meters) requires incredibly thick power cables to avoid excessive power losses.

Complete system, including monitor

In the next installment of this article series, we provide a step-by-step description of how we built our solar-powered energy collection and storage system.

Please continue by checking out the other parts of this series:

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  • Raigedas
    i bought this M2-ATX PSU (actually to of them). but i was unable to start it.

    1. first quick question: is it possible to start (for testing purposes) the PSU without connecting it to the computer? is it enough to short circuit J8 only to start?

    2. docummentation is unclear about 10 (J6). it looks like J6 is purely for controlling stereo amplifier. but other place of the manual says "if J6 is cnnected to the motherboard". where to motherboard?

    3. how should PSU be connected?
    for testing i have taken 12V 7Ah lead acid battery fully charged.
    connected battery "-" to J4.
    battery "+" to J1.
    J3: tried to leave not connected and tried to connect battery "+".
    disconnected power switch cable from motherboard and connected it to J9.
    connected J8 with motheboard (using little cable included in the package) where power switch was originally connected.
    left J6 not connected.
    J10 not connected (P0 mode). also tried P1 mode.
    connected ATX and P4 (J2).
    pressed power on my pc but nothing happened and no voltage on MOLEX cable.

    could authors of the article (or maybe other owner of the PSU) describe how did they start the PSU?