DayOne System

A portable solar powered lighting system for use in emergency and disaster situations.

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The goal is to develop a small (approx. 0.5 cubic feet, less than 10 pounds) package including a solar panel, battery, charge controller and one or two lights that can recharge during the day and provide up to 18 hours of light on a full charge.

I recently built a backup power system for my home using four 72 Watt solar kits and four Deep Cycle Marine batteries. These systems have been working well for the past couple of years. So much so that I switched the two main lights we use in the house (the S.O. keeps them on from dusk 'till 10 p.m.) over to run full time on two of these systems. I thought maybe this setup would be a good idea for people in need of light during power outages, disasters, or even refugee camps. So I set about looking for smaller versions of my home setup. I found a reasonably sized 10 Watt photovoltaic panel, a cheap pules width modulated (PWM) charge controller, a 5 Watt 12 volt LED buld and a small, 12 Volt, 8 Amp-hour Solid Lead Acid battery. Solid Lead Acid!? Yes. Why not Lithium based? Well, several reasons. Reason one is cost. To keep this project to a minimum cost and allow it to be accessible to those who really need it, you can't beat the price of a SLA battery for performance. Two, It's not THAT much bigger or heavier than lithium batteries. Three, reliability. I've had some pretty poor reliability with most other rechargeable batteries. Lithium always seems to have inconsistent charge and discharge rates. Other rechargeable batteries just don't seem to last as long per charge. Four, availability and ease of replacement. SLA is pretty easy to find; Radioshack (those that are left) BatteriesPlus, Amazon. You can get them anywhere. So yes, I decided to use a Sealed Lead Acid battery in this project.

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  • Parts Received

    Daniel Topazio05/30/2015 at 00:30 0 comments

    I have received the main components of the build today. A 10 Watt solar panel that I tested in full sunlight to produce up to 21.9 Volts (2:02.7Lbs). A 12 Volt charge controller (4oz), 12 Volt 5 Watt LED light bulb (1.8oz), and the 12 Volt 8 Amp hour Sealed Lead Acid Battery(4:14.3lbs). This is a total of 7.4Lbs. so with the remaining wiring, enclosure, and minor components, I should be really close to the goal weight of 10Lbs. The entire system will be 16.25"x7.25"x3.5". A fully charged battery should run the light for about 18 hours but I plan to test it to see just ho long it will run the light. I also plan to test the recharge time. Now to get it wired up and in an enclosure!

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C Stone wrote 06/15/2015 at 19:04 point

A laptop battery would drop the weight considerably, or even just 18650 lithium cells (what's inside most laptop batteries). Lithium would give you better depth of discharge since you aren't supposed to discharge lead-acid below 50% for best cycle performance vs ~20% depth for lithium. Would need to change the charge controller, but less than half the weight for the same specs, and access to that extra 30%. Something similar to would work. 

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