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Solar charger solution for a rural village Answered

As a nonprofit we are looking to adopt a solar technology to provide power for a rural community in Africa for: 1. charging cells phones It should be able to charge at least 5 cell phones at a time 2. charging small electronic cameras batteries It should be able to provide enough power for charging the batteries. 3. Durable and water proof We are looking for a solution that will last longer and provide service to the community If you know a solution we can buy, implement ourselves , or can provide us with solid suggestions for choosing a solar charging system, please let me know. thanks



9 years ago

I believe the simplest solution to your problem would be to use a solar panel and charge controller to charge 12V deep-cycle batteries, and run an inverter from that which could power the chargers on a powerstrip. This may not be the absolutely most efficient method, but it is probably the most flexible (will run any plug-in charger that uses the right voltage, will run at night providing the batteries are charged) and doesn't require a lot of hacking- all the parts are commercially available.

I suggest you read the fantastic SPREE Instructable- this is doing exactly what your stated aim is, providing a single portable device which stores solar energy and makes it available to run low-power mains devices from. The Solar Power System is a similar build, but possibly overspecced with a 1200W inverter and three large batteries.

The SPREE quotes $160 for all the parts to build his device, but that only uses a 5W panel. This Instructable describes how to build a 60W solar panel for around $100 (though the price may subsequently have risen).
This Instructable describes how you can build your own 12V battery charger, which may also lower costs. I haven't seen any Instructables on DIY inverters, but they are reasonably cheap parts.

I appreciate your help. Thank you very much for point out these solutions.

I don't know of any systems that meet those requirements, but if any of you have experience with electronics, you could buy pieces of solar panels from ebay and connect them into one bigger panel. You may even be able to recruit the services of a local electrician as a donation. All assuming you have a tight budget. Durability and water resistance would just be a matter of encasing it properly.

If all you want to run is five mobiles and five sets of batteries, why not buy ten Freeloaders?

Here is a supplier randomly selected by googling: http://www.solartechnology.co.uk/

You could even contact suppliers, pleading developing nation poverty and trying to get them donated for free, especially if you add that the systems are essential for heath information or replacing diminishing fuel resources etc.

Thanks a great deal Kiteman! I will check it out.