OK, it's been how many years? I bought a cordless electric lawn mower back in 2004 with the idea of gradually replacing most of my electrical tools with cordless ones so that they could be charged from solar panels.
I have now finally splashed out and bought my first solar pv panel, battery, regulator and inverter. The lawnmower is no longer running - just needs a new battery, I think - but now I can start weaning myself off the grid.
The catalyst for getting the panel was a trip to the AfrikaBurn festival in the Karoo, where there is no power, no water and no cellular phone reception. In fact nothing at all. Thousands of people descend on the temporary Tankwa Town in the desert, and a week later they pack up and leave nothing behind. It's the little brother of Burning Man in Nevada, USA.
As it turns out, I am getting a ride to AfrikaBurn with a colleague, as my car has needed emergency repairs, so I can no longer bring the solar equipment. But at least I've made the initial leap. Here's what I bought (and if you're in Cape Town, I recommend SetSolar as a supplier):
90W panel manufactured right here in Cape Town by SetSolar (model M750P)
- Steca 6.6F - 6A charge controller 12/24V
- One 100Ah deep cycle battery 12V
- Cotek 350W pure sine wave inverter 12V
Total bill: R5,700 (about USD 850)
That's not big enough to run more than a typical desktop computer for more than three hours when the sun's not shining, but it's easy enough to add batteries and panels as the cash becomes available. But my initial purpose is to run a small water pump for a grey water system I hope to build. I will keep you posted on that too.