Well, it's all in and running so I thought I'd upload a page to detail my experiences and any changes to the original project.
The battery is flat!
My installation has been live for two months now without problems but today the solar regulator/charge controller cut off the battery output for being too low. Now that winter is upon us we have less daylight hours, almost continuous overcast skies and several foggy days which have all reduced the charge from the panel to a trickle. Added to that is the increased demand on the battery as the lighting which runs off it is being used for more hours. Today I just had to bite the bullet and charge the battery back to a healthy condition from the mains using a suitable automotive charger thus cancelling out some of the energy saving I've made! I'm thinking that next year I might see if I can have a play with some kind of small wind generator. There may not be much sun here, but we have wind aplenty!
This addition to the project saves burning 11 Watts of nightlight for up to nine hours a night every night. Two Ikea LED lights, an IC based astable multivibrator and too much time on my hands all add up to Father Christmas being able to deliver presents to the kids bedroom bathed in a dim glow generated by my solar installation! Read more here .
My radio signal alarm clock stopped working from the mains yesterday FORCING me to abandon whatever plans my wife had for me this weekend so that I could concentrate on repairing it and converting it to run from my solar battery. She wanted to just pop out and buy a replacement but oh no - not on my watch...
It's all in the angle of the dangle
Well whaddya know, that's what the wife's been telling me for years. It turns out my autumn-installed solar panel project works best in... uh.. the autumn. In fact, now that it is summer, the sun is so high in the sky that the panel wasn't maximising those rays *and* a shadow from the roof was being cast over the upper third of it. To help counter this I have lowered and angled the panel. It's not ideal - 45 degrees is best judging by the professional installations I saw while on holiday in Rhodes, but these brackets are all I had to play with....
One year later....
Doesn't time fly? A year to the day since I bolted this thing to the side of my house, I ask myself "was it all worth it??"