Sunbeams Solar Power!
Turning golden sun beams into pure power..
We went to great lengths to design and build the biggest solar power system we could fit onto the roof of the juice bar!
Through many incarnations and evolutions the Sunbeams solar system finally reached its pinnacle state of being. It has been cut apart and re-welded by ourselves many times on its journey to completion!
It is now a superbly balanced, roof mounted 530w solar power system with a 360° rotation and 0° to 75° tilt with a 440amp hour battery bank built into the juice bar.
Amazingly on a good sunny day this alone can be enough to power all of our equipment in the juice bar:
5 juicers, 2 blenders,3 fridges and the lights too!
(note. the fridges require constant monitoring for power consumption and can easily empty the battery bank if not!).
However, our business is based in the uk, so good sunny days can be few and far between and out of necessity we had to design and build another 2 independent solar power systems to cover the gloomy times.
The other 2 additional systems also have a very similar solar power rating of around 500w and battery banks of around 440amp hours each.
In total between the 3 independent solar power systems we can gather 1.6 kw of solar power and have the combined storage capacity of 1,360amp hours of battery power.
We are now well versed in the design and construction of such purpose built installations and can offer a design and construction service if you would like to create a similar set up yourself. If you would like to enquire about such a service please click here.
Sunbeams Solar trailer- 540w solar power, 480amp hrs battery bank
Solar trailer is available for hire click here for enquiries
Sunbeams Solar van- 510w solar power, 440amp hrs battery bank
We have very much trodden a path of discovery with endeavouring to provide enough solar power to keep the Sunbeams cogs turning!
There wasn't and probably still isn't a very big mobile solar power systems industry and therefore it was very hard for us to find any real experts to guide us on how best to configure such a set up, in fact to be honest we didn't find any that could tell us exactly what we needed to do.
So having struggled through a long and winding learning curve we suggest these observations and
suggestions to anyone hoping to create a similar set up;
Having multiple independent solar power systems is good because when one battery bank is empty you can switch to a second source which allows the first to put all its solar power into replenishing its battery bank. This replenishment can happen surprisingly quickly if you get some sunshine! If you have 1 huge battery bank although it will obviously last longer, when its down you will be in the low power danger zone of the batteries for a long time which is really detrimental to battery life. A big battery bank takes a very long time to replenish and while its desperately needing to get out of the danger zone you will be taking what solar power is coming in on running the equipment.
If you have only one solar power system and you slip up with your monitoring and for example leave the fridges on, your whole battery bank could be emptied and that would be game over for your trading or usage and if the weather is bad that could mark the end for all your trading at an event.
You can calculate your predicted power consumption and think everything is clear cut and hunky dory! We can tell you now it is anything but clear cut! We shouldn't be able to run what we do on the system we have! It is a constant case of monitoring power usage and adapting our usage to suit, which for us means unplugging the fridges and turning the lights off, but strangely equipment wise we rarely have a problem we seem to be able to simultaneously run pretty much anything we have and get away with it to some extent until the power is gone. We've been told its due to pulses of power been provided as opposed to what we imagine being a constant rate. Also equipment uses much more power when working hard than it does idling so if you think it is a 400watt motor so it will continuously draw 400w it doesn't seem to be the case, more so a constant load based fluctuation of power demand.
Obviously keep your equipment to the smallest sized motors that you can
Make your solar system as big as possible!
Beware of LED strip lights! We use loads but they can empty the battery banks in a surprisingly short amount of time compared to running loads of equipment. Probably for the very fact that they do actually draw a constant amount of power.
So to summarise, its really not black and white and very much a case of you have to become incredibly involved with your power usage and learn to how best use your unique set up.
We often get asked "Can you actually run everything on solar power?" and the answer is definitely YES!
But! Its success will be down entirely to the size of your Solar system, battery bank/s and the mastery of your power usage.. and of course the weather! (and yes! we have been caught out a couple of times mainly at longer events with bad weather)
We are sharing these thoughts and information about our set up because for some reason solar powered stalls at events are still
surprisingly uncommon and we want to promote what is possible so that others might be inspired and reassured to do the same themselves and help spur on a movement to make it the norm and not the exception!
note. We have failed to mention above that we do power 1 large fridge and a water heater on LPG since it just wouldn't be possible to power them as well as everything else on the amount of solar power we can generate, it would however be possible with an even bigger setup.