BBadger wrote:Short of those crappy little solar lawn lights for demarcating areas or guylines, for me solar power for BM is a complete joke.
I think most mid-sized camps (e.g. 5-25 people) work something like this:
First year: "We need power for some lights and low-power sound. I have a generator. Great. Bring it."
If the gas, noise, and fumes are not an issue, stop. Keep bringing the generator. Otherwise ...
Second year: "Let's try solar. Wow, that's expensive."
- Use the generator.
- Buy Harbor Freight's shitty solar system.
- Find someone with expertise:
"So we want lights and sound. We use about 40 watts on average with the lights and sound."
- Buy a 90-watt panel, charge controller, 90AH deep-cycle battery, and 100-watt pure-sine inverter for a total cost of around $900.
- Take a closer look at usage:
"Did we really use the sound system that much? What if we cut it back to a small car stereo and use a couple LED strings. Nobody was really at camp much anyway. We can get down to 10 watts average at night and skip the inverter."
- String together 4 cheap 5-watt panels on close-out, add in a cheap charge controller, and 2 sealed lead-acid (SLA) absorbed gas-mat (AGM, work well as deep-cycle) batteries from the computer UPS's at home that aren't being used anyway, spending under $100.
- Pare down even more and just use a deep-cycle battery all week to charge AA batteries.
- Go back to the generator.
Where I'm at right now is with a small pack that holds one AGM battery, a decent solar controller, some wiring for an AA battery charger, a 12V USB adapter for the Galaxy Player (Android version of iPod) and a 75-watt power inverter in case I need to do a little soldering and to run a couple strings of LED lights (that still work after 4 years on the Playa). I have 20 watts of solar panels from garage sales that I think I paid a total of $20 for. All told I probably spent about $100.
In general, adapting usage for the environment let me get to something cheap and portable. Solar is possible to make viable at Burning Man, but it takes a bit of thinking. Money and carrying-capacity can make up for thinking.