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Wi-Fi Sunlogger

Wi-Fi Sunlogger

It is a solar-powered data collector that records sunlight exposure. This RCM3400-based device is the perfect tool to have on hand when scouting out sites for solar panel installation.
SOLAR PANELS

Designing a solar-powered project can be a challenge. The objective is to collect enough solar power to power the device. Approximately 1 kW of solar power irradiates each square meter of earth when the sun is directly overhead on a clear day. This is a lot of power. Harnessing it, however, turns out to be tricky.

The best photovoltaic solar panels can convert approximately 20% of solar power into electrical power. These are expensive panels used in applications where efficiency is more important than cost. Satellites and space probes are one example.



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Affordable panels can convert at less than 10% efficiency. The flexible solar panels I used (made by Iowa Thin Film) come in a variety of sizes and configurations. I chose a 74 mm × 150 mm panel that has an operating current of 100 mA and an operating voltage of 3.6 V. I made this decision because I needed a panel that outputs 3.6 V (you’ll learn why later) and fits in the clear enclosure without wasting too much unused area. Photo 1b shows what this looks like.

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