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Onyx Shines a Light on 330-watt Portable Solar Panels

Sections: Green Home Tech

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Onyx, normally a developer of large solar panel installations, has pulled the wraps off of its new 330-watt solar panels, which can either be installed on a home, or brought along for the ride. The 330 series are the first to feature a US standard power outlet right on the device, and the 330-2 has a high capacity lithium ion battery included to keep you rocking at night. Pricing and average battery life have not yet been revealed, but it looks like they intend these panels to be more of a commodity than usual, citing the neighborhood hardware store.

What makes the new “Plug-N-Play” panels such a game changer in the solar industry is that they are designed for the large “Do-it-Yourself” market. You can literally point the panel at the sun and plug an extension cord directly into the panel for immediate power – alleviating complicated wiring and typical installation requirements. The new panels are designed to be bought right off of the shelf in a hardware store, attached to any surface with 4 screws and immediately be put into service, powering a computer, fan, light or even a medical device. This new configuration will also help allow remote residences worldwide to have easier access to the power of the sun.

If they can make these panels cheap enough, this really could end up being something. 330 watts is enough to serve the power needs of your average outdoor installation. If the battery is large enough, say enough to power a TV and some lights for 3 hours or more, there’s probably a huge market in the camping industry for it as well.   More information is expected at the company’s press event in Florida next week.

Via: [Yahoo Finance]

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  • tahrey

    Given the similarly equipped 200w permanent-install ones you were previously talking about cost $1000, then should we expect these to cost upwards of $1667? Or probably north of $2000, if the battery has any kind of usable capacity (given that even dangerously cheap laptop batteries come in at $50 for a 50Wh pack… so an extra $330 to hold an hour’s worth of max-output charge… and of course, they wear out after a few years even if you don’t habitually abuse them). That’s a heck of a lot of money to spend to get 330w -maximum- for a few hours a day, unless you’re really stuck for other generation or hookup options, and live somewhere remote or do a great deal of camping trips.

    A small diesel fuelled generator and a very great number of hours worth of fuel would compare favourably and not be that noisy or polluting … 330w is less than 1/2 horsepower. Even if the electrical side was only 50% efficient, a 1hp diesel engine would be very low-capacity (about the same as a moped engine but much lower revving and better muffled) and cheap-ish – I pay the equivalent of 42 US cents per hp-hour (56c/kWh) for the stuff at UK pump prices and running my car’s engine at about the same rpm (3000, at 80mph) as the genny would have to turn. How long and how high consumption a series of camping trips would you have to go on in order to burn through 1000 kWh and so spend about $1000 out of the panel’s potential $2000 asking price? It takes me long enough to use that much electricity at HOME… (if the generator itself costs you more than $200, you’ve done something badly wrong).

    Heck, you could almost certainly get away with adding a couple of heavy duty leisure batteries (arguably quite a bit cheaper, deeper cycling, longer lasting and environmentally friendlier than an equivalent amount of Lithium Ions, though of course heavier) and a 330w inverter to your RV (or just your car, if tent camping) and occasionally (fast-)idle the engine to top them off, especially if it’s also diesel. Run the car/RV engine or generator on waste oil biodiesel for extra cheapness and eco friendliness points.

    And then there’s always the option, if staying at a commercially operated camp site, of paying for a power hookup. Expensive compared to home power, yes, but probably cheaper and more reliable than this.

    If it’s reasonably lightweight (even with truly brilliant Li Ion batteries you won’t get 100Wh of storage for less than 1lb, but 3.3lb may be worth it?) then it could well have a market for those who prefer to do their camping way off the beaten path, somewhere that you can only walk or (motor)cycle to, or who are taking their trip without a four-plus wheeled conveyance anyway, and are going somewhere without much in the way of facilities, in the name of eco friendliness, cheapness, or adventure…

    …but then what will they be bringing along that needs oh so much power but is still portable? Camping stoves tend to work by burning things. An electric kettle would munch through almost 50Wh just boiling two cups of tea or preparing a single serving of noodles. Laptops bring their own battery along and have modest charging requirements (when measured, my own one’s AC adaptor peaked at just under 60w – full screen brightness, all radios on, doing processing that hammered both the CPU and disk, whilst recharging an almost completely dead battery), cellphones, touch-tablets and E-readers even more so. LED lanterns, radios and travel TVs are similarly low-demand, and the former two items even come in forms that can be wound up by hand. Maybe a hairdryer/set of GHD straighteners or something? Satellite phone, shortwave radio set? Sandwich toaster? Possibly (for the only half realistic idea) a mini-fridge?

    It seems like a cool, innovative, and rather expensive solution in search of a problem.