Solar Solar Solar 101

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So you want to run your coffee machine on solar? What about your TV and DVD player.

Unfortunately, you are not able to do that, kind of you can but you cannot. Ok did I confuse you? This is the deal; Solar is used to charge your batteries that’s it, it will do no less and no more than that, just charge your batteries.

Well, you probably say that stinks, why should I do that. Let me explain step by step how it works. I hope we all know that solar panels while in the sun generate electricity.

Solar panels work on the principle of the photovoltaic effect. When certain materials are exposed to light, they absorb photons and release free electrons. … Based on the principle of photovoltaic effect, solar cells or photovoltaic cells are made. They convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity.

Let’s start with a simple explanation and a drawing, after that, we go deeper into solar.

This is the most simple drawing of what a solar installation looks like. Yes, you are missing the exact way of cabling, safety measures, and other connections around it. But as I said a solar array is to just charge the batteries and this is a simple picture of just that;


Thus far we do not have a way to make coffee, what’s in the can is old and cold and I like to make fresh but I need 120 volts AC (Alternating current) and that’s not available (yet) as we only have a 12 volts DC (direct current) battery that is charging from the solar.

Now first let’s step back a little, what about the charge controller in this picture, what does it do?

We need to bring the voltage down to between 14 to 14.5 volts to get the battery fully charged, this is the basic task of the charge controller, it regulates how much voltage is going to the battery because the panels are giving 18.9 volts.

Let’s look at a numerical example. Say you have 2 x 100 Watt solar panels and a 12V battery bank. Since each panel is 12V and the battery bank you want to charge is 12V, then you need to parallel your system to keep the voltage the same. The operating voltage is 18.9V and the operating current is 5.29 amps.

Paralleling the system would keep the voltage the same and increase the amps by the number of panels paralleled. In this case, you have 5.29 Amps x 2 = 10.58 Amps. Voltage stays at 18.9 Volts. To check math you can do 10.58 amps x 18.9 volts = 199.96 Watts, or pretty much 200 Watts.


Now suppose we had it long enough on the charge controller and finally want to make coffee. We need to make 120 volts out of  12 volts.

That is the task of an INVERTER, that is an electrical device that converts the voltage from direct current (12 volts DC) to alternating current (110/120 Volts AC)

Be aware that the inverter is technically speaking not part of the solar system. The batteries might have been charged using the generator. That is why the simple statement: “I run my coffeemaker on solar” is not correct!

But to use your system an inverter is part of the electrical system and that is why it often is discussed in the solar setup. Some inverters are also chargers and will charge your batteries when on Shore power or Generator.


This is the most simple solar explanation you will ever see. 🙂

EXPLANATION OF PARTS (This geared towards a camper van but very easy to understand)

The provided link has all the information you need to build your own solar system.

The 101 explanation of parts video and playlist of other solar videos;   

Another popular YouTuber talks about solar


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