Who doesn’t enjoy the warmth of the sun on a brisk fall day? That warming energy is free, so how do we put it to work for us? To demonstrate solar energy technology, a team of OSU Extension professionals has recently designed and built a Mobile Solar Unit. The unit consists of a 140 watt Photovoltaic (PV) solar panel, charge controller, battery back-up system, 2000 watt inverter and safety disconnects. All of the components are built into a four-wheeled cart (about the size of a grocery cart) that can be transported to events throughout Ohio in the back of a pickup truck.
At most any Extension event throughout Ohio, the unit can serve as a teaching tool to demonstrate how PV solar technology works, assist in disseminating renewable energy materials and videos, as well as communicate Extension impacts via short videos. Think about how you might use this demonstration unit at your remote outdoor events, field days, county fairs and 4-H camps where it can power a projector, TV, computer or microphone. As a ready-made charging station for visitors’ cell phones and laptops, the Mobile Solar Unit serves as a great teaching tool at indoor events too.
Although the primary goal was to design a teaching tool that could help demonstrate solar technology, this unit also doubles as a promotional resource that will attract an audience to stop and watch short videos of Extension programs taking place throughout the state. In the absence of sunlight, the unit has a battery backup system designed to run a 32” TV (provided with Mobile Solar Unit) for a minimum of 8 hours.
(Submitted by Eric Romich, Assistant Professor and Extension Field Specialist for Energy Development.)