Easy DIY Solar Lighting (Mother Earth News) -- great for solar newbies!

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christine
User offline. Last seen 1 week 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 11/26/2008

Another interesting Mother Earth News article

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It-Yourself/2007-04-01/Easy-DIY-Solar-Lighting.aspx

A couple things about lighting:

1) The low wattage fluorescent bulbs can cause adverse reactions.

Some people get very sick, others just don't feel well.  I was using them in my office for many years and I didn't notice anything, but I know people who refuse to use them.

I actually don't know WHY they put a pic of this bulb with the article, I haven't seen them in 12v.

2) LEDs are a GREAT alternative.

I have several 120v LEDs in my my bathroom over the medicine cabinet.  Most people would put them in a DIFFERENT lamp because they want the bright light to do their makeup, shave, etc.  I have 3 LEDs and the light is just fine.   

It took us FOREVER to figure out what type of LED to order.  We got lucky, they fit.  I'll have to post the order sometime here, so I know what to get next time. "Edison base" is not the word they used.

3) 12v fluorescent lighting

I have a few 12 v lights and of course that's most economical.

But they're UGLY!

If you've been inside a camper, you've seen what they look like.  I've never seen a pretty 12 v lamp.  So I have one in the kitchen and one in my office.  I'm still wondering what to do with them when I'm finally finished with my house.  Have to cover those lights somehow with something attractive when I don't use them.

As LED lights get brighter, and there has been a lot of improvement, we'll see 12v lighting go away.   One of the problems with 12v systems is the voltage drop for long wires.  The article states:

"Use stranded rather than solid wire — it’s more flexible."

I read that you have to use stranded wire because it's DC current. 

"It may be surprising how quickly the distance adds up. (Real Goods can determine the appropriate gauge.)"

Yeah, I noticed right away that the article was an infomercial.  I actually bought the Real Goods book and it is VERY basic.  Not bad, but of course full of ads to their products which by the way, are not exactly the lowest prices.  Of course it's worth it to pay a little more if you get their personal assistance with designing their system.

One day I'll find the book that REALLY helped me and I'll post the link.  It's time to warm up so I can organize the garage!