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Smile..wait for the flash
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"This is my Boomstick!"
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I do keep a little cheap solar panel to charge my cell phone in my bag. Actually works pretty good, when we have sunlight.

I do plan on getting a nicer Goal Zero brand solar panel in the future.
 

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Likes freedom
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Minnesota / Wisconsin Solar

Currently, I do not own solar panels. I've been interested for a while, but sometimes other financial tradeoffs get in the way of pursuing things like this.

I just talked to a guy at the "Prepper Expo" in Bloomington that actually gets most of his power from solar. He lives across the border in Wisconsin. I guess he was upset when the electric company was going to overcharge him for hooking up to the grid and decided he could do better himself. I believe he also runs a propane or gas generator for backup.

There are a couple people I know that use solar on their campers for off grid camping. One relative of mine uses solar on his pickup camper. It runs his laptop and his blower pretty well during deer hunting season. By the end of the season, his batteries are closer to dying, but of course he is way up North in some of the darkest times of the year in the woods. Not ideal for solar, but it gets the job done.

My two cents on solar is this... Start small and expand slowly. I would probably not try to hook into your existing system. Instead, get experience and use solar for supplemental lighting and power. For example, add solar to that shed, garage, or outbuilding that has no lighting. Or add solar to a camper or truck topper for off the grid use.

If you do decide to hook up to your house, be aware that Minnesota's rebates require you to sell your solar to power companies (If you sign up for the rebate program). So if you take advantage of those programs, you may be more of a power generator for Xcel than for yourself. Of course, in a TEOTWAWKI situation, maybe switching back to powering your own house is not that big of a deal.
 

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I include a little bit of solar in my preps. I buy the usb battery packs when radioshack,etc. has them on sale. In my car i have a 3W solar maintainer i embeded a 5v regulator in and wired a usb cable to. I also have 2 1.5W panels in my trunk that i can wire up to the 3W panel for additional power. I also bought a 1.5W 4.5v panel when it was on sale at radioshack and soldered a usb plug directly onto the wires. on a sunny day it'll overload my pocket multimeter that maxes out over 200ma. It may not keep the 42inch LCD tv on in my livingroom but i can use it to recharge my usb battery packs and use those to charge my cellphone, If needed, i have a 15W panel from harbor freight in storage. Just for fun i wired a 5v regulator to that and plugged it directly into my phone. it worked until the regulator overheated and got hot enough to cut through the heatshrink i had on it to protect the wires.
 
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