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Intelligent Solar-Powered 3G-WiFi Broadband Access   « Back

Author: Bruce Baikie
Source: ARS Electronica

Aug. 30, 2011

In typical solar-panel installations for communications and broadband projects, the solar panel(s) and battery(ies) are oversized to compensate for the weather when the sun is weak, when it is cloudy, raining, or for night time periods of operation to prevent downtime. The standard charge control module only regulates the electrical flow from the solar panel to the battery to prevent overcharging. Any communication equipment is electrically connected to the battery side of the charge control circuit and the typical engineering design assumes the communication equipment will operate at maximum power usage. There is no association or interaction with the communications equipment to control its power usage, so the solar panel and battery system is oversized to compensate for this.

While in the average situations this is not an issue, but where cost, form factor and portability are critical engineering and social factors these are the most important factors. The size and cost of the solar panel(s) and battery(ies) can prevent deployment of systems due to cost or size, especially in developing regions. Using an intelligent solar-power control module and software for communications equipment will reduce the size (and cost) of the batteries and solar panels. Using smaller batteries will also reduce the environment impact when they expire and need to be recycled.

It is the purpose of this device is to provide a method and means for controlling the power usage of a communications router based on the electrical output of a solar panel(s) and battery(ies) voltage\charge level. This is accomplished through an Ethernet interface and Internet protocol (IP) format using an intelligent solar-power control module and specialized control software installed and running on the communications router processing sub-system.

The two pieces of technology outlined here are the intelligent solar-power control module and the software for power management and the monitor. These allow for smaller solar panel(s) and battery sub-system to be utilized for communications routers to reduce cost, form factor and portability. It is a simpler system for use in developing regions, specifically for schools.

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