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Publication Title | Photovoltaic Power for the Permanently Portable

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Above: A portable solar-powered system runs computers and communications equipment. The system recharges from the sun, an automobile, or from the electric grid wherever you are. Photo by Richard Perez

Photovoltaic Power for the Permanently Portable

Ireally missed my computer on our trip to Colombia last year. So much of what I learned ended up on scribbled

notebook pages. So much of what I had to teach was stuck inside a computer four thousand miles away. I decided then and there that a portable computer was for me. Here’s a small PV system that tucks away in a large briefcase and frees your computer, radios, printer, or what-not, from the tyranny of the extension cord.

Enter the Portable Computers

Richard Perez

Our small Macintosh PowerBook is a delightful and fast tool. This small computer allows us to take Home Power’s databases and renewable energy information anywhere. The problem is that the built-in battery only lasts about two hours before requiring recharging. This is scarcely enough time to work through a long aircraft flight, much less a few weeks in the Andes. At Energy Fairs and events, folks have often asked us for a small PV system design that would allow the new generation of portable computers to go where the power lines don’t. I remember one gentleman in particular. He was employed by the USGS doing mapping in Alaska. He lived out of a backpack and his range was limited by how many PowerBook batteries he could carry. He would spend all day gathering survey data and feed this data to his PowerBook at night. Every few days he

©1993 Richard Perez

32 Home Power #38 • December 1993 / January 1994

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