Solar power arrangements for flow monitoring systems can be an effective remedy for remote locations where power is often unavailable, or too time consuming / expensive to run. Several models of flow meters, auto samplers and water quality analyzers come in models that can operate on 12 or 24 VDC.
A solar power system mainly consists of the solar panel, charge regulator, battery and an enclosure. Solar panels come with mounting hardware to make it easy to mount on a pole. Instructions will have you aim the panel to the south; and install a good ground.
Tips for Solar Power Systems
- Get help sizing the panel and battery – to meet both the immediate current draw; plus ample storage for prolonged periods without sunlight. Always err on the side of too much.
- Make sure the regulator has ‘low voltage cutoff’; to protect the battery should the panel fail.
- It’s best to get the mounting hardware from the panel supplier, so everything fits when it comes out of the box.
- Use photovoltaic batteries which are designed for solar power cycles. Be certain it is fully charged before you install it.
- Test the output from the panel and regulator before you head out to the field.
- Fuse the power line to the instrument.
- Make sure the enclosure is over-sized and ventilated.
- Finally, there have been a lot of foreign countries ‘dumping’ solar panels in the US. Be careful not to jump on the cheapest price you find. Buy from a familiar manufacturer who offers a 25 year warranty.