On one of his missions, Marc had developed a 12 Volt system that ran lights for a small hospital in North Sudan (MidNite Solar donated part of the equipment but this is another story). This got him interested in smaller, robust, off-grid systems that anyone could easily use. There are many small RV type plug and play systems available today, but some are either too small to produce the needed power, or they are very high priced for what you get. We wanted a system that we could trust and rely on as well as produce the power needed. We also wanted the final product to be an affordable power producing appliance that was in reach financially to a bigger group of the world’s population.
We've found people living in remote areas of the world without access to an electrical grid need to :
On another mission in Haiti the MidNite Solar (MNS) Brat charge controller was used in a 12 Volt system as a learning tool and for testing items such as 12 Volt lights and charging phones, etc. This was where the Brat excelled and we designed our own system with the Brat at the heart of it. We came up with "The Bug Out". It consists of:
The MidNite Solar Brat Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) controller is an amazing little controller. We are currently testing our Brat with our 12 Volt system and one Flooded Deep Cycle, 12 V battery. Here's a small list of why we love the Brat:
The Big Baby Box
Along with two 30 Amp, 150 VDC circuit breakers for the solar panels and battery (soon to be replaced with 20 Amp circuit breakers), and a 10 Amp, 150 VDC circuit breaker for loads, the Big Baby Box was retrofitted with:
The Solar Modules
We have been testing two 210 Watt, 54 cell solar modules with this system. You might wonder why we didn’t match the panels to the battery voltage and go with a 12 Volt DC panel. The answer: price. You can definitely purchase a 12 Volt DC panel, but it’ll cost you. 12 Volt DC Panels can run over twice the amount of the watts per panel. Whereas a larger 200 Watt or more could cost just .70 per watt. This is because of mass production of the more common larger panels. There is a lot of information out there that you must match your modules to the voltage of your system. That used to be the case, the PWM Brat charge controller helped change this. Even though the Brat is a 12/24 Volt PWM charge controller, it can accept up to 60 volts, enabling the use of larger 54 or 60 cell modules. The issue is that you will not be able to use the panel to its full capacity. We are probably only generating approximately half of what the panel could actually produce, but the modules were cheaper so we used them instead of the more expensive 12 Volt panels.
The system includes a Flooded, Deep Cycle, 12 Volt battery (105 Amp Hour @ a 20 hour rate) that can be purchased from Tractor Supply or Menards for less than $100. A small vented battery box keeps the battery in place and will contain any electrolyte leakage.
Two 6 Volt batteries wired in series could also have been used. Trojan’s T-105 Battery would be an excellent choice, providing a 12 Volt system with 225 Amp hours. This would double the storage capacity of the system. Golf cart batteries would also work well in this application.
We’re continually testing The Bug Out, both at home and on the road, to work out any issues and to ensure the design is optimum and lives up to our expectations. So far, so good.