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With thanks to Branden Austen of Deltec Energy Solutions There are three types of wiring configurations that are relatively easy to learn. Once these are mastered, the wiring of batteries or solar modules becomes easy as pie. The three configurations are: Series Wiring Parallel Wiring A combination of the two known as series/parallel wiring In any DC-generating device such as a battery or solar module, you will always have a negative (-) terminal and a positive (+) terminal. Electrons (or current) flow from the negative terminal through a load to the positive terminal. For ease of explanation, we shall refer

With thanks to Branden Austen of Deltec Energy Solutions We have discussed how photovoltaics produce power, and how to calculate power draw, but there is more than that to a solar system. Apart from the batteries (more on that next month), you will need a charge controller. This is because the brighter the sunlight, the more voltage the solar cells produce, and excessive voltage could damage the batteries. A charge controller is used to maintain the proper charging voltage on the batteries. As the input voltage from the solar array rises, the charge controller regulates the charge to the batteries,

Words & Images Branden Austen A typical shopping list for a solar system consists of an 85 Watt solar panel, cabling, a regulator (to prevent the panel from overcharging the battery), a deep cycle battery (100 Ah rated at 20 hours) and a battery box. An average 85 Watt solar panel will collect an average annual daily high of 5.5 peak sun hours. Camping in summer will increase that average daily collection. 85 Watts x 5.5 hours, divided by the voltage (the nominal output specified by the panel manufacturer), will give you less than 38 Ah per day. This is

Words Freddi Stafford In this, our seventh and concluding article on how automotive lubricant technology has changed forever, we will discuss brake fluid − which is not something you can use until you notice deterioration. With old fluid, one minute you have perfect brakes; and the next you have none. Many people are complacent about their brake fluid, assuming that it will always do the job. It is a “safety critical item”, but how many motorists ever ask to have their brake fluid checked, or when it was last changed? Approximately 70% of vehicles on the road have brake fluid

Words Freddi Stafford In the past five articles, we have discussed how automotive technology has changed forever. In recent years, the number of different motor oils available to consumers has multiplied exponentially, in order to keep up with the lubrication requirements of all the different vehicle manufacturers. Oil specifications can also vary; not only from one car manufacturer to another, but also by the year, make, model and engine of the vehicle. And, no matter whether we are referring to engine oils, manual and automatic transmission oils, differential and transfer case lubricants, power steering fluids, coolants or brake fluids, the

Monitoring the State of Charge (SOC) of the battery is a most important task with a solar system, but is difficult to assess accurately. Here are the main methods. Voltage: The voltage must be measured when the battery is ‘at rest’. This means that there is no charge going into the battery and no load going out. Ideally, the battery should be ‘at rest’ for 20-30 minutes before you measure the voltage. The voltage range is narrow, so you need to use a good digital multimeter. Approximate values for a 12 Volt battery are: Voltage SOC 12.57 100% 12.36 80%

Words & Images Jacques Marais Okay, so I used to like clubbing. Not seals, mind you, more the sort of thing where you hang out inside a dodgy building with a crowded bar, waiting for the fifth Black label to kick in while Taxi Man blares in the background. These days, it’s probably some Bieber or Beyoncé remix, so I’m gladly over that. Now, when I want to get all psychedelic, I go hang with the stars. Nope, not Hollywood, or Bollywood, but the real thing – preferably somewhere as far from civilisation as one can get. The reason for

Words Freddi Stafford I hope that this series of articles on what seems to be the simple subject of oil has proved that when it comes to technology, our world has changed forever. This final article on the subject of automotive lubricants aims to summarise how to read and understand the label on an oil can. That’s because brand and specification, if chosen correctly, will affect our vehicle’s service life, reliability, ongoing maintenance costs and fuel consumption, and help ensure the safety of all those whom we transport. In other words, make our lives more convenient. One of my favourite

Anyone who’s watched Jurassic Park will remember the first scene, in which a convoy of 4x4s drive together through the undulating terrain, autonomously following a rail in the ground. This great system allowed the excited passengers to observe dinosaurs on their pre-historic safari without worrying about the pesky task of controlling a vehicle. Autonomous vehicles have been around for ages – in fact, it was in 1912 that the mechanical gyroscopic autopilot was invented. This device was able to keep an aeroplane on the straight and level for as long as the pilot deemed necessary. Later, autopilots became a necessary

Words & Images Angus Boswell There are thousands of ‘chipped’ Hiluxes out there, many with over 200 000km on their odometers and still going strong, so the extra power can’t be all that dangerous. As long as that ‘extra power’ is kept strictly capped. Toyota has built a reputation on vehicles that “keep going right” and they’ve done it by building a generous margin of safety into their engines. And the 3.0-litre D-4D turbodiesel (which powers my Hilux Vigo 2010 vintage) is a tough, slugger of a motor, which clearly does have the potential for a little more woema. It’s

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