Solar Lamp Design Optimisation (Collaboration with Hackett's Lighting)

The REVOLVO is a rotating lampshade which uses solar power to rotate the shade. A consultation with the Energy Lab was sought to investigate the efficiency of the lampshade’s circuitry and components.

More information on the company and their products can be found here.

Solar Charge Control & Solar DC powered lighting

There are several considerations that need to be made when constructing a solar powered DC lighting design. The lighting will need to be used at night time while the solar power will only be available during the day, this introduces the need of a battery. When using a battery, care must be taken to ensure that the solar panel doesn't overcharge it. A solar charge controller is used to limit the voltage to a range that suits the battery.

solar charge controller and pulsed LED lighting

 

Another consideration to be taken, is the power consumption of the lighting. Conventional incandescent lighting consumes a huge amount of power. The amount of power a solar panel would generate during the day would not be sufficient to supply the power. A potential alternative would be LED lighting which consumes alot less power and is significantly more efficient. The efficiency of the LED's could be increased by pulsing them at a rate faster than discernable by the human eye. In this way the LED's would be inactive up to 50% of the time depending on the aggressiveness of the pulsing regime. The student implemented these features when designing the system.

Design of a Solar Tracker

The sun's position varies during the day and also throughout the seasons. Solar power generation equipment works optimally when oriented directly towards the sun. It has been proven that solar tracking system can improve the output over a fixed solar system by over 30% with additional complexity and cost being the downsides.

A low cost dual axis tracking prototype is to be constructed and eventually mounted and tested on the roof of the laboratory. This tracking system should be compared to an identical fixed solar PV installation to establish its performance improvement.

EcoDryer

The tumble dryer is the most inefficient device in the modern home.
It is estimated that around 480 million kg's of CO2 are produced each year in Ireland as a consequence of clothes drying.

The EcoDryer concept was developed to help alleviate this issue. It is a super energy-efficient clothes dryer using only renewable energy and is essentially free to operate, thus saving energy and money for the end user.

Research is currently underway to benchmark the EcoDryer against other driers and further develop it to a commercial product.

Light Intensity & Temperature Sensor Network

A low cost Arduino-based network is also being set up to allow aquisition of temperature and indoor light intensity conditions. This will supplement the outdoor sensor data with an integrated knowledge of the environmental conditions within the DCU campus and allow us to preform a case study.

PV Cell Experiments

A number of experiments were carried out on a single large solar panel and multiple smaller solar panels. The panel was analysed for performance in a variety of conditions with the aim of establishing the optimum operating conditions for this panel and PV Cells in general. It was recently mounted outside to achieve the highest performance possible. It was found that temperature has a significant effect on the efficiency of PV cells.

Testing a small solar panel for power output in relation to light intensity